The Verdict of Reason
I want to start by thanking Jerry Zeiss, the Science Guy, for so ably addressing the earth and related questions in ways that I could not have handled. While we’ve just about exhausted the space for the scientific arguments for a biblical worldview, we would do well here, before going forward, to review our starting points.
We began by pointing out that every worldview; whether Biblical, Islamic, Eastern-Religious or Atheistic – must answer some very basic questions in order to prove valid. These are: origin, identity, meaning, morality and destiny. Or course these are all interrelated. Wrapped up in the answers is the most essential question of the existence and nature of God. The self-existent, eternal and all-powerful nature of a Theistic God will yield a different set of answers than the Pan-Theistic view which sees God as an irrational Force – or Materialism which posits no God – and a world defined by the accidental interplay of cosmic forces. The answers we give will of course have its effect on how we view Truth and Morality. In a purely material world no objective morality can exist. It is all of our own construction. This was the preferred view of science for several centuries. But the foundation of that point of view began to crumble at the beginning of the 20th century as we discovered the scientific basis for the origin of the cosmos. You see the Atheist / Materialist point of view is this: Everything must be able to be explained by material causes. And that’s where ‘science’ itself has seemed to throw up a major road block. But as scientists like Hubble and Einstein and Jastrow began to uncover the evidence for a Universe with a definite beginning – (it came to be called the Big Bang) – the theory of a ‘Cosmos that always was’ – crumbled. The Universe had a beginning – and therefore required a Beginner. We quoted Nobel Prize winner Arno Penzias. “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.”[i]
But there is more evidence than just the origin of the Universe. There are the over 100 identified cosmological constants which must be precisely defined in order for life to exist at all. These include such forces as Electromagnetic Force, Strong Nuclear Force, Weak Nuclear Force and Expansion Rate of the Universe. Then we took on that centerpiece of Materialist thinking; Darwinian Evolution. We saw how evolution cannot explain the origin of life, nor the complexity of DNA. It can’t get past the observable limits to evolutionary change. It falls flat when it comes up against irreducible complexity. As Robert Locke put it: Evolution cannot explain “how anything could evolve that doesn’t make biological sense when incomplete. The wings of birds are the classic example: what good is half of one?”[ii] Neither can it get past the great big holes in the fossil record that has not produced the intermediate forms predicted by the Darwinian theory of evolution.
Through all of this then we’ve been making the case for a personal God; either the God of the Bible or the Koran Who is very involved in ongoing operation of the Universe…….or at least the Deistic notion of a Creator God Who set the whole thing up and then went hands off. So to settle that Theism / Deism question – and start to draw some distinctions between the Islamic and Biblical views of reality, we’ll spend our next segments looking at the Bible. Is it true. Is there evidence that it is what it claims; the very Word of God?
THE BIBLE: AN INTRODUCTION
What is the Bible? Critics tell us it is nothing more than ancient mythology, with a sometimes confusing moral message mixed in. It is not based so much on historical fact as on the wishful folk tales of a much abused and abusing, ancient people. It is perhaps a record of that peoples’ struggle to find meaning and purpose, but otherwise holds little value today. It is certainly of no more value than any of the other ancient ‘sacred writings’, such as the Koran or the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita. It is subjective. It is contradictory. It is a fairy tale.
When you examine the evidence however, you find it is nothing of the sort? It was a book written over the span of 1100 BC to approximately 100 AD by about 40 different authors. Somehow, throughout all that, it maintains a unity of theme and a consistency of purpose. It is a specific book. It names, names and places that while they may have originally been questioned, have time and again, without fail, been proven true by the investigations of ancient historians and archaeologists. The inquiries of science have not proven it wrong. In fact, as more becomes known, the accuracy of the limited Biblical pronouncements on the workings of the natural world have been confirmed. The Bible is a prophetic book. Its specificity and precision, means that its prophecies can be, and have been tested. The Bible has that record of fulfilled prophecy on which to stand. That fulfillment has been recorded in the more recently authored books of Scripture and by history itself. The more one examines the writings, meaning and record of the Bible, the more one must come to the conclusion that the Bible is one extraordinary book.
Now the Bible claims for itself the authority of being the very word of God. To a believer in pure naturalism this would seem a preposterous claim. But Scripture itself has held this consistently. If in the Old Testament we read ‘The word of the Lord came to me’, we see the Scriptural claim of this in action. The writers of the New Testament not only confirm this view of the Old Testament writings but claim scriptural authority for themselves. Whether on matters of prophecy or doctrine, the pronouncements found in the Bible are equivalent to the ‘Word of God’. It is not that God gave the authors of these books the exact words necessarily, except in very rare instances perhaps. Rather it is the Spirit of God that has inspired their writings. So we see a proliferation of styles among the many authors. Yet still the theme remains the same. It is this conception of the Bible as the word of God that has naturally led to the conclusion that scripture must necessarily be inerrant. The inerrancy of scripture means that Gods words were accurately expressed in the original writings. This does not require a literal reading of the whole document. The Bible must be interpreted in the same sense that the authors intended. There is throughout the whole the use of poetry, metaphors and the various figures of speech. In the opening passages of Genesis, describing the creation, we see an accurate rendering of events, though without the detail that might be expected or wished by some today. We must also remember that various natural phenomena are described the way they appear rather than in some scientifically accurate way. One example would be the use of the terms sunrise and sunset. We know today of course that it is not the Sun that is moving at all, but the rotation of the earth that causes the phenomena we are describing. Yet we continue to use those terms to this day. How much more this must have been true in a less scientifically sophisticated age. None of these techniques makes the passages any less accurate for the author’s purposes. For example, the Song of Solomon is a poem. Chronicles I & II are historical records. Their different literary natures make neither more nor less true.[iii] Admittedly though the inerrancy of scripture can only be tested by its’ accuracy. We will see how that accuracy holds up against the evidence.
[i] Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, 1993 pg 83
[ii] Robert Locke, The Scientific Case Against Evolution, Front Page Magazine, 2001
[iii] Paul E Little, Know Why You Believe, Chariot Victor, 1999, pgs 53-59