Empirical Evidence for the Existence of God

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

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

            I place the blame for this at the feet of the scientific materialists of the second half of the 20th century and our current century, for the rigid atheism of their worldview that prevents them from considering and then disseminating a fuller and more open-minded view of the natural world.

            This fuller view of the natural world would have educated the general public about the clear demarcation line in absolutely everything…not just science…separating the fixity of things that are physically material from the variability of abstract concepts that are non-material.

            This distinction might be the most important first issue to address in the science and God, evolution and creation debate.

            One classic example of this clear demarcation line is the empirically factual, neutral and unbiased explanation from science of how ink bonds to paper, contrasted with the entirely conceptual explanation of the opinion-loaded information that is advocated in the headlines of a daily newspaper or in the title of a magazine article.

            I can read the front-page headlines and the accompanying article given below in the New York Times newspaper for example, and grasp the arguments being made and process the information on a sophisticated level to be able to form an opinion about the issues being raised, without having the slightest idea about the physics and the chemistry of how ink bonds to paper to create the printing of this newspaper article.

            There is actually no way to get from the technical information of how ink bonds to paper to the altogether different type of information conveyed in the newspaper on world events, business, sports, or fashion.

            The one type of factually specific information acquired through the scientific method of research on how ink bonds to paper, has no connection whatsoever to the type of information being conveyed in the newspaper that is concept-loaded, leading to the possibility of varied opinions and conclusions.

            The physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper are entirely neutral and opinion-free on the subjects expressed in a newspaper or magazine article.

            Ink bonding to paper has nothing to say about the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation, and grammar intelligently chosen using the English language to convey information in books, magazines, and newspapers.

            The materially empirical and the non-materially conceptual are two things that are in unbridgeable categories of reality.

            This concept can be extended to apply to absolutely everything that is physically material in the natural world, and to absolutely everything that is comprised of non-material, abstract ideas.

            If something is physically material, without exception it is amenable to being dissected, analyzed, categorized, and described in terms of its physical components or behavior.

            But there is no way to quantify in terms of a physical measurement whether my opinion about the issues in the newspaper article are right or wrong.

            The scientific method of inquiry that produces empirical, fact-based evidence cannot breach the demarcation line into the judgmental zone of determining right from wrong between two or more opposing opinions.

            Opinions, conclusions, and viewpoints are in the different category of non-material reality.

            This discussion highlights and differentiates the singular empiricism of the scientific method of investigation that produces databases of factual evidence about phenomena in the natural world.

            This is why I believe that because the universe came into physical being as material at the Big Bang, that given more time and ingenious investigative techniques, that scientists will in the future discover the mechanics of how the universe came into existence.

            This is why I believe that no matter how complex is the material nanotechnology inside living cells, that given more time and evermore ingenious investigative techniques, that scientists will in the future discover all or nearly all of the physical mechanics of how genetics, DNA, and the cell produce the vast diversity of life on earth.

Empiricism Cannot Logically Opine on the Existence of God

            One example of badly missing the big-picture as limited by an atheistic worldview, is to not recognize the implications in terms of directional trajectories and prior fitness that the Big Bang is an explosion.  Explosions do not create intelligible order, but instead create chaotic disorder.

            We only see order coming out of the Big Bang by looking backwards in hindsight from the current order we observe today in the natural world.

            From our direction looking backwards in time it is easy to take for granted that of course order arose out of the Big Bang explosion 13.7-billion years ago, because today we observe order in the natural world.

            But from the time of the Big Bang looking forward, to arrive at the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world today is asking too much of a random and undirected, purely materialistic process.

            A massive explosion in a printing press factory will not generate a dictionary.

            A tornado going through a junkyard will not assemble a 747 commercial jetliner.

            In our normal experience, explosions do not produce things that are orderly to the point of being intelligible to human investigation through science, like our universe amazingly is.

            The late scientist Stephen Hawking can brilliantly investigate the origin of the universe through quantum mechanics. 

            This is all well and good, and scientists will continue this investigation.

            But the narrow focus of the atheism of scientific materialism precludes the fuller picture that would include the obvious question once we see it, of how a massive explosion at the beginning of the universe could over billions of years arrive at an end-point in this 21st century of cognitive, thinking human scientists exploring the physically material universe, exploiting with great success this orderliness and intelligibility, arising out of the chaotic disorder of a massive explosion.

            Scientific materialism derisively dismisses intelligent agency as a plausible explanation behind the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world, while putting forward the materialistically nonsensical view that this orderliness and intelligibility could arise out of an explosion through random and undirected processes.

            Another clear example of atheism sweeping the obvious under the rug, once we see it, is the idea that extra-large stars are needed to implode through gravity to produce the required heat to make carbon and oxygen, just before exploding to spread these critical elements throughout the cosmos that are essential to enable complex life like ourselves to exist.

            The chemical bonding properties of the carbon atom are critical to form the numerous compounds that enable living organisms to exist, yet again a massive explosion of giant stars is required to translate over billions of years this physically material reality into life on earth.

            The Big Bang creation of the universe is dated to 13.7-billion years ago, and the first appearance of life on earth is dated to around 3.8-billion years ago.

            Doing the math, this equates to a gap of time of nearly 10 billion years from the existence of the material universe to the beginning of life on earth.

            What quality of foresight would be capable of spanning this period of time to connect-the-dots beginning with carbon and oxygen created within exploding supernova stars, to arrive at exquisite end-points of function in the ten-million different species living on earth today exhibiting unique architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits.

            The common layman on the street would and does say as the majority opinion that this directionally targeted outcome of complex, specified, and coherently integrated living organisms could not come about through random and undirected processes commencing with giant, supernova stars exploding 13-billion years ago.  

            I did not take anatomy, physiology, or biology courses in high school or college, and could not pass today the first pop-quiz in the introductory classes in any of these subjects.

            But I can easily recognize in this 21st century through the most general understanding of the various parts of my body, through a non-technical introspection of how precisely everything internally works, that I am vastly too complex to be the product of a mindless, blind, accidental, indifferent to outcomes, trial-and-error, and undirected process.

            Ask most people the same thing, and given a moment of reflection would agree that we are too complex and too highly specified in terms of function to be the product of a solely matter and energy universe.

            It is the element of atheism within scientific materialism that generates the uninformed question: “Is there empirical evidence for the existence of God?”

            The correct answer is that of course there is no empirical evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible, because God is a non-material, Spirit-Being…but this is not the end of the story.

            Provisional conclusions that are abstract concepts attached to scientific research programs can no more exclude divinely intelligent agency than they can support atheism as the only worldview acceptable to pure science.

            The leap across the wide canyon from factually empirical data to the conceptualization and theorizing required to make sense of this data, is analogous to the unbridgeable gap between the physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper when compared to the opinion-loaded information advocated in the headlines of the New York Times daily newspaper.

            During an interview in Socrates in the City[1], John Lennox makes the insightful comment that after Stephen Hawking states at the beginning of his book The Grand Design that philosophy is dead, Hawking spends the reminder of the book discussing what can only be called the philosophy of science.

            What isn’t clearly being said here is that such a book cannot, by categorical definition, be anything other than philosophy.

            Once Stephen Hawking or any other scientist shifts into the abstract informational zone of temporarily provisional theories and conclusions, in the writing of a book or an article in a scientific journal, or in writing a proposal for a research grant, this vehicle of communication has crossed over the demarcation line from the purely empirical nature of factual databases to breach into the opinionated realm of conceptually abstract idea-making.

            When scientific materialists import abstract reasoning into the empirical realm of factual evidence and attempt to classify this conceptualization as being science as well, they are pleading a special case in favor of science that is not logically allowed anywhere else.

            The unbridgeable dichotomy between the mechanics of literally everything in existence that is physically material, compared to the altogether different reality of conceptually abstract ideas in the non-material form of information, is not only operative in the science and God debate, but in everything imaginable in material and non-material reality.

            This distinction between the material and the non-material is fundamental to understanding anything in the real world, and thereby exposes the nonsensical nature of the question of whether God is a physically material entity and thus amenable to empirical identification.

            Finally, the part about reading a newspaper article and forming my own opinions and reactions to the issues posed, involves the element of free-will choice.

            No one can force me to think a certain way regarding a specific issue or topic.

            This flexible variability in the realm of personal opinions lifts all such abstract conceptualizing and theorizing out of the entirely different realm of the empiricism of studying physically material things in the natural world that produces not variable opinions, but instead fact-based evidences not open to speculative opinion.

            This is why the worldview of atheism does not belong anywhere near the scientific method of research, God or no-God being inapplicable to the scientific research program as long as it stays on the empiricism side of the demarcation line separating the material from the non-material.

            The argument between the theist and the atheist involves the variability of personal opinion, and thus falls outside of the empiricism of the scientific method.

            This then correctly shifts the dispute into what is called an inference to the best explanation, which is entirely philosophical although based upon the same agreed-upon database of facts.

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

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

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.

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 Thief on the Cross 4

            Is the cross of Jesus Christ petty?

            Richard Dawkins during the 2009 Oxford debate with John Lennox expresses his opinion that a hypothetical creator/physicist god of the universe merits too high a quality of grandeur to stoop to the low-level of dying on a cross for sins in the pre-modern first-century.

            But this is partly based upon his projection of his own value-judgment of the high-quality of the scientific enterprise, and of the well-deserved status and acclaim that professional scientists enjoy in our modern culture.

            Richard Dawkins says during this debate that equating a creator god of this universe with Jesus Christ on the cross, is in his words petty and small.

            I think here the “shoe might be on the other foot.”

            Postulating a creator god of the universe deserving credit for the awe and grandeur of the natural world, subtly creates an unbridgeable gulf between this marginally acceptable concept of a science-savvy god to someone like Richard Dawkins, with the other alternative of a purely materialistic Mother Nature occupying this elevated role of esteemed creator.

            According to the atheism of Darwinian evolution, Mother Nature must be an impersonal, different to outcomes, blind, and mindless purveyor and arbitrator of random and undirected events that by definition merit no appeal to grandeur and awe in the slightest.

            Chance serendipity cannot rise to the level of meriting acclaim within this context, being an impersonal entity.

            In this debate, the atheist in Richard Dawkins unthinkingly places Mother Nature up into the high category of his just barely acceptable divinely creative physicist, when in fact a blind and indifferent Mother Nature acting through random and undirected processes deserves no such elevated exaltation. 

            For the scientific materialist, granting awe and grandeur to an impersonal Mother Nature acting through random and undirected processes is in some sense a philosophical contradiction.

            Because this book is about science and biblical-quality faith, at this point I would like to make the argument that the cross of Jesus Christ is not petty or small in its deliberate intention to open-up for us an experiential research program to understand truth and error, right and wrong, and detailed fact versus empty assertion.

            This was provided for us at great personal cost to the God of the Bible.

            The awe and grandeur of the cross of Jesus Christ is exhibited in the brief but colorful story of the thief on the cross recorded in Luke 23:39-43.

            The two thieves crucified on each side of Jesus were partners in crime, caught and condemned to death (Ps. 22:16; Isa. 53: 9, 12).

            One of the two thieves in this story can size-up and recognize a fellow thief, and he discerns throughout the early hours of his time being crucified next to this other man Jesus of Nazareth that He is not a criminal, but instead there is something very special about Him.

            This one thief on the cross hears what the detractors of Jesus are saying about Him (Lk. 23:35-37) and he can probably read the words on the plaque nailed to the cross above the head of Jesus that Pilate had written about Him (Lk. 23:38; Jn. 19:19-22).

            One brilliant takeaway from this account of the thief on the cross, is that when a person meets Jesus Christ and recognizes Him as being the King that He actually is, that this changes a person and their individual destiny forever.

            When his partner in crime joins into the mocking of Jesus along with the religious leaders and the soldiers standing around the three men being crucified, this one thief rebukes his friend and then utters words coming out of his mouth that probably surprised himself as to their origin and bold decisiveness at that particular moment:

“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” (Lk. 23:42).

            Jesus immediately recognizes salvation-quality faith and responds:

“Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Lk. 23:43).

            Pilate could have gone in the direction of faith, like this thief of the cross boldly confessing his recognition of the true character of Jesus, but instead surrendered to the political pressure of the crowd (Jn. 18:33-38).

            What adds awe and grandeur to the cross of Jesus Christ is that not only are there zero-in-number other candidates in human history or in human literary fiction that claim perfection of character, but it is literally impossible to get a perfect person all the way to the lowest form of ignominy, of Roman execution on the cross on Calvary Hill (Isa. 53), for anyone other than God.

            Jesus Christ is the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God fore-glimpsed in Genesis 22:7-13 and Exodus 12:21-23, yet Jesus on the cross in the middle of these two thieves has taken-on the shame of sin that belongs to us, even though He had no sin Himself.

            Jesus Christ the Creator of the universe willingly takes-on the shame of being considered a common criminal dying alongside these two thieves on their crosses, because this is the only way that a perfect person could also be the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.

            Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6) yet we find Jesus being crucified in the middle of two thieves (Isa. 53:4-7, 12).

            Mark Twain in his classic book The Prince and the Pauper, describes the benefits to be acquired by the young prince going-out into the real-world incognito, that will enable him to someday rule his people with enlightened justice and a compassionate perspective based upon this first-hand interaction as a commoner-in-disguise with the common people living within his future kingdom.

            But the distinction here of Jesus Christ taking upon Himself the shame of being “numbered among the transgressors” as He is being crucified in the middle of two thieves, is that this incredible downshift in status is not directly for His benefit.

            This sacrifice is instead for the benefit of us being able to go out into the world through our imperfect yet redeemed “earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7) to learn the genuine truth about good and evil, like this young prince in Mark Twain’s story, of getting outside the palace walls in the disguise of a commoner to discover the real-world.

            Jesus Christ on the cross sets us free from the bondage to sin, but He does not set us free from our imperfect moral natures (Jn. 8:36; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16; Col. 3:1-3).

            When believers someday in the future are in heaven, Jesus will sit on His throne in all His glory.  But Jesus will also get outside of the Holy City to walk amongst His people like He did when He walked the earth, and speak with them through the same quality of a resurrected body like we will inhabit.

            Jesus can talk to this one thief alongside Him as both another common human being the thief can relate to, but also as “Lord.”

            This is the awe-inspiring, science-savvy physicist god of Richard Dawkins exhibiting the character traits of divine love and humility to a perfection unheard of in all of human history…standing alone atop all of literary fiction and non-fiction.

            The contrast between the two thieves illuminates a reality in this world, of belief and unbelief, that cannot exist in a purely material universe.

            This then begins to give us some factual evidence upon which to differentiate truth from error in the moral realm of personal relationships, which is not subjective but objective.

            Equally important, Jesus through this sacrifice on the cross enables the redemptive salvation that was in-play throughout the Old Testament, to come into clearer focus as the gospel message goes-out to the Greco-Roman world of the Gentiles in the first-century.

            Jesus Christ the Son of God on the cross between two thieves could have been legalistically dismissive and aloof, answering the one thief by saying something like: “too bad, you made your bed, now sleep in it.”

            But Jesus is humbly taking-on the persona of a criminal numbered amongst criminals, because He is taking our lowly place on the cross that we deserve as wayward rebels and criminals (Isa. 53).

            Another enormous takeaway from this account of the thief on the cross and his encounter with Jesus Christ being crucified next to him, is that God can work with faith and trust in Him.

            A perfect God being brilliant pure light and absolute goodness, and possessing divinely timeless foresight, can work with the bare minimum of people exercising faith and trust in Him.

            Redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ sets-up the program of investigative research through the four-wheel drive vehicle of a fallen yet redeemed imperfect character…inhabiting an “earthen vessel” (2 Cor. 4:7). 

            This gives believers the precise lens we need to be able to comprehend the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts contained within the knowledge of good and evil, like the precise focusing knobs we turn to find clarity using a microscope or a telescope.

            The concept that the Creator God of the universe is the only person capable of inventing and implementing a research program where I can journey-out into a risk-filled adventure of faith in which it is guaranteed that I will make mistakes, and that the deliberate intention is that I can learn by these honest mistakes without jeopardizing my eternal salvation…is anything but petty and small.

            The concept that redemptive salvation is based around the Creator God of the universe being the only person capable of a morally perfect life to qualify as the Passover Lamb of God substitution to take our place on the cross of execution, out of a perfectly unselfish motivation that opens-up for us a genuine exploration into the knowledge of good and evil…is sublimely brilliant. 

            This is an idea that far exceeds the awe and grandeur that scientific materialists ascribe to the physical world we study through science, because the physical world and the cross of Christ both ascend to the peak and the pinnacle of awe and grandeur, because they were both imaginatively created within the mind of God.

            Scientific materialists study the natural world through the well-deserved acclaim of being investigative scholars.

            But this creates the artificial gap between experts and non-experts, which results in the projection by Richard Dawkins of a hypothetical divine physicist as creator of the universe, deserving the same high-status in character like himself.

            But this story of the thief on the cross exhibits a broad range of character for the God of the Bible that portrays in action the amazing ability to combine absolute goodness with a level of divine humility that can share equally the shame of the cross alongside two thieves, while at the same time inaugurating the most love-filled research programs into the knowledge of good and evil.

            This program of redemptive salvation closely mirrors the deliberate intention underlying the orderly and intelligible openness of the natural world for human scientific investigation.

            I would posit here that this concept of Jesus Christ living a perfect life as recorded in the four New Testament gospels, and confirmed afterwards by His broad and exhaustive impact upon mankind ever since, that He could make it all the way to Calvary for our sakes is as deeply profound as any mystery we investigate in the natural world through science.

            The origin and experiential functionality of this concept is incomprehensible within the open marketplace of ideas in a purely material universe devoid of purpose and meaning.

            Like the need for detailed evidentiary facts to explain the origin of DNA in living cells in the 2009 Oxford debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, the explanation underlying the cross of Jesus Christ must dig deeper than the generalized assertion that the creator of the universe cannot be so petty and small as to humble Himself as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, in a pre-modern, first-century Israel.

            Finally, in every essay in this book I am making the case that the God of the Bible meets all of the qualification standards of being Designer, Creator, and Ruler of heaven and earth.

            Peter mistakenly thought according to the general tenets of manhood and character that he should stand beside Jesus at His night trial, and argue all night for His innocence if need be.

            But it was not the intention of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to make the compelling case to acquit Jesus of all charges that night.

            Jesus was supposed to be the substitutionary sacrifice on the cross so that we could have the opportunity through a new and living way to go out into human life and discover through first-hand experience the subtle nuances of good and evil.

            The brilliance of the program of redemptive salvation is that this allows believers to learn by their mistakes and failures through a methodology very similar to that of scientific investigations, of aiming for good character but often falling short.

            Redemptive salvation provides the impunity needed within the risk of failure as we embark upon God-composed journey of faith life-scripts designed to actualize some portion of God’s virtue into our lives…a quality and desirability of virtue that was incomprehensible to me before I met Jesus Christ.

            This is anything but small and petty.

            The cross of Jesus Christ is deeper than quantum mechanics, the fine-tuning of the constants of physics, the information content in DNA, the origin of life on earth, and the capacity of human beings for intellectual and moral reasoning. 

            In one sense Richard Dawkins was right.

            The cross of Jesus Christ was small and petty, because it had to be small and petty to achieve its goal.

            An adventure of faith in pursuit of the knowledge of good and evil is open to me today, because the Creator of the universe Jesus Christ was willing to be small and petty according to the standards of this world, for a short period of time on earth (Isa. 9:6-7, 53:1-12, 61:1-3), for my sake.  For this I will be eternally grateful.

            If scientific investigation of the natural living and non-living world culminates in the conclusion that the universe has a Creator God as the intelligent agent behind it all, then the next remaining question to resolve is what defines good and evil.

            What character traits demonstrate a good king, good president, good CEO of a business enterprise, and a good father of a family unit?

            Is a good leader an autocratic tyrant like Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, or Putin?

            Or is a good leader demonstrated by the God of the Bible who can embrace the lowest humility of the cross at Calvary with the divine love and determined resolution to open-up the way of redemptive salvation by grace through faith, for believers to venture-out into the research program into the knowledge of good and evil that we can experience through the joint-venture of a journey of faith with God? 

            All of this has enormous implications for how the upcoming years play-out for mankind.

The Thief on the Cross 3

            Why is truth important?

            If this universe is purely matter and energy only, then what is even the point of discerning truth from error?  What does it matter in the long-run if there is no purpose or meaning in the universe?

            Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

            If purpose and meaning do exist in the universe, then is matter and energy capable of producing a search for truth?  And why would it do so?

            From the theistic viewpoint, the very existence of an Oxford debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins on this particular topic implies subtly that God has buried scientific materialism, because the question of which worldview has buried the other worldview should be illogically incapable of arising out of a purely material universe.

            Scientific materialism dissolves itself by its mere existence as a debatable issue, because by definition this question is too complex for a purely material universe devoid of purpose and meaning.

            But the really dangerous thing today is that scientific materialism is capable of burying science itself, by undermining its credibility.

            From the time of 1859 with the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, to shortly after DNA was discovered in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson, and Fred Hoyle began to study the fine-tuning of carbon resonance inside super-hot stars to create oxygen and carbon…until roughly then science was a safe haven for the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism.

            But where does it get us if scientific materialists discover a purely naturalistic, self-assembling mechanism inside living cells that explains the vast diversity of life?

            Where does it lead if it can be proven by modern science that there exists an all-encompassing theory of everything, that supports a purely material universe without the need for an intelligent designing agent?

            The worldview of naturalistic materialism by definition leads to total annihilation, no other outcome being possible.

            In a purely material universe, the race towards truth in science is a race towards recognizing and codifying oblivion.

            But what if the vote-count from modern science in terms of evidentiary facts tells us that intelligent agency won the election, and a materialistic Mother Nature lost?

            As humans we do not choose to place our faith and trust in the God of the Bible because we want the universe to have purpose and meaning, because we want our lives to likewise have purpose and meaning.

            This would be wishful thinking squared or cubed, based upon nothing factual.

            But if the organized complexity we see everywhere in the natural world tells us intelligent agency won the election, then the next step is to see if we can recognize and differentiate truth beyond the physical universe, within human experience.

            This admittedly is not easy coming from a secular perspective.

            The strange reality in 2022 at the time of the completion of this book, is that discerning and differentiating between genuine truth and fabricated conspiracy theories occupies the central place in both politics and science.

            If we are saying the presidential election in 2020 in America was stolen because we want a different outcome, if after qualified election officials say that this election was one of the most accurate in U.S. history, if we still insist upon our preferred outcome then we have abandoned the validity of evidentiary facts.

            If most of the evidence from modern science today and general appearances in the natural world point towards the existence of intelligently organized complexity, if we still insist on our preferred worldview of atheistic materialism, then we are rejecting the basic tenet of scientific investigation to follow the facts impartially wherever they lead in the larger search for truth.

            Scientific materialists who loudly proclaim their allegiance to the empirical quality of factual evidence on the one hand, yet on the other hand dismiss the design evidence in the natural world that nearly everyone else sees, to argue this design away as a mere illusory artifact of the wishful thinking of our need to imagine a designer god, calls into question the impartiality of humans to adjudicate anything complex towards a near-perfect conclusion.  

The Thief on the Cross 2

            Is the concept of truth supported by factual evidence, now under attack?

            From the enhanced perspective of the current political and cultural reality in 2022, the basic questions of truth, facts, a free-press, accountability, free-and-fair elections, and the reliability of the human faculty to differentiate right from wrong, now illuminates more clearly the basic issues being argued in this 2009 Oxford debate.

            A discussion of the nature of truth in politics and in science should not be swept-under-the-rug at this critical time in human history, as a concession to the otherwise commendable goal of maintaining congeniality.

            One of the takeaways from this 2009 Oxford debate is that when one person is arguing using generalizations, and the opponent is attempting to steer the discussion towards hard facts, that this hopelessly devolves into the classic case of comparing apples with oranges.

            When the losing presidential candidate following an election, asserts that his victory was stolen through the fraudulent counting of ballots, this is an assertion that can empirically be checked through the legal process of first challenging the vote-count, and then going back to perform a re-count.

            But what is incredibly important here, during and after this re-count of the votes in the battleground states that could change the outcome of the election, the detailed mechanics of how the ballots are issued, collected, tallied, and verified should be communicated to the populace to eliminate the continuation of conspiracy theory generalities put forward by the losing candidate.

            If after a re-count of the ballots this shows that there was no widespread fraud during the election process, but the losing candidate is freely allowed to continue to assert that the election was stolen and falsely proclaims himself the winner, then a strange paradox is created in the contest of ideas between general assertions at one level and hard empirical evidence at another level.

            This apples-to-oranges contest within the political arena and within the origin-of-life dilemma can only be resolved by first agreeing upon what is the standard for determining truth…factually unsupported assertions or detailed empirical evidence.

            But at a much deeper and fundamental level the question can be asked of how and why this type of contested issue could and should be a part of the human experience in the first-place…in politics, biology, or anywhere else.

            The old saying that sunlight is the best disinfectant, in this parallel political analogy of confirming or disconfirming the accuracy of the vote-count in a political election, can only be resolved by both a re-count of the ballots and a thoroughly detailed explanation to the general populace of how this process accurately works.

            Like the need to appeal to both the empirical evidentiary facts and a detailed explanation to the general public of the mechanics of the election process, to dispel the assertions of voter fraud by the losing candidate, the defense by Richard Dawkins that science does not need God in the area of biology because evolution already explains everything, in my opinion has devolved down into a data-free conspiracy theory.

            When the layman on the street gets exposed to even an inkling of the detailed mechanics of DNA and the molecular machinery inside a living cell at the level of biochemistry, the immediate inference is to the recognition of design at work.

            Over the last 160-plus years of intensive research into the truth or falsehood of the theory of Darwinian macroevolution, the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information that describe the biology of life inside living cells can now be tested at the level of evidentiary facts rather than generalized assertions.

            The organized complexity operating inside living cells does not support the generalized assertion that Darwinian evolution explains everything in biology.

            At this critical time in human history, when liberal democracy is being challenged by the false claims of a stolen election, “fake-news,” the downplaying of a pandemic that has at this time taken the lives of 850,000 Americans, and the politicizing of vaccinations, the fundamental question arises as to whether claims regarding truth must be backed-up by factual evidence.

            Because the narrative can be spun at the level of generalized assertions, and because humans possess the capacity for intellectual and moral discernment to differentiate the truth or falsity of truth-claims, the question of how we arrive at genuine truth is now front-and-center in our modern age.

The Thief on the Cross 1

            The Bible is based upon historical people and events.  The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is defended on the basis of an appeal to the reliability of factual evidence.

            If truth in the world devolves into the relativism of conspiracy theories and outright lies, if truth is perceived as a malleable reality that can be shaped into whatever narrative we choose to believe despite whatever the factual evidence says, then the Christian’s appeal to an independent, historical standard of universal truth in sharing the gospel message…disappears.

            In the 2009 debate at Oxford between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins on the topic of Has Science Buried God[1], part-way into the discussion Richard Dawkins appeals to the all-purpose generalization that the Darwinian model of genetic mutations and natural selection explains the origin of the complexity of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells.

            Richard Dawkins at this point in the debate regarding the question of how DNA came into being, asserts in the most general terms that Darwinian evolution has already answered this question.

            The problem here is that Darwinian evolution has not answered this question at all.

            Simply stating that it has in the form of an assertion, does not make it so.

            The jump from zero bits of information before the existence of life, to the roughly 3.0 to 3.5 billion bits of information needed to support the architectural body-plan of the first living single-cell bacteria that can both survive and reproduce itself, cannot be explained through small, gradually incremental steps no matter how long science ponders this origin-of-life dilemma.

            From the vantage point of 2022 now looking back in hindsight, the accumulation of factual evidence regarding the phenomena in the natural world has turned the centuries-long science and God debate 180-degrees around.

            The difficulty in arguing for or against Darwinian evolution in 2022, is that mechanics is easily confused with agency.

            On the surface, mechanics appears to be interchangeable with agency.

            For scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins, mechanics is agency.

            There is complex, organized molecular biochemical mechanics in action inside living cells, observed and studied by modern science.

            But for scientific materialists, genetic mutation producing variant physical traits chosen by natural selection for enhanced survival and reproduction, is a naturalistic process of agency that is integral within the mechanics itself, combining mechanics and agency together as one…without the need for any independent source of guiding intelligence.

            We know from logic that the mechanics comprising an airplane cannot be assembled to achieve function while the airplane is in flight.

            The airplane must be filled-up with gasoline or jet-fuel, all of its parts lubricated, and a thorough pre-flight check made before the airplane takes-off and becomes airborne.

            The gradual development of an airplane to become air-worthy does not overlap into a final assembly phase of necessary parts while in flight.

            The logical inconsistency in biology utilizing Darwinian evolution is the question of at what point in development over time is the living organism airborne and in flight.

            Is “flight” achieved gradually lifting-off the ground while microscopic molecular machines and the blueprint information in DNA are crafting different cells-types to create an elephant or a giraffe?  Is embryonic development analogous to the jetliner being assembled pre-flight, piece-by-piece on the assembly-line inside a hangar?

            Or is “flight” defined for living organisms at the moment they are fully assembled to successfully function in the outside world, prepared ahead of time to blend immediately into the fast-lane of predator/prey relationships in their particular biodiverse environment and ecological niche?

            For human beings created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), the process of producing a flight-worthy airplane first occurs on the conceptual drawing-board within the imagination of the aeronautical engineer.

            I can speak from personal experience that a new house is never built on-the-fly, making it up as we go.

            The general assertion that Darwinian evolution can account for the origin of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells, and that this can then coordinate to produce the ten-million varied living species on earth, is in essence cutting-out the conceptual thought-process of the aeronautical engineer, and replacing it with the mechanical process of the airplane assembly taking place in the hangar…self-assembly mechanics and agency being one and the same thing.   

            The idea that DNA is needed to produce proteins, and proteins are needed to produce DNA, without the guidance of intelligent agency, is a simultaneous chicken-and-egg, who is the lead dancer in a two-person dance, that would be as nonsensical as assembling an airplane in flight.

            The idea that Darwinian evolution can gradually produce incremental function spread-out over the entire process pre-birth and post-birth is not supported by a logical interpretation of the evidentiary facts, requiring too many sequentially coordinated assemblies.

            But the idea that function is acquired immediately in a moment of time somewhere along the process of development is not allowed in naturalistic materialism, being a single-point of realizing the future defining outcome of the thing being assembled far in advance of that defining outcome being realized…in essence injecting foresight into gradual development having a definite outcome “in mind” before the thing reaches a final outcome.

            The quality of personal oversight that creates a flight-worthy airplane that gradually approaches function part-by-part, occurs step-by-step in the manufacturing assembly-line hangar.

            But real flight is only actualized after the completed and fuel-up airplane is rolled-out onto the runway for take-off.

            The assembly of an airplane is never completed in flight.

            This reality appears to identify clearly differentiated lines between conception, assembly, and actualized flight for an airplane.

            The dilemma for scientific materialism is that it has to identify where and when their version of impersonal agency can be pinpointed in the sequential mechanics of the embryonic development of living organisms that approximate foresight, of when each organism begins to home-in on its uniquely defined and completed essence to be capable of taking-off and becoming “airborne” as an elephant, lion, salmon, or human being.  

            The materialistic process must be chopped-up into small enough individual activities to incorporate some measure of chance-produced self-assembly, but this methodology also chops-up foresight that can get an assembly of body-parts to coalesce into functional body-plans capable of survival and reproduction.

            If I am seeing this rightly, the scientific materialist is saying here that Mother Nature through the mechanics of the process itself is the identifiable agent, that impersonal mechanics, agency, and function are all synonymous.

            This is nonsensical.

            I think this is what Richard Dawkins is inferring in this 2009 debate when he says that Darwinian evolution explains DNA and the molecular machinery inside the living cell…the mechanism of evolution itself being the designing agent.

            A scientific materialist cannot go beyond mechanics to include the foresight of well-aimed trajectories towards preconceived outcomes, because this invokes the need for an extremely intelligent designer in the complex theater of biological life.

            As said previously in another essay, some scientists for decades have been telling us that God is dead, and that science alone is the only reliable path to discover genuine truth.

            But today the strange and counterintuitive realization is surfacing that the mere possession of a mass of raw data alone does not automatically or naturally lead to a true verdict.

            Facts can be manipulated and interpreted into various competing spins containing half-truths that are difficult to conclusively adjudicate.

            If some scientists today are falsely spinning the narrative to fit within a materialistic worldview, then the reliably objective nature of the scientific enterprise has been corrupted to the point of calling into question the capacity of science to discover real truth.

            If scientific materialists are telling us one thing, but the facts-on-the-ground are telling us something else, then we have reached a new fork-in-the-road that I believe was not anticipated at the start of the Scientific Revolution.

            I do not think that scientific materialists in the mid-twentieth century thought that the database of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural living and non-living world could reach the point where the empirical, fact-based character of the scientific enterprise would compellingly point towards the absolute need for intelligent agency as the best explanation for the origin and structure of our universe.

            If the huge advances through scientific research have reached the conclusion that human nature on its own has the proclivity towards the divisions, factions, and schisms of competing ideologies despite a full plate of the facts…I believe this would be an unexpected realization.

[1] Has Science Buried God debate at Oxford 2009 between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, hosted by the Fixed Point Foundation, on You Tube.

A Genuine, Biblical-Quality Journey of Faith is Hard

            One of the most difficult and challenging things in all of human experience is to place our faith in the God of the Bible to help us through a crisis.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith have life-scripts that are filled with life-and-death challenges that are the direct opposite of the pursuit of a life-of-ease.

            In God-composed journey of faith life-scripts in the Bible, there seems to be an equilibrium between the progress achieved in an adventure of faith and the spiritual opposition that pushes back, and/or the challenges inherent in simply choosing to do the right thing when this is hard.

            Abraham and Sarah producing Ishmael, Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah, Joseph enduring the difficult training program in leadership in Egypt, Moses and the Israelites trapped at the shore of the Red Sea as the Egyptian chariot army approaches to destroy them, Joshua discouraged by the height and strength of the walled cities in Canaan like Jericho, Ruth’s leap of faith in following her mother-in-law to the foreign land of Israel, Hannah’s dilemma in not being able to provide her husband with children, David’s difficult walking through the valley of the shadow of death in preparation to become king…not o mention Elijah, Jeremiah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, and Paul to name only a few from the Bible.

            But why does Jesus the perfect and sinless Son of God encounter resistance from the very time of His birth?

            One reason is that His life must be a model for ours, in order to be real.

            If the life-script for Jesus was a clear life-of-ease, then this reality would be an unattainable model for the vast majority of people.

            But equally applicable, Jesus incarnate in a human body has the same adversary Satan that we do (Lk. 4:1-13).

            I may be that resistance is the only way that strength is created…like lifting weights.

            One thought is that life in this broken world cannot ever remove the counterforce of challenge, because this current environment is the perfect “boot camp” for discovering the genuine knowledge of good and evil when pursued through the redemptive salvation of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

            The parable of the rich fool (Lk. 12:16-21) describes the worldly unconventional approach of the biblical narrative stories of faith to pursue the higher ideal of a purposeful life that transcends above the mere pursuit of a life-of-ease.

            The only resistance-free environment is the spiritual kingdom of God in heaven, that awaits believers in the upcoming eternity.

            Trying to obtain it here and now is a fruitless endeavor (Mk. 8:34-38).

            Rare metals like gold and silver are purified in the heat of a furnace.

            Jesus did not need purifying or perfecting as He is the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.

            But He did have to model perfect faith and behavior in the face of opposition.

            Jesus had to exemplify in action the divine character of God as the Passover Lamb of God in order to qualify as the substitutionary atonement for our sins so that we could with impunity venture-out into an adventure of faith without our many mistakes counting against us.

            The brilliant program of redemptive salvation enables an adventure of faith following our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts amidst the resistance of the fiery furnace of spiritual opposition, but also the fundamental challenge of walking by faith and not be sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:1).

            This reality is channeled and guided by God to produce lessons-learned that likewise qualify us through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross, and through His resurrection, to likewise be the children of God.

Jesus Has the Perfect Answer Every Time

            Are the religious leaders partially correct when they bring the woman caught in adultery before Jesus (Jn. 8:1-11)?

            Of course, they are…except that they aren’t.

            The main problem with the religious leaders opposing Jesus throughout the gospels is that in directing these “hard” questions at Jesus, they have the wrong motivation of trying to trip-up Jesus, to “catch Him in His words.”

            But that is not the issue here.

            The real lesson from the replies of Jesus to the questions posed by the religious leaders is that Jesus Christ as the living Word of God has different answers to the conventionally accepted viewpoints of these religious leaders in Jerusalem, different answers that by definition must be absolutely correct to fit each individual circumstance.

            The religious leaders certainly did not anticipate Jesus saying in John 8:7 “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

            After each of these men left one-by-one as they were convicted by their conscience, Jesus stands up and says to the woman in John 8:11 “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

            People can debate the rightness of this judgment made by Jesus.

            In all moral issues there is a latitude of possible choices, there is a range of possible answers.

            But the point here is that the answer of Jesus in this particular set of circumstances is different from the anticipated answer the religious leaders expected to hear, regardless of their corrupted and malicious motivations.    

            This reality can be graphed on a simple spectrum-line of possible answers and responses that Jesus could have expressed when suddenly confronted with this “hard” question put to Him by these men, of what was the right thing to do with the woman caught in adultery.

            John 14:6 records Jesus as saying: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

            Jesus gives the right answer to every issue presented to Him because He is brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and has divine foresight.

            In the New Testament gospels, people could have asked Jesus many more hard questions that He would have answered perfectly every time.

            But the religious leaders finally stopped asking Jesus questions they thought they could trap Him with, because their underlying motivation was corrupt and insincere (Mt. 22:46).

            Jesus is asked and He answers just enough hard questions to establish His credentials in claiming to be “the truth” as confirmed by the apostle John writing: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14).

            Slightly different circumstances in each case would have elicited different responses by Jesus, but each answer would be perfect in terms of truth and justice tempered by perfectly divine, unselfish love.

            Were the religious leaders correct in saying that the Jews were supposed to honor the Sabbath and do no work on that holy day (Mt. 12:9-13)?

            Of course, they are…but not entirely.

            When they object to miracles of healing performed on the Sabbath day as work, Jesus responds by pointing-out that owners of livestock lead their horses, mules, sheep, and cattle to water on the Sabbath without violating the Sabbath (Lk. 13:15-16).

            If a sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, we pull it out without this being considered doing work (Mt. 12:11-12).

            Here again the specific answer given by Jesus to this issue is different from the conventionally accepted interpretation of the Law of Moses as asserted by the religious leaders, which can be depicted on a single line-graph spectrum of all of the possible answers Jesus could have expressed.

            Another classic example of Jesus having the one right answer occupying a single point on a horizontal graph-line continuum of possible options is giving in Mark 2:23-28 of the Pharisees criticizing the apostles of plucking ears of “grain” to eat on the Sabbath, as if this should be classified as prohibited work: “And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?” (Mk. 2:24).

            Jesus answers that David in need ate the priest’s “show bread,” and that the sabbath was made for man and not the other way around.

            Some slightly different set of circumstances would have elicited from Jesus a slightly different response, but still perfect.

            The religious leaders asked Jesus: Do we pay taxes to the Romans or not?        

Surely here the Pharisees have Jesus backed into a corner in a no-win situation, there being no satisfactory answer that will not offend either the Jews or the Romans.

The impressive answer that has garnered the respect of friend and foe alike for its brilliant insight for the past twenty centuries of: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21), could only come from the living Word of God instantly having the right answer every time.

Jesus did not cover every issue that would confront the early church down to our present day.

If Jesus had exhaustively covered every issue, then we could erroneously relapse into a paint-by-by-the-numbers self-performance of a detailed program by our own solitary efforts.

This would open the door for self-salvation by good works that precludes a personal relationship with God

Jesus did not address the question posed to Paul by the first-century churches of what to do when invited to a banquet when the “meat” being served has been blessed over by a pagan deity (1 Cor. 8:1-13).

Jesus did not address the problem recognized by Paul of believers suing other believers in secular courts of law (1 Cor. 6:1-8).

Jesus did not address the pivotal question of whether or not Gentile believers should be circumcised in order to be saved.

God did this by deliberate intention.

Redemptive salvation by grace through faith in Christ justifiably enables God to brilliantly flip our fallen natures into the precise research vehicles to capably explore the knowledge of good and evil with the impunity of knowing that our eternal salvation is not placed in jeopardy by our honest mistakes in guided lessons-learned (Rom. 7:15-8:4; 2 Cor. 4:7; Mt. 5:6; Jn. 8:36).

Because every person who has ever lived except for Jesus Christ occupies an imperfect moral nature, it follows then that every person called into a God-composed journey of faith life-script will be accomplishing their joint-venture mission through the lens of an imperfect yet redeemed “earthen vessel.”

This is not a new biblical doctrine but is an insight as orthodox as can be.

When I was born-again spiritually at the age of 18 many years ago now, God did not transform me instantly into a perfect moral person incapable from then-on for making any mistakes.

If perfect, how would I learn anything?

And how could I comprehend the subtle nuances of the moral concepts within the knowledge of good and evil, without being able to view this fallen and broken world through the microscopic and telescopic lens of an earthen vessel?

Jesus did not answer everything for us by deliberate intention, because we are supposed to discover first-hand the concepts of right and wrong through hearts and minds “hungering and thirsting after righteousness” (Mt. 5:6) coherently blended within an imperfect moral character…being the best and only way to conduct a credible investigation in the best traditions of empirical scientific research.

In the program of redemptive salvation, my sins are covered by the blood of Jesus past, present, and future so that I can with confidence enter into an authorized and sanctioned adventure of faith where it is guaranteed that I will stumble and fall many times as the path gets higher, narrower, and steeper.

Because the God of the Bible is brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and possesses timeless foresight, this enables God to orchestrate and manage my unique adventure of faith within this 4th dimension of time from the vantage point of a timeless environment.

Finally, the perfection of the order, intelligibility, and organized complexity of the physical universe establishes the parallel capacity for God to be given the benefit-of-the-doubt to compose life-scripts for us that fully develop and perfect our individual destinies.

            This is the common though-line theme that runs throughout all of the positive biblical narrative stories of faith.

A few other notable questions and issues addressed perfectly by Jesus Christ might be the woman at the well (Jn 4:5-42), who is my neighbor? (Lk. 10:29), and why do you associate with “publicans and sinners?” (Mt. 9:10-13).

%d bloggers like this: