Working Toward a Mature Faith

In undergraduate school, I remember one professor marveling at various features of brain functioning and talking about the reasons that a particular function evolved.  It was just as easy, or easier, for me to think of reasons that these features were designed into the system.  In my first class on physiological psychology, the professor did not have an evolutionary bent that I could tell, and merely marveled at the function and complexity of the brain.  I think many students are unprepared for the naturalistic worldview, and that this often can trigger a crisis of faith.  In their book, God Attachment, Clinton and Straub (2010)1 note that people often enter adulthood with the same views they had with their faith that they learned in early childhood.  In other words, they have not developed a more mature faith that allows them to have an understanding of the problem of evil, the existence of many different religions, and the evolutionary viewpoint (a view espousing the all-powerfulness of useful accidents).  Thus, they are setting themselves up for a crisis of faith that will inevitably come with real-world life experiences and the hard knocks that life delivers.  I frequently encounter people who become sort of paralyzed in that crisis of faith without attempting to find answers to their questions.  They will often just resign themselves to somewhat of a wishy-washy stance like, “I’m not sure I believe everything in the Bible.  I believe, but I’m just not sure about X.”  When asked, they’ll admit they’ve never tried to resolve the issue with learning more about the subject.  So, they end up assuming a distant stance with God on the basis of a particular issue that they have not taken the time to resolve.

I don’t think people have to believe that Genesis is literally true to be saved.  I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that would suggest that.  But I do think it is possible to be logically consistent and hold an intelligent worldview encompassing a literal account of Genesis.  Frankly, I think a literal account of Genesis leads to the most logically consistent stance in explaining the problem of evil in the world (i.e., the fall).  Also, one only needs a vaguely possible scenario to explain certain observations (apparent age of the Earth and Universe) to make this tenable.  If God is all-powerful, then He could have done it.  I’m not advocating a kind of “God did it” approach to science, but I am rather asking believers to explore the issue in more depth and to develop a more mature way of viewing their faith.  This can help believers have a more mature relationship with God.

I would also caution creationists against the view of saying that people who advocate for evolution are liars.  Evolution contains many lies, but to lie involves intent to deceive.  There are times when they do likely lie, but it’s better to be careful about this.  I’d rather look at it as a worldview, which I think contains many untruths.  It’s understandable, just false.

I urge fellow believers, and those with doubts, to more fully explore these issues in order to develop a more mature faith—a faith which can stand up to the complexities of the world and the problem of evil in the world.  More personally, it will help with the very difficult things that you face in your own life and promote a deeper connection with God.

1). God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God

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Whence Scientific Hypotheses?

Scientific hypotheses can come from anywhere at all (well actually just from an intelligent mind).  One important thing I learned about science in graduate school was, it did not matter where your hypothesis originated, it only mattered that it could be tested and falsified in a rigorous, repeatable, and measurable way.  Scientific notions can arise from any metaphysical framework or lack of a framework.  At the basis of creationism and naturalistic evolution are presumed metaphysical truths.  Quite possibly, neither of which can be falsified, leaving the resolution to be a matter of faith.  However, that does not prevent scientists from developing testable hypotheses that spring from those underlying beliefs.  One could argue that intelligent design has fewer metaphysical entanglements than either creationism or naturalistic evolution.  The point is that testable hypotheses may come from almost any underlying belief or idea, whereas the actual underlying belief or idea itself may not be a scientific hypothesis.

Recent Work in Creation Science

Jerry Bergman has written an article on CMI entitled, Did immune system antibody diversity evolve?

From the article:

The voluminous research on the evolution of the adaptive immune system describes in enormous detail both the similarities and differences between the immune systems of a wide variety of animals, but does not provide evidence for the evolution of these irreducibility complex systems. The complex, designed processes used to produce antibody diversity and then to fine tune the adaptive immune response are not evidence of Darwinian evolution, but rather of intelligent design.

Recent work has also shown that innate immune systems formerly thought to be very primitive are far more complex than once believed, blurring ‘traditional distinctions between adaptive and innate immunity.’38 Various phyla use ‘a remarkably extensive variety of solutions to meet fundamentally similar requirements for host protection.’37 The large discontinuity between the various means of generating immune system diversity in the animal kingdom makes it highly unlikely that one system could have evolved into another.

Creation scientists have also been hard at work in generating theoretical frameworks and hypotheses on a number of fronts.

1). A framework has been developed for explaining bacterial pathogenicity.

2). Fungi have been examined from a creationist perspective, and natural selection is considered as a process for the development of pathogenicity.  Similar to the first paper, evolutionary processes are considered corrupting influences of the original designs.

3). Initial work has been done on developing a field of creation microbiology.  Promising areas for future research and practical applications are also considered.

While those who pontificate about the absence of any real scientific progress being made from a creationist perspective, creation scientists are laying the groundwork for biological studies, and are generating testable scientific hypotheses.  Whereas materialist scientist do not often recognize their metaphysical assumptions, creationist scientists and IDers are generally much more aware of the metaphysical assumptions of science on both sides of the issue.

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale – Part XXIX

The Multiverse

The Multiverse

Then did we, the Most High Scientist, through the use of calculations and formulas, imagine that there exists a great many more universes in the multiverse than we had previously imagined.  We did previously imagine through string theory that there are 10500 universes in the multiverse.  One of our Most High, Andrei Linde, did recently imagine through calculations that there are many more than 10500 universes in the multiverse (Praise Science).1 And let us first tell you why we do feel this is important.

“The idea that there is more than one universe, each with its own laws of physics, arises out of several different theories, including string theory and cosmic inflation. This concept of a “multiverse” could explain a puzzling mystery – why dark energy, the furtive force that is accelerating the expansion of space, appears improbably fine-tuned for life. With a large number of universes, there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.”

That pesky fine tuning might suggest to the less evolved of our species that universe may have been created or evidence hallmarks of design.  Of course we know that is ridiculous, as is attested to by our vivid imaginations.  And so, we endeavor to explain one “furtive” unmeasurable thing (dark energy) by invoking a larger quantity of unmeasurable things (even more universes).  Because if we do know anything at all, that is there is no design in the universe(s).  And we know you would have to agree, that with a great number of universes, “there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.”

So, we do now appeal to the god of chance, and evoke randomness in all its power and glory as is provided by quantum mechanics.  We do now calculate the existence of 1010^10,000,000 universes (Praise Science)!  We know how much you like large numbers, and have no doubt you are in awe of the large number we have invoked here.  We’ll also speculate a bit that an hypothetical observer determines how many universes can effectively exist because of quantum mechanical effects, but don’t be concerned, because that’s a really large number as well. We do hope you’ve been pleased by our Science and that you continue to be impressed by the power of randomness and imagination.  Rest assured, all of the appearance of design and fine tuning can, and will continue to be, explained away by chance and imagination.

1 Multiplying universes: How many is the multiverse? NewScientist, October 28, 2009.

Evidence as Parable?

In this post, I seek to take a step back from the ID/evolution debate, and consider things from a Christian perspective.  Jesus often spoke in parables, and explained the reason to his disciples:

“The knowledge of the secrets of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. This is why I speak to them in parables, ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand'” (Mat. 13:11,13).

When thinking about design in the universe, it makes one wonder why God created a universe where evidence seems to perpetually point in two possible directions.  In other words, we don’t find a message encoded into DNA that says something akin to “God was here,” written in every known language.  Certainly He could have done that, but it seemed to be part of His purpose that evidence for creation be presented in the same manner as He spoke through Jesus (i.e., in parables).  Unbelievers in the days of Jesus consistently misinterpreted the meaning of His parables, just as the evidence of design is consistently misinterpreted by today’s unbelievers.

That’s why I don’t ever expect ID theorists or creation scientists to find a “smoking gun,” that absolutely proves design in nature.  That would remove the necessity of faith.  Likewise, I don’t expect a smoking gun from the side of naturalism that proves that matter and energy are the only things that exist.

As a result, I’m skeptical whenever I hear claims that it has been proven that the mind is either completely material or immaterial, that it has been shown that there is no evidence for design, that there is no evidence for materialism, and so forth.  In other words, by design, there will always be evidence pointing in both directions.  However, when it comes down to an individual’s decision about whether to believe in God, there is enough evidence for each person to decide where they will place their faith in order to fulfill the following verses:

Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

That said, ID is an important scientific endeavor that seeks to uncover the evidence for design, which is evident in nature.  For Christians thinking about the issue who might be confused, it is helpful  to remember that the evidence will never be bulletproof, but it will be sufficient for your decision of faith.  Furthermore, the evidence is strong enough so that we are without excuse.

The Intelligence of Mother Nature

Darwinists frequently engage in the personification of nature (i.e., they utilize language suggesting sentience).  In a recent press release, they do it again.(1)  There are a number of conceptual problems with the following statement:

He and his co-author, postdoctoral researcher Minglei Wang, were interested in tracing how proteins make use of their domains, or groups of domains, to accomplish various tasks. These domains or domain clusters can be thought of as “modules” that fit together in various ways to achieve different ends.

The attribution of accomplishing various tasks to molecules is problematic.  The molecules of course have no sentience, planning abilities, and so forth.  They are molecules and do not think, feel, or reason.  Yet, purpose and achievement are attributed to molecules.  This makes sense if you are working from an ID perspective, but the language is not appropriate to a non-design perspective.

They continue in a similar vein:

“As time progressed, these domains started to combine with others and they became very specialized,” Caetano-Anollés said. This eventually led to the big bang of protein architectures.

“Exactly at the time of the big bang,” many of the combined domains began to split apart, creating numerous single-domain modules again, he said. But these new modules were much more efficient and specialized than their ancient predecessors had been.

“This makes a lot of sense,” Caetano-Anollés said. “As you become more complex, you would want to fine-tune things, to do things in a more tailored way.”

As if the big bang materialist cosmology story were not enough, we now invoke it in biology.  It seemed to work fairly well for them in cosmology, why not try it in biology too?  But that’s beside the point.  So, we continue with the attribution of sentience to matter.    “…you would want to fine-tune things, to do things in a more tailored way.”  That’s what I would be thinking if I were a bacteria for certain, but this is a nonsensical way of describing material processes.

I think this goes to a deeper issue.  That is that biology does not make sense outside of the concept of design.  The language to understand and explore the functions of proteins does not exist in blind materialist terms.  The reason is that these things are designed, and must be understood from that conceptual framework.

Access Research Network also has a good post on the language problem faced by Darwinian evolutionists.(2)

(1). Study of protein structures reveals key events in evolutionary history
(2). Darwinists on Design: Jumping to Confusions

Hat Tip: Creation-Evolution Headlines

Some Applause for Richard Dawkins

You never thought you would hear me say something like this, but I’m saying it now. Richard Dawkins deserves some credit for his most recent book, A Devil’s Chaplain. Now, I haven’t even read the book, and probably won’t unless I can find a used copy somewhere. But, I just wanted to give Dawkins his due credit for the title of his book, because this is truth in advertising. I’m guessing that he wants Christians to hate him, and feels he is poking them with this type of book and title. But really, I do have some compassion for Dawkins. A person does not have the intensity of emotions he has on a topic without a great internal struggle of some sort.

Creation on the Web has a review of his most recent tome, and there are some interesting quotes from the review:

Dawkins’ sermons fall apart under close scrutiny, and further, he never even considers deeper philosophical problems underlying his method of argumentation. When Dawkins talks of religions fomenting wars, how does he know on a naturalistic basis that there is anything at all undesirable about war?16 How does he know that there is anything inherently good in ‘truth’? In fact, as Alvin Plantinga has shown,17 there are reasons to doubt whether human thought is even capable of corresponding to reality within a naturalistic framework—the ultimate reductio ad absurdum of naturalism.18

As the late Greg Bahnsen noted,

‘One does not decide whether to form some epistemological viewpoint and theoretical basis for certainty or not; he simply chooses whether he shall do it self-consciously and well.’19

Dawkins has an epistemology. He believes that he is capable of knowing true information by means of the scientific method, but he is entirely without a foundation in naturalism for such a belief. Christians who presuppose Scripture, on the other hand, have epistemological warrant for belief in efficacious reason and science, on the grounds that God is logical and made an orderly universe.20 Small wonder, then, that Dawkins avoids the subject and prefers a surface-level polemical approach. The biblical apologetic not only can withstand his individual ad hoc ‘empirical’ arguments, but even undercuts his entire basis of argument by showing that in order to have a reason to trust reason itself, we must presuppose the God of Scripture.21

Some of the reasoning here is similar to things we’ve discussed previously on this blog.  One can sincerely hope that his intense disdain for all authority, other than materialist science, can soften with time.  All things are possible with God.

Source: Secular Sermons.  Creation on the Web.