Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Ultimate Question

 I’m sitting in a lounge in the airport on my way to LA for business. I had about an hour and a half ride to get here and, as I have a tendency to do, was thinking about ways to get people to think about how their fundamental perspectives color the way they think about everything else.


One of the things that made me think of this particular topic was a couple of news articles that indicates a significant drop in the certainty of God’s existence among the general populace.


I believe that this is due in part to the vast amount of media available that presumes the universe is solely governed by natural law. The prevailing idea is that the universe and all the contents within it, including you and me, basically evolved from one state to another by a gradual process over vast amounts of time.


You may not even think about it anymore. In fact, you may even hold diametrically opposing positions, such as a general acceptance of this autonomous evolutionary viewpoint while holding to some idea that there is a personal divine being or force engaged in aspects of your life.


To really get to the heart of the matter, one has to consider what I believe is the ultimate question:


Is the universe purposeful or accidental?


I think it is safe to say the vast majority of humanity believes that we live in a purposeful universe. It’s very likely that you do, too. If you do, then there are implications you need to consider:


If it is purposeful, who or what gives it purpose?


Now, my answer to this question is the Christian Creator God. I have believed this since I was a little child, but as I got older, I was challenged to reconsider my belief. Before, I had a basic faith, but as I grew, I wanted more substantiation for what I believed. This became an exercise in deconstructing everything I thought was true and exploring what other options had to offer.


To make a long story a little less, I came to the following summary realizations:


  1. Without a supernatural Creator God as the cause, there is no logical purpose for the universe and my existence.
  2. Without a caring God, I have no hope.
  3. Without a God that reached out to me, I would never be able to reach Him.
  4. A supernatural Creator God is not bound by the natural laws He put in place.
  5. Without an external authoritative source of truth, I cannot truly know Him.


These realizations are fundamental to why I identify as a Biblical Christian. With Scripture as my prime source material, I am able to evaluate and contextualize all truth claims. Having a reliable external source helps me avoid self-deception and selfish rationalization. It also makes me very skeptical of alternative truth claims.


Thus, my worldview is odd compared to the prevailing cultural, social and “scientific” framework. My ultimate trust is in the Biblically narrated character of Christ as the revealed nature of God. Jesus is the means by which this universe was created and it exists to glorify Him and bring us into communion with Him. Every other consideration is meaningless in comparison.


Therefore, I have no practical or compelling reason to believe that we live in a universe that’s vast millions of years old. Or that all the “evidence” points to it. Or that random processes over these millennia could lead to humanity. I view it all in the context of Christ. We are here for His purpose and all reality bends to His will as revealed in His Word.


My prayer is that you can answer the ultimate question through faith in Christ and come to trust in Him and His Word for your hope and framework for evaluating everything. Be a Biblical Christian skeptic.






Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Young vs Old Earth/Universe Christians

 Old Earth/Universe Christian adherents are guilty, intentionally or not, of attempting to reconcile the Bible with material naturalism instead of taking Scripture as the prime authority. Young Earth/Universe adherents subjugate man’s wisdom and knowledge to God’s Word. (I confess to being deliberately provocative.)


The naturalistic presupposition is uniformitarianism (I.e., natural laws are equally applicable across all places and times) and it is flawed on a cosmological scale. All naturalistic “empirical evidence” is based on it. It is an article of faith. 


I have no problem accepting the laws of physics as a general operating rule but I presuppose the laws have not always been uniform in the past, nor will they necessarily be for all times and places. A simple google search can confirm my presupposition. As an example, the naturalistic proposition that “energy is *always* conserved” is neither rational nor scientific as it applies cosmologically. 


Naturalists have faith that science will somehow develop a naturalistic explanation given enough time and information and grasp onto every fuzzy theoretical construct (e.g., dark matter and energy, multiverses, string theory, etc.) that supports it - “naturalism of the gaps”.


Here is a great article that illustrates this approach: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-the-multiverse-may-be-the-most-dangerous-idea-in-physics/


I love this quote, in particular:


“we need an open mind, though not too open” - certainly not open enough to consider a Creator God!


My perspective as a Biblical Christian is to question the validity of concepts based on my authoritative source of truth. From that perspective, it is easy to see the chain of consequences naturalistic “deep time” leads to - a rejection of the special supernatural creation of the universe and Man in favor of a purely material naturalistic paradigm.


My own worldview accounts for deep time and the “appearance of age” as a byproduct of a meticulous Master Programmer aligning His program to the laws He developed and complete control over the speed at which that program processes, as well as the authority to supersede those natural processes, at will.


It doesn’t take a degree in physics to figure out that naturalism is not a trustworthy source on which to base a disregard of the plain reading of Scripture. There is too much fuzziness. The more science digs into cosmological scales, the more mysterious the universe becomes. 


Now, let’s make sure and be clear - “naturalism” does not equal “science”, although for most practical purposes, they have become close to synonymous. I am a systems engineer/architect by trade, so I leverage logic and science everyday. That being said, I trust the Word of God over all logic and science, because “the wisdom of man is foolishness to God” and there is no practical reason for me to adopt the naturalistic views of deep time and other constructs they have used to ridicule faith in God and in the plain reading of His Word.


1 Thess 5:21 says to “test everything, keep the good” - that is the question OECs have to ask themselves. Is it good to adopt scientific naturalism’s perspective when it contradicts the plain Word? Or is it better to assume that they have a flawed paradigm and work to recontextualize the “fuzzy edges” to meet a more Scriptural framework?


That’s all I’m attempting to do with the OP. Challenge the OEC’s base assumptions and hopefully cause reconsideration, because it is a path I treaded and came out with a new perspective.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Naturalism of the gaps

The naturalistic presupposition is uniformitarianism (I.e., natural laws are equally applicable across all places and times) and it is flawed on a cosmological scale. All naturalistic “empirical evidence” is based on it. It is an article of faith. 

I have no problem accepting the laws of physics as a general operating rule but I presuppose the laws have not always been uniform in the past, nor will they necessarily be for all times and places. A simple google search can confirm my presupposition. As an example, the naturalistic proposition that “energy is *always* conserved” is neither rational nor scientific as it applies cosmologically. 

Naturalists have faith that science will somehow develop a naturalistic explanation given enough time and information and grasp onto every fuzzy theoretical construct (e.g., dark matter and energy, multiverses, string theory, etc.) that supports it - “naturalism of the gaps”.

Here is a great article that illustrates this approach: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-the-multiverse-may-be-the-most-dangerous-idea-in-physics/

I love this quote, in particular:

“we need an open mind, though not too open”

It doesn’t take a degree in physics to figure out that naturalism is not a trustworthy source on which to base a disregard of the plain reading of Scripture. There is too much fuzziness. The more science digs into cosmological scales, the more mysterious the universe becomes. 


Now, let’s make sure and be clear - “naturalism” does not equal “science”, although for most practical purposes, they have become close to synonymous. I am a systems engineer/architect by trade, so I leverage logic and science everyday. That being said, I trust the Word of God over all logic and science, because “the wisdom of man is foolishness to God” and there is no practical reason for me to adopt the naturalistic views of deep time and other constructs they have used to ridicule faith in God and in the plain reading of His Word.


1 Thess 5:21 says to “test everything, keep the good” - that is the question you have to ask yourself. Is it good to adopt scientific naturalism’s perspective when it contradicts the plain Word? Or is it better to assume that they have a flawed paradigm and work to recontextualize the “fuzzy edges” to meet a more Scriptural framework?


Saturday, August 19, 2023

A logical reason to believe in the Creator God


  1. We undeniably live in a cause and effect universe governed by natural laws
  2. This begs the question “what was the first cause”?
  3. This necessarily implies a non-natural (I.e., supernatural) prime cause, otherwise it’s “turtles all the way down” - that is - infinite regress
  4. The natural universe is intelligible and logical
  5. It is more reasonable to assume an intelligent supernatural prime cause than a random natural one


In other words: Supernatural singularity (the Creation event, i.e., the Big Bang) + fine tuning + intelligibility = God


Sunday, August 13, 2023

Deep Time, holographic reality, and the Master Programmer

There is a general consensus that the universe is billions of years old. This “deep time” consensus serves as a key foundation for the framework of evolution as a theoretical mechanism for cosmology (how we understand the development of the universe at a grand scale), geology (how we understand natural forces that shape our and other planets), the incremental path of human development, all the way to down to the greater context of micro-adaptation in organisms.


Deep time is a relatively new concept. The general consensus throughout human history, particularly from a Biblical perspective, is that the earth and universe are, in general, young. There has been a ton of work to reconcile the idea of deep time versus the implicit young age of Creation from a plain reading of the text. It is easy to find information that both supports and denies the concept of deep time. You owe yourself a good examination of its origins and impacts on scientific, philosophical, and even theological thought.


My perspective as a Biblical Christian is to question the validity of concepts based on my authoritative source of truth. From that perspective, it is easy to see the chain of consequences deep time leads to - a rejection of the special supernatural creation of the universe and Man in favor of a purely material naturalistic paradigm.


My own worldview accounts for deep time and the “appearance of age” as a byproduct of a meticulous Master Programmer aligning His program to the laws He developed and complete control over the speed at which that program processes, as well as the authority to supersede those natural processes, at will.  


That is, from an outside observer, the act of creation would progress at a variable speed. Initial creation would seem to be on a very high clock speed (days 1-5), then gradually slowing to the point of the special creation of humanity (day 6), then normalizing into the pace we experience currently. So, the actual timeframe for creating the universe (6 24 hour days) would be equivalent to the “real time” we are in now.


To support my worldview, there has recently been developed a “holographic reality” theory to try and reconcile scientific observations tied to quantum and relativity theories. That is, the deeper one looks into reality, the more it seems to run like a program.


It’s no surprise that as science progresses it points more and more toward a Creator. The Bible is the best foundational source to reconcile reality. That becomes more and more apparent, every day. 


It also begs the question, “If the Biblical message is aligned to reality and best explains it at a fundamental level, what should be our response to the account and message of Jesus Christ?”


This, my friends, is where the “rubber meets the road”.















Saturday, August 12, 2023

This is how materialistic “science” works

 One piece of physical evidence that strongly supports a young earth is the discovery of dinosaur soft tissue. Instead of leading the discovering scientists to the most logical conclusion, they threw out Occam’s Razor and developed an unfalsifiable “theory” to account for it to fit their presuppositions



Sunday, August 6, 2023

How to think like a Biblical Christian - excerpt

How to think like a Biblical Christian


First off, I’d like to say that I am no professional theologian, clergy, or doctrinal expert. My goal is to help people who are seeking to have an accessible resource for a better understanding of how the Bible, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all play a part in the role of what I call a Biblical Christian. My approach is somewhat systematic, although I would not call it a systematic theology or anything along that lines. It is more a collection of things that I have learned and studied over the years that have helped to set the framework of how I view the world and God.


This is written with an assumption that the reader has some familiarity with Scripture and Biblical principles. My plan is to point directly to Scriptural sources that are contextually reinforcing to my argument, without cherry picking it. As DA Carson’s dad says, “Text without context is a pretext for a proof text.” This practice is how people get the idea you can prove basically any position out of Scripture. I believe in the principle that “Scripture interprets Scripture” and I am not against being fact checked!


In other words, this is a summary, in part, of my worldview with Scripture as my prime authoritative source of truth. Now you may be asking, “what is a worldview“? I am not going to try to give an exhaustive definition of worldview, as you can certainly look it up on any good search engine, but that being said, it really is something we all have, whether we acknowledge it or not. We all have a certain way of looking at the world and the things that we perceive and understand inform how we interpret the things that happen around us. It makes up my and our reality.


I say “my and our reality“ because, even though we have some common experiences and common knowledge, there are thoughts and conclusions that are unique to each individual person that causes us to perceive things differently about reality. 


Outside of natural forces, what is real is not necessarily the same thing for every person. For example, I may see a fuzzy bunny that makes me happy to pet and to love whereas in your reality, you could potentially see it as a vermin ridden pest only worthy for extermination. (You’ll probably note that I made myself the hero of that particular illustration! Hey, it’s my reality!) We all do have some sort of common beginning point of our worldview about our reality. We are all born into the same world, and have in most instances, the same set of senses, and we immediately began to gather data that starts to form our reality. As we mature these sources of data begin to become more varied based on our particular situation - a child born into poverty will have a significantly different initial worldview than a child born into abundance. Circumstances can develop however, that can allow these worldviews to converge. 


One of these ways is if a child is introduced to the Christian Bible. That is not to say that each person will be fully aligned in worldview by having the Bible and knowledge of the Bible, but it does act as a common and consistent source of truth and authority, in many instances. Those that seek to comprehend and embrace the principles of Scripture have a foundation that aligns their thinking to God’s mind. 


Again, my goal is to help expand your understanding of the world as it relates to God’s word. In order to effectively do that, it may be helpful to compare and contrast a biblical worldview with its polar opposite. That is atheistic material naturalism or ANM for short.


“What the heck is that“? You may be asking. Well, although that is a string of “fancy words“, it is a fairly prevalent worldview today. Without building too much of a strawman, it is characterized by disbelief in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the truth of the Bible. It attempts to frame reality in purely materialistic terms - that is reality fundamentally consists only of time, energy, space, and matter. All reality stems from purely natural forces. No god needed. There is no “truth“ outside of that framework. Right and wrong, good and evil are all subjective. Morality is a combination of survival requirements and societal pressures. Biblical Christians, on the other hand, believe that there are both natural and supernatural forces that comprise reality. We believe that there is an eternal, non-caused source of truth and creative force. Our morality is based around the framework of Scripture and is encapsulated in the statement. “love God, and love your neighbor“.


I think it’s worth a moment to define “supernatural“ in the context I will be using it. This simply means that there is something above nature that interacts with the natural world. it is not intended to convey what has become the popular notion of the supernatural, which is a land of ghosts, fairies, magic, and other fantasy ideas. I absolutely believe that there are supernatural beings that influence human behavior, but it is grounded in the revealed truth of the Bible. We’ll talk more about this in future sections, but for now suffice it to say, there is a lot of misconception about what composes the supernatural.


Here is a good place, I think, to bring up the question of “is it rational to believe in the supernatural“? and a good point to discuss reason and rationality, and logic.


Reason, rationality and logic are all concepts that are core for every sane person to make sense of reality. Without them, there is no common truth.

Truth enables us to describe reality. The scientific method is likely the best framework for understanding objective natural truth. It’s not nearly as easy to apply to explain objective moral truth and certainly not supernatural reality.


(Whenever I introduce a term, I’ll try to take a brief moment and describe what I am trying to get across. The term “objective” means to examine something without bias. This is in contrast to subjectivity, which means you examine something with bias. It is very difficult for human beings to examine anything without bringing bias to the table.)


As we have previously established, biblical Christians view the beginning of the universe as a supernatural event. We undeniably live in a universe of cause and effect. That is, everything we experience or perceive in our reality has some thing that initiated it. This framework colors every component of our attempts to define and describe reality from cosmology to evolution; it is a foundational principle. This starts to break down however, as we get closer and closer to the beginning of the universe. What caused the first cause and effect? How did the universe began? For the biblical Christian, this is an easy answer. God said, “Let there be.”, and it was. So, in the sense that a cause and effect natural universe logically requires creation from an uncaused supernatural source, belief in the supernatural is perfectly reasonable.


When reasoning out the nature of reality, everyone brings to the table a certain amount of “baggage“ - that is, our experiences and knowledge influences us to examine a truth claim with a certain bias. Let’s go back to our hypothetical bunny, when considering the question, “Are bunnies nice?”, I’d bring to the table my experiences with bunnies in general, which is, I’ve always had good experiences with pet bunnies. They are soft, fuzzy, warm, and fun to play with. Alternatively, you bring to your consideration of the niceness of bunnies a time when your garden was infested with ravenous creatures that destroyed the product of your hard work and hope for future sustenance. So, when I contemplate my answer, my experiences will lead me to the affirmative, whereas yours will lead to vehement denial. 


And so it is with believers and non-believers in God‘s Word. Believers’ experiences are for the most part positive or beneficial as it relates to Scripture. Non-believers, particularly atheists, typically have had very negative experiences with Bible believers, and with the contradictory nature of the Bible with humanity’s general inclinations. Sadly, Bible believers that may be redeemed sinners, but not necessarily reformed sinners, make for very poor representatives. Be that as it may, our biases are informed by our collected background. This heap of preset biases and knowledge are called presuppositions and these presuppositions color every analysis, conclusion, and decision that we make.


As a Biblical Christian, I presuppose the truth of the Bible when assessing or proposing any truth claim. Otherwise, my foundation is really just my human reason, potentially supported by other humans’ reasoning. If history has taught us anything, human reasoning without a trustworthy source of authoritative truth leads to disastrous consequences. Without a “stake in the ground” we are left with truth claims that can shift with every changing religious, social, or political position. 


This then begs the question, “Why the Bible?” Admittedly, there are other religious texts and philosophical approaches that propose similar truth claims and set good moral foundations, but if you truly examine the facts, only Scripture has the historical, religious, moral, and redemptive truth at a scope and scale that all other contenders pale before. It is a multi- author, society, culture and language collection of books that have a harmonious narrative over thousands of years. It tells the story of God’s love for His children, our prideful downfall, and our continued rejection of His offer to reconcile. The end result is that God Himself came down to us and became one of us to do what we could and would not do. It is a magnificent and sweeping documentary that reveals the mind and character of God embodied in Jesus Christ.


I put my trust in the Bible because it is reasonable to do so and mainly because God has sealed it in my heart through the Holy Spirit. It has transformed my thoughts and actions and causes me to change in ways that gradually align me to the character of Christ. There is no other more consistent and trustworthy source from which I can draw that aligns my reality to God’s.


The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit is also how I explain how someone that previously rejected Scripture as truth can reverse their position, which has, historically, happened many times. Forgive me for the extended metaphor, if my initial experiences cause me to hate fuzzy bunnies but later in life I watch Steve Irwin (RIP) do a show on how the fuzzy bunnies were simply following their nature when they destroyed my garden, while holding and petting one to demonstrate how nice they are, I will have been given a new framework by a greater and reliable authoritative source of truth from which to reevaluate and shift my earlier position. I come to realize that fuzzy bunnies are indeed nice despite their natural impulses causing me earlier distress.


So it is with Scripture. Unless our natural disdain for it is overcome by an outside force (I.e., the Holy Spirit), we cannot fully comprehend and trust in the fullness of its truth.


How we look at the world is based on our sources of truth. If our sources are only human, we are subject to the variability of human knowledge supported by innate human depravity. Ungrounded humans build knowledge to justify themselves and their actions. Biblical Christians rely on God’s authority as revealed in His Word in total context.


“Total context” reinforces the idea that “Scripture interprets Scripture” in the sense that Biblical Christians want to not only understand the text and it’s context, but also that text in relation to the holistic Biblical message, socio-historical perspective, and original language.


Total context also requires us to be skeptical of our motivations when we come to a particular text and not to press in our desires and prejudices. As 1 Thess 5:21 says “test everything, keep the good”. That means even testing our perceptions of a particular text in light of our desires.


The Bible says that “there is none righteous” as a recurring theme to emphasize the innate flawed nature we humans bring to bear on understanding the world. Historically, humans are not naturally benevolent as a group. That’s why it is so important to have a trustworthy external source of truth to measure the world and ourselves balanced by a strong skepticism of human nature and reasoning. There is no such thing as an unbiased conclusion.





Future topics include:

 

Follow the evidence


Are science and Biblical Christianity incompatible?


Aliens, ghosts, Bigfoot and other cryptozoology


Mysteries 


Contra Mundum


Test all things


What is saving faith?


Signs and wonders 


The end of the world as we know it


Goddidit


The Master Programmer 


#christian #bible #atheism #defendthefaith #apologetics