Science and God: The Search for Truth

            There is a practical reality that is popularly acknowledged within our modern culture that knowledge has become so vast that no one person can become a true expert in more than one or two fields.

            Specialization is a practical limitation realistically confronting every college student in choosing a major course of study.  The medical student at some point must decide upon a particular field of medicine to specialize in.  The gifted athlete in high school can excel in three or four sports, but if they eventually want to become a professional athlete as a career, they must choose a specific sport to focus on.

            There are a host of other go/no-go decisions in modern life today that were not as extensive a few centuries ago, when options were narrower in scope and fewer in number.

            But the stereotypical “Renaissance Man” exemplified by Leonardo DiVinci who could reach the top in several fields of knowledge…as now being beyond reach in our modern times…in my opinion is a proverbial half-truth.

            If exaggerated, this concept can create a polarized, black-and-white dichotomy between expert and layman…between the haves and have-nots in terms of higher education.

            If carried too far, this concept can create an artificial level of authority surrounding a group of facts that is exclusive.  This exclusivity around expertise is in actuality a fiction.

            If I am going to have open heart surgery, I certainly want a world-class heart surgeon performing the operation.

            But this does not preclude me from gaining some intermediate level of “expertise” through research on the Internet, discussions with my family doctor and with the heart surgeon, and discussions with friends and family members familiar with the subject through their own medical experiences.

            The information needed to make an informed decision as to which surgeon to choose based upon their specific medical approach to heart surgery and their reputation, resides at the popular level accessible to non-expert laymen.

            The vast quantity and breadth of knowledge acquired in so many varied fields today can foster the appearance of an unbridgeable “Renaissance Man” gap creating the expert and layman in terms of specialization.

            But the steady march forward of progress has also produced the Internet that makes access to information so broadly available as to close this gap of polarized extremes to within reasonable proportions.

            In several places in this book, I described the universal imperative that even the most technical concepts in science must be reduced to skeletal explanatory frameworks connecting the dots of evidentiary data…in order to provide hypothetically meaningful storylines.

            Raw facts are not enough.  Even the most technically complex facts in science when grouped within a research program, tell a story.

            Every scientist applying for a research grant of funds must arrange the hypothetical facts to be investigated into a preliminary storyline that has persuasive appeal and meaning…to the panel of people approving or rejecting the application for the research grant.

            This is an inescapable reality of the human psyche that connects the insatiable curiosity of our minds with both the orderliness and intelligibility of the phenomena in the natural world…always applying the solvent of organized meaning to unravel complexity.

            This renders existing facts amenable first to discovery, then to story-telling.  Our intellectual and moral capacity through human nature arranges these facts into meaningful descriptions of reality.

            World-class scientists must “dumb-down” their findings to the point of being communicable through the language of words and numbers in order to be understandable to other fellow scientists and to the general public.

            This incredibly reduces all of human scientific investigation into skeletal explanatory frameworks.

            This is what we find on the Internet in the form of 10-minute presentations, 60-minute speeches to various audiences, 90-minute panel discussions with follow-up questions from the audience, and 90-minute debates between world-class experts.

            This modern development of the Internet makes accessible to the general public the reduction of book-length topics condensed down to the key bullet points that can be covered in a short-length lecture.

            This highlights a fallacy that is immensely profound in the human search for truth.

            This fallacy is that there is an unbridgeable gap between expert and layman based upon the idea that information can be too technical and too vast for anyone other than specialized elites.

            A fundamental concept in the Bible is that God…the ultimate expert…is capable of composing life-scripts for people that will download some portion of His divine nature and knowledge actualized through guided experience.

            These guided life-scripts are exhibited in the biblical narrative stories of faith…the penultimate examples of skeletal explanatory frameworks that reduce divine expertise into experiential lessons-learned accessible to non-divine human beings.

            This concept has a fascinating correspondence to the orderliness and intelligibility of the phenomena in the natural world, logically inferring that the technical complexity therein is also reducible to being understandable to humans through the storyline frameworks of language.

            The language of words and numbers inherent in thoughts removes the barrier between expert and layman…even when it comes to God the Creator of the organized complexity we discover in the physical universe.   

            Skeletal explanatory frameworks are accessible to layman non-experts, simply by virtue of their technical complexity being translated into the story-telling language of understandable words and numbers. 

            This is what we find today on the Internet.

After-the-fact hindsight helps

            Explanatory storylines also become popularly accessible through the benefit of hindsight over time that makes revolutionary, cutting-edge scientific discoveries in the past understandable today, that were unheard of five or ten years prior to their historical discovery.

            For example, I cannot capably give a one-hour lecture to college physics students on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity first proposed in 1916, but after reading a book or two on the subject or watching a 30-minute podcast on You Tube, I know more about the general concept of the relativity of time-travel than someone in 1910, for example. 

            Although I am not an astrophysicist, I know more about the Big Bang discovered by Edwin Hubble in 1929, than someone living in 1920.

            Although I am not a geneticist or microbiologist, I know more about the general outlines of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells, discovered by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953, than someone living in 1945.

            Although I am not a PhD professor of biological evolution at a university, I know more about the pros and cons of macroevolution than a person living in 1850.

            In this book I am making generalized observations and conclusions that fall within the purview of skeletal explanatory frameworks…that given some degree of research at the popular level can reasonably inform our choice of worldview ideologies for living.

Discernment and critical-thinking are needed in the modern marketplace of ideas

            In today’s world, the essential human attributes are the exercise of discernment and critical-thinking, and not the accumulation of more data that widens the artificial perception of the gap between expert and layman.

            In my opinion, we have enough evidence to make an informed decision regarding the purpose and meaning of life.

            This gets down to the essence of pondering our creation, a question that cannot be relegated to the authority of human scientists to decide for us.

            One of the key points here is that both science and God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the Bible are about discernment.

            Using an analogy given in an upcoming essay, a defense attorney and a prosecutor can argue both sides of the same identical facts in a criminal case.

            The search for the single point of truth starts with a continuum line having several options that can be “spun” into the different scenarios of guilt or innocence.  At the completion of the courtroom trial the case is then given to the jury to decide.

            This is an essence of reality.  Truth can be downgraded…corrupted…into falsehoods.

            Scientific materialists through their worldview ideology chop-off a large segment of the continuum line of options before the “both sides” of the argument can even begin.

            The galactic-scale irony in our modern times is that the empiricism of the fact-based evidence that scientists pursue, is the very thing that the God of the Bible deliberately intended by making the natural world orderly and intelligible.

            But the God of the Bible also gifted humans with the intellectual and moral capacity to correspond to this intelligibility.

            This is a reality that should go a long way towards highlighting the existence of purpose in human life.

            The realistic combination of mass/energy and agency provides the fullest spectrum for exploration in search of the various points of truth…in science and in the broad array of moral concepts.

            Truth is discerned through experience…in scientific investigation and in a God-composed journey of faith life-script.

            As a Christian, I can have both. 

            In fact, I must have both in operation to actualize an acceptable level of “sanity” in supervising multiple-unit housing construction jobsites…my chosen career…in the effort to minimize the daily routine of “putting-out fires” in the never-ending reactive mode of problem-solving.

            Debugging housing construction is all about pinpointing the one correct point on the continuum line of possible options.  It is about discovering through the lessons-learned of experience and observation the one, true, optimum design and construction for a particular activity, eliminating other possibilities that result in problems and mistakes.

            Whether it is doing the basic field research to discover and document mistakes in housing construction, or learning by the mistakes I make as a redeemed yet imperfect person inhabiting an “earthen vessel” as described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:7…both journeys require humility.

            The overall journey requires the initial recognition and acknowledgment of the humility of knowing I am imperfect in both of these realms of discovery…the technical and the moral.

From the book Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

The Big Take-Away from Modern Science

            The fundamental question is why would God create the natural world to be this open to human scientific investigation…being first orderly but second intelligible to humans alone amongst all other living organisms?

            Material things can be collected, broken-up into smaller pieces, measured, weighed, analyzed under a microscope, and quantified into groups and categories.

            Elements of personal relationships such as truth, friendship, love, integrity, honesty, faith, and trust cannot be numerically analyzed and quantified into empirical categories.

            It is puzzling to Christians that some scientists cannot see design in nature…but it shouldn’t be.

            Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6)…but His ministry on earth can be so badly misunderstood and misinterpreted that He is rejected to the radical extent of ending-up on a Roman cross of execution.

            On a graduated scale of 1 to 100…the number 1 being worst and number 100 being the best…the ignominy of the cross and the glory of the resurrection spans the entire spectrum of possible decision-points regarding the life of Jesus Christ.

            If anything in science, philosophy, and theology calls for the deepest thought into the fundamental purpose of our world and our lives…this needs to be at or near the top of the list.

            If some religious elites in Jerusalem can devalue the life of Jesus as to be so worthless as to be disposable through crucifixion, yet God the Father thinks so highly of Jesus Christ the Son of God to qualify Him as the suitable Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin…this then illuminates the incredible range of possible points on the continuum line that can differentiate between absolute truth at number 100 and absolute falsity at number 1.

            Enumerable points of relative misinformation fall part-way between 1 and 100 on this graduated spectrum-line.

            If people can delve this deep into the workings of the phenomena in the natural living and non-living world through science…and still come away as skeptical unbelievers in the existence of God…what does this say about the difficulty inherent in identifying genuine truth when concepts like truth are spread-out over a range of possible option-points on spectrum-lines?

            What does this say about the data in scientific hypotheses that are in essence skeletal explanatory networks that start-out having numerous options for answers…awaiting the light obtained through scientific investigation?

            It should come as no surprise that Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation begins about the same time as the modern Scientific Revolution…producing the unintended consequences of divisions, factions, and schisms in Christendom[1] that are in clear contradiction to New Testament teaching (Jn. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10-13)…but are a wealth of possible avenues to explore in search of genuine truth.

            The sophisticated issue in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5) is not about having or not having the knowledge of good and evil…but at its root is about both the trustworthiness and the accuracy of God’s word that was called into question by Satan in the holographic spiritual form of a talking serpent.

            All of these things…theism or atheism in science, the doctrinal differences between the various denominations and factions within Christianity, the ideal virtues of self-government exemplified in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, and the enumerable cultural issues debated in modern societies…must be played-out to their fullest in every area of human life.

            The “new atheists” of recent times like to elevate science over faith…but faith in the biblical context is exponentially more important than anything science discovers…because faith/trust within personal relationships in the context of eternity is exponentially more important than the facts of science that currently can be interpreted to lead to the competing worldviews of naturalistic materialism or theistic intelligent agency.

            The life-script and ministry of Jesus spans the breadth of interpretation of ignominious rejection by men to the glorious acceptance of God the Father…encompassing all possible points along the spectrum-line…revealing our vulnerability as non-divine beings in attempting to discover absolute truth.

            This illuminates one of the fundamental purposes underlying the existence of this universe.

            If we as humans do not know everything, and God does…the only thing separating us from enlightened well-being is our stubborn insistence upon going our own way in autonomous rebellion.

            This is the primary issue under consideration and “at trial” in every aspect of human life, and that ironically raises faith/trust above science in relative importance for modern mankind.

From the book Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] A Conversation about Martin Luther with Eric Metaxas and Pastor Chuck Swindoll, published Oct. 31, 2017 on You Tube.

Why Can’t Some Scientists See Design in Nature?

            Here lies one of the basic questions that must be addressed in a book subtitled Christian Essays on Science and Faith. 

            This questionis how is it that many professional scientists think that science and faith must be separated into different, incompatible categories of reality…science supposedly based solely on empirical facts and faith based upon unsupportable, subjective beliefs.

            Upon closer scrutiny, the fundamental differences of opinion are not about the empirical facts at all, but instead about the skeletal explanatory frameworks that attempt to connect-the-dots of data into meaningful storylines describing reality…storylines that by definition are themselves philosophical even though they contain the facts of hard “bench” science.

            An understanding of how purpose was removed from the skeletal explanatory frameworks of research into the workings of the natural world, early in the modern Scientific Revolution is given by Michael J. Behe from his 2019 book Darwin Devolves:

“How did science—the very discipline we use to understand the physical world—get to the bizarre point where some otherwise very smart people use it to deny the existence of mind?  Arguably it started innocently enough.  At the urging of the philosopher Francis Bacon, a contemporary of Shakespeare, four centuries ago science made a critical decision.  It would abandon the old idea of “final causes”—that is, the notion of the purpose of an object—which it had inherited from Aristotle.  Whether the true role of, say, a waterfall or a forest is to exhibit the glory of God, supply beauty to the world, or something else couldn’t be decided by an investigation of nature alone.  Henceforth science would leave all such questions to philosophy and theology, restricting itself to investigating just the mechanics of nature.  What a cow or mountain or star is “for” would trouble science no longer.”[1]    

            It is easy to see here, that by removing the purpose of an object…a waterfall, forest, cow, or mountain…in order to simplify the new scientific method going forward in the late 1500’s to the early 1600’s, that this also carries the danger to morph over time into the exceedingly damaging cultural mores of a similarly purpose-free human life.

            As the credibility and prestige of science has risen over the past two or three centuries, the purpose-free methodology of science has expanded beyond its original mandate to creep into our modern culture, removing the central question of what was I created for, of what is the purpose for me as an object in this world? 

            What is also easy to see here is that this departure from including the purpose of an object within its overall scientific investigation and subsequent explanation was not itself a scientific determination in terms of hard “bench” science.  It was a philosophical decision.  It was a pre-science issue in dispute dating back to the ancient Greek philosophers regarding the material or non-material nature of the universe, still unresolved to this day. 

            The obvious problem here is that in allowing scientific investigation to make a clean get-away from purpose, to simplify the research methods to focus on the empirical facts of matter-and-energy mechanisms that describe how phenomena work in the natural world, this does not permanently remove purpose altogether. 

            It merely sets aside the subjective aspects of purpose in pursuit of the empirical evidence of factual data.

            My contention here is that purpose cannot be surgically removed from scientific investigation.  The discovery of complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information invariably brings science back full-circle to the unmistakable evidence of objective purpose integral within natural phenomena.  This organized complexity of systems clearly delineates directional trajectories. 

            Purpose cannot be permanently divorced from science.

            The purpose of a cow’s utter is to produce milk.  The purpose of the eye is to provide visual sight.  The integrated relationships in the study of how ecosystems support biodiversity are entirely dependent upon recognizably linked purposes.

            One of the main themes of this book, discussed from a number of different angles, is that the scientific study of the matter-and-energy mechanisms of the natural world does not preclude the acknowledgement of the existence of an intelligent designing agent.  

            The explanation for the origin of the complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information we see and understand everywhere in the natural world are saturated with purpose, now clearly apparent four-hundred years after Francis Bacon.

            Simply acknowledging the intelligent agency behind the organized complexity of these systems of information in no way inhibits or displaces the ongoing scientific investigations of the matter-and-energy mechanisms in the material world.

            This acknowledgement takes place within skeletal explanatory frameworks, and not within the grouped set of scientific facts themselves.

            Theism or atheism takes place within skeletal explanatory frameworks that are philosophical…where worldviews are born.

            Philosophy is an inseparable part of science, but it is not science.

            The fundamental recognition here is that as ignorance travels towards truth, it is a journey and not a leap, casting off errors along the way…eliminating the range of possibilities that at the end of the journey narrows the remaining choices down to one or two true options.

            If we knew the right answer beforehand…the one truth…then we would not have any reason to begin a scientific research investigation into a particular mystery we do not yet understand in nature.

            Science is a journey starting out with a few or even many possible hypotheses to describe a particular phenomenon in nature that as a process of exploration is a range of open options.

            Science starts out as a line connecting possible points to investigate…that at the beginning of the journey is usually not confined to a single point.

            As ignorance travels towards truth, eliminating faulty hypotheses along the way, the length of the horizontal line connecting the dots that represent possible hypotheses in a particular research project…gets shorter and shorter as progress is made.  Investigation and analysis continues until it reaches the one single point of truth that correctly describes reality.

            This is the fundamental methodology of science.

            This process to identify the origin of reality in the workings of the natural world has now eliminated the option of naturalistic materialism as being too simplistic.

            The reality of the defense mechanism of the Asian honeybee against the giant Asian hornet, discussed in the previous essay, is too complex for naturalistic materialism as the explanation of its origin.

            This same argument is multiplied by 10-million when applied to the vast scope of the diversity of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of the living species on earth.

            Again, the initial tentative hypotheses at the start of a science research program…traveling from ignorance to truth…enables a range of hypothetical “spins” that can be placed upon the factual evidence until the numerous skeletal explanatory frameworks whittle down to one or two options.

            Professional scientists and laymen who are Christian theists would ask the question at what point in the Bible do we justify limiting the supernatural…to exclude intelligent agency…in crafting these skeletal explanatory frameworks?

            If we start at the Big Bang introduction of physical mass/energy, abstract information, and the forward march of time out of nothing previously physical in literally the first split-seconds of time…this then creates a beginning skeletal explanatory framework that logically must include the element of some form of inarguably brilliant intelligent agency. 

            The overall enterprise of empirical scientific investigation (which must exclude the untestable and speculative multi-verse hypothesis) should begin with the recognition of the need for agency to get our universe up and running with the precision it exhibits.   

            Modern science has discovered several clear-cut candidates that can be categorized as singularities…sudden events seemingly without evidence of transitional precursors leading up to their occurrence…such as a beginning of the universe, the immergence of life on earth, the Cambrian Explosion, the immergence of human conscious thought, and the abrupt discontinuities in the fossil record.[2]

            When we look at the complex instinctual predator/prey relationships like that of the giant Asian hornet and Asian honeybees, repeated in literally millions of ingenious variations throughout the natural living world…we can reasonably ask the question where are the gradual, incrementally small steps of progressive transitional development that must be prolific in nature for the materialistic explanation to be valid? 

            Scientific materialists assert that they will solve the mystery of these singularities given more time for research.

            But the giant Asian hornet in mortal combat with the Asian honeybee, accentuated by the total mismatch between this hornet and the imported European honeybees, tells us today that these singularities will not be solved by more research. 

            These exquisite instinctual lifestyle habits are singularities precisely because there are no gradual, incrementally small steps of transitional intermediate progression…of major anatomical development…apparent anywhere in the living natural world.

            Everything in the living world appears to be functionally operative at their mature essences, except when human agency intervenes as in the case with the European honeybees imported into Japan.

            If instinctual lifestyle habits do not arise by gradually perfecting repetitive trial-and-error accidents, universally seen through the natural living world…then scientific materialism applied to biology does not hold up.   

            If the same quality of an inexplicable singularity of initial conditions arising at the Big Bang creation of the universe…requires the existence and action of an intelligent agent to introduce these initial conditions in their fully mature functionality, then this reality also logically applies to the instinctual lifestyle habits of the ten-million living species on earth.

            The ten-million varied species on earth currently display zero gradual transition in progression toward future outcomes. 

            It is then fair to say that the worldview of naturalistic materialism in the light of the empiricism of modern science…is illogically nonsensical.

            Scientific materialists cannot recognize agency in nature because they are operating in the erroneous hypothesis of a universe without purposeful design.  They cannot possibly broaden their worldview to accept as “supernatural” the creative artistic brilliance we take for granted all around us…from the rising of the sun, to the air we breathe, to the beauty and fragrance of springtime flowers…and ascribe this to purposeful intelligent agency.

            This is the dilemma that modern science has arrived at for some professional scientists…choosing either God or science…when the true reality is that it is both together.

            Scientific materialists want empirical proofs for the existence of God, but the complex, specified, and coherently integrated quality of the systems of information in the natural world, now better understood in this Age of Information…is evidentiary proof.

            What is incredibly misleading is to characterize the debate as a culture-war between science and faith, when it is really between theism and atheism. 

            The differences reside within the philosophically crafted skeletal explanatory frameworks that connect the empirical facts…amenable to being spread-out into numerous hypothetical “spins.”   

            Scientists place faith in their own mental capacity to discern and differentiate truth from error.  Scientists cannot do science without first placing faith in the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world.

            The modern debate cannot be about faith…because science is saturated with faith in order to have any meaning.

            Faith involves philosophical assumptions about the reliability of factual truth that are not amenable to formal proofs through hard “bench” science.  This is discussed more fully in the scientism section in the upcoming essay Are Science and God in Conflict?

            The current reality is that scientific materialists find the supernatural in the Bible so philosophically abhorrent that they will go to any length to formulate secular hypotheses to explain the wonders of nature.  We see this in the vague and inadequate use of the term behavioral adaptation to describe the predator/prey relationship between the giant Asian hornet and the Asian honeybee.

            But the intelligent agent God who can create the universe, life, the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of ten-million varied species, and the advanced intellectual and moral reasoning capacity of human beings…can also part the Red Sea, walk on water, and raise Jesus Christ from being three days dead after Roman crucifixion.

            The complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information that permeate all of nature…preclude reasonable explanations of origin and causation using atheistic secular storylines.

            It can reasonably be said that modern science is now pointing towards the existence of an intelligent agent God.

From the book Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] Michael J. Behe, Darwin Devolves (New York: Harper Collins, 2019), 258-259.

[2] Fossil Discontinuities: Refutation of Darwinism & Confirmation of Intelligent Design—Gunter Bechly, published Oct. 11, 2018 on You Tube by FOCLOnline.

Common Descent through Directed Processes

            In this essay, I want to clarify and expand upon a concept that eliminates the small-step, incremental, progressive development of Darwinian macroevolution as a consideration in explaining the vast diversity of life on earth.

            The logic is as follows.

            We observe at present that living organisms all universally exhibit architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits that are at the mature, end-point essence of their capacity to survive and reproduce.

            And we know that living cells contain between 3.1 to 3.5-billion bits of coded information in the double-helix strand of DNA in the form of a chemical alphabet represented by the four letters A, C, T, and G…which are common to all 10-million living species on earth.

            And we observe through high-powered microscopes that varied arrangements of these chemical letters are used by the molecular machinery inside living cells to produce such different life-forms as elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, water buffalo, zebras, Thompson’s gazelles, and wildebeest…to name a few of the large mammals of the African savanna plains.

            This reality in the natural living world is easily extended to the analogy of millions of books of different genres found in university and big-city libraries.

            Many of these books in English speaking countries share the common feature of having the same English language…and commonly use repetitive words such as “the, is, of, a, as, or, and and”…while being distinct and different as histories, biographies, murder mysteries, spy-thrillers, romance novels, college textbooks, and cookbooks.

            And like living organisms, these books are fully mature and completed works at the end-points of development.

            This line of reasoning is catastrophic for Darwinian macroevolution because it tells us that living organisms, books, human manufactured products, and the lasagna ordered in our favorite Italian restaurant all “arrive on the scene” in their finished form.

            The numbers of differing cell-types skip from around 10 in support of the architectural body-plans of the jellyfish in the Precambrian oceans…to the 30 to 40 different cell-types needed to support the new and novel architectural body-plans of the complex creatures of the Cambrian Explosion.[1]

            An unbroken, numerical sequence in this case from 10 different cell-types to 30 different cell-types would produce functionally incoherent creatures caught part-way from one well-defined essence of the architectural body-plan of a Precambrian jellyfish…in nonsensically incremental steps leading up to the well-defined essences of the body-plans of the Cambrian Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia, Opabinia, Marrella, or Anomolocaris for examples.

            The imperative to be able to immediately survive and to reproduce within the challenging environments of biodiversity and ecological niches…requires that the ensemble of DNA, developmental gene regulatory networks (DGRNs), and epigenetic factors…put-out every time well-orchestrated arrangements of cell-types at their end-point definitional essences.    

            Common descent is not erased in this scenario, no more than the element of the commonality of the English language is not erased by the sharing of letters and words in the varied genres of the books in a library.

            Functionally coherent new and novel life-forms require architectural body-plans and lifestyle-habits that are supported by the exact number and arrangement of different cell-types all placed at their specified xyz-coordinate points…being bones, muscles, tendons, organs, skin, blood, hair, etcetera…all governed by an overriding instinctual program of predator/prey relationships that differentiates lions from zebras, and cheetahs from Thompson’s gazelles.

            The bottom-line here is that this requires jumps forward in the number of different cell-types in support of architectural body-plans that are functional and ready to go “right out of the box…no instructions or tools required.”

            This eliminates from consideration the random and undirected processes of naturalistic materialism that logically require the “nature makes no sudden leaps” of historical Darwinian macroevolution…that must by necessity be built upon small-step, incremental, trial-and-error, progressive development.

            Elephants, lions, hawks, salmon fish, and humans share the same DNA chemical alphabet letters of A, C, T, and G…but clearly exhibit different architectural body-plans, lifestyle-habits, and predator/prey relationships.

            Again, this is similar to books that share the same English language but vary radically in their distinctive genres.

            Books have letters and words arranged differently to produce different outcomes, but books in libraries are functionally complete and are not in transition part-way towards another genre.

            Living organisms that make leaps forward in the number of their cell-types…skipping an intermediate number of cell-types to arrive suddenly on the scene fully capable of survival and reproduction…cannot plausibly explained through the random happenstance of trial-and-error experimentation.

            In Egypt in 3,000 B.C. a stone tablet must be inscribed using Egyptian hieroglyphics.

            Egyptians in 3,000 B.C. could not read modern English.

            Leo Tolstoy can write his classic novel War and Peace taking the first 50-100 pages to leisurely introduce his main characters…not having to compete with modern radio, television, and motion-picture movies.

            But Robert Ludlum amazingly grabs our attention and interest in the first two pages of The Bourne Identity…using the modern writing techniques of the fictional spy-thriller…because the imperative of literary survival in the jungle of modern-day fiction-writing requires this singular skill.

            Without hitting this nail on the head too many times, living organisms must have cell-types, architectural body-plans, and lifestyle-habits that immediately adapt to their geological time-period.

            In order to be able to survive and reproduce, living organisms must be able to interface with the contemporary biodiversity and ecosystems during their respective geological settings.

            The random happenstance of undirected processes will not get us there as a valid skeletal explanatory framework.

            This eliminates historical Darwinian macroevolution and “theistic evolution” as plausible options.

            The sequential linear trajectory of increasing cell-types that connects the single-cell bacteria of 3.8-billion years ago to the roughly 215 cell-types in human beings (not including brain cells that number around 100)…does not demonstrate in the fossil record or in the 10-million living species today the prolific number of transitional intermediate life-forms that would be the empirical evidence for a one-by-one linear expansion of differing cell-types.

            Developmental progression producing functional coherence in living organisms must incorporate jumps in the number of new cell-types to support innovative life-forms “arriving on the scene” in their end-point, completed definitional essence.  

            The point here is that the common descent element we observe in biology derives from the ever-increasing number of differing cell-types producing expanding complexity…but the creative arrangement of these cell-types to produce new architectural body-plans derives from intelligent agency.

            This is analogous to the author Agatha Christie creatively arranging the letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs in her books to produce a brilliant who-done-it murder mystery.

From the book Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] On the Origin of Phyla—Interviews with Dr. James Valentine, by Access Research Network, published on Oct. 22, 2014, on You Tube.

Progressive Gradualism

            In formulating his theory of macroevolution, Darwin threw purpose, meaning, and intelligent agency overboard in order to embrace atheistic materialism within his proposed mechanism.  In my opinion, in so doing he made the huge miscalculation of relying upon gradualism as the ruling paradigm in nature…a reliance that cannot bear the weight of scientific fact-based evidence.

            In his 1996 book Climbing Mount Improbable, Richard Dawkins offers a theoretical mechanism by which innovative features like the eye could be reached through entirely naturalistic processes. 

            Mount Improbable has one face that is a sheer vertical cliff, metaphorically representing the difficulty of reaching an innovative feature in one giant step.  Such marvels in nature as eyesight, winged flight, and upright bi-pedal walking cannot come into existence in large steps of anatomical progressions called saltations…being single leaps up the face of this cliff  equivalent to miracles.

            But there is a gradual uphill slope going up the other side of the mountain, which can be traversed to the top of the mountain through small incremental steps.  Thisis one of the fundamental axioms of Darwinian evolution…that the only plausible explanation for how a purely naturalistic process could work is through the use of infinitesimally small, random, undirected, and beneficially progressive accumulated steps.

            This is all well and good.  Except this hypothetical explanation in the book did not mention that if true this concept would require a near infinity of Mount Improbable scenarios in various stages of completion. 

            In addition to the example of eyesight, any snap-shot in time slicing through the natural living world would show these enumerable developing features in mid-ascent all traversing up the gradual slope sides of millions of Mount Improbable scenarios in progress.  This would be an obvious and a prolific reality visually apparent to everyone…scientist and layman alike.

            The number of innovative “creations” using this naturalistic model does not improve upon the difficult-to-swallow large number of individual creations by divine fiat of the tens of millions of living species by an intelligent designing agent God. 

            The difficult concept of God creating each individual species is one of the things Darwinism was in 1859 and still is today trying to replace with a purely materialistic mechanism. 

            Both a theistic and an atheistic mechanism must account for the numerical reality of the vast biodiversity of life and the large volume of beneficial physical features this entails.

            The gradualism central to Mount Improbable does nothing to simplify this reality, but merely chops the overall ascent up the mountain into smaller, random, and undirected steps.      

            In a talk given by Philip E. Johnson entitled Grand Metaphysical Story of Science,[1] on the Internet…Dr. Johnson…a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of the book Darwin On Trial…gives an account from the Richard Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker, which describes again a hypothetical way by which an ancient prototype squirrel climbing in a tree could over time and many iterations morph into a flying bat having wings.  This is paraphrased here by me from Johnson’s talk.

            The general idea is that by adding progressive genetic mutations of the variant trait of larger and larger flaps of skin between the fingers of the prototype squirrel…this enables slower, more aerodynamic, non-lethal accidental falls from the branches of tall trees. 

            This innovative invention for survival could then eventually combine with other coordinating features that would over long periods of time create the capacity for winged flight, the flying bat immerging at the top of Mount Improbable as a completed functional new creature.  All this occurs through the ruling paradigm of progressive gradualism by naturalistic processes.

            The massive evidentiary problem here again is that this same fictionally imaginative methodology for explaining the vast diversity of life cannot be merely confined to a single example of the theoretical sequence of events that might transform a tree-climbing squirrel or small rodent into a flying bat.          

            These same types of hypothetical arguments must be extended-out to apply gradualism in action to every living organism on earth.  This would catch and record in our current snap-shot of time an unmistakably large number of these organisms in various stages of progressive development.

            Not only does the obvious question arise here of why a squirrel would “want” to morph slowly into a bat through a series of incremental steps, but also is this the true reality of the phenomena we see in the natural world?  Clearly, it is not.

            The squirrels I observe in the neighborhood where I live can nimbly run along the top of one-inch wide sections of five-foot high property-line plastic fence panels…without falling off.  These squirrels nimbly climb part-way to the top of 40 to 60 foot high palm trees planted along the city street sidewalk… using the claws on their hands and feet that capably grip the sides of the palm trees as they expertly climb upward to a safe height as I approach on foot.

            Squirrels carelessly falling-out of tall trees to their injury and death is not observationally an optimum choice as an illustrative hypothetical example of the motivating force for macro-biological change through mutation/selection.

            Of equal importance in the talks by Phillip E. Johnson accessible on the Internet, one of which is footnoted above, is the brilliant insight that merely chopping-up a larger problem into smaller pieces does not improve the positive probabilistic case for random chance.

            Dr. Johnson asks: Is it easier by chance to win one single lottery of one-million dollars…or to win separate lotteries of one-thousand dollars…one-thousand times?  Obviously, the chances of winning one-thousand separate lotteries of smaller dollar amounts is considerably improbable compared to the chances of winning one single lottery of a large dollar amount.

            Chopping-up a complex feature like eyesight into smaller incremental steps, gradually traversing up the gently sloping side of the theoretical Mount Improbable explanation for achieving the innovative marvels of nature, does not make the initial problem of achieving finalized function easier…but instead much more difficult. 

            If we take the vast biodiversity of the ten-million different living species on earth and chop-up each organism into their varied defining characteristics of architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits, and then throw into the mix the incredibly rich and varied ecosystems on earth…that this could all be the mindless product of enumerable Mount Improbable scenarios…is illogically nonsensical.

            As will be repeated over and over again in this book, if the pure naturalism of Darwinian macroevolution was true we should see some portions of the living world still “in-progress” in the major development of new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits.  This universal momentum towards future end-points of finalized function in terms of survivability and enhanced reproduction would observably showcase today an incomplete and ongoing process still exhibiting macro changes.

            Genetic information has limiting boundaries.  This is why we cannot breed dogs through artificial selection to be as large as elephants, and why multitudes upon multitudes of complex living organisms universally appear to have reached their developmental end-points…”like producing like” year after year.

            The main point here again is that if gradualism is to be used as the ruling paradigm in all of the natural world…including the “evolution” of earth, our solar system, and the galaxies in the universe…as some Darwinists do today in defending scientific materialism…then the brand of universal gradualism that supports materialism must be visually obvious and noticeably prolific as fact-based evidentiary reality, recognized and accepted by everyone.

            A near infinity of Mount Improbable scenarios would be obvious in nature long before Charles Darwin came along with his book The Origin of Species.

            As I began in the 1970’s and 1980’s to think about the arguments for and against evolution…the counterintuitive idea struck me that if the macro half of Darwin’s theory was in fact true, then the natural world at the present time should be like looking from a distance at a growing city.  Several new skyscraper buildings of various heights would be under construction, all topped with cranes rising upward to reach definitive end-points that show the dynamic energy of progress moving towards some future as-yet unreached destination in time. 

            Over the following decades, in the books I read for and against Darwinian evolution, I saw that the rationale that scientific materialists gave for the lack of our ability to detect evolution in action in the present time, was that the infinitesimally small incremental steps of mutation/selection occurred so slowly as to not be discernable over a human lifespan.

            This always seemed to me to be a clever deflection that did not have the clear bell-ring of truth…an “evolution-of-the-gaps” that did not “hold water”…a futile attempt to explain-away the evidence until some future better explanation could be found.

            If gradualism plus chance is the ruling paradigm in the natural world, then no matter how slowly it was moving forward at any snap-shot in time, invariably there would still be enumerable life-forms caught mid-course in their development. 

            We do not have to possess a PhD in science to flatly see that the natural world does not display works-in-progress in mid-course, transitional change according to the mechanism of gradual progressive development.  We do not see this reality functioning anywhere as the singularly controlling, explanatory paradigm.

            If all we see today in the living and non-living natural world are a few examples of gradualism, of gradualism not being the ruling paradigm explanation for the development of all of natural phenomena, then the biological theory of macroevolution based upon atheistic materialism falls apart as a workable hypothesis.

[1] Grand Metaphysical Story of Science—Phillip E. Johnson…published on April 21, 2012, by Izzy Invasion.


            When a person today objects that they cannot believe the Bible, because they live in the modern Age of Science, they are voicing a storyline narrative that is based upon a 20th-century philosophy that is obsolete and no longer currently credible.

            The false narrative of scientism that is still popularly shared in our culture…blocks people from being able to enter into their highest created destinies. 

            Unfounded skeptical unbelief blocks people from entering into the essence of their fullest worth and value, of experiencing their God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts.

            Faith in the God of the Bible is undermined at the very outset by a skeptical unbelief in the existence of God…a fundamental by-product of scientism widely accepted in the modern Age of Science.

            In reality…we now live in the Age of Science and in the new Age of Information

            During the previous three or four decades, information has now joined matter and energy as the third fundamental element in the universe, making scientism too narrow of a viewpoint. 

            In our modern understanding of the breadth of information, scientism is now a non-relevant argument…an evasive distraction in the ongoing evolution/creation debate over the origin of the universe and the purpose of life.

            What is this philosophical worldview of scientism that we find still strongly and profusely embedded in modern-day cultures?

            The worldview of scientism says that we should only reach a consensus over what we can agree-upon as established and empirically verifiable truth, through the means of the hard sciences alone.  Only phenomena that can be quantified and tested through science…that is observable…that is amenable to being testable by repeatable experiments in a laboratory, and therefore is “in theory” falsifiable by neutral, experimental verification…qualifies as reliable truth.

            The materialistic component of scientism by definition excludes the agency component of intelligent design…agency being the moderated, choice-making discretion inherent in the intelligent design of anything complex and specified. 

            Agency by definition falls outside of the reach of hard, bench-science analysis in a laboratory in terms of being measurable and quantifiable.

            But we do not have to look any farther than beyond ourselves to see that agency exists.

            It is an irrefutable fact that well-defined, moderated choice-making exists in the creative origination of varied laptop computers, in a segment of the field of engineering called constrained optimization.

            The screen size, weight, battery-charge capacity, screen resolution, processing speed, and price of laptop computers are multiple competing objectives differentiated by design engineers and marketing considerations.  This creates inescapable decision-points to produce the optimum ranges of laptop computers available for purchase by consumers.[1]

            This intelligently designed differentiation of the well-defined, moderated choice-making of constrained optimization is also evident in the essences of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of living organisms.

            Living organisms require discrete design choices made upfront.

            This intelligence-driven creativity produces complex systems of information that fall outside of the narrow, explanatory reach of scientism, outside the reach of measurable quantification and test-tube validation alone.

            The existence of well-defined, moderated decision-making inherent in cognitive design, admitted into the realm of genuine knowledge, expands the boundaries of reality beyond what can be discovered through the limited scope of scientism.

            The philosophical worldview of scientism actually reduces the boundaries and the reach of the human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning to discover truth.  It excludes the obvious evidence of well-defined, moderated choice-making prolific and universal all around us in nearly every reality we see and experience.  It sets a high-bar standard for truth that not even scientism…by its own definition…can achieve.   

            Here I am borrowing heavily from a recent podcast[2]…I listened to on You Tube entitled: Science and Faith in a Secular Society with J. P. Moreland, hosted by Think Biblically, through Biola University…downloaded by me on 3/24/2020.

            It turns out that scientism is a concept that is self-refuting

            Examples of concepts that are self-refuting might be: “No statement is longer than three words”…or “I can’t utter a word of English”…or “There are no truths”…each of which makes itself false…is self-refuting.

            To quote Dr. Moreland from this podcast: “The statement: ‘The only way that you can know truth is through the hard sciences,’ is not something that itself could be known to be true through the hard sciences.”

            In this sense, scientism makes itself false, is self-refuting…by its own definition.

            It also turns out that scientism, as a worldview adopted uncritically and for the most part unknowingly by many people in our modern world, is as false a narrative as can be.  Upon closer inspection it is actually an enemy of science, undermining the very field of science it purports to defend.

            It is widely understood that scientific discovery is dependent upon several general assumptions, essential to conducting science, that do not meet the high definition test that scientism itself cannot reach.

            These fundamental assumptions are: that the natural world is orderly and intelligible, that the laws of mathematics and logic are true, that truth has a correspondence to reality, and that human beings are endowed with the mental capacity to be able to understand things external to ourselves…paraphrased by me from this podcast.

            Without first accepting each and every one of these fundamental assumptions as being true, assumptions themselves lacking formal proofs, the empirical enterprise of human scientific investigation of the natural world…cannot proceed forward…does not exist.

            This is part of the gaping hole of inconsistency in the modern narrative of naturalistic materialism that makes the untrue and unscientific suggestion to modern mankind, to rely solely upon the hard sciences as the only sure standard by which to identify truth. 

            The fact is that all of science is built upon the foundation of philosophical assumptions we accept “by faith” to be true, without hard scientific, backup proofs of their truth-value.

            One of Dr. Moreland’s main themes of this podcast is that scientism is one of the most corrosive and destructive ideologies in our modern social culture.  Scientism erroneously contributes to the post-modern relativism regarding truth, which attempts to reduce all of the things we know to be true, down to the narrowly limited database of only those things that can be demonstrated as true through hard-science alone.

            This then downgrades everything else asserted to be true to the relative opinions of my truth or your truth, neither one being able to rise to the standard of repetitive laboratory testing for truth as defined by scientism, including all philosophical assumptions.

            Because the fundamental underlying assumptions that form the basis for all scientific research are philosophical in nature, and therefore cannot meet the standard of verification through the hard sciences, the narrow worldview philosophy of scientism ironically undermines by definition the very foundational assumptions of science itself.

            This narrowly crafted approach to categorizing genuine knowledge would also reduce the obvious existence of well-defined, discretionary choice-making down into the inconsequential category of scientifically unsupportable data… not amenable to being quantified or tested physically in a laboratory.

            Scientism is therefore a logically incoherent philosophical program that dissolves itself by being self-refuting, and by undermining the very edifice of the science it purports to defend.

            The irony here is that the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural living and non-living world point towards the need for intelligent agency.

            The skeletal explanatory frameworks that define the distinctive essences of these systems of information are similar in character to the four basic assumptions underlying science listed above…being abstract, intangible, philosophical realities needed to conduct science.

            A reasonable argument could be made that if scientific materialism insists upon excluding intelligent agency based upon the abstract nature of some of the implications of its findings…then much of science should also be abandoned because the scientific method itself relies upon informational assumptions that are abstract and intangible…assumptions that are conceptually philosophical in nature.

[1] Paraphrased from the DVD Darwin’s Dilemma (2009), by Illustra Media, from the Bonus DVD Features of Questions and Answers, the topic of constrained optimization discussed by Jay Richards.


God of the Gaps

            Borrowing from the two Socrates in the City interviews of John Lennox in Labastide, France[1], the interviewer Eric Metaxas makes the point that the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism creates a false zero-sum game in science.

             Each new discovery made by science adds to the increasing database of valid human knowledge on one side of the ledger sheet, and creates an equal and opposite subtraction of human ignorance on the other side of the ledger sheet.  This beneficially decreases the number of explanations of the phenomena in nature based upon old-wives tales, superstition, black magic, witchcraft, unfounded speculation, and the unfathomable whims of the ancient gods.

            Human scientific investigation is the one and only research methodology that can move the innumerable mysteries regarding the phenomena in the natural world…from the ignorance column over to the knowledge column.

            But for atheists, in a closed-system worldview consisting only of material things, the more we know about the workings of the natural world discovered through the reliability of the hard sciences, the less our need by default to ascribe the things we do not yet understand to the random serendipity of unknown causes. 

            This artificial, zero-sum dynamic from ignorance to knowledge has created the erroneous concept of a god-of-the-gaps explanation…of a god that does nothing else…but exists to perform the role of a temporary placeholder for ignorance.  The contrived god-of-the-gaps fills-in as a “nothing burger” explanation until scientific investigation can uncover the real, empirical truths underlying the particular phenomena in nature.

            Until we scientifically understood the physics of lightning, for example, in ignorance mankind historically ascribed the mystery of lightning to be an act of God…which in one sense it is…for the Christian theist lightning being a creation of God.

            During the past four to five centuries of the Scientific Revolution, in the finite, closed philosophical system of naturalistic materialism, the god-of-the-gaps explanations for what we do not understand have been steadily decreasing in number.  As scientific investigation solves the mysteries of the natural world one-by-one…the forward progression of empirical knowledge steadily erases the hypothetical utility of the god-of-the-gaps.

            But in these two episodes of Socrates in the City…Lennox and Metaxas arrive at the brilliant observation that the God of the Bible is entirely unique amongst other gods…is not a material entity.  The God of the Bibleis not like the gods of the ancient world descended from the primeval “stuff” of the universe, but instead is an eternal, immaterial Spirit Being (Jn. 4:24).

            One problem with a zero-sum approach to judging the advancing achievements in science is that it requires a materialistic universe having a finite total number of available, objectively knowable facts that can be moved from the ignorance side of the ledger sheet to the knowledge side of the ledger sheet.

            But a universe having a transcendent Creator God…an eternal Mind…being a living Spirit, radically differs in that this theistic worldview infinitely broadens the possible diversities of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of the ten-million living species on earth. 

            A non-material God who is a living Spirit broadens beyond human imagination the possible scope and diversities of the life-scripts that can be composed and orchestrated for human beings, from Abraham through Paul recorded in the Bible, and into our present-day…one of the outstanding features exhibited in the biblical narrative stories of faith.  

            An Intelligent Spirit Being is a superior explanation for the origin of information in our universe, because both the Bible and modern science tell us that all of the universe-related matter, energy, and information all came into existence at the Big Bang.

            Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1-3 tell us that God invented the information and created the physical matter and energy through the medium of His spoken words, through information in the form of divinely uttered speech. 

            This is a metaphorical medium not currently amenable to scientific investigation, but has outcomes that can be empirically recognized and appreciated through its complex, specified, and coherently integrated function…a concept commonly referred to as organized complexity.

            Paraphrasing John Lennox, the Bible has the priority of creation in the right sequential order, in saying that immaterial, universe-building information generated by the Word of God Jesus Christ…is primary…and matter/energy in the universe is secondarily derivative.

            Naturalistic materialism has it backwards, saying that matter/energy comes first…is primary…and information is derived secondarily from matter and energy.

            This brings up again the fundamental question: Is the universe it before bit, or bit before it?

            The naturalistic materialism approach is illogically nonsensical, because information cannot come from purely physical, material things.  This is like the information conveyed in the New York Times headlines mentioned above that cannot be derived or attributed to the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper.

            One of the most brilliant takeaways I got from watching these John Lennox interviews is that for much of the phenomena in the natural world, the best that science can do is to offer descriptions only…but not full explanations.

            Isaac Newton’s mathematical descriptions of motion and gravity…called the laws of gravity…can get us to the moon, but Newton himself admitted that he had no idea what gravity actually is.  Newton attempts to offer no explanation of gravity beyond his description of it.

            Even today we do not understand what gravity, energy, and many other things in the natural world actually are, even though we can describe them in terms of mathematical equations and the laws of physics.  

            John Lennox tells the story about his 2008 debate with Richard Dawkins, who asked Lennox the question: “If God created you…then who created God?”

            In answer to which John Lennox asked the question: “If you believe that the universe created you…then who created the universe?”

            The Bible tells us that God is not a created Being, but is eternal.

            This seemingly paradoxical dilemma becomes easy to answer, if we simply jettison the notion that the dimension of time created at the Big Bang must apply to God going backwards for an eternity.  A more straightforward explanation is that God lives in a timeless reality, rendering the question of a moment in time when He Himself would have been created or come into existence…as being mute and inapplicable.

            Unlike the ancient fertility gods that humanity invented…derived from material things like the sun, the moon, the sky, mountains, and wild beasts, that can be reduced to idol-gods of wood, stone, or precious metals…the God of the Bible is the Creator of the universe (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1-3).

            The God of the Bible was not created by the universe, and therefore is transcendent and outside of the zero-sum reality that scientific materialists have limited themselves to…through their closed-system philosophy.

            John Lennox goes on to say that the God of the Bible is far above being a mere placeholder for temporary ignorance…for mankind the invented god-of-the-gaps…who can be displaced by the empirical findings of science.

            Lennox gets a laugh from the audience when he recites a materialistic revision of the first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning God created the bits of the universe that we do not yet understand.”

            Then he recites the correct first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)…which says that God created everything.

            The materialistic zero-sum approach leaves out the Intelligent Designer who invented the information content of the phenomena we investigate through science.

[1] Socrates in the City with John Lennox…in Labastide, France…Part One on Jan. 12, 2018…and Part Two on Jan. 23, 2018…interviewed by Eric Metaxas, on You Tube.

Our Brain is a Mind

            In the Socrates in the City interview “Has Science Buried God?”…conducted by the questioner Eric Metaxas[1]…the scientist and author John Lennox makes the critical point that modern science has not buried faith…but that modern science can bury atheism.

            Oxford professor of mathematics Dr. Lennox tells the story of some of his world-famous scientist friends and colleagues asking the question why he is not an atheist. 

            His telling response is to ask them that if the computer and equipment they use in their scientific research was produced…was designed and manufactured through a random and undirected process…could they have a reasonable and consistent confidence in the data the computer and lab-equipment generated.  Their answer every time is no.

            If, according to materialism, the human mind/brain is likewise the product of the random and undirected process of Darwinian evolution, this undermines our sure confidence in the accuracy of human rational thought.  When extended-out to its logical end-point…this radical materialism dissolves rationality…even dissolves the philosophical thinking of atheism itself.

            Atheism thought-out all the way through to its end-point…dissolves the reliability and credibility of its own thought process, because the accuracy of a computer, lab-equipment, or a human brain that is the materialistic product of a random and undirected process…cannot be absolutely trusted.

            Atheism based upon naturalistic materialism, when extended-out logically, destroys rationality in every field of science.  Materialism sweeps away our reasonable confidence in the human mental capacity to accurately take advantage of the fundamental assumption underlying all scientific research, that the natural world is both orderly and intelligible. 

            But most importantly and insightfully recognized…the natural world is intelligible to human beings alone…amongst all other living organisms, an extraordinary capacity I do not believe we want to give up so easily to misleading philosophy.

            The reliability of our mental capacity to differentiate truth from error, and our ability to place value upon trustworthy research methods, enables the pursuit of modern science in the first place.

            One of the ingeniously insightful apologetic arguments in recent times for the existence of God…is the differentiation between matter and mind…the contrast between “concrete” material things as opposed to the abstract, conceptual nature of information.

            The classic case is made that the information conveyed in the daily headlines of the New York Times newspaper…is not explainable by means of the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper.

            The information conveyed in the newspaper headlines is the product of the intelligent arrangement of the ink on paper…in this instance in the English language.  This reality transcends above and is completely detached and independent from the mechanical explanation of how ink bonds to paper.

            Physics and chemistry alone are incapable of the abstract thought process of arranging ink on paper to convey intelligible information.  The arrangement of anything complex, specified, and coherently integrated…like the intelligent design of the headlines of the New York Times newspaper…requires a mind.

            In the Socrates in the City interview noted above, John Lennox makes another critical point by saying that information is not a material thing.  Information is correctly defined to be an abstract, intangible entity that has a non-materialistic essence, quite apart from the material explanation of how ink bonds to paper.

            Dr. Lennox gives a beautiful illustration of this.  On a mountaintop in the state of Washington, he sends up a message using smoke signals, which are read by Native American Indians who telephone this information to someone in Oxford, England, who types-inputs this into a computer that can be emailed to friends and colleagues of John Lennox at Oxford University.

            In this illustration, the information/message remains the same…but the mediums used to convey the information…smoke signals, telephone, computer, and email…are different. 

            This means that the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information discovered in the natural world by modern scientific investigation cannot be the product of naturalistic materialism. 

            The information cannot be the product of the smoke signals, the telephone, or the computer, but instead originate from an intelligent mind, because information correctly defined is not materialistic…but abstract.

            The fundamental questions about human life: “how did I get here, who am I, and where am I going?”…are in essence non-material questions, and therefore require non-material answers.

            These questions cannot be answered through the mathematics, physics, and chemistry of empirical, bench-top, hard-science.  Their defining character, like the essence of the abstract information in a newspaper headline or in a Chopin Etude, is not materialistically amenable to measurement, quantification, and qualitative testing in a laboratory. 

            I would theorize here that the instinctual part of the lifestyle habits of the lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, water buffalo, wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelle, giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, and other large mammals on the African savanna plains…are also immaterial…but different from the intellectual and moral reasoning capacity of human beings.

            The point has been raised by Christian apologists that if the human mind is a brain only, produced solely by the random and undirected processes of materialism, then the mutation/selection process of Darwinian macroevolution would home-in exclusively on those attributes supporting only survival and reproduction. 

            The origin of the additional attributes that define the human experience beyond mere survival and reproduction are not explainable by the process of Darwinian macroevolution.

            This raises the question of just how is it that humans can identify the existence of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and decipher the unimaginably complex chemical code of the DNA molecule, being the longest word in existence. 

            These are intellectual attributes that have little or nothing to do with the instinctual lifestyle habits of basic survival and reproduction (Gen. 1:27).

            This differential between an immaterial, instinctual mind in animals and an immaterial, intellectual mind in humans…may be a puzzle partially solved by scientific investigation in the future. 

            But the definitional question at the fundamental level of what is instinct, and what is intellect, in my opinion will not be answered by the study of matter and energy…because instinct and intellect are non-material.

            The physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper cannot explain the intelligently specified arrangement of that ink on paper that formulates the information conveyed in the headlines of the New York Times newspaper. 

[1] Socrates in the City: “Has Science Buried God?” Aug. 21, 2019.


            One recent scientific discovery now illuminates our understanding of genetic mutations, which can be chosen by natural selection in the wild or by the artificial selection of human breeding. 

            Some genetic mutations produce helpful “variant traits,” which can now be tracked in a broad range of living organisms, thanks to the hard work of the 10-year project to map the human DNA genome.

            What took years of painstaking effort mapping the 3.5-billion letters of DNA letter-by-letter, now can map the DNA sequence of a particular breed of dog, for example, in an afternoon as a result of faster computers and specialized software programs.

            Thanks to improved technology, we are now able to track-down helpful changes/mutations in the DNA, and match these mutations to their actualized traits, the physical characteristics they produce.

            This new research has revealed that Darwin’s theory of evolution is in actuality a process of devolution.[1] 

            This is discussed in an interview by Eric Metaxas of biochemist, professor, and author Dr. Michael Behe in Socrates in the City, in March 2019.

            It turns out that genetic mutations do not add new information to the DNA strand that if so, might support Darwin’s theory that the mutation/selection process is capable over long periods of time of producing complex, innovative new features. 

            Developments like the fully functional winged flight of birds, the visual sight of an owl, the running speed of the cheetah, the underwater sonar capacity of a dolphin, bipedal upright walking, human speech, and the human mind…require vast amounts of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information.

            Molecular biochemistry is now telling us that devolution is instead a process that breaks individual genes in the existing DNA sequence of chemical letters…not adding new creative information, but subtracting information from the DNA code.

            The human breeding of a prototype wolf to produce the variant forms of a Golden Retriever, Great Dane, or Black Labrador dog over many generations, involves at the molecular level in the cell the breakage of particular genes that code for specific characteristics. 

            Scientists can now identify and track these broken genes from wolf to new breed of dog…resulting in a reduction rather than an addition of genetic information…creating “damaged” genes that will not go back in the reverse direction to recover this original lost information.

            This means, according to modern genetic biochemistry, that the entire program of Darwinian evolution is in reality a process of conservative devolution, and not radically progressive macroevolution as originally theorized…instead having strict boundary limits around the change-effects of beneficial genetic mutations, which we can now track through empirical scientific investigation.

            These revolutionary new discoveries in molecular biochemistry invalidate Darwin’s mechanism of an ever-expanding, tree-of-life common descent of all living things, when this mechanism is solely based upon macro changes through mindless and undirected processes.

            The original Darwinian process of mutation/selection theorized to produce major macroevolution is refuted at the molecular level of biochemistry today, now seen to only produce minor variations of characteristics traceable in the DNA genome coding.  This is a catastrophic development for atheism in science, because this removes the very heart-and-soul, the main puzzle-piece of the naturalistic worldview, that gained so much momentum following Darwin’s 1859 book The Origin of Species.

            This does not mean that there isn’t a matter-and-energy, material mechanism to explain the vast diversity of life from A to Z.  Design information in-built into living cells can produce the growing number of different cell types as an index of ever-increasing complexity over time…from single-cell bacteria to human beings. 

            What it does mean is that the Darwinian hypothesis of mutation/selection as the driving force behind the vast diversity of life is empirically no longer valid.

            This new discovery in molecular biology simply removes the chance happenstance of random and undirected materialism from consideration…in the grand traditions of the Scientific Revolution of eliminating false possibilities.

            This replaces a mindless and undirected, naturalistic process with an information-based mechanism that guides the development of life towards the vast biodiversity we observe today on earth…which I sense we are getting close to formally identifying.

            Modern biochemistry at the molecular level of DNA and developmental gene regulatory networks (DGRN’s) are telling us that Darwin’s hypothetical extrapolation from micro to macro evolution…using random and undirected chance as the fueling mechanism…is in fact unsupported by the latest scientific fact-based evidence.

            This then undermines the entire atheistic program of Darwinian naturalistic macroevolution, including the attempts to close the gaps of discontinuity at the phylum level of classification between fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and mammals in the fossil record.

            This pulls down the secular story of the materialistic origin and diversity of life…like a house of cards.

            But this does not at all threaten the further scientific investigation into the matter-and-energy material mechanisms that truly do generate the vast biodiversity we see in the natural world.

            This will be information-based material mechanisms, more plausibly attributable to intelligent agency instead of random happenstance.

            The point here is that Darwin’s hypothesis was and is partially true.  But his approach to embrace the agnosticism or atheism of scientific materialism was in my opinion a mistake. 

            The real truth about the engineered biodiversity of life may be scientifically discovered to be found in information-based mechanisms in living cells starting with the adequate DNA information content front-loaded 3.8-billion years ago.  This then generated the future potential for the expanding number of cell types…building organisms ever increasing in complexity over time.

            Managed by the on/off switches of developmental gene regulatory networks and epigenetic systems, this all could be created through an intelligent designing agent in the same way that an architect designs a new building. 

            An architect starts with conceptually abstract information that is translated into a physical building on the construction site. 

            In living organisms the conceptually abstract information translates into physical reality starting in the cell progressing through the developing embryo…immerging into a viable organism able to grow from infancy to maturity to survive and reproduce. 

            In my opinion, this concept of theistic material mechanisms makes a lot more sense than the atheism of a purely random and undirected materialistic approach.  To my thinking this has no practical bearing upon the quality and integrity of the scientific inquiry and the data produced.

            Quoting two passages from Dr. Behe’s book:

“The molecular parts of the cell are elegantly arranged to fulfill many subsidiary purposes that must blend together in service of the large overall purpose of forming life.  As we’ll see in this book, no unintelligent, undirected process—neither Darwin’s mechanism nor any other—can account for that.”

“It seems, then, that the magnificent Ursus maritimus (polar bear) has adjusted to its harsh environment mainly by degrading genes that its ancestors already possessed.  Despite its impressive abilities, rather than evolving, it has adapted predominantly by devolving.  What that portends for our conception of evolution is the principal topic of this book.”[2] 

            The devolution that occurs in living cells that produces the suite of broken and damaged genes that in turn produce the variation of physical traits that changes a black bear into a polar bear…does not explain how a “bear” comes into existence in the first place.

            The information content in living cells that produces the architectural body-plan and lifestyle habits of a bear is much larger and more sophisticated than the microevolutionary processes that put-out variant traits for natural selection to choose from to enhance survivability…to create the differences between a black bear and a polar bear.

            Devolution will never bridge the gulf between the first single-cell bacteria 3.8-billion years ago and a polar bear today.

            The brilliant observations that Darwin made in the middle 19th century has been overtaken by the forward progress of technology and knowledge.  This is something that has occurred in enumerable cases throughout the history of the modern Scientific Revolution…that is inherent within the scientific method.  

            This recent discovery of evolution actually being devolution, discovered in the field of molecular biochemistry, has enormous implications in the very near future regarding the number of viable options remaining within the sea of multiple competing worldviews for human life…within the search for purpose and meaning in the universe.

[1] Michael Behe: Darwin Devolves…Socrates in the City interview, on You Tube dated March 29, 2019

[2] Michael J. Behe, Darwin Devolves (New York: Harper Collins, 2019), 9, 17.

Truth, Lies, and Faith

            John Lennox in his second interview in Labastide, France on Socrates in the City…says something about the limits of the laws of physics that has enormous implications when applied to all types of written laws.[1]  

            Lennox says that the laws of physics will never move a billiard ball in a million years, but a person with a cue-stick can. 

            The laws of motion can describe a billiard ball striking another billiard ball and where they will each go in terms of physics.  But first someone has to supply the movement of the billiard ball before physics can describe what happens. 

            A second example given by Lennox is that the laws of mathematics cannot create money. 

            Dr. Lennox credits C.S Lewis with the original thinking on this.

            “One plus one” will never actually put two dollars in our pocket.  We have to get the first dollar, then the second dollar…and only after this does mathematics describe the correct calculation of my having two dollars in my pocket.

            These examples by Dr. Lennox are given within the context of the discussion of the origin of the universe at the time of the Big Bang, refuting the statement by the famous physicist Stephen Hawking in his book The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow, 2010) that “because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself.”

            The point here is that laws do not create anything…they do not produce anything.

            The laws of physics are abstract.  They cannot move a billiard ball, put two dollars in my pocket, or create the universe.

            A correct understanding of this distinction when applied to human systems of government reveals the insightful truth that laws by themselves do not produce good behavior and virtuous living.

            Laws that abolish human slavery will not eradicate racial prejudice.

            There are no laws that can be enacted that will universally produce kindness and thoughtfulness.

            No law could be so well-written that its wording could guarantee that every high school and college student would legitimately achieve A-grades in all math classes up to and through calculus.

            No legislated law…no matter how well crafted…has the power to do that.

            Extending this concept even more broadly, this is why the Law of Moses cannot produce righteousness.

            The Ten Commandments written on the stone tablets by the finger of God Himself…cannot produce virtue and righteousness any more than the laws of physics can move a billiard ball.

            God knows this better than anyone.

            The question then becomes: Who moves the billiard ball…God or ourselves?

            Is right human living based upon the self-realization of the performance of good-works codified in laws, which realistically judges all of us without exception falling short of absolute perfection?

            Or is virtue and righteousness actualized into human life through God-composed journey of faith life-scripts after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

            The existence of this radical dichotomy within the contemplation of the marketplace of ideas is inexplicable in a purely materialistic universe.

            Here I sense that I am exploring concepts that are way beyond my depth…that exist at the very heart of reality.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”        (Rom. 1:17)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”                                                                                    (Rom. 3:20)

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”                                            (Rom. 5:1-2)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”                                          (Rom. 8:1-2)

            Here is where the concept of the limitations of the laws of physics described above by Dr. John Lennox, broadens into the separation between belief and unbelief when we look at the character trait of lying…of being untruthful.

            The liar by nature will seldom admit they are wrong.  The liar will attempt to “spin” the facts to explain their way out of some wrong-doing, shortcoming, or criminal activity.

            For the Christian theist, Satan has never admitted defeat after Calvary and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            This is what condemns unbelief.

            The gospel message begins with repentance: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt. 4:17).

            If our fallen, imperfect nature is in fact the necessary research vehicle to be able to truly explore the knowledge of good and evil…then unbelief is the ultimate folly

            Like the liar, unbelief actualizes into worldly conventional normalcy and thinking the inability to admit we are wrong.

            Every sane person can admit and accept that we are not perfect.

            But we find it difficult to make the small additional step of repenting towards God (having a turn-around in our minds and hearts) in this area of admitting we are not perfect…to the God of the Bible who is not condemning us for our imperfection.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”             (2 Cor. 4:7)

            The God of the Bible is the very person who set-up redemptive salvation for the express purpose of taking this fallen nature for a ride into the research program of a first-hand, experiential exploration of the knowledge of good and evil…via the “safe-conduct” of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

            What is so profound here once we see it is that the massive gulf between the two outcomes of a timeless existence in heaven or in hell…divides itself within human experience in the seemingly simplistic and subtle difference between belief and unbelief.

            The liar within all of us will spin the facts about our moral imperfection and sweep this reality “under the rug” as being merely a part of worldly conventional normalcy.

            But salvation does not come through the unachievable, perfect performance of good-works.

            This fallen human nature instead has been brilliantly flipped…by God’s program of redemptive salvation by grace through faith…into the positive vehicle for exploring the knowledge of good and evil in the one and only way we could claim this knowledge for ourselves through empirical experience.

            The internal lie of unbelief blocks this.

            This is why on Judgement Day people will be weeping and “gnashing their teeth” (Mt. 25:30) over the profound regret that belief was so within reach and accessible.

            Truth and lying divide into polarized opposites at Calvary. 

            The Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes in first-century Jerusalem would/could not admit they were wrong.

            The rejection and crucifixion was an attempt to “spin” the facts regarding the expected nature of the coming Messiah into the alternate reality that Jesus was a fraud and that they were righteous…because they followed the Law of Moses and were the “children” of Abraham (Mt. 3:7-9; Mk. 12:24; Lk. 11:37-44; Jn. 8:39-40).

            The United States Constitution cannot “do” anything in terms of virtuous citizenship.  Virtue cannot be legislated.

            The laws of physics cannot create anything.

            A billiard ball needs a person with a cue-stick to set it in motion.

            The Law of Moses was never intended to produce righteousness.

                        When skeptics include biblical faith within their general criticism of world religions, they have no idea what they are talking about.

            The redemptive salvation that enables believers to embark upon journeys of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…removes the risk of the threat that the absolute certainty of my imperfect performance could jeopardize my eternal salvation (Mt. 5:6).

            The impunity of my sins past, present, and future being covered by the blood Jesus shed on the cross enables an exploration of the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts…contained within the knowledge of good and evil…through the research vehicle of my imperfect nature.

            In my opinion, this rivals the empirical quality of any scientific investigation into the phenomena of the natural world.

            In my opinion, scientific materialists…rather than being staunch opponents of biblical faith…should logically be the first people in line to receive redemptive salvation…being by career choice investigative researchers.

            If we blithely sweep under the rug our human imperfection as being merely the product of a materialistic Mother Nature according to Darwinian evolution, then we are lying to ourselves.

            If we downgrade biblical faith into the relativism of man-invented religions that have no real standard for determining what genuine truth actually is, then we have created an alternate reality for the purpose of working around our universal imperfect natures.

            God invented biblical-quality journeys of faith precisely because laws of any kind cannot produce actionable virtue.

            Abstract concepts will not create a universe, move a billiard ball, or put two dollars in my pocket.

            This is too profound for the worldview of naturalistic materialism…but not too profound for divine agency.

[1] John Lennox: Socrates in the City in Labastide, France, Part 2, Jan. 23, 2018 on You Tube.

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