examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

Month: September, 2016

Eric Metaxas and the Unprovable Theory

Even the most ardent evolutionary biologist would probably admit that finding that one moment in time where life suddenly happened from non-life is almost impossible. I know a few atheist apologists out there who might be willing to weigh in on the issue in the comments, and if they do, I’ll try to keep up.

I’ve used the argument before that we cannot know when the first cell developed. I’ve also asked the question, “where did the material come from for the Big Bang? Apparently, the answer to that one is that it came from a previously existing universe. Honestly, I can see how that might have happened. Of course, it doesn’t explain where the material from THAT universe came from, but this becomes a pretty circular argument and doesn’t prove creation any more than saying “God did it” and not having a better answer proves evolution.

Eric Metaxas, a writer I trust and enjoy (especially his biography of Bonhoeffer), wrote a piece on Break Point about how evolution is now even more difficult to prove since a discovery in Australia has shed some light on the earliest signs of life. In essence, the article suggests that life started further back than evolutionists currently claim. In Metaxas’ mind, this signifies a problem for evolutionists because it forces them to do two things.

  1. It throws off their numbers, beginning with when things first came to life. If it happened a few hundred million years before they originally thought, then they have to redo all of the other numbers too, and that presents problems.
  2. According to Metaxas, life started too early in the evolutionary timeline to allow for evolution. At the time of these living rocks, Earth was still too hot to really hold life. How could evolution have really happened?

So a few issues. First, evolutionists will quickly point out that life has been created in a lab. I disagree slightly with the idea that this equals life, since it was really a modification of an already existing bacteria. Still, it is life, as it were. Metaxas makes the argument that life cannot be created. That’s a side project in his article, and honestly I wish it wasn’t even there. It’s not relevant to his actual point.

Second, disproving evolution doesn’t prove God. This is something Christians have to stop doing. I’ll give you the atheist answer: We understand that this evidence disproves what we believed was true about life’s timeline. We’ll go back to the drawing board on that note and figure it out. You see, an evolutionist never stops trying to figure out the science of the issue.

Third, proving that life started earlier than scientists first imagined doesn’t prove creation because IT’S STILL HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO! By making his claim against evolution, that it started so much earlier than scientists first thought and that therefore evolution can’t be correct, Metaxas is saying that God created these living organisms millions of years before Christians accept his creation. It’s a horrible circular argument and a byproduct of trying to find the smoking gun against evolution.

Too many Christians think they can find evolution’s achilles heel. There isn’t one. Each obstacle in science merely produces a new direction for research.

Look, it’s hopefully become very clear over the last few months that I’ve tipped my hat toward creation. I am a Christian and I believe God created the world. I believe scientific thought can show us how that happened, not that I need to have it proven by science. Still, it’s so vitally important that we not shut the door to those doing this research for us because we need their research to understand God more. We’ve got to stop thinking that we have the smoking gun, especially when all we end up doing is alienating ourselves.

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Creation, Evolution, and Apologetics Part I

I never wanted this project to be about apologetics. In my opinion, unless a person is already interested in scripture, or completely ignorant of the Bible, arguing (or debating) is just a waste of time. It is idle talk that takes away from the work of the kingdom (II Tim 2:16).

My only real desire for this research project has always been for it to be just that…a research project. I have hoped to bridge the gap between faith and science for me and my kids. You see, I had to know if these two poles were reconcilable for myself, and then I could help my kids see the truth.


Timothy Paul Jones, co-author of Practical Family Ministry, wrote, “Parents need to be trained to equip their children to defend their faith in an increasingly hostile context.”*

As much as I don’t want this project to be about apologetics, it has to be. Of course, that won’t happen until I’ve done the research that proves one thing or the other…and while I’m hopeful that, in the end, this research will prove God created everything (even if I have to reject what I grew up believing in order for it to be true). As I get further along, I hope to show how it’s not only true, but how to defend it in public.

Apologetics means to give a defense. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry  (CARM) defines it at, “Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith.”

I used to be afraid of that word because I thought it meant to apologize, and as a young Christian man in a small town in Kansas, I didn’t do that. The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, clears up the issue: “The word, however, derives its meaning from the Greek apologia, meaning a ‘reasoned defence’.”

Here’s why we have to include apologetics, as much as I may reject the notion at first. The world wants me to reject that God created the world and I need to find and defend the answers to that issue.

There is another reason, however, and it’s an unfortunate one. I have to be ready to defend my faith and beliefs from conservative Christians who reject the notion of anything but a 6 day creation and expect me to do the same. So I plan to learn how to do that as well.

Here’s why: the original call for apologetics didn’t come from the church, but from God through the apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the old man says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

This would seem to include Christians and unbelievers. And why must I be ready, along with my children? Because the attack will come. I can still remember a lecture in my sophomore year of high school where I defended the creation against my biology teacher, who I think acquiesced because of time, not because of my sound theology and logic. Already, my son is bringing home study books dripping with the rejection of Christian faith and filled with evolution. I don’t believe I have prepared him well enough for defending his faith in school.

So the research will continue, and will in time develop into a proper defense, but I promise you sincerely, the defense is to bring Christ to the masses, not to shun or hurt people. We’ll see how it turns out.

*  Practical Family Ministry: A Collection of Ideas for Your Church, Pg 10.

Should a Christian Study Evolution?

I hesitate to even write this post. What if I sound fake? What if I sound like I’m throwing my conservative upbringing aside? What if I’m labeled a heretic and never get to minister in theologically conservative churches again?

Yes, Christians should study evolution. Here’s why: Your kids are in school! My son is in advanced biology. He brought home an assignment a few days ago that detailed a certain aspect of evolution. I talked with him about it, and it became clear that, while he rejected the notion because of what he was taught in church, he was still being fed evolution in the classroom. Our kids may not be able to differentiate the issue enough to know that they actually are the same. Instead of realizing that teachers are trying to tell him his God didn’t create the world, he’s compartmentalizing school and church.

And I don’t know that our church is teaching him this either. Not that it’s really my church’s purpose. I am his father. It is my job. Time to get busy. What I learn over time I will be teaching you.

As an involved father, at least as involved as I can be my navy career notwithstanding, I need to be a part of my children’s learning process. I can’t just say, “Well, it’s not true,” when they bring home an assignment. Why? Because their grade depends on them writing papers and doing projects that support evolutionary theory! So what do I do? I study the issues so I can arm my kids with facts.

Here are a few other reasons we should study evolution:

  1.  Some of it is probably true: I’ll be writing a post in the next few weeks about dating methods
  2. Evolutionary theory can show us how God created the world.
  3. Most importantly, studying evolution and realizing points 1 and 2 can help the conservative church restore humanity to God.

I don’t often agree with the strategy flavor of the week. I don’t think that churches should be marketing themselves (more than simply making themselves known in the community), I don’t think things are really “purpose” driven, or driven in any other way (Gospel, Community, whatever). I think churches should be places where the sick are cared for, the poor are elevated, where women and children are equals, and things like this.

However, after reading some of the book The Next Christians, by Gabe Lyons, I realized an unsettling truth…I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be separate from the world, and from less-conservative (theologically) churches. Lyons calls it restoring the world to a relationship with God, and that’s true. If our faith story starts in a perfect garden, but science doesn’t teach that, then we have an issue. My work on this project seeks to find the truth so we can restore the unbelieving world to a relationship with God.

So we study.

What’s faith got to do with Science?

In my estimation, the average atheist scientist has as much or more faith than the average Christian. 

I’ve been studying the ideas of evolution and creation for almost a year now. My reason for examining science has been many fold, and will be covered in a different post. I’ve researched cystic fibrosis, which is something near and dear to me as it runs in my family. From there I started studying human origins. To that end, I’ve written about Neanderthals and I’ve got a post in the works on Lucy, thought to be one of the first human ancestors.

In doing this research, with what I believe are now proper motivations, I’ve started feeling pretty good about myself. After all, I want to find out how God did it. How did he design the whole thing? Did he use a long time? How did he move one species to another? While sometimes I admit that the process gets me down, overall I’m quite excited about the research.

Until recently when I read Hebrews 11. Of course, as a person who grew up in the church, I have read the faith “hall of fame” many times. Hebrews 11:1 is a verse that (in KJV) I know by heart to this day.

The verse that got me thinking was the third verse: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Suddenly, I was unnerved by the Word of God. I do still believe in the Bible, don’t I? even if I’m willing to admit that Genesis 1 may not be the whole story, don’t I believe in the first verse? As I write this post, yes, I do believe that, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Scientifically speaking, this is the big bang. Whether the point of singularity was God-created (for Christians) or a dense piece of matter (evolutionists), the heavens and the earth were created at some point.

But do I believe that it was God? and if I do, isn’t that as far as I need to go? Shouldn’t it spell the end of the blog/research project?

 

I don’t think so, although the situation reminded me to keep this research project in perspective. I do believe it is important, from a purely apologetical perspective, to discover as much about science as we can. But more important than that, studying how this all came about helps us reach the lost. It helps us understand the average Joe’s base mindset going in to a discussion.

To answer the question posed in the title of this post, faith has everything to do with it. An evolutionary scientist does not know how everything came about, but he or she believes with great faith that science will betray the answers of the universe in time. In my estimation, the average atheist scientist has as much or more faith than the average Christian.

I don’t mean that flippantly, like some Christian apologists do when they say, “It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does the Bible.” I don’t think that’s a true statement. I mean that, for the gaps that still exist in science (and there are plenty), the average scientist believes with an amazing amount of faith that the answers will be found and that those answers will continue to prove out the modified theory of evolution.

Yet I also have faith…faith that their research will give me answers in my research!

Because I’m convinced that this research project holds value as a tool to understand how God created everything, I will continue it, albeit at a slower rate than I had been going. Human evolution, or whatever it is, intrigues me, as does the overall age of the universe. I expect to learn a great deal while studying these things.

Until next time…