The Perfect Timing of God 1

“Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people of his own, zealous of good works.”                 (Tit. 2:14)

 

In the example of the parting of the Red Sea at the start of the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt, the perfect timing of God waits until all of the parties are together on the banks of the Red Sea before He begins to part the waters.

The Egyptian chariot army is stalled on one side of the pillar of fire, and on the other side the Israelites are watching the Red Sea open up through the supernatural hand of God.  The unarmed and defenseless Hebrew slaves are just beyond reach of the Egyptian army.

This sets in motion the infuriation of the proud Egyptians at this yet-again miraculous intervention of the Hebrew God on behalf of the heretofore lowly Israelites, and fuels the determination of the Egyptian army to continue their pursuit of the fleeing Israelites into the parted waters of the Red Sea…and to their eventual judgment of God and final doom.

It is the emotionally charged energy that is generated by having both the Israelites and the Egyptians together in close proximity at the shoreline of the Red Sea…that propels the actions and events that lead to the deliverance of the Israelites…and the destruction of the Egyptians.

All of the competing issues of character that make up the long period of exploitation, servitude, and inhospitality the Jews experienced while sojourning in the land of Egypt…are brought together into a final climax at the parting of the Red Sea.

The demonstration of God’s deliverance…the need for faith in God on the part of the Israelites…and the judgment of evil attitudes and actions…are all divided, separated, and exposed in this monumental collision of forces and purposes at the banks of the Red Sea.

It is the perfectly timed choreography of these events that allows God to craft and shape a final outcome that both reveals His character and establishes some important truths having eternal application.

If God had started the parting of the Red Sea a day earlier, with the exodus of the Israelites already in progress and nearing completion when the Egyptian chariot army arrived at the shoreline, much of the power and impact of God’s message would have been deflated.

The Egyptian army, watching the tail-end of the Israelites nearing the opposite shore…across a long dry-land passage through the sea…an escape that would have begun sometime the day before…would have been a discouraging and anticlimactic ending to the Egyptian’s final pursuit of the Israelites.

This would have resulted in the Egyptian chariot army simply giving up and possibly returning to Egypt.

In this scenario, the Israelites would have already perfected their escape, at least for the time being.

It is the closeness together in time and physical proximity of these two extremely dissimilar groups of people, the Egyptians and the Israelites, which allows God through the events of the parting of the Red Sea, to ignite this explosive mixture into the outcome that He anticipated, designed, and orchestrated.

This divinely crafted outcome of deliverance and salvation for the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was in complete frustration and consternation to the forces of spiritual opposition.

Instead of the destruction of the children of God, the Israelites are safely across to the opposite side of the Red Sea and heading toward Canaan, while the Egyptian army with all of their chariots and swords and continued plans of domination and exploitation…are drowned at the bottom of the sea.

This was a preview and a foreglimpse of God’s many imaginative and powerful tales of salvation to come, recorded in the Bible, that today we can by faith “cut and paste” forward into our own upcoming, immensely challenging end-times period.

The plagues in Egypt…and the parting of the Red Sea…at the beginning of the exodus of the Israelites heading toward their Promised Land, and the upcoming last seven-year tribulation period at the close of human redemptive history, are on a relatively equal magnitude level of truth-revelation.

If the perfectly timed choreography of events during the parting of the Red Sea was designed by God to contrast the difference between the power of loving salvation, and the utter destructive judgment of self-centered evil…surely there is a similar level of purpose of revelation contained within the last seven-year tribulation period for mankind.

Identifying some of these central purposes is critical to evaluating the truth-content of the various end-of-time scenarios being discussed today.

A Promise of Hope for Every Generation 5

The Theme of this Book

 

In the study of the history and development of eschatology, emphasis is placed upon the importance of the recovery of last-days biblical prophetic truths during the time-period following the Protestant Reformation.

This has occurred alongside the parallel discovery of other key doctrines such as salvation by grace, justification through faith, and becoming spiritually reborn (Jn. 3:3), which were partially lost during the dark and middle ages of history.

One of the key biblical doctrines that still has not made a full recovery in practical application to this day…in my opinion…is the concept of a divinely planned and guided challenge of adversity contained within a God-composed journey of faith, which beneficially separates the believer from debilitating self-sovereignty.

The Christian set free from self-in-control in a walk-of-faith through the cross and the resurrection is then able to step into a biblical quality of life to match on some level the experiences of an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David, Ruth, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Peter, and Paul.

In the current emphasis in developed countries for “church growth” and the effort to find the right tone to reach out and successfully evangelize the “unchurched”, one key element of our discipleship…of picking up our cross and following Jesus…is all too often homogenized out of the message for the sake of not offending worldly-minded potential converts.

Sadly, in too many churches today the idea that every Christian can have an individualized adventure of faith composed and guided personally by Jesus Christ…starting at the foot of the cross…is not even clearly and powerfully taught as applying to our everyday lives here and now…much less factored into the calculus of the upcoming tumultuous end-times prophetic scenarios.

In my opinion, the Christian church must experience some portion of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation.

As I interpret the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, this viewpoint does not adversely affect our blessed hope, or undermine the doctrine of imminence at any time of an immediate rapture of the church, or call into question the purity of God’s love for us (Ps. 34:19).

Confronting and overcoming dark challenges is an integral and inseparable part of the process of a journey of faith life-script that God lovingly composes for our eternal good, as patterned in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

Jesus Christ actually tells Peter at the beginning of Peter’s ministry that he will someday in the future be martyred through crucifixion rather than be raptured (Jn. 21:18-19), yet this seemingly negative prophetic information does not discourage Peter, diminish the power of his ministry, or destroy his blessed hope in the slightest (1 Pet. 1:3).

Paul tells Timothy (2 Tim. 4:6) he suspects that he (Paul) will be martyred, not raptured, soon.  Yet Paul presses forward in this knowledge with unwavering hope and determination to honorably complete his mission and calling (2 Tim. 4:17).

Because Paul enjoys the status of being a Roman citizen, historical tradition tells us that Paul is finally executed by beheading (parallels Revelation 20:4) in Rome under Nero’s decree sometime around A.D. 62-65…instead of being crucified like Peter, a Jew and a non-citizen of Rome.

If two of the greatest Christians and chosen authors of New Testament letters to the churches, Peter and Paul, did not allow a foreknowledge of their future deaths as martyrs to adversely affect the commitment to their calling and their fidelity to Jesus Christ, how is it that many Christians today believe that experiencing some portion of the tribulation will destroy their blessed hope of Titus 2:13?

In John 15:11, Jesus says: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Moments earlier, Jesus told the disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

These words Jesus spoke the night before His crucifixion the following day.

In John 11:7, upon hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus says: “Let us go into Judaea again.”  The disciples respond by saying: “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou there again?”

In verse 16, one of the disciples Thomas (the much maligned “doubting” Thomas who would not accept the resurrection until he saw Jesus with his own eyes) then says with characteristically clear-sighted appraisal of the situation: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Yet the disciples do not perish with Jesus during His trial and crucifixion, but after Pentecost go on to preach courageously of the bodily resurrection of Christ in the very heart of danger in Jerusalem.

The narrowest of gates opens for the disciples to form the early Christian church…amidst the most lethally adverse circumstances…a church which has flourished and survived down to our present day to provide salvation and deliverance from sin to Spirit-born Christians worldwide.

Jesus Christ fills all-in-all so that we can follow Him safely into the deepest valley and up to the highest mountaintop, in our singular and unique callings.

We must factor this honest and straightforward reality into our interpretation of biblical end-of-time prophetic scripture if we are to come reasonably close to what God intends us to understand ahead of time as God prepares us for the upcoming end-times.

Peter and Paul exemplify the true, biblical, divinely authorized foreglimpse of the overcoming attitude of faith and trust in the Rock that is Christ, in response to whatever challenges lie ahead in the future for Christians.

This is the hope-built foundation of our faith, no matter what is occurring in the outer world.

For the Spirit-born Christian, our eternal life with Jesus Christ in heaven is forever, without end.  It is already secure.

The cross of Christ experience, therefore, in our short-lived lives now is priceless beyond reckoning (Rom. 8:18).

This is the part of the discussion relating to eschatology that has not yet been fully recovered.  It is certainly an opinion and a viewpoint worthy of examination, discussion, and argument from scripture.

The cross of Jesus Christ in our lives, as it applies to the end-times, is the theme of this book.

A Promise of Hope for Every Generation 4

Our Relationship with Jesus Christ is Paramount

The most important immediate question regarding the last days is not whether we have all of the prophetic events clearly identified, sequenced, and completely figured out in advance, but whether or not we are mature Christians in terms of faith and trust in God in order to be spiritually ready for whatever lies ahead.

Christians who are surrendered and yielded to the will of God, and are currently engaged in Spirit-filled service, are by definition in a state of watchfulness and will be raptured no matter when it occurs in relation to end-time events (Mt. 24:46).

What Christians must avoid at all costs is a mere head-knowledge of some particular end-times scenario of events, which in our minds satisfies and displaces the requirements regarding our discipleship responsibility to watch and to be ready.

Intellectual head-knowledge of end-times prophecies will not fulfill the need for active interaction with Jesus Christ in the present moment, as the required element for watchfulness.  Christians cannot afford to become complacent and over-confident because we confuse intellectually subscribing to a particular well thought-out end-times scenario, with actually being in the midst of faithful service to Jesus Christ the King as our living proof of watchfulness (Jas. 1:22).

If our particular current, for-the-moment chosen end-times interpretation turns out in fact to be partially wrong, if we are nonetheless “in Christ” in terms of a genuine journey of faith and service according to our unique talents and abilities, then a transitional adjustment to a more correct view of prophetic events will not be that difficult.

If however, we are unwise and coasting along in the false expectation of the master of the house coming back at the first watch of the night (Mk. 13:35), we could end-up without having purchased through faith enough oil in our lamps to make it through a potentially long duration of the night (Mt. 25:8).

The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 1:6, 1:10, and 2:16, is trying to get the Philippians ready for the “day of Christ.”  Paul does the same thing with the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:8, 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14), the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 4:13-17; 2 Thes. 2:2, 2:8), Timothy (1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:18, 4:8), and Titus (Tit. 2:13).

If this is important to Paul in the first-century, how much more so is it important to the present-day Christian church twenty centuries later?  We are certainly closer to the “day of Christ” than the first-century church that Paul is addressing in his letters.

We should have the same message today as the Apostle Paul, yet with even more urgency.

If everyone knew the exact day and hour of the rapture, sadly many people would cruise along in sin until the last minute, and then suddenly attempt to turn pious.  Paul says that the successful Christian life is a foot race that requires steady, lifelong training in order to win (1 Cor. 9:24).

Jesus knows that the most important thing, which overrides all other considerations, is to complete the work of salvation on the earth down to the very last person who will respond to the gospel message at the close of this age and the beginning of the eternity to come.

Those Christians in past centuries who did not experience the rapture have not been overlooked.  Their treasure is in heaven where it does not rust or decay.  The promise of their resurrection to eternal life is secure.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that the dead in Christ shall rise first, and that we who are alive and remain will be caught up to join them in the air.  The promises of God are and have been true for every generation of believers.

There is an old saying: “Fate does not call upon us at the moment of our choosing.”  That is why we are to watch and always be ready.  The one true approach that will work well for the Christian believer no matter how the end-of-world events actually unfold…is to stay close to Jesus Christ in our daily lives, and to keep our eyes and ears open to the Holy Spirit at all times.

Being spiritually prepared for any potential end-times scenario has no down-side.

A Promise of Hope for Every Generation 3

God Has Not Revealed Everything Yet

The seven-year tribulation period is traditionally understood by many Christians to begin with the “covenant” that the Antichrist makes with the nation of Israel described in Daniel 9:24-27.

For purposes of this book I am assuming a seven-year tribulation period, recognizing that many past and present Christians have suggested a three and one-half year tribulation, and that there is disagreement as to what to do with the second half of the 70th week of Daniel after the messiah is “cut off” and the sacrifice caused to “cease.”

Every Christian knows from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the book of Revelation, that there will be an end-times great tribulation.  The question…of how long the tribulation will last…and when the rapture would occur…is still open.

The scenario of world events that would lead to the nation of Israel signing such a peace agreement with the involvement of the Antichrist is currently not known.  The idea that the chaos following a worldwide rapture would precipitate the series of events that would facilitate the rise of the Antichrist, is speculative conjecture based upon one plausible scenario among many other possible alternatives.

No human being has all of this completely figured out at this time.

We currently do not know what would be the magnitude of the impact that a worldwide disappearance of hundreds of millions of Christians and underage children…through the rapture…upon the psyche of the world’s current 7-billion population.

The only real expert here is the Holy Spirit.

It is not an article of faith to accept the viewpoint that the rapture is required to set up the conditions for the rise of the Antichrist.   This particular viewpoint does not have to be taken as gospel.

There are a number of possible events that could create the environment conducive for the rise of the Antichrist, some of which may be revealed already in Matthew 24:4-7 depending upon the order, magnitude, and timing of their particular occurrence.

The ancient hatred of the Arab countries for the nation of Israel alone has enough explosive political energy within it to propel a deceptive, smooth-talking, outwardly charismatic peacemaker into world prominence and power.

Christians, at this time, do not have to commit to anyone’s particular end-times interpretation, including my own viewpoint as expressed in this book.

Nowhere in the Bible, that I can find, does it say that we must have all of the last days events completely figured out one-hundred percent ahead of time.

It is allowable, even divinely purposed (Joel 2:28-29), to hold some questions in suspension for a while until actual events begin to unfold.

The teaching that because the Bible is one-third prophecy…that this automatically infers that we can put all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces of the end-of-time biblical prophecies together completely ahead of time…sounds commendably logical on its surface according to horizontally conventional thinking…but this viewpoint is not biblically correct (the subject of chapter five).

The parable of the fig tree (Mt. 24:32-35) suggests that Christians must watch for the sprouting of the leaves (end-times events) to know when the end is near.

Joel 2:28-32 tells us that in the last days our sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions, and old men shall dream dreams.  This implies that there is additional, fill-in-the-gaps, Holy Spirit breathed and validated prophetic information to be revealed at the appropriate future time when this information begins to become applicable.

This divinely promised, definitive revelation will be a timely and welcome improvement over the varied opinions and interpretations that have been commendably and honestly debated over the past several centuries.

A Promise of Hope for Every Generation 2

Evangelism Takes Precedence

In the debate over the timing and sequence of end-times events, this tension between the hope of an imminent rapture at any time in the church age, and the on-going work of salvation on the earth to draw-in each and every lost sheep destined for eternal life in heaven, often takes a backseat in recent times to the more high-profile argument of the timing of the rapture in relation to the seven-year tribulation period.

Yet this issue of the end-of-the-ages worldwide evangelism is paramount.

Matthew 24:14 reads: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

The Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20) takes precedence over the timing of the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Millennium.

The work of salvation, the sharing of the good news of the gospel, stands front and center above all other considerations.

The eternal salvation of even one person is so important to God it can hold in abeyance the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth.

If Christians cannot agree on this point, regarding the overriding importance of worldwide evangelism coming first and foremost within the scheme of end-time events, then the basis for our end-times theology may be out of balance.  People can argue for a pretribulation rapture of the Christian church, or conversely for a return of Christ after the millennium, because these differing scenarios fit smoothly into systematically constructed viewpoints.

But the emphasis in the mind and heart of God has always been the harvest of lost souls right up to and including the very last person pre-destined for salvation.

This reality is strongly evidenced today by the explosion of Christian evangelism and salvation in many parts of the world, alongside the parallel fact that we are still looking for the rapture and the second coming of Christ.  As time marches relentlessly on, the Holy Spirit is convicting lost sinners and saving souls around the world.

Only God knows who these last final converts are, when they will exercise salvation quality faith in Jesus Christ, and what will be needed in terms of external situations and circumstances to bring them to the point where they recognize their need for God.

And only God knows how many Spirit-led Christians will be needed on hand to speak the words of Life to match the number of people who will respond to God’s final call at the end of the ages.

That is why the times and the seasons must belong to God alone.

If Christians knew in advance who the last few people were to be saved at the end of human history, we might rush-out ahead of the Spirit with our own program, and attempt to convert them before the Holy Spirit had the opportunity to generate the external circumstances to correctly prepare them to receive Jesus Christ through genuine repentance and faith.

The same process of a sense of shame and internal conviction over our personal sins and shortcomings, which brought us to salvation quality faith in Jesus Christ, must also actualize for the last-days convert as well.

There is a finite list of people, compiled through God’s eternal foreknowledge (Rom. 8:29), who will come to salvation faith throughout the long span of Old and New Testament history.

Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Mark, Luke, Stephen the martyr, Paul, Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy, Barnabas, and Titus, to name only a few first-century Christians…were on that list.

The Old Testament men and women of faith, the early church fathers, the reformers, the missionaries and their converts in previous centuries…were on that list.  Those of us who are born-again Christians today are on that list.

We have not reached the bottom of this list yet.  Each generation of Christians in past centuries, within its own unique historical context has worked on completing the Great Shepherd’s list of lost sheep to be found and saved, not knowing how close they were to the bottom of this list.

Every person named on this list had to work through their lives within the time-frame and context of their own personal situations and circumstances, to reach the point of choosing through their own free-will volition to accept Jesus Christ into their hearts.

The Holy Spirit is capable of reaching all of the people who are called to salvation faith in every generation.  But events must follow their proper course.

From our limited viewpoint, we simply do not know when this list of people will finally be exhausted.

This is how the watchfulness and expectation of Christian disciples for the second coming of Jesus on the one-hand, and the evangelical outreach through the Holy Spirit to the lost sheep on the other hand, can appear to be contradictory…yet in fact proceed down through the ages in harmonious tension.

From the time of that important question to Jesus by the disciples regarding the setting up of the final Messianic kingdom in Acts 1:6, down to our present time, the work of salvation takes precedence over the rapture or the second coming of Christ.  The rapture and the second coming of Christ are held in suspension in time until the work of evangelism reaches a point somewhere down the list, where those people called to salvation make their decision to accept Jesus Christ, at the correct appointed times in their lives.

Then at some point in God’s divine time-line, in coordination with the Holy Spirit empowered work of evangelism, the colossal end-times events definitely begin to occur.  This ushers in an intensified period of chaos and upheaval that will set-up for the last final group, at the bottom of the list of people called to salvation within the due course of time, to be motivated by end-times catastrophes to reject this world and to make their decision for Christ.

The long history of human salvation, and the promised momentous end-times prophetic events, both running along parallel tracks, finally converge at their appointed time.  Somewhere along this time-line, the last “great” push for the most stubborn converts intensifies to a final crescendo…the great tribulation kicks into a higher gear…most if not all of the evangelical work is complete…and in my opinion the promised rapture then occurs.

A Promise of Hope for Every Generation 1

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”                                                                         (2 Pet. 3:13-14)

In the Apostle Paul’s letters to the churches, like Peter’s quote above, part of the message to these new Christians was to look forward in hope and anticipation for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in their lifetimes.

This was consistent with the commands of Jesus given in several teachings and parables scattered throughout the gospels, for His disciples to always watch and be ready for His return (Mt. 24:42, 25:13; Mk. 13:37; Lk. 21:36).

The question can then be asked, if the teaching of Jesus, the preaching of the apostles, the doctrine of the early church, and the scriptures of the New Testament all uniformly say that not only first-century but all subsequent believers should look for an imminent second coming of Christ, was this inconsistent with a pre-condition, for example, that Israel would have to become a nation again…as actually occurred in 1948…before the end of time (Isa. 11:11-12; Jer. 31:10)?

In light of the past two thousand years of recorded history, during which the rapture or the second coming did not take place, were all of the Christians who lived and died throughout the centuries between the first-century and the twenty-first century, partially misinformed about looking in earnest expectation for the rapture of the church (1 Cor. 15:51-53) and the second coming of Jesus?

At the time of the ministry of Jesus, and the subsequent writing of most of the New Testament in the following decades, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the nation of Israel by the Romans in 70 A.D. had not even happened yet (Lk. 19:41-44).

The fall of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the world would obviously have to occur before a re-gathering could happen sometime in the future, as a sign that the last days were approaching.

When the disciples ask the recently resurrected Jesus in Acts 1:6 “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel” (the Messianic reign), Jesus answers “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

             This discussion with Jesus, concerning His restoring the kingdom in Israel and thus bringing about the end of the old world system, was occurring before Paul the Apostle was even converted, and before much of the New Testament theology and doctrine was fully formulated.

It would be almost two decades before Paul would write 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.

This discussion with Jesus about the end-times was occurring before the Apostle John had even written his gospel, much less the book of Revelation.

Yet Jesus did not say at that time, to stop watching and looking for His second coming, but instead said that the disciples would receive Holy Spirit power to become witnesses of Christ to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8).

It was a fair question by the disciples to ask of the resurrected Jesus at that time, and the answer then was that there was evangelical work to do, which stretched in time far beyond the vision of the early disciples…to our present day.

Many people use the above-mentioned scriptures and early church doctrine to argue that the rapture of the Christian church is imminent today, and could happen at any moment, and I believe they are correct.  The concept that there would be millions of Christians living through twenty centuries of time without this promise actually coming true, yet living their lives as if the rapture and the second coming could happen any day, is not inconsistent.

The expectation of the second coming of Christ and the beginning of a new earth and a new heavens where peace and justice will reign, is a hope that is rightly supposed to reside within the hearts of Christians in the second-century, the fifth-century, the tenth-century, through the middle ages, and in each of our previous four or five centuries leading up to today.

The fact that the rapture and the second coming did not occur in these past centuries, even though many Christians were faithfully watching and looking for these events…is due to some overriding considerations that are more important than the timing of the rapture or the second coming of Christ.

One of these important considerations is the salvation of the many sheep that Jesus speaks about when He says He has other sheep to call that are not of this first-century flock:

“And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (Jn. 10:16).

Those sheep that Jesus is referring to, at this current time, happen to be us.

If the rapture and the second coming had both occurred in the 8th century, for example, we could not now be saved because we would never have been born.  You could not be reading this book, if the rapture occurred in the 9th century, because the world and the millennium would have ended already.

If the rapture had occurred in the 11th century, there would have been no John Wycliffe, no Martin Luther, no Protestant Reformation, no invention of the printing press that allowed Bibles to be available in hundreds of languages to be read by the common people, and no great missionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries.

If the rapture had occurred in the 15th century, there would have been no Salvation Army, no Red Cross, no Billy Graham crusades around the world, no classic debates with brilliant antagonists resulting in the creation of modern theology and apologetics, and no intense searches for truth over the past recent centuries within philosophy, science, history, archaeology, politics, and Christianity.

Even though the earnest expectation for the end of this world and the beginning of a new world has been the proper hope of every Christian since the first-century, this hope has correctly and rightly been put on hold until the very last sheep have heard the gospel message and made their decision for Christ.

This viewpoint is consistent with 2 Peter 3:9, which says: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

By Accident or Design?

A fundamental axiom of Darwinism…that the brilliance of functional organization and the originality of creativity we see in the biological world…is an accident without purpose or meaning…is in part motivated simply to be able to include the scientific field of biology within the strict, paradigm boundaries of naturalistic explanations…like the other fields of scientific investigation.

Because the living world appears to be many times more complicated than the non-living world…to the casual observer the living world therefore appears more obviously to be the product of design…to be the product of intelligent foresight, skilled guidance, engineering acumen, and artistic good sense.

To the casual observer…trying to fit the natural living world into the philosophical worldview of naturalistic materialism…is like trying to put a large square peg into a small round hole.

Darwinism fails to attract more than a small percentage of the general population because of the fundamental disconnect between the incredible marvels of the natural world that we observe with our own eyes…and the absurdly simplistic and counter-intuitive notion that this is all an accident…having no ultimate purpose or meaning beyond the present.

The extension…the extrapolation…from the commendable scientific study of natural phenomenon…that shouts-out for design…to atheism…is as nonsensical as the unsupported leap from micro to macro evolution.

Neither macroevolution…nor atheism…follows logically or “naturally” from the evidentiary facts of natural phenomenon.

What is missing from the modern scientific database is precisely how God created…how He manufactured our living and non-living world.

We do not have an Owner’s Manual to our planet, our solar system, or to the cosmos.

God has not provided us with a technical manual on how He designed and assembled the living and non-living world…no more than Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, or Lamborghini would tell us in precise details how they manufactured their cars.

Scientists who are atheists…who are naturalistic materialists…incorrectly assume that by admitting an intelligent designer God into the overall equation…that this somehow will limit the extent of the investigative reach of scientific research…by accepting an undefinable and indeterminable limit at some natural/supernatural demarcation line.

But the limits to our investigative reach using the methods of scientific research may have natural limits imposed by the nature of the phenomenon itself.

We have certainly…by general accounts…hit a snag in the origin-of-life research program…recognizing that the complexity of going from non-living matter to the “simplest” form of single-cell organisms such as primitive bacteria starting in the Precambrian Period at around 3.8 billion years ago…is a bridge too far to cross…without an explanation for the input of the massive quantity and quality of information that has to be arranged in a coordinated package…for life to begin.

Should God be accused of hoarding critical information…of setting reasonable limits and boundaries around the access to His means-and-methods of creation…to exercise His fiduciary responsibility to protect the proprietary copyright and patent rights to His inventive creations?

When the book of Genesis in the Bible records: “And God said…let there be…this or that”…bringing into existence something by His word alone…without further explanation or details…does the inquisitive nature of human scientific investigation require that God give to us the methodology of His creative techniques…in addition to the already expansive and extensive parameters He has provided for our investigation into the living and non-living world?

Even if we could understand the creation of the universe in terms of absolute mathematics, physics, and chemistry…do we really expect God to tell us the techniques and technology of creation…when we have already discovered, built, and used the atomic bomb that can wipe-out all human life on earth in a few moments of time?

Do we really want to know the secrets to creating life…in which mankind could then create a host of disastrous living monsters…or manufacture living semi-human soldiers that tyrants could use to control the world…like the clones created for battle in the Star Wars movies?

Are there justifiably rational limits to what God could responsibly hold back…in terms of absolute knowledge…that if revealed would clearly make the irrefutable case for His existence…but on the flip-side would expand our capacity to allow for greater evil to exist than is already possible?

One of the subtle arguments for design in the living and non-living world…that does not get as much recognition and discussion as it should…yet is presented several times in this book…is the incredible match between the orderliness and intelligibility of natural phenomenon…and our intellectual capacity to investigate, understand, and organize into distinct categories of knowledge…the complexities of the natural world…as covered in an earlier essay.

To the casual observer…this does not seem like something that would simply fall into place on its own.

The natural world…orderly and intelligible to humans alone…places the search for truth on the highest plane of intended purpose and premeditated forethought.

Mountain of Evidence is Theoretically Driven 2

An analogy to an Olympics track meet might be helpful.

In the Olympics track meet competition, one event…the historical length…mile-relay…has four runners per team each running one lap around the track…receiving the baton from the previous runner and passing the baton to the succeeding runner…to complete a continuous and unbroken four-lap circuit around the track.

But this relay baton is not passed off to the other distinct and unconnected events outside of the mile-relay.  The baton is not passed to the high-jumpers, pole-vaulters, high-hurdlers, 100-meter sprinters, or the competitors in the shot-put or javelin throw…thereby creating an unnatural, artificial, and unwanted connection between these disparate events.

These other events are discontinuous and unconnected to each other and to the mile-relay, even though they are all a common part of the Olympics track meet.

A network schedule of logic-lines connecting the start-times for each track and field event…simplified into printed program schedules for the spectators…would have to be created ahead of time to organize the track meet.

But these organizational lines connecting the start and the finish times between the individual events…head-to-tail…would never be confused with the fundamental differences between pole-vaulting, high-jumping, the long-jump, the triple-jump, and the 5,000-meter (the historical length 3-mile) run.

The essential characteristic of each distinct event creates a discontinuous gap between each event that is unbridgeable in terms of mixing and blending…other than their logical sequencing for start-times and spacing within the overall management of the track-meet competition.

The passing of the baton between all of the track and field events to create an artificial connection…a connection that does not logically exist…simply because at a general level all these events belong to the same track-meet…would be nonsensical.

To attempt to blend and mix all of these disparate track and field events together into a connected whole through small, incremental, transitional phases using the relay baton as the connecting link…would be a forced arrangement falling so far outside of the intentionally designed, fundamentally discontinuous gaps between each of the individual events of an athletic track meet…as to render the entire competition gradualistically intermixed…hopelessly indecipherable…and thus incomprehensible.

If all of the track meet events were blended together in infinitesimally small incremental steps…it would be difficult to determine when and where one event finished and another started.

Each track and field event also has a predetermined goal…an outcome…that entails a different “lifestyle habit” program of training and technique.

Even though running hurdles, the pure sprints, and the long-distance running events share similarities, they are vastly different in their “lifestyle habits” of length of distance, agility requirements, pure speed, endurance, time-span, and the physical characteristics of the competitors.  Specified function…running fast, leaping high, jumping far…are inseparably connected to the lifestyle habits unique to each athletic event.

Darwinian common descent must, by definition, have the relay batons at each branching node of the ever-expanding tree of life…passed safely from one species to the next without falling to the ground (becoming extinct).

But fitness in “lifestyle habits” in each track-meet event does not carry over into fitness in lifestyle habits in another event.  The Olympic gold medalist in the high-jump cannot pass along gold metal technical proficiency to the pole-vaulter simply by handing off a relay baton.

The relay baton in this instance would be a nonsensical addition…inapplicable to both high-jumper and pole-vaulter.

The gold metal “lifestyle habit” proficiencies in each event are too different and discontinuous to be connected by the unrelated, unhelpful element of a relay baton.

The tautological statement that the fittest organisms will produce the most offspring…the fittest organism being defined by circular reasoning as being the one that produces the most offspring…stays entirely within the boundary-lines of a single, track- meet event like high-jumping.

It describes the proficiency level attained through the microevolution of that single track meet event of high-jumping.

Macroevolution…hypothetically producing diversity (in our track-meet analogy) has absolutely nothing to do with the gold metal high-jumper passing the relay baton to the pole-vaulter.

How the high-jumper reaches gold metal proficiency…fitness in lifestyle habits…has no correlation to reaching an equivalent level of technical proficiency in the entirely different track meet event of pole-vaulting…although they each share the similar goal of going as vertically high as they can.

To functionally train for both the pole-vault and high-jump events…to obtain dual proficiencies…a program of transitional “crossover” conditioning and training techniques would be an obvious regime in preparation for competing in these two events…at the same track meet.

We should expect to see the same obvious crossover transition at both the bottom portion entering into each branching node in the tree-of-life …and coming out the top portion of each node…according to common descent.

Identifying fictional nodes in Darwin’s tree of life…in the physical characteristics side of the equation alone…using creative imagination, would not explain the diversity of lifestyle habits for the tens of millions of living species on earth.

This would only get us half-way there.

Simply identifying where and when during the track-meet the high-jumper passed the relay baton to the pole-vaulter…would not explain the vast differences in gold metal “lifestyle habit” techniques between these two events.

The architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits…observable in the “track meet” in-the-wild…are widely different for lions, leopards, and cheetahs.

Did lions, leopards, and cheetahs evolve from a common ancestor?  The philosophical leap to common ancestry…due to the similarities between these three “big cats” is irresistible.

Yet did it actually happen this way?  Do we know this for sure?

The body-plans, lifestyles, and performance dissimilarities between lions, leopards, and cheetahs are so different and discontinuous…that the mere introduction of a relay-race baton connecting them at a hypothetical ancestral node in the long-ago past…does not explain the brilliant creative imagination that defines the unique essence of each of these big cats.

These unique dissimilarities must be in-place at their original inception near the first branching event from lion to leopard to cheetah…close to the ancestral node…or conversely…we can chalk their brilliantly unique existence to blind, mindless, unguided, accidental trial-and-error…falling into place according to random-chance luck.

But then we must consistently apply this concept to all living organisms.  Do finches, ducks, and eagles share a common ancestor?

Again, the philosophical pull toward common ancestry is irresistible.

But where is the line drawn?  When we get to the large classification groupings…the discontinuous gaps between the phyla divisions are as wide apart as the Grand Canyon.

Darwinian macroevolution…based upon naturalistic materialism…would have us believe that all living things today came from a single ancient ancestor.

But this requires an unimaginable quantity and quality of creative brilliance in crafting the unique lifestyle habits that accompany every distinct architectural body-plan.

This requires us to imagine Mother Nature sitting at the designer’s drafting table with an overhead magnifying lamp, tee-squares and triangles, sharpened pencils and erasers…yet being blind and mindless…scribbling endlessly in a probabilistically hopeless random-chance search strategy…for the most complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information that comprise every living organism on earth…and the varied ecological systems to support them.

This is a part of the illogic of the tree-of-life of Darwinian common descent.  The empirical relay baton of explanatory mechanism must connect each discontinuity gap between-the-dots being birds, fish, mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, plants, trees, bacteria, and fungi…which are analogous to discontinuous track and field events like pole-vaulting, discus throwing, high-jumping, and the mile-relay.

These connections between hundreds of billions of distinct (and thus classifiable by human taxonomists) life-forms must account for both physical and lifestyle characteristics.

The discontinuous lifestyle habits of the multitudes of living creatures renders the hypothetical “relay baton” connection through common descent to be implausibly forced, stretched, and logically unbridgeable.

            Naturalistic materialism is the philosophy that superimposes an unnatural “relay baton” to connect all of the track meet events. 

Naturalism creates the evidence that supports naturalism.  This is circular.  Take away the common descent interpretational framework and we are back in time to the neutral facts of pre-1859…the “standard Olympics track meet” of typological and discontinuous life-forms…which did not point toward macroevolution at all, prior to Darwin’s book The Origin of Species.

Mountain of Evidence is Theoretically Driven 1

What is critical to understand is that the contention by Darwinists that macroevolution has a “mountain of supporting evidence”…thereby establishing the “fact of evolution”…proceeds not from the facts themselves but only materializes (no pun intended) after applying the philosophical framework of naturalistic materialism over the biological facts in nature. 

The common descent viewpoint when stretched to fit over all living things can produce a tentative, provisional mountain of evidence in support of macroevolution…but only if common descent is first assumed to be true.  Common descent will explain the fossil progression from the simple to the more complex over time, the homology (similarities) in design between creatures, and the biological distribution of similar creatures split apart by continents.

But intelligent design, based upon the empirical evidence of highly specified information and integrated complexity…explains this natural phenomenon better.  Intelligent design is a more persuasive and plausible interpretation of the evidence…than is common descent.

Without the hard empirical evidence for the methodology and mechanism of how macroevolution changes a fish into a land reptile into a bird over time…having wings, feathers, and a totally unique breathing capacity to enable sustained flight…the philosophical overlay of Darwinian naturalism does not produce “overwhelming, mutually supportive evidence.”

The Darwinian model produces nothing more than the hypothetically connected structure of common descent…supported by circumstantial arguments alone…whose artificially connected structure falls apart when the concept of the discontinuities between the varied body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits of hundreds of billions of life-forms on the planet…is introduced.

The theoretically unimaginable jump across the gap of running and leaping along the ground or in the branches of trees, then “evolving” into winged flight through small, incremental, progressive steps, without any detailed supporting explanation as to the massive anatomical and lifestyle-habit changes that would have to occur…is alleged by Darwinists to have happened simply because this is what is required to have happened…according to the philosophical paradigm of naturalism.

The theoretically unimaginable jump from the functioning respiratory system of the gills of fish extracting oxygen from water under the surface of oceans, lakes, and rivers, to the fully functioning system of lungs in amphibians, reptiles, and mammals breathing air above the water, must take place in a matter of seconds or immediate death follows.

This is an enormous gap of discontinuity.  Small incremental change here is unimaginable…is unbridgeable…in terms of function…in terms of survival and reproduction.

Yet for macroevolution to be valid, this bridge across discontinuity must be plausibly explainable within the unifying theory of common descent taken from Darwin’s hypothetical “tree of life”…connecting all living things.

Darwinists allege that this type of jump in development and diversity from living underwater to living above water…had to have occurred in small, incremental, progressive steps because it simply had to happen this way according to the paradigm narrative of naturalism.

This type of secularly skewed argumentation is then stretched to apply to the enumerable discontinuities large and small of the tens of millions of different species on the planet, mixing together the dissimilar ingredients of diversity and likeness into the theory of common descent…based in large part upon its appeal to scientists of being a unifying theory of biology, and at the same time offering a non-theistic explanation for the origin and diversity of life.

But from the start Darwinian macroevolution could not explain the Cambrian Explosion…the sudden appearance of a diversity of complex life-forms in an instant of geological time…which should also have had an accompanying and complimentary backstory of transitional intermediate life-forms appearing in the Precambrian rock strata.

Darwinists have also been unable to explain the sudden appearance during the geological era known as the Cretaceous…of the angiosperms…the flowering plants having their seeds enclosed in an ovary…without transitional precursors in the rock strata leading up to this time-period.

Over time, the many difficulties with the theory of macroevolution should have resolved themselves.

Instead, the idea of common descent has not bridged the enormous gaps of discontinuity in the living world between the major groups like amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, insects, or mammals, or the discontinuities in the subdivided lower levels of each of the major groups…like the large African mammals separated by the unbridgeable lifestyle gaps between elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, rhinoceros, zebras, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and Thompson’s gazelles.

One major factual problem for Darwinism is that there is no evidence for the actual existence of the transitional “nodes” at the apex junctures of Darwin’s branching “tree of life” between the major groups and their subdivisions, which must be there for common descent to occur.

These nodes do not exist now and they do not exist in the fossil record…unless artificially created through a fictional, philosophical overlay of common descent crafted through human imagination.

Darwinian evolution is a classic example of being a half-truth.  It explains microevolution which occurs within a species.  It explains variation over time within a species.  But the extrapolation from microevolution to macroevolution…the origination of new species using genetic variation and natural selection…is an over-reach…an extension of philosophy rather than an empirical product of science.

This is why Darwinian macroevolution is subtly persuasive but vacuous.  The “mountain of evidence” is artificially produced through circular reasoning…the philosophy must first be superimposed on the evidence to rescue the philosophy…rather than the evidence itself independently standing on its own to formulate the philosophy.

It is the theory of common descent that connects the dots into the forced linear arrangement of an ascending “tree of life”…the dots do not logically align themselves to connect that way on their own.  The connections between dots are by philosophy…not by explanatory, scientific fact-based evidence.

The Appearance of Stasis

Some evolutionists in their books comment that Christianity held-up the revelation and acceptance of a changing, evolving earth during the 1800’s…leading up to and following Darwin’s groundbreaking The Origin of Species published in 1859…as a result of the biblical concept of a static, unchanging natural world.

This is a classic example of a half-truth.

There are no verses in the Bible that state that the earth is static and unchanging.  The Bible is silent on this subject.

The Bible does say that God is eternal, timeless, and unchanging…but says nothing definitive about the change-status of His creations over time…living or non-living in the natural world.

There was a consensus of opinion prior to 1859 amongst scientists, Christians, and the general public…that the universe and our earth are static and unchanging…because that is how the natural world phenomenally appears to people then and now today…change that is nonexistent when viewed within the span of our lifetimes.

A huge point to be made here regarding the various fields of scientific exploration…is that the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world…intelligible to humans alone…has been in-place and fully functional on earth for 4.8 billion years since its beginning…waiting for the technological inventions of new types of equipment…and the populating of the earth of intellectually and morally capable beings self-motivated to conduct honest investigations into the explanations of the phenomenon in the natural world…which spawned the Scientific Revolution starting four or five hundred years ago.

One basic acknowledgement about the advancements of the modern Scientific Revolution…that can reasonably be made…is that the interaction of the two Industrial Revolutions and the Scientific Revolution propelled the creation of new fields of science…that were not possible hundreds and thousands of years earlier…due to the lack of equipment not invented yet to conduct in-depth scientific investigations.

The invention of eyeglasses, the telescope, the microscope, calculus in mathematics, the chemistry periodic table of elements…along with enumerable other technological innovations leap-frogging ahead of and then catching-up with each advancement in the sciences…explains more accurately the modern revisions in outlooks and biased prejudices that were shared equally by scientists, theists, and the general public.

One interesting example of this is the difficulty that Albert Einstein struggled with in his field equations regarding general relativity in 1916…that produced either an expanding or a contracting universe…a non-static universe that is not eternal and unchanging…a concept so disturbing to Einstein’s prejudicial bias favoring an unchanging and eternal universe…that he added a cosmological constant of repulsion to his equations to counteract the attraction of gravity…a decision influenced by his prejudicial bias for a static and unchanging universe…that overpowered his confidence in the accuracy of his own mathematical equations…a decision he later called “the greatest mistake of my life.”

If the static and unchanging appearance of the natural world was and is a universal observation…which rendered the acceptance of the revolutionary new concept of the expansion or the contraction of the universe…of being this strongly abhorrent observationally to one of the greatest scientists and thinkers in human history…what does this have to say about the Darwinist’s claims today that the natural world observationally exhibits enough obvious change to support macroevolution…exhibits enough change to assert that macroevolution is an obvious fact.

As I look out at the natural world today…I do not see radical change that would argue for macroevolution as scientific fact.

Without Einstein’s general theory of relativity, Hubble’s observation of an expanding universe, and the discovery of the uniform background radiation by Penzias and Wilson…the only thing that would tell me the universe had a beginning in time…is Genesis 1:1 in the Bible:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

I certainly could not deduce a beginning of the universe through phenomenal eyes-only observation alone…but like Edwin Hubble being able to look through the 100-inch telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory…I would also need a background in astrophysics to be able to understand what I was looking at…to be able to draw the correct conclusions from the data I was observing.

Without the key contribution of the three-volume book-set published in 1830-33 by Charles Lyell entitled: Principles of Geology…having the full subtitle of: “Being an attempt to explain the former changes of the Earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation”…we would have absolutely no reason to take a harder look at the incorrect interpretation of Bible scriptures that…in my opinion…erroneously combines the seven days of creation into a single earth week…producing an apologetically indefensible young-age earth that undermines Christian evangelism across the world.

My point here is that the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world…intelligible to human beings alone…in existence and in full-operation for the entire duration of the 4.8 billion years of the life of our planet Earth…when applied through the methodology of scientific investigation coupled with technological inventions…to create the new immerging fields of scientific inquiry…produced new discoveries that in most if not all cases took everyone by surprise…even scientists like Albert Einstein who appear to “stumble” upon discoveries like an expanding universe…that they themselves did not see coming.

If we want to indict and criticize Christians for “slow-walking” the concept of a changing earth that inhibited acceptance of macroevolution according to some Darwinists…then we can also include the whole of scientific investigation that sometimes takes decades or longer to confirm a particular new theory…and include the general public that even up to our present-day observe no radical change in the natural living and non-living worlds.

Einstein back-tracking on his own field equations…in 1916 pointing toward an expanding or contracting universe that leads to a beginning creation point in time…gives us a remarkable insight into the accepted wisdom that permeated modern societies through the first decades of the twentieth-century…that our natural world appears static and unchanging…even if it is not.

This undermines and refutes the notion that macroevolutionary change is so profuse and prolific that it is visually obvious…and excuses Christians, many scientists, and the general public at that time following 1859…for not immediately going along with the concept of biological macroevolution…and that still to this day is one of the observational, commonsense reasons why microevolution is accepted by the general public…but the theoretical extrapolation to macroevolution is still highly controversial and unproven.