What are 'questions' anyway?
We all have questions. They arise naturally out of curiosity
or ignorance and we all bring our fair share of both to the table. People (other
than politicians, we mean) can also use questions to evade answering more difficult
questions, or to avoid dealing with inconvenient or embarrassing issues. We
have all witnessed it; we've all probably done it (I see that hand). Questions
may also facilitate an agenda or be used to wield power and influence over others.
Questions can even be employed to destroy the mind's ability to function
logically and may be used to indoctrinate or subjugate our mental processes
for philosophic, religious or socio-political reasons. (So
be careful in here!)
The proper, scientific use of questions
is to aid in filling in the blanks in our understanding of the world around
us, agenda free and philosophically neutral ... and to follow the answers where
they lead, of course ... usually to the next question.
Right. Well, then ...
|What is OUR Agenda?||What are Dating Assumptions?||What are Radio Halos?|
|Fossils Fuel Debate?||Stereo Chemistry?|
|What is a 'Model'?||What is 'Faith'?||Thermodynamics?|
|What is a 'Belief'?||What is 'Design in Nature'?||What is Probability?|
|Evolution (a short course)||Origin of what?||That Book!|
|Creation (in theory)||Evidences For Evolution?||What is 'Science'?|
|What is 'Biblical Creationism'?||Fossil Evidence?||What is 'Closed-mindedness'?|
|What is 'Creation Science'?||Adaptation?||Logic & Stuff|
|What is 'Theistic Evolution'?||Punctuated Equilibrium?||What about 'Assumptions'?|
|What is 'uniformitarianism'?||What is 'catastrophism'?||What's the point?|
|How old is the Earth?||Evidences for Creation?||The Big 3 Questions|
Home or Elsewhere
Let us be perfectly clear at the outset: though attempting to be fair and logical in argument, our frequently asked questions are not random. They are designed to promote examination of an evolutionary dogma of randomness and chance which we believe is fundamentally in error. They are constructed not only to set the table for an interesting discussion but to bring the foundational assumptions of a mindless and purposeless universe under critical examination. You know what you've been taught; do you know what has been omitted or ignored? Each of us is responsible for our own understanding of these things and there are some complex threads here that need to be unravelled and knit together again for that purpose. We trust that our considerable limitations will not discourage your efforts.
is to encourage thinking about what most matters - and thanks ... for allowing
to participate in the rest of your
life (but don't get bogged down in here; this
thing just goes on and on).
O.K. - SO WHERE DID WE COME FROM?
No sense beating around the bush. This, of course, is not the only question that needs an answer but, if we get this one right, the rest will likely fall into line and some should disappear altogether.
Surprisingly, perhaps, there are only two possible answers to this basic question: either we were created supernaturally or we (life) arose spontaneously through the inherent properties of matter - that is, naturally. (The theory that life was 'seeded' on Earth by some alien civilization merely evades the issue by pushing it off the planet.) This site accepts the supernatural version of events and lobbies for its scientific validity.
The net result is that we all 'believe' one or the other possibility for our origins (though some claim to believe both). Each belief can certainly be evaluated scientifically, however, using the evidences and tools and techniques and rules of thought available to all. Each belief system, or model, has its consequences, requires its assumptions and gives rise to many other questions - some of which follow. Where did we come from?
the end of the day, YOU must decide this answer for yourself (and of
course, we are here to help).
Here we could get cute - or drop-dead gorgeous - but we will confine the discussion to scientific models (bo-ring).
For the organization of theoretical ideas (speculations, perhaps) and for the testing of those ideas for accuracy or sufficiency, scientists create models. Think of an engineer constructing a miniature of some great project, a dam or a bridge, to test his ideas for completeness, safety, practicality, artistry or the unforeseen. That is a 3-dimensional model ... like a really hard copy. The conceptualization of the project, in mind or on paper, is also part of the modelling process. (Some projects or ideas can only be modelled 'conceptually' but the process is the same.) Models not only let us visualize our ideas but they help to substantiate them and allow us, and others, to review or critique them for weaknesses. Models also make predictions based on their logical inferences and these predictions form the tests that either validate or invalidate the model.
require this review process and must be open to modification or even rejection
if they reveal flaws in conceptualization or construction. Scientific
integrity and credibility, not neglecting public safety, depends on this process.
A BELIEF is an understanding of the way things are and it is held or accepted by the believer as true or valid. Belief is also thought coalesced and made powerful, influential in our lives. Our minds have the ability to hold beliefs in ways that can defy explanation but usually we are able to support them rationally - if we have examined them. If they correspond to reality, they will likely be evidenced but a mother might 'believe' her child is alive in spite of almost any evidence to the contrary, so strongly is the desire to believe a determinant of our understanding. A child may believe in the tooth fairy; a jury can believe a witness; a congregation might believe the Bible; a scientist might believe in a theory or a nation, in its own pre-eminence. Levels and depths and characteristics of belief are varied but they are always the superstructure of our thought life and they are pervasively influential in determining our actions and emotions, though we may not even be able to express or discuss them. Though it may be attributed individually or globally, belief is ultimately subjective and personal in the extreme and what we truly believe determines much about our character, our relationships, our life, our society - our eternity (if there is one).
comment: At "WHAT MATTERS",
we believe that what you believe IS what
matters ... and, if belief does not correspond to reality, then complications,
contradictions, tensions and trouble inevitably arise. The human drama
often plays out in the discrepancy between belief and reality.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY 'ORIGINS'?
Silly question; invest in a dictionary.
The theory, or 'belief', that all we see around us, from protozoans to planets, has arrived at its present, highly-ordered state of complexity and interrelationships, over an immense span of time, from an initial, postulated state of disorder and chaos (an explosion, usually), through a random but directional series of changes, driven only by processes and propensities found to exist or operate in matter, is known as EVOLUTION. More properly, this is referred to as 'macro' evolution and it compasses the gamut of developmental processes from the formation of galaxies from gasses to the change in life forms from one species to another.
(In biological matters, 'phyletic' evolution is often the term used to express the broad, sweeping changes implied in 'molecules-to-man' theory.)
Obviously, as a universal postulate, macro evolution is a metaphysical proposition; it may be assumed but it can not be demonstrated. We can't re-invent the universe. We can model it, however, and it is here that belief in evolution can be evaluated and its merit determined.
Some would label all change evolutionary by definition and this is where confusion on this topic has its origin. If by 'evolution' one simply means change (adaptation and variation within species, for instance), there is no discussion required: we are all evolutionists. The working definition of evolution for this site involves the 'macro' variety and, where living systems are concerned, relates to the theory of change from one kind to another - such as from reptile to bird - not change within species which is provided for within the genetic information and for which evidence is abundant and obvious.
What evolution means philosophically is also important, for it is here that our beliefs have consequences for our lives. Evolution means that our own existence is accidental and incidental to whatever else is going on around us. Those whose belief system incorporates objective standards of morality and behaviour object to these social and philosophic implications of evolution and often oppose its tenets on principle, rather than scientifically or academically.
The theory or belief that all we see around us is the product of a mind, of a creative intelligence, of a master designer of unimaginable power and ingenuity and artistry and competence is known as CREATION.
No information about the designer or the processes involved, other than that which is implied or inferred by observed reality, is directly derivable from the basic premise. Obviously, this proposition is a metaphysical one which must be assumed as it can not be demonstrated by science ... though a powerful and logical stream of creationist thought runs counter to this acceptance . Creation does not seem to be a current process anyway and we have no way to repeat it. We can model it, however, and it is here that belief in creation can be evaluated and its merit determined.
Some would say that belief in creation is a 'cop-out', a crutch for the inadequacy of our understanding or an arbitrary or unworthy retreat from the rigorous application of our mental faculties. It may be and here is where confusion about belief in creation has its origin. It may be easier simply to assign creativity than to think about our environment and its wonders; that said, many who have thought a great deal about such things, have, with great acumen and abundant scientific credibility, demonstrated that there is much real-world evidence that supports a creationist world view.
Creation is as valid an approach to understanding origins as evolution, from the strictly scientific perspective; that some may arrive at creationist conclusions without doing their homework (read: "by faith") is irrelevant. Faith is not on trial here; the creation and evolution models are in the dock and they must stand or fall on the evidence.
What creation means philosophically is extremely significant for our lives and some influential evolutionists have explained resistance to the primary thesis on that ground (q.v.). If man is a created being, that proposition contains inescapable inferences of personal accountability and objective morality. It also implies underlying purpose and meaning in the universe and makes relevant the search for truth. Those whose belief system has no room for a creator or responsibility to any 'higher power', often oppose creationism based on these implications for their lives or on its coincidence with biblical faith (which amounts to the same thing) rather than on its ability to model or interpret reality acceptably.
The Bible has influenced Western Civilization more than any other written work. It claims to be the revealed word of a Creator God and clearly portrays the beginning of time, matter and all life in a few succinct, initial phrases and matter-of-fact references throughout. BIBLICAL CREATIONISM holds that this GENESIS account of origins, and all other references to the creation found in the Bible, are consistent, factually accurate and sufficiently compelling information on which to base belief and to refute all other statements or findings or theories on origins ... no further discussion required.
Further discussion or examination of the position is often engaged in, however, and is an important component of the study known as Apologetics. Biblical creationism is not necessarily scientific creationism (and vice versa, of course) but many tenets of biblical creationism, as a historical model, may be scientifically truthed as well as accepted by faith. Where the science holds, the biblical record may be said to be supported, scientifically. Where science is unable to speak (i.e. to the purposes or nature of God, evaluating background spiritual truths etc.), biblical creationists accept the record as explanatory and at face value ... no further truthing required.
of the biblical creation record has often been challenged on scientific grounds
- evolution's reverse (and ill-conceived) apologetic. The examination and
testing of these scientific challenges to faith and belief describes the main
intersection of biblical creationism with scientific creationism and many
adherents of the creation model operate seamlessly in both camps - much to
the confusion of their detractors. Acceptance of the historical record
found in the Bible has also been responsible for the (grudging) removal of
some obstacles to good science, nowhere more obvious than in the burgeoning
credibility of current critiques of evolutionary thought, largely traceable
to the persistent intellectual efforts of creationists to hold some dated
tenets of evolution up to modern scientific scrutiny.
Biblical creationists may hold a largely, belief-based position; CREATION SCIENCE involves the examination and testing of creationist beliefs (biblical or otherwise) usually through modeling. Consistency of creation models with what is observed in nature and with the known laws of science, not with their 'faithfulness' to scriptures, is what lends scientific credibility and force to the creationist position. The consistency of the findings of creation science with the record of creation found in the scriptures is what gives the scriptures scientific credibility when they are challenged, reinforcing what may be a faithfully held position on origins. This correspondence is also at the heart of the opposition to the presentation of creation theory in the classroom: it smacks of religion - the odium theologicum so feared by those ostensibly protecting our children from its taint. If the scientific evidence points to a creator, pointing that out is ruled inadmissible on the ground that it points to a creator ... food for thought (though not very deep thought).
comment: How could
it be otherwise but that the accurate appraisal and interpretation of reality,
through science, would correspond in all points to any other accurate interpretation,
or record, or revelation
of reality. Consistency and correspondence are definitional landmarks
in evidential matters. This correspondence is what our minds seem designed
to detect and what any seeker after truth
would be looking for ... and rejoicing when it is found. Some are not
rejoicing but viciously vindictive when these correspondences between solid
scientific evidence and the scriptures are revealed. Explain that and
you unravel the mystery of Unbelief:
the unwillingness to accept what is unacceptable
in principle, rather than for any deficiency in the evidence.
It is a human frailty that knows no limit in its perversity or in its ability
to infect all sides of any argument. We are truly "without excuse" when
we fail to yield to the evidence, preferring our own discontent.
whose faith compels a belief in a Creator-God, none-the-less find some scientific
pronouncements on evolutionary processes to be convincing. Theistic
evolutionists credit a Creator with initiating (and, in many cases, guiding)
the development of matter into its ever-more-complex manifestations over time.
Various interpretations of biblical texts are invoked to support this stance,
usually through avoidance of a literal interpretation of the first eleven
Genesis. Theological and
scientific problems (inconsistencies) populate this approach and it is usually
discredited by both sides of the creation-evolution debate. Evolutionary
argument and theory is overwhelmingly of the 'a-theistic', or at least 'non-theistic',
variety, though Darwin himself had a degree in theology and trained for the
is the extrapolation of a belief. It is the belief that natural processes,
cosmic, geological, and biological, have generally proceeded throughout all
time at the pace we presently observe. Most famously put: "the present
is the key to the past". Even catastrophic occurrences (i.e. meteorite
impacts or vulcanism) are said to have occurred at a uniform rate, though
implicit in this belief is the denial of global catastrophism, as this would
tend to fudge all calculations based on the theory and render it irrelevant.
This belief is the basis for the geological ages, for the timetables involved
in radiometric dating, ice ages, atmospheric modelling, continental drift
theory, evolutionary changes - absolutely everything in the uniformitarian
model is linked to a belief in the measurable constancy of processes through
time. Evolutionists tend to be uniformitarians and have relied
on that belief to postulate the great ages necessary for evolutionary change
HOW OLD IS THE EARTH?
Rather than end the discussion there, we could mention that there are multiplied methods for estimating, calculating or limiting the Earth's age - and about as many age possibilities arising from them. Erosional and sedimentary processes, lava flow measurements, meteoritic dust accumulations, the persistence of comets and dust in our solar system, the amount of salt in the sea or helium in the atmosphere, elemental decay sequences in the rocks of the Earth's crust, the decreasing magnetic field of the planet, the recession of the moon in its orbit, the shrinkage in the diameter of the sun, the rotation or heat of planetary bodies ... all these and many more are available for our observation and speculation. Both sides attempt to use them to advantage, each reworking the data and plying the requisite assumptions to make them 'fit' their particular model.
The decay sequences - radiometric dating - seem to be the least subjective and give the oldest ages but incorporate underlying assumptions, the validity of which can not be demonstrated. Radiometric methods are also known to provide a range of ages, often varying greatly with the particular sequence chosen, so as to make the selection or acceptance of any one of them, arbitrary and inconclusive. It can be said that many evidences may be interpreted to point both ways and indicators used for a young Earth are, at times, as compelling as those for an old Earth (to any not already committed or locked into belief in evolutionary processes, that is). Old-Earth is currently the dominant view, anyway. If only one, young-Earth age determination could be shown to be 'invincible', however, the old-Earth indicators would all have to be re-thought.
That the converse may also be said, reveals the necessity for continuing investigation and validation of all scientific pronouncements. It is a complex topic involving many disciplines and glib assertions and assumptions of convenience just won't cut it.
The age of the Earth is forever wedded to the theory of evolution. Speculations on the development of complexity and the progression of life forms from amoebae to man would be unworthy the intellect of the lowest life forms without unimaginable amounts of time to work with. For creation theory, it makes not the slightest difference. There is no vested interest in the findings or the failings of conventional speculations.
biblical creationist theory, the field is divided between those maintaining
a literal interpretation of the Bible and those who accept a more figurative
or relaxed interpretation. The calculations based on a literal acceptance
of the creation story put an upward limit on the age of the entire universe
at around seven or eight thousand years - a figure far removed from the fifteen
to eighteen billion years proposed by evolutionary theorists (though this
figure is occasionally revised and, most recently, downward). Obviously,
someone is a little bit out and reconciliation could be a little bit difficult.
We didn't say there was anything wrong with them, per se. They are good, clever science insofar as they are rigorously and scrupulously done in controlled circumstances. They are not bullet-proof, however; they do yield discordant ages and ages known to be fallacious. The rocks of Surtsey, for instance, that new volcanic island off Iceland, have been dated at millions of years old. They are not - obviously; we have movies of the birth of that island! And the new lava dome at Mount St. Helens in the U.S. dates at 2.8 million years old ... and we have video tape of that one forming!
Dating methods use assumptions that limit their reliability. If the assumptions are in error, the resultant dates will be also. The Potassium-Argon, or other like methods of radiometric decay calculations, use three primary assumptions that are totally unverifiable to arrive at their results.
Assumption #1: The proportional measurements of the elements in a given sample reveal a precise relationship to the decay sequences. That is, the amount of daughter element measurable reveals the original level of a parent element. Using the K/Ar sequence as an example: all measurable Argon in the sample is the result of the decay of Potassium from the sample and no original Argon existed in the sample. This is completely undemonstrable and unknown (and quite unlikely). It may, or may not, be the case.
Assumption #2: No contamination of the sample has taken place. No Potassium from outside the sample contributed any Argon to the sample; no leaching or loss of Potassium or Argon from the sample has taken place and no outside source of Argon has contributed to the sample - i.e. the atmosphere. These, too, are undemonstrable and unknown. Any migration of the elements, in or out, will fudge the calculation and support erroneous interpretations of the data.
#3: The rate
of radioactive decay for the particular sequence under observation is a constant.
Though it is a necessary assumption for our calculations, no way to verify
this exists. The estimate of time for a given amount of potassium to
decay into an observed amount of Argon is based on current observations only.
The speed of light itself evidences some variability over time (decreasing)
and there is a correlation between the decay sequences and the speed of light
so there is room for humility on this one. Any change in the rate of
decay would throw a uniformitarian calculation off.
WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE FOSSIL RECORD?
Evidence from the fossil record is fairly conclusive: life (at least complex life) appears suddenly in the record; paleontologists call it the 'Cambrian Explosion'. Fossilized life forms found all over the world can be classified into distinct orders/families etc. and this feature of the record is evidence of the fixity of kinds. The evolution model, of course, would predict a fluidity or continuum of species over time. The creation model, especially the biblical creationist model, is quite content with the record in the rocks - though this was not always the case.
When evolutionary scientists began to view the fossil record as evidence for the organization of life into more complex and specialized forms over time, creationists reacted in one of three ways: some considered the evidence (even the fossils) to be a complete hoax; others concluded that God had put these forms in the Earth to fool us or to test faith and still others accepted the evidence and converted - some to theistic evolution, reinterpreting the days of GENESIS into long ages of progressive creation or development, and some to outright scepticism and agnosticism.
It is now widely realized that the geologic column is nowhere as intact and consistent as originally represented, that anomalies and non-conformities abound and that, interestingly enough, fossiliferous strata are sedimentary in origin, speaking often of rapid burial in turbulent - even catastrophic - conditions. It is also true that the dynamics of hydraulic sorting in turbulent water could be applied to account for size, shape and density groupings in portions of the record - to say nothing of any applicable, pre-existing geographic or environmental factors such as sea floor dwelling creatures being found lower in the record, land animals and birds appearing 'later' or higher in the column. In short, there are great deficiencies and uncertainties in this record and many qualifications that must be incorporated into the interpretation of what some believe is 'rock-solid' evidence for evolution.
Again, biblical creationists take pleasure in pointing both to the fossils and to several chapters in GENESIS that tell of a catastrophic, global flood in the days of a man called Noah. (The 'Noahic Flood' was the accepted explanation for the fossil evidence until uniformitarian geology became widely accepted in the mid-1800's. Uniformitarianism, a veritable dogma of orthodoxy for academia, has taken numerous hits in the past few decades, from the theories and research of Velikovsky and Alvarez to the revelations of the Voyager and Pathfinder space probes.)
And what are fossils? They are the mineralized imprints or, in the case of some skeletal remains, actual metamorphosed structures of the hard parts of once-living creatures. Whole bodies may be considered fossils, such as insects trapped in tree resins and Woolly Mammoths found in ice - though these may not have been transmuted from organic to mineral and in the case of some Mammoths, may even be thawed and eaten! Rarer still are the soft-bodied fossils such as those of the Burgess Shales in Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada which show the imprint in the rock of creatures that had no hard parts such as bones or shells to be fossilized. Fossil anomalies also exist, called Ooparts (for 'out-of-place artifacts'), the explanation of which must surely try the ingenuity, if not the faith, of evolutionists.
WHAT IS FAITH?
Many associate faith with leaps in the dark. Perhaps so, but it need not be so - and rarely is. Faith obviously involves belief or a strong conviction at some foundational level of our understanding and, like any belief, it may be maintained against or in spite of the evidence. Faith, especially faith in a person, may also involve years of intimate experience, like that among family members or business partners. Faith in a belief system may hinge on trusted testimonial evidence, on eyewitness accounts, on a proven record of accuracy ... or on nothing more than personal intuition or preferences. We can choose the placement of and the level of our faith for reasons known only to ourselves. The lack of something tangible, perhaps even just something expressible in the chain of evidence normally required to establish and defend our beliefs and choices may be one definitional feature of Faith; persistence of belief in the face of focused opposition might be another.
creationists and evolutionists have faithful elements in their belief systems,
as do all people exercise faith in their daily lives. The reasonableness
of that faith is the usual point of criticism for those challenging the system
you ever walked off the beaten path? We do not just mean having taken
a short cut to school or something but have you ever gone to some place so
remote that you experienced the feeling that maybe you were the first person
ever to set foot on that very spot? It is an exhilarating feeling
- at least until you spot the first beer can.
DESIGN IN NATURE is like that beer can. Before you swoon in awe at such wisdom, consider the implications of order, complexity and purpose that arise from such an observation. In the midst of the primeval forest, far from man and his machines - a beer can:
The necessity of mining and metallurgy to create the material, the manufacturing process required to shape and fill and seal it, the agriculture and chemistry involved in its contents, the administration, transportation, advertising and marketing involved in its purchase and the unthinking irresponsibility of the lout who left it to mar your day ... all this and much more derivable from an old can!
How much more intricate and sublime are the inferences derivable from the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the spiral array of the DNA molecule, the dance and rustle of the Northern Lights, the softness of a baby's bottom? You see, we have the innate ability to appreciate design and order and complexity and purpose in every system and circumstance. In the case of the beer can, we have no hesitation in assigning credit or recognition for its abrupt appearance in our world; in the case of the starry hosts of the heavens, we may choose to suppress the inward and obvious response - to assign due credit and recognition - and balk and fudge and flounder around in inadequate explanations and hypotheses that fail miserably to account for what we clearly observe.
obvious explanation for design in the natural world is that of a designer
of the natural world. Design without a designer is akin to a
computer programme without an author: simply silly. The implication
of a designer of this universe is the most awesome imaginable and beyond imagination.
The intelligence and power and supreme majesty and authority implied go beyond
our ability to express in words. To open our mouths is to be ashamed;
to look is to be humbled and abased. This is the meaning of design in
nature and we all see it and know it and are without excuse when we fail to
we seen this question somewhere before? Oh well - The term 'ORIGIN'
means beginning or source and may have many applications. At this website
it applies mainly to the origin of life.
The origin of the design of the universe, of information, of meaning within
information or of matter itself may be a related discussion. Almost
everyone who has a thought or belief about the origin of life also has a personal
'cosmogony' or belief about the origin of all things. The terms 'creation'
and 'evolution' relate equally to the origin or beginning of all things as
they do to the origin of living or biological systems. A theory or model
of origins will usually encompass the entire spectrum of 'beginnings' though
for purposes of discussion or examination, portions may be separated from
the whole - such as the origin of life or the origin of man.
WHAT ARE SOME EVIDENCES FOR EVOLUTION?
As there are two (and only two) competing explanations for origins, the evidences invoked will tend either to support or discredit one or the other model. That is, evidence fitting the evolutionary model will tend to weaken the creationist model and vice versa. Both creationists and evolutionists use the real world as their 'modelling clay' but many an effort is expended by both sides trying to discredit the other model rather than building their own arguments, when simply stating their own arguments would automatically do the job on their opponents, no clayslinging required. Evolutionists routinely attack evils in the church, for instance, thinking that this somehow affects creation theory, while creationists point readily to the social fruit of evolutionary thinking to discredit the evolution model.
these make for lively and even worthwhile discussions, they say nothing about
the scientific merits of either theory of origins. We - taking the moral
and scientific high ground - will try to conduct ourselves more honorably
and direct our thoughts more to the measurable, observable, testable aspects
of this issue ... and there are several.
Aside from simplistic inferences of kinship drawn from anatomical similarities, the primary evidence attesting to an evolutionary development of life on Earth is the fossil record. In the record of the rocks is found a somewhat orderly, sequential and apparently progressive 'revelation' of what has happened in the past. It is this record on which evolution either stands or falls. It is THE ONLY objective, historical, three-dimensional, tangible, get-your-hands-dirty, in-your-face, courtroom-worthy, hard factual evidence we've got and it is literally laying at our feet.
The apparent arrangement of fossils in characteristic assemblages of size, or developmental stages, from trilobites to dinosaurs to man, in sedimentary strata thousands of feet thick in places, gives a testimony of time. If we can assume the obvious, that the lower layers were deposited first and the upper ones last (called the law of superposition), we can safely accept the proposition that the lower layers are older. Life forms found in these layers must faithfully represent conditions existing at the time of their entrapment as will each successively identifiable layer in the sequence. As the record is read, the story of life on our planet unfolds ... but there are problems; or, more to the point, there are assumptions involved in the interpretation of this history that open even this hard evidence to challenge.
The biggest assumption involves the time it takes to form a layer; the biggest problem is that this record appears to be incomplete. The times assumed by uniformitarian geology are based on presently observed (prior to Mt. Saint Helens, that is) processes of erosion, transport and deposition ... the natural wearing of the Earth. As for the record's completeness, there are plants and mollusks and insects and fishes and amphibians and reptiles and birds and mammals in ice and shales and coals and limestones and sandstones all over the world - but all appear to be classifiable into family groups, most corresponding to groups in existence today. In other words, the fossil record tends to confirm that insects have long been insects and fish have long been fish etc.
explicit prediction of the evolutionary model is that progressive, gradual
changes in genetic information and morphology have led to the rise of new
kinds of life (in response to environmental factors influencing selection,
primarily) and this would be expected to be revealed in the record of the
rocks. It is not. Evolutionists say, therefore, that there are
gaps in the record and, indeed, there must be if evolution is true.
A secondary level of evidence for evolution - in fact, the evidence that won modern evolutionary thought respect and consideration in the first place - is the observed changes in species characteristics that do occur in response to either natural or induced pressures of selection. We can select or develop plants for qualities of resistance to drought or disease; fruit flies can be bombarded with radiation to produce weird assemblages of their constituent parts; animals can be bred to produce more meat or less fat or to run faster and the results of such experimentation will often produce an altered representative of the species with some apparently new or enhanced trait that was not previously discernible. Evolutionists have long extrapolated that what we can artificially induce in a contemporary time frame, nature, with millions of years at her disposal, could do in spades.
be a leap to say that man has created new species by his tinkering; he has
not. Such hybridization or interference always reaches either its natural
limitations or the dead end of infertility. No more than a maximization
of genetic potential has been achieved to date. In any event, the assertion
that nature could do, or has done, what we have not yet been able to do would
not be a scientific argument at all but one of those 'leaps of faith' ...
an untestable inference based on an unwarranted assumption. Natural
selection acting upon the adaptation potential of species does not a case
for evolution make - not an unambiguous or convincing one anyway.
c) genetic similarities
Evolutionists have more recently offered genetic similarity as evidence of relationships between species. Not that these similarities actually demonstrate evolution or an evolutionary mechanism but that inferences (again) might be drawn from these 'relationships' (an inapt, though adept term to begin with) that would support the evolutionary hypothesis. Fair enough. Inferences are common to all modeling and this one even showed some promise of consistency with the theoretical template in the genetic closeness of man and chimpanzee, for instance. Other findings seem to mock the concept, however.
Cytochrome-C analysis has placed man closer to the kangaroo than the horse and protein chain analysis of haemoglobin puts man closer to the pig than to the lemur. Evolutionary systematics, the study or conceptualization of our relationships to other species on the tree of life, would be turned on its head by such comparisons and they have somewhat lost their lustre of late. Molecular phylogenies sometimes work out 'as expected' and sometimes they do not, requiring the interpretation and, often, the interpolation of the scientists doing the modeling. Subjectively interpretable data are a poor theoretical foundation.
And then, there is 'epigenetics'. The field is in its bare-bottomed infancy but if evolutionary systematics reveals an obstacle course for understanding, epigenetics would be more like a high-walled castle - set on a high rock. Whereas the 4-letter language of DNA presents unimaginable complexity, the possibly hundreds of letter combinations at work in the language conventions of epigenetics, superimposed upon the genetic control centres - in heritable fashion -
d) the inertia of belief
With the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of evidence displaying some vulnerability (ooo! ... the site bias is leaking out all over the place in this section ... sorry about that) one might surmise that the momentum on the question of origins would have defaulted to the creationist camp by now; this has not yet happened. In fact, the strongest argument in the quiver of evolution is the one you may be experiencing right now: most scientists, most educators, most text books, most media presentations expound the theory of evolution exclusively and without reference to or even hint of any difficulties with the theory; it simply must be so! (An 'Odium Scientium', perhaps?)
To hold or express any other view of origins is to swim against the current of contemporary establishment thought and that has always been a most difficult assignment. The heliocentric solar system was a sand-lot skirmish compared to the egos and issues involved in the creation/evolution controversy. But tides ebb and flow and logic and reason tend to outlive the oracles and edifices of men. The evolutionary tide is definitely on its ebb and from the pull of science and sound reasoning rather than from popular assent.
percent plus one was never a scientific (nor a theological) principle anyway.
quick answer is that it is the antithesis of Darwin's postulate of "sure,
Circa 1935, a scientist named 'Goldschmidt' proposed a solution to the problem of the gaps in the fossil record - the missing links. His fix was dubbed the "hopeful monster", in that it proposed that a creature of one species laid an egg and a totally different creature hatched out, or circumstances amounting to the same thing ... a genetic mutant surprise for mom anyway, in the form of a fully-functioning new organism, ready to assume its role in the drama of life. Thus, the apparent gaps were really not gaps at all and the record could be presumed complete. That was science in the Thirties. **
Not surprisingly, this theory received limited acceptance and the problem of the gaps remained. In the Seventies, Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldridge refined the hopeful monster theory in somewhat more plausible fashion. They proposed that evolutionary development proceeded in dramatic leaps and jerks rather than with uniform transitional smoothness, finding stasis for long periods of time and then exploding in new directions for short periods of time: equilibrium punctuated by sudden change. The fossil record, being rather a series of snapshots than a movie, simply missed the important and revealing evidences of transitional change, reflecting only the levels of stasis. Thus, the gaps are real but really testify to the rapidity of evolutionary change, not the fixity of species as it might appear.
Well, it could be. It is unobserved, unrepeatable and unverifiable, however ... a secondary assumption, conceived solely to account for the lack of evidence for the primary thesis, not because of any new evidence. It is explanatory without being substantive and qualifies more as damage control than vindication.
It is certainly unscientific, by any meaningful definition of science ... and the gaps remain.
** This may yet be the state of evolutionary science in this century! This same principle - that of the sudden appearance of morphologically transformed offspring - was alluded to on Canada's national radio science programme, "Quirks & Quarks", November 26, 2005, where the rapid appearance of new species of Centrosauri in the geologic record was called "a direct morphological shift without any intermediates from one animal to another". Even admitting that there was no evidence for this postulate produced no hint of amazement or incredulity in either the host or the proponent of this genetic fantasy, notwithstanding the thousands of alterations that would be required in the genetic code for this to take place. It was just served up to the public with attendant difficulties ignored. To call this 'science' is inexcusable. (When "Quirks and Quarks" introduced the 'Reptile-to-Bird' postulate in the last century, at least there was some snickering and guffawing involved to let the audience know there was some questionableness to the theory. No more little clues from Qs&Qs, I guess.)
is both an observation and a deduction. It is based on evidences of
great upheavals and changes on the Earth and in the solar system. Catastrophism
postulates that sudden interruptions in the normal processes at work on our
planet have produced many of the features and effects that we observe in the
natural world, such as mountain building, fossilization, the ice ages and
even the destruction of civilizations. Evolutionists, for years the
proponents of uniformitarianism (catastrophism's antithesis) have recently
adopted elements of catastrophism into their theory to account for some anomalies
and even some major processes such as extinctions. Prior to the rise
of the uniformitarian postulate to a position of prominence, catastrophism
was the dominant belief of scientists, many of whom credited the global flood
of Noah's day with the deposition of the sedimentary rocks of the Earth's
crust and the burial and subsequent fossilization of billions of creatures.
Creationists remain largely the proponents of catastrophism though opinions
vary as to the number and scope of the upheavals involved. The Bible
hints at many far-reaching catastrophic events and it should be obvious that
even one such global catastrophe as the Noahic flood would render uniformitarian
The primary evidence attesting to a creationist origin of life scenario on Earth is ... the record in the rocks. This is the only hard, (in-your-face, etc.) evidence that exists from the past that is available, examinable, testable and free from bias. All other evidences - and there are many - have a certain malleableness to them that allows each side to squirm and wriggle: the fossil record simply is. Yes, it can be interpreted (and even forged, in part) but the record as a whole remains what it is and it appears to record the sudden appearance of complex, fully functioning, classifiable-into-kinds-of-life creatures.
absence of intermediate forms (the presence of 'gaps') in the record supports
creation model predictions of the unique genesis of each kind or form. More
aptly stated, the creation model would predict the apparent gaps in the fossil
record, whereas, the evolutionary model would predict a seamless record of
transitional forms. Finding persistent gaps in the record confirms or
at least supports the creation model.
A striking evidence for instantaneous creation is found in the granites of the Earth. Pleochroic halos or radio halos from the decay of Polonium 218 (giving yet another nomenclature: polonium halos) in basement rocks - original rock, underlying the sedimentary rocks of the Earth's crust - seem to indicate that these rocks themselves were formed instantly.
halos are known to be formed by the radioactive decay sequence of some elements
in which departing alpha particles leave the parent element in all directions
with identical energy levels, forming distinct, spherical boundaries where
they come to rest. The signature of the polonium halos is telling and
what it is saying is that this particular element, which has a half-life of
only a fraction over three minutes, began its decay process in instantly-solidified
rock! Otherwise, the halos could not have formed. Unless
some as-yet-unknown condition exists which would prevent or delay radio-active
decay in nature, these rocks cry out that they were formed instantly - fiat
Perhaps the most convincing evidence for the creation of life is found in the nature of the structure of metabolic (living) systems; so we'll give it a little more space than the others. The chemistry of life is not only remarkable, it is truly impossible without creative, intelligent intervention through a stereo-selective, pattern-recognition process that no one (yet) has successfully ascribed to inanimate matter. Stochastic chemistry, that is random, un-influenced, left-to-its-own-devices chemistry, produces racemates, a melange - a stereo-chemical mix.
Molecules that arise in nature (or through any organic chemistry process) always form in pairs called enantiomers, identical mirror images having identical physical and chemical properties ... same number of radicals, same number of carbon atoms, same valences involved ... just in a reverse configuration. They differ only in the way they play with light - in their optical activity. Polarities exhibited by the molecular structure can be determined by a device called, oddly enough, a 'polarimeter'. If plane-polarized light spirals to the right when shone through the molecule, then the molecule is referred to as "right-handed"; similarly for the "left-handed" member of the pair. (EDITORIAL CAUTION: This is extremely complex stuff and other sources - i.e. like people who really know what they are talking about! - should be consulted to obtain an adequate understanding of these processes. Lectures heard or papers read on this topic have a tendency to induce a state barely distinguishable from unconsciousness in minds not familiar with the background material.)
Random or chance formation of the constituents of protein (the amino acids) would result in roughly a 50/50 division of the right and left-handed forms - equal entropy status. (Isolated samples of a racemate may exhibit a 'biased' chirality toward the left or right, usually within single-digit percentage points of the norm). Thus, instead of just 20 amino acids involved in our construction, there would actually be 40 available for selection. When these molecules combine to produce macromolecules, the proteins, they do so in long chains, often up to 10,000 or more units in length.
The chemistry at work, in the formation and folding of the proteins required for all biological architecture and function, operates on an "acceptor/receptor" system, often mediated in turn by other complex proteins called 'chaperones'. For any organism to exist, to prosper, to live and grow and, ultimately, to reproduce, each minute, molecular step along the way is completely dependent on the commensal protein-chain components combining spontaneously in bonded perfection, repeated countless times over, each bonding site on these incredibly long chains being accepted by a corresponding molecule on another identically long chain, all to construct the marvelous, metabolic engine called 'life'.
The descriptive nomenclature for this combination process is called the 'stereo-chemical fit': each right-handed macromolecule has thousands of components which must be received by right-handed receptors, similarly for the left-handed versions. The acceptor/receptor system is analogous to a hand in a glove or a piston in a cylinder (or ten thousand hands and gloves or pistons and cylinders) ... and it is this 'fit' (also known as 'complementarity') that is absolutely required, without one errant inclusion - no, not even one - from a molecule of the other-handed persuasion, to make 'the metabolic wheels go round', so to speak.
molecules involved in the metabolism of all living systems just happen to
be of the left-handed persuasion - all of them - every last one of them, and
the nucleotide sugars involved in the transmission of genetic information
(DNA/RNA) just happen to be right-handed - all of them - every one, and even
drugs built to treat various medical conditions have to match this left-right
configuration or things go horribly wrong (Thalidomide being one very dramatic
and unfortunate case in point).
And the words "just happen" do not convey adequately the irony or the monumental difficulty here. We hear them so often in evolutionary theorizings that their significance is lost on us. "JUST HAPPEN! JUST HAPPEN! Ya gotta be kidding - JUST HAPPEN!!" would, perhaps, better make the point ... but we don't want to get too radical here. Given appropriate and rather stringent conditions, the molecules of some amino acids can form 'naturally' but only one hundred percent left-handed ones are useful to metabolic life as we know it ... and the evolution model requires that multiplied millions of them, had to have been juxtaposed, randomly, from that most iconic of nature's racemic mixtures - the postulated, pre-biotic, 'chemical soup'. "Yeah, right" may maintain and express an appropriate sense of decorum and belief.
To attempt to portray the statistical magnitude of the problem that reliance on randomness brings to evolutionary origin of life issues at its very start-point, imagine a system, a metabolic, replicating system dependent on, say, just 200 proteins (a very simple system), each in turn composed of a mere 200 molecules of amino acids (a very minimalist construction) operating in this mandated, acceptor/receptor configuration to produce the initial spark of life (just a spark, to get this incredibly complex biosphere in motion), all in perfect left-handed unison, arising quite by chance from the hypothetical, stereo-chemical soup. That is, one chance in two to the forty-thousandth power that this would happen, just once, without intelligent intervention, even assuming the association and abundant availability of the appropriate constituents in the first place ... and not accounting for the subsequent care and protection of the unlikely product of this miracle in a hostile environment. (Even this example is a bit too generous to the evolutionary position ... note the "probability" example in section 'f' below.)
And more to the absurd, and totally unaccounted for by any conceivable probability evaluation, is this organism's (or nature's) assumed capacity to have organized the necessary replication mechanism using only the opposite chiralities in its constituent parts, at the same time. Even to play along with the statistical, evolutionary game in this fashion is silly beyond expressibility but this is the game in which we find ourselves compelled to play, just to gain a hearing for what is obvious and inescapable.
These are the types of mathematical and rational obstacles to understanding that evolution forces one to negotiate on this 'journey of faith'. And it is why, in a nutshell, the natural evolution of metabolic systems (life) from a chaotic, non-living world is absolutely not possible; it is why evolutionary origin of life theories fail absolutely and it is why the intervention of a creative mind and hand is absolutely shown to be necessary "by the things that are made".
Nature is shouting "CREATION!" at every level, on every scale.
[But 'they' recognize this statistical impasse
and are working diligently on it; experimental work-arounds for this problem
have been ongoing for well over two decades, trying to overcome the intransigent
limitation of enantiomeric cross-inhibition to evolutionary origin of life
theories. It is a known obstacle (known theoretically since Pasteur!)
and it is denying evolution its next generation of automatic converts - and
leading many of the faithful to some sober second thought.]
d) Irreducible Complexity
Recently, the "Intelligent Design" movement has raised powerful, non-sectarian voices from the scientific (and evolutionary) community to critique the theory of the chance formation of life and natural selection as insufficiently explanatory for what we observe throughout the natural world. Many books and articles in respected journals - and, recently, some hi-tech videos - have appeared that illustrate the complex difficulties that facile evolutionary explanations for life have overlooked and under-played for generations. The greatest of these difficulties is the inability of evolutionary theory to explain multi-component (often microscopic) systems that require 100% functionality in all their parts to provide their host any useful service ... thus, any evolutionary advantage on which natural selection might capitalize. The exquisite complexity of life, continuously revealed in the smallest and most basic units we are able to discern, is compelling evidence that we live in a designer world. The simple cell, as many of us were taught it, is long since a thoroughly discredited concept in science.
Behe is perhaps the best known of these author/theorists
and his works are certainly recommended for a more satisfying and complete
explanation of this significant theoretical insight into origins. Others
have mocked the 'design movement'; Behe's work seems to have left them little
else to do.
e) inferential evidence
Evidence of the kind so heavily relied upon by evolutionary thought exists for creation theory as well, often in the limitation of the time frame so essential for evolutionary development. To imagine a cow-like creature or a bear-like creature wandering into the swamps and gradually adapting to aquatic life and becoming a whale-like creature seems rather a waste of good brain cells. To imagine it happening twice, in a long history of evolutionary trial and error hardly improves the exercise. To imagine it happening in the space of a few thousand, or even a few tens of thousands of years - well, no one could.
Precisely that scale of shortening of the developmental history of life would be required to accommodate several observable and accepted phenomena of the natural world: the expanding Earth-Moon distance relationship, for one; the Earth's decreasing magnetic field strength, for another. (Evolutionists counter, speculatively, that these phenomena are cyclical in nature or have other explanations that will satisfactorily account for the observed data.) The continuing existence of comets and debris in the solar system, the temperature and rotation rate of the Earth, the concentration of salt in the seas and helium in the atmosphere, to name four more and the known contraction of the Sun for yet another. In fact, so many measurable limitations to the Earth's age have been proposed that the sciences have become a veritable Sargasso Sea of speculation (dynamos/Oort clouds/explosive evolution) to accommodate the evolutionary postulate .
assumption to get the ball rolling and one or two to get past a sticky point
may be forgiven; when assumptions become the court of last resort, a theory
might be said to be in trouble. It certainly can not strictly be said
to be 'scientific'.
i) thermodynamics -
Various foundational laws of nature, which constitute the fundamentals of scientific inquiry, also seem to infer or directly point to creation as the rational explanation for origins. The best-developed of these are the laws of thermo-dynamics. Well (and better) explained at other sites, these laws state firstly, that matter or energy can never be created or destroyed; that is, in the universal experience of the sciences, this has never been observed to happen and could not happen. Obviously matter and/or energy exists; therefore, the options are that they are eternal or they were created outside of the natural processes we work with today - that would be, supernaturally.
The second law points out, however, that energy is always degrading, becoming less available for work. This means that what we have and observe and work with now is wearing out or, as the theory also states, is becoming dis-ordered. The disordering process and the measure of the state of disorder is called "entropy" and every action in the universe, from thinking this thought to the explosion of a super-nova, contributes to the ultimate demise of all working systems, including the universe itself. (The ultimate environmental conservation project: "save the universe: don't think!")
Obviously, there is a time-line implied here. (Entropy has been called "time's arrow".) There had to be a time of greater availability, of greater order or perfection or complexity in the past and, equally obviously, not in the infinite past. This, too, points to a time of creation or the setting in motion of such a system as we observe and study today.
Apart from the laws of thermo-dynamics, the laws of probability are, without fear of contradiction, the greatest index of evolutionary faith on Earth. It has been calculated that the probability of the simplest living, reproducing system coming into being by chance is one in ten to the forty-thousandth power. This was not a creationist calculation, by the way, but done by the evolutionary astronomers, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe in 1970. As there are calculated to be only ten to the eightieth power electrons in the entire universe (don't ask who figured that out!), the random evolutionary alterations necessary to start the life engine would require each electron to mutate at millions of times (only ten to the sixth power) per second for the entire estimated life of the universe before even a significant fraction of the probability available was used up.
In other words, multiple times the length of the evolutionist's assigned age of the universe would be required just to have one chance of forming the first living speck on this planet, statistically speaking (and statisticians do consider their calling a science, btw). Now, figure out how many minute changes are required to bring that speck of - whatever it might be - to the organizational level of a cell, and then calculate the time required to bring that cell to an organism; now calculate the time required to have the components within that organism evolve into something identifiable as a 'creature' ... I think the picture is clear. It was for Sir Fred and Chandra anyway. They said it was impossible and became responsible for the world's greatest understatement with the announcement (and publicizing that conclusion probably cost Mr. Hoyle a Nobel Prize that year).
Ten to the 40th power is generally agreed to be the 'thresh-hold of possibility'; go beyond that number and things are said, by statisticians, to be impossible. Evolution is impossible - and that is a supportable, statistical, scientific conclusion.
The mathematical examination of what is required to form the simplest components of living systems from the non-living world by random processes leads to only four possible intellectual positions:
position 1) the random, chance formation of living systems from inanimate matter is absolutely not possible. There is no naturalistic explanation for the origin of life.
position 2) the random, chance formation of living systems from inanimate matter, though ridiculously improbable, is what I choose to believe anyway.
position 3) the random, chance formation of living systems from inanimate matter is so preposterous a proposition that supernatural creation is the only door left open.
position 4) the random, chance formation
of living systems from inanimate matter is so demonstrably absurd that we
must exclude considerations of randomness and chance: matter must contain
within itself a teleological component that approximates divinity.
editor's note: Position #3 has the most going for it, rationally, though if you are a gambling person, acceptance of #4 is where you should plunk your pesos. The animus directed toward creationism and the Bible has a spiritual dimension that those subscribing to it would be surprised and probably frightened to learn. None-the-less, the world will chose mysticism over science any day if it means escape from the God of the Bible in their personal lives. Just listen to Art Bell or the C.B.C.! The question is not: 'Will New Age advocates and proselytes accept mysticism in place of reality'? Mysticism is New Age. The more incisive question is: 'Will scientists accept it, in the rush to escape the obvious conclusions of their own disciplines'?
The existence of documentary evidence can not be overlooked in any research into any subject. There is one very old book (and only one) that tells of the origin of all things. It is, aptly enough, called the book of GENESIS and is the first book contained in the collection of books called the Bible. If science and the scientific method points to a time of the beginning of all things and if the evidence of design in nature and of the impossibility of evolutionary development by chance is so overwhelming, then the plausibility of creation and of some record of that event is established far more reasonably than its evolutionary alternative. No - no earthly witness was present at the event itself and while scientific modelling may support the data, it is helpless to verify the literary connection. There is yet room for faith!
Genesis tells of a personal, even plural Intelligence who set this universe in motion and, with the Word of His mouth, created all life on Earth, including one man and one woman, in six days. If you attended Sunday school, you know the story of the man and the woman as the story of Adam and Eve.
Unlike the writings of fiction or fables, and possibly why the Bible has always overcome the concentrated attacks of its critics, the records of Genesis link directly to historical peoples and nations and empires in linear, matter-of-fact and quite verifiable ways. Genesis is the most detailed and accurate record of the ancient world in existence and the entire Bible has been demonstrated to be so by historical researchers many times over. No finding of archeological science has ever contradicted a biblical reference and the biological, statistical and genetic implications drawn from the story of our first parents remain impeccably intact.
Also unlike other writings, this book was accepted as the God-breathed Word of the Creator and copied and preserved, letter by letter and century by century, through the most involved rituals and procedures (such as bathing and putting on clean clothing before writing the divine name, or counting the letters of every line and on each page) lest the smallest change or error should intrude into the record.
Caesar cross the Rubicon? Did Hannibal cross the Alps? Did Callimachus
win at Marathon? We know these things only through ancient historical
documents far less rigorously preserved for us than the Genesis
record. Might it contain something worthy of our attention on
the question of origins?
The word SCIENCE
is derived from the Latin verb "scio, scire": to know or to understand; in
fact, it comes most directly from the present participle, active, of that
verb: "sciens" - meaning 'knowing'. Science
is thus a perpetually active, real-world, real-time process of knowing, an
on-going search for truth using analytical methodologies to test and probe
and quantify reality. The fact that science is rooted in the present
tense is significant also, in that it remains an open process, never completed
and never satisfied with the results of the past, not possessed of an agenda
for the future. Every principle is continuously up for examination and
re-statement, open always to the possibility of modification in the face of
new findings, willing to turn in new directions.
The methodology of science is designed
to be one of rigorous objectivity through the formation of hypotheses based
on observation and inductive reasoning, controlled experimentation and logical
(deductive) conclusions. It is generally recognized that results must
be repeatable and critiqued by others in the field before anything approaching
a finding can be announced. The results should also facilitate the formation
of further testable hypotheses, or predictions, that will allow verification
or falsification of the findings alleged. If a belief or practice or
pronouncement or theory does not conform to the foregoing, it is not scientific.
Almost too obvious, this is a flawed characteristic of a thought process that accepts only preferred information and prefers its own conclusions. It is a closing, or at least a restriction, of the information processing gateways of the mind.
Often thrown down as trump in the debate over biblical faith, CLOSED MINDEDNESS is an attribute common to all. We defend our ideas and beliefs. It is not a sin. It can be an impediment to our understanding and to our best interests however, when we hold so tightly to belief that we do not let facts interfere. That was the underlying issue of the Scopes Trial (the Monkey Trial) in the 1920's, where the teaching of evolution was brought into public debate in an attempt to open the classrooms and the minds of America to the new data. Those whose faith was challenged by this, fought back with the weight of the law (and won) but the stigma of 'closed mindedness' sealed the fate of such attempts to control education and science education in particular. A victory for academic freedom was the end result of the loss in court that day.
Ninety+ years later, the situation is reversed. Evolutionary theory holds the reigns of power in the classroom and creation science is looked upon as the threat. Evolutionary faith is being challenged and there is a very real struggle to keep the creation model out of the classroom ... and it is being fought, at times through the courts, by those whose applause for the Scopes 'victory' has barely subsided ... and they don't see (or refuse to allow) the symmetry!
Science is unfortunately stained by a history of the suppression of ideas. The flat-Earth debate and the tussle over the true construction of the solar system are well-worn examples of popular ideas, scientifically propounded and defended for centuries, being wrong but holding power through the inertia of a belief system resistant to change. Contemporary examples abound.
The research of Velikovsky into the role of catastrophe in the shaping of our world caused his veritable ostracism from science; the same role of catastrophe, that he championed, has now forcefully returned to scientific acceptance, albeit cleansed of all references to it's modern pioneer. The role of vitamins and vitamin therapy in disease prevention caused the label of 'kook' to be applied to many of its advocates (Linus Pauling comes to mind); now vitamins are in the news headlines almost daily. Plant and herbal medicines - folk remedies - suffered the ignominy of established medical practitioners for decades but drug companies now spend major cash sending researchers into the jungles and rain forests of the world, seeking new medicines, and the rationale of the preservation of unknown plants, potentially of great medicinal value, is used to defend the forests themselves from exploitation and destruction. Doctors at one time even told mothers not to nurse their children - formula was superior! - and generations of children suffered the loss of this most basic, natural provision for their well-being.
To relate this to our site topic, creation vs. evolution, the record of closed mindedness is equally striking. Dinosaur tracks and human footprints in the same rock strata in Texas (and elsewhere) throw the evolutionary timetable for a loop - to the unbiased observer. To the convinced evolutionist, they mean that some as-yet-undiscovered dinosaur with human-like feet existed because dinosaurs and man did not co-exist - in theory. (And though those tracks in Texas have come under increasing criticism, the scientist who drew this very conclusion, when confronted by the physical evidence of them, revealed, in spades, the power of the will to 'believe' in evolution.) * And that artless side-step pales in comparison to the theoretical evasions evolving around the 'soft tissue' issue! (use your BROWSER'S 'Back' button to return here)
Likewise, with many of the earlier, though now, less-frequently referenced creationist challenges to evolution theory, the evolutionary counter-arguments offered in rebuttal revealed, with clarity, the dogmatic grip of this theory. A dead and decaying creature giving a good imitation of a Plesiosaur, snagged in a net by Japanese fishermen in 1977 - and measured and sampled and photographed by a marine biologist who was aboard! - is dismissed out-of-hand as a Basking Shark by evolutionary scientists ... because they know that Plesiosaurs have been extinct for millions of years.*
Almost every precept of the evolutionary
timetable is at risk in the reliance on radiometric dating methods, the gross
assumptions of which are subject to serious challenge and debate - if the
debate would be engaged. The rates of sedimentation and erosion, of
fossilization and petrifaction, of stratification, of coal and fossil fuel
formation - all are shown to be rather rapid processes in catastrophic circumstances
by research at Mt. Saint Helens but institutional 'Science' seems to be mute
*Some of the Paluxy River 'man tracks' may well be eroded dinosaur footprints (not the ones followed and having their continuations exposed under freshly-removed rock layers). The rotting carcase pulled from the sea off the coast of New Zealand may well have been a basking shark - though the fishermen who caught it, whose livelihood is the sea, said it was not, as did the biologist who examined it. The ultimate resolution of such finds is not the only concern for science, here; the unseemly rush to discount evidence and shield current dogma is equally, even more, telling and important .
Clearly, two streams of human frailty are at work here: the defence of belief in the face of facts (closed mindedness) and the weight or authority we give to others over our own thoughts and lives (weak mindedness). Where we put our faith (and we all have faith) is obviously a crucial matter. Cynicism is certainly not an adequate antidote or attitude to counter our weaknesses; study and thinking for one's-self is an absolute must.
WHAT'S LOGIC GOT TO DO - GOT
TO DO WITH IT?
When we speak of logic, we are dealing with the science of thought. When we speak of thought, we are dealing with the operation of the mind in making judgements and decisions about reality and truth. When we speak of truth ... we encounter a problem. Ever wonder why truth is so resisted? Truth speaks of finality and absolutes, a destination beyond which we need not and can not go. Aristotle taught men to use their heads to search for truth and showed that through a consistent application of sound principles, truth could be arrived at. It was a conclusion not wholly welcomed, then or now.
Science and the inductive methodology
of science, are founded on the premise (though not the Aristotelian premise)
that truth can be known. Modern scientists will often deny that this
is so, insisting that science does not claim to establish truth, but this
is an unsupported and quite irrational assertion. Science is "knowing"
and the knowing, if it does not relate to truth, is nothing. The initial,
hypothetical starting point of the scientific method is a statement of perceived
truth, to be refined and tested by experiment and observation. Knowledge
is truth or it is meaninglessness - not knowledge
at all. You can not, for instance, have knowledge that lead is lighter
than hydrogen. The purpose of the knowledge of the truth is to allow
us to act and we act on scientific truth all the time. That is how we put
satellites into orbit or make maple syrup.
Scientific humility is the proper basis for stating the limitations of the discipline, for rejecting the ultimacy of its findings, not some definitional restriction that would preclude the ultimate destination. (Cal-Tech has a discussion forum entitled "Closer to Truth" so there is hope on the horizon!)
There is also, you may recall, an ongoing search for a unified theory of everything.* This would indeed be a meaningless enterprise if, when finally found, it was declared that it was not really the truth about everything. Then again, how could it even be declared to have been 'found' if it were not truth? Surely our judgments are judgments of truth, rooted in our rationality. We sense the illogical not because Aristotle educated us to it; he was able to educate us to it because we had the capacity to sense it already.
Science, like logic, however, can not provide truth on demand; it is, after all, a human enterprise. It can only do its best. That said, some beliefs and postures within the evolutionary sciences reveal just how far from the mark we can wander, both logically and scientifically, and still claim some stature for the discipline.
Firstly, if somewhat ironically, evolution has been elevated by some enthusiasts to a "truth" of science, a law of nature, beyond challenge, by its acclamation to a position of universality - and this, virtually, by a show of hands. From big bang to big brain, all is simply agreed to be an evolutionary process and the facts must be found or forced (or fudged) to fit. This does two things for the theory: first, it puts it beyond the reach of 'truthing' (instantly removing it from the realm of 'science'): universal propositions can never be verified. Secondly, it reduces any purportedly supportive findings or conclusions either to meaningless tautologies or deductive syllogisms, neither of which do much for the advancement of knowledge. Substantial conclusions can never be drawn from tautological premises and deduction moves from accepted truth to acceptable truisms ... hardly the stuff of innovation and discovery; hardly the working tools of credible science.
As an example: if evolution is a fact of science and if the geologic column is a record of life on Earth through time, then the fossil record tells us the story of evolution: c'est vrai, n'est pas? Well, it is consistent, internally, but is it true? Only if both premises are true and known to be true (and they are not) is the conclusion valid; yet, this is vintage 'evolution-speak', typical of the faulty, deductive circularity in use and relied upon by evolutionary theorists in the battle for our mind's assent to an essentially materialist worldview.
Evolution is believed, assumed, inferred, supposed and imagined but it is never demonstrated and never will be nor ever could be by such reasoning. In fact, science's late marquis philosopher, Sir Karl Popper, an evolutionist by the way, often challenged audiences filled with scientists around the world with a very simple question: "Can you tell me one fact of evolution that you know to be true?", he would ask. He never received an answer.
His confrontation with the way we thought in 20th century academic circles revealed the true nature of belief in evolution: it was, and is, as faithful as any religious belief and yet without the confirming evidence at its core. Evolutionists 'believe' too, not in the sense that Christians have believed in Christ and his resurrection - the tomb is empty, there were witnesses and it is 2017, after all - but in spite of the prolonged absence of either a credible mechanism or a plausible framework for the theory. This kind of belief is properly called 'faith'.
But consider what elevation to a position of universality really does for the robustness of a theory. Instead of making it truly invincible to attack, it does exactly the opposite: any contradiction of a universal proposition - any one contradiction - invalidates that proposition, at least as originally framed. The wider the explanatory power claimed by any theory, the greater the range of possible falsifications. Remember the 'all swans are white' hypothesis: It took only one black swan to topple it. (This is, of course, true of religious 'universal' truths as well and is the reason anti-religionists never cease to bring their challenges to bear, seeking to topple the edifice and liberate the captives in a single stroke.)
The systemic weakness introduced into the evolutionary hypothesis by the universality play has been responsible for an ever-less-credible theory, buoyed only by the endless patches and plugins required to skirt the falsifications to stay afloat. Any 'scientific' theory of evolution has died a thousand deaths in the construction of these defences; only a philosophic 'evolutionism' remains today. Many evolutionary scientists and authors have begun to realize this and are calling for a re-evaluation of the edifice they have been constructing. Others, still parading in Darwinian robes, seem blissfully unaware that they are now, really quite naked.
We live in interesting times.
* At least there was hope for the unified theory, until Godel's 'incompleteness' theories (mathematical logic) convinced Einstein that even a consistent (true) statement of such a theory could never be verified.
Scientists must make assumptions; in fact, they rely on them even to begin an investigation. This is just the reality of reasoning: we must all start somewhere. The current kafuffle between creationist and evolutionary camps is largely centred around the place which foundational assumptions are allowed (or required) to assume.
The supernatural creation of all things would be one such assumption. Creation theorists are roundly criticized by evolutionists for any resort to supernaturalism, whether as a starting point for their theorizing, or in drawing an inference. Evolutionists, however, are trying, quite deliberately and quite inconsistently, to make their assumption of naturalism the litmus of legitimate science. Unless scientific speculation begins with and continues to expound naturalistic rhetoric, it is denied validity. Now, we can not blame anyone for trying to stay on top of the pile but some antics are more credible (or incredible) than others in the effort.
Surely this tack begs a major - if not, the major - question in the understanding of all processes and things. It is an attempt to conclude at the outset rather than to assume for purposes of investigation. If the evidence, regardless of our foundational assumptions, points toward or away from, supports or weakens those assumptions, then it is those assumptions which must be modified, not the evidence encountered along the way. If one has first formulated the conclusion and all observations must yield, then we mock science, merely shilling for the politically-preferred position.
This is certainly the basis of
the evolutionist's most credible charge against biblical creationism: its
unscientific approach to real-world problems - its a-priori acceptance of
firmly-held, religious convictions masquerading as openly-arrived-at conclusions.
How, then, does this same tactic receive absolution when it is evolutionism's
posit of naturalism that is held sacrosanct and unassailable?
Naturalism is science's implicit
methodology - it's all we have to work with; to contend that it is omni-explanatory,
especially when evidences point powerfully elsewhere, is academic and intellectual
Strongly held convictions are not the enemy, by the way; they can be a catalyst for progress and innovation and they may be very truth ... but they must also incorporate and demonstrate a willingness to be tested to gain credibility in scientific endeavours. And that's a critical distinction: the prelate can speak as the oracle of God Himself - and should; that's his calling. The scientist must maintain a decorous distance from absolute pronouncements to be true to his.
Evolutionary science, quite the contrary, currently engages in total warfare upon alternate interpretations of the evidence through extreme social and political pressures to preserve its own pre-eminence, all the while being forced by credible inferences of its own inadequacy, to modify the original (or secondary or tertiary) assumptions of naturalism in ever-less-credible ways (punctuated equilibrium? - gimme a break!).
If, for a scientific starting point (assumption), one began with: "If there is a God - then ....", clearly one might be accused of embarking on metaphysics and not science. God, or the immaterial, is perhaps derivable through inference but certainly not demonstrable through data. Nor would affirming the consequent be logically sufficient to establish the proposition anyway. But it is our inability to devise appropriate or conclusive (if and only if) tests for the transcendent that is the limitation here, not the relevance or non-relevance of the "God question" to the natural world.
If, however, one were to start with: "If life appeared suddenly, in perfected forms - then ....", this would be as acceptable, and certainly no less scientific, than its alternate: "If life arose spontaneously and developed gradually, through natural processes - then....". They stand on equal footing as assumptions or hypotheses, awaiting testing, vindication or falsification through the scientific method.
It's called "modelling".
The only hope the evolutionist/materialist has to enforce the 'naturalism' dogma legitimately, is if, in truth, there is demonstrably no God and there has been no supernatural intervention in our world. That, of course, would involve the attempt to prove a universal negative. In other words, an assumption of naturalism has no hope of legitimacy as a foundational principle of science.
The greater issue for our science and for our lives, however, is that of honesty and integrity in the enterprise. It has been wisely said that man can not believe whatever he wishes, only whatever he can. If there is a Creator, would the study of His creation not reveal Him ... and would any science that refused, a-priori, to admit or recognize evidences of design, thought or intelligence be worthy of the name?
As usual, you decide.
WHAT'S THE POINT?
If you have followed the discussion on origins this far and missed the point, there is no point trying to explain it now. This must seem to you a partisan debate in which nothing presented by the 'other' side is considered relevant or worthy, based on some pre-established positions. But, that's the point! (And it demonstrates the essence of why we say that it is what we believe, deep down in our hearts, that matters: we humans have the ability, perhaps the unfortunate facility, to go to our graves clinging to some ill-supported beliefs.)
The "other side" is not a side at all for science; it is just more information!
This site has merely chosen to present some evidences on origins that you may not have discussed or even encountered before. We are sure there is much more that we have overlooked or have failed to consider, no doubt to our detriment. Unfortunately, there is a system in place that actively seeks to prevent you from encountering or considering these evidences and arguments and it will un-mercifully mock you, if and when you do. Fortunately, that system appears steadily to be breaking down.
Evidence is just that: evidence. It is not proof; it is not the last word; it is not a weapon to be wielded in combat; it is just what is. It is a piece of reality for consideration in the formulation of our beliefs and intellectual positions. Can we arrive at differing interpretations of the evidence? To be sure, but an honest consideration of the evidence, an open hearing of the arguments, is the least we owe to ourselves and to our generation. Consideration of the evidence is what is often most feared by those with an agenda to promote, a doctrine to uphold, a position to defend.
Do not go to your grave defending
the indefensible, accepting the unacceptable, believing the unbelievable.
Truth is worth our time and effort ... and truth leaves tracks.
With the following three items (and final three, for those who have endured to the end) we cease from consideration of matters material and enter a more spiritual plane in the world of Christian Apologetics. The following questions express, without doubt, the most frequently raised objections to Christianity and Christian witness in the whole wide world. They are the ubiquitous and sometimes even serious rejoinders to virtually every Christian's attempt at a meaningful conversation with the unconvinced. (They are also sometimes merely the defensive or escapist rejoinders of those unwilling to be convinced.)
The thoughts and offerings of the following few paragraphs in no way claim to represent an adequate or even an effective response to these questions. They are universal cries for ultimate understanding, after all, and to pretend to be supplying that from this little corner of creation would just be silly. Situational dynamics shape appropriate responses anyway, not canned answers, and the timely guidance of One more in touch with the soul who brings the question forward is required.
Notwithstanding any of the above,
of course, we dare to rush
in with our contribution to the discussion.
IF THERE IS ONE TRUTH, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY RELIGIONS AND DENOMINATIONS?
The answer to the question on the fairness of God (below) goes a long way toward answering this question. And if you are at all cognizant of the nature of man, you are already a long way toward formulating an answer on your own. Man is religious. The fact that some are not is no more a counter-thesis than to say that some of us are not gregarious, therefore man is not a social being. The earliest records of civilization and the latest news reports confirm our 'religiosity' and our psychoanalytic industry has been built on guilt: we all have it; we would all rather not.
Religions founded or instituted by man, tend to seek a personal righteousness, usually through works of discipline, faith or charity, that will assuage that guilt, that will stand the adherent in good stead with his maker (or at least provide a good front for our actions). Either way really, religions are thus an acknowledgement of the objective standards to which we are all accountable ... a recognition of the "ought to's" of our existence ... and the simultaneous acknowledgement that we fail to meet them. All men recognize their natural state and the need for a covering for 'sin' - that personal wilfulness, expressed in our opposition to the moral law written in us and that bears persistent and unfailing witness against us ... until we strangle it. Man is and will continue to be religious in spite of himself.
Man is also proud. To think that another might know or have discovered a truth by which we ourselves should live - to which we should submit - tends to put us in a spiritually inferior position (in our own minds, if nothing else). Rather we should determine for ourselves what is required of us than let some 'foreigner', some interloper, someone who is obviously no better than we are tell us what to do ... and so it goes. Where humility is required, we often bristle and bristling against the truth inculcates religiosity.
Religion can also be understood as our way - man's way - of having our cake and eating it too. We desire the benefits of a clear conscience, a good report card so to speak, so we can hold our head high and compare ourselves favourably to others - but we also want to 'fool around' just a little ... or maybe a whole lot.
How can we do that? One way is simply to do whatever we want to do anyway - exercise our wills - and then invent or select a religious observance or form or structure that covers our butt, so to speak, usually making it very strict and binding in some aspects of life to make up for the fall from grace in our own pet areas of deviance. We reject true religion - which is personal surrender, simple obedience to what we know inwardly to be right and good - and try to build or invent our own righteousness. Perverse sexuality, strangely enough, is often the index fossil of this religious deviance. Find laxity in sexual mores and you will be hot on the tail of a wandering religious community, usually commingled with obsessive allegiance to a 'leader' figure and/or submission to some rather odd-ball ideas of how to live ones life.
The late 20th century explosion of cults was just an escalated manifestation of this phenomenon that is traceable through time. You would think we would have caught on to ourselves by now.
Religions and cults usually begin in relative obscurity, parochial and even comical in their beliefs and structures, but the human characteristics of perseverance, loyalty, faithfulness (and don't forget greed and gullibility) can play a role in the manufacture of formidable traditions that may eventually reach critical mass and persist through their own momentum. And the woods are full of 'em.
Where then do we go for spiritual guidance? The Word of God - and a word with God - might be a logical place to start.
As for denominations, this is often (though not always) a lesser issue and concerned more with human temperament and expression. Orthodox Christians, for instance, believe and accept that God and His Word are true. Within orthodoxy reside many shades and degrees of enthusiasm and expression however. A denomination may be considered a grouping of like-minded individuals, comfortable with each others modes and styles. Though not usually divided deeply by major doctrinal issues, the varying emphases among denominations in even non-essentials of the faith can spark divisions within the church that, given time, can progress from minor differences to heresies, even leading to full-fledged schisms. The Reformation produced a major, doctrinal course correction within the Christian Church that has persisted and blossomed. Liberties won in that era have also led to some of the great excesses of our own.
If man is capable of anything, it is excess, no less in religion than in any other area of our lives.
The characteristics of the human temperament seem especially suited to promote divisions. Ideas gain popular support; initial enthusiasms for them peak and wane; revivals and reformations reconstitute the mix; dynamic personalities influence many; many resist movements or ideas on principle while others seek the refuge or the advantages of group dynamics. Some are motivated by their need or desire to lead and be recognized; others find their recognition or place in the association. And then there is the question of the scriptures and their historicity or their reliability or their meaning. Faith, belief, interpretation, understanding, liberty, personality, wilfulness, expression, conscience, tradition and resistance to tradition ... all play a role.
Why do we have so many different
denominations? Probably for the same reason we have so many different
cars - or political parties. You can bet is has more to do with the
idiosyncracies and preferences of man than of God!
WHY DO WE HAVE PAIN AND SUFFERING?
The big "Why" questions are most often theological in nature. Theological questions may be answered by man but they would certainly be best answered by God; that would be by 'revelation'. To accept revelation, however, God must be assumed. If God is assumed, one who questions the existence of God will immediately object - but then usually go back to pose the original question. It is an endless loop ... unless we break it down.
We must first decide whether we
enjoy asking the questions more than listening for the answers. If the
question or the questioning process is more important to us than finding the
answer, then we must be ever satisfied with our professed ignorance.
If we are honestly seeking answers, then we must question in hope of them.
The following, hopefully helpful contribution to the discussion is, of course,
just one layman's attempt to deal with perhaps the toughest obstacle to belief
for those who would sincerely like to believe but find belief non-rational
because of the problem of pain and suffering.
(There remains, however, at least one category within this question that may have no satisfying answer: the pain of innocents. If someone has it figured, please let us know. When Herod killed all the male children under two years of age in Bethlehem, we credit the evil in the heart of a man as the cause of this calamity and give God at least a partial pass. When a tree is toppled by a gust of wind and it crushes two little children, as recently happened in one of our National Parks ... ... ... all explanations lack a certain something. Both examples appear in the Bible. Herod's evil, as just mentioned above, and Job, who lost all his children to a natural disaster. Job's answer is the believer's ultimate recourse: "though He slay me, I will trust Him." The personal, practical, therapeutic benefits of this approach are seen to be enormous; ready assent to it would be enormously difficult for most of us.)
That perplexity apart, assuming the God of the Bible is a good God and the Creator of all things, why do we see pain and suffering and sorrow and cruelty and death at all - and, as recently in Asia, on a grand scale? Would it not make better sense, given our obviously flawed world, to accept a cosmos-wide naturalism involving struggle, randomness and imperfection (could evolution actually be a logical inference?) than to try to credit a supposedly loving and wise creator with this mess.
Well, firstly, it is not a mess always and everywhere. Life has many great moments and triumphs and pleasures and in knowing these, we are even more driven to comprehend the place of pain. Apart from the many inadequacies involved in our attempt to grapple with so great a question, our grappling is not really necessary; a sufficient answer has already been 'revealed' by the Creator himself - in His record of creation. Some believe it to be myth and allegory but it is presented as historical fact.
The Bible declares that, in the beginning, God pronounced creation perfect ... without defect or any of the evils we see today. The record reveals that there was a capacity 'to know' evil inherent in the system but it was not an activated or even an essential component for a complete life. Everything was simply created good. The Creator's own capacities for volition and autonomy were incorporated into the creature he designed after His own likeness, though in a physical or material (and thus a limited) context.
This creature He called "Man" (Adam) and the autonomy given was complete - with a set of instructions and a warning. Man had the good life! We had it all, and the Bible reveals that we blew it. We were tempted to ignore God's instructions and we chose 'to know' good and evil. (Does anyone ever feel 'tempted' to do good?) We activated the dark side wilfully and, by a type of psychological inheritance, Adam's choice is resident in us all. The Bible says that it resides in our heart or our inner being. Decadence, literally, became part of nature and of our nature; it is the real 'us' and it (that errant wilfulness) is the source given for all the evil and sorrow and pain and suffering the world has ever known. It is an adequate cause for an observed effect over time. We introduced the gremlins and many "Pandora's Box" mythologies retell the story.
God's will was perfect, as was His creation; our will, early expressed in disobedience to Him, became the source of God's greatest sorrow - and His greatest sacrifice. The Creator who gave us His own likeness, demonstrated the extent of His love for us by becoming one of us and by suffering the ignominy and the torture of violent, unmerited and untimely death, that we might be restored to the good life again.
Oh really, O'Reilly - now, how does that make any sense?
Death - separation from God - was
the pre-announced consequence of wilful disobedience ... disobedience that
estranges us from the very source of our life. He accepted, took, bore,
that penalty on our behalf, in real-time, in our history, in His own body
- the innocent for the guilty; "paid in full!" can now be stamped on
the invoice of offences that we all hold in our hands.
The sin that brings death, pain and suffering into the world has been ordered removed from creation, however ... but it resides in us all! Our relationships, our bodies, the creation itself was and is afflicted with sin's consequences: death and decay. (I guess He wasn't bluffing.) What the Bible calls 'the law of sin and death' is universally at work - in us, in the biosphere and in the laws of the universe. It may even be formally described by science in the law of 'entropy' or The Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Bible just poetically refers to it as "creation groaning". Sin, disobedience, as promised, brought separation between God and His creation - our sin, our disobedience. As we exercise our wills in opposition to His, we contribute to and augment the cumulative power of sin in the world and we see the cumulative results all around us.
In the natural, as we all are, without redemption, we are separated and will be removed from His presence and kingdom. We are a blight - a disordering influence. The 'Earth Firsters' have almost got it right.
For God's justice and purposes to remain perfect and intact requires this separation of the evil from the good. We wouldn't want it any other way and our cries against injustice prove it. For His professed character of love and mercy to be validated (in our eyes, at least) requires that there be some way out for creation that does not abrogate justice. The 'way out' was provided by the Creator himself paying the promised penalty, undeservedly, voluntarily, on our behalf. He came and lived on Earth as a man, perfectly, working wonders in demonstration of His Deity, undeserving of any penalty, unconvicted of any sin (by those who were the legal experts in ferreting out the smallest sin, especially in the lives of others) yet he paid the price. We executed Him!
Sound reasonable so far?
He was brutalized; we were forgiven. Sound fair?
Perfect justice: perfect mercy; impossible for man but not for God ... not for a God who loves us that much.
But why (again) could God not just
have forgiven us anyway, without all the melodrama? Simply, because
of His nature. Because He is just, by nature; perfect, by nature; holy,
by nature and can not abide, nor can His creation endure, our little 'imperfections'
(like malice and greed and envy and pride and lust - the things that have
blossomed from that first disobedience, that have so marred this creation,
our natural and social environment, the behaviours that have so degraded us
that we come inevitably to this persistent question, and we question His very
wisdom and goodness in giving us life - even His very existence in the face
of the human carnage and confusion we see all around us). We should
be and will be eternally thankful that goodness and justice does, indeed,
ultimately rule in this universe. There is reason to be hopeful and
even joyful in the face of pain.
The more perceptive question becomes now, not 'why is there pain and suffering?' but: "can a good God allow this situation - allow us - to continue in this creation-marring, pain-and-suffering-causing rebellion?" The answer is: "of course not - not for long!" Even perfect patience must have its end or it becomes tolerance and God does not tolerate sin.
His goodness is so complete and His mercy so incomprehensible that even those of us who have participated freely in vandalizing creation, even having spent a lifetime in doing so, He will allow to have part in His new creation. He has promised a new heart to those who accept His sacrifice on their behalf and a full pardon for past indiscretions, and, most incomprehensible of all, He has promised to forget, not just forgive, our sins - a true, new beginning. He wants us to be part of His promised new creation and to be, ourselves, a new creation. Freely we have chosen to disobey - many of us for decades; freely we can choose to obey again.
There will be no sin or sorrow allowed there ... no tears or pain or suffering. He can not and He will not allow it this time. We can choose to take part in this new creation with a simple, sincere, three-word prayer: "Lord, remember me."
Now the pertinent question becomes:
"will you pray it"?
HOW CAN YOU SAY GOD IS FAIR AND JUST?
If, as Christians believe, Jesus was God in the flesh and no-one can get to Heaven unless they accept and believe in Him, what about all those who've never heard of Him or the millions who died before He was even born ... or who believe in Buddha ... or ... Krishna etc. etc. This, in some similar form or another, is one of the major objections to Christian witness as it seems to strike a logical and mortal blow against the very nature of God that we have been discussing.
How can He be fair and just and yet condemn countless people to eternal damnation who have never even heard of His offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
On numerous counts, this question is seen to be a seriously mis-directed query, revealing more about ourselves than we might care to admit. While it is superficially a question of importance; primarily it is a question of ignorance - ignorance of God's power, of His Word and a not-too-veiled attack on His sovereignty.
A strange thing happens when we challenge God's fairness. If He exists (and that's why we are challenging Him on this - right?) and if He created us, our own sense of fairness must derive from His. He created us and gave us the very moral capacities from which this question arises. If we can sense an ethical dilemma here - a moral issue - you can bet He has it figured! As the scripture says: "shall not the God of the whole Earth do right?" His competence to know and judge and weigh and discern is perfect and complete; his fairness is the template: ours is derivative and ours, in earthen vessels, is limited. The limited is challenging the omniscient. It is not only a matter of faith to accept God's righteousness in all His ways; it is simple common sense! To don the robes ourselves and put God in the dock is the very height of human pride and folly.
That said, for the one who questions God from outside of faith, the question will remain an obstacle to belief. The Bible seems to suggest that even faith is a gift of God so we can not appeal to faith to convince the sceptic; he may not have that gift (yet). Fortunately, there are other approaches to the question.
The Bible also declares that God has revealed Himself to all men, especially through creation or "by the things that are made". Design in nature is His signature. No one in any generation, on any continent, will be able to say that they had no idea there was a God. We can not look at a circle of stones in a field and fail to discern the presence or influence of intelligence and purpose - how much moreso the stars of Heaven? Those involved in the sciences, especially, will be without excuse; for the deeper we delve into nature, the more ignorant we become, so exquisite are the works of His hands.
We will be judged, fairly, by what we knew of God and what we did with that knowledge. God's word says that when we seek Him, we find Him. He does not hide from us when we seek Him honestly; He reveals Himself. He revealed Himself fully in the person of Jesus Christ and "by many infallible proofs" (for those who desire to seek further) sealed the authenticity of that revelation, not least by His resurrection from the dead. The same Word - His Word - also reveals our thoughts and the inclinations and intents of our hearts. It says we often prefer not to consider God or even to admit He exists because that gives us licence for the behaviours we do prefer. We will be judged for this attitude also and, really, we are by our own attitudes judged and condemned already. God will not have to do it.
Every attempt to justify our behaviours or our beliefs is the admission of their shortfall. He will only have to remind us of the turn of our hearts away from knowing Him, of our desires to live our own way - set our own rules - choose our own values and behaviours - without Him. If, in considering Him, we get uncomfortable and defensive - our conscience bears witness against us. He gave us that conscience, that awareness, to lead us to Him! We either follow it or we suppress it; it is a choice. We will be judged, and fairly judged, for our treatment of that inner witness. No-one, anywhere or any time, will have a charge to lay against God.
We also live out the consequences of our beliefs (why we at "WHAT MATTERS" say that it is what you believe, that matters!). In turning away from God, Man has often merely substituted for Him, rejecting the truth that hurts ... or cramps our style ... and invented our own righteousness, which usually ends up hurting others. We carve out a statue or set up a ritual or devise a demanding set of rules and strictures - develop a hundred different methods of 'doing religion' to deal with the guilt we all sense in our inner being. We will be judged for this as well.
God has set out the rules and they are reducible to the simplest and most basic of commandments: 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' and yet we can't even accomplish that. We acknowledge the truth and necessity of it but we also know we fail consistently to perform it ... and know what? God knows we can't do it either and that is why He has taken the initiative and made the greatest sacrifice, to provide the way for the creation He loves - His own creation.
YOU are His creation. Acceptability and fitness for His coming kingdom for all eternity is within reach: it is called "faith". In our demonstrated incapacity to fulfil even the most basic requirements of righteousness, He has already justified us. We deserve judgement; He has already provided grace. We can continue to excuse ourselves and to justify ourselves rather than accept His free offer of mercy. But "our way" will always fall short of the mark (sorry Frank).
Trust Him; lean on Him; accept Him; have faith in Him ... ... but why Him? Why not some 'other way' - an alternate route?
Fair question - and the answer is given in that book: Because He is God and there are no other candidates for the job. He declared it and he demonstrated it. He who made us came (to Earth, into our history, in real time, involving real people, actual events) to rescue us from ourselves because He loves us still and He alone has the credentials to bear the penalty for sin on behalf of others. The guilty don't qualify; we all have our own penalty to bear, if so be we decline this offer. But don't look here for an adequate explanation of that one. There is mystery enough for eternity in the story of the cross.
Jesus said He was at the very door of our lives, asking to be let in; knocking, knocking, knocking. It is a simple response required and yet so hard for us to do and it is probably our pride that makes it difficult. The open admission of our guilt - before men, before God - very difficult. Perhaps some penance instead ... and maybe something a bit more demonstrative of our own talents and abilities would make us feel better ... something to strive for, to accomplish, to achieve. This free gift business that everyone is eligible for lumps us in with some pretty unsavoury characters. We want to feel better about ourselves than that. God's Word simply replies that He is no respecter of persons; we are all, equally, in need of His grace.
God allows us to go our own way, however, and to reap the consequences of that waywardness; it is part of being free - of having an autonomous will. Unfortunately, the young lamb that wanders becomes the target of the wolf. In our history, many people - nations and generations of people - have wandered spiritually and many spiritual wolves have picked off their offspring. God started us off well; we chose to wander. Boy, have we wandered. Empire has vanquished empire; nation has trampled nation; religion has at times degenerated into cannibalism and human sacrifice. Peoples and civilizations have risen to great heights and we walk daily over the rubble of their remnants in places like Rome, Athens, Tyre, Ghiza, Basra, Teotihuacan.
There is so much we do not know
of the past choices and decisions of men and nations and therefore we can
not presume to judge the 'fairness' of God in judging the beliefs and conduct
of others. We don't have the information and we don't have the right.
He decides. He alone knows their history ... and He alone knows
their hearts, just like He knows your heart, right now.
Fairness? "The one who loves
God is known by Him". That promise is all we really need to know about
the question of His ultimate justice.