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.

Scientism

            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.

[2] https://www.biola.edu/blogs/think-biblically/2018/science-and-faith-in-a-secular-society

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.

Devolution

            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.

Mass/Energy and Information

            When a famous author like Agatha Christie sits down at her typewriter, or today at her laptop computer, and begins to write a murder mystery novel such as And Then There Were None, the creative inspiration inside her mind is abstract and non-material…being in the form of information only.

            During the entire time of the writing of this fictional novel the creative process remains informational and not actual, Agatha Christie not having to commit real murders as part of the research to inspire the story as it progresses chapter-by-chapter.

            But the writing of this new murder mystery novel changes character as Agatha Christie puts her ideas down on paper, making the fundamental transition from the abstract and intangible nature of informational ideas to the physical, material medium of paper and ink. 

            The interesting observation here is that the letters, words, punctuation marks, spaces, paragraphs, and book chapters could be on any subject.  It could be a murder mystery, foreign agent suspense thriller, romantic comedy, historical biography, or a cookbook filled with recipes.

            The medium of the ink and paper, or the ones and zeros of the word processing computer language code are entirely indifferent and neutral as to the genre category of the information being presented.

            But then another interesting transition takes place.  After the murder mystery novel is completed and enters the published book phase, physical copies now sit on shelves in bookstores waiting for someone like me to see it in its material form, buy it, and take it home to read.

            Then another amazing thing happens.  I open up the physical book and begin to read the text in the form of letters arranged as words and sentences in the English language, and the information that Agatha Christie created has passed through the material medium of ink on paper to become once again information that is the fascinating and engrossing murder mystery story And Then There Were None.    

            This has huge implications for a more accurate and up-to-date scientific understanding of the phenomena in the natural world.

            The non-material nature of information should tell both professional scientists and laymen like me that a purely materialistic worldview of the universe, absent the input of agency, is unnecessarily and nonsensically limited. 

            The organized complexity of the system of information that comprises a murder mystery story is not the same thing as that same story in physical print form in a book I can hold in my hands.

            The abstract and intangible creative thought behind the murder mystery story is not the same as the hands and fingers of Agatha Christie physically typing-out the story day-by-day using the materials of ink and paper.

            Information is abstract and non-material…and mass/energy by contrast is physical and material.  

            Information and intelligent agency go together.

            Mass-energy on its own cannot create complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information.

            The worldview of scientific materialism is nonsensical because it attempts to tell modern audiences that And Then There Was None typed itself…that it did not need the intelligent agent Agatha Christie as the explanation of its origin.

The present is the key to understanding the past

                The great geologist Charles Lyell in the 1820’s provided the general methodology for doing research in what are now called the historical sciences, of making reasonably accurate inferences about the past by observing what occurs in the natural world today…because the past is not directly accessible to us.

            Thanks to the present-day understanding of molecular biochemistry due in large part to the unraveling of DNA through the ten-year long Human Genome Project, and the advancement of computers and computer programs, we now can identify in living cells the developmental gene regulatory networks that instruct the molecular machines inside cells to assemble the different cell types and then tells them specifically where to go in the developing embryos…to produce elephants, lions, hawks, and human beings.

            The material properties of the typewriter keys, the ink ribbon, and the sheets of paper that translate the abstract creative storytelling from the mind of the book writer into the physical medium of paper and ink, is an easily understood reality analogous to the translating of the abstract creative information from the genetic code in DNA into the material “flesh and bones” of living organisms.

            Scientists correctly study the material mechanics of the processes taking place inside living cells, and we can make reasonably accurate inferences going back in time regarding the increasing complexity of life-forms on earth following the gradually linear addition of differing new cell types to support increasingly more complex architectural body-plans.

            But in the same way that the physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper to create the rough drafts typed by Agatha Christie cannot explain the inspired artistic creation of the fictional murder mystery story itself, a complete understanding of how the material mechanics of the nanotechnology occurring within living cells will not explain the translation of the material parts of flesh and bones coordinating together as a whole functioning unit, into the adult instinctual lifestyle habits of a charging African bull elephant chasing lions away from a watering hole.

            Not only do developmental gene regulatory networks and epigenetic factors now tell us how different cell types are constructed on-time and in the proper sequence from the DNA code and then sent-off to their specific xyz-coordinate locations in their unique body-plans during embryonic development, but there is another source of information that matches flesh and bones with extremely fine-tuned lifestyle habits…to successfully function as mature organisms within differing past geological eras, within the interrelated biodiversity of predator/prey relationships, and within the unimaginable complexity of diverse ecosystems. 

            Like Charles Lyell’s program of using the present to study the past in geology, we now today have a large part of the understanding of the molecular biochemical processes in living organisms.

            During a particular season every year in Africa functional baby elephants are born.  This is just one amongst enumerable examples of the present-day phenomena we can scientifically study, extrapolating backwards through the embryonic development phase to genes, chromosomes, and DNA.

            In other words, science has an enormous sample size of finished products in the form of ten million living species to study, working backwards through the completed architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits…to the initial genetic information contained in the paired chromosomes of the male and female parents.

            In plain language, we know that the material mechanisms in operation inside living cells can produce finished organisms that can survive and reproduce, because we see these living organisms all around us in action.

            The challenge since Darwin in the scientific field of biology is to figure-out how this all works.

            But the worldview of scientific materialism that attempts to reduce the charge of a full-grown African bull elephant to its flesh and bones material parts is as nonsensical as saying that the book And Then There Were None can write itself.

            Science cannot exclude agency and still be fully explanatory.  The creative origin of information cannot be reduced to a mass/energy causation.

            The charge of an elephant or a lion is a very physical action having a purely empirical outcome for whatever creature is being chased, but this full-speed charge at its fundamental essence is information-based…is an intangibly abstract form of an instinctual lifestyle habit in action.

            We therefore make a categorical mistake when we confuse abstract information with material mass/energy.

            One of the themes of this book is that no matter where the current research in the field of molecular biochemistry finally lands in terms of a more complete understanding of the material mechanisms at the genetic level in living cells, the complexity of these coordinated and integrated mechanical molecular systems has already left the unguided and undirected program of naturalistic materialism miles behind.

            Intelligent agency is not only required at the front-end to furnish the information needed inside living cells to produce over time the vast diversity of material life we see in the natural world, but also the abstract and intangible end-point functions that differentiate between the instinctual lifestyle habits of an elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, water buffalo, rhinoceros, and giraffe…to name some of the large mammals in Africa.

            Returning to the analogy of the writer Agatha Christie, abstract creative information not only enters in at the front-end of the process, passing through the required material medium of ink, paper, and the finished book form, but then expresses itself to the book reader as again the creative storyline of the murder mystery Agatha Christie intended, as the intelligent designing agent.

            The God of the Bible, who can introduce all of the material mass/energy and the non-material laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics in the first split-seconds of the creation of the universe at the Big Bang, into the incredibly operational realities of the force of gravity, the speed of light, and the expansion rate of the universe…to my thinking is also therefore capable of inputting all of the information, the instructions, and the timetables inside living cells to create the remarkable material mechanisms now being studied by molecular biochemists.

            I need to say here at the outset of this book that I am not a theistic evolutionist, and I am not a deist. 

            Having worked in building construction as a career, I am skeptical of complex things falling into place on their own, especially living organisms that must be up-and-running with operational function in-place at a minimum just to be able to survive and to reproduce.

            To my thinking, the informational package within living cells beginning 3.8-billion years ago has the preprogrammed agenda to pump-out increasing complexity starting with the single-cell bacteria, by adding new and different cell types over time to support new and innovative architectural body-plans.

            But one of the themes put forward in this book is that this ever increasing complexity that has produced the vast diversity of life-forms we see today…is always introducing living organisms that are at the leading edge of specified refinement within what could otherwise conceptually be within a possible range of incomplete and unfinished expression on one side of a continuum-line…to functionally complete and fully operational at the other side of the continuum-line.

            What is staring us in the face, when we look at biology, is the reality that human designed and manufactured products are always complete and functional…are at the forward edge of specified, refined completion for their intended use.

            Human agency universally produces functionally complete objects, from fully cooked baked lasagna at our favorite Italian restaurant, to a bicycle that has two wheels, to a new automobile that has brakes, to computer software programs that are debugged and operational, and to completed murder mystery books that are spell-checked.

            We do not see in the vast diversity of life today any organisms that are in major transitional development part-way towards some future outcome.  We presently do not see “works-in-progress.”

            Using Charles Lyell’s dictum of using the present to interpret the past in the historical sciences like geology, this present-day evidence then tells us that living organisms enter into existence with specified, refined maturity at the forward edge of their conceptual essence…functionally complete enough to smoothly fit into their biodiverse and ecologically balanced niches, to be able to survive and to reproduce “right out of the box, no assembly tools required.”

            This line of thinking is in direct contrast to the simple-to-complex ideology of scientific materialism that must, in order to plausibly work, replace intelligent agency with the gradual small steps of incremental progressive development over time, through the Darwinian mechanism of accidental, trial-and-error, unguided, and undirected naturalistic processes.

            I see the nearly saltational (miraculous) transitions of early life at 3.8 billion years ago from the single-cell bacteria to multi-cellular algae floating on top of the oceans, to the Precambrian jellyfish having 10 to 12 new and different cell types, to the radiation of new creatures with architectural body-plans having 30 to 40 different cell types during the Cambrian Explosion at 535 million years ago, throughout geologic history to our present day…always occurring at the guided and directed level of putting-out functionally mature organisms able to adapt and survive at the first moments of their introduction…factoring-in the genetic mutations that also over time put-out beneficial variant traits to be chosen by natural selection to enhance adaptation to changing environments.

            This non-Darwinian thinking encompasses large leaps in development without transitional intermediates, which empirically is the fact-based evidence in the fossil record.

            This non-Darwinian approach requires the well-timed, physical expressions of information that consistently produce fully functional living organisms…of strategically released inputs of information coming from within living cells, that could not plausibly be explained through an accidental, trial-and-error, naturalistic gradual process over long stretches of time that would be easily detectable to molecular biochemistry today.

            Because we see in the present the “miracle” of information in living cells using material molecular mechanisms to build and place the different cell types in architectural body-plans to create such diverse organisms as hawks, spiders, sea crabs, whales, wolves, and humans…conceptually we can extrapolate backwards to envision this same high quality of functionality producing new phyla types in their completed form through the introduction of massive inputs of information released according to prearranged timetables…the same quality of actualized information that can produce the architectural body-plan of the African bull elephant but also the instinctual lifestyle habit of its intimidating full-speed charge. 

            Again, this line-of-reasoning rejects the trial-and-error, incremental small steps of gradual development progressing from the simple to the complex…which is the accidental, unguided, and undirected methodology of the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism applied to the living and non-living world…absent intelligent agency.

            It is inconceivable that Agatha Christie would sit in front of her typewriter or laptop computer and randomly hit the keys with her eyes closed and her mind on other things, hoping through a trial-and-error, accidental process that she could produce a classic murder mystery who-done-it story.    

            It is inconceivable that the complexity and specificity we find inside living cells could be the product of random and undirected processes.

            Finally, the sequential logic of writing a book using arrows…goes from abstract information from the author→to physical ink on paper in the form of a book→to abstract information being read by the book reader.

            Another way of expressing this is to say that the “ought” of the potentially captivating storyline progresses to the actual “is” of the story in print-form, and again back to the “ought” of the unfolding story being read by the book reader late into the evening beyond bedtime.

            In a nutshell this philosophically sums up the human enterprise of scientifically investigating the natural world…encompassing the two realities of mass/energy and information.

            Even the skeptic David Hume said that the “is” of how things actually are cannot transition to the “ought” of how they should be…the actual existence of an ”is” and the moral concept of an “ought” being in two entirely different realms of reality.[1]

            Boiling this down further, another way of expressing this is to say: that the abstract information of DNA and developmental gene regulatory networks inside cells→translates into the architectural body-plan of an African bull elephant→expresses itself materially in the instinctual lifestyle habit of an intimidating elephant charge.

            In understanding how we get from biological embryonic development to full physical maturity the arrows go in only one direction…forward.

            But by adopting the program of Charles Lyell for use in the historical sciences, in which the field of biological origins belongs, the arrows describing the process can go in both directions backwards and forwards…in the same way that a published book on the shelf in a bookstore tells us that the author of it exists, but also gives us their name on the front cover of the book and the date of printing on the copyright page…pointing backwards in time when the book was in its creative writing phase.

            That there are no partially completed books for sale in bookstores, or on the bookshelves in university or public libraries…also tells us that for new books to be able to enter into the marketplace of ideas, they must be functionally complete.

            That the gradualism of unfinished projects part-way along their progressive development toward becoming fully functional, is not what we observe in the natural living and non-living world, then we can reasonably conclude that naturalistic materialism cannot be the ruling paradigm that is workable in either scientific investigation or in our philosophical worldview.

            Darwin’s brilliant extrapolation in 1859 from microevolution to macroevolution in his book The Origin of Species as an explanation for the vast diversity of life on earth…no longer works because the discovery of the complexity and specificity of information in the natural world is now recognized and understood in this modern Age of Information.

            This is how science works.  New more correct information clarifies or replaces earlier theoretical hypotheses.


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

The End-Times 2

Some Problems with a Pretribulation Timed Rapture

 

In my view, one difficulty with the concept of the timing of the rapture occurring at the beginning of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period…is an extension of the Matthew 24:9-10 verses mentioned above:

 

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”

 

My conception of the tribulation saints (those Christians converted after the rapture), are as a tightly focused group of believers totally dedicated to their last chance at serving Jesus Christ unconditionally (having missed the rapture).

 

This would be the case whether they have exclusive domain over the last remaining evangelical outreach on earth for all seven, six, five, four, three, or even the final two years during Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period.

 

This would be the case regardless of the makeup of the tribulation saints…Gentiles and Messianic Jewish Christians

 

This hard-core group of tribulation saints does not seem susceptible to large numbers of them being offended as a result of persecution (Mt. 13:21), or betraying other tribulation saints, or hating each other.

 

These prophetic words of Jesus Christ would only seem to apply instead to a large, widely mixed group of born-again Christians who had in their numbers a sizable percentage of nominal, unconverted adherents who could easily fall into becoming offended, betraying real Christians, and living in an attitude of hatred and disappointment as a result of the end-times evil (Mt. 24:7-13).

 

This would more accurately describe the required blend of the genuine Christian church, combined with the apostate church, which we see in the world today, and which would appear transparently inseparable and indistinguishable to the undiscerning secular world before the start of the last day’s persecution and tribulation.

 

This would be more consistent with Matthew 24:10 saying “then many shall be offended”, implying that there is a large enough beginning sample of people for many to be offended, and conversely for many genuine Christians not to be offended, to comprise the whole group.

 

This would also set-up the basis for a clearer understanding of the falling away (2 Thes. 2:3).

 

The tribulation saints by contrast, whether Jew or Gentile, would be almost exactly like the Christians of the first two and one-half centuries in terms of fidelity to Jesus Christ.  They would be entirely new converts to Christ, narrowly focused on their mission, uniformly dedicated, fearless, committed, fiercely loyal to one another, and living with the constant threat of discovery, exposure, and imminent martyrdom.

 

If this is the case, then these Matthew 24:9-10 verses would therefore appear to be inconsistent with the currently popular teaching of an early rapture of the church…prior to the full seven-year-tribulation-scenario.

 

If these Matthew 24:9-10 verses occur within the time-span of  the seven-year tribulation period of great persecution of Christians, and the only new Christians formed after a pretribulation rapture are this group of tribulation saints…who are not plausible candidates for betraying and hating one another…then something here is clearly amiss.

 

The dispensational approach has newly converted Jews as a main contingent of the post-rapture tribulation saints who evangelize the world.

 

But this formulation is inconsistent with Matthew 24:10…which expressly states that many will be offended and hate one another.

 

This cannot apply to newly converted Jewish-Christian believers, converted by as-yet unknown supernatural revelations of Jesus Christ to Jews worldwide…similar to Joseph in Egypt revealing himself to his brethren.

The revelation that Jesus Christ is not just a God of the Gentiles…but is in fact their long promised messiah…will engender the most fiercely dedicated fidelity to the gospel message of Christ…soaring above any persecution that would cause others to become offended.

 

After a pretribulation rapture, there would not be a blended mixture of hard-core tribulation saints in close association with nominal adherents in a worshipping fellowship.  There would be nothing in common between these two groups after the rapture to bring them together in fellowship.

 

After the rapture, whenever it occurs, the tribulation saints from then-on-after will be a distinct and isolated group notable for their purity, zeal, commitment, and dedication of purpose.

 

The required diverse combination of a large number of genuine Christians mixed with a large number of nominal churchgoers…for Matthew 24:9-10 to occur…will simply not exist after a world-emptying pretribulation rapture taking all Spirit-born Christians off the earth.

 

Therefore, either there is some extremely intense persecution occurring pretribulation for the main Christian church prior to the rapture, causing this dissension and culling-out within the “mixed multitude,” or conversely the continuous uninterrupted existence on earth of the combined main body of the Christian church plus the apostate church, extends and overlaps into the tribulation period itself for some period of time.

 

Some large group of people (“many”) identified in these biblical verses must betray and hate other people in the group, for this very specific and unambiguous prophecy to be fulfilled.

 

The persecution that causes this internal dissension, and the large group of people who break-away to become disloyally offended and hateful, must both be in-place at the same time-period.

 

If the hard-core, last-chance group of tribulation saints would probably not be the people to react this way to the life-and-death trials of the end-times, then it is logical to conclude that these verses apply to a time-period when a large mixed group of people in the Christian church and in the apostate church are still together.

This then pushes the rapture forward into and beyond the tribulation starting point for some unspecified period of time having this intense persecution and tribulation, which would trigger the events as described in Matthew 24:9-10.

 

If tribulation saints are not plausible candidates for consideration as the uncommitted people who will fall away to betray and hate one another during the end-times persecution…and since Matthew 24:10 specifically says that many shall be offended…then some of the pieces of the pretribulation rapture puzzle are not fitting together here.

 

Toss in a large group of fiercely loyal, newly converted Jewish Christians into the mix, and the rapture cannot plausibly occur at the beginning of the great tribulation.

 

A mixed mass of people and a period of persecution must be a couplet…linked together concurrently…on one or the other side of both the rapture and the tribulation.

 

The rapture removes the Christian church, leaving only the future, newly converted, die-hard tribulation saints.

 

Persecution sifts out and divides the offended from the un-offended.

 

The events of both the rapture and some form of persecution divide the same identical large body of people into two distinct halves…those raptured and those not raptured…and those offended and those not offended.

 

Intense, sifting-out persecution cannot overtake a main Christian church raptured away into heaven, isolated forever from nominal churchgoers on earth.

 

It would therefore appear that a large disparate body of people and an intense period of persecution must be together…either before or after the rapture.

 

This means that either persecution shifts backwards in time, before the church is raptured, affecting both the genuine church and the apostate church together in time as one large group.

Or this requires the presence on earth of the genuine church combined with the apostate church…as one large group…shifting forward in time into persecution/tribulation.

 

The unique nature of the resiliency, steadfastness, and narrowly committed exclusivity of the group of people called tribulation saints, who are probably not susceptible to many betraying and hating each other, is an important key to our understanding of the timing of the rapture.

 

It appears then that the rapture cannot occur in isolation.

 

The rapture cannot occur outside of a close relationship to an intense level of end-times persecution and tribulation…that would be so great as to noticeably split the “church” in two…as described in Matthew 24:9-10.

 

After the rapture…after the close of the church age, the only Christians remaining on earth to the end of time are newly converted post-tribulation saints, and they do not fit into the description of potentially offended people and the events of Matthew 24:9-10.

 

After the rapture, tribulation saints are not susceptible to becoming offended by persecution or adversity (Mt. 13:21).

 

To fulfill Matthew 24:9-10, an unprecedented level of intense persecution has to find and overtake the main Christian church for some period of time before the rapture occurs, and one solution to this riddle is for the rapture itself to shift forward in time…into the tribulation.

 

If a satisfactory alternate explanation is to move some intense period of persecution into the time-slot immediately preceding the start of the tribulation, then why go to such dispensational premillennial efforts to sustain a pretribulation rapture interpretation?

 

The intensity of a sifting-out split of the “church” through worldwide persecution (Mt. 24:9-10) is then equivalent to the magnitude of the actual great tribulation itself.

 

Sparing the Christian church from tribulation then loses its meaning, purpose, and appeal.

By Accident or Design?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountain of Evidence is Theoretically Driven 2

An analogy to an Olympics track meet might be helpful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This would only get us half-way there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, the philosophical pull toward common ancestry is irresistible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountain of Evidence is Theoretically Driven 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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