Is and Out—Abraham the Father of Faith

            One contention I want to make in this book is that the biblical narrative stories of faith, starting with the detailed life-script of Abraham, are roughly 3,500 years ahead of modern science in recognizing this subtle dichotomy between the status quo “is” of studying the material world, and the abstract ideal of what “ought” to be as applied to the destiny and direction of a human life-script.

            One of the main themes of the biblical narrative stories of faith is that as Abraham travels south towards Canaan, God’s new life-script for Abraham displaces whatever Abraham might otherwise have done, living in the city of Haran.

            Fundamental to eternal reality, Abraham could never have closed the gap between the “is” and the “ought” of becoming the father of faith, through a humanistic approach of self-reliant, worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

            The concept of the God of the Bible displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts, to close the gap between an “is” and an “ought,” cannot by definition exist within the self-reliant, “I did it my way” approach of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

            The revolutionary concept starting with the life-script of Abraham is that God-sovereignty is unimaginatively superior to self-sovereignty, inserting the discernment of a divinely better moral compass that is unattainable through worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

            The constrained optimization in the engineering of a fulfilled human life, had a targeted trajectory towards the ideal end-point “ought” of my optimum destiny living in Christ, starting at the beginning point “is” of being lost and directionless in my unredeemed, fallen nature at the time of my Christian conversion. 

This is the epitome of well-defined purpose.

The Dichotomy of “Is” and “Ought,” is Present Today at the Outer Edge of the Universe.

            As the universe expanded outward following the Hot Big Bang explosion out of nothing previously material, the circular bubble internally containing all of the laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics including the fourth dimension of time, and all of the materials in the Periodic Table of fundamental particles, along with all of the information that would comprise the organized complexity within that expanding bubble…has always been tangentially connected to the timeless, physically immaterial nothingness (the eternal God of the Bible is a non-material, self-existent Spirit-Being)…located at the outer edge of the still expanding universe.

            If we could travel to and catch-up with the expanding envelope of the universe, we could observe the current transition-line between the “is” of the timeless, nothing-physically-material, existing before and since the Big Bang beginning of the universe 13.7-billion years ago, and the expanding interior of the universe containing all of the incredible realities of time, matter, and energy that exhibit and define the “ought” of either a purposeless or a purposeful universe, the question that modern mankind is attempting to answer.

            A fundamental truism to try to comprehend here, is that as the presently expanding universe pushes outward its leading boundary-edge, there exists the most profound demarcation-line between absolutely nothing timely or material outside the universe, and absolutely everything material inside the universe including everything non-materially conceptual in the form of abstract ideas, intellectual and moral reasoning, animal instinct, and the fourth dimension of time.

            At the outer edge of this universe exists as stark a contrast between an “is” and an “ought,” as is imaginable.

            The “is” of a non-spatial reality containing nothing material exists just outside the bubble of the universe, and the “ought” of absolutely everything exists just inside this line separating nothing physically material with everything physically material.

            Modern mankind now has the empirical database of facts garnered through the Scientific Revolution to make an informed decision of how an “is” of nothing physically material could become the “ought” of this remarkable universe we inhabit and study.

            From the Christian viewpoint, the “is” to “ought” journeys from Abraham to Paul in the biblical narrative stories of faith, bears an uncanny similarity to the same journey of an expanding material universe out of nothing previously material, pushing outward the boundary-line between nothing physically material from everything physically material.

            From the Christian viewpoint, this is unmistakable evidence for the existence of the non-deistic, fully engaged, intelligent designing agent God of the Bible.

            This is a reality that no purely naturalistic explanation can plausibly traverse.

This is an excerpt form my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

Is and Ought

            In an interview on the Internet, John Lennox says that he disagrees with almost everything David Hume wrote, except where Hume stated that we cannot easily go from an “is” to an “ought”[1] in our understanding of reality.

            There is a logical gap, a discontinuity between an “is” and an “ought.”

            For example, it is easy to say as a factual statistic that a professional baseball player on our local team “is” in the hitting slump of having only one base-hit for the last twenty at-bats, but it is something else entirely to say how this same player “ought” to get out of this hitting slump.

            Anytime anyone discussing anything, describes the factual “is” of a particular subject, then unnoticeably shifts over into the “ought” of that same subject, they have thereby introduced an entirely different discussion.

            The status quo of a factually established “is” in-the- moment is worlds apart from the ideal “ought” of how something might become better now or in the future.

            In science, what something “is” can be defined in terms of descriptions such as its physical size, length, speed, location, color, or mass. 

What something “is” can also be described by its action, such as the force of gravity, the speed of light, the beneficial characteristics of carbon to enable numerous chemical bonds to form into compounds, or the expansion rate of the universe.

            Going back in history, the how and the why of the “ought” of purposeful, targeted outcomes being removed from 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.”[2]    

            It is easy to see here, that by removing the underlying purpose contained within the “ought” 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 to more easily identify the factual “is” of a particular phenomenon, carries the danger to morph this purposeless research methodology over time into the exceedingly damaging cultural worldview of a similarly purpose-free, ought-less human life.

The Life-Script of Paul

            Here lies one of the most important topics in this book, and possibly one of the most fundamental issues in all of eternity.

            The educated Pharisee Saul/Paul “is” persecuting the early Christian church of Jewish believers in Jesus Christ as being the long-awaited Messiah.

            This situation of an “is” emphatically does not naturally create a path leading to the transformational “ought” of Saul/Paul becoming the preeminent Christian evangelical missionary to the first-century Greco-Roman world.

            Nothing in worldly conventional normalcy and thinking can explain getting us from the “is” to the “ought” in the historical life of the apostle Paul.

            But the God of the Bible in an instant of time can brilliantly flip Saul into Paul (the Greek equivalent of the Jewish name Saul) from an “is” to an “ought,” creating in a moment a well-educated Jewish scholar going out into the larger world with the Christian gospel message, having the essential super-humility needed to not look down-his-nose in condescending Jewish pride at the block-headed, polytheistic, and idol-worshipping Gentiles.

            Simply stated, Paul cannot be an effective Christian missionary evangelist to the first-century Greco-Roman world without the “is” of narrow, pride-filled Jewish tribalism radically transformed into the Great Commission “ought” of personal humility that is relatable to the lost condition of the Gentiles.

            The young Pharisee Saul/Paul had been educated in Jerusalem by the renowned teacher Gamaliel.

As Paul travels as a converted Christian missionary to evangelize in the various cities throughout Asia Minor, he is probably better educated than any of the rabbis in the local synagogues, his knowledge of the Hebrew Bible scriptures making the case for Jesus as the Christ being above reproach.

            Yet after meeting Jesus Christ as the Messiah through a blinding light on the road to Damascus, Paul realizes that of all people he should have seen Jesus of Nazareth as being the Christ, and if God can forgive him for his wrong-headed blindness as a persecutor of the followers of Jesus, then he knows that his actions are at least equal to or worse than the belief-systems of the Gentiles who were likewise ignorant of the true identity of God.

            If Jesus Christ can forgive him, then Paul knows that Jesus Christ can forgive the Gentiles as well.

            Thus, the God of the Bible can cross the wide expanse of an “is” to an “ought” in composing and orchestrating the extraordinary life mission-plan for Paul the apostle.

            The fundamental issue here having eternal import, is that Paul could never have closed the gap between the starting point “is” of being an active persecutor of the early Christian church, to the “ought” of becoming the apostle to the Gentiles and a writer of many of the New Testament letters addressed to churches throughout Asia Minor, defending the Christian faith.

            Paul could never have even imagined this radical change from an “is” to an “ought” that no human literary genius could or would invent.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] John Lennox: Socrates in the City in Labastide, France, Parts 1 and 2 on Jan. 12 and 23, 2018 on YouTube.

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

Entropy and Intelligent Design 2

If we break an example down into more detail, the importance of entropy in the creation/evolution debate becomes clear.

Suppose I have a two-volume, English edition of Tolstoy’s classic novel War and Peace, each book being 600 pages long for a total number of pages at 1,200.

These two books have the story of War and Peace accurately organized from start to finish using letters, words, spaces between words, punctation marks, sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters all precisely arranged having no available allowance for alteration without degrading the story.

Applying the concept of entropy, the unaltered condition of this two-volume book set of War and Peace is in its macro-state of low entropy approaching zero, in terms of maintaining the informational quality of the storyline.

But if I take these two books and insert human agency, I can tear-out all of the 1,200 pages, cutting some of the pages up into smaller pieces containing paragraphs, sentences, and individual words, and cutting-off the bottoms of each full page removing the page numbers.

This would be a classic example of going from low entropy to high entropy…of changing the well-defined, fixed message of a literary work into the large number of possible combinations of information that are now nonsensical gibberish in comparison to the well-ordered storyline of the classic novel War and Peace.

By this action, I have in essence destroyed the literary brilliance of Tolstoy’s storytelling in its macro-state, into a micro-state pile of disorganized pieces of paper having comprehensible but meaningless expressions of information in the form of random letters, words, and paragraphs in English.

I can cut-up the book into a number of pieces, but I thereby lose the story.

But again, through human agency with some help by using another full copy of War and Peace, I could painstakingly put together the pieces of my cut-up version back into full pages in their original, fully restored state.

In cutting-up my copy of War and Peace, I destroyed the physically material pages of the two books, but not the information content of the story.

Information cannot be cut-up and disbursed like pieces of paper to produce positive entropy, but ideas can be split apart into smaller pieces for better analysis, so in this sense abstract information is susceptible to some form of entropy.

Positive entropy in the universe says that the paper and ink of books will eventually decompose over time.

We could attempt to preserve my copy of War and Peace by placing these two books inside a vacuum-sealed plastic box, or instead by printing new editions of War and Peace every 500 years or so, thus preserving the storyline into the future.

Or we could have some people memorize the entire storyline word-for-word, as is done in another classic book Fahrenheit 451 by H. G. Wells, and in its interesting and entertaining 1966 movie version.

The important point here is that the information that defines the force of gravity, the speed of light, the expansion rate of the universe, the balanced equilibrium between the predator/prey relationship of the giant Asian hornet and the Asian honeybee…that this abstract, non-material information is introduced into existence at their mature expressions without being susceptible to the randomly scattered degradation of entropy.

What is important here is that no materialistic worldview can plausibly account for the fine-tuned essence of gravity and an expanding universe at the first split-seconds of the Big Bang beginning of the universe, juxtaposed alongside a local sun that is slowing running out of fuel to heat and light our earth, and rubber tiles on our automobiles that run-out out of tread between 40-60 thousand miles of driving.

The numerical values in the equations in the laws of physics are balanced on a razor’s edge to enable carbon- based life to exist in this universe.

They are on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum-line of the lowest entropy in contrast to the large number of the rest of the natural world, all subject to the high entropy of cascading forward towards the heat death of maximum entropy…of reaching equilibrium between macro-states and micro-states running-out of disparate energies.

This brilliantly engineered, energy producing dichotomy between material phenomena in the natural world requires not just any mediocre intelligent designing agent, but an architect and engineer of remarkable acumen blending abstract information with physically material things playing-out over time.

The current mystery of both the presence and the absence of entropy occurring simultaneously in the natural world, is a discovery by human scientific investigation that points towards the deliberate design by an intelligent agent, and away from the serendipity of chance self-assembly.

I do not believe that matter and energy alone is conceivably capable of producing the reality of this energy-factory dichotomy between low entropy and high entropy inside stars.

If we want a functional force of gravity, functional light, functional expansion of the universe, and functional fundamental elements of the Periodic Table, then all of these fine-tuned numerical constants in the equations of the laws of physics, must have very low or near zero entropies throughout their durations from start to finish over the life of the universe…until energy reaches equilibrium and runs-out of fuel.

To maintain the information content of these phenomena in nature we need the “book” to remain intact (not cut-up into pieces by me or anyone/anything else) telling their complete storyline, exhibiting their fully mature, well-defined essence.

A paradox in modern physics today is that the high entropy of a Big Bang explosion producing a universe out of the lowest possible zero entropy of nothing previously material, cannot plausibly then produce phenomena having near-zero entropies like light, gravity, expansion, and atomic particles having well-defined and unchanging characteristics.

Only an intelligent designing agent is capable of composing a natural world storyline that contains these apparent paradoxes that manage to produce function that is mind-boggling in its precision and intent.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

Entropy and Intelligent Design 1

            Entropy is a concept that describes a phenomenon in the natural world that applies to everything that is physically material.

            One typical example used to define what is entropy is to describe the variations possible between the perfectly neat and organized bedroom of a teenager with everything in its place, contrasted with the near-infinity of possible disorganized arrangements of these same elements scattered all over the bedroom.

            This example applied to the natural world is suitable as an explanation we can understand, but is inaccurate in that it involves the human agency of a teenager as the cause of this disorder.

            But staying with this example, the condition of a perfectly neat, clean, and organized bedroom is called in physics a macro-state, having generally only one condition, iteration, or reality.  

            The enumerable conditions of possible disorder of the bedroom are called in physics micro-states

            Give the typical teenager autonomous control over the state of their bedroom and the usual result is for the organization of the bedroom to decay into harmless disorder, yet nevertheless annoying to the parents.  

            Physically material phenomena in the natural world that have the potential to disburse or expand into a large number of possible alternative combinations or conditions are said to have high entropy…the high capacity to change into other states.

            Physically material phenomena in the natural world that are fixed in their current state and are not amenable to changing from a singular macro-state to enumerable, alternative micro-states, are said to have low entropy.

            Physically material entities if left to themselves will morph from highly ordered and well-defined macro-states having low entropy toward randomly disordered micro-states displaying high entropy, sometimes observable and even measurable in action over time.

It is therefore said that our universe as a whole uniformly displays positive entropy, going from the low entropy of neat, ordered, and well-defined to the high entropy of scattered, diffused, and randomly disordered.

            Returning to the bedroom example, it takes the agency of the teenager to apply work to maintain the macro-state of a clean and organized bedroom with everything in its place, or the absence of work on the part of the teenager allowing the bedroom to naturally fall into disorder.

            This example of the macro and micro states of a teenager’s bedroom is easily understandable to us, but in a natural world left to operate on its own, human agency is not a factor influencing entropy.

            An example close-to-home that does not involve human agency is the sun in our solar system that is constantly changing hydrogen into helium, producing heat but also reducing the size of the sun.

            The sun can then be said to be engaged in the positive entropy of changing from the initial macro-state of decreasing quantities of less and less hydrogen atoms to the subsequent micro-state of increasing quantities of more and more helium atoms. 

            The beginning disparity between the larger number of hydrogen atoms compared to the lesser number of helium atoms is what enables atomic reactions to occur that produce the light and heat of stars throughout the cosmos.

This will eventually, over the span of a few more billion years, result in the “heat death” of an equilibrium parity between hydrogen and helium atoms inside our sun that can no longer generate atomic reactions…producing a state that is called maximum entropy having exhausted all of the possible micro-states available.

We do not currently understand what entropy is, and why it exists. 

We can observe its occurrence in a variety of examples in the natural world, such as tires on our automobiles that wear-out and need to be replaced, cavities in our teeth that require a trip to the dentist, and roofing on our houses that will only be guaranteed to last for 40 years.

One key point in trying to understand entropy in the natural world is that it applies only to physically material things.

Entropy does not apply to information…being an abstract, non-material reality.

Information can be refined, revised, and improved, but it is not susceptible to entropy in the same way that physically material entities are generally bound to the positive direction of low entropy states to the high entropy of randomly disordered states, in the process of change over time throughout the universe.

This process of change over time demonstrated through entropy is not an argument for Darwinian evolution, but is instead a compelling argument for the existence of an intelligent designing agent.

There are certain values within the mathematical equations that describe the physics of phenomena in the natural world that fall outside of the universal actions of entropy.

The numerical constants within the equations that describe the speed of light, the strength of gravity, the expansion rate of the universe, the carbon resonance inside supernova stars that create carbon and oxygen, and the atomic weights of the fundamental particles in the Periodic Table, for example, cannot be changed or altered through entropy.

These numerical constants within the equations that describe the laws of physics appear to be fixed and inviolable throughout the vast expanse of the universe.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

The Investigation of the Natural World is not the Same Thing as the Natural World Itself

            The ingenious methodologies of research by humans going in the positive direction from ignorance to a more truthful understanding of the phenomena in the natural world, cannot break through the impregnable barrier of the empiricism of matter and energy to unravel the greater ingenuity in the creative, abstract thinking coming from another direction, that resides within the intelligent agency that invented the thing being researched.

            We do not formally recognize that the data we obtain by studying falling objects though space using the modern scientific method, that reaches the laudable point of sophistication to be able to send men to the moon and back, that this factual database falls short of the imaginative creativity that brought into being a reality as amazing as the force of gravity that we investigate.

This issue of the glass ceiling of the empiricism of the scientific method is central to the God and science debate.

Let’s analyze this issue in more detail.

In the making of Italian spaghetti sauce, a favorite topic in this book, there are at least three main realities.

The first is the cookbook recipe of sequential steps.

The second is the taste-test reaction from the spaghetti eaters.

The third is the breaking-down of the various ingredients into their individual chemical components using the scientific method in a laboratory by trained scientists. 

Similarly, artistic oil painting, water-color painting, and ink drawing can be divided into at minimum three main realities.

The first is the sequential steps of mechanically producing a work of art.

The second is the opinionated viewing by the public of this artwork in a museum.

The third, again, is the breaking-down of the painting ingredients into their chemical components via the scientific method in the controlled environment of a laboratory by scientific researchers.

Another easily understood example might be the construction of a new house, which again can be divided into at least three main realities.

The first is the sequential steps of the assembly of the house from the ground up, following a well-established pattern common to all new housing construction.

The second might be the “curb-appeal” of the front elevation of the house as viewed from the street, or the utility of the floor plan for optimal living.

But the third reality once again can go into the highly technical aspects of what is called materials science, which studies the structural strengths of materials, resistance to fire, waterproofing qualities, insulating between heat and cold, and sound insulation.

In these examples, it would be the height of arrogant hubris to insist that the scientifically empirical perspective was the only one that mattered.

In each of the realities given in the three examples above, it was the Scientific Revolution that added the new, third approach of discovering empirical, fact-based evidence at this level of detail.

But the scientific method is the new kid on the block.

Long before Newton’s equations described gravity, people could throw a small rock four feet above themselves and observe the repetitive laws of physics that the rock always comes down to the ground, without being able to describe this reality mathematically.

Long before the scientific field of modern chemistry, a mother would explain the sequential steps of dressing and seasoning the meat from an elk killed by the hunter/gatherer husband, to her daughter in preparation for cooking, before these steps were ever recorded in a cookbook or analyzed chemically in a laboratory for its nutritional value in terms of sodium, sugar, calories, and fat content, or the features of heat in cooking.

The sequential steps for doing all manner of things, and the theorizing and conceptualization of the good or bad, right or wrong, and best practices compared to poor practices, were a part of the human experience long before the scientific method of research was invented in the 1500’s.

Scientific materialists cannot dogmatically insist that mankind has been wrong all this time by placing faith, confidence, and value in the first two realities in each of the three simple examples given above, and in countless other examples commonly observed and perceived in ordinary life.

Most people can detect the intelligence of design in good Italian spaghetti, world-class paintings in a museum, and pleasing architecture in buildings.

Most people can detect the presence of design in the natural world.  The question then becomes the plausibility of competing explanations for its source.

The recognition of intelligence that infers design occurs in the middle, second reality of the three examples given above.

It is not up to scientific materialists to tell us that methodological materialism defines the entirely of reality.

It is not the job of scientists to tell us about the limits of reality.

We are capable of making that determination ourselves.

It seems to me that the arguments made by scientific materialists that only natural causations and explanations are allowed in science, makes reasonable sense only until we reach the near end-point of the investigation of a particular area of research…when most or enough of the data is in.

Once we confidently reach the nearly complete, end-points of research projects that generate sufficient data to begin drawing final conclusions, then broader interpretations and the consequences of the evidence must be allowed that fall outside of the domain of materialistic explanations.

This is what happened in the example of the discovery by Edwin Hubble of an expanding universe that led to the theory of the Big Bang, which has definite theistic implications.

This is what we see in the fine-tuned constants of physics in the universe, that are too precise to be the product of blind chance.

This is what we see in the information content in DNA and in the nanotechnology at work in living cells that defies a materialistic explanation through a blind and undirected process.

            When and if the brilliant scientific method of research in the future discovers a complete matter-and-energy explanation of precisely how the creation of the universe occurred in terms of purely naturalistic causations…then the complexity, specificity, and coherently integrated systems of this information would be so magnificent in its scope and breadth as to be fantastically beyond any atheistic explanation.

            This is the dilemma for modern science today, in that the atheism of scientific materialism is incapable of recognizing the fundamental dichotomy of perception in the scientific method that when most of the factual data is in, this leads to valid inferences to the best explanations that go beyond the limited domain of materialism.

The more we learn about the information required to produce function and fit within living and non-living systems, the more difficult it is to make a plausible argument that the empirical, fact-based evidence derived through the scientific method can exclude agency from the theorizing and conceptualization drawn from this evidence.

This is based upon the reasonable, modern recognition that human scientific research is going in the positive direction towards the discovery of truth regarding the workings in the natural world, using our human thinking skills, while the realities we study deserve the same recognition and appreciation of the cognitive, analytical thinking skills that come from another direction in producing these phenomena, in the first place. 

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

The Scientific Method…Revised

            The application of a formal method to investigate the workings in the natural world is correctly recognized and credited as the start of the modern Scientific Revolution.

This begins with the discovery and use of the scientific method of research, universally applied from that time going forward to today.

            Borrowing from a classic illustrative example, if someone in the late 1500’s wanted to investigate the behavior of various objects having different weights, sizes, and shapes free-falling through space, the scientific method might have that person dropping these various objects off the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, being an excellent research platform at that time. 

This would be accompanied by another researcher positioned as an observer on the ground using a mechanical timing device that could determine elapsed time, preferably divided into fractions of a second (a sand hour-glass would not work).

            The new scientific method of doing formal research would record the physical description of the shape and size of the objects being dropped, the number of times each object was dropped, the measured distance from the top of the tower to the ground, and the elapsed time duration for each free-fall through space. 

Secondary information might be the air temperature, time of day, wind speed, and wind direction.

            These “findings” could then be recorded in a written field journal that could be copied and read by other people in the growing body of natural scientists around the world, who could then repeat similar follow-up experiments at their local regions using different conditions from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to generally confirm or disconfirm these findings and to improve upon the accuracy of the research methodology.

            The precise recipe of the sequential steps the first pair of researchers followed at the Leaning Tower of Pisa can be repeated and improved-upon by each successive group of researchers investigating this particular phenomenon of free-falling objects in space.

            Both the sequential steps of the research protocol and the data produced in this example are entirely naturalistic, as long as we are talking about generating measurable, quantifiable, fact-based evidence alone.

            This is the feature of the Scientific Revolution that enabled mankind to replace “old-wives” tales, magic, witchcraft, mythology, superstition, first-glance appearances, and wild speculation with true explanations for the causations of the phenomena in the natural world.

Combined with the two modern Industrial Revolutions that introduced the new advancements of technological inventions, this produced over the past four to five centuries the modern world we inhabit and enjoy today.

When I listen to the debate over whether the scientific method excludes divine agency, I sense that people are simply talking past one another, not recognizing that the scientific method is only one-third of reality, be it divine or human.

            What is not obvious in the Leaning Tower of Pisa example given above of the research program devised by people attempting to find empirical answers to how and why objects fall to the earth, is that it assumes the ingenuity of the human thinking process in devising the sequential steps of a research program going in the direction of discovering truth about reality.

But it does not, as a matter of research protocol, identify the greater ingenuity of the cognitive thinking coming from the other direction that created the truth of the thing in existence that humans are researching.

            We perform the experiment of dropping objects off the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which eventually leads over time to Isaac Newton discovering mathematical equations that describe the force of gravity.

            The historical trajectory of research in this one area of explaining gravity is in the direction starting from near total ignorance to the ability to successfully send and return men to the moon and back. 

The laudable appreciation in this human research program to get from A to B should have an equal recognition and appreciation for what it took to come from the other direction of B to A, of the greater ingenuity to create the reality of gravity in the first place. 

This requires admitting the contemplation of divine agency subsumed within the design of organized complexity in the natural world.

            The ingenuity of James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 to unravel the mystery regarding the structure of DNA, by connecting the dots of information from other researchers, the technology of x-ray infraction through DNA fibers, and their own dogged persistence, reads like a suspenseful spy-thriller novel (see chapter 3 The Double Helix in Stephen C. Meyer’s 2009 book Signature in the Cell).

            The takeaway here is that the ingenious methods leading-up to our understanding of the structure of DNA as an information bearing molecule capable of explaining both the variability and the continuity of genetic heredity, pales when compared to the actual performance of the double-strand helix of DNA inside the cell nucleus having a four-letter chemical alphabet 3.5-billion characters long (six-feet in length when stretched-out), which forms the basis of the vast diversity of life on earth.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

Do Humans Have an Intrinsic Theo-Meter Within Our Cognitive Reasoning Capacity?

The atheism within materialism extended to its logical end-point dissolves all confidence in human rational thought using our mind/brain, including science and atheism itself.

A worldview based upon pure materialism that destroys sure confidence in the findings of science based upon rational thought, cannot be an integral part of science.

A human mind/brain that is reduced to the materialistic components of the electrical circuitry of matter and energy alone is undependable as to its sure ability to rise to the level of reliable truth-seeking.

For a human mind/brain to transcend above the unreliable relativity logically generated by the random and undirected developmental processes of materialism, the only option to restore reliability is to recognize a correspondence of the human mind/brain to the divine Mind/Being of an intelligent designing agent.

The radical reductionism in materialism places scientists in the illogical position of undermining their own reliable credibility.

In the Dover case, also arguing as an expert witness against Intelligent Design, Dr. Eugenie Scott, an anthropologist who then headed the National Center for Science Education, stated: “You can’t put an omnipotent deity in a test tube,” and “As soon as creationists invent a ‘theo-meter,’ maybe then we can test for miraculous intervention.  You can’t (scientifically) study variables you can’t test, directly or indirectly.”[1] 

It is hard to understand how otherwise brilliant people can be so influenced by viewpoint bias as to be unable to see the weakness of their own arguments.

The philosophical worldview of naturalistic materialism argued for here by Eugenie Scott cannot similarly be placed in a test tube for hard, bench-top validation any more than an omnipotent deity can be placed in a test tube. 

Putting a finer point on it, the research protocol of methodological materialism itself cannot be placed in a test tube for validation.

Yet methodological materialism works beautifully as long as it stays within empiricism, without venturing outside of its factual authority to overlap into the conceptualization and theorizing function that looks for plausible conclusions to explain the empirical facts.

Historians and philosophers of science generally agree that the reason behind the rise of the Scientific Revolution in western Europe and not in eastern Asia can be attributed to the “theo-meter” exhibited in the God of the Bible that did not exist in the eastern religions.

Scientists such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Maxwell, and Boyle to name a few, saw in the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world an open door to conduct scientific research, based upon the nature of an organized and rational Creator God as depicted in the Bible.

These early pioneers of the Scientific Revolution recognized the existence of laws in nature worth researching because they saw in the God of the Bible the stability of a law-giver.[2]

A theistic-meter discernable in the natural world and in the Creator God of the Bible has equal standing with an atheistic-meter imposed upon reality by scientific materialists, both being philosophical conclusions drawn from the empirical, physically material-world facts.

The assertion that these early scientists were all Christians because culturally everyone in the west were Christian believers during those centuries, is an example of lazy thinking and shallow research.

During the last two thousand years, there has never been a time when there was a majority of people picking-up their crosses as genuine Christian disciples to follow Jesus into an adventure of faith.

The vast majority of people in every past century have chosen worldly conventional life-scripts that primarily look after “number one,” of the self-sovereignty of first taking care of me, myself, and I (Mt. 7:13-14).

The giants of the Scientific Revolution who were self-professing Christians were part of a group of people who have always been a small percentage of the overall population, even as it is today.

One theme of this essay is that the theo-meter articulated by Eugenie Scott is part of the larger skeletal explanatory framework we intuitively either see or don’t see in the natural world, but it is in no way found within the secular, sequential steps of scientific research itself.

The sequential steps in human scientific research programs will not pinpoint the precise zip-code address where a physical God of the Bible can be found in the universe.

This is a misdirected argument that scientific materialists are trying to make, that true science can only be done within the limited definition of the scientific method that produces accessible empirical data.

The key word here is “limited.”

This is a massive confusion that incorrectly disconnects the pinpoint accuracy of scientific investigations that produce empirical, fact-based evidence limited to natural explanations only, from the equally insightful and legitimate capacity of every human being to recognize the existence of design everywhere we look in the living and non-living world.

If Dr. Scott is implying here that we should be able to empirically find the physical identification of God through hard, bench-top science in a laboratory, then we are looking here at a “straw man” argument that misses the basic dichotomy between the hard-boiled, fact-based evidence produced through the scientific method, contrasted with the conceptually theoretical hypotheses that can logically include the presence of easily recognizable design in the natural world.

Finally, the statement: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” is not a statement of science presenting factual evidence of how God empirically created a physically material universe.

This is a profound statement of the greatest importance regarding ultimate reality, that the existence of intelligence is behind the universe we observe and study.

This non-material, intelligence-identifying part of the two-part dichotomy of Genesis 1:1 predates modern science by roughly 3,500 years, and may be more profound than being a statement asserting a beginning point in time for the creation of the universe.

The reason that we can gain an intelligent understanding of the natural world runs much deeper than merely identifying the existence of a designing agent called God, brilliantly articulated in the first verse of the Bible that asserts a two-part separation within the non-material character of information.

This hard demarcation line between empirical facts and abstract understanding is exemplified in the unbridgeable gap between the physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper, and the opinionated, variable, and changing information conveyed through the English language in the daily headlines of the New York Times newspaper.

The laws of the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper remain the same, but the information conveyed does not.

This two-part dichotomy separating the empirical nature of fact-based evidence from the conceptual understanding of what a particular ensemble of facts means, cannot logically have this demarcation line blurred by mixing facts with provisional conclusions within the single misleading category of calling both parts equally empirical science.

The one part is scientific, fact-based evidence.  The other part is our conceptual understanding.

This abstract conceptual part can involve an inference to the best explanation that includes a non-material, intelligent designing agent God without overlapping into, disrupting, or replacing the raw database of scientific facts.

I hope readers of this book see that I subscribe to the facts of modern science. 

I just draw a different conclusion when it comes to the choice between Darwinian macroevolution in biological development, and the God of the Bible as the creator of the natural living and non-living world.  

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 426.

[2] John Lennox: Socrates in the City in Labastide, France, parts 1 and 2, Jan. 12 and 23, 2018, on YouTube.

Sequential Steps and Raw Data are Worldview-Free…Revised

The recipes…the sequential steps…in the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook are entirely neutral as to the theistic or atheistic worldview of the chef in the kitchen.

The mother or grandmother working all day in the kitchen preparing homemade Italian spaghetti sauce for a large family dinner gathering later that day, has absolutely zero connection to the quality of the spaghetti sauce based upon whether this mother or grandmother is a devoted Christian theist or a hard-core skeptical atheist.

The misrepresentation here is to lump all religions together on one side of the ledger as being subjective nonsense, and place the atheist all alone on the other side as being the clear-thinking, independent, superstition-free arbiter of empirical reality.

The truth is that theism and atheism are both philosophically intellectual constructions…are belief systems exercising faith in their particular viewpoints…and belong on the same side as equal competitors in the open marketplace of ideas.

Theism and atheism have nothing to do with the sequential steps of scientific investigations that generate empirical, factual evidence.

Introducing theism or atheism into the scientific conversation occurs in the upper-level realm of theorizing and conceptualization, which admits spinning of the narrative because this is the variable, non-empirical nature of storytelling.

The modern Scientific Revolution is justifiably credited with dispelling “old-wives” tales, superstition, witchcraft, soothsaying, and black magic as bogus explanations for the phenomena we see in the natural world.

But it is the sequential steps of the scientific research program that is responsible for producing empirical evidence, and not any particular worldview that by definition must be limited to the category of being skeletal explanatory frameworks that fall outside of hard, bench-top research methodology.

The distinction between the sequential steps of scientific research programs and the skeletal explanatory frameworks that attempt to describe temporarily provisional conclusions, emphatically requires that the atheism of scientific materialism be placed alongside Christian theism as both being unrelated issues in the sequential steps of the making of Italian spaghetti sauce or exploring the cosmos.

But it is important here to see that the qualitative character of the concept communicated through the word “agency” exists on a much higher and elevated plane than the derisive concepts of “old-wives” tales, superstition, and black magic.

It would be absurd to assert that the Scientific Revolution could or would remove the concept of agency from the contemplation of human observation and everyday experience.

The real truth here is that the philosophical worldview of scientific materialism can be jettisoned along with “old-wives” tales and superstitions today, without threatening at all the empirical quality of the sequential steps of scientific research or the raw data this generates.

Philosophical worldviews do not overlap with the specified steps in scientific research any more than the specified steps in following a cookbook recipe requires either a theistic or an atheistic viewpoint in order to be successful.

The modern, nonsensical culture-war issue of whether the conclusions drawn from scientific research must exclude the existence of God is illustrated in the now classic 2005 court case Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District.

In this court case, as an expert witness testifying against Intelligent Design, the philosopher Dr. Robert Pennock of Michigan State University argued: “science operates by empirical principles of observational testing; hypotheses must be confirmed or disconfirmed by reference to…accessible empirical data.”[1]

This statement says that hypotheses can be confirmed or disconfirmed by reference to accessible empirical data.

Scientific materialists assume upfront that hypotheses (conclusions) confirmed or disconfirmed by reference to accessible empirical data must be done solely within the skeletal explanatory framework of naturalistic materialism to be valid.

What is subtly being represented here is that the definition of what is science and what is non-science, is determined by the modern scientific method that can only generate accessible empirical data.

The fallacy in this reasoning is profoundly mistaken. 

Some things we understand in nature, and some things we don’t.

There is zero understanding contained within the exclusively empirical realm of fact-based evidence.

The statement: “The only way to truth is through science,” is a proffer of conceptualization and theorizing that has zero empirical fact-based evidence in support, in terms of some atomic material composition that can be measured, weighed, or heated in a test-tube.

This identifies a two-part dichotomy between the raw data of facts contrasted with the abstract understanding of what some particular ensemble of facts means.

The meaning of the facts that comes through understanding is an independent, stand-alone, fundament reality having a spatial reach as broad as the universe itself, and a duration as long as the eternity of time…being much broader than the raw database of empirical facts alone.

More than one reasonable conclusion can sometimes be drawn from the empirical facts.

If a reasonable conclusion involves intelligent designing agency, then the limitations placed by naturalistic materialism upon the acceptable set of solutions becomes artificial and invalid.

I can look at the organized complexity in living cells, which involves DNA, amino acids that fold into proteins, developmental gene regulatory networks, and epigenetic factors, and reasonably conclude that this requires design, without ever touching or altering the empirical, factual data in the slightest.

The confusion occurs when the scientific materialist illogically intermixes the conclusion-neutral, factual data up into the conceptually abstract zone of non-material conceptualization and theorizing opinion where it does not belong, and at the same time lowers the concept of intelligent design down into the worldview-free, empirical zone of factual evidence where it does not belong.

Conceptualization and theorizing are not empirical, and databases of empirical facts are not conceptual and theoretical.

These two realities work together in tandem, but they do not crossover into each other’s territory, and they do not intermix.

This wizardly manipulation of reality excludes intelligent designing agency from the theorizing and conceptualization phase of the scientific enterprise.

It unjustifiably disallows drawing overall conclusions based upon the facts, conclusions that by definition necessarily can fall just above and outside of the domain of empirical, hard bench-top research.

This is a setting-up of the rules, a prior “rigging of the system” in favor of the atheism of scientific materialism which is incredibly misleading and untrue.

Scientific materialists are not allowed to set-up the rules that define what is science and what is non-science as argued in the conceptual zone of drawing conclusions.

Scientific materialists are not allowed to say that fact-based evidences must limit the conclusions drawn, to the domain of naturalistic materialism alone.

Mankind as a whole can and does make that determination, in the same way that the inference to design is commonly made every time we see the organized complexity in an automobile driving down the road, in a best-selling spy novel, or in the coded arrangement of information in DNA. 

There is no logical argument that connects the conceptually philosophical atheism of naturalistic materialism to the neutral, sequential steps of empirical, scientific research programs.

Atheism and research programs belong in two entirely different categories.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 426.

Inference to the Best Explanation…Revised

            In the essays The Giant Asian Hornet and Human Development and Evolution, I contend that the highly sophisticated defense strategy of the Asian honeybee against the giant Asian hornet could not plausibly be explained as being the product of an escalating arms-race of competing features incrementally achieved through small-steps over time.

I also contend that if human development occurred in small, gradually incremental steps beginning roughly four-million years ago, that we should then see milestone examples of intellectual progress to match physical development, leaving signs in history going back in time for hundreds of thousands of years or more. 

These arguments are called inferences to the best explanation.

These arguments are conceptual ideas that fall within what I call in this book skeletal explanatory frameworks, otherwise known as theoretical hypotheses.

These are intellectually philosophical ideas that are not themselves amenable to hard, bench-top verification through the research methodologies that produce measurable quantities such as size, length, velocity, or mass.

Skeletal explanatory frameworks cannot be measured using calipers, or weighed on a scale, or placed on a glass slide to be viewed under a microscope.

Ideas cannot be placed in a test tube or a glass beaker, with measured quantities of truth, integrity, and wisdom added to see if this mixture will produce a colored liquid, or generate solid precipitate particles that sink to the bottom of the test tube, or bubble-up to the top of the test tube or glass beaker and spill-out onto the laboratory table-top.

Ideas are not found in the Periodic Table of fundamental elements, and have no atomic structures that can be chemically mixed to produce other ideas as compounds.

Ideas are not researchable through quantum physics.

Inferences to the best explanation are provisional conclusions or theoretical concepts that are not the same thing as the sequential steps in a science research program, or even the raw data this research generates.

The sequential steps in any scientific investigation produces empirical facts that can then be arranged into skeletal explanatory frameworks using inferences to the best explanation.

The part of the scientific investigation that produces empirical facts is the series of sequential steps in the research protocol.

The part of the scientific investigation that produces an interim, provisional conclusion based upon a current understanding of these empirical facts is 100% intellectually philosophical.

The idea that the atheistic, philosophical worldview of scientific materialism is somehow organically connected to the methodology of sequential steps in scientific research programs, has to be one of the biggest misconceptions in human history.

Skeletal explanatory frameworks can be spun into differing narratives using the same set of facts, because this is the intrinsic nature of storytelling, whether in a court of law, in a political campaign, in a historical biography book, or for a teenager trying to come-up with a plausible excuse to their parents for why they stayed-out later than their 10 P.M. curfew.

But storylines that are variable explanations cannot themselves be considered the fixed, empirical data.

Facts based upon empirical data can be interpreted, but cannot easily be spun into alternate facts.  Facts are facts, and remain so despite our interpretations of them.

Darwin’s theory of extrapolating microevolution to macroevolution is a spin.

It is based upon empirical facts, but it is not itself an empirical fact. 

It is a skeletal explanatory framework, a narrative story that is a spin superimposed over the evidence.

Fiat creation by the God of the Bible is also a skeletal explanatory framework, a narrative story that is a spin, but which today increasingly has more explanatory power than the atheism of naturalistic materialism.   

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

Empirical Evidence for the Existence of God

            During the follow-up questions & answers period after a presentation given by a Christian apologist or after a public debate between an atheist and a Christian, invariably a person from the audience will ask some version of the question: “Is there empirical evidence for the existence of God?”

            In this modern 21st century, this has to be one of the most outdated questions a person can have.

            I place the blame for this partially at the feet of the scientific materialists of the second half of the 20th century and our current 21st century, for the atheism of their philosophical worldview of scientism that attempts to prevent anyone, based upon science, from considering a broader and more rational view of the natural world.

            Richard Dawkins in his 1987 book The Blind Watchmaker wrote: “Darwin made it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”[1]

            But this only works today if Darwinian evolution is actually true.  If Darwinism is false then atheists would have to look elsewhere for their fulfillment.

            It is not difficult to show that the atheism of naturalistic materialism or scientific materialism does not hold-up under close examination.

            Let’s start with the hypothetical example of humans as physically material beings trying to produce a duplicate, identical, Plan-B backup planet to colonize. 

This new planet would complement our own earth as human overpopulation now critically stretches the natural resources to their limits available on this planet.

This Earth-2 planet must be placed precisely within the same “goldilocks zone” orbit, distanced from the sun to enable water to exist as a liquid. 

It would have to be orbiting at the same speed so the two planets would not collide with one another.

            First, we would have to find enough cosmic dust and gases that contained all of the fundamental elements of the Periodic Table. 

We would then have to bring this material in the right quantities to coalesce together into close-enough contact for gravity to condense this material into a habitable, non-star planet yet having a hot, molten-iron core like that of earth.

            We might do this by searching through the asteroid belt for free, loose material hopefully already in the form of what is called a debris disc.

            We could not use atomic bombs to break-off large pieces of other planets in our solar system, as this material would then be radioactive and unusable.

            We would then have to figure-out how to get this material from where it currently is to its new location within the same elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun.

We could then set it in motion four days travel out ahead of us or four days behind us in our orbital rotation, for example, at the right speed while it is condensing into a planet. 

This would take some currently unknown length of time discoverable only through trial-and-error.

            And we currently do not know how to accelerate this process of building a planet by altering the strength of gravity.

            Next, we would have to produce a similar moon like our own, having just the right size and distance from the new planet. 

We would need to tilt this Earth-2 planet to spin on its axis at the same 23-degree angle to produce seasonable, temperate climate.

            We would have to find somewhere enough nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide in the right quantities to form a comparable atmosphere, having enough carbon so that the gravity of Earth-2 could hold the atmosphere in place without drifting off into outer space.

And we would have to find enough hydrogen and oxygen to produce water to create oceans, lakes, and rivers.

            It would take unimaginable control over geography to duplicate exactly the size and shape of our continents on earth to successfully mimic our functional ecosystems. 

We would have to develop the technologies to get the crust of Earth-2 to be the same thickness as our planet, and to encourage the formation of plate-tectonics with geological uplift, to form higher elevations of dry land plateaus and mountains, and lower elevated depressions to form oceans, lakes, and rivers.

            The atmosphere that we created would have to consist of the exact same proportions of elements and have the same depth as on earth, to allow photosynthesis to occur. 

The HշO water we created out of hydrogen and oxygen would have to possess exactly the same properties of transparency to allow sunlight to penetrate to the same depths within the oceans, lakes, and rivers for fish to be able to see, and for underwater plant-life to flourish.

            Once we got the hydrological cycle functioning, starting with evaporation from the oceans, to clouds, to rain over the land, to the breaking-up of rock into soils, and the erosion that puts nutrients into the soil, then we could begin transporting land plants from earth to produce terrestrial life on the new planet.

            Then things get even more complicated.

            How large a percentage of each ecosystem of living organisms would be required to sustain an ongoing and self-sufficient environment on the new planet?  Would we copy exactly the pattern of the varied, living environments like the Amazon rainforest, the African savanna plains, the North American plains, the Sahara Desert, the Canadian tundra, the Australian Outback, or the mountainous regions of Tibet?

            This simplistic example of breaking-down into a bare minimum of details some of the coordinated steps needed to make a new planet Earth-2 using the universal dictum in biology of “like begets like,” reveals the extreme complexity of creating a life-sustaining planet earth.

We can so easily take this popularly for granted or as scientists, because our understanding always comes from looking backwards through the viewpoint lens of the existing orderliness and intelligibility currently in place.

            This example illustrates the obvious impossibility of a single living organism or multiple organisms in however large a number, existing as physically material beings, from a purely practical perspective even theoretically being unable to build planets, solar systems, galaxies, or a universe.

            This recognition narrows the field of possible candidates for the position of creator of the universe down to a non-physically material, thinking Spirit-Being.

This conclusion holds as long as we first eliminate as plausible candidates matter and energy as non-thinking entities being incapable of the organized complexity of self-design and self-assembly needed at the Big Bang beginning of the universe.

            But this real-world difficulty only becomes apparent when we take a fresh look from the direction of starting from scratch with nothing.

We need to look from the past to the present and from the present to the future, through the series of complex, sequential steps to reach function and fit for some particular phenomenon, like in this hypothetical example of humans creating a new and nearby planet Earth-2.

            Apply this looking-forwards approach to the creation of the universe or the creation of life on earth starting from scratch with nothing, and the same acknowledgment of the difficulties involved quickly eliminates naturalistic materialism as being hopelessly implausible as the causal explanation behind the existing order, function, and fit we presently recognize in the natural world.

            Acknowledging and discussing the realistic difficulties in creating a complementary, backup planet Earth-2 is not a God-of-the-gaps surrender to giving-up on scientific advancement.

            It is not out of the question that human beings at some time in the future could develop the technologies to harness gravity to pull together the gases and particles needed to create a new nearby planet, having all of the qualities required to support ecosystems that are favorable to human colonization. 

            I think as difficult as this would be that it is not out of the realm of possibility in the far distant future.

            But I will go out on a limb here and say that humans as physically material beings, limited by the spatial realities of distance and time, will never create a galaxy like the Milky Way.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1987), 6.

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