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Posts Tagged ‘creation’

The First Life.

Often, theistic views (design, creation, fine-tuning) are disrespected as somehow based in something irrational.

I wonder.

Let’s look at one small consequence of the alternative.

Imagine the first life.

The first life from lifelessness: Somehow a non-living thing came into the spark of life. Not sure how. So far under the most precise and controlled conditions with the energy and resources and intellect of the world’s best scientific community, we have not managed to accomplish this once.

Not just failed in a boiling cauldron of mud, not in the salt water off the coast of a volcanic island, not in a dark cave… in the climate controlled, chlorinated, clinical environment of the lab.

However, the theory is that somehow, in some kind natural environment, life came from something lifeless.  The evidence is that this happened more than 3.45 billion years ago.  (fossils have been found to be dated around that time) So, whatever happened, it happened the first time within the first billion years or so.

That life didn’t die instantly, as one might expect. It didn’t wink out just as quickly as it winked in. We know now how fragile life is, especially at the microscopic level… but this first hardy soul survived.

It seems more likely that this life winking into existence would have needed to have happened a few billion times before one survived past the next micro-second.   But, apparently, one of these little lives survived. And not just survive, but thrive!

Somehow that first life had to find nutrition. There were no predators – that must have been a relief, but still there was no system on Earth to reward or encourage life either… but now it had to find nutrition somehow. Photosynthesis is a crazily complex system of organs and chemical reactions, so it must have taken a long time with a boatload of positive mutations to come into existence… no way this first life had something like that. However, somehow, it found a way to sustain its existence.

And then, perhaps most impressively, it didn’t die alone! Somehow that first life had to figure out how to reproduce… all in one life span. It had to survive long enough to reproduce itself – all in one generation, since obviously no evolution could have taken place yet.

It had to not die instantaneously.

It had to sustain and grow.

It had to reproduce.

All alone, without help or protection… in a hostile world where no life had ever existed before… and no reason to exist beyond chance.

And we have never seen it happen again since; we have never been able to cause it to happen intentionally ever again. Perhaps we will someday. Perhaps one day we will bring life from lifelessness in a lab.

And then we will have shown how, with enough energy, intelligence, resources and intentionality, life can come into existence.

So, am I ok to believe that it is rational to believe that this first life was not all alone?

Can we respect the belief that it was Shepherded intentionally into existence (teleology) and sustained intentionally (providence) and crafted (design) to accomplish what it has accomplished?

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In addition to the powerful rationale of the arguments for the existence of the mind and of God (which represent total other articles), most of us also have a powerful intuitive response to the idea that “there is nothing else.” I experience in my soul that there is something more. Of course, I accept that could be delusion, but I am convinced by the reason, my experience, what I believe to be the testimony of God’s Spirit, and my own intuition that there is something more.

With that in mind, how does someone with a serious respect for the scientific process of studying the “natural” world interact with the biblical accounts of creation?

I am glad you asked.

First, let’s look at the very basic perspectives that are in play:

In specific regard to the creation story… Here is a quick look at some theories that main views can be broken into:

Secular Scientism, materialism, naturalism (or sometimes referred to as evolutionism) – This view holds that process oriented theories, like evolution, alone can explain (and can explain alone) and do (or at least will) explain all the issues revolving the concept of where mankind and matter came from. This view says that “God” (whose existence is denied) had and has no role in any aspect of existence, including beginnings. There are many variations within this basic view, but they all share a secular foundation.

Theism, Deism (some call this theistic evolution, but that term lacks a common definition at this point)– This view holds that some kind of creator/designer god created all that is, including natural laws, which may include laws about evolution, set this creation into motion, and has not interfered in any way since then, at least not supernaturally.

Progressive Creationism (sometimes this is what is called “Theistic Evolution” as well)– This view says that this God has been intimately involved in the creative and growth processes of creation. It evolutionbasically holds to the traditional or similar view of creation except for the timetables. It is basically an old earth view of creation. This view is very broad and might include, for example, an historical Adam or might not, depending on the person you ask. It often also involves a role for evolution – at least at the micro level and often at the macro level.

  1. Traditional Creationism – This view holds to the strictly literal view of creation – historical Adam, 3 sons of Adam & Eve, 6 – 24 hour days, etc. Based on lineages offered in scripture, this view tends to see the earth and the rest of the universe as much younger – often between 6-10,000 years old. How/why, then does the earth seem so much older? Here are three common views:
  1. Gap Theory – in the gap theory, the space between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 are seen as significant.   This theory posits that the space in between indicate another age of “earth” that has already been before and been destroyed before. This earth is why the earth seems so old – because it actually is, at least below the surface. Technically, this would still be an old Earth theory. I see no problem with this theory except that it is crafted from silence. However, it would not be in any competition with other old earth theories.
  1. Created Old Theory – in this theory, it is posited that the earth was created already old – like the chicken being created as a chicken, not an egg, or Adam being created as a grown man, not an infant. Of course, these first two would technically be old-Earth theories since in both cases, the actual Earth would be old. This one seems problematic to me because it feels deceptive. I do not think it fits in with the character of God that we cannot trust our experience of the natural world around us. Further, it seems extremely arbitrary since each created thing is aged at very different rates. An adult fruit fly might be a few hours old, an adult human 18 years? (odd to think how old Adam would have been, huh? We have no information. Maybe he was a fetus… or maybe 50), the light from a star might be millions of years old.
  1. Environmental Changes – This view closely examines the pre-flood climate and the effects of the flood on creation… this one is actual young Earth theory. If you are intrigued to study this option more, I would recommend: https://answersingenesis.org

Biblically, I think that the first chapters of Genesis was written primarily to express why and by whom creation was managed (in other words, to show the teleology) – not how, when, or exactly what. It would be difficult to explain even simple systems that we do understand in only 2 chapters – imagine trying to explain the rules of football in 2 chapters!

Therefore, any theory that includes

1) God being the source of all things – matter, energy and life, for example andcreation-001

2) indicates that He made man distinct from the animals (special) and that He was motivated by His desire to share a relationship with us (loves us) and continues to be engaged in His creation,

should be on the table for Christians and still be considered potentially doctrinally sound.

With that in mind, most of the Christians who are new to reading about these topics are most surprised to find that an old Earth view of creation is not heresy or blasphemy.  If that is you, then I think you will enjoy the rest of this material….

Click here for Part IV

 

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The Question of Creation

When I speak as a Bible teacher and I open up the conversation for questions, I typically get questions in one of two directions – sex or science.

Periodically, I travel and speak to a group and am introduced as an atheist (the listeners actually are in a skit in which they are led to believe that I am an atheist) and the audience and I have a conversation in which they are allowed to ask the atheist anything they want to ask. By far, the most common issues are about science.The-Creation

I have been troubled by the incredible lack of scientific understanding that most people who claim the name of Christ have.

I know that not everyone is a scientist and not everyone needs or has to be a professional, but this world that God has created is amazing and fascinating! In my opinion, everyone is a theologian… some are bad at it and some are good at it. I believe the same thing about science. You are a student of the natural world and you have opinions about it.

You may have no idea what you are talking about, but you have opinions.

I believe that Romans 1, among other passages, reveals to us that God’s creation reveals a lot about Him! It is a wonderful thing when a Christ follower is enchanted enough with God’s creation to systematically study it… and that is what a scientist is.

I know it isn’t just Christians, but probably everyone in the Western world… but we should be motivated! When God is introducing Job to His power, He points to the natural world – animals, stars, etc.

This level of serious ignorance causes Christians to say scientifically very silly things, like:

References to the “fact” that men have one less rib than women do because of God using a rib from Adam to make Eve.

I will give you a second to count them…. Same number of ribs in both genders.

or

“God would never start with a single cell to create a human.”

Let that marinate for a second.

…..

Pretty sure that every single time a human being comes into existence, God starts us as a single cell which we call a zygote.

* * * * * * * *

However, I think I understand why many Christians, who know little of science, have a science-phobia. They have bought into the idea that if we can understand the process, the designer/creator is explained away.

This is very silly. It borders on being nonsensical, in my opinion.

It is bad enough when secularists buy into this “god-of-the-gaps” mentality; a god who can be explained away with something as simple as a process is not a sound theological concept.

It is much crazier, and much less excusable, for believers to make this mistake.

Isn’t it your experience that the more complex a process is, the more likely it is intentional?

A watch, a gun, a car, etc… these operate by complex processes. Would it be rational to accept the assumption that they had no designer? That there was no intentionality behind their existence?

Does understanding the processes by which a revolver operates in any way indicate that Col. Colt did not exist?   Does colt001understanding how the combustion engine works does not somehow explain away Henry Ford? Of course not. Aposteriori (with experience) thinking shows us clearly that complex processes, at least typically, have a designer.

I say this only because in this world, it is becoming common for secular scientists (Sam Harris is famous for it) to present any belief in God as essentially mental illness. Quite the contrary, it is very rational to believe in a designer/creator.

As a believer, I should not be threatened by understanding a process theory – a theory that explains “how” something happens. Knowing the rain cycle does not mean that it is not God who “makes it rain.” (Jer 5:24) In fact, the incredible complexity even of something as simple as the water cycle motivates me to ask “why” and “who.”

Some secularist are so uncomfortable with these questions, that they seem unable to accept that the questions exist at all! I talk more about this in the series that starts here:

I understand why many in the secular world, whether scientific in their mindset or not, think of theistic thinking as the enemy. Though I understand how many theists have gotten to the point of thinking as scientific thinking as the enemy, it should not be that way.

Both the “natural” sciences and theology are seeking the true statement. The purpose statement of both are completely integrate-able. In fact, there are many who have made a point of showing the obvious and perhaps necessary connections between good theological thinking and the roots of good scientific thinking.

The two paradigms are not contradictory. For centuries, this has been the case.  Why, then, is has there become such a divide?

We will pick up there next time… click here for part II

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“It takes essentially nothing to create a universe.” Alan Guth

Years ago, I read in a physics textbook a confession by a popular physicists (sadly, I cannot find the book or remember the author’s name) from the 1950’s. He remembered that the secular physicists of the time were very concerned as it was becoming more and more clear that the universe started suddenly and not outrageously slowly as had been theorized up until that time.

The concern was that the theists were going to, figuratively speaking, rub their noses in it. After all, theists of most stripes have said that the universe came into existence in an instant. In the Judeo-Christian heritage, God spoke the universe into existence.

The author also noted that the secular physicists sighed a collective sigh of relief when the Christians, in particular, came out in immediate and rabid (my word) hatred of the “Big Bang” theory.

It was not for a while before someone was smart enough to realize the correlation and create the famous (infamous?) bumper sticker “God spoke and BANG the universe existed.” bumper sticker

It is my hope that a day will come when Christians will stop reacting ignorantly to scientific input.

All truth is God’s truth. If there is a God, He is the ultimate source for everything, including truth.

Even if a blind squirrel finds a nut, it is still a nut.

Even if a secular, God-hating person uncovers something that is true, it is still true.

Let’s learn to stop forwarding emails without checking for their veracity and accuracy. Let’s become educated enough in regards to biology, physics and reality to stop making mistakes like building whole arguments on misunderstandings of things even basic scientific understandings like Laws of Thermodynamics.

Let’s let our opponents make arguments from blindness or ignorance. If you do not know what you are talking about, it is ok to not talk.

Now, I want to report on further developments from some top scientists (one of whom is a raving anti-theist and especially anti-Christian).

Then, if you are a theist, enjoy that scientists are finding evidence that is what we should have predicted that they would find. Does this prove we are right – That God obviously exists?

Of course not, but it sure is a cool thing when even secular science reports precisely what a Creationist (not an age of the Earth theory, just a source theory) would have predicted.

From “Science Friday”… on March 21, 2014 Alan Guth, Lawrence Krauss, and John Kovac were interviewed about the new input on the expansion of the universe.

I am hesitant to give direct credit for each quote since it is often difficult on the audio to tell who is always speaking. I will guess with confidence when I am pretty sure, but please excuse me if I get the wrong professor/researcher.

The new data is referenced as “…almost unimaginable.” I would imagine so, given that a purely naturalistic perspective would make this information tough to swallow.

This research was about what was going on, to quote Krauss, when the universe was “10-35 seconds old …essentially the beginning of time.”

Christian theologians have presented that God created time – that there was a “when” that precedes the movement of time, at least as we understand it. Krauss, at least, seems to agree with that theory.

So far so good.

But the coolest stuff came later in the interview.  Next week.  You are gonna love this.

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