Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Matthew 22:36-39 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
How can we go above our moral duty when Jesus teaches that we are to continually love the Lord with all that we are. If s performs an action x that were good but there were a greater action y that s were aware of, then according to these scriptures s should have performed y. How then can this be compatible with supererogatory actions?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Is Atheistic Naturalism Preferable to Theistic Contributions to Science?
In considering the issue of science and faith, the atheistic community has, in general, argued vociferously that science sits solely within the realm of the atheist and therefore has absolutely no place in the theistic realm of faith and non-empirical ideologies. Indeed, today the question of Intelligent Design, an attempt to avoid localizing science to any particular religious tradition or faith movement but rather to act within the realms of science to show the plausibility of creation over and against atheistic evolution, is hotly debated. Many atheists refuse to even engage Intelligent Design advocates because they believe that doing so would open the door for all kinds of silliness, irrationality, Scientology and other Buck Rogers-style religions. To even debate the issue, many atheists claim, would be to open the platform for craziness that has no place in the public square of academia.
As I ponder such claims, however, numerous questions come to mind as to not only the truthfulness of such atheistic claims but also the moral force (or lack thereof) driving such attempts as these. Does the atheist truly hold the realm of science unequivocally? Do faith and non-empirical beliefs truly have absolutely no place in the fields of science? Does debating advocates of particular ideologies such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism truly open the door for Xenu's Galactic Confederation of L Ron Hubbard? I assert that such claims by the atheist are not only false and unprovable, but are also a smoke screen for the utter failure of the atheistic belief system and an attempt to silence the opposition simply because as long as the followers of such incorrect ideologies are not allowed to think for themselves or even hear the other side, they are made gullible and left ignorant enough to follow, without question, the iron fisted proclamations of the atheistic elite and the ingenuity of their man made religion, hidden under the guise of "objective science."
To begin, it is simply false, and obviously so, that science is exclusively in the realm of the atheist. This claim alone, so popular and thrown about so easily by many atheists today, is something that raises serious questions as to the moral framework of those promoting it. For someone to have a Ph.D, or even a MS or BS in any field of scientific inquiry, they will have taken at least one class on the history of science. This means that anyone at the level of public science advocacy knows, at least basically, the history of their belief, which further means they know where many main branches of science have originated. Yet still, it is claimed that atheism alone rules the realm of science unequivocally against any type of theism or faith-based belief. What does the historical evidence have to say about it?
Here is a simple list of some of popular and/or heavily influential scientists of the past, all of which were theistic in their ideologies:
- Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) - Some of the earliest work in physics and biology
- John Philoponus (late 6th century) - Christian critic of Aristotle. Aristotle did, while bringing much solid science to a very non-scientific world, still employ a good deal of nonsense in his studies and Philoponus attempted to correct him.
- Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141) "Theologian of Science"
- Dietrich von Frieberg (c. 1250 - 1310) Priest who explained the Rainbow through scientific inquiry
- Nicole Oresme (c. 1320 -1382) Inventor of Graphing Techniques
- Georgias Agricola (1494- 1555) Founder of Metallurgy, Roman Catholic who died sadly desiring the reconciliation of the Protestant and Romanist faiths.
- Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626) The so-called scientific method goes back to a man who didn't think science could take place apart from God's existence.
- Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630) Discovered the Laws of Planetary Motion
- Johannes Baptists van Helmont (1579 - 1644) Founder of Pneumatic Chemistry and Chemical Physiology
- Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662) Mathematician, physicist, and Catholic philosopher
- Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691) Founder of Modern Chemisty
- Niels Steno (1638 - 1686) Founder of Geology
- Carolus Linnaeus (1707 -1778) Contributed much to the genus and species classifications that we know and understand today
- Michael Faraday (1791 - 1867) Presbyterian preacher and major contributor to electrical research
- Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806 - 1873) Nicknamed Pathfinder of the Seas, he revolutionized sea travel by studying and discovering the currents of the seas after reading certain passages out of the Psalms
- Asa Gray (11810 - 1888) Famous Botanist
- George Boole (1815 - 1864) Ever wonder where boolean logic came from.... yes, that's correct, from a, wait for it..... minister! So intent on becoming a minister he lived a very impoverished life to save up for his training, and began teaching math at a young age.
- James Prescott Joule (1818 - 1889) Anyone even basically familiar with electricity knows Joule's Law. Sadly, though, thanks to deceptive atheists, few know of his religious faith and motivation by his faith to study the orderly world.
- William Thomson (aka Lord Kelvin) (1824 - 1907) While we learn about his great contributions to thermodynamics and classification of temperature named after him we, thanks to those great moral atheists, are never taught that he used to recite Scripture from memory before his university lectures.
- Isaac Newton (1643 - 1727) Certainly not orthodox in his theology from a Christian perspective (probably a socinian, though most likely an anti-trinitarian at best)
"Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done." - Tiner, J.H. (1975). Isaac Newton: Inventor, Scientist and Teacher. Milford, Michigan, U.S.: Mott Media
The list could go on quite a ways, but I believe the point has been made. How is it, O great atheist, that to even think that science is of the realm of the theist is such anathema when in fact the very footsteps every scientist follows in today are of a theist of some sort? Why is it that, when integrity and honesty are the virtues to be sought in proper scientific endeavor (or all endeavors, for that matter), so few atheists are honest enough to deal with the historical fact of the positive influence of theism in science? What possible case could the atheist continue to make in this area? The answer, sadly, is pretty obvious. As stated above, it is true that if such indicative states of affairs were presented to the public, the atheist would lose his ability to stomp his feet and dogmatically declare that science excludes faith and that religion has no place in such inquiry. Sad, but when a despotistic regime is in control of the academy, we are to expect no less.
But not only is it the case that history, so hidden and swept under the rug by the atheist, opposes the atheist agenda in science today, but science itself also clearly denies such an agenda. I am convinced that, as Jesus replied to the Pharisees who demanded He silence his disciples, "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40), that if given a voice, science itself would cry out against such a morally and epistemically reprehensible agenda, for the creation itself knows its creator. It is the suppression of God in the hearts of the wicked that deny that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
So then what of science itself? Can it truly act consistently within the alleged empirical constraints of empiricism? I suggest that it certainly cannot. Consider this list of necessarily assumed and scientifically unargued for presuppositions that science can neither prove nor operate in the absence of:
1. The uniformity of nature
2. The veridicality of induction
3. The existence of a world independent of our minds
4. The proper function of our cognitive faculties
5. The ability of our cognitive faculties to properly and truthfully apprehend the mind-independent world
6. The laws of logic
7. The minds ability to properly and truthfully access the raw data of the mind-independent world
8. The existence of values such as truth
9. The superiority of values such as truth over falsehood in the hopes of accurate reports by scientists in their respective fields
Are any of these presuppositions proven by science? Are they acquired by science? Are they even the conclusion of science? The problem for the atheist who believes that science alone is the only true and proper realm of veridical discourse falls victim to the self-exception fallacy. Just as the epistemic relativist claims that “all truth is relative” all the while assuming that the statement “all truth is relative” is itself the one exception and thus not a relativistic statement, the atheist advocate of scientism states “science is the only accurate source for truth” all the while assuming that the statement “science is the only accurate source for truth” is the one exception to truth statements. The fact of the matter is that science cannot even get off the ground without certain assumptions that are non-empirical necessities. How does the atheistic scientist prove induction? How does the atheist prove the proper function of cognitive faculties? How does the naturalist warrant the existence of a mind independent world, let alone our ability to properly and accurately apprehend it? Even more so, how would he even begin such an endeavor? Certainly he cannot use the scientific method since induction is of course assumed in such, so what route would he take? Is induction tasted, smelled, heard, felt, or seen? Where are the scientific reports proving such?
The world is uniform and gravity doesn’t suddenly reverse or increase, our minds don’t suddenly stop providing us externally apprehended data (apart from certain disorders, etc. that aren’t relevant to our discussion), our cognitive faculties don’t take breaks from proper function (again, apart from certain disorders, etc.). We in fact need to assume a very orderly universe where laws and constants remain consistent with only, at best, minor exceptions, but note that this fact cannot be proven by science, only assumed by it. For the atheist, these are in fact articles of faith, not empirical conclusions. Does this fact seem to set science solely in the realm of the atheist? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Furthermore, let’s think about the theories of the atheist in regards to his naturalistic assumption of the origins of life. The atheist needs to go beyond the above stated presuppositions and assume a few more non-empirical presuppositions that simply cannot be proven by the scientific method (or scientific “methods” depending on one’s philosophy of science).
1. Either a) the world is eternal and always existed and the Big Bang was one of many such events (oscillating universe model), b) there are many worlds/universes out there and the interaction of such worlds/universes cause Big Bang style events in bringing about new worlds (multiple universe or multiverse theories), or c) the universe sprang into existence out of nothing via the Big Bang.
2. Life arose from non-life (contra the law of biogenesis)
3. Contra the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, matter organized itself apart from intelligence and developed into incredibly complex systems over years of “beneficial” mutations despite the fact that most mutations are harmful and fatal.
4. Non-sentient matter became sentient
Any honest scientist is going to have to admit that the above presuppositions are not empirically derived conclusions, but are articles of, wait for it…. faith. While my atheist friends froth at the mouth when I dare to make the obvious known to them, the fact of the matter is that the atheist worldview goes far beyond the realm of the empirical in order for the atheists to substantiate (or at least attempt to) their theory.
Do we see matter become sentient today? Do we see matter organize into information today apart from intelligence? Do we see non-existence producing existence or other worlds produce new worlds? The fact of the matter (pun intended) is that we do not.
Let me here humor the atheist and comment on certain possible refutations of my position to far.
“Beau, it is obvious that complexity comes about apart from intelligence because salt crystals and vortexes form in our bathtubs when we drain the water!”
This is where (nod to Aristotle) virtue plays a role in our endeavors. I say this simply because any scientist worth his salt (yes, pun once again intended) knows clearly the differential between repetition and complexity, and thus we hope and expect that knowledge of the scientist to play a role in discourse such as this. While salt crystals and vortexes form repetition of minor instances of order, they do not go beyond that – mere repetitions of minor forms of order. Salt crystals are repetitions of a very basic structure completely incapable of providing stability for life and vortexes are mere repetitions of another very basic pattern of gravity, environment, and the nature of water. Consider even the “simplest” life form – a single celled bacterium. I suggest anyone unaware of this issue take a basic biology textbook and examine the depth of complexity required for a “basic” single celled organism to live. From metabolism to reproduction, the simplest amoeba requires and exhibits much more complexity than any salt crystal or bath tub vortex. Whilst there are indeed certain instances of minor repetition of simple structures in the world, the depth of order and complexity required for life to exist, let alone thrive, transcends the simple examples the atheist scientist holds so dearly.
Perhaps another attempted refutation of my position would be the claim that origins of existence, by necessity of being non-repeatable and non-empirical, are still scientific because they are the logical conclusion of empirical science.
This critique would end up being the most devastating for the atheist simply because it is (minus the faulty conclusion) exactly what the advocates of Intelligent Design are arguing! Notice that such a position has now denied (and rightly so) that science is limited to empirical research. It has opened the door to what should have been truly required from the beginning and for what has been the driving force for scientists all along who possessed scientific integrity and believed in a creator – that it is the logical conclusion of the evidence and where it points that should be sought in scientific inquiry (the Latin word, scientia, literally means "truth") - not some agenda driven strong arming of a worldview over and against the evidence as is simply the case today. The atheistic scientist cannot make this above stated possible refutation because in doing so he shatters his desperate attempt to hold on to a purely empirical methodology by now allowing for conclusions to that which cannot fit into their empirical-only realm of thinking! (Of course, it is sadly not unexpected to see special pleading taking place when agenda driven worldviews replace truth in permitting the indoctrination of students to replace what began as a very noble and honorable enterprise, alas.)
The question then becomes – what is the more logical conclusion to all the scientific data? Note that for the atheist the “logical” conclusion of complexity and information is nothing other than time + matter + chance. The great moral sacrifices of altruism and cultural revolutionaries opposing evil regimes, the incredible complexity of life, and the amazing ability of a mind to apprehend and assimilate mind-independent reality is reduced to merely time + matter + chance! Now remember, friends - I’m the one being accused of blind faith here!
Why is it that even given our greatest scientific accomplishments (which are indeed great, and I thank God for them, just as the atheist should), when earthquakes strike Haiti and terrorist attacks leaving people injured that people come out in droves (notice the moral praiseworthiness of such instances) to provide blood? Certainly it cannot be the case that something so simple as the very basic and early developed inner life force of the higher developed and complex organisms, blood, is too complex to have evaded even the greatest scientific minds of scientists today to create in a laboratory, can it? Since it merely evolved by non-rational, non-telic and non-sentient means (time + matter + chance) it certainly cannot defy the scientists ability to create in a laboratory, can it? Maybe if we add billions of years, the god called Chance, assisted by matter (though we dare not question matter’s origin) could bring about a complex entity such as this...?
Furthermore, why is it that our greatest creations in the realms of computers (or anything else for that matter) are, oddly enough, incapable of doing what the simplest single celled organism can do – reproduce? Surely we should be able to create a self-reproducing computer as reproduction, seen in the earliest example of “simple” life, is merely an instance of mindless thoughtless evolution necessary in full effect from the very beginning, right?
Perhaps some sparkling red wine, a handful of raw oysters and a little Barry White would assist with such an event...?
It is indeed obvious to anyone not already convinced hook, line and sinker of atheistic scientism and subsequently evolution that any serious thought concerning this issue precludes atheism from being true. But then again, as proven by majority of atheists today, you are not allowed to question or defy the Religion of Chance because you’ll only be excommunicated from their worship services if you do and so mocked, publicly and privately, and condemned as unworthy to even raise a voice (see the documentary Expelled with Ben Stein for one particular instance of how these folks are treated when not bowing down before the altar of the all-powerful Chance...) that, as is clearly the goal, others will not listen to you and the truth will not be permitted to grace the scene.
One final point – the atheist who believes that empirical science is the only realm of accurate and trustworthy apprehension of knowledge truncates the human life and ends up being quite inconsistent with him or herself. The most obvious and glaring example of this is the question of morality. It is understandable that atheists want to do everything in their power to avoid discussion of morality other than to make attacks against theists from the alleged problem of evil. Why is this so? Let’s take a pretty simple and sad example.
How would the atheistic scientist empirically solve this question – is it better to love and protect little babies or torture and kill them for fun?
Is there a scientific method capable of solving this? Is there a test tube large enough to answer this question? Is there a physical constant found in the world able to provide insight to this?
The answer, of course, is a resounding “no.” Science cannot tell us what the law written on our hearts clearly can. It is wrong to hurt and kill infants for fun and no law of the natural world draws us to that conclusion; it is the answer given to us by natural law in our bearing of the image of the sovereign and divine Creator. For the atheistic scientist who is consistent within his or her life, this fact overturns any attempt to necessitate and localize truth on purely empirical grounds. And for the atheistic scientist who admits that truth and knowledge exist outside of empirical science, then there is serious discussion that needs to take place concerning what the atheists are promoting and how he/she can reconcile this inconsistency, and the touting of the popular atheistic mantra, “science as the only viable source for truth!” seriously needs to be discarded. The fact of the matter is that most scientists go home to their wives and believe them when they say, “I love you,” without having to hook her up to some kind of truth electrodes to verify the veridicality or lack thereof of that statement. "Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument" - James R. White, Alpha and Omega Ministries.
It is important to understand that science is indeed a valuable realm of truth and rational discourse but it is not the only one, and to limit all of reality merely to this realm, as many atheists clearly and sadly do today, is to truncate the human life; a morally reprehensible thing to do. Truth is not limited to the five senses, and there is no argument capable of presenting that view without appealing to non-sensory truth claims. Science should be properly focused on the immediate empirical facts of reality; no theist debates this, but that does not necessitate that it denies all other realms of truth-inquiry. Once science attempts to deviate from the immediate recording of empirical data (i.e. origins science) it cannot be twisted by the atheist to remain only in the realms of the presupposed agenda of atheists and then falsely presented as truth to others – it then needs to either incorporate theistic discussions or remain in the realm of a descriptive entity, not as a prescription of reality. Putting on a white cloak does not make a scientist a theologian, thus the promotion of the atheistic religion is shameful and deceitful when done in such a manner. I have no problem with one promoting his/her belief system. As is true for any Christian as well as non-Christians (and shame on those Christians who do in fact violate this imperative); promote your beliefs in the marketplace of ideas, but do so with truth, integrity, honor, consistency, and respect, and permit opposition to have its voice. To do otherwise is immoral. When atheists steps out of his or her area of expertise to dogmatize their agenda upon others at the expense of truth itself, they forfeit their right to lead anyone despite their intellectual capability in their respective field.
Now one may wonder why the atheist tries so desperately to hold onto the realm of science in opposition to such obvious problems with their pet theory. The answer seems pretty straight forward to anyone evaluating the evidence: for the atheist, scientific naturalism is the only game in town! Truth becomes irrelevant when an agenda is at stake. Even the desperate theories of Sir Frederick Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, scientists at least honest enough to admit the mathematical failure of naturalistic origins of life ideologies, are so patently faith based as to make the junior high school student furrow his brow in confusion at the atheist mantra of “science is the only truth!” Just Google "Panspermia" and see for yourself.
In conclusion, the fact of the matter is that the atheist advocate of purely empirical scientism is morally insufficient in his or her claims and entrenched in a morass of falsehoods and faith based assumptions. Not only is he/she unable to present an accurate conception or description of history, but he/she is also incapable of taking off the blinding glasses of atheism and realizing that it takes a whole lot more faith to believe that the depth of complexity found in the world is seriously the product of non-telic non-rational causes than it does to believe that mind, rationality, complexity, existence, and morality is the cause of a rational and moral Creator. My hat goes off to the atheists – you win when it comes to faith. I just don’t have enough faith to believe in atheism. Let’s hope that someday the absurd bias of naturalism will be overturned by the virtues of truth and integrity amongst atheists created in the image of God and the dialectic discourse within science will once again be one of honor, truth and integrity.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Beau McKinley Boyd
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The problem evil arises when one affirms that (1) God knows all true facts, (2) he can bring about any thing good (that does not involve a contradiction), (3) that God is morally perfect, (4) and such a moral perfection means that God should eliminate evil as much as he can. If one affirms all of these then there is a contradiction because there should be no evil, because a good and powerful God would eliminate evil as much as he possibly can.
Not a Contradiction for Christians:
However, for most Christians this is not a problem because many Christians would reject that moral perfection means one should eliminate evil as much as possible. The reason why Christians reject this is because they think that God has morally justifying reasons for bringing about or permitting evil in the world. In other words, the sort of moral perfection that God has is compatible with evil because he has morally sufficient or justifying reasons for permitting evil to occur.
A Possible Atheist Response?
One atheist response might be to say that God could not or would not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. But how do you know that it is impossible that if God existed he would have no morally justifying reason for the evil he has permitted? The atheist can say that they cannot think of any good reason for permitting evil in the world. But just because you do not know of any good reason does not mean that there is no good reason. I might not know an answer to a math problem, but that is different than saying that there is no answer to the math problem. So just because we do not know God's reason does not mean that he does not have one. In fact, it is unclear if he does or does not just by reason alone, so an unclear argument cannot be used to show that a position is unreasonable (especially since we have over 10 good arguments in favor of God's existence). On atheism, all we have is one argument that is unclear because either way we do not know whether or not God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil he permits. One unclear argument cannot outweigh 10 clearer arguments.
The Probablistic Problem of Evil
A weaker claim would be to say that evil makes God improbable because it is improbable that God would have reasons for all the intense evil that exists. But the problem with this is that God's thoughts are beyond ours, much like our thoughts are above and beyond those of an insect. So we cannot say that it is improbable because for all we know it could be that the morally sufficient reason God has is beyond our understanding and comprehension, much like astrophysics is above an insect's comprehension.
Two Possible Answers
Unfortunately for the atheist, it only gets harder from here, because theists have developed two good possible reasons for why evil might exist.
The Non-Reformed Response
The first one is the most common and it is called a free will defense (being Confessionally and Philosophical Reformed I reject this one). God cannot do anything that is logically impossible but he can only do what is possible. What is impossible is that God cause or make free creatures to do whatever he wants. So the only way to have free creatures is to not control and cause them. What God wants on this view is to bring as many people into a saving relationship with him by their free will and since free will is involved human beings can freely choose to hate God and do evil. What explains evil things that occur is the free will of demons and humans which cause evil, but God does not cause evil. God lets them choose freely so as to bring about as many people to a free loving relationship with him as possible so that he can give them eternal life (there is no world God can create where people only do good on this response). This defense was developed by Alvin Plantinga and the consensus in philosophy is that this argument shows that logical problem of evil is unsuccessful.
My Reformed Response
The next possible defense was developed by Calvinists thinkers like myself. Calvinists believe that God is in control and ordains everything so there can not be free will as traditional understood by many. In this view God ordains humans to choose to sin so that he can show his love, grace, and mercy through Jesus Christ. Grace and mercy can only exist with sin because if something is sinful there is no reason to merciful and gracious. When evil is in the picture God can show his love even more to human being by loving them through Christ Jesus even though they are sinful. I show my love for my dog charlie even more so when he does bad things, if he does good then I simply am showing my love to him and not showing my unconditional love for him. Furthermore, with evil in the picture God gets to show his hatred and punishment towards sin. God shows his glory also by finally punishing and eliminating all evil in the end. Evil also allows God to redeem us by the most perfect picture of love, mercy, and justice which is the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of these great things about God get maximized when evil is in the picture and so it brings God's Glory and hence this could be another morally sufficient reason for why evil exists.
(This was meant to be a simple, concise overview of the Problem of evil and not a complete picture of my own view).
Dr. Ligon Duncan, one of the growing number of Protestant scholars who is actually familiar with the writings of the Early Church Fathers, did a wonderful interview for Sovereign Grace Ministries titled "Patristics for Busy Pastors." This is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the Fathers, especially those who don't have time to take seminary courses or attempt to wade through the massive body of Patristic literature on their own. If you're already familiar with the Fathers, this is still an interesting interview and well worth your time. And if you're like me, a Protestant who laments modern Protestant ignorance of the Fathers (this was not the case in the 16th century!), then you should be cheering that Dr. Duncan and others like him are attempting to cure that ignorance!
Now, on to the provocative title of this blog post! It is the title of Dr. Duncan's message from last week's Together For The Gospel Conference. The Video is below.
But, let's face it, the real reason for this blog post was an excuse to share this picture of Dr. Duncan's head on a Church Father's body (courtesy of Sovereign Grace's website).
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
P1: Only God is Good
P2: Jesus is Good
P3: Therefore, Jesus is God
Premise 1 is supported by the following:
Mark 10:18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
This verse teaches that only God is good
Premise 2 is supported by the following:
Hebrews 4:15 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
This verse teaches that Jesus was without sin and hence good.