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.

Click image to enlarge
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.


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, 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.


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.


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. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Should We Rejoice In Persecution?

Recently, I posted a link to an article about the recent shut down of the Sweet Cakes Bakery on Todd Starnes' website. I expressed my anger about the crap that the LGBT continues to pull. Someone commented on this post saying "Persecution should be something you rejoice over not something that hardens your heart towards people that need to be saved. They win crowns in heaven even if they lose their company to the world."

Should we rejoice in being persecuted? Should we rejoice when evil people mistreat and abuse us? Should we rejoice at tiny persecutions like having our businesses shut down when we won't give incense to the gay Caesar or major persecutions like a line up of Christians in orange jump suits being beheaded? Should this cause us to leap for joy? I submit to you that both common sense and scripture both say no. 

We Should Rejoice In Persecution's Results, Not In The Persecution Itself

Now, to defend his position, he appealed to passages like Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." and 2 Corinthians 12:10 which says "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." and "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4) among several others. Now, far be it from me to disagree with the inerrant, inspired, holy Word of God. I don't disagree with what these passages are saying, but his interpretation of these greatly differs from mine. 

I don't at all think these are saying to literally rejoice in being abused and mistreated, but rather to rejoice in what God will do for us for choosing to endure through mistreatment. Take what Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12 for example. He said that we're blessed when people insult us and persecute us. Why? Because great is our reward in heaven. He says we're blessed through persecution because God will reward us for enduring it. He will reward us, and we rejoice over the fact that we will be rewarded. The parallel passage in Luke 6:23 says the same thing. ", “Rejoice in that day (persecuted day), and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Likewise, in James 1, James says to welcome our trials with gladness because they'll improve our moral character. Our trials are a test of our faith which produces perseverance, and we should let perseverance finish its work so that we will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. This also seems to be what Paul was alluding to in 2 Corinthians 10:12, "For when I am weak, then I am strong.". In an ironic and paradoxical sense, Paul's weakness was actually his strength. All of the stuff he went through developed his character. 

In addition, I would say that the biblical authors are employing the figure of speech known as metonymy. What is metonymy? Metonymy is a "change of name", the substitution of words. It's when the cause is put in place of the effect, or when the effect is put in place of the cause. An example of metonymy would be if I said "I hate Rage Against The Machine". Now, by saying that, I clearly don't mean that I have a personal hatred of the members of that band, just that I really, really don't care for their music. I put the band in place of their music. I don't hate the singer, the guitar player, the dummer, etc. I hate the music. Likewise, when scripture says "Rejoice in persecution", this is probably a metonymy for "Rejoice in what God has in store for you for enduring persecution!" 

Should we rejoice in persecution? I rejoice that God will reward us for enduring it, but not that it happens. Just as I rejoice over the fact that God can bring a greater good out of suffering, but I don't rejoice in the suffering. I rejoice that Christ redeems us from sin, but I don't rejoice over the fact that sin entered the world in the first place. I once heard a preacher say "God can work all things for the good of those who love him, but that doesn't mean all things are good. Just that they're worked out for the good in the end". There's a difference between rejoicing in what God will bring out of the persecution, and rejoicing in the persecution itself. We should definitely rejoice in the former, but not rejoice in the latter. Now, you might be wondering "Why not? Why even make this distinction? This leads to my next subheading. 

The Bible Is Clear That We Should Hate Sin And Evil 

Perhaps the biggest reason why I take the interpretation that I do of the rejoice-in-persecution passages is that if we took these verses the way my OP's commenter is taking them, it would lead to a contradiction in scripture. My argument from this premise flows as follows: 

1: The Bible says is numerous places to hate evil and sin
2: Surely persecuting God's people is a grave sin indeed
3: Therefore, we should hate the persecution of God's people. 

This is a logically valid syllogism. It takes the logical form known as modus ponens. If the premises are true, the conclusion follows logically and necessarily. Are these premises true or false? They are true. Let's look at the first premise. This premise is clearly true. Psalm 97:10 says "Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked." Proverbs 8:13 says "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate."  Romans 12:9 says "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." These passages are overwhelmingly clear. Those who love and fear God will hate what is evil. The first premise is established. 

What about the second premise? It would seem to me to be just as indisputable as the first premise! If you deny this premise, then what you're asserting is that when a Muslim terrorist chops the head off of a pastor in Iraq or Afganistan, he isn't committing a sin! Surely this is wrong headed! Isn't one of The Ten Commandments "You must not murder" (Exodus 20:13)? Surely a terrorist chopping the head off of a pastor is murder right? Well, if it's murder, and God said not to murder, then it follows that terrorists chopping the heads off of Christians is a sin. This also applies to Caesar back in the early days of the church, when he would have Christians executed for not burning incense to him and declare "Caesar is Lord". He was sinning when he had those Christians killed because they had done nothing wrong. It was an unjust killing, and that is the definition of murder, and murder is a sin (Exodus 20:13). This also applies to those people who threw Christians to the lions for their entertainment. Isn't getting enjoyment out of watching innocent people being torn to shreds sinful? 

Now, as for minor, non-lethal persecutions like we're experiencing in the United States ((I'm hesitant to even call them persecutions because they are so tepid compared to what our brothers and sisters in the middle east are going through)), I would say these are sinful as well. Both the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18) and The New Testament (Matthew 22:39) say "Love your neighbor as yourself" . Now, most people take this statement to mean that you should take care of your fellow man's needs in the same way that you take care of your own needs. You make sure that you have food, water, shelter, medicine, etc. So if you should make sure that your nearest neighbors have those as well. Put as much effort in taking care of your neighbor as you do in taking care of yourself. Jesus uses our self-love as the standard by which we are to love others. Now, would anyone honestly say that running someone out of business for not baking them a cake, or sending their children death threats, or smearing their reputation, or calling them bigots, is loving one's neighbor as oneself? Would you shut your own business down and send death threats to your own kids? I didn't think so. It follows then, that the LGBT are not following the biblical command set down in Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39. And if they're not following the biblical command, then they're sinning, since disobeying God -- by any theologian's standard -- is sinful. By the way,  let's take a look at what Romans 13:10 says "Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law." Romans 12:18 says "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Are the LGBT trying to live in peace with the church or are they waging war? Obviously it's the latter.

It would seem then that both premises are true. Therefore, the conclusion is also true. We should hate the persecution of God's people.


Should we rejoice in persecution? No. I believe that scripture is using the figure of speech known as metynomy when it says to rejoice in your persecution. It's putting persecution in place of the result. Moreover, several passages seem clear in that it's not the persecution we're to rejoice over, but what God will do for us for choosing to endure the persecution (i.e be rewarded). We will be rewarded in Heaven for choosing to suffer for His name and this is what we're to rejoice over.

As I said earlier in this blog post, I rejoice that God will reward us for enduring mistreatment, but not that people choose to mistreat us. I rejoice over the fact that God can bring a greater good out of suffering, but I don't rejoice in the fact that the suffering is taking place. I rejoice that Christ redeems us from sin, but I don't rejoice over the fact that sin entered the world in the first place. Moreover, there's a difference between rejoicing in what God will bring out of the persecution, and rejoicing in the persecution itself. Moreover, The Bible says is numerous places to hate evil and sin, surely persecuting God's people is a grave sin indeed, therefore it follows logically that we should hate the persecution of God's people.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Teach Your Children Apologetics

In this day and age of digital communications, the entire planet has become a small village. I can literally have real time conversations with people in other states and even other countries whether through online messaging social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter or on video chat programs like Google Hangouts and Skype. I can write an article and instantly have hundreds of people from many different locations read it at the same time as soon as it comes out, without having to wait for some paper boy to mass deliver physical copies to everyone. The internet is probably the best invention of the 20th century, and yet while it has enhanced man's capabilities for the better, it has simultaneously enhanced the devil's capability's to drag people away from God. And yes, while I am thinking of pornography, I'm also talking about anti-Christian blogs and YouTube videos.

Anti-Christian Messages And Pornography: Just One Click Away

Christian Apologists are always talking about "Your kids will lose their faith when they go off to college if you don't prepare them now" but what many don't realize is that they don't even need to wait for college to be talked out of their faith. Anti-Christian propaganda and pornography have this in common; they are extremely common on the internet and can be found by young children accidentally. If you've read my book Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods, you'll know from the introduction that my first encounter with atheist material was on Twitter back in 2010, not in a college classroom.

Children don't wait until their teens to use the internet either. Although it was a different time period, my first time using the internet was when I was 8 years old, at the turn of the new century. I had been on the computer before then, but it was only to play computer games like The Magic School Bus and Putt-Putt. I didn't actually surf the web until later. I suspect that most young children get on the internet at that age even younger, and it's probably as common as watching TV. Unfortunately, for those not talked into the faith, this is a land mine.

Anti-Christian memes fill the internet. They fill social media. They fill Facebook and Twitter. Atheist blogs are also all over the internet. If your children do a web search for things of a religious nature, it is inevitable that they will come across this material. If your kids don't have a solid intellectual foundation for their belief, they are likely to have their world rocked. Take it from someone who's experienced this first hand. My parents didn't train me in apologetics, and when I was bombarded with objections and questions from an atheist I encountered on Twitter one afternoon, my faith took a lot of damage! Now, it's not their fault that they didn't equip me. They didn't equip me because they themselves didn't know about apologetics. And they didn't know because their church never talked about it. I'm the one who taught THEM Christian Apologetics.

How To Prepare Your Kids For The Onslaught Of Anti-Christian Material

My advice to parents who follow this blog is to train your children at a very young age in Christian Apologetics, so that they'll know the strong arguments and evidence that proves that what we believe is true.

Not everyone is called to be a professional apologist; someone who's devoted to defending the faith as a full time job. I'm not saying you should be raising future William Lane Craigs. But while not everyone is called to be a career-apologist, we're all called to be apologists in some sense or another. Some of us are called to be career-apologists, but some of us are called to be side-apologists. What is a side apologist? A side apologist is someone who is prepared to defend their faith and can refute challenges, but may do something else primarily. She might be a nurse, or a missionary, or a police officer, or an attorney. Romans 12:6-8 says we're all given different talents. However, 1 Peter 3:15 calls us all to be ready to give a defense when someone asks us for the reason for the hope that we have. There are no qualifiers to restrict this to a special few.

"But!" you may protest "How are elementary school children supposed to understand all this complex stuff?" There are a variety of educational resources that are aimed specifically at kids with an elementary school level education. These books were not written for adults or teenagers, but specifically for those of an elementary school level education. These would be books such as...

*"The Case For A Creator: For Kids" by Lee Strobel
*"The Case For Christ: For Kids" by Lee Strobel
*"The Case For Faith: For Kids" by Lee Strobel
*"Cold Case Christianity For Kids: Investigate Jesus With A Real Detective" by J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace
*"How Do We Know God Is Really There?" by Melissa Cain Travis
*"How Do We Know Jesus Is Alive?" by Melissa Cain Travis
*"How Do We Know God Created Life?" by Melissa Cain Travis
*"The Mystery Of The Picture: Where Did The Universe Come From? Did It Come From Nothing?" by Mary Katherine Mammen and Neil Mammen
*"Learning Logic" by William Lane Craig 
*"The Awesome Book Of Bible Answers For Kids" by Josh McDowell and Kevin Johnson

Among these, you can also check out William Lane Craig's series "What Is God Like?" which features two characters named Brown Bear and Red Goose. This series teaches kids about God's attributes. His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc.

Not only are there books aimed at kids, but there are also books aimed at parents specifically about being able to help kids find answers to tough questions, such as...

*"The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask You About Christianity: And How To Answer Them Confidently" by Alex McFarland
*"Keeping Your Kids On God's Side: 40 Conversations To Help Them Build A Lasting Faith" by Natasha Crain

These are some good resources to help equip your children. So when they come across some meme, blog post, YouTube video, or when they get older and begin to get on social media, where they're bound to engage in a conversation with a skeptic at some point if they make an effort to spread their faith, they'll be ready. They won't be phased by fallacious arguments and rhetoric.

Equip Yourself As Well

If you're a Christian and you're not equipped to deal with hard questions and objections. If you can't give good solid reasons for why one should believe Christianity is true, then you need to equip yourself as well. Don't just buy a bunch of material for your kids and leave it up to them to study and get prepared. Get prepared yourself. It is important not only so that you can help answer questions your children may be troubled by, but also so that you can be a more effective witness for Christ. Don't forget, 1 Peter 3:15 doesn't have any restrictive qualifiers. Everyone should be able to give a reason for the hope that they have. If you're ill equipped, I would suggest rigorously studying the following books

*"The Case For A Creator" by Lee Strobel
*"The Case For Christ" by Lee Strobel
*"The Case For Faith" by Lee Strobel
*"The Case For The Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
*"The Case For Christianity Answer Book" by Lee Strobel
*"On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision" by William Lane Craig
*"I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler
*"Who Is Agent X: Proving Science And Logic Show It's More Reasonable To Think That God Exists" by Neil Mammen
*"Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods" by Evan Minton
*"The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask You About Christianity: And How To Answer Them Confidently" by Alex McFarland
*"Keeping Your Kids On God's Side: 40 Conversations To Help Them Build A Lasting Faith" 
*"The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus" by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona 
*"God's Not Dead: Evidence For God In An Age Of Uncertainty" by Rice Broocks.  
*"Holman Quicksource Guide To Christian Apologetics" by Doug Powell

All of the books I've just mentioned are written at a high school level education. They are perfect for people brand new to studying Christian Apologetics. 


The Bible says "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6). Christianity is true. Therefore, that is the way he should go. Therefore, that is the way you should train up your child. Do this through teaching him sound doctrine and apologetics. Yes, sound doctrine as well as apologetics. If you don't, then you're in real danger of your children losing their faith. Not just when they go off to college, but now!

"Your children will go to public school ... and they will be trained for somewhere around 15,000 hours in ungodly secular thought. And then they'll go to Sunday school and they'll color a picture of Noah's ark. And you think that's going to stand against the lies that they are being told?" - Paul Washer, sermon, "The Christian Life," part 1.

"In high school and college Christian teenagers are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian worldview coupled with an overwhelming relativism. If parents are not intellectually engaged with their faith and do not have sound arguments for Christian theism and good answers to their children’s questions, then we are in real danger of losing our youth. It’s no longer enough to simply teach our children Bible stories; they need doctrine and apologetics. It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics." - William Lane Craig, "Christian Apologetics, Who Needs It?" 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Q and A: Questions About Evolution, Adam and Eve, and Accomodationalism

I've read some of your blog posts on evolution and after becoming very interested in the issue a couple of years ago I'm starting to become interested again.

I know you're a sharp fellow, so maybe you could help me with a few questions.

1. What are your thoughts on Genesis 3:20 and Acts 17:26, and how could they be reconciled with evolution without "the Bible is wrong."

2. Accommodationalism, is it possible to hold to inerrancy in any meaningful sense or no? Doesn't it inherently mean "Scripture contains factual errors?" I might be more open to searching A out if I knew it was at least possible to reconcile the two.

-- Kasen 


1: The historical Adam and Eve is probably the stickiest point of any evolutionary creation model. I myself am convinced that Adam and Eve must be historical characters. It's the only way to explain the content found in Romans 5 and the fact that Jesus and other indisputably historical characters are said to be descendants of Adam in the genealogies. I'm not sure if you've read my article "5 Reasons Why I'm Open To Theistic Evolution", but one of the points I made was that there are historical models accommodate the historicity of Adam and Eve with an evolutionary view.

On the view I find most plausible, Adam and Eve would be one of the first homo sapiens to evolve, and the reason scripture focuses so heavily on them is because all human beings are descendents of these two people. But, how could that be if they weren't the first human beings but only one of the first human beings? This is where the Genesis flood would come in. We know from scripture that Noah and his sons are descendants of Adam (a la the genealogies), and we also know that all human beings were killed in the flood except Noah and his sons and daughter-in-laws on the ark. If this is the case, then virtually every person since that time is a descendant of Adam and Eve because Noah is a descendant of Adam, and Noah and his sons and daughter-in-laws were the only people to survive that catastrophe. No one descended from any other homosapien because these other homosapiens that evolved along with Adam and Eve had their ancestral lines end when the last ones in their family tree were killed in the Genesis flood.

So, when The Bible says in Acts 17:26 that God built the nations from one man, we don't have to view this as in conflict with Darwinian view. If this model is correct, then God did build all of the nations from only one man. 

The only one that really seems to fit uncomfortably is Genesis 3:20, which says that Eve is the mother of ALL who live. One can make the argument that this wouldn't be true if other homosapiens evolved with her (she wouldn't be their mother) and that they produced offspring at least until the Noah's Ark Flood event (she wasn't their mother either). On the other hand, one could interpret "the mother of all who live" as not meaning literally every individual member of the human race who would come after that, but simply the vast majority of those who would live. We do have a few examples in scripture where universal terms are used hyperbolicly to refer to the vast majority (e.g "Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region" - Matthew 8:34). Also, It would make sense to speak hyperbolicly since there weren't nearly as many generations from Adam to Noah as there were from Noah until now. This might be one possible way to reconcile evolution with this text.

Another possible explanation could be that Adam simply didn't know other people existed, so this could just be a mistake on Adam's part. If that's the case, we shouldn't fret, as scripture is filled with accurate recordings of people saying false things (e.g Satan's lies, Caiaphas' blasphemies, etc). If he had lived a sheltered life in the garden of Eden, this is a possibility. Although how plausible this possibility is, I don't know. I'm not really sure if any of these possible resolutions are plausible, or if any of them are true. I'm still working through these issues myself. But they are at least possible, and possibility is really all that's needed when trying to prove that two statements aren't logically contradictory.

2: Accomodationalism. I myself haven't latched onto this view as I'm still relatively new to it and want to study it more before I say "Yeah, this is what God did with cosmology in The Bible". It would seem to deny one particular view of inerrancy; namely that every propositional statement in scripture is factually correct. However, it would seem to me to restrict it to just statements of science. We could still hold to inerrancy regarding history and theology, but statements about the structural world would not be correct. At least some of them wouldn't be. Some statements clearly do jive with modern science, such as that the universe had a beginning (Genesis 1:1), that sea life was the first to be created (Genesis 1:20), and that man came after all the sea and land dwelling lower animals (Genesis 1:26-27). These are probably accurate because these, unlike a spherical Earth and transparent atmosphere, would not have confused the ancients. Nothing confusing about saying the universe had a beginning or the first animals to be created were sea creatures, right?

Given that what the sky is made out of and what shape the Earth is are very minor details that don't affect any major doctrine, and given that accurate statements would have been distracting to the ancients, God saw not to correct these.

When I asked the people at BioLogos about this, among their various responses, Brad Kramer suggested I read "Scripture and Cosmology" by Kyle Greenwood. I'm hoping to get this book soon so that I can study Accommodationalism in more depth.