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

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.

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.

Grandma Morgie

Recently, a group of students from Liberty University visited the Smithsonian Institute. David DeWitt who is the

Grandma Morgie

Grandma Morgie

professor who teaches the Advanced Creation studies class takes his students there every year. The Washington Post had a writeup on the trip, and for the first time in my memory, it was a facts-based article.1 The author didn’t inject his personal biases whatever they may be. I can’t tell, which is the way good journalism should occur.

I titled this post Grandma Morgie, because there was a particular part of the article that stood out to me:

At one point, DeWitt called them together under a Nigerian proverb stenciled on a wall. “The Earth goddess fashions the human body just as the potter fashions her pot,” DeWitt read. “So there is some religion here.”

But in the hall of mammals, which reopened in 2003 after a $23 million renovation, evolution assumes center stage, and the Liberty students grew a bit more subdued. They openly admired the well-lighted, meticulously designed dioramas. But they lamented that the texts and videos give no credit at all to a higher power for the wondrous animal variety on display.

Near the end of the “Evolution Trail,” the class showed no signs of being swayed by the polished, enthusiastic presentation of Darwin’s theory. They were surprised, though, by the bronze statue of man’s earliest mammalian ancestor.

“A rat?” exclaimed Amanda Runions, a 21-year-old biochemistry major, when she saw the model of a morganucodon, a rodent-like ancient mammal that curators have dubbed Grandma Morgie. “All this hype for a rat? You’re expecting, like, at least an ape.”

So, now you’ve met your earliest mammal ancestor, and I hope you were as impressed as I was. DeWitt’s observation that there is some religion going on here, was right on. AIG also discussed Grandma Morgie in the past, and they provide some historical perspective on the exhibit.2 Of course as we’ve remarked here previously, the creation of the statue was based on little more than imagination, which is par for the course with many evolutionists.

1). Creationist Students Take Trip to Evolution Headquarters: The Smithsonian
2). Mozart-made in a rat’s image?

Migration Patterns

Over on UD is a fascinating comment:

Two points:

1- Gene duplication, in order to do something, also requires all the meta-information- a binding site, a promoter, an enhancer and a repressor. Otherwise all the gene duplication in the world will not do anything except add more DNA to the existing genome.

2- In his book “Why is a Fly Not a Horse?” Giuseppe Sermonti has a chapter (VIII) titled “I Can Only Tell You What You Already Know”, which examines this very thing- how do organisms “know” to migrate and to where?

An experiment was conducted on birds-blackcaps, in this case. These are diurnal Silviidae that become nocturnal at migration time. When the moment for the departure comes, they become agitated and must take off and fly in a south-south-westerly direction. In the experiment, individuals were raised in isolation from the time of hatching. In September or October the sky was revealed to them for the first time. Up there in speldid array were stars of Cassiopeia, of Lyra (with Vega) and Cygnus (with Deneb). The blacktops became agitated and, without hesitation, set off flying south-south-west. If the stars became hidden, the blackcaps calmed down and lost their impatience to fly off in the direction characteristic of their species. The experiment was repeated in the Spring, with the new season’s stars, and the blackcaps left in the opposite direction- north-north-east! Were they then acquainted with the heavens when no one had taught them?

The experiment was repeated in a planetarium, under an artificial sky, with the same results!

The bottom-line is there is much more going on than just chemical reactions caused by genetic material. But that reduction is all the evolutionists have and I say it hampers investigations by preventing us from seeking answers outside of the genome.

So did God design the ability to read the stars into these birds, or was this a result of blind necessity?

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part XXVI

And then did we, the Most High Scientists, decide that life may have “been forged in a quantum crucible.”(1)  Not to be outdone by our fellow believers in Naturalism, the venerable biologists, we physicists did decide to weigh in on the matter of life’s beginning. 

Erving Schrödinger, the fellow who did imagine a cat being dead and not dead at the same time,(2) did also imagine other things about life.  Some 65 years later, do we weigh in on the issue.

Now, while some silly folk (i.e., creationists) do make wildly erroneous calculations about the probability of abiogenesis, we’ll give you a calculation in order to promote our theory.  We’ll deny it if the creationists do try to use it (Praise Science). 

But we do now focus in on one molecular machine, the ribosome, that protein factory of the cell that is capable of producing even more ribosomes.(3) 

So we did calculate that there could be 4165 possible primitive ribozyme structures based on 165 DNA base pair sequences.  We do know that most of these would not be self-replicators. 

“That’s more than the number of electrons in the universe,” he says. What’s more, life came about relatively soon after the planet formed, he says. “The puzzle is not only how life emerged, but how it emerged so fast.”

We shall now engage in a bit of anthropomorphism, (4) forgive us (Praise Science).  But do realize that it is completely naturalistic, and God is not needed.  Quantum processes did sort through and discard unwanted structures.  We’re certain you’ll have no problem with our use of the terms of “sort” and “unwanted” with regards to nature.  So, we do now think, that multiple mutated configurations did exist simultaneously (just like the cat was dead and un-dead a the same time).  This simultaneous existence of configurations allowed for the testing of a range of possibilities.  We do now know that quantum effects are a bit finicky; however, we do believe that they could act at the bottom of the Ocean (Praise Science). 

Davies also finds the idea promising. “These guys may have found a niche where quantum magic really could be at work,” he says. “But it is conjecture at this stage, just as all ideas for the origin of life are.”

We do also know that you know that when we use the term “magic” we don’t mean anything by it.  We certainly don’t mean “non-material” (Praise Science).  Once the configurations were sorted out and selected, the struture would become fixed, and unavailable to quantum effects. 

 

(1). http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19626332.700-was-life-forged-in-a-quantum-crucible.html

(2). Schrödinger’s Cat

(3). http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/R/ribosome.html

(4). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism

More Complex than Previously Thought-Part VI

In The Journal of the Creation Science Movement,(1) we find:

The psalmist says, “I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works” (Psalm 139: 14). Nowhere is this more evident than in the design of the human brain. Capable of incredible feats of computation, data recognition and information storage, the brain exceeds the abilities of all the electronic devices mankind has yet been able to devise. As none of the latter have ever occurred by accident but have had to be painstakingly designed, so the human brain is likewise compelling evidence for a Designer. New evidence now indicates that this design is still greater than had previously been realized.

If the brain wasn’t already complex enough (100 Billion neurons with 1000 to 10000 interconnections each), it was recently found that individual synapses (think of it as a point of connection between neurons), can act independently.

Furthermore, work on neurons by other researchers has suggested that even individual synapses – the junctions of a neuron with other neurons and nerve cells – could be capable of acting independently from each other within the same neuron. This could mean that these different synapses are processing or storing completely different bits of information, even at such a microscopic level.

At the edges of all that is known in science, one finds ever more baffling phenomena and/or breathtaking complexity. Ultimately, we discover the limits of our ability to comprehend and even observe. I believe that there are messages in these facts for those who are listening. That is, we should maintain some humility in our search to understand, and that many aspects of the nature of God are evident in nature for all who are willing to see.

(1). Creation, 15(9), pp 2, 2008