In my previous writing I encouraged us to ask bold questions about our faith. And, that is exactly what I intend to do with this segment. Before we bite into the meaty portion of this discussion, however; I would like to smother this literary hamburger with some common sense sauce.
When I was a kid (to the detriment of my poor parents), asking questions was my business... and let me tell you, business was good. Like many of us as children, I was sooo curious about the world around me that I would spit out questions faster than an ornery llama will spit on his keeper. It’s not that I think curiosity to be a bad trait, but my kind of questioning resembled a little baby bird who continuously crys out for mama or daddy bird to fill my mouth with half digested information. When I ask you to ask questions, I do not mean these kinds of thoughtless lazy questions. This technique may work for birds and babies, but for those who are old enough to think for themselves this is not an attractive trait. I am asking us to ask informed and intelligent questions. And I'm asking that we digest the answers we find for ourselves. That means careful research and even more careful thought. We should not be happy to live off of the mental regurgitation of someones else's questioning . Excuse my rant, but the world is full of lazy birds who never mentally flew out of the nest. As Christians (if you claim to be one) we should be the best and the brightest. We should be the mama birds who works hard to find the mental food that others fly over.The intention of this blog is not to spoon feed you answers, that are... good enough, I want to teach you how to find the proverbial worm. Yes I will try my best to do quality research and give you quality answers to these questions, but I fully expect you to do your own probing and questioning. If you think my postulation is weak... call me out on it. If you think you have a better question... ask it, and do not be afraid to do your own research. I want you to think for yourselves, because, as Christians we are obligated to use one of the greatest gift that God gave us... our minds.
With all that ranting behind us let's get to the questions. I can think of no better starting place then at the start, so that is where we will begin. Think back with me to the beginning... No no, I'm not talking about your first day of highschool, or the day you blessed the earth with your screaming presence, I'm talking about THE beginning... Yes, the beginning of everything that has ever existed in our universe. Picture the moment before the galaxies existed, before matter went spinning into wild motion and the mighty stars were set on their courses among the cosmos... When you peer into the nothingness of a time before time began what do you see?
If this question were posed to any person in any period of history before the twentieth century, the answer would have most likely involved a creative being (or God) of some sort. But this assumption is no longer the paradigm of thought for our generation. The Big Bang Theory has exploded into the scope of popular belief with the velocity of a rumor in a knitting club, and it has rose on the shoulders of a simple idea. An idea that was made most famous by a man named Charles Darwin.
I believe that many of you reading this are, at least, familiar with the ideas of Darwin and the consequent naturalistic idealism that arose from the theories of him and many of his predecessors. This theory has swept the academic world since its conception in the late 1800’s. The philosophy behind it has become so embedded in academic culture that if you were to visit the original universities of this country (which were almost all founded as seminaries) and announce that the world was created in 6 days by a creator, you could expect to be laughingly ignored as an ignorant kook. Despite this distain by many who call themselves contemporary thinkers, there are still millions of Christians who hold firmly to the biblical account of creation. So, we must ask ourselves: where is the disconnect? We all know the biblical account of the universe's origin. So then, why do Bible believing Christians have such a drastically different story than the academically accepted view of the world's origins. As much as some have tried to fit them together, naturalistic idealism and the biblical account of origins are not compatible. Do we have to ignore scientific discovery and throw away reason to believe the biblical account of creation? Is Christianity simply “an opiate for the masses” as Marx would say? The simple answer to all of these questions is a loud and clear No! If your thinking to yourself right now, “well Josh, prove it then,” I'm way ahead of you. I hope to show you that not only do you not have to deny reason to believe the biblical account of creation you do not have to defy good science either. In fact, I believe it is reason and good science that has been compromised to allow naturalistic idealism to flourish, But before we can deal with the science of the matter (which I will pick up in other writings) we must first deal with some foundational issues. In order to understand more about this idealism we must briefly look into the story that led to it’s rise.
One thing that can be agreed upon by just about every historian and layman alike is that a story can be a powerful thing. In one of America's darkest hours, it was the story of a woman named Harriet that rallied a nation against the evils of slavery. Marx’s story of civilization inspired a manifesto that would rock the political landscape of Europe, and the world, for centuries to come. There are countless examples that prove that a well placed and perfectly timed story has the power to do everything from sparking a world war to capturing the attention of a group of highly distractible teens. The two stories that we will be comparing today could be titled something like this “Genesis and the Caused Universe” vs. “Naturalistic Evolution, the Ironically Chaotic Meaningless Truth?” (maybe my titles are a bit biased, but, as the author, I reserve the right to be such).
Some at this very moment have written me off and possibly began shouting at their poor undeserving computers in a loud confidently educated voice that: “I, In point of fact, had no idea of what I spoke because every well educated man in the field of science knows that evolution is in fact a scientific fact and should not be compared to such mythology as the biblical creation account.”
Well... I hate to burst anybody’s bubble (not really I love it), but the truth is that neither of these theories of the Earth’s origins have been proven false or true. In fact there is really no scientific way to prove either one. Science is all about observation and study of the facts, but because no one was there at the beginning to study the first events, then we can only speculate as to what happened, how it happened and when it happened. We can study the earth today and reflect on past events with varying accuracy, but one can never postulate with 100% accuracy about the past unless he or she has a time machine handy (and that would raise all kinds of other issues). Now, I’m not saying that everything we deduce from the present about the past must be wrong. The point that I am trying to make is that while scientists have authoritatively postulated and re-postulated for years about historical facts about our world, their theories are based more in a idealism then a scientific theory. The best way to illustrate this point will be to give you a little taste of nonfiction that led to the ultimate fiction of a world view like naturalistic evolution.
Like most happenings in history, there is usually a somewhat interesting and complicated story that accompanies every major shift in belief within a society. For this reason, it is important to understand the broad historical weather pattern that led to a climate where naturalism would be wholeheartedly accepted by a culture. In order to understand the full story, we could probably go all the way back to the 4th century AD (don't worry I'll be really brief) and the reign of Constantine the 57th Roman emperor. Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity and thus, with his reign, the church began its inevitable entanglement with political power. Power is a great corrupter and over time even the church would succumb to corruption as its theology had a tendency to change with political tides and theologies shifted from the Bible to what would best benefit the church coffers. The great reformation of the 16th century helped to curb some of the blatant and grouse corruption within the church, but the resulting wars and bloodshed that ensued over the generations left a dark scar in the history of the Christian church. The different dogmas within each sect of the fractured church became a springboard for power hungry world leaders to gain political power. While, on the other hand, cultural movements such as the renaissance, drew people's attention to the significance of humanity and its ability to discover beauty and truth. Men like Descartes (who is known as one of the fathers of modern philosophy) began to question the very foundations of truth and even his own senses, relying instead on on what could be known simply through human reasoning. Men began to believe that all problems could be solved through human reason and the teaching of the church began to take second tier to the discoveries of the most educated. Although the tides of reason began to pull away from trust in the teachings of the church and towards human reason most of the founders of modern science were God fearing men. Such Giants of academia like Galileo and Aristotle saw their discoveries as complimentary and not contradictory to a theistic world view. In their mind the very existence of a scientific method pointed to the obvious conclusion of a rational creator. Their studies and observation of the physical processes within our world led them to glorify God even more. Sadly, however, this attitude towards scientific discovery did not hold for long.
By the nineteenth century an interesting new philosophy began to grow out of the fertile soil laid down by the leadership of the fractured Christian church. There began to be a slow shift of authority and foundation amongst leaders in scientific fields. This shift culminated in Darwin's theory of evolution and then the idealism of naturalism. Science had reached past the realm of simple discovery and into the murky waters of a philosophy. Men had discovered seemingly so much about the world around him and the laws that governed that world that in his arrogance he thought that he had outgrown the one who created it in the first place. Unproven theories that seemed to make sense, at the time, began to take precedence over the foundational beliefs that had sparked scientific thought. A new ideology had taken its place among popular thought, one that no longer needed a creator. This ideology became so prominent that it quickly became accepted as scientific fact. Proof was no longer necessary. All it took was several pieces of the immensely complex puzzle of life to come together for scientist to justify filling in all the many wide gaps in scientific knowledge. And so science created a beautifully intricate story of life based on an unobserved theory, a few clues and an assumed beginning with no real explanation. Darwin's theory of evolution had lit a spark that today scientists like Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins and Stephen Hawkings have even gone so far as to speak out against religious institutions because they consider them hindrances to scientific progress. In fact, naturalistic philosophy has permeated its way into just about every facet of contemporary culture. Despite this fact, it fails to answer some of the most basic questions about existence. So, why is this belief in no belief so very enticing to many intelligent people around the world? Is the scientific evidence really so conclusive on this topic, as many would you to believe, or is there something else at play entirely?
After my rant, I began this article with a question; where is the disconnect? I gave that fairly long yet very brief look into Christianity's connection with science because I think it’s important for us to see where we have come from, as a society, in order to understand where we are today. But, the reality is that there is a much simpler reason for naturalistic philosophies’ rise to prominence among those considered wise in this world.
At the beginning of the wisest book that has ever been written, a bold claim is made. Proverbs 1:7 artfully proclaims, “The fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline,” and again in chapter two it states, “Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” So, basically put, according to scripture, you will not begin to respect God for who he is until you start seeking wisdom, which God gives from his mouth (or words) to those who seek, and you can not have a basis for true knowledge and wisdom until you do respect God for who he is. Knowledge then, according to scripture, must be based on the fear of God which is found through Gods imparted word. This is not to say that people who are not God fearing cannot obtain valid information about the world around them, but it is to say that those who do not fear God will never use that information to come to any meaningful conclusion. Because they are building on a foundation that is ultimately false, it does not matter how much valid information they compile, it will always end up as a beautifully constructed tower of false knowledge. Like a puzzle in which all the legitimate pieces have been shoved together in the wrong way. At the end you may have a complete puzzle, but the picture will be chaotic and distorted instead of beautiful and ordered.
Based on this principle of scripture, one can easily see how such educated and brilliant men have come up with conclusions about the world that are so unhelpful. Naturalistic idealism taken to its root leaves man without purpose, without hope, with no objective morality to speak of and with no real reason to pursue truth in the first place. Survival is the only purpose for that kind of ideology
This passage in Proverbs is not the only scripture passage that deals with the issue of men's short sightedness. Perhaps the most pointed passage that speaks to the issue can be found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In the opening chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul is inspired to say:
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.19 As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
An army of brilliant scientists can come up with a pretty fascinating story, just like the philosophers of Paul’s day came up with some pretty good philosophies, but that does not change the truth of the matter. Godless philosophies have been trying to compete with truth since the fall of man, but the truth is, they will all be blown away like a kite surfer in a hurricane by the atomic bomb of God’s wisdom. In future writings we will delve deeper together into our beautifully created universe and take a look at some of the more scientific and philosophical evidences for the truth behind God and his word, but first, I want to make sure that we start building on the right foundation. Thank God truth does not rely on our wisdom to hold it up. We will never reach truth through human wisdom we must rely on God’s wisdom. A wisdom that comes through seeking a relationship with our creator. A wisdom that is founded on a fearful respect of that creator and a wisdom that is made powerful through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.