Foresight in Prior Fitness

            The foresight that is an integral component in the concept of prior fitness as applied to the natural living world, can be divided into three main realities.

            The first reality is the physical environment such as the African savanna plains.

            The second reality is the architectural body-plans and accompanying life-style habits of living organisms.

            The third main reality is the innate instinctual behaviors that specifically define for each living organism the essence of what they are, and equally important what they are not.

            The point of this essay is to suggest that the coordination of these three independent realities is far too complex to self-assemble through the mindless, accidental, unguided, and trial-and-error process of incremental progressive development.

            This concept of foresight integral within prior fitness applies to every phenomenon in the natural living and non-living world, and thereby makes an open-and-shut case for the need for an intelligent designing agent as the causal explanation for the physical universe and everything we study through scientific exploration.

            Let’s break this down into more detail.

            Lions hunt as a group on the African savanna plains.  They crouch low in the knee-high grass on the flat ground of the plains to hide themselves while large herds of zebras run past, searching for a particular zebra to chase, catch, kill, and eat.

            Other prey for lions is the water buffalo, wildebeest, old or sickly giraffe, and stray elephants separated from the herd. 

            Lions do not chase Thompson’s gazelles on the open plains because lions cannot run fast enough to catch them, and because gazelles are too small to provide lions with enough meat to feed the entire lion pride.

            Lions instinctively know the limits of their prospective prey within an uncanny coordination of the external environment and the broad assortment of other living creatures inhabiting the African savanna.

            We observe today as scientific, fact-based evidence that each of these three main realities are all at their mature, well-defined, end-point essences at the same point in time.

            None of these realities are in progressive development toward a fuller-defining, future iteration.

            We do observe oscillating weather patterns that produce temporary changes in the geography and plant-life, resulting in fluctuating population numbers for many living species, like the famous Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands.

But in the large mammals on the African savanna plains, we do not observe the appearance of innovative character traits for adaptation to changing geographies and weather patterns.

Looking briefly at the other two big cats on the African savanna plains, unlike lions the cheetah and the leopard hunt alone.

The cheetah can easily out-run and catch a zebra, but like the dog running after and catching the car driving down the street, once a cheetah catches-up with a zebra the cheetah knows instinctually that this prey is too large to bring down, kill, and eat.

The cheetah not only needs to know this reality of prior fitness upfront instinctually as a cheetah, but in order to survive the cheetah needs in place as prey the Thompson’s gazelle, but also needs a flat running surface to be able to run safely up to 70 mph at top-speed to catch the equally swift-running gazelle.

Move this coordinated, three-component reality of architectural body-plan, instinct, and physical environment instead into the Amazon rainforest, and it doesn’t work.

All three realities of prior fitness must be in-sync and intelligently coordinated for full function to be achieved.

The foresight in prior fitness needed to produce function, also precisely exists for the leopard.

The leopard could not survive on the open savanna like lions and cheetahs, without the presence of the occasional large tree, rock out-cropping, and small sections of trees and foliage interrupting the flat plains.

The leopard rests alone up in the shade of a large tree during the daytime, waiting for the unsuspecting gazelle to stop and feed below this tree, but mainly goes out in the cool of the night to stealthily do most of its hunting.

One point that is easily missed here is that it is not only that the positive pieces of the puzzle must be in-place, but that other things must be absent.

The African savanna plains cannot accommodate the presence of the saber-toothed tiger as a competing predator hunting prey along with and beside the other three big cats.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur would create havoc within the fine-tuned ecological balance of the African savanna plains today.

The living cell that progresses from DNA to amino acid folds to proteins to cell-types to developmental gene regulatory networks to the growing embryo to birth, cannot have any deleterious chemicals, faulty molecular machines, or adverse reactions along the way.

Complete prior fitness at each successive step must be in-place and operative for function to cascade forward to reach its well-defined, end-point outcome in living cells.    

The existence of these three main realities involving prior fitness are not mysteries known only by professional zoologists, ecologists, and biologists.

The recognition of these realities is easily accessible today to the non-scientist layman through the plethora of nature documentaries as full-length movies or weekly programs on cable television.

What is also easily recognizable once a person sees it, is that this concept of prior fitness is universally applicable in every aspect of the natural living and non-living world.

The explosive nature of this realization is that this involves the coordination of three or more independent systems of information, each on its own comprising organized complexity on a scale that eliminates any materialistic explanation for how these realities could coalesce into a functioning whole at a same point in time.

Our natural world today exhibits no such progressive movement towards future end-point outcomes.

I am not a biologist or molecular biochemist. 

But the layman can easily recognize the mathematical improbability of 3.5-billion bytes of sequentially coded information, using the four-letter alphabet of the chemical parts adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine to formulate deoxyribonucleic acid…commonly known in its shortened form as DNA.

If my mathematics is correct, the probability of DNA reaching coherently integrated function is one chance in 4 to the 3.5-billionth power, or 4 multiplied by 4, 3.5-billion times.

This produces one chance out of a number inconceivably large, and unimaginatively beyond any system of self-organization or chance assemblage to reach function.

Again, in the living cell, layers upon layers of successive prior fitness are required to go from DNA genes to amino acid folds to proteins to different cell-types to the development gene regulatory networks that tell each cell where to go and what function to perform in the developing embryo, to eventually become an elephant and not a giraffe.

The philosophical conclusion here that points towards the need for intelligent design is not magic-based, or an illusion, or theological, or empirically non-scientific.

This is an inference to the best explanation based upon the evidence that has been the product of the scientific method of research, and is a valid conclusion to draw from empirical, fact-based evidence.

At the same time, the truth of the foresight needed to sustain the universality of the concept of prior fitness integral within the natural world, now excludes the falsehood of the worldview of naturalistic materialism that is no longer viable as a working hypothesis for reality.

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

The Scientific Method

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

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

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

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

            The new scientific method of doing formal research would record the physical description of the objects being dropped, the number of times each object was dropped, the measured distance from the top of the tower to the ground, and the elapsed time duration for each free-fall through space.  Secondary information might be the air temperature, time of day, wind speed, and wind direction.

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

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

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

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

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

Some real-world examples might be helpful here.

            When Edwin Hubble, working in the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, California in 1929 peered through the massive new telescope into the vastness of outer space, he used the scientific method to observe and record the red-shift of the light generated from what he correctly identified as rapidly receding galaxies.

            This new scientific discovery was made possible by the improved technology of a larger and better telescope, placed atop a mountain that at that time provided a clear view into deep outer space without the light-pollution that would come later with the population growth of the cities of Pasadena and Los Angeles below. 

            The scientific method that Hubble followed, the equipment that he used, and the data he discovered, were all naturalistically empirical and fact-based.

            As Edwin Hubble viewed outer space through this telescope, he was in real-time observing the orderliness and intelligibility of the vast cosmos that was then translated into empirical, fact-based evidence.

            In 1953, the new technology and the scientific method enabled Francis Crick and James Watson to identify the double-helix structure of DNA and its information bearing capacity.

            In 1964, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered quite by accident the background radiation coming from the Big Bang creation of the universe, while working with communication satellites as scientists at Bell Laboratories.

            The recent, ten-year long Human Genome Project to map the DNA of human beings that was completed around the year 2000, combined the scientific method, computers, and data sharing from scientists working from all over the world, that revolutionized how science could operate in a collaborative way to solve a particular question, that seemed for many to be out of reach when this project first started.

Semantics Word-Games and Category Errors

            The god-of-the-gaps argument used to attack Christian theists over the past few centuries of the Scientific Revolution was never magic-of-the-gaps or “old-wives” tales-of-the-gaps.

            It was always referred to as the god-of-the-gaps because the criticism centered around appealing to a divine god as a temporary placeholder for ignorance regarding some particular aspect of the natural world, which could more conveniently be written-off by some people as divine causation, rather than doing the hard work of field or laboratory research using the scientific method.

            Using word substitution, the concept of the god-of-the-gaps explanation for the holes in our understanding of phenomena in the natural world could be renamed today as more accurately being design-of-the-gaps or intelligent design-of-the-gaps.

            When I see anything man-made like an automobile driving down the street, or the laptop computer I am using to compose this book, or a painting in an art museum, I can immediately recognize design.

            The more sophisticated way of saying this is that whenever I see something that exhibits specified complexity, that the immediate inference is upward-pointing towards design.

            How about when this observation is of something living, such as a dog chasing a tennis ball thrown by its owner, or a beautiful, well-dressed woman walking down the street in all of her glory?

            Does the fact of this physical object of a running dog or a walking woman, being a living thing, change the immediate perception of observing design?

            My body can be analyzed through the scientific method to determine my height, weight, the volume displaced while being submerged in a tank of water, my body temperature, and the roughly 215 different cell-types of my body and about 100 nerve cells in my brain.

            But my ability to immediately recognize the sophistication of my internal design tells me that I am not the product of a mindless and undirected process.

            The contour of my body shape, the symmetry of my arms and my legs to enable bilateral upright movement, the asymmetrical positioning of my various internal organs in my chest and stomach region irrespective of function, and the coordination of all of my varied body-parts is self-evident that I am not the product of an accidental, trial-and-error process no matter how long a period of time we want to give chance to accomplish this.

            This is a valid inference to the best explanation that every human being is not only entitled to make, but amazingly has the intellectual and moral tools to make.

            We can spend an eternity trying to figure-out how the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper can explain the information content conveyed in the letters of the English language in the daily headlines of the New York Times newspaper…and never get there.

            The fundamental point here is that my recognition that the automobile I see driving down the street leads to an immediate inference to design, is an empirical fact-based conclusion that is not measurable or quantifiable through the scientific method.

            The explosive absurdity of the historical god-of-the-gaps attack against theism is that it unjustifiably assumes a material universe.

            In a natural world in which design is obvious all around us, the idea that a divine God would be a plausible explanatory causation in the interim until the scientific method of research can discover the complimentary naturalistic explanation, is not a rationally derogatory or demeaning reality at all.

            As Dr. John Lennox so clearly points-out in his interviews and debates online on the Internet, Henry Ford and the combustion engine are both complimentary explanations for the motor car, and are not competing explanations.

            When we look at the Big Bang moment of creation of the universe, the origin of life on earth, the enormous quantity of coded information in DNA, the coordination of the nanotechnology of molecular machines in the living cell, the abrupt discontinuities in the introduction of new features in living and non-living forms in the fossil record, the requirement of prior fitness in the environment independent of the gradual incline of increasing complexity in architectural body-plans over the expanse of the geological record, and the immergence of human intellectual and moral reasoning…the immediate inference is upward to intelligent design.

            But these inferences to design are not measurable and quantifiable through the scientific method, any more than my recognition of the design component in an automobile can be explained in terms of the measurements and quantities the scientific method is capable of producing.  

            Of course, the scientific method yields raw, naturalistic data.

It is an indisputable argument to make the case that the scientific method produces only natural data derived from naturalistic experiments, resulting in naturalistic explanatory causations.

Please forgive me here for offering too many following examples in making my case to close-out this essay, but this issue of the empiricism of the scientific method is central to the God and science debate.

In the making of Italian spaghetti sauce there are at least three main realities.

The first is the cookbook recipe of sequential steps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In these examples, it would be the height of arrogant hubris or more charitably narrow-minded myopia to insist that the scientifically empirical perspective was the only one that mattered.

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

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

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

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

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

Scientific materialists cannot be allowed to be the “skunk at the garden party” by insisting that we have been entirely wrong all this time by placing faith and value in the first two realities in each of the three simple examples given above, and in countless other examples commonly observed and perceived in ordinary life.

When I listen to the debate over whether the methodological materialism[1] inherent in the scientific method excludes agency, I sense however that people are simply talking past one another, not recognizing that the scientific method is only one-third of reality.

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

This recognition of intelligence underlying design occurs in the middle, second reality of the examples given above.

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

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

We are capable of making that determination ourselves.

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

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

This is like eating fully cooked spaghetti, viewing completed artwork hanging in a museum, or walking through a recently constructed new house.

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

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

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

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

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


[1] The research methodology in science limited to only naturalistic processes and conclusions.

Inference to the Best Explanation

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

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

These arguments are called inferences to the best explanation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sequential Steps and Raw Data are Worldview-Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By definition this excludes intelligent agency from the theorizing and conceptualization phase of the scientific enterprise, of drawing overall conclusions based upon the facts that necessarily can fall outside of the domain of empiricism.

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

Scientific materialists are not allowed to set-up the rules that define what is science and what is non-science.

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

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

Atheism and research programs belong in two entirely different categories.

As discussed elsewhere in this book, atheism extended to its logical end-point dissolves all confidence in rational thought, including science and atheism itself.

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

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

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

In the Dover case, also arguing as an expert witness against Intelligent Design, Dr. Eugenie Scott, an anthropologist who then headed the National Center for Science Education, stated: “You can’t put an omnipotent deity in a test tube,” and “As soon as creationists invent a ‘theo-meter,’ maybe then we can test for miraculous intervention.  You can’t (scientifically) study variables you can’t test, directly or indirectly.”[2] 

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

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

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

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

These early pioneers of the Scientific Revolution recognized the existence of laws in nature worth researching because they saw in the God of the Bible a law-giver.[3]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a massive confusion that erroneously conflates the pinpoint accuracy of scientific investigations with the universal capacity of every human being to recognize the existence of design everywhere we look in the living and non-living world.

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

We then need to clearly differentiate between the sequential steps of a research program, contrasted with skeletal explanatory frameworks that can rationally include theo-meters in our attempts to formulate reasonable, big-picture conclusions.

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


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

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

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

Answering Some Old Questions Part 3

Extinction Does Not Signify a Poor Designer

            In the 2006 discussion/debate between Peter Ward and Stephen Meyer, Dr. Ward introduces the old argument that extinction points towards an intelligent designing agent that is a poor engineer, creating living organisms that degrade over time.

            This is my opinion is another example of lazy thinking.

            If the living world is to progress from the single-cell bacteria 3.8-billion years ago, to human beings today having roughly 215 different cell-types, on an ever-increasing, upward sloping incline of complexity, we should recognize extinction as a necessary component in this progression.

            Where and how would all of the previous life-forms co-exist on the planet earth having limited terrain?

            This is like suggesting that the 405 freeway in Los Angeles could have all of the previous automobiles from the Ford Model-T until today, all competing for a limited number of lanes that does not adequately accommodate even today’s rush-hour traffic of modern automobiles.

            As long as the genetic information content is maintained and passed-along, and the prior fitness of the external environment keeps pace with the introduction of new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits over the long expanse of geological history, then extinction is not a validly negative criticism of designing agency, but instead is a brilliant management of integrated and coordinated realities.

Darwinian Evolution Today Has Withstood the Test of 160-plus Years of Research

            In this 2006 debate, Dr. Peter Ward also makes the old argument that Darwin’s theory of macroevolution has withstood the test-of- time for what in 2006 was about 147 years, compared to only about 10 years at that time for the relatively new and barely tested concept of Intelligent Design.

            This again is lazy thinking.

            Historically, the truth-value of a new scientific hypothesis is not judged by its length of time in existence or by a majority consensus of its adherents…although these things are important factors.

            Enumerable examples over the course of the modern Scientific Revolution can be cited of new hypotheses that were unpopular and vigorously disputed by its contemporaries, only to be exonerated by confirming evidence uncovered through continued research and analysis.

            The statement that historical Darwinism has withstood the test-of-time is simply not true.

            Disconfirming difficulties have been around since the time of the introduction of the concept of macroevolution, starting with Darwin himself in recognizing the absence of transitional intermediate precursors in the fossil record at the Precambrian geological rock strata, that he believed with further digging would be unearthed to support his theory.

            It is a fact of history that paleontologists were the first scientists to be skeptical of Darwin’s theory, because they already knew that the fossil record did not support an unbroken chain of ever-increasing complexity through the small-step, incremental progression of “nature makes no sudden leaps.”

            160-plus years of continued search for the enumerable transitional intermediates needed to support the concept of macroevolutionary development, have not only turned-up empty, but have instead identified clear discontinuities in the fossil record that support the contrary notions of explosions of new innovative life-forms without lead-up, connecting intermediates.

A discontinuity in the fossil record is a gap between the introduction of a new life-form into existence that has no connection to a preceding precursor, no lead-up of transitional intermediates that would provide a seamless connection to past life-forms.

Here I am borrowing from an Internet presentation by Gunter Bechly on discontinuities in the fossil record.[1]

Some examples of discontinuities in the fossil record are as follows.

The origin of life dated at 4.1 billion years ago (bya).

The Late Heavy Bombardment (4.1-3.8 bya), during which the earth was hit with large meteors that evaporated the oceans several times.  Yet evidence for primitive life starting and stopping during these ocean evaporations exists at this time, arguing against the notion that primitive life developed over a much longer, continuous period of time.

The Origin of Photosynthesis (3.8 bya), with marine algae forming just after the oceans stop evaporating due to meteor strikes.

The Avalon Explosion (575-564 mya) having the appearance of the Ediacaran assemblages, exhibiting the “glide symmetry” of non-symmetrical body-plans (not bilateral) being exclusively unique to this time-period, becoming extinct and never appearing again.

The Cambrian Explosion (535-515 mya) during which 21 of the 28 known bilaterian animal phyla appear suddenly without transitional precursors.

The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (485-460 mya) being a massive increase in the biodiversity of marine invertebrates such as corals, mollusks, and brachiopods, referred to as life’s second Big Bang, having no preceding precursors.

The Silurian-Devonian Radiation of Terrestrial Biotas (427-393 mya) of land plants, necessary for animal life to develop on land.  This is considered to be equivalent to the Cambrian Explosion of marine faunas in terms of the sudden appearance of new innovative structures.

The Devonian Nekton Revolution (410-400 mya) introduced active swimmers in the oceans, jawed fish, and reversed the ocean ecosystems from predominantly plankton to predominantly fish.

The Odontode Explosion (425-415 mya) introduced teeth in jawed fish, along with vertebrates and sharks.

The Carboniferous Insect Explosion (325-314/307 mya) introduced all of the groups of flying insets appearing suddenly without precursors including beetles, flies, and cockroaches. 

The Triassic Explosions, after the Permian mass extinction (252 mya).  This period also includes the Tetrapod Radiation (251-240 mya), the Marine Reptile Radiation (248-240 mya), the Gliding/Flying Reptile Radiation (230-228 mya), and the sudden appearance of dinosaurs in the Upper Triassic.

The Origin of Flowering Plants (130-115 mya) during the Cretaceous period of complex structures abruptly appearing fully formed, which Darwin called the “abominable mystery.”

The Radiation of Placental Mammals (62-49 mya) after the K-Pg-Impact.  During this time bats appear in the Eocene around 52.5 mya, along with carnivores and whales.

The Radiation of Modern Birds (65-55 mya) after the K-Pg-Impact, consisting of all of the major groups of birds.

Finally, the Upper Paleolithic Human Revolution (65,000-35,000 years ago) is also called a Big Bang because there is no gradual transition between Australopithecus to Homo sapiens.

All of these discontinuities in the fossil record are examples of sudden leaps forward in terms of new life-forms having no lead-up transitional precursors, that would be required to support a model based entirely upon the unbroken chain of common descent through small-step gradualism.

The empirical evidence requires both common descent and the addition of an intelligent designing agent to invent the information content in DNA, to turn genetic regulatory network circuits on and off to produce a lion or an elephant, and to break specified genes at the exact geological time to produce a polar bear from a grizzly bear.

The amazing fact that was missed by Darwin in formulating his theory based in part by observing the variant traits of the finches on Galapagos, naturally selected for fit and function in the varied ecosystems of each of these islands, is that none of these finch birds exhibited a large number of variant traits that resulted in numerous failed trials.

The idea that the variety exhibited in these finches was analogous to the trial-and-error concept of throwing something against a wall to see what sticks, is a factual observation that Darwin missed in the hypothetical extrapolation from microevolutionary change to innovatively creative macroevolution.

We can have common descent and divine creative input to explain the vast diversity of life, but not though the worldview of naturalistic materialism.

The incredibly tight tolerances required to integrate and coordinate all of the factors needed to support life on earth, are too complex for the worldview of naturalistic materialism.


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

Answering Some Old Questions Part 2

Comparative Anatomy

            Comparative anatomy also becomes a non-issue today as an argument in favor of Darwinian evolution.

            This issue only has relevance if we start with the materialistic program of small-step, continuous biological development, one new and different cell-type at a time.

            Once we admit into the discussion the evidence of forward leaps in nature that produce end-point fit and function at the first introduction of new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits, this requires blocks of new and different cell-types in grouped clusters that in practical terms transcends above materialistic causations.

            That Darwin would propose the comparative anatomy of similar features as an argument for gradual continuity reveals a mindset limited to the factors of distance traveled in terms of beneficial features, divided by measurable time within our four-dimensional reality.

            This approach will not allow for the possibility of blocks of cell-types in grouped clusters as the explanation for the vast diversity of life, because this entertains the input of information by a timeless Mind/Being who can only be identified through circumstantial evidence, curiously being the same type of evidence introduced by Darwin to make his case for macroevolution.

            Adding blocks of cell-types in grouped clusters still maintains true relationships, just not according to the worldview of naturalistic materialism.

            As has been said elsewhere in this book, adding new genetic information in blocks of grouped clusters to effectuate fit and function, is entirely consistent with common descent, just not in the universally connected sense required by naturalistic materialism.

            The accurately generous thing to say about Darwin’s use of comparative anatomy as an argument in favor of macroevolution is that it was close but still off-target.

            The same can be said for many scientific hypotheses at their inception.

            Today we can save ourselves a lot of time by side-stepping all of the arguments put forward in the last 160-plus years of Darwinism regarding the importance of comparative anatomy…either confirming or not confirming the small-step, gradual continuity of common descent.

            Agatha Christie may type her book Murder on the Orient Express one letter at a time, but her daily writing output of 500-1,000 words or more is created as a block of grouped story-telling information.

            In tract housing construction, the first-floor wall framing proceeds one 2×4 stud at a time, but daily progress is evaluated on the number of houses having the first-floor wall framing completed as a grouped output.

            When we look at the natural living world, why would we not recognize the same presence of intelligent designing agency in a functioning elephant that we acknowledge to exist within an automobile driving past us down the road?

            The comparative anatomy of similar common features has nothing to say whether common descent was achieved one new cell-type at a time, or by blocks of new and different cell-types introduced in grouped clusters.

            The similarities in DNA that show commonality between living organisms does not explain the organized complexity of DNA or the origin of this information content.

            Similarity does not arbitrate between Darwin or God.

            Darwinists still today confuse the evidence of similarity as an explanation that supports macroevolution, when similarity can just as easily be spun into an equally compelling case for intelligent designing agency.

            These are competing inferences to the best explanation, and cannot be hijacked by scientific materialists into the camp of Darwinian evolution without facing the push-back of critical cross-examination.

The Principle of Mediocrity

            Another old question that can be clarified through the critical analysis of equally competing skeletal explanatory frameworks, is the notion popularized by Carl Sagan in his book The Pale Blue Dot, coined as the Copernican Principle or the Principle of Mediocrity.

            The Principle of Mediocrity says that because the earth is smaller in size compared to the vastness of the cosmos, that simply because our earth is inhabited by humans, it nonetheless merits no special significance in the universe.

            To paraphrase, Carl Sagan said that our earth was a small speck in the great cosmic dark, enjoying no special or preferred place in the universe, the essence of the concept of the Principle of Mediocrity.

            The arguments unwinding this concept begin by saying that the universe has to reach its current size in order to have a large enough sample-size of rapidly receding galaxies to mathematically calculate in reverse-time going backwards, to precisely pinpoint an accurate average of 13.7-billion years ago for the Big Bang beginning of the universe.

            The relative ratio between a hypothetically smaller universe and a larger earth would not improve the accuracy of these calculations, and are therefore seen as being irrelevant in determining the importance of the pale-blue dot of earth in terms of its relative size.

            The vast size of the universe appears not to be an impediment in calculating a beginning point in time for the universe…the Big Bang being an extremely important scientific discovery.

            This line of reasoning would be easily recognized by a cosmologist or astrophysicist.

            Having this starting point in time established, we can ask some hypothetical questions relating to this supposed issue of mediocrity.

            After the first billion years of the existence of the universe at 12.7 billion years ago, would our Milky Way galaxy exist and how far along would its development be in terms of going from chaos to order?

            Could an early universe that had expanded to roughly 7% of its current size (using a linear expansion of 13.7/100 = 7%) be able to produce our Milky Way galaxy to the point where our galaxy would then be able to produce and sustain our solar system and planet earth?

            The beginning of the universe at 13.7-billion years ago minus the beginning of the earth at 4.5-billion years ago, equals roughly 9.2-billion years of the expanding universe before our local solar system and earth are formed. 

            The time-period of another 4.5-billion years of expansion occurs before humans come along and begin to investigate the natural world through science.

            If time and space were compressed to make the earth “more significant” in terms of relative size compared to the universe at large, would we still have an earth located within the dark space between two spiral arms within the comparatively safe “goldilocks zone,” a little more than half-way out between the center and the outside edge of the Milky Way galaxy?

            Would we have the clear atmosphere of the earth to explore the cosmos through telescopes and outer-space probing satellites?

            Would an initial expansion rate of the universe that was less than it was at the Hot Big Bang produce the enormous universe compared to the seemingly insignificant planet earth, having all of the right proportions, sizes, and fine-tuned constants in the laws of physics? 

            The precisely accurate mathematical calculations fit together like a Swiss watch, including a definitive starting point in time for the beginning of the universe.

            Carl Sagan saying that our earth is mediocre within the grand scheme of things, because the worldview of scientific materialism has no place for intelligent agency and thus no purpose or meaning in the universe, is a totally philosophical assumption. 

            It is an expression of his opinion.

            It has no empirical support coming from the fact-based evidence of science itself.

            We could ask what alternative size and scope for the universe would provide an equal quantitative and qualitative sample-size to produce the current accuracy of our determinations of the laws of physics, and the characteristics of the fundamental elements of the Periodic Table.

            There is a host of reasons why the Principle of Mediocrity is no longer valid, beyond the scope of this book (see the book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, by Hugh Ross, 2008).

            Finally, the recent scientific understanding of how the earth and its moon came into existence, of a Mars sized planet colliding with an originally smaller size earth, creating a larger size earth and its orbiting moon, is anything but mediocre.[1]


[1] Is Atheism Dead?  A Conversation with Eric Metaxas.  Premiered Oct. 6, 2021 on You Tube, Dr. Sean McDowell.

Answering Some Old Questions Part 1

            Where the ancient Greek philosophers argued pre-scientifically through logic using speculation in place of empirical evidence, modern science has replaced speculative conjecture with complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information to describe much of the causations of phenomena in the natural world.

            Species are easily mutable if the God of the Bible is releasing through gene regulatory networks and epigenetic factors, entire blocks of new and different cell-types in clustered groups that produce immediate function, as the discontinuities in the geological, fossil record clearly show.

            The fantastic irony in 2022 is that the “hopeful monster” hypothesis of evolution by saltation put forward by Goldschmidt in his 1940 book The Material Basis of Evolution, in an attempt to close the obvious gaps between living organisms in the common descent program, is that he is correct if we replace within the equation of biological development, the factor of scientific materialism with the alternate factor of intelligent agency. 

            The infinitude of connecting links required by materialism disappears when the simple move from one new and different cell-type at a time, shifts instead to adopting the more plausible program of new and different cell-types being introduced in blocks of clustered groups, in harmony with the scientific fact-based evidence that nature does make sudden leaps.

            This better concept produces new and varied life-forms entering into existence at their end-points of functional development to immediately engage into the fast-lane of survival and reproduction.

            Intelligent agency working within width-less durations of zero time to produce immediate function and fit, removes the untenable requirement of a vastly larger sized earth having more surface area, to provide the increased terrain for trial-and-error, accidental development to play-out. 

            Intelligent agency instead places the creative processes genetically inside the more manageably small-sized living cell.

In the cell there is adequate DNA information for intelligent agency to produce the vast diversity of life.

The externally-driven program of mutation/selection through survival pressures, when integrated with predator/prey relationships, complex ecosystems, and the need for the prior fitness of the environment to be in-place, would require a much larger surface area on the earth for a trial-and-error process to produce the vast diversity of life.

Typology and Increasing Complexity in Biology are not in Conflict

            Blocks of new and different cell-types in clustered groups, each assembled genetically in the arrangement and folding of amino acids to build proteins using the blueprint information in the cell, reaffirms and maintains the typological worldview prevalent before Darwin.

            The ideological difficulties that appeared inexplicable in 1859 to Darwin, inherent in individual fiat creations, over the advances of the past 160-plus years in science, now disappear.

            These difficulties disappear through the character and quality of the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information absolutely everywhere we look in the natural living and non-living world.  

            If God exists as the Creator of the universe, then there is no ideological dichotomy between the supernatural and the natural.

            Because of the explosion of information about our natural environment available today, the difficulties in explaining the causations of the phenomena in nature, have from 1859 to 2022 switched from arguing against intelligent agency to arguing for intelligent agency.

            The issue of the fixity of species disappears today when the concept of nature makes no sudden leaps, in support of amaterialistic worldview, is jettisoned overboard.

            As a Christian, I admit to being a vitalist, but not in the manner of ascribing biological development to undefined, occult-like inner forces.

            Empirical, fact-based information is not occult.

            Information that defines the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of elephants according to their genetic make-up…as to type…is as factually evidential as the mechanical engineering of an automobile.

            The mystery involved in DNA or automotive engineering is no longer the mechanics, but the origin of the structured, organized complexity that produces end-point fit and function.

            Where does the ability to design an automobile using mechanical engineering come from?

            The complex, specified, and coherently integrated character of information is the mysterious underlying force, that used to be pre-Darwin vitalism.

            But this underlying database of information is now so   complex and interwoven that it has passed-up the agency-free, research methodology of scientific materialism.

            A multitude of forms makes perfect sense if blocks of new and different cell-types in groups of 10 or 20, are manufactured in the cell using DNA and developmental gene regulatory networks, then released by an Intelligent Designing Agent within width-less durations of zero time to produce functionally mature organisms ready to enter into existence into biodiverse ecosystems.

            This is the diametric opposite of gradual biological development using the method of blind trial-and-error over vast periods of time.

            Goldschmidt’s hopeful monster made no sense at the time because it was stuck within the paradigm of scientific materialism.

            Replace this mindset of naturalistic materialism with intelligent designing agency, enabling saltation-like inputs of genetic information in blocks of grouped clusters to produce the common descent of end-point fit and function along the expanse of geological history, absent the need to find non-existent transitional intermediates, and many of the great mysteries in biology are resolved.

            It wasn’t that Darwin’s facts were wrong, just that there were not enough of them to work with in 1859.

            For Darwin the choice of the skeletal explanatory framework of atheism is what was defective in his theory of biological evolution.

            Typology works beautifully in this alternate program of blocks of cell-types coordinated in clustered groups, because the essence of each type of living organism is always introduced at its completed and functional iteration.

            The continuity of common descent, the fixity of species, change over time, and the vast diversity of life on earth, no longer makes sense within Darwinian evolution, but now makes sense only within the worldview of admitting an intelligent designing agent.

Evil and Suffering in the World

            If modern science at this point in time is revealing an Intelligent Designing Agent this precise in crafting the natural world, then if the main response to the evil and suffering in this world is to merely compose life-scripts and orchestrate journeys of faith that do not altogether remove evil and suffering, then this seemingly partial solution needs explaining.

            If the response by the God of the Bible is to initiate research programs into the knowledge of good and evil as articulated in this book, now better understood through the lens of the modern scientific method, this produces the common complaint that if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere, why doesn’t He remove evil and suffering?

            The argument that the presence of evil and suffering renders God weak and incapable of providing an entirely safe and optimized environment for humans, presupposes that there is not a more important reason for God allowing evil and suffering to exist on the earth.  

            For many years, I attributed most of the blame for the fall of some of the angels in heaven, to the charismatic appeal and outward appearing beauty of Satan (Mt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jud. 6), being similar in character in the Bible to the account of the very nearly successful revolt of Absalom against his father David the king (2 Sam. 15:1-6).

            Some verses in the Bible imply that a third of the angels followed Satan in his revolt (Rev. 12:4), that there was war in heaven (Rev. 12:7-10), and that the kingdom of heaven suffered violence and was temporarily taken over by force (Mt. 11:12).

            Ezekiel 28:12-15 gives us some background by telling us that Satan began as one of the covering cherubs “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, until iniquity was found in him” (paraphrased by me).

            Isaiah 14:12-17 and Luke 10:18 describe Satan’s fall from heaven.

            If Satan and a few others were the only rebels engaged in this coup attempt and insurrection in heaven, then I suppose it would have been relatively straightforward to exile and ban them from heaven to some other distant region.

            But if a third of the angels were susceptible to being drawn away through the enticing rhetoric of the liar Satan (Jn. 8:44), then God has a much larger problem on His hands.

            The question can be asked here, if God is timeless, did He know in advance that Satan would rebel and take with him a third of the angels?

            In the John 8:44 verse cited above, Jesus is recorded as saying that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lying…of cleverly spinning the narrative away from and outside of truth.

            Revelation 13:4 refers to the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, clearly meaning Jesus Christ.

            Several places throughout the New Testament various verses say that believers will reign with Christ for ever and ever (Rev. 22:5).

            These are all realities that are timeless, but we live in the four-dimensional reality of space and time.

            Here in God’s response to evil and suffering we see the brilliance of the plan of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Yahweh in the Old Testament (Rom. 4:1-8), and in Christ in the New Testament (Lk. 23:39-43), as opposed to autonomous self-salvation through self-performed good-works.

            If the problem with one-third of the angels was their inability to discern the truth about the character and qualifications of God as the legitimate ruler of heaven, against the deceptive character assassination of a clever and charismatic liar, then one obvious solution would be to set-up a program through which His subjects could get to know Him intimately within the context of life experiences that reveal His true character.

            The plan of redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ based upon a research program into the knowledge of good and evil that involves the four-wheel drive vehicle of our fallen yet redeemed moral natures, acknowledges ahead of time that God knows this requires the existence of a broken world containing evil and suffering.

            One of the admirable characteristics of a good leader is that they will not ask other people to do something that they themselves would not do.

            A captain or coronel who leads at the front of the cavalry brigade charge merits our respect and inspiration to follow them into battle.

            The God of the Bible can hardly be said to be a distant and passive participant in this plan of redemptive salvation.

            Through the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is telling us that He is standing foursquare with us in this current reality of a broken world, for the highest and best of reasons.

            As the divine Son of God taking upon Himself the singular role of being the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sins, Jesus Christ is willingly placing Himself squarely in the middle of the evil and suffering dilemma of this broken world, by personally experiencing the hate-filled rejection and physical pain of execution by crucifixion (Isaiah 53).

            At this point we can begin to understand the imaginative brilliance of the God of the Bible in formulating the program of redemptive salvation, while not removing the evil and suffering in this world.

            If we are ever going to learn the real truth about the knowledge of good and evil, and to get to know God on a personal level that will stand the test of eternity, it is not by eating a piece of fruit.

            In addition to the broad array of moral concepts, our human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, and the life-script of Jesus Christ all coming together in what must be human history, the fourth component of free-will choice comes into the mix.

            Free-will choice is a central pillar in the eternal reality of God.

            To have any meaning, humans must have the free-will choice to make mistakes.

            Apparently, the evil and suffering generated by our inhumanity to man, and natural disasters thrown-in, is not enough to override the incredible strength of the power of individual self-autonomy that entices us to sit atop the thrones of our lives as self-sovereign junior gods.

            Not only has God foreseen this broken world and allowed evil and suffering to exist, but He has also dialed-in the fine-tuned, delicate balance between belief and unbelief as the determining factor, excluding self-salvation through good-works (Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:8-9).

            The verse “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10) highlights the fact that everyone is equally equipped to enter into a research program into the knowledge of good and evil, by each person universally inhabiting an imperfect moral nature.

The verse “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1), highlights the fact that salvation is the free gift of God accessible to every person through faith (Eph. 2:8), but not through works.

How then does skeptical unbelief put people today in the same boat of condemnation with the angels who followed Satan in his failed coup attempt and violent insurrection.  

            The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ, the person rejected and crucified as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin (rebellion) will be the main presiding judge on Judgment Day.

            Jesus is recorded as saying: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Mt. 10:32-33).

            In other words, Jesus Christ will use His substitutionary atonement obtained through the cross and the resurrection to exonerate those people who have been willing to acknowledge their imperfect moral characters (repentance) and to accept the free gift of salvation by giving Him the benefit-of-the-doubt and confessing faith in Christ (Mt. 4:17).

            For some people this leads to the last-minute “fox-hole” or death-bed confessions like that of the thief on the cross (Lk. 23:39-43), or to God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts beyond our wildest imaginations like that of the apostle Paul.

            If Jesus Christ becomes incarnate in a human body, and as His mission-plan voluntarily takes upon Himself the full penalty for mankind’s sins by dying on a Roman cross of execution, then this justifiably enables Jesus Christ as judge to extend full and unconditional pardons to people based upon the criteria that He thereby is free to determine and establish.

            But the galactic-sized insight in all of this, is that the point God is making here is so important that He is willing to come to earth in the person of the Son of God…Jesus Christ…to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sins, to codify faith as the criteria to establish personal relationships, and to inaugurate research programs into the knowledge of good and evil that human beings can pursue through first-hand experiences with the impunity guaranteed through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross.   

            On January 6, 2021 in the United States the outgoing president engineered a coup attempt and a violent insurrection that threatened the existence of representative democracy in America.

            The revolt by Satan and his fallen angels threatened the good order and peace of the entire known reality of the kingdom of God.

            The stakes here are so enormous and eternally destabilizing that the current presence of evil and suffering in this world, is the only context within which to graphically demonstrate the end-points where skeptical unbelief eventually leads.

            Jesus does not come for the last time into Jerusalem on Passover week with an army of Jewish soldiers to forcibly expel the Romans out of the city and to end the occupation of the country of Israel.

            As evidenced by the history of Israel in the Old Testament, it is often a good thing to resist through military force foreign invaders having the evil intentions of plunder through conquest.

            Throughout human history, despotic autocrats in power have been justifiably overthrown through rebellions and revolutions.

            But the God of the Bible is brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and possesses divinely timeless foresight.

            There is no justification for mounting a rebellion against the God of the Bible, other than through jealousy, envy, malice, and the raw lust for power.

            Jesus says to Pilate in the Roman judgment hall: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (Jn.19:11).

            Jesus says just before His death on the cross: “It is finished” (Jn.19:30), signifying that His mission-plan was complete and that all of the positive results accruing from His sacrifice were now codified forever in the cross.

            Jesus Christ is the epitome of His statement: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13).

            As humans we possess the capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, the complimentary existence of the broad array of moral concepts, and the life-script of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament gospels.

            But we also possess the free-will choice to accept Christ or to push Him away.

            I would think that as part of his defense when Satan stands before Jesus Christ on the Judgment Day, he will point to the multitudes of people he was able to entice to follow him in rebelling against God to pursue our own way according to the tenets of self-sovereign autonomy, by saying: “See there, I was not the only one, and therefore you cannot be correct in condemning me.  If this large a number of others freely chose to follow me instead of you, then who is to say that I am not the right choice to be God?”

            This subtly brilliant defense will not hold-up to close scrutiny, because it is exactly this autonomous self-sovereignty apart from God that produces a part of the evil and suffering in this world.

This is evidenced empirically by those people who did not give meat to the hungry, water to the thirsty, housing to the stranger, clothing to the unclothed, or visited the sick and those in prison (Mt. 25:41-46). 

Unlike the understandably naïve inability of Adam and Eve to discern truth from untruth in the perfect Garden of Eden, for people to be able to rule and to reign with Christ for ever and ever without a hiccup going forward, requires the savvy ability to individually parse the subtleties of the broad array of moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil.

 But this also requires a personal relationship with God that relinquishes to Him the position in heaven that He alone is qualified to occupy (Jer. 31:34). 

Finally, Jesus tells the disciples about the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who will come after Jesus departs the earth and why:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (Jn. 16:7-8).

            The greater love exhibited through a man laying down his life for his friends (Jn. 15:13), and the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us into all truth (Jn. 16:13), cannot happen in a perfect, idyllic world not having evil and suffering.

The Father of Lies (Jn. 8:44)

The rebellion of Satan is like the modern-day politician whose strategy is to bring down his election opponent through negative attack-ads, rather than through the presentation of a straightforward policy agenda that can be honestly and openly debated on its merits. 

Satan actually has nothing constructive to offer.  Satan has no positive agenda of his own.  Satan cannot compete against God head-to-head in the arena of righteousness, holiness, and competence. 

If Satan is to get the power and position that he covets, to be ruler of the universe in place of God, he will have to resort to devious and underhanded methods.  Taking-on God straight-up is a losing proposition for Satan. 

The temptation in the Garden of Eden is therefore a cleverly crafted deception and a lie about the character of God, not a commendable, honorable approach having substance that can be debated on common ground with the program of God. 

What is so brilliantly deceptive, but so damnably evil, about the temptation in the Garden of Eden, is that the slander of God’s character by Satan carries with it the false presumption that Satan is thereby on an equal footing with God, without first having to establish Satan’s bona fide credentials for criticizing God. 

Like the political candidate who skillfully uses negative attack-ads against his opponent, the mere presentation of a criticism, according to the higher moral fabric of the universe, automatically implies that the person making the criticism somehow has the qualifications and right standing to do so. 

An elevated, good-natured, respectful to one’s opponent, fair-minded debate between opposing viewpoints belongs within the high moral plane of God’s world.  Political candidates who critically scrutinize their opponent’s viewpoints at this elevated level are rightly considered to be engaging in commendable, constructive, and honorable pursuits of truth that will achieve good government and thereby benefit society. 

The negative, spurious, and unfounded attack-ad character assassination of one’s political opponent as a successful campaign strategy, is a product of the sinful fallen nature of man, and is not a part of God’s world at all. 

But an unscrupulous person can move up or down at will between these two levels of conduct, claiming the legitimacy of the higher-minded zone while actually engaging in the worst form of untruthful character assassination. 

This is the subtlety of deception that Satan introduced into the world through his rebellion against God.    

By questioning God’s underlying motives regarding Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, Satan is presuming to place himself in the undeserved and unjustified high position of criticizing God.  By questioning God’s character through this deceptive temptation, Satan is unilaterally elevating himself (through incredible pride, arrogance, and what the British would call “cheek”) up to an equal footing with God without even having to present his qualifications beforehand. 

By deceptively playing the part of being a constructive critic within the higher zone of good-natured and fair-minded debate, Satan is granting himself the freedom to pass judgment upon the actions of God, which he is in no way qualified to do. 

The willingness to ruthlessly attack a political opponent’s personal character with untrue and slanderous lies, while running for office, does not in any way establish a candidate’s own qualifications for becoming a good and effective public servant. 

This is what is so damnably dishonest, dishonorable, and deceptive about Satan’s attitude and tactics.   

We know from reading the New Testament that Satan hid behind the outwardly acceptable religious appearance of the first-century Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers, who eventually managed to instigate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Son of God. 

We know from history that Satan hid behind the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, threatening dissenters and potential reformers with excommunication and the terrors of the Inquisition, until Martin Luther successfully began the Protestant Reformation. 

We know that Satan is currently hiding behind all forms of liberalism, religious relativism, and worldly compromise within Christendom today.  These modern forms of spiritual deception are just as difficult to uproot and overturn as these earlier challenges. 

One Purpose for the Great Tribulation

“When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.”                                                                                  (Jn. 8:44)

Church fathers, biblical scholars, and Christian philosophers have been debating and arguing about end-times prophecies for nearly two thousand years, and still have not managed to reach a consensus. 

People with high academic credentials have spent lifetimes studying the end-times prophecies in the original languages, and cannot agree with other scholars and theologians on the interpretation of end-times prophetic passages found in the five historical books, the psalms, the prophets, the gospels, the letters to the churches, and in the book of Revelation. 

I have good Christian friends who are all over the map on the subject of the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation. 

Many Christians have the plausible belief that the church will come under the supernatural protection of God all the way to the end of the tribulation, through a physical or spiritual hiding place, without a rapture even occurring. 

One longtime Christian friend humorously adopts the viewpoint of a pan-tribulation, meaning that it will all “pan-out” in good time through unfolding events, like panning for fine gold in a river bed.

I believe the rapture is separate from the second coming. 

Paul speaks of what we call the rapture as a mystery, yet everyone in the early church clearly knew about the ascension of Jesus and the promise that He would return in like manner someday in the future. 

The second coming was not a mystery to first-century Christians.  A rapture occurring sometime prior to the second coming, as revealed to Paul, would be a mystery.                   

In sharing his teachings openly with the other apostles (Gal. 2:2), Paul would have certainly included this revelation regarding the mystery of a lifting-up of the Christian church, those believers currently living and those already dead and buried, off the earth and into heaven. 

Yet we do not see the slightest hint of any opposition to this teaching that Paul seems to have included within his outreach to the Gentile churches in Asia Minor (Acts 20:20), and that he would have communicated during any one of several occasions to Peter, James, John, and other leaders in the early church in Jerusalem.

It is also important to note here that the pretribulation rapture interpretation is not a paradigm in the sense of a universally accepted working hypothesis utilized in science, that must be replaced by a better hypothesis in order to be overturned. 

No matter how popular the pretribulation rapture teaching may currently be, it is only one of four or five competing end-times prophetic interpretations to choose from. 

People inclined to place the rapture part-way into the Great Tribulation, with the Christian church having a major role in the final decisive debate, do not have to construct an alternate, complete scenario to support a rapture occurring sometime in the middle of the tribulation period. 

The pretribulation rapture scenario is not the orthodox position that must be replaced by a fully formed and explicitly detailed alternative. 

In my opinion, the best alternative is to admit we do not have the complete end-times picture as yet. 

My working hypothesis is the recognition of the great difficulty everyone had figuring out the nature and mission of the Messiah prior to the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Yet in hindsight everything worked out perfectly according to the designs of God without any dependence upon prior human understanding. 

Scripture says that end-times Christians will not walk in the night of ignorance (1 Thes. 5:1-11), but this does not require that we have a complete scenario worked-out from beginning to end to successfully replace the fully constructed pretribulation rapture framework. 

The pretribulation rapture teaching is not a paradigm, but simply one interpretation among several others.

This book is not an attempt to rigorously examine the end-times biblical prophecies scripture by scripture, in an exhaustive, comprehensive manner. 

There are numerous well-written books and commentaries that cover the standard viewpoints in the field of biblical eschatology, spanning across recent centuries back to the early church fathers. 

But I believe that God does have something unique, timely, and applicable to say to us regarding our discipleship as we approach the beginning of the end-times. 

The goal of this book is to examine some important issues in the current end-times debate from a different perspective, from the viewpoint of our journey of faith with God.  This hopefully will enable Christians to stretch their thinking about the challenges ahead and lead to a greater personal commitment in following Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 tells us that before the “day of the Lord” comes, the “man of sin”, the “son of perdition” will be revealed. 

Because the precise circumstances that would expose the heretofore unrevealed nature of the son of perdition are not given in this scriptural passage, we cannot say exactly how this will occur in the future.  But we can make an educated guess that can be insightful to Christians today. 

One of the many places where Satan, a spiritual being, deceptively hides his true character is within religion (2 Cor. 11:14).  Satan infiltrates Judaism in the Old Testament, and Christianity in the church age, in skillfully camouflaged attire, because by nature he is a destroyer rather than a builder (Jn. 10:10). 

Because outward appearances can be so deceiving (Mt. 23:27-28; Lk. 11:44), Satan can outwardly project the impression that he is a builder with a positive agenda, which provides a suitable cover for his real intentions of knocking down and destroying the plans of God. 

Satan hides within religion, in addition to our secular world, because it is one of the best places to conceal his true identity, while at the same time subtly attacking and undermining the work of God. 

After all, who would expect a religious leader in Jerusalem in the first-century, or a high official inside “the church” in any century of the church age to be anything other than a godly person?  The cover of religion removes any suspicion. 

When is the Best Time to Shake-Up the World?

            This observation, if accurate, sheds light on one of the key biblical end-of-time events. 

            A rapture of the Christian church that occurs at the beginning of Daniel’s seven-year tribulation period, upsets the delicate balance of belief and unbelief, right at the critical time-period when we enter upon the last seven years of human redemptive history. 

            If the rapture is such an obvious disappearance of hundreds of millions of Christians as an isolated event in the twinkling of an eye, then does this highly public sign of the truth-claims of Christianity influence the delicate balance of people’s freedom to remain in skeptical unbelief, regarding the existence of the God of the Bible at the most inopportune time? 

            This clear-cut demonstration of the truth of the Christian message through a pretribulation rapture would be occurring at the very outset of the time-period when the great arguments against God are being made by the little horn of Daniel, and during the last great harvest of lost souls as prophesied in Matthew 24:14. 

            In this era of accurate investigative journalism and worldwide media coverage, have we missed the obvious and unavoidable conclusion that the rapture will be clearly identified as the rapture, thus greatly affecting from that point forward, in the short time remaining, people’s calculations regarding their final decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ as their Savior and Messiah? 

            Has the term rapture and its meaning, made familiar through books and movies, already entered the popular vocabulary and psyche to the point that the “horse has already left the barn” in terms of people’s future recognition and identification of a pretribulation rapture taking hundreds of millions of Christians off the earth?       

            Pretribulation rapture proponents would capably argue that the rapture is precisely the explosive event needed to set in motion the final push for the worldwide evangelism of Matthew 24:14. 

            But let us stand back and take a detached, mezzanine view of this idea. 

            Is removing all of the Christians off the earth the best way to commence evangelizing the earth?  Is a planet empty of all Christians the ideal environment for starting from scratch the worldwide effort to evangelize the last remaining group of lost sheep predestined for salvation? 

            Does a simple reading of Joel 2:28-29 contemplate a world full of mature Christians willing and able to serve, or a world that is altogether empty and devoid of the main Christian church? 

            In order to support a biblical last-days prophecy interpretation having a rapture that occurs prior to the tribulation, and to harmonize this with other end-times prophetic scripture, we have to invent the theological framework of dispensationalism, which did not previously exist in mainstream theology before the beginning of the 19th century. 

            Is the time placement of the rapture pretribulation, too radical a choice if this requires an artificially constructed, major transitional breakpoint at the disappearance of the Gentile church age raptured into heaven, dovetailed with a newly created body of Jewish Messianic Christians converted to evangelize the remainder of the world until the end of the tribulation period? 

            This major bump, this discontinuity breakpoint, this passing of the relay-race baton to a new evangelical workforce as a result of the removal of the Christian church pretribulation, forms the basis of dispensationalism. 

            Or by contrast, is the best way to evangelize the planet to pour-out God’s Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-29), including the New Testament blend of Gentile and Jewish Messianic Christians that make up the current body-of-Christ on earth today? 

            The exchange that the Antichrist, alluded to in Daniel 7:20-27, 8:17, and 8:23-25, has with the saints of the “Most High” (Dan. 7:22-25), implies that for a period of time at the beginning of his reign, when the Antichrist “destroys wonderfully” to the point of the wearing down of the saints of the “Most High,” that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are still functioning. 

            The usurping, false, second-advent counterfeit messiah the Antichrist temporarily wins the verbal battle through a deceptive message of falsely secured worldly peace and prosperity. 

            If this is a period of intense battle between freely articulated conflicting worldviews, in which the Antichrist prevails through the deceptive appeal of worldly salvation from our current political, social, and economic problems, then the enormously important finely-tuned balance between the freedom to believe or not to believe in God must still be fully in play. 

            The overly simplistic teaching that Jesus will rapture His beloved Bride the Church into heaven before a period of tribulation and judgment begins upon the earth, as if that is the rationally normal default expectation, entirely misses some critically important realities. 

            The last days tribulation period is more complicated than Jesus simply sparing the church from the narrow-gate (Mt. 7:13-14) unpleasantness of tribulation. 

            If God raptures hundreds of millions of Christians, and all of the children under the age of accountability off of the earth pretribulation, then the balance of evangelical outreach based upon truth-preaching is essentially over. 

            If the rapture occurs pretribulation then nearly everyone on the planet will be aware at the beginning of the tribulation period that there is a strong probability that the biblical prophecies surrounding the rapture are accurate and true. 

            Belief in Jesus Christ as Savior will then automatically shift over for many people into the category of being an inarguable fact, like the existence of the noonday sun, or like two plus two equals four. 

            A pretribulation rapture would have the same effect upon the delicate balance between belief and unbelief that a resurrected Jesus walking through the streets of Jerusalem in broad daylight would have had from the first-century onward. 

            The virtue of discovering God through faith and trust, because we have examined the issues involved, and examined the value of abandoning self-sovereignty in pursuit of a journey of faith following God, is partially or entirely lost once the existence of God is reduced to the world of involuntary, observable fact accessible to everyone. 

            The rapture recognized as The Rapture, and nothing else, is a major milestone event having enormous implications in both the spiritual and natural realms, and has the potential to throw belief and unbelief out-of-balance depending upon when it occurs. 

            When we look back through the Bible, we can see the enormous care that God took in keeping the ability of people to freely believe or not to believe, in balance. 

            The fact that God the Father orchestrated the ministry, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God in the midst of a busy and populated first-century Roman occupied Israel, in such a way as to leave in place the free-will ability of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, rulers, and a large segment of the populace to remain after-the-fact in unbelief…has to be one of the great spiritual engineering marvels of history. 

            The timing of the rapture is therefore critical. 

            The nature and intent of its impact changes dramatically, depending on when it occurs in relation to the end-times tribulation events. 

            Place it too early, and it upsets the balance between belief and unbelief.  Place it too late, after multitudes have already received the mark of the beast and are beyond pardon, and the evangelical value it affords as a powerful sign to the world of the truth of the Christian gospel message is lost forever. 

            If the rapture is placed well beyond the midpoint of the tribulation, after tens of millions of Christians have been martyred for refusing the mark of the beast, as alluded to in Revelation 7:14, 12:11, and 15:2, then the rapture is not intended as a sign at all, but rather as a well-timed escape mechanism to remove the church from the earth sometime around Revelation 16:15. 

            The rapture is like the main ingredient in the cooking of some precisely prepared gourmet meal.  The timing of its addition to the process must be perfectly coordinated to achieve the desired outcome.

            The long-awaited rapture cannot be about something as relatively trivial as the removal of the Christian church simply to be out of harm’s way before the massively unsettling but defining tribulation period. 

            Since when is the God of the Bible overly challenged by the threat of invading Midianites, or invading Philistines, or Pharaohs, or Egyptian chariot armies, or the parting of the Red Sea, or kings like Nebuchadnezzar, or a fiery furnace, or a den full of lions, or 450 prophets of Baal, or any of the other tribulations facing the people of God in the Bible? 

The timing of the rapture, placed just prior to the start of the tribulation, has no clear basis in scripture one way or the other. 

The pretribulation rapture teaching is one plausible construction of events according to a particular school of thought. 

The doctrine of imminence absolutely requires that the rapture occur before the tribulation, only if we define Christian hope as something outside of Hebrews chapter eleven, outside of John 21:18-19, outside of Acts 9:16, and apart from the Holy Spirit inspired character-stretch toward the excellence of a “better resurrection” of Hebrews 11:35. 

            If it is true that the unique nature of the rapture will clearly reveal itself as the rapture, and nothing else, then this important observation needs to be factored into our end-times calculus. 

            If it does not make sound biblical logic, or even worldly-astute common sense (based on the accuracy of modern investigative journalism) that the rapture can occur at the beginning of the tribulation, because it would prematurely give away too much world-shattering information at the wrong time, then it becomes the nearly unavoidable conclusion that the un-raptured main Christian church will enter into at least some portion of the seven-year tribulation period.

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