Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The independent work of the Holy Spirit in salvation

I put this together to address the topic of:

“What about all those people who have never heard the Gospel? Are they going to Hell?”

The concept of the independent action of the Holy Spirit provides a compelling Biblical basis for the possibility of salvation for those who have not explicitly heard the Gospel message. 

Let's explore this further:

1. The Holy Spirit's role in salvation - Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in bringing people to salvation. He convicts people of sin (John 16:8), reveals Christ (John 15:26), regenerates hearts (Titus 3:5), and draws people to the Father (John 6:44). This suggests that the Spirit's work is not necessarily limited to the proclamation of the verbal Gospel message.

2. The Holy Spirit's sovereignty - The Bible affirms that the Holy Spirit is God and possesses all divine attributes, including sovereignty. He distributes spiritual gifts "to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:11). His movements and actions are directed by His sovereign will, not human actions (John 3:8). It follows that the Spirit could choose to reveal Christ and draw people to God even in the absence of a human messenger, as He wills.

3. Biblical examples - There are instances in Scripture where individuals seem to have a relationship with God apart from explicit knowledge of the Gospel. For example, Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18), Job (Job 1:1), and Cornelius (Acts 10:2) are all described as righteous and God-fearing, even though they lived prior to or apart from the full revelation of the Gospel. This suggests that the Spirit was at work in their lives, drawing them to God based on the revelation they had.

4. The Spirit's universal presence - The Bible indicates that God's Spirit is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10) and at work in the world, even apart from the Church's evangelistic efforts. His presence is not confined to where the Gospel is verbally proclaimed. The Spirit can be active wherever He chooses, potentially revealing Christ in ways we may not fully understand.

5. The Spirit's revealing work - Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit "will teach you all things" and "guide you into all truth" (John 14:26, 16:13). This revealing work of the Spirit could potentially extend to those who have not heard the verbal Gospel, guiding them to a genuine faith response to the light they have received.

While the explicit preaching of the Gospel remains the normative means by which people come to saving faith, the independent action of the Holy Spirit provides a theological basis for the possibility of salvation for those who haven't heard, based on His sovereign freedom, gracious revealing work, and the biblical examples of those who had genuine faith without complete knowledge of the Gospel.

However, this perspective should in no way diminish the urgency and necessity of proclaiming the Gospel to all people. The unique, independent working of the Holy Spirit is never pitted against the responsibility to evangelize in Scripture. Rather, the two work in tandem - the Spirit empowering the Church's witness (Acts 1:8) and confirming the Gospel message as it goes forth (Hebrews 2:4).

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Evaluating my approach

There are a lot more “quiet Christians” out there trying to live out Jesus’ character and love their neighbors than the microcosm of fringe weirdos, mega-“pastors”, and “Christian” politicians you see in public forums, like on X, Facebook, TikTok, or Reddit. Sadly, the fringe are the ones most likely to get attention.

The truth is, most humans thrive on drama and outrage, because it gives them a sense of purpose and meaning. People love a “cause” and to feel and express “righteous anger”.

I will confess, I have been guilty of initiating or promoting outrage and drama, myself. In fact, the process of typing out this message caused me to reexamine my own approach.

For reasons above, it’s probably too much to hope that the tone in public forums would be more civil, just like it’s too much to hope that Christians would be more civil, too.

Christ reserved His strongest criticism and true righteous anger for internal issues and showed love, concern, and respect for everyone else. We’d do well to adopt the same approach.

Examining, and even resisting, ideas through respectful (and even passionate) debate is a worthy goal, and it should always be done in a tone and manner that acknowledges the value of the person.

This topic originated elsewhere and I thanked the poster for the opportunity for introspection and, hopefully, growth. I’ll try and be more careful and charitable in the future.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Treatise supporting Intelligent Design vs Macro-Evolution: Evidence, Reason, and the Best Explanation


The question of life's origins and the mechanisms behind biological complexity and diversity is one of the most profound and consequential in all of science and philosophy. The conventional evolutionary paradigm, rooted in Darwinian theory and the neo-Darwinian synthesis, posits that all life on Earth descended from a common ancestor through a process of unguided modification by natural selection acting on random genetic variations [1]. However, a careful examination of the evidence and a rigorous application of the principles of rational inference suggest that this materialistic framework is inadequate to fully account for the intricacies of the living world [2, 3]. An alternative paradigm, intelligent design (ID), which proposes that certain features of the universe and living systems are best explained by an intelligent cause, merits serious consideration as a better explanation for the origins and development of life [4, 5].

Evidentiary Challenges to Conventional Evolutionary Theory

1. Fossil Record Anomalies

The fossil record, often presented as the strongest evidence for macroevolution, contains significant anomalies that challenge the expectations of gradual Darwinian change [6, 7]. The abrupt appearance of morphologically modern forms in ancient strata, known as "living fossils," and the sudden emergence of complex animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion without clear precursors, defy the notion of slow, incremental evolution [8, 9]. The pattern of morphological stasis over millions of years in many species also undermines the idea of constant evolutionary change [10].

2. Experimental Limitations

Experimental attempts to demonstrate the creative power of evolutionary mechanisms have fallen short of validating the large-scale transformations required by macroevolutionary theory [11, 12]. Despite decades of research, laboratory studies have not produced examples of significant morphological change or the emergence of novel complex systems through the accumulation of minor variations [13]. The challenges of chemical evolution, such as the origin of life from non-living matter and the abiotic synthesis of complex biomolecules, remain unsolved experimental hurdles [14, 15].

3. Biological Information and Complexity

Living systems are characterized by vast amounts of complex, specified information, particularly in the digital code of DNA [16, 17]. The origin and preservation of this information poses a significant challenge to undirected evolutionary processes [18]. The concept of specified complexity, which recognizes the hallmarks of intelligent causation in certain biological patterns, suggests that the information content of life is best explained by the activity of a designing intelligence [19, 20]. The existence of irreducibly complex molecular machines, which require the precise arrangement of multiple interacting parts to function, further points to the necessity of intelligent agency in the assembly of biological systems [21, 22].

Logical and Conceptual Challenges

1. The Appearance of Design and Purpose

The striking appearance of design and purpose in the living world, from the intricate molecular machinery of the cell to the fine-tuned fitness of organisms to their environments, is more naturally accounted for by the activity of an intelligent agent than by the blind action of unguided natural processes [23, 24]. The widespread convergence of similar design solutions in disparate biological contexts, often in defiance of the expectations of common descent, suggests the guidance of a purposeful intelligence [25].

2. Methodological Limitations and Philosophical Implications

The reliance on deep time to explain the origin of complex biological features through the accumulation of slight successive modifications is a key methodological weakness of evolutionary theory [26]. The invocation of vast eons to render the highly improbable probable is an ad hoc assumption that lies beyond the reach of empirical confirmation [27]. Moreover, the commitment to methodological naturalism and the exclusion of intelligent causation as a legitimate scientific explanation is a philosophical presupposition, not a scientific conclusion [28, 29]. The failure of materialistic evolutionary theories to provide a satisfactory account of the origin of life, and the implications of a purely naturalistic worldview for human meaning, purpose, and morality, further underscore the limitations and philosophical difficulties of the conventional paradigm [30, 31].

3. Human Exceptionalism

The remarkable capacities of the human mind, including consciousness, reasoning, language, and moral agency, pose a profound challenge to reductionistic evolutionary explanations [32, 33]. The existence of beauty, aesthetics, and artistry in the natural world and human creativity is more consonant with the idea of purposeful design than the products of blind material processes [34].

Intelligent Design as the Best Explanation

Given the evidentiary challenges, logical difficulties, and explanatory limitations of conventional evolutionary theory, intelligent design emerges as a compelling alternative paradigm [35]. The principles of probabilistic reasoning and inference to the best explanation (IBE) support the rational credibility of intelligent design as a superior scientific framework for understanding the origins and complexity of life [36, 37].

The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) states that for every fact or state of affairs, there must be an adequate explanation or sufficient reason why it is so and not otherwise [38]. When applied to the question of biological origins, PSR prompts us to seek an explanation that is commensurate with the effects we observe [39]. The astonishing complexity, specificity, and functional integration of living systems, and the presence of highly specified information in the genetic code, demand an explanation that is sufficient to account for these realities [40]. The purposeful arrangement of parts to achieve a functional end, and the generation of complex specified information, are hallmarks of intelligent activity [41]. Therefore, intelligent design is a causally adequate explanation that satisfies the Principle of Sufficient Reason [42].

Inference to the Best Explanation is a mode of reasoning that assesses the explanatory power of competing hypotheses and selects the one that best accounts for the available evidence [43]. When evaluating the origin of biological complexity and diversity, intelligent design outperforms conventional evolutionary theory on several key explanatory criteria [44]:

1. Causal Adequacy: Intelligent design provides a causally adequate explanation for the origin of complex specified information and functionally integrated systems, by invoking a cause known to be capable of producing such effects (i.e., intelligence) [45]. Undirected evolutionary processes, in contrast, have not been demonstrated to have the creative capacity to generate these phenomena [46].

2. Explanatory Scope: Intelligent design has a broad explanatory scope, accounting for a wide range of biological phenomena, including the abrupt appearance of complex animal phyla in the fossil record, the origin of irreducibly complex molecular machines, and the fine-tuning of biological systems to their environments [47]. Evolutionary theory struggles to provide detailed, testable explanations for these realities [48].

3. Explanatory Power: Intelligent design has a high degree of explanatory power, providing a compelling and intuitively satisfying account of the appearance of design in the living world [49]. The purposeful arrangement of parts to achieve a functional end is the kind of phenomenon that we recognize as the product of intelligent agency in our everyday experience [50]. Evolutionary explanations, relying on the accumulation of unguided variations over vast eons, lack a similar explanatory resonance [51].

4. Consistency: Intelligent design is consistent with a broad range of evidence from fields such as molecular biology, paleontology, and biochemistry [52]. It does not require ad hoc assumptions or the invocation of unseen and undemonstrated processes [53]. Evolutionary theory, in contrast, often resorts to speculative extrapolations and untestable historical narratives to account for the gaps and anomalies in the evidence [54].

5. Simplicity: Intelligent design provides a simple and parsimonious explanation for the origins of biological complexity, without requiring an elaborate series of unguided steps or the invocation of purely hypothetical transitional forms [55]. The direct action of a purposeful intelligence is a more economical and straightforward explanation than the complex and convoluted pathways proposed by evolutionary theory [56].


A comprehensive evaluation of the evidence and a rigorous application of the principles of rational inference, including the Principle of Sufficient Reason and Inference to the Best Explanation, point to intelligent design as the most compelling and logically satisfying explanation for the origins and diversity of life on Earth [57]. The evidentiary challenges to conventional evolutionary theory, from the anomalies in the fossil record to the vast specified complexity of biological systems, and the logical and philosophical difficulties of a purely materialistic worldview, underscore the explanatory limitations of the prevailing Darwinian framework [58].

Intelligent design, by invoking the creative power of a purposeful intelligence, provides a causally adequate and conceptually coherent account of the key realities of the biological world, including the appearance of design and the presence of complex specified information [59]. As a scientific theory, intelligent design is testable, falsifiable, and makes successful predictions about the patterns we should expect to find in the living world [60].

The recognition of intelligent design as a legitimate scientific alternative to conventional evolutionary theory has profound implications for our understanding of the nature of life, the meaning of human existence, and the ultimate origin and destiny of the cosmos [61]. It opens up new avenues for scientific research, philosophical reflection, and personal meaning and purpose [62].

In the pursuit of truth and the quest for a comprehensive understanding of the natural world, intelligent design merits serious consideration as a rational and scientifically robust framework for explaining the wonders of life on Earth [63]. The evidence, reason, and inferential logic all converge on the conclusion that life is the product of purposeful design, not the result of unguided material processes [64]. As we continue to explore the mysteries of the living world, let us remain open to following the evidence wherever it leads, and to embracing the best explanation, even if it challenges the prevailing scientific and philosophical paradigms of our age [65].


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[2] Meyer, S. C. (2013). Darwin's doubt: The explosive origin of animal life and the case for intelligent design. New York, NY: HarperOne.

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[4] Behe, M. J. (1996). Darwin's black box: The biochemical challenge to evolution. New York, NY: Free Press.

[5] Dembski, W. A., & Wells, J. (2008). The design of life: Discovering signs of intelligence in biological systems. Dallas, TX: Foundation for Thought and Ethics.

[6] Gould, S. J. (1980). The promise of paleobiology as a nomothetic, evolutionary discipline. Paleobiology, 6(1), 96-118.

[7] Eldredge, N., & Gould, S. J. (1972). Punctuated equilibria: An alternative to phyletic gradualism. In T. J. M. Schopf (Ed.), Models in paleobiology (pp. 82-115). San Francisco, CA: Freeman, Cooper & Co.

[8] Meyer, S. C. (2004). The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2), 213-239.

[9] Erwin, D. H., Valentine, J. W., & Sepkoski, J. J. (1987). A comparative study of diversification events: The early Paleozoic versus the Mesozoic. Evolution, 41(6), 1177-1186.

[10] Gould, S. J., & Eldredge, N. (1977). Punctuated equilibria: The tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology, 3(2), 115-151.

[11] Behe, M. J. (2007). The edge of evolution: The search for the limits of Darwinism. New York, NY: Free Press.

[12] Axe, D. D. (2004). Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds. Journal of Molecular Biology, 341(5), 1295-1315.

[13] Lönnig, W.-E. (2004). Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity. In Dynamical genetics (pp. 101-119). Delhi, India: Research Signpost.

[14] Shapiro, R. (1986). Origins: A skeptic's guide to the creation of life on earth. New York, NY: Summit Books.

[15] Thaxton, C. B., Bradley, W. L., & Olsen, R. L. (1984). The mystery of life's origin: Reassessing current theories. New York, NY: Philosophical Library.

[16] Yockey, H. P. (1992). Information theory and molecular biology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[17] Meyer, S. C. (2009). Signature in the cell: DNA and the evidence for intelligent design. New York, NY: HarperOne.

[18] Dembski, W. A. (2002). No free lunch: Why specified complexity cannot be purchased without intelligence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

[19] Dembski, W. A. (2004). The design revolution: Answering the toughest questions about intelligent design. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[20] Meyer, S. C. (2004). The Cambrian information explosion: Evidence for intelligent design. In W. A. Dembski & M. Ruse (Eds.), Debating design: From Darwin to DNA (pp. 371-391). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[21] Behe, M. J. (2001). Reply to my critics: A response to reviews of Darwin's black box: The biochemical challenge to evolution. Biology and Philosophy, 16(5), 685-709.

[22] Dembski, W. A., & Kushiner, J. M. (Eds.). (2001). Signs of intelligence: Understanding intelligent design. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

[23] Gonzalez, G., & Richards, J. W. (2004). The privileged planet: How our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing.

[24] Denton, M. J. (1986). Evolution: A theory in crisis. Bethesda, MD: Adler & Adler.

[25] Conway Morris, S. (2003). Life's solution: Inevitable humans in a lonely universe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[26] Nelson, P. A., & Wells, J. (2003). Homology in biology: Problem for naturalistic science and prospect for intelligent design. In M. J. Behe, W. A. Dembski, & S. C. Meyer (Eds.), Science and evidence for design in the universe (pp. 303-322). San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

[27] Denton, M. J., & Marshall, C. J. (2001). Laws of form revisited. Nature, 410(6827), 417.

[28] Johnson, P. E. (1991). Darwin on trial. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway.

[29] Dembski, W. A. (Ed.). (2006). Darwin's nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the intelligent design movement. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

[30] Moreland, J. P. (Ed.). (1994). The creation hypothesis: Scientific evidence for an intelligent designer. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[31] West, J. G. (Ed.). (2015). The magician's twin: C. S. Lewis on science, scientism, and society. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.

[32] Reppert, V. (2003). C.S. Lewis's dangerous idea: In defense of the argument from reason. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[33] Nagel, T. (2012). Mind and cosmos: Why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

[34] Wiker, B., & Witt, J. (2006). A meaningful world: How the arts and sciences reveal the genius of nature. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

[35] Gordon, B. L., & Dembski, W. A. (Eds.). (2011). The nature of nature: Examining the role of naturalism in science. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.

[36] Lipton, P. (2004). Inference to the best explanation (2nd ed.). London, UK: Routledge.

[37] Sober, E. (2002). Intelligent design and probability reasoning. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 52(2), 65-80.

[38] Pruss, A. R. (2006). The principle of sufficient reason: A reassessment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[39] Koons, R. C. (1997). A new look at the cosmological argument. American Philosophical Quarterly, 34(2), 193-211.

[40] Dembski, W. A., & Marks, R. J. (2009). Conservation of information in search: Measuring the cost of success. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics - Part A: Systems and Humans, 39(5), 1051-1061.

[41] Dembski, W. A. (2014). Being as communion: A metaphysics of information. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

[42] Ratzsch, D. (2001). Nature, design, and science: The status of design in natural science. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

[43] Glass, D. H. (2012). Darwin, design, and Dawkins' dilemma. Sophia, 51(1), 31-57.

[44] Behe, M. J. (2019). Darwin devolves: The new science about DNA that challenges evolution. New York, NY: HarperOne.

[45] Meyer, S. C. (2014). Darwin's doubt: The explosive origin of animal life and the case for intelligent design. New York, NY: HarperOne.

[46] Axe, D. (2016). Undeniable: How biology confirms our intuition that life is designed. New York, NY: HarperOne.

[47] Denton, M. J. (1998). Nature's destiny: How the laws of biology reveal purpose in the universe. New York, NY: Free Press.

[48] Wells, J. (2011). The myth of junk DNA. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.

[49] Gonzalez, G., & Richards, J. W. (2004). The privileged planet: How our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing.

[50] Dembski, W. A., & Ruse, M. (Eds.). (2004). Debating design: From Darwin to DNA. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[51] Johnson, P. E. (1993). Darwin on trial (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[52] Behe, M. J., Dembski, W. A., & Meyer, S. C. (Eds.). (2000). Science and evidence for design in the universe. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

[53] Denton, M. J. (2016). Evolution: Still a theory in crisis. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.

[54] Wells, J. (2000). Icons of evolution: Science or myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing.

[55] Nelson, P., & Gauger, A. (2011). The case against a Darwinian origin of protein folds. Bio-Complexity, 2011(1), 1-12.

[56] Axe, D. D. (2010). The case against a Darwinian origin of enzyme folds. Bio-Complexity, 2010(1), 1-12.

[57] Dembski, W. A. (Ed.). (2004). Uncommon dissent: Intellectuals who find Darwinism unconvincing. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.

[58] Klinghoffer, D. (Ed.). (2017). Debating Darwin's doubt: A scientific controversy that can no longer be denied. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.

[59] Gordon, B. L., & Dembski, W. A. (2011). The nature of nature: Examining the role of naturalism in science. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.

[60] Behe, M. J. (2007). The edge of evolution: The search for the limits of Darwinism. New York, NY: Free Press.

[61] Dembski, W. A., & Witt, J. (2008). Intelligent design uncensored: An easy-to-understand guide to the controversy. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

[62] Lennox, J. C. (2007). God's undertaker: Has science buried God? Oxford, UK: Lion Hudson.

[63] Behe, M. J., Dembski, W. A., & Meyer, S. C. (Eds.). (2013). Science and faith: Friends or foes? Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

[64] Dembski, W. A., & McDowell, S. (2008). Understanding intelligent design: Everything you need to know in plain language. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.

[65] Meyer, S. C., Minnich, S., Moneymaker, J., Nelson, P. A., & Seelke, R. (2007). Explore evolution: The arguments for and against neo-Darwinism. Melbourne, Australia: Hill House Publishers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

I asked an AI to compare Christianity with atheism

“While each view has philosophical merits, I believe Christian theism has greater explanatory scope and power and offers more existential and pragmatic benefits than atheism. The self-revelation of God in Christ and the historical evidence for His resurrection are compelling. While both views face difficulties, I find the atheist's universe of cosmic drudgery bleaker than the theist's universe of ultimate meaning, value, hope, and joy grounded in a perfectly good Creator who desires a relationship with us. But these are my thoughts and I respect the right of others to disagree and draw different conclusions.”

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Inadequacy of "Self-Cause": Why an Intelligent First Cause Remains the Best Explanation

The idea that the universe and its exquisite fine-tuning is the product of "self-organization" or "self-cause" is a woefully inadequate and logically incoherent attempt to explain away what is more reasonably attributed to the intentional activity of a transcendent intelligent Creator. As philosopher William Lane Craig argues, "The most plausible answer to the question of why something exists rather than nothing is that there is a necessarily existent being, God, who is the ground of being for everything else that exists." (Craig, 2008, p. 182)

The concept of "self-organization" posits that the staggeringly complex and finely-calibrated cosmos arose through mindless, unguided processes - that the unimaginably precise initial conditions and physical constants required for a life-permitting universe all fell into place by sheer chance or some inscrutable naturalistic mechanism. But as philosopher and mathematician William Dembski notes, "The amount of specified complexity in even the simplest life-forms is staggering. The probability of their occurrence by chance is unfathomably small. Attributing such specified complexity to blind natural causes is akin to attributing the integrated circuit to the blind heat of a kiln. It strains reason." (Dembski, 2004, p. 151)

In our uniform and repeated experience, specified complexity and informational richness invariably originate from minds, not mindless processes. As former atheist philosopher Antony Flew observes, "The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such 'end-directed, self-replicating' life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind." (Flew & Varghese, 2007, p. 132) To suggest that the functional complexity and apparent design of biological systems and the cosmos as a whole is the product of unguided natural processes is as absurd as suggesting that the informational content of software wrote itself, or that the faces on Mount Rushmore are the result of mere wind and erosion. It flouts the principle of abductive reasoning, which compels us to infer to the best explanation given our background knowledge. As philosopher Richard Swinburne contends, "The hypothesis of theism is a simple hypothesis which leads us to expect these observable phenomena, when no other simple hypothesis will do so." (Swinburne, 2004, p. 68) 

Moreover, "self-cause" scenarios run aground on inescapable logical and metaphysical absurdities. They inevitably involve the universe somehow "causing itself" or "arising from nothing" - but this is patent nonsense. As Aristotle recognized, "Nothing can come from nothing, and nothing can become actual except it is potentially so." (Aristotle, Physics, 1.8) Being cannot spontaneously arise from non-being. Every contingent effect requires a sufficient non-contingent cause. As philosopher Alexander Pruss argues, "The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) and the causal principle. . . provide strong reasons to suppose that there is an ultimate cause of contingent things and that this cause. . . is a necessary being." (Pruss, 2009)

An eternal, uncaused, immaterial, unimaginably powerful and intelligent Mind - in short, God - is a far more plausible and logically coherent explanation for the origin and fine-tuning of the cosmos than naturalistic appeals to "self-cause." As philosopher Robin Collins concludes, "Given the fine-tuning evidence, the many-worlds hypothesis is at least no better as a theory for explaining the fine-tuning than the design hypothesis, and arguably is worse. . .[T]he inference to design is in this case the best explanation." (Collins, 2009, p. 274)

Those who deny this and attribute everything to "self-cause" are really just engaging in a thinly-veiled attempt to evade the obvious conclusion to which the evidence points - that our universe is the product of a transcendent and intentional Creator. They accuse theists of a "God of the gaps" approach while conveniently ignoring their own "self-cause of the gaps" explanatory failure. 

Abductive logic and the principle of inferring to the best explanation compel the conclusion that an intelligent First Cause is the most plausible and causally adequate explanation for the origin and fine-tuning of the cosmos. To quote Cambridge astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, himself no theist, "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics. . . and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature." (Hoyle, 1982, p. 12) The cosmos bears the unmistakable imprint of intentional design by a Supreme Intelligence. Naturalistic appeals to unguided "self-organization" simply fail to adequately account for its astounding sophistication and specificity. 

In conclusion, the concept of "self-cause" is nothing more than an ad hoc "X of the gaps" attempt to deny what the evidence clearly indicates - that our universe is the product of an intentional and intelligent First Cause. Pushing the explanatory question back a step by appealing to an inscrutable "self-organizing" process is a glaring explanatory failure that runs aground on logical absurdities and violates the principle of abductive reasoning. A transcendent and superintelligent Creator remains the best and most causally adequate explanation for the origin and fine-tuning of the cosmos.


- Aristotle. (4th c. BC) Physics.  

- Collins, R. (2009). The teleological argument. In W. L. Craig & J. P. Moreland (Eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (pp. 202-281). Wiley-Blackwell.  

- Craig, W. L. (2008). Reasonable Faith. 3rd ed. Crossway.

- Dembski, W. (2004). The Design Revolution. InterVarsity Press.

- Flew, A. & Varghese, R. A. (2007). There Is a God. HarperOne.

- Hoyle, F. (1982). The Universe: Past and Present Reflections. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Vol. 20, pp. 1-35.

- Pruss, A. (2009). The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument. In W. L. Craig & J. P. Moreland (Eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (pp. 24-100). Wiley-Blackwell.

- Swinburne, R. (2004). The Existence of God. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Infinite time = God of the gaps

TL;DR: The extremely low probability of a life-permitting universe points to design rather than chance. Appealing to infinite time or a multiverse to explain fine-tuning is an ad hoc move to rescue naturalism, not unlike a "God of the gaps" argument. Positing a purposeful God as the cosmic designer is a simpler and more illuminating explanation for the extraordinary fine-tuning of our universe than an infinite multiverse generator. The "God of the gaps" charge cuts both ways, and "God in the system" is the more parsimonious and compelling explanation given the evidence.

“We know the probability of an intelligible, life-enabling, finely-tuned universe is essentially 0, given the amount of time evidence, so we fill the gap with more time.”

The extraordinarily low probability of a life-permitting universe by chance alone seems to point to design or intention rather than mere happenstance. Physicist Roger Penrose calculated the odds of a low-entropy initial state of the universe conducive to life as 1 in 10 ^ 10 ^ 123 - a vanishingly small probability. In the face of such staggering improbability, appealing to infinite time is basically a special pleading to make chance a more plausible explanation and avoid the implication of design.

Invoking a multiverse of infinite universes to explain the fine-tuning is essentially an ad hoc hypothesis aimed at dodging the conclusion of a Cosmic Designer. An ad hoc argument is one that is introduced to save a theory from being falsified, without having independent empirical support of its own. In this case, an unimaginably vast number of unseen universes are posited to account for the apparent design of our universe, without independent empirical evidence that these other universes exist. This is really no different than invoking an supernatural God to explain the design - both are naturally unverifiable explanations introduced to reinforce a worldview.

However, philosopher Richard Swinburne argues that a good explanation should have the characteristics of simplicity and specificity. A single logically omnipotent God is a simpler explanation for apparent cosmic design than a multiverse generator churning out infinite unseen universes. And a purposeful God is a more specific explanation for why our universe in particular is finely tuned for intelligent life than a sea of random universes where we just happen to find ourselves in one of the extremely rare life-enabling ones.

A commitment to naturalistic materialism forces science to stick to explaining things based on known natural laws and chance, without introducing supernatural causes. But this presupposes that natural laws and chance are ultimately sufficient to explain the deepest layers of reality. The fine-tuning of the cosmos is the very kind of evidence that should lead us to question that presupposition and consider that a supernatural Intelligence might be the best explanation for why the universe is intelligible and life-enabling.

Positing infinite time or infinite universes to dissolve the fine-tuning problem is really just an ad hoc move to paper over a gaping explanatory hole in the naturalistic worldview. Theists are often accused of making a "God of the gaps" argument, but the "multiverse of the gaps" or "infinity of the gaps" arguments are no less a case of reaching for a speculative and empirically unsupported notion to save one's paradigm. And at least with God there is an inherent explanatory power to the notion of an intentional, omnipotent being as a cause for the cosmos, unlike a purposeless multiverse generator.

Given the evidence, “God in the system” is a much more elegant solution.