Thursday, October 19th, 2006


Check out this link for the most amazing pics ever taken of a baby in the womb. The photographer is even able to get a close up pic of sperm “attacking” an egg.

http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/460863p-387629c.html

-For context see “Inexcusable Ignorance Part I“-

The same could be said of Richard Dawkins. On numerous occasions he has appealed to the supposed problem of the origin of God as an objection to theism and ID. It is central to his argument. I will quote a couple different versions so you can feel the force of his argument. During an interview on NPR Dawkins said:

It was the genius of Darwin to show that organized complexity can come about from primeval simplicity. It precisely does not require an original intelligence in order, or an original complexity in order to get it going. And it’s just as well that it doesn’t, because if it did we would be left with an infinite regress, saying, where does the original intelligence come from? … If life is too complex to have been produced by natural selection, then it’s sure as hell too complex to be produced by another complex agent; namely a divine intelligence. That is an absolutely inescapable piece of logic. If you are going to say that life is too complex to be explained by natural selection, then you cannot invoke an even more complicated agent. … The task of biology is to explain where all that complexity comes from. Now to invoke a complexity-an intelligence, a complex agent-as the designing being is to explain precisely nothing, because you are left asking where did the designer come from?

Some people are tempted to invoke…a creator to fine-tune the constants of the universe. Once again that cannot be right because you are left with the problem of explaining where the fine-tuner comes from. So wherever else the tuning comes from, it cannot come from an intelligent creator.[1]

And again:

Most of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, from Aquinas on, are easily demolished. Several of them, such as the First Cause argument, work by setting up an infinite regress which God is wheeled out to terminate. But we are never told why God is magically able to terminate regresses while needing no explanation himself.

Even before Darwin’s time, the illogicality was glaring: how could it ever have been a good idea to postulate, in explanation for the existence of improbable things, a designer who would have to be even more improbable? The entire argument is a logical non-starter, as David Hume realized before Darwin was born.[2]

Again, it is obvious that Dawkins does not do much reading of theistic apologists because the answer to this question is readily available. Such ignorance is unacceptable for an Oxford scholar.

As I wrote one year ago, science highly suggests and philosophy demands that the universe came into being a finite time ago. Everything that comes into being has a cause, so the beginning of the spatio-temporal-material universe must have had a cause as well. Whatever caused space, time, and matter to come into existence cannot itself be spatial, temporal, and material because you cannot bring something into existence that already exists. That means the first cause of the universe must be eternal, non-spatial, and immaterial.

So who caused God? Nothing. He doesn’t need a cause. As just noted, the First Cause of the universe must be eternal. By definition eternal things never come into being, and thus do not need a cause. The Law of Causality only applies to things that begin to exist. As an eternal being God never began to exist, and thus needs no cause. We conclude, then, that God is a necessary being, acting as the first cause of our contingent universe when He willed it into existence a finite time ago. So much for Dawkins secret weapon!

But let’s say the answer to Dawkins’ objection was not accounted for. Would it matter? Would it lessen the force of the argument that the universe needs a cause, and that the cause must be a personal, powerful, intelligent being? Dawkins thinks so. In The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins wrote, “To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like ‘God was always there’, and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say ‘DNA was always there’, or ‘Life was always there’, and be done with it.”[3]

Clearly this thinking is wrong-headed. We can still identify God as the cause of the universe even if we don’t know what caused Him. Our ignorance of His origin no more argues against His existence and causal necessity than the fact that I don’t know who my great-great-great grandparents were argues against the fact that my great-great grandparents are the cause of my existence.

Biologist, Stephen Jones, responded to Dawkins’s reasoning by pointing out that “if science was required to explain everything along an infinite regress, before it could explain something, then there could be no scientific explanation of anything new.”[4] Delvin Lee Ratzsch had similar sentiments:

Dawkins seems to be presupposing that if explanations are not ultimate they are vacuous. …. He seems to be assuming that no origin has been explained unless the ultimate origin of anything appealed to in the explanation has also been explained. In addition to being mistaken, that principle is surely as dangerous for the naturalist as for the theist. To take the parallel case, one could claim that to explain the origin of species by invoking natural processes is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of natural processes. And, of course, attempts to explain natural processes by invoking the big bang or anything else- will generate an exactly similar problem with anything appealed to in that explanation. Any explanation has to begin somewhere, and the principle that no explanation is legitimate unless anything referred to in the explanation is itself explained immediately generates a regress that would effectively destroy any possibility of any explanation for anything.[5]

Where did God come from? I’m glad we have an answer, but the answer is irrelevant to our recognition that the universe was designed by an Intelligent Designer. ID does not attempt to find the ultimate designer, but only the proximate designer. They could be one and the same, or they could be distinct. That is for philosophy to determine, not science.


[1]Richard Dawkins, interview with Tom Ashbrook on Boston’s NPR radio show, 10 August 2005. Available from http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2005/08/20050810_a_main.asp and http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/w/b/wbur/onpoint/2005/08/op_0810a.rm.
[2]Richard Dawkins, “Richard Dawkins Explains His Latest Book” available from http://richarddawkins.net/mainPage.php?bodyPage=article_body.php&id=170 as of 9/20/06, but subsequently removed on 9/23/06. It was reproduced at http://id-idea.blogspot.com/2006/09/richard-dawkins-explains-his-latest.html; Internet; accessed 03 October 2006.
[3]Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986), 141.
[4]Stephen Jones, “Frequently Asked Questions”; available from http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/idfaqs30.html; Internet; accessed 17 March 2006.
[5]Delvin Lee Ratzsch, The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1996), 191-192.

There are several popular objections to theism including the problem of evil, the problem of free-will, and the origin of God. These objections have been answered time and time again. While the answers have been improved upon over the years, some of them are centuries old. I expect the average run-of-the-mill atheist to be ignorant of their existence, but not learned scholars. And yet they are.

Darwinist, Robert Eberle showed his ignorance of theistic apologetics when he addressed the supposedly intractable problem of free agency in light of an omniscient God:

Aside from his simple declarations without any foundation that he believes certain biblical stories and miracles are true, he runs into major problems. One is the claim that God knows what was, is and will be. Collins asserts that there is still free will, but fails to explain his logic for arriving at this extraordinary conclusion. Either what will be is known and fixed or it is not. An infallible god that knows what is going to happen is in conflict with the idea that there is free choice and thus a responsibility for one’s actions.[1]

Not only is this not a difficult problem, it’s not a problem at all. Knowing what someone will choose to do in advance of their actually doing it does not cause them to do it. Yes, what will be is known and fixed, but what fixes God’s knowledge is not His will, but knowledge of our will. If we would will to choose A rather than B on October 12, 2006 God would have known A rather than B. He knows B because that is what He knows we will do. While God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to our acts, our acts are logically prior to God’s knowledge. Was that so hard?

Eberle’s ignorance of this is inexcusable. Either he (1) is totally unacquainted with the literature of his opponents, or (2) he knows his objection has been answered but continues to advance it because the ignorant find it persuasive. Either way, it is inexcusable.


[1]Robert K. Eberle, “The Language of God: If God Could Talk What Would he Say?” Review of Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Contained in an eSkeptic newsletter dated 02 October 2006.

The Associated Press ran a story about a recent study that examined the religious beliefs of college professors. The study found that approximately 25% of professors are atheist or agnostic (which is about double the national average). What about the other 75%? According to the AP article “the rest say they believe in God at least part of the time, or at least in some kind of higher power.” That’s right, they are part-time believers! From 8am-5pm they are atheists, but theists from 5pm-8am.

 

This was not a slip of the pen, either. “Believe in Higher Power or God some of the time” was an actual category in the study, in contrast to “believe in God.” Funny stuff!

Melinda Penner wrote, “Christians aren’t trying to ‘impose’ their views – they are vocally participating in the public square and the democratic process, like every other citizen and group with a stake in this country. It’s really impossible to impose a view view [sic] the democratic process. After all, all candidates and propositions are up for vote for everyone to weigh in on. … On most of the contentious and controversial social issues, Christians are on the defense not the offense. Christians are defending the status quo or the historically status quo from radical social change, very often being applied through the courts rather than the vote. Abortion, same-sex marriage, much going on in education are examples where proponents are aggressively advancing their views. Christians have not introduced ‘attacks’ on homosexuals. They are responding to and defending the what has been the accepted norm in America.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>

 

This got me thinking: how do you “impose” anything in a democracy? By getting a majority of people to agree with you. If people have a problem with that, then their real problem is with the concept of democracy itself. It doesn’t make any sense to say in a democratic society that it is wrong for the majority to legislate its views on the minority. If the majority have to give sway to the minority, then the minority hold the power, and we don’t have a democracy. This is absurd!

 


[1]Melinda Penner, “Imposing Religion”; available from http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2006/09/imposing-religion-guest-comment-sk.html; Internet; accessed 20 September 2006.

Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason blogged on David Kuo’s call for conservative Christians to fast from politics. Her comments were quite perceptive, and cut to the heart of why this suggestion is foolish.

“60 Minutes” this past Sunday night featured an interview with David Kuo, described as a politically-conservative Christian and Federal-government employee for the faith-based initiative office. He claims that politically-conservative Christians are being manipulated by the Republican party so he suggests a “fast” from politics to be able to evaluate the relationship of Christianity and politics. He said that Christians have been sold a bill of goods that Jesus came “primarily” with a political message. Who claims that? What Christians are interested in doing is linking up their values and their politics. Isn’t that what everyone should do? How can value-less, unprincipled voting be a virtue?


Certainly Christians need to be very wary of the allure of political power for power’s sake. Perhaps individual Christians might evaluate whether this suggestion is appropriate for them. However, it would be very unwise Christians en masse “fast” from politics because it would be abandoning our responsibilities as citizens and Christians. Other citizens who have their own ideas of what our country should be like aren’t going to “fast,” and Christians walking out of the public square would leave it without our input and balance to issues being decided. Christians have an interest in the kind of country we live in and the activities of the government we live with because it has immediate impact on the ability we have to be salt and light in our country. “Fasting” even for a time, as a group, could lead to policy changes that are difficult or even impossible to change.


Kuo discussed the issues raised by his book with Chuck Colson this morning on the Laura Ingraham show. Colson pointed out that the earliest letters recovered are letters from Christian leaders to the Roman emperor appealing for justice, so influencing the culture and politics for justice sake has been a model of the church from the beginning. Kuo is concerned that in an effort to stay politically-connected, evangelical leaders will sacrifice their values. There is that danger and that would abandon the purpose of being politically engaged. But Colson also pointed out that the church must be involved in issues of justice, which are often time by nature political. And to leave the political realm is to abandon these vital issues of responsibility that the church should be known by.

 

Christians should not “fast” from politics because it is an abandonment of our duties as Christians to be “salt and light” and it’s shirking our duties as citizens to participate in the important discussions and decisions taking place in our country.