Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Responding to A YouTube Comment On Evolutionary Creationism



I was watching some videos on BioLogos' YouTube channel, and in the comment section of one video discussing evidence for Macro Evolution, I came across this comment from an atheist; "This seems like it's using empiricism and rational thought but then there is this weird Nonsequitur tacked on the end. Why would a God need to "sustain" evolution? Eliminate the extra variable that violates Occam's Razor and anthropomorphizes a process that you've shown is unconscious and unbiased towards life."

Occam's Razor is a scientific principle that says when you have two competing hypotheses that can both have equal explanatory power and scope, the way you decide which hypothesis to go with is to judge which hypothesis is simpler, and by "simpler", I mean the hypothesis that postulates the minimum number of explanatory agents. If you have hypothesis A and hypothesis B, and Hypothesis A only has 2 explanatory mechanisms while agent B had 3, then Occam's Razor would say you go with Hypothesis A. Hypothesis B postulates more explanations than what is required to explain the data in question.

From the wording of this atheist's comment it would seem to me that this atheist is arguing that because natural processes can explain how all of life arose, tacking "God did this" on top of such a process is superfluous. A simpler theory is that no God at all was involved in the process. No Creator. Atheistic evolution is a simpler hypothesis than theistic evolution, and therefore atheistic evolution is to be preferred.

Is this atheist correct? I don't think so.

Evolutionary Creationism Takes Into Account Evidence For Christianity and Evidence For Evolution

Occam's Razor is not the only principle one needs to take into account when examining various explanations for scientific evidence. You also have to take into account a theory's explanatory power, explanatory scope, and plausibility. Now, if one is only considering biological evidence alone, one might come to the conclusion that this is either a purposeful process or a purposeless process. As I pointed out in an earlier blog post, the idea that evolution is a purposeless process of chance is a philosophical assumption that is not inherent to the theory itself. The theory of Darwinian macroevolution itself makes no claims about whether or not a God endowed with middle knowledge could be guiding the evolutionary processes towards His intended goals. To prove that evolution is a purposeless process, one first must prove that atheism is true. Looking at the theory wholly apart from any philosophical assumptions, all that can be concluded from Darwin's theory is that natural selection acting on random mutations over billions of years can produce a variety of life across the globe, that one specie can branch off into multiple species through this process of natural selection and random mutations over long time periods. Keep in mind that by "random", scientists mean "unpredictable" and not as a synonym for purposeless, as I pointed out in an earlier blog post. 

Now, how one would conclude that evolution IS guided or not would depend on establishing the truth of either the Christian or atheist worldview. One reason I haven't stressed much over the issue of biological evolution over the 5 years I've been writing for this blog is that there are a plethora of good arguments for the truth of the Christian worldview that do not depend on evolution being true or false. I won't rehash any of these arguments here since I have neither the time nor the space to go into any of them. Rather, I'll simply list the arguments and link to where I have dealt with them.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument establishes that the universe was brought into being by a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, supernatural, uncaused Creator a finite time ago. The evidence for The Big Bang Theory is strong, the second law of thermodynamics, and the impossibility of traversing an infinite number of events all point to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning of its existence. In my writings on this argument, I've given several arguments that anything that comes into being had something to cause it to come into being. Given that the universe began to exist, and anything that comes into being had something to come into being, it follows logically that the universe had something that caused it to come into being. How we conclude that God brought the universe into being involves arguments for the properties I've listed above (i.e non-spaciality, non-temporality, immateriality, being powerful, being a personal being), and unfortunately space doesn't permit me to rehash the arguments for why the universe's cause must have just those properties. The interested reader is recommended to read my blog post "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" or the first chapter of my book Inference To The One True God

The Fine Tuning Argument argues that the best explanation for why the laws of physics are so precisely fine tuned is because an intelligent designer purposefully caused the laws of physics to take on those extremely narrow values. Physical Necessity and chance are not reasonable explanations for why the laws of physics take on the extremely narrow values, and leaves design as the best explanation. Had a designer not finely tuned our universe, it is overwhelmingly probable that we would not be here, because the universe would have expanded too quickly or too slowly resulting in a universe without any galaxies, stars, or planets, and ergo no possible places for life to evolve, or the strong nuclear force would have been too weak resulting in the universe consisting of soley hydrogen, or too strong resulting in heavy elements but no hydrogen, and either case would mean no life chemistry. Or gravity would have been too strong meaning that stars would burn too rapidly and too unevenly for life, or too cool meaning that stars would never become hot enough to ignite nuclear fusion to produce all of the elements needed for a planet to develop life. The details of this argument are hashed out in my blog post "The Fine Tuning Argument For God's Existence (Updated Version)" and in even more detail in chapter 2 of my book Inference To The One True God

The Local Fine Tuning Argument deals with things in a local region which need to be precisely calibrated in order for that local region to be compatible with advanced life. Hundreds of things have to be just right in a local region in order for life to exist in that particular region, and just like with the universal fine tuning, the local fine tuning cannot be reasonably explained by physical necessity or chance. The most rational explanation in intelligent design. I deal with this in chapter 3 of my book, Inference To The One True God.

Other arguments for the existence of God include The Moral Argument, The Ontological Argument, The Argument From Desire, The Transcendental Argument a.k.a The Argument From Reason, The Argument From Contingency, and the argument from the applicability of mathematics. Moreover, these arguments demonstrate the existence not simply of some generic deity, but specifically the God of The Bible. Why? Because only The God of The Bible has exactly the same attributes as the deity that each of these arguments show exists. No other religion has a god or gods that match the description of the God of The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Moral Argument, or The Ontological Argument, and so on, but again, it is not the purpose of this post to hash this out. I deal with why these arguments prove only Christianity's God in my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods.

On top of natural theology arguments, a good case can be made for the historicity of Jesus' resurrection. Historical evidence strongly indicates that a man named Jesus had a ministry in ancient palestine, claimed to be God, was killed by the Roman method of crucifxion, was buried, and His tomb was found empty 3 days later by a group of His women followers. Subsequently, His disciples, and two skeptics named Paul and James believed they saw and talked with Jesus. They had post-mortem sightings of Jesus. Over the past 2,000 years, skeptics have presented a plethora of naturalistic explanations to account for these established historical facts, and all of them fail miserably. Only the hypothesis that Jesus rose from the dead can explain all of the above historical facts adequately. Again, I have not given the argument for the resurrection of Jesus. I have only outlined it. For the actual defense of this argument, check out my blog posts "The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus' Resurrection PART 1" and "The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus' Resurrection PART 2" 

Arguments from fulfilled prophesy and arguments from religious experience could also be added to this list.

What's the point? The point is that people who embrace evolutionary creationism do so because they believe this view can account for all the evidence one needs to take into account. The arguments I've just outlined are very strong and are independent of Darwinian theory. Whether Darwinian macroevolution occurred or not has no baring on whether these arguments are logically valid and have true premises. I am convinced that all of these are logically valid and have true premises, so if I were to be convinced of the biological evidence that Darwinian evolution is true, what would be the most logical conclusion? The most logical conclusion is that God used evolution to bring about life.

To establish Atheistic evolution, one would have to refute all of these arguments for Christianity and then give a positive argument for atheism.

Here's another way to think of this: If you believed The Bible was divinely inspired based on good evidence, and you also believed the evidence strongly suggested universal common descent, what would you conclude? Well, The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all things, including events that seem like chance results from a human perspective (Proverbs 16:33, Acts 1:12-26), so if evolution occurred, this would mean that God is sovereign over that process as well. It would mean that He oversaw the process. It would mean that it wasn't a purposeless history, but a goal directed history. This would be a reasonable conclusion because this would be the result of integrating your belief in The Bible's inspiration with the theory of Darwinian evolution. If both are true, they've got to be integrated somehow. The integration would be invalid if either evolution were false or if The Bible were false, or both.

Evolution May Only Be Reasonable On A Theistic-Molinist View

In a couple of earlier blog posts, I referenced a paper I had read from Kirk MacGregor titled "The Impossibility Of Evolution Apart From A God With Middle Knowledge". In that paper, MacGregor makes an argument for both God's existence and Molinism using evolution. He argues that evolution of intelligent life is so immensley improbable, that it could never occur by chance alone. If evolution did occur (and MacGregor maintains that it did), then it had to have been guided by a God with middle knowledge. That is to say, a God that has middle knowledge must have used that middle knowledge to guide the natural processes not unlike how He uses it, according to Molinism, to guide human historical events (e.g the crucifixion of Jesus). God worked through natural processes via His middle knowledge just like He works through human free will decisions via that same middle knowledge.

MacGregor's argument basically goes like this:
1: If a God endowed with middle knowledge does not exist, evolution could not have occurred.
2: Evolution has occurred.
3: Therefore a God endowed with middle knowledge exists.

It was a fascinating paper, and I hope his argument becomes well known, for it would show that evolution is actually evidence for God's existence, not against. In this case, God may not be a superfluous entity tacked onto evolution at the end, but instead a crucial element to make the theory even rationally tenable. Not that God supernatually intervenes throughout the process to do what nature cannot (as progressive creationists asssert), but He simply knows what nature would do under any given circumstance, and sets up the world to unfold accordingly. 

Conclusion

Given the evidence for Christianity on one hand and evolution on the other, the assertion that God guided and sustained evolutionary processes is a non-sequitur is fallacious, as is the claim that it violates occam's razor. TE may not be as simple as AE, but in light of all the evidence, I believe it has better explanatory power and scope.

To claim that God either is or not involved in evolution requires to look beyond the theory itself. It requires that you establish independently whether theism or atheism is true. To justify looking at the theory of evolution through either worldviews, the worldview itself must be justified. I think the arguments and evidence outlined above do justify belief in the Christian worldview.

Therefore, if I become convinced some day that Darwin got it right, I would feel justified in adopting an evolutionary creationist position, rather than atheism.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Rebuttal To The Philosophical Argument For God's Triune Nature



In my book "Inference To The One True God", I gave an argument for a while only the God of the Bible can be the God proven to exist by The Moral and Ontological Arguments. The Argument here is that the Moral and Ontological Arguments prove the existence of a being that is morally perfect. Given that the Moral Argument and the Ontological Argument are logically valid, and the premises of both of these arguments are true, it follows that a necessarily existent, morally perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, personal being exists.

Now, in order to be a morally perfect being, this being would have to exist as more than one person. If God is not a trinity then God is not love. This is because love requires three things: someone to love, someone to do the loving, and a relationship going on between the lover and the Beloved. If these three things are not present then love is not present. But before any human beings were created, God was all by himself. So if God was all by himself, who was there to love? God had no one to love! Given that God had no one to love, God couldn't be love or loving until he created the first human beings or Angels or any persons other than himself. But in that case God could not be maximally great or be the the standard of morality, for in order to be maximally great and in order to be the standard of morality, God would have to be morally perfect, which he could not be if God were only a single person. But the Moral and Ontological Argument established the existence of a being who is indeed morally perfect and ergo maximally great. So how does one resolve this dilemma? The doctrine of the Trinity provides the answer. If God is a trinity, then God can be an intrinsically loving being, because if God is a trinity then all of the necessary requirements for love are present. You have a lover, you have a beloved, and you have a relationship between them. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love. This is why I said in my book that only the trinitarian concept of God is compatible with the God demonstrated to exist by the Moral and Ontological Arguments. But the real kicker is that only Christianity has a God who is a trinity. Therefore the Moral and Ontological Arguments demonstrate the truth of Christianity.

However, I have recently encountered one objection to this philosophical argument for the Triune nature of the God of the Moral and Ontological Arguments. The objector argues that God was omnipotent even before he created the universe and he did not have an apparent outlet to display his power. The objector is arguing that according to my logic, we would have to argue that God could not be omnipotent without a physical universe. Why? Because without a physical universe, God would not be able to display any acts of power because God would be the only thing that could exist and God cannot cause any effects on himself. This would imply that either God is Not omnipotent, or he doesn't need an outlet to display his power. In a similar way, we must conclude that if my logic is sound, then God really is not perfectly loving, or we must conclude that having other people to love is not necessary for God to be loving, and therefore God doesn't have to be a trinity in order to be loving from eternity past.

God is omnipotent and did not have an outlet for that until he created the universe. There is a parallel there with God's love.

Is this a good objection? I don't think so. Let's think about God's omnipotence for a moment. Omnipotence is a modal property meaning that a being who is omnipotent has the ability to do anything that is logically possible. God can create out of nothing, God can make ax heads float in water, God can make a virgin pregnant, God can raise people from the dead, it cetera. It is a modal a tribute and just simply means that you have the ability to do anything that does not violate the laws of logic. Given that comma I don't see why God would have to have a physical Universe in order to have the property of omnipotence. Omnipotence does not mean that you will do everything that is logically possible, it just means that if you are omnipotent you can do anything that is logically possible. It doesn't mean that you will do everything that you are able to do, just that you are able to do it.

Love is different. Unlike the property of being powerful, Love Is not just pure potentiality. A person who is stranded on a desert island with no other people around may have the potential to be loving. It may be in his nature to be kind and compassionate and selfless and so on. Nevertheless if there are no other people around, he will never have the ability to express these attributes. This person will forever just have a loving potentiality, but will never have actual love. If God were only one person, then before he created any other beings, he would be like a machine that is turned off. This "Love Machine" would have the ability to be loving, but he would never actually be expressing that love. It seems very intuitively clear to me that a being who is constantly expressing love is a greater being than one who merely has the potential to be perfectly loving. But in order to be a being who is constantly expressing love and is not merely a being of potential love, this being would have to be a trinity.

In conclusion, this objector has not succeeded in showing that my Arguments for the Triune nature of the maximally great being of the Ontological Argument, and the being who is the standard of morality of the Moral Argument fail.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Apologetics Memes Project

One recurring problem I find as an apologist is being able to reach the crowd with a tiny attention span. While it's undoubtedly true that I struggle with brevity when discussing theological and philosophical subjects, even if I do manage to keep my presentation to a decent length, some people just won't read what I have to say. The blog post may be about the length any blog post on any blog would be, yet people will still consider it "TL'DR" which means "Too long, didn't read". The same holds true for comments on Facebook or other social media. The fact of the matter is, some people dislike reading so much that if you post something longer than a couple of paragraphs, you'll lose them.

I started considering ways to package the arguments for God's existence in ways so short and succinct that the entire text would fit on someone's computer screen without them having to scroll at all. I wanted to frame the arguments in such a way that you could get through with them in the time it takes to listen to a song. I took on the task of making simple "memes" which give an overview of several theistic arguments. I made them in MS Paint and posted them on the Cerebral Faith Facebook and Twitter pages over the span of a week. I thought it would be a good idea also to post them here on the main site.

You are free to save these memes to your computer and use them in your own conversations with skeptics. I made these memes so that I and other people could use them on social media when witnessing to unbelievers. When you come across a post from a skeptic saying something like "There's no evidence that God exists" or "Belief in God is like belief in Santa Claus" or something like that, you can post the picture in the comment section for him to read. Just don't edit out the Cerebral Faith logo in the upper right hand corner. I put that there so that attribution would be automatic.

Note: You'll have to click on the pictures to enlarge them so that they'll be readable.


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By the way, all of these arguments are dealt with in depth in my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods, available now on Amazon.com. 


Monday, October 24, 2016

What Are The Two Books Of God?



When you read materials from Reasons To Believe or The BioLogos Foundation (two ministries dedicated to showing that Christianity and science are not in conflict), you will frequently notice that both of them put a heavy emphasis on "God's Two Books". Both Reasons To Believe apologists and BioLogos staff members hold to a "Two Books" paradigm in regards to God's revelation to us. I agree wholeheartedly with this view. But just what are the "Two Books" of God?

The "Two Books" these two organizations talk about are the book of scripture and the "book" of nature. The Bible and the natural world. God inspired all of the content of scripture from Genesis to Revelation (2 Timothy 3:16), and God also created the universe (Genesis 1:1). God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2). God also is perfect, being a Maximally Great Being, and given that He's perfect, He cannot make mistakes. Given that both The Bible and the natural world come from the God, they cannot conflict. They will always be in harmony.

Now, you may be wondering "If that's true, then why is the perception so widespread that The Bible and science are at war?" That's a good question. If the two really can't conflict, then why do so many people think that they do? It's important to keep the distinction between The Bible and theology, and the natural world and science. The Bible and the universe will never conflict, however theology and science can.

"What is the difference between The Bible and the universe, and theology and science?" you might ask? Theology is the interpretation of The Bible, and science is the interpretation of nature. Both theology and science are human attempts at understanding and explaining the data contained in each of God's two books. Now, while the books themselves cannot contradict one another because both are infallible and inerrant, we are human beings and as such we are not infallible. We can make mistakes. We can misread the data that we're examining. Therefore, any perceived conflict between the book of scripture and the book of nature shouldn't lead us to the conclusion that one or the other book is wrong, but rather that we misinterpreted one of them. We either didn't understand the text of The Bible, or the scientists made a mistake in interpreting the scientific data.

What should we do when we run into an apparent conflict?

See If We've Understood The Bible Correctly

Genesis 1-11 is perhaps the most hotly disputed and criticized section in The Bible primarily because it seems to contradict most of what we know from science about the age of the universe. When atheists attack The Bible, they'll most often go after the creation narrative and the flood story in The Bible. Christians respond to these attacks in different ways. Young Earth Creationists argue that scientists are wrong in saying that the universe is 14 billion years old and that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. They will argue that The Bible teaches that everything was made in 6 consecutive 24 hour days around 6,000 years ago. Old Earth Creationists hold a variety of different interpretations of Genesis, all of which are compatible with a universe billions of years old. For example, some argue that the word Hebrew word for "Day" in Genesis (Yom) has multiple literal definitions, one of which is a 24 hour day, the 12 hour period of sunlight, and a long period of time. So the word translated as "day" could just as well have been translated as "epoch". The "days" are actually individual epochs of time. In addition to this, day-age advocates will point to clues in the text itself that point to the days being longer time periods such as the fact that on Day 3, The Bible says "Then God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth'; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good." - (Genesis 1:11-12, emphasis mine), and the large number of activities that occured on Day 6. In the case of Day 3, Day-Age advocates will argue that if "The Earth" is bringing forth the vegetation, then this cannot be a 24 hour day because the trees are being brought forth via natural processes, and we all know that it takes much longer than a 24 hour period for trees to go from seeds to fully grown trees. That it's nature gradually producing the trees rather than God poofing the trees into existence via a miracle is evident from the phrases "Let the earth sprout vegetation" and "the earth brought forth vegetation".  As for Day 6, day-age advocates will argue that so much activity took place on Day 6, that they all cannot possibly be squeezed into a 24 hour period. The Day-Age view is supported by scripture. It seems to me that if one takes the view that Genesis 1 is an account of natural history put in chronological order, then he should hold to the day-age view rather than the calendar day view.

I myself have been a day-age advocate for a long time. Although here lately, I find myself leaning towards The Framework Hypothesis. Unlike the 24 Hour Day view of YEC and the Day-Age view of OEC, The Framework Hypothesis is a non-concordist interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Concordism is the view that scripture, when it talks about the natural world, it gives an accurate description of the natural world. With regard to Genesis 1, concordism would say that when you look at the scientific reconstruction of natural history with the creation account in The Bible, the two will be identical. For example, the order of animals created will be the same order found in the fossil record. Both the Callendar Day-View and the Day-Age view hold that there is scientific content in The Bible, so science will give a similar picture of natural history. Non-Concordism holds that God did not intend to teach us any science in The Bible, and that Genesis 1 especially was not meant to give us account of natural history. There are different non-concordist interpretations, but the one I'm leaning towards is the Framework Hypothesis.

The Framework Hypothesis says that Genesis isn't a chronological, literal account of natural history. Instead it is a highly poetical account of scripture which has the events of creation arranged topically rather than chronologically. To put it another way, The Framework Hypothesis says that the events are arranged according to theme rather than the actual order God created them in.

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As you can see above, on The Framework Hypothesis, the first 3 sets of days correspond to the last 3 days of creation. On days 1, 2, and 3, God is forming the realms that His creatures will dwell in. On days 4, 5, and 6, God fills the realms that He created with creatures. On Day 1, God creates the heavens and the earth (i.e the entire physical universe). On Day 4, God creates the sun, moon, and stars, the bodies that fill the physical universe. On Day 2, God creates the ocean and the sky, and separates them. On Day 5, God creates sea creatures to fill the oceans and He creates birds to fill the sky. On Day 3, God creates the land and the sea. On Day 6, God creates all land dwelling animals and human beings, which live on the land and in forests. So Days 1 and 4, 2 and 5, and 3 and 6, all correspond to one another.

This isn't entirely foreign to scripture. Most New Testament scholars both conservative and liberal will admit that the events of Jesus' ministry in the gospels are not arranged in chronological order, but according to theme. The only exception is Luke, because he says outright that his intention was to tell the events in chronological order (see Luke 1:3). I recently asked myself "If God arranged the events of Jesus' ministry in the gospels thematically instead of chronologically, couldn't He have also done that with the events in Genesis 1?" I think the answer to this question is yes.

Although there are other interpretations of Genesis, but space doesn't permit even a cursory examination of them here. For interested readers, I recommend checking out William Lane Craig's section on "Creation and Evolution" in his Defenders series. He gives an examination of most of the common views of Genesis today.

We as Christians need to be flexible with our interpretation of Genesis and other passages about creation. Many Young Earth Creationists are so dogmatic about their interpretation of Genesis that they consider anyone who disagrees with them to be compromisers, man pleasers, people who "believe man's word over God's Word", or worse, heretics! They don't seem to understand that Old Earth Creationists and Evolutionary Creationists both believe that The Bible is God's holy, inspired, inerrant Word, it's just that they disagree with them on the best interpretation of Genesis 1-2.

There’s a difference between accepting what The Bible says and accepting a particular interpretation of what The Bible says. For example, if we met a man who had an inability to lie and he said to us “It’s raining cats and dogs”. We could both accept that what this man says is absolutely true. We both accept what he says as true. However, what does this man mean by “It’s raining cats and dogs”? Does he mean that canines and felines are literally dropping out of the sky or merely using that as a metaphor to mean that “it’s raining really, really hard”? If you took the literal view and I took the metaphorical view, it would be illegitimate for you to point the finger at me and accuse me of not taking what the man said seriously. The issue is not whether we believe what the man said, the issue is in figuring out what the man means. 

See If The Science Is Correct

We should be willing to adjust our interpretation of scripture if it conflicts with science, but maybe our interpretation isn't wrong. Maybe the science is wrong. If something science appears to be saying is truly contradictory to scripture, then we may need to question whether the data has been properly interpreted. Science can be wrong, just as theology can be wrong. We need to carefully examine the evidence and the arguments to see if scientists have really got it right. However, if the evidence is overwhelming enough, it may be safe to conclude that science is right, and we need to revisit scripture to see where we went wrong. We shouldn't blindly accept something just because it comes out of a scientist's mouth. However, we shouldn't be quick to dismiss what he says just because it conflicts with the interpretation of Genesis we currently hold. We should carefully investigate the scientific evidence.

Be Willing To Carefully Consider Which Area We Got It Wrong In

We should carefully examine our interpretation of both the record of scripture and the record of nature. For example, if we were absolutely convinced that The Bible taught young earth creationism, we would have to reconsider science. If we were convinced that the scientific evidence was overwhelming and conclusively established that the universe is ancient, then we would have to re-examine scripture. If we were absolutely convinced that evolution is incompatible with The Bible's teaching on creation, we would have to re-examine the scientific evidence. However, if evolution were proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be true, we would have to re-examine scripture and see if we misinterpreted it.

Conclusion

God's Word and God's World will never conflict. Of that, we can be certain. Conflict can only lie at the area of human interpretation. If we see conflict, that means we went wrong in interpreting one of God's revelations.



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why The Word Is Not Merely "a" god




Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God, but instead the arch angel St. Michael. Their own translation of The Bible known as The New World Translation usually translates John 1:1 as "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the word was a god" instead of what all the other translations render it as; "In the beginning was the word, the Word was with God and the Word was God" By translating this verse as saying "a god" instead of "God", they completely change the meaning of the passage, and it no longer teaches that Jesus Christ is the divine Creator of the universe. Their argument hinges on the fact that in the original Greek, the definite article is not present in the text. Given that the definite article is missing, they argue, the author must not have meant that Jesus was God, but merely "a" god.

However, there are several problems with this interpretation and translation of this passage. I find that there are at least three.

The Bible Teaches That God and God Alone Created The Universe

The Bible is clear that only God is responsible for bringing all physical reality into existence. It explicitly states that God did not have anyone helping him bring the cosmos into being. Isaiah 44:24 says "Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, 'I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone,'" In this verse, God says that He stretched out the heavens by Himself, and that He spread out the Earth alone. He said outright that He alone stretched out the heavens, and that He alone is responsible for the Earth's formation. God makes this point in other verses as well. In Job 9:8, Job says of God "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea." Both of these verses (Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8) state that God alone is responsible for the stretching out of the heavens, which is an act of creation regardless of whether you take the concordist approach (that this is referring to the expansion of space from the big bang) or the non-concordist approach (that this is referring to God setting the solid dome over the Earth). The "stretching out of the heavens" is a creative act regardless of what interpretive framework you take, and The Bible says that God is the sole entity responsible for it. 

Why does this militate against the JW view that the Word is "a" god? Because if God and Jesus are two completely separate entities, then we've got a contradiction in scripture. Because on the one hand, The Bible says that Yawheh is the sole entity responsible for creating the universe, but on the other hand we have The Bible saying "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3, NIV). John 1:3 states that The Word (i.e Jesus) created everything, and that nothing came into existence except through the creative power of the Word. If The Word is a completely separate entity from Yahweh, then The Bible contradicts itself. However, The Bible is the Word of God, and "every word of God proves true" (Proverbs 30:5) because it is "God Breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). In this case, The Word cannot be merely "a" god, but God. If The Word is God, then there is no contradiction. If Jesus is God, then the Old Testament passages saying that only Yawheh is the universe's creator do not conflict with John 1:3. 

Moreover, John 1:3 is not the only Bible passage that states that Jesus is the Creator of the universe.
Colossians 1:15-17 says "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (NIV) and Hebrews 1 also says that Jesus is the Creator of the universe. 


The Jehovah's Witnesses translations, corrupted as they are, also say in John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1, that Jesus is the Creator of the universe. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.* This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence." (John 1:1-3 NWT), "because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him+ and for him." (Colossians 1:16-17, NWT). Therefore, The Jehovah's Witness cannot simply say the passages I cited above have been mistranslated. Their own translators agree that Jesus brought the universe into being, they just don't believe He's the Lord Yahweh. But as I've said above, in that case, you've got a contradiction in scripture, which is impossible if The Bible is divinely inspired. 

The Bible Teaches That There Is Only One God

The Bible is emphathic about monotheism. While it's true that ancient Israelites believed in henotheism for a while (belief in many gods, but one God superior to them all), God Himself corrected that belief many times throughout Israel's history. Deuteronomy 6:4 says "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." (NIV) In Isaiah 43:10, God said "You are my witnesses,' declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.'" (NIV). Isaiah 44:6 says "This is what the LORD says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." (NIV), and Isaiah 44:8b says "You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." (NIV). 

Once again, you can check the New World Translation and find that Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 44:6, and Isaiah 44:8 all teach monotheism. Their own translators agree that these passages are accurately translated in the NIV, which is why they read the same in the NWT. However, once again, we run into a problem. If The Bible teaches against polytheism and henotheism, and John 1:1 teaches that The Word is merely "a" god, a separate entity from Yahweh; The God of Israel, then once again The Bible contradicts itself. On the one hand, we've got passages saying there's only one God, but on the other hand, we've got John 1 telling us "There is another god. His name is Jesus." Both can't be true. There's either one God or there are more. However, if Jesus if God Himself, the same divine entity that revealed Himself to Israel, the same entity who parted the red seas, the same entity who gave The Ten Commandments, the same entity who said to Israel "You are my people", then we have no contradiction at all. Only if Jesus is a separate entity from God The Father do we run into a contradiction.

Because The Bible is God's Word, it cannot contradict itself. It cannot err. "Every word of God proves true" (Proverbs 30:5). Therefore, we should reject the Jehovah's Witness notion that the word is merely "a" god. He is not merely "a" god. He is God.

God Created Everything

The Bible teaches that everything that exists, God created. If it exists, then God created it. Even The New World Translation teaches this. Nehemiah 9:6 says “You alone are Jehovah; you made the heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens and all their army, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve all of them alive, and the army of the heavens are bowing down to you." (NWT), Revelation 4:11 says "You are worthy, Jehovah* our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.” (NWT, emphasis added). 1 Corinthians 8:6 says "there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and we through him." (NWT, emphasis added).

So even the Jehovah's Witnesses' translation of The Bible affirms that God is the Creator of everything. Not some things, not even most things, but all things. This is a problem for the Jehovah's Witness' view that Jesus is merely "a" god and not God. Why? Because again, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is a created thing! They believe that he's the archangel St. Michael! If God created all things, and Jesus is a thing, then that would mean that God created Jesus. However, John 1 of NWT says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.* This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence." (John 1:1-3).

Adam Ford, of Adam 4d Comics offers a nice illustration that helps to get the point across that I am trying to get across. Think of it this way: Everything can be broadly divided into two groups; everything that's created, and everything's that not created. You could envision two buckets labeled "Created" and "Not Created". Now, in the "Created" box, you would put everything except God. This is because everything that exists other than God came to be because God created it. This bucket includes everything from animals, planets, stars, galaxies, people, water, air, etc. God and God alone would be in the "Not Created" bucket, because God is eternal (Psalm 90:2). Now, the New World Translation of John 1:3 says "all things came into existence through him". And this verse is referring to Jesus, The Word. But if all things, all things, came into existence through him, then Jesus already had to exist to create them. If all things came into being through Jesus, then Jesus cannot possibly be in the "Created" bucket because "all things" would have to include Jesus himself, and it's a logical impossibility to bring yourself into being because you would have to exist before you existed in order to create yourself. If Jesus is not in the "created" bucket, then he must be in the "Not-Created" bucket. Because only God exists in the "Not-Created" bucket, and Jesus has to be in the "Not Created" bucket, this means that Jesus is God.

Now, the JW may want to pull a Calvinist at this point, and argue that "all" does not really mean "all". Maybe it's hyperbolic language to mean most things. Maybe John 1:3 means 99% of what exists. Well, that won't work either. As Adam Ford pointed out in his comic, after saying "all things came into existence through him", the text says "and apart from him, not even one thing came into existence." . This is "A truth so nice, God said it twice" as Mr. Ford put it. Apart from Jesus, not even one thing came into existence. This leaves no doubt that the passage is referring to 100% of what exists other than God Himself.

If all things came into existence from Jesus, then Jesus could not have come into existence. He must be uncreated.

See Adam Ford's Comic where I got this brilliant illustration, here. 

But What About The Lack Of A Definite Article? 

Some might still wonder about the definite article and why it's missing. The answer to this is a little more complex than what I can go into in a few paragraphs. However, Equip.org has an article addressing this issue. Go read it. Right here. 

However, after all I've said above, does it really matter? The biblical evidence is pretty strong that Jesus is not "a" god, but God. If you take the view that He isn't, then you run into contradictions two different ways. If you take the JW view, you end up with The Bible saying

1: God alone created the universe.
2: God had Jesus to help Him create the universe.

1: There's only one God.
2: There is at least one other god. Jesus is "a" god.

And a divinely inspired document cannot err.

Moreover, if Jesus created everything (John 1:3), then Jesus cannot be a created thing, since He couldn't have created Himself. Instead, He must be in the "Not Created" bucket with God The Father. He must be the Creator.

Conclusion

Much more could be said about why the Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong about who Jesus is, but enough has been said to show that their rendering of John 1:1 is false. Jesus is not merely "a" god. Jesus is God.







Friday, October 21, 2016

Could God Not Have Used Evolution Because It's A Random Process?



The theory of Darwinian evolution is seen by many, both believer and non-believer alike, to be incompatible with Christianity. I myself used to believe this, though as a result of the last several months of investigating Evolutionary Creationist material (i.e BioLogos blog posts and books) in addition to my own private reflection on the subject, I've come to the conclusion that evolution and Christianity are completely compatible.

One of the theological objections I used to have was that evolution is a random process, and if it's a random process, how could God possibly be behind it? If God is behind it, it's no longer a random process it it? Wouldn't it be a guided, NON-random process? Special Creationists like Lee Strobel and Stephen Meyer make this same point. For example, in the one hour movie The Case For A Creator (based on the book of the same name), Lee Strobel said "There's no way you can harmonize Neo-Darwinism with Christianity. I could never understand Christians who would say 'Well, I believe in God and yet I believe in evolution as well'. You see, Darwin's ideas about the development of life lead to his theory which modern science now generally defines as a process completely devoid of any purpose or plan. Now, how can God direct an undirected process? How can God have purpose in a system that has no plan and no purpose? It just does not make sense. It didn't make sense to me in 1966 and it doesn't make sense to me now."

Is this really a good objection to Evolutionary Creationism? I no longer think so.

What Do Scientists Mean By "Random Mutations"? 

One of the reasons so many people think that evolution is inherently a purposeless process is because of a confusion of terminology. If there's one thing I've learned from my years as a Christian Apologist, it's that you have to make sure you and the person you disagree with are using the same word in the same way. When scientists use the term "random" regarding mutations in biology, they are not using the term as a synonym for "chance" or "purposeless". Rather, when biologists use the term "random mutations" they mean that the mutations are not predicable.

Deborah and Loren Haarsma point this out in their book Origins: Christian Perspectives On Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. They write: 

"When scientists say that something is random, they mean that the outcome is unpredictable. Consider the roll of a pair of dice. Scientists can calculate the probability that the roll will yield a five or an eleven, but they can't predict what any particular roll will turn out to be. It's not that some mysterious force is at work making the dice roll differently each time. Rather, each time the dice are rolled they follow exactly the same well-understood natural laws of gravity and motion. The dice land differently each time because of how they bounce and spin. If the dice are tossed even slightly differently from one time to the next, that slight difference is magnified by each bounce, and after several bounces the final outcome is completely changed. The system is scientifically random because the outcome is unpredictable."


Given this definition of randomness, there's no contradiction is saying that God guided evolutionary history to produce the kinds of creatures He wanted to create. God can do many things that are impossible for human beings to predict. The disciples of Jesus did not predict that Jesus would rise from the dead. The resurrection came as a complete shock to them! That's why they were hiding in fear of the Jews (John 20:19), and why they dismissed Mary Magdalene's words as "idol nonsense" when she told them that she had seen the risen Jesus (Luke 24:11). You yourself can probably think of many other things God has done, both in your own life and in scripture that were "random" in the sense of being unpredictable.

When Strobel and others argue against the concept of theistic evolution by asserting that God cannot direct a random process because such a concept is inherently contradictory, they are committing the fallacy of equivocation. 

Atheists Smuggle In Their Worldview Assumptions

Atheists who try to prove that God does not exist will often use evolution to prove their point, but they're making metaphysical assumptions about the scientific evidence that cannot in fact be drawn from the scientific evidence itself. They are making philosophical interpretations of the scientific data. Now, IF atheism were true, then of course the evolutionary process would be purposeless and undirected. After all, if atheism is true, then there is no God to guide the evolutionary processes, and if there is no God to guide the evolutionary processes, then whatever happens in the biological history of the universe is a blind, purposeless, accident of chance and necessity. But that's a conclusion about evolution one can only come to after one concludes that atheism is true! You can only conclude that evolutionary history had no purpose if you presuppose atheism. In that case, it's circular reasoning to argue to atheism from the theory of Darwinian Evolution.

Atheist apologists like Richard Dawkins presuppose atheism in interpreting the scientific data, then say that the scientific data confirms atheism. Too many Christians have allowed the atheists to get away with this fallacious reasoning and have opposed Darwinian Evolution on account it of.

In his Defenders class, during the section on Creation and Evolution, Dr. William Lane Craig said "I think if evolutionary biologists were using the word 'random' to mean 'undesigned' or 'purposeless' then evolutionary biology would not be science, it would be philosophy. Because it is scientifically impossible to say that this process is 'undesigned' or purposeless. But the evolutionary biologist is not, in fact, using the word 'random' in that sense." and he then went on to give the definition that the Haarsmas gave in the citation above.

Biblical Passages Say That God Has Control Over "Random" Events 

The Bible has several passages which either explicitly state or imply that God has sovereign control over "random" events. Proverbs 16:33 says "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." (NIV). Lots were pretty much the ancient equivalent of dice. This verse says that when you throw dice or cast lots, every result that the dice/lots come up with are from God. Yet, the result of dice throwing is totally unpredictable from a human perspective. Dice throwing is a "random" process.

In the first chapter of Acts, we read that the apostles were trying to figure out who would replace Judas Iscariot. They decided to cast lots to decide. Now, choosing a replacement disciple isn't something to take likely. We wouldn't expect them to leave that decision up to chance. But in fact, they did not leave it up to chance. They cast lots, trusting in God to make them land on the result that God wanted them to land on. The lot landed on Matthias, and Matthias was added to the eleven apostles (see Acts 1:12-26).

God can control what seems like chance or purposeless events from our human perspective.

How Would God Control Evolutionary History? 

As a Molinist, I find that if God did use evolution to create all of life, the best explanation for how He did this was through His middle knowledge. Molinism asserts that God has 3 types of knowledge: Natural, Middle, and Free. His natural knowledge is knowledge of all possibilities and necessary truths (i.e everything the could happen and must happen), His middle knowledge is knowledge of everything that would happen under certain circumstances. His free knowledge is knowledge of everything that will actually happen in the future. This third logical moment of knowledge is of God's own choosing, based on what He knows in His middle knowledge.

God can control what happens in the world by acting on His middle knowledge; His knowledge of what any creature would freely do in any circumstance. God knows "If Bob were in circumstance X, he would freely choose action A over action B". So, if God wants Bob to choose action A, God can get him to choose A by placing him in circumstance X. God places Bob in circumstance X, and lo and behold, Bob chooses A.

I believe this is how God orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. God knew that if Caiaphas was high priest in the first century, then he would freely condemn Jesus on grounds of blasphemy and take Him to Pilate for execution. He knew that if Pilate was prefect in the first century, then he would freely comply with the demands of the crowd. And He knew that if Judas was born in the time and place that he actually was, then he would become Jesus' disciple for a while and would freely choose to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin. On Molinism, God providentially brought about the crucifixion by acting on His knowledge of how people would freely act if placed in these positions. Now, if these people would have chosen differently, God would have known that and could have placed different individuals in their shoes instead.

If God can control and orchestrate human history through the use of His middle knowledge, then He could direct evolutionary history in exactly the same way. God would know "If this species of animal were in this part of the world with these conditions in place, then this genetic mutation would occur, and natural selection would preserve it". Or God would know "If X happens, then this population would move to this part of the region where this genetic mutation would occur." And in order for God to get those genetic mutations to occur, He could use His middle knowledge to actualize a possible world where those animals are in just those circumstances so that the mutations do occur, and natural selection does preserve those changes.

This view would differ from progressive creationism in that God would not be frequently intervening in a miraculous way to bring about the mutations. On this view, nature would be doing all the work, but God would be directing the process through His knowledge of what nature would do under any given circumstance. This would avoid the atheistic criticism of evolutionary creationism as entailing that "Supernatural selection rather than natural selection" preserves the mutational changes in organisms.

Moreover, the theologian Kirk MacGregor, in his paper "The Impossibility Of Evolution Apart From A God With Middle Knowledge", makes the case that not only could God have used His middle knowledge to guide evolution, but if evolution occurred at all, it required God to do so! MacGregor argues that evolution is so statistically impossible that it could not have occurred if a God endowed with middle knowledge did not orchestrate the process. The odds that evolutionary processes could have produced intelligent creatures like homosapiens and other advanced life is 1 chance in 4^360^110,000 ((1 chance in a 4 followed by 360^110,000 zeroes after it)!!! But he also argues that the scientific evidence powerfully indicates that evolution did in fact occur. From these two premises, his conclusion is that a God endowed with middle knowledge exists.

Ironically, not only could God have used evolutionary processes, if Darwinian macro evolution is true, that is powerful evidence that God did use evolutionary processes. I read MacGregor's paper and I was absolutely amazed! Once I finished reading it, I thought of the words of Charles Kingsley, an Anglican Priest, and a friend of Darwin: "We knew of old that God was so wise that He could make all things; but behold, God is so much wiser than that, that He can make all things make themselves." 

Summary and Conclusion

Evolution is not "an inherently unguided process". When scientists use the term "random mutations" they merely mean that the mutations cannot be predicted. They don't know when and where they're going to occur. Moreover, the Bible teaches in different places that God can bring about events that seem like a result of chance from our human perspective (Proverbs 16:33, Acts 1:12-26).

Nothing about Darwin's theory precludes the possibility of a God endowed with middle knowledge using that knowledge to guide evolutionary history in the same sort of non-deterministic way in which he guides human history. To assert that evolution, if it happened, happened without a purpose, is to make a metaphysical assumption rather than a scientific statement. In order to prove that evolution had no purpose, one would have to prove atheism, otherwise one is just attaching a metaphysical assumption that is not inherent to the theory itself.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Can Science Prove The Existence Of God?


Science and Christianity are often perceived to be at war with one another and unfortunately, this idea is fueled by both atheists and Christians alike. The way it's framed is that you can either believe The Bible and hold a Christian worldview or believe science and hold an atheistic worldview. Many Christians (myself included) will argue that not only are the facts we know from science compatible with the teachings of scripture, but science actually points toward the existence of God. Science actually gives powerful evidence for the existence of God.

However, some disagree. Some people, Christians included, will say that science doesn't have anything to say about God one way or the other. They will denounce the atheists that say that science justifies the atheistic worldview, but they will also argue against the Christians who say that science proves the existence of God. They argue that science is theologically neutral. Science doesn't speak to the God question because it can only tell us facts about the universe we live in. It cannot speak to metaphysical issues like the question of God's existence or nonexistence. But is this true?

Well, whether or not "Science proves God exists" is a statement I agree with will all depend on what one means when they say "Science proves that God exists". Some people, when they say this, may mean one thing and other people may mean something different. It's important that we nuance this claim to be sure that we're talking about the same thing. In this blog post, I will examine different things people might mean when they say "Science can prove the existence of God".

Science Can't Prove God Exists From Raw Data Alone

In one sense, I would disagree with this statement. In one sense, science can indeed only tell us things about the natural world we live in. For example, science tells us that the universe began to exist in a hot explosion like event which we call "The Big Bang", and science tells us this based on the evidence from the expansion of the universe, the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the abundance of light elements in the universe. Science also tells us that the laws of physics are precisely calibrated to an extraordinary precision to allow the existence of life, that if the laws of physics were tweaked in any marginal way, it would be impossible for life forms of any kind to exist anywhere at any time in the universe. Science also tells us the probability of these constants and quantities taking the precise values that they do, and we find that it is unimaginably improbable that they should have done so. Science also tells us that 400 different features had to be just right in order to life to exist in a local region of the universe.

However, just looking at the raw data alone doesn't say anything about whether or not God exists. All that science tells us is that the universe began to exist a finite time ago and that the laws of physics are finely tuned in such a way as to permit the existence of life. Science doesn't go any farther than that. In this sense, science cannot prove the existence of God.

Science Can Provide Evidence In A Premise For God's Existence

Science alone only gives you facts like that the universe had a beginning and the universe is finely tuned, but in order to go farther than merely affirming those facts to affirming the existence of God, you need to call upon philosophy as well.

Science can provide powerful evidence for the truth of a premise in a syllogism arguing for the existence of God. You can certainly take the scientific data mentioned above and combine it with a philosophical argument for God's existence. Two of my favorite arguments for God's existence are The Kalam Cosmological Argument and The Fine Tuning Argument.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument goes like this:
1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2: The universe began to exist.
3: Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Once one confirms the truth of the premises, one then does a conceptual analysis for what would constitute a cause of the universe. When one does this conceptual analysis, one finds that the universe must have been brought into being by a non-spacial, non-temporal, incorporeal, powerful, uncaused, supernatural, personal being, which sounds a lot like God to me! Now, it is beyond the scope of this blog post to defend the Kalam Cosmological Argument's two premises including why the universe's cause must have these properties. I redirect the reader to my blog post "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" for a fuller treatment, and to my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods for an even more in depth look at the argument.


My point here is that science demonstrates the truth of that second premise "The universe began to exist". And so, in this sense, science indirectly establishes the existence of God. It indirectly establishes the existence of God because The Big Bang Theory establishes the second premise of The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God's existence. Not only that, but as I point out in the blog post I linked to above and in chapter 1 of my book, the second law of thermodynamics gives us reason to believe the second premise is true as well. The second law predicts that the universe will one day run out of usable energy and life will no longer be possible. But if that will eventually happen someday, it would have already happened if the universe were infinitely old. Since we still have usable energy left, that strongly implies that the universe hasn't always been here.

The Fine Tuning Argument goes like this
1: The Fine Tuning Of The universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3: Therefore, it is due to design.

Unlike the Kalam though, the Fine Tuning Argument already takes an established scientific fact and argues for which of the possible explanations is the best one to account for the data. Again, it is beyond the scope of this blog post to give a full defense of this argument. Once again, I redirect the reader to my article "The Fine Tuning Argument For God's Existence (Updated Version)" for a treatment of this argument. I also dive into it in depth in chapter 2 of my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods. 

Or take this design argument as another example:
1: The local fine tuning is best explained by necessity, chance, or design.
2: It is not best explained by necessity or chance.
3: Therefore, design is the best explanation.

Check out chapter 3 of my book for a thorough treatment of the above argument.

Science in all these cases, science can provide evidence for the truth in a premise for the existence of God. But in the ab sense of philosophy, in the absence of logic and reason, all you would know is that the universe began to exist, that the universe is finely tuned, and that many features of a local region need to be precisely adjusted for life to exist. You need both science as well as philosophy to make a case for God.

Science Cannot Prove God In The Sense Of A Mathematical Proof

A lot of people take "proof" as a synonym for "evidence", but others rightly see it "proof" as evidence which establishes something beyond all possible doubt. Science cannot do this for God. The Arguments mentioned above can establish the existence of God beyond a reasonable doubt, but not beyond all possible doubt. This shouldn't cause us to fret though, as very few things can proven to such an extent that no possibility for doubt remains. The majority of our beliefs are based on probability. Several philosophers have noted that you can't prove beyond any possible doubt that you aren't a brain in a vat of chemicals with electrodes hooked up to you, being stimulated by a scientist to believe that the external world around you is real. How do you know a scientist, through electrodes stimulating your brain, aren't giving you false information through your 5 senses? And yet, no rational person even gives a second thought to such a notion. The evidence is overwhelmingly more probable that your 5 senses are telling you the truth about the external world. In the absence of any reason to distrust your 5 senses, you're quite justified and even warranted to believe that you are not a brain in a vat.

Other philosophers have noted that you technically can't prove that the world wasn't created just 20 seconds ago with all of the memories of past events planted in everyone's' minds, with food in our stomachs, and the universe with an appearance of a past history. We can't prove that beyond all possible doubt, but would you believe that the universe is only around 20 seconds old just because there's a tiny, tiny, microscopic sized possibility that you're wrong? I wouldn't.

A lot of things can be established beyond a reasonable doubt, but not beyond any possible doubt. What's the difference? The difference is that is something is established "beyond a reasonable doubt" that means any doubts one might have are not reasonable. They're doubts all right, but they're unreasonable doubts. It would be an unreasonable doubt to doubt whether your 5 senses are telling you the truth or whether the universe is 14 billion years rather than 20 seconds old. A lot of things can be established beyond a reasonable doubt, but not beyond any possible doubt. This is why "beyond a reasonable doubt" is the highest standard of evidence a court of law will ever demand.

Likewise, I would say The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Fine Tuning Argument, and The Local Fine Tuning Argument, in addition to many other NON-scientific arguments (e.g The Ontological Argument, The Resurrection Of Jesus) all make it overwhelmingly more probable than not that God exists. In the absence of any reason to think that these and other arguments for the truth of the Christian worldview are invalid, we are within our rational rights in affirming their conclusions.

Conclusion

Can science prove the existence of God? My answer: Depends on what you mean by that. Can Science from raw data alone establish the existence of God? No. Can science provide evidence for the truth of a premise in an argument for the existence of God? Yes. Can science prove beyond any possible doubt that God exists? No. But most things cannot be proven to that degree of certainty anyway. Requiring something be proven to that extent would lead to a radical skepticism about many things.