The Epistemological Necessity of Tri-unity

 

I have been thinking a lot about the Trinity recently, one of the fruits of this labour is a new paper I just posted on Academia.edu. In this paper, I argue that self-knowledge requires three points of reference–the self who is knowing (subject), something to see onself in (an external object), and a standard of reference (norm). Applying this to theology/apologetics, I argue that only the Triune God of Scripture could be God, for only the God of Scripture is capable of knowing Himself–of having any knowledge independent of creation.

You can download or read it here

An Outline of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Originally published posthumouly in 1779, David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Theology sounded the death knell for natural theology. Natural theology was the attempt to discern the character and existence of God from creation alone, apart from revelation. Addressing arguments from the appearance of design in the world (a posteriori), what is now called the cosmological arguement (a priori), and the moral argument, Hume describes in an engaging manner the interactions of an ‘orthodox’ Christian, Demea (who is really a Christian mystic); a deist, Cleanthes; and a empircal skeptic, Philo. Though the dialogues seem to favour Cleanthes as Hume’s representative, Philo throughout best represents Hume’s thought and is consistently given the upper hand in the dialogues: it is in Philo, then, that we should seek Hume’s voice. Speaking through Philo, Hume concludes that everyone must concede that the first cause of the universe bears some remote resemblance to man, yet that this not so very different from atheism and such a concession, apart from revelation, cannot be further explained and can have no effect on the way a person lives his life–it is a practically meaningless concession. In light of his rejection elsewhere of the possibility of revelation, we see here in Philo the intent of Hume’s book: thinly disguised by the concluding paragraph, Philo intends the reader to conclude with him that God is not clear in creation and that any first cause we attribute to the universe is nothing like the Christian God–it would be unknowable, probably evil, and unable affect the lives of anyone.

Apart from revelation, then, Hume’s book is a devestating critique of religion–a critique that is strikingly relevant today, parroted often by the New Atheists. Yet we don’t live in world without revelation: God has made Himself abundantly clear in  creation, so much so that all are held accountable, and has revealed Himself from the beginning of His creation verbally to His creatures. Humes argument is a devestating critque of religion that would start with man as the ultimate reference point for meaning, that would make man’s autonomous reason the measure of God’s existence and attributes. In so doing, Hume’s book is a valuable read for the biblically saturated Christian today. He shows that to begin with man’s autonomous reason is to end up without God, but God has never left it up to our autonomous reason: in making us in His image, we have been born with the interpretive tools necessary to accurately discern His invisible attributes in His creation (Rom. 1:18ff): it is only in our unrighteousness that we suppress this knowledge and attempt to work on the foundation of our finite reason alone. More than this, God has also revealed Himself clearly in His Scriptures: the Bible testifies to the fullness of His character as man in this life can know Him and His work. When one begins with Scripture, Hume’s arguments appear hollow.

To aid the interested reader in better understanding Hume’s argument, I have provided below an outline of Hume’s Dialogues summarizing each part of the book and with it a shorter outline .

a) An Outline and Summary of David Hume’s Dialogues

b) An Outline of Hume’s Dialogues

 

The Co-Inherence of Authority, Inerrancy and Trustworthiness

[This accompanies this post] Wait a second, you may be thinking, you are fallaciously connecting ideas that are not necessarily connected: is authority really so connected to inerrancy? Yet, are they not? Let us ask ourselves, what do we mean when we call Scripture ‘authoritative’? We are affirming, with all of the writers of Scripture that the Bible carries God’s authority. This is a claim easy to prove: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture was breathed out by God, that is, it is His words. Paul here refers to the Old Testament with which Timothy was raised, but Peter goes on to lump Paul’s letters into this same category—inspired Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter also said, previously, that no prophecy found in Scripture (prophecy would cover the whole of Scripture—not just predictive texts) is of the prophets own imagination, but of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). The author of Hebrews, furthermore, writes that “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2). Some of the Old Testament records the very words of God—and when the prophets speak it is difficult to distinguish between their speech and God’s, so close is the connection—but all the Biblical texts, even the Psalms, are repeatedly said to be spoken by God, with David or the Prophets as His means of speaking: “saying through David so long afterward… ‘Today, if you hear his voice’….8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day” (Heb. 4:7-8); “God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:21, cf. Luke 1:70) (cf. Mark 12:36, Acts 1:16, Acts 4:25, Acts 28:25). So when we say “the Scriptures are authoritative,” we mean “The Scriptures, as the very words of God, bear His authority.”  The writers of Scripture are analogous—and this is a very near analogy—to the letter bears or heralds of a great king. When they come to the king’s subjects with a message—whether they paraphrase his words or read his words exactly—they come with his authority: to reject their words is to reject his; to spurn them is to spurn him. To do so is to incur the wrath of the king (cf. Matt. 21:33-22:14). To reject the prophets of God and their message is to reject God Himself (cf. Acts 8:51). Now, God has ultimate authority: He is the creator and has unquestionable rights and authority (cf. Job 38-41; Rom. 9:15, 20-21), God is also our covenant Lord—He has the authority to give commands, expect obedience, and pour out wrath upon the disobedient (see everywhere in Scripture). Scripture, then, as God’s very words, carries this same authority. This identity between God and His words is so close that David, in Psalm 56, talks repeatedly about praising God’s word (56:4, 10-11). Therefore, if Scripture is God’s word, it is trustworthy and inerrant both because God is trustworthy and inerrant (see Psalm 56) AND because it is absolutely authoritative. That is, if Scripture is absolutely authoritative—bearing God’s own authority—then it can never been in error, for there is no authority qualified to tell us it is wrong. Think about it: if you wanted to prove God wrong, where would you go? Science? He created the world and all that is in it; He would tell you that you are wrong, maybe tell you the reason you are wrong—maybe not—and command you to submit (see Job 38-41). Experience? He would tell you that you cannot rightly interpret your experience unless you know yourself perfectly—you cannot evaluate what is actually going on in the deepest recess of your heart and mind, what biases are at play—yet He who is completely omniscient knows the depths of your heart, mind, and all things: you would be wrong again. There is nothing in all creation that has the authority to tell the Creator that He is wrong. In the Christian worldview, all that exists is God and His creation, therefore God has unquestionable authority. If Scripture is God’s words, as it claims throughout, then there is nothing with the authority to show that it is wrong: it, therefore, must be inerrant—something it happily claims for itself (e.g., Isa. 40:8; Psalm 19:7, 8, 9, 119:43, 89-90, 127-128, 138-140, 151-152, 160, 163; Matt. 5:17-18, 24:35; Luke 16:17; John 10:35, 17:17).

Unless You Believed in Vain

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul addresses false teaching in the Corinthian church and challenges the church on their doubt concerning the resurrection: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (15:17). Yet, those who proffer this passage to substantiate the necessity of history for faith fail to see that this same passage—and a plethora of others—demand the same conclusion concerning Scripture. That is, I believe Paul would contend that if Scripture is not God’s Word—and thus trustworthy, inerrant, and authoritative—our faith is in vain. That is a bold claim, but it seems to me to be necessary.

Why doesn’t Paul say this? For Paul, and for the New Testament Church (and the Jews in fact), the doctrine of Scripture was never at stake—the binding authority of God’s revelation was not in doubt: what was in doubt, at various times, was the interpretation of the Old Testament (Paul’s debates with the Jews) or the authenticity of Paul’s preaching as God’s revelation (is Paul a genuine apostle?). In this passage, Paul combats the rejection of a future resurrection with three arguments, all appeals to the message he has preached. First, he begins by asking how they can doubt the future resurrection if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead—he points out the contradiction between this belief they are toying with and the preaching they received. He then brings out further the problem here in two ways: the ministry of Paul and the faith of the people are both at stake if this is true. The risen Christ is the essence of Paul’s preaching: if there is no resurrection, Jesus has not been raised and his preaching is futile (14). This of course brings out a bigger problem: if Christ has not been raised, then their faith futile, they are still in their sins—the message offering salvation is bogus.

 

What does this have to do with Scripture? The New Testament Scriptures are the content of the teaching and preaching of Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles. It is, for us, the equivalent of the preaching that the Corinthians’ doubt calls into question. We could then deduce that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, the teaching of Scripture is futile: this is attested in our context. All Scripture concerns Jesus and the Gospel, and he was raised “in accordance with the Scriptures” (4): if He was not raised, than the Old Testament was wrong, the message of Scripture is wrong. What is the point of a book that testifies to reconciliation to and enjoyment of God through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God who was never actually raised? So if Christ was not raised from the dead, we can say that Scripture is futile—it fails to testify to the truth and cannot achieve its goals. But I would contend, and believe Paul would as well, that this goes the other way around as well.

What would happen if Scripture could be broken (contra John 10:35)? What would that say about our faith and the resurrection of Jesus Christ? What if Scripture was not authoritative, trustworthy, or inerrant? (If this is in doubt, read the appendix The Co-inherence of Authority, Trustworthiness, and Inerrancy.) Authority, Trustworthiness, and Inerrancy are all interrelated—what is authoritative must be trustworthy and inerrant, what is inerrant is implicitly authoritative on whatever it speaks; if it is trustworthy it has authority and is free from error. What does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 15? I contend that if Scripture is not authoritative, trustworthy, and inerrant, your faith is futile. How do we get here from what Paul is saying? His whole point rests not on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, but that Jesus was raised from the dead and that this has the utmost significance. Stay with me here; it matters that Christ was raised, not Lazarus. Paul cannot make this same point by arguing “if Lazarus was not raised from the dead….” This is obvious, but this means that the significance of Christ’s death was not merely the historical fact that a man was raised from the dead, not even that a man named Jesus was raised from the dead. The significance of the resurrection was that the Christ was crucified for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead in accordance with Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The Corinthian’s belief that there is no future resurrection was so dangerous because it threatened to utterly destroy the Gospel (3-11) and the hope that believers have because of that Gospel (20-49). Their rejection of the final resurrection called into question the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, which, if it did not happen, would undermine the entire Christian faith. The falsity of this fact would destroy the Christian faith because of the meaning it carries, meaning given to it only by Scripture.

If we were told that Jesus was raised from the dead, yet were not told that He was the eternal son of God incarnate, what good would this do for us: if the resurrection of Lazarus is not the point on which our faith stands our falls, why would the resurrection of this unexplained Jesus be any different? If we were not told that He was crucified for our sins and that His resurrection was for our justification—that He died and was raised for our sins—His resurrection would not mean much, would it? The resurrection is so important because “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The resurrection is so important because if Christ was not raised, there would be no final resurrection—of which His resurrection was the first fruit—and all the trials Christians go through in this life would be meaningless (1 Cor. 15:19-23). If we did not know from the Old Testament who God was, and what He demanded from His creation, there would be no reason for the salvation Christ’s resurrection ensured. We could go on and on and on: every point of the Christian faith feeds into our understanding of the resurrection, our interpretation of it. If we did not have this teaching, this pattern of doctrine, as taught in Scripture, then the resurrection would be meaningless!

 

Historical facts need an interpretation to be meaningful, for their significance to be known: Christ’s resurrection was first interpreted by Him to His apostles, and then—by the Holy Spirit—the apostles interpreted it for God’s people. This all important interpretation of the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection is only found in Scripture.[1] What, then, is the point of this? If Christ was not raised from the dead, after having died for our sins, and so ensured for us a right verdict before God, ushered in the new creation, and defeated death itself, then our faith would be in vain. But how, in the first place, do we know Christ was raised from the dead? In the end, the truth of the resurrection relies on Scripture: Scripture gives us God’s testimony to it, along with the written testimony of the eyewitnesses and their attestation to other witnesses (e.g., 1 Cor. 15).  All our historical arguments, those seeking to validate these claims on modern criteria, rely on this data. If Scripture were not a trustworthy witness, then we would have no reason to suspect that Jesus was historically raised from the dead (the historical arguments rely on demonstrating, on modern criteria, the trustworthiness of the witnesses recorded by Scripture).

Most importantly, the all-important interpretation of the resurrection relies on Scripture being a trustworthy interpreter. We are given God’s interpretation of a historical fact: if God’s word elsewhere admits error, how can we have the utmost certainty required to found our hope here? One may argue, of course, that though Scripture is true here, it is not necessarily true everywhere—what is true of the parts is not necessarily true of the whole. Yet, if all of Scripture is God’s word, and various parts are in error, this at least admits that the whole is not inerrant—with no guarantee as to which parts are not. On these grounds, our historical arguments cannot just substantiate further what is already attested to with unfailing authority, but have the sole responsibility of proving the resurrection as a fact—the burden of proof falls fully on these arguments. This follows for all of Scripture: if one part can be in error, than it is no longer a self-authenticating authority, all its parts are subject to testing against known authorities. This makes human reason the ultimate subjective measure of truth—what is true is what I can determine with my mind to be true. On these grounds, the more Scripture is “shown” to be in error, the less weight its own testimony would carry. If the word of the Creator requires at every point the authentication of the creature, one would begin to question whether what they had was actually the word of the Creator: “12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)? When it comes to something, like the interpretation of the resurrection—where direct external verification is impossible—what foundation do we have for certainty? The only way to trust that this interpretation is correct is to argue that the whole of Scripture is trustworthy, authoritative, and inerrant, therefore each part is so. If the parts may err, then we have no possibility of certainty here, where it matters most. If we doubt Jesus on the earthly, testable facts, how can we not help but doubt Him on the heavenly, unverifiable facts? What becomes of God’s authority if it is subject to the authority of His creation? Where else will we turn to authenticate our interpretation of the resurrection? There is nowhere else to turn. If we cannot trust Him about earthly things, how can we be sure He speaks with truth about heavenly things?

 

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sin. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:17-18). Everything rests on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because of what it means—what He has accomplished through it. If Scripture is not authoritative, trustworthy, and inerrant, then there is no hope to know for sure the meaning of the resurrection, even if we can convince ourselves that it happened. Therefore, I would argue, “If Scripture is not the Inspired Word of God, with the authority and trustworthiness implied therein, our faith is futile.” If I cannot trust Scripture on its own God-derived authority, if it must answer to the authority of autonomous human reason as it wrestles with experience and raw data, if it requires external verification, how sure is my foundation? Every new discovery may, then, call into question my foundational beliefs, the source of my hope, the assurance of resurrection life. Can I really know without a doubt, on such a foundation, that I will stand before God in the Day of Judgment justified by my faith in Jesus Christ?


[1] What about tradition? Tradition is built on the foundation of Scripture—confessedly turns to it for authority and derives its teachings (however imperfectly) therefrom. If the foundation is removed, then this interpretation follows its source.

The Co-inherence, Reciprocity, and Mutual Self-Destruction of Evolution, Long Ages, and the Big Bang – Part 1

Though often fragmented and treated by Christians as separate issues, biological evolution,[1] long ages and the Big Bang are three facets on one naturalistic picture of the universe.[2] Each of these facets is needed to maintain the whole picture: without evolutionary process, the age of the earth, and so the universe and its origins, needs to be reevaluated to explain the fossil record, the deposits of carbon under the earth (oil and coal), and the origin of life—especially humanity. If the Big Bang were to be thrown out, then the nature and age of the earth need to be reevaluated, as well as the supposition of naturalistic development over long ages. This of course affects biological evolution, which requires long ages to function. Lastly, if the earth were younger than suggested, evolution and the cosmic evolution described by the Big Bang would have to be radically reevaluated in terms of their time scale—especially, in the latter case, the coalescence of planets (Nebular Hypothesis).

If this is true, then some things need to change. On the one hand, those Christians who reject naturalistic evolution would have to abandon or produce radically different explanations for long ages and the Big Bang. On the other, it would no longer be reasonable to prop up the failings of one part of this worldview with the supposed “proof” for the others; for if one piece fails, they all fall down. A brief examination of suggested flaws in these theories and the resulting self-destruction of the worldview should serve to bolster this point. Beginning with the weakest piece, we will look at the two of the bigger scientific flaws of naturalistic evolution and their effect on the whole structure (Part 1); then, a few of the historical, theological, and scientific flaws with the old earth (Part 2); and conclude with a few of the many problems plaguing the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (ΛCDM) model of the Big Bang (Part 3).

Naturalistic Evolution

Two of the biggest problems facing naturalistic evolution are the problem of origin of life and the evolution of information. Naturalism has no explanation for how life first began; the best theories lack any evidence, idealize the conditions of the earth that would be highly destructive to life—according to their own worldview—, and lack a mechanism for evolution—for natural selection is based on reproduction which itself must evolve.[3] Theistic Evolution can avoid this issue by the supposition that God began the process, but when one assumes that God is active in His creation in this way, the presupposed naturalistic worldview that drives evolution—the attempt to seek a non-theistic explanation for all that we observe in the natural world—falls apart. That shift in worldview demands a reevaluation of the evidence presented by naturalistic sciences through a theistic lens—namely that furnished by God’s revelation in Scripture. If one allows this divine foot in the door, the atheistic presuppositions propping up long ages and the Big Bang fall apart and so the evidence there also demands a reevaluation (these presuppositions include, but are not limited to, the belief that earth has no special place in the universe, that there is no special place for man, and that death is a natural and even key part of the universe).[4]

 

Even if, somehow, the origin of life—whether on this planet or another—were explained, the greater dilemma of how random processes such as natural selection can produce the information needed for the evolution of new organisms remains (i.e., single-celled life to multicellular life, a dinosaur to a bird…).[5] The charge that evolution cannot produce new information is sometimes misunderstood, so it deserves to be clarified. If information is considered as brute data, the number of symbols regardless the meaningfulness of these symbols (known as Shannon Information), then evolution does indeed produce new information. However, it does not produce the information naturalistic evolution requires. A demonstration of the inadequacy of Shannon information can be easily demonstrated by the comparison of two lines of symbols: “Socrates is a man” and “1220100003450000100926.” Now, what group of symbols has more information content? Our first assumption would be that the answer is the former—for it is a proposition that makes grammatical sense and conveys truth—, but according to Shannon theory, the answer is the latter. Shannon information weighs symbol quantity, here 17 vs. 22. But in biological life, the number of symbols does not determine the viability of an organism, the function of the symbols does. Natural selection is able to shuffle the information found in DNA, but it is not able to introduce brand new information that is not already in the genetic mix of the parent organisms. So to explain the emergence of new information in DNA, scientists introduce mutations. This affirms the inability for natural selection to produce information: “When they begin to talk about mutations, evolutions tacitly acknowledge that natural selection, by itself, cannot explain the rise of new genetic information.”[6] However, mutations likewise only work with existing information; they can produce new traits by causing corruptions in existing DNA but cannot create new information.[7]

This produces three problems: first, because there is no known mechanism for the introduction of gross amounts of new information, we find that evolution is a process of specification.[8] Under the influence of natural selection, a group of creatures once having a large capacity for variation is continually specified and each specified creature loses information, with the result that it is often unable to breed with the same degree of variation as its ancestor. This loss of information explains all observed cases of “evolution” (speciation) in nature and labs, even the prized examples presented by evolutionary popularizer Richard Dawkins.[9]

The second problem has been called genetic entropy: as mutations build up in an organism, it will eventually reach a point of critical mass where every successive generation will receive debilitating and deadly defects.[10] An illustration of this point can be seen from the world of dogs and man. With dogs, specialized breeds are plagued with disease, for they have been interbred to the point where destructive mutations are shared by both parents and are inevitably passed on to descendants. With humans, it is well known that the children of incestuous relationships have a much higher chance of suffering from serious diseases; this is because both parents share a similar gene pool and harmful mutations found in both parents are much more likely to be passed on. Information lastly challenges evolutionary naturalism because of the very nature of information.

DNA is highly complex and efficient system for storing information, but like all information storage systems, the information is useless without an interpreter. A naturalist does not just have to show how DNA, in all its efficiency and complexity, emerged randomly, but he has to explain how the mechanism needed to interpret the code found in DNA emerged simultaneously. That is, DNA is useless without the machinery in cells that unfolds its programming: they must appear together or they each are useless. Now, explaining the evolution of DNA is hard enough itself, for DNA is the best storage system known to man. Jonathan Sarfati illustrates its capacity like this,

To illustrate further, the amount of information that could be stored in a pinhead’s volume of DNA is staggering. It is the equivalent information content of a pile of paperback books over 300 times as tall as the distance from earth to the moon, each with a different, yet specific content. Putting it another way, a pinhead of DNA would have the equivalent information of a pile of CDs 1,000 miles high, or 40 million times as much as a 100-gigabyte hard drive.[11]

How much more difficult is it to explain the evolution of DNA and its interpreting equipment simultaneously! Furthermore, the only known source of information that we know is intelligence, and the only things we know that can interpret information are intelligent beings or their creations (such as computers).[12]

Again, this affects the other perspectives on naturalism; if the naturalistic worldview fails to address the biggest issues facing biological evolution and so allows a divine foot in the door, the effort to keep God out of cosmological and geological evolution will also fail. A failure of biological evolution again entails a reevaluation of all our assumptions about the fossil record and the long ages entailed by evolution, which will affect our timeline of the universe and the formation of planets.

 

The pattern should now be obvious; a reevaluation of so-called evolution entails a reevaluation of the whole of the naturalistic worldview it represents. For Christians, their evaluation of evolution must affect their opinion on long ages and the Big Bang, but it also goes the other way. Accepting evolution means accepting other presupposed facets of the secular worldview, especially death before the fall—if one accepts the fall at all. There can be no doubt that Scripture teaches animal death—and not just human death—as a terrible evil that has resulted from sin, yet evolution requires millions of years of animal and pre-human death by the most horrific means.[13] If natural death is normal, sin, in the end, can only result in spiritual death, but this gives us no hope for the coming new heavens and the new earth. There Eden is to be restored and the effects of Adam’s sin are to be undone; the creation that groans as in the pains of childbirth (i.e. the horrible effects of the curse, Gen. 3:16, Rom. 8:18-25) is to find relief (Rom. 8:23-25, Rev. 21:3-4). Yet, if death is part of God’s good creation, then we can expect the new earth and heavens to be full of death, pain, and cancer: these were never bad things, but parts of God’s good creation. Why should we expect them to be undone?[14] If God could call them good in his first act of creation, why cannot they be considered good in His recreation?[15]


[1] Evolution, unless otherwise specified, refers in this and following posts to the Grand Theory of Evolution, that natural processes have produced the vast variety of organisms we see from a single ancestor. There is good evidence for evolution in the sense of speciation, adaptation and specification of existing information in creatures—how all the dog species we have come from the same ancestral species. Creationists call the group of related species a created kind. Created kinds don’t necessarily line up with the taxonomy of contemporary biology.

[2] These facets could also be considered as different perspectives on a single naturalistic picture of the origins of our universe. Considered from the perspective of evolution—unguided and purposeless change driven by naturalistic material forces—, long ages describes the period through which the universe and especially life evolves and the Big bang describes the origin of this process. Considered from the perspective of long ages, the evolution of life describes the progression of biological life forms through time and the Big Bang the unraveling of physics on matter through time. Considered from the perspective of naturalistic origins, long ages marks the beginning of the universe long ago and provides the period within which all things came to exist, biological evolution describes the origin of life within the cosmic evolution unfolding from the Big Bang, the ultimate beginning. So the big bang describes origins, complemented by the nebular hypothesis (origins of star systems) and abiogenesis (the origin of life); the Grand Theory of Evolution describes the process by which variation in life emerges, complemented by cosmic evolution (physics acting on matter in the universe) and geology (the naturalistic processes producing the features of our world); long ages describes time, and so the period within which evolution unfolds and the supposedly distant origins of our universe.

[3] See Jonathan D. Sarfati, “Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life: Summary,” accessed March 15, 2016, http://creation.com/loopholes-in-the-evolutionary-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-summary; Jonathan D. Sarfati, “Origin of Life: Instability of Building Blocks,” Journal of Creation 13, no. 2 (November 1999): 124–127; Jonathan D. Sarfati, “Origin of Life: The Chirality Problem,” Journal of Creation 12, no. 3 (December 1998): 263–266; Jonathan D. Sarfati, “Origin of Life: The Polymerization Problem,” Journal of Creation 12, no. 3 (December 1998): 281–284; Jonathan D Sarfati, The Greatest Hoax on Earth, First Edition. (Atlanta, Ga.: Creation Book Publishers, 2010), 223–248; Swee-Eng Aw, “Origin of Life Critique,” Journal of Creation 10, no. 3 (December 1996): 300–314.

[4] The desire to exclude God drives this naturalistic worldview, the refusal to allow the divine foot in the door: “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.” Richard C. Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review of Books, accessed March 14, 2016, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/. Emphasis in bold added. Cf. Rom. 1:20-23: “20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (ESV)

[5] For the most thorough discussion of information and the dilemma it poses for evolution, see Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information: A Scientist Explains the Incredible Design in Nature (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2005); Werner Gitt, Without Excuse, trans. Bob Compton and Jorge Fernandez, 1st ed. (Atlanta, Ga.: Creation Book Publishers, 2011).

[6] Jonathan D. Sarfati, Refuting Evolution. 2 (Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2002), 79.

[7] Cf. Ibid., 102; Sarfati, The Greatest Hoax on Earth. Alterations to the genes of flies have produced legs in the place of antennae, but these legs were functionless and impaired the creature. The new legs did not demonstrate new information, but were merely the result of the misapplication of existing information—the information for legs was already there; the altered gene only caused them to be grown in the wrong place.

[8] Evolution unfolds the potential for diversity in DNA, it doesn’t create it.

[9] See especially, Jonathan D Sarfati, Refuting Compromise : A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of Progressive Creationism (billions of Years) as Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2004); Sarfati, The Greatest Hoax on Earth; Sarfati, Refuting Evolution. 2; Jonathan D. Sarfati, Refuting Evolution (Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2001); Jonathan D. Sarfati, By Design, First Edition. (Atlanta, Ga.: Creation Book Publishers, 2008); Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, 1st Free Press trade pbk. ed. (New York: Free Press, 2010).

[10] Robert Carter, “Genetic Entropy and Simple Organisms,” Creation.com, accessed March 15, 2016, http://creation.com/genetic-entropy-and-simple-organisms; Royal Truman, “From Ape to Man Via Genetic Meltdown at Theory in Crisis,” Journal of Creation 21, no. 1 (April 2007): 43–47; David Catchpoole, “Time—No Friend of Evolution,” Creation Magazine, July 2012.

[11] Sarfati, Refuting Evolution, 121.

[12] Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information; Gitt, Without Excuse. Someone may object that animals communicate all the time. We could include animals as “intelligent” or, better, we can make the point that no animal can master an abstract language as even a human baby can. Animals are unable to learn a true system of language, were symbols and sounds don’t point to external referents or contain their meaning within themselves but are arbitrary conventions used to convey inter-syntactical relationships that only sometimes refer to extralinguistic realities. E.g., “Socrates is a man”: there is nothing inherent in the symbols M-A-N making it necessary that they refer to a male human; they could as easily refer to a banana. Further, “is” only has meaning within the sentence in that it is a syntactical marker indicating that the person Socrates is a male human being; it has refers to no extralinguistic reality (so with conjunctions, e.g., “for”).

[13] The sacrificial system requires that animal death be something unnatural, a consequence of sin. The first instance of permission to eat animals is with Noah, Adam and Eve were only instructed to eat of the fruit of the garden. The first mention of animal death is when God slaughters an animal to cover their nakedness, after the fall and to deal with its consequences. Romans 8:18-25 and similar passages also suggest as much. In the new heavens and the new earth, the peace that will exist is pictured as a restoration of this state, with animals living in peace and the animosity between serpents and man removed (Isa. 11:6-9, 65:25; cf. Rev. 21:3-4). Plant “death” and insect “death” are never so regarded.

[14] See coming blog post on the theological ramifications of importing the secular worldview implied in Evolution, long age geology, and Big Bang cosmology.

[15] This is of course inconsistent with the biblical picture, but imagery such as the lion and the lamb in harmony are meant to image glory by the pre-fall world. Both go inseparably together.

Selected Bibliography

Aw, Swee-Eng. “Origin of Life Critique.” Journal of Creation 10, no. 3 (December 1996): 300–314.
Carter, Robert. “Genetic Entropy and Simple Organisms.” Creation.com. Accessed March 15, 2016. http://creation.com/genetic-entropy-and-simple-organisms.
Catchpoole, David. “Time—No Friend of Evolution.” Creation Magazine, July 2012.
Dawkins, Richard. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. 1st Free Press trade pbk. ed. New York: Free Press, 2010.
Gitt, Werner. In the Beginning Was Information: A Scientist Explains the Incredible Design in Nature. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2005.
———. Without Excuse. Translated by Bob Compton and Jorge Fernandez. 1st ed. Atlanta, Ga.: Creation Book Publishers, 2011.
Lewontin, Richard C. “Billions and Billions of Demons.” The New York Review of Books. Accessed March 14, 2016. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/.
Sarfati, Jonathan D. The Greatest Hoax on Earth. First Edition. Atlanta, Ga.: Creation Book Publishers, 2010.
———. By Design. First Edition. Atlanta, Ga.: Creation Book Publishers, 2008.
———. “Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life: Summary.” Accessed March 15, 2016. http://creation.com/loopholes-in-the-evolutionary-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-summary.
———. “Origin of Life: Instability of Building Blocks.” Journal of Creation 13, no. 2 (November 1999): 124–127.
———. “Origin of Life: The Chirality Problem.” Journal of Creation 12, no. 3 (December 1998): 263–266.
———. “Origin of Life: The Polymerization Problem.” Journal of Creation 12, no. 3 (December 1998): 281–284.
———. Refuting Compromise : A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of Progressive Creationism (Billions of Years) as Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross. Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2004.
———. Refuting Evolution. Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2001.
———. Refuting Evolution. 2. Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2002.
Truman, Royal. “From Ape to Man Via Genetic Meltdown at Theory in Crisis.” Journal of Creation 21, no. 1 (April 2007): 43–47.

Dangerous Assumptions: An Evaluation of the Free Will Defence to the Problem of Evil – Conclusion

Conclusion

 

Having examined the presuppositions of the FWD, namely incompatibilism and middle knowledge, we are now in a position to give a final evaluation of it as an answer to the logical problem of evil. To answer the logical Problem of Evil, the Free Will Defence must show that it is possible that God could only have created a world containing free creatures where they fell into sin. To do this, FWD proponents argue that it is possible for one person to be transworldly depraved and therefore that God could possibly not have created any world with more good than this one.

Without middle knowledge, there is no hope for Incompatibilist free will. Without Incompatibilism, the FWD defence cannot show that God could possibly not have created a world without sin. If contingent human choices do not place limitations on what God could create, then the FWD proponent cannot maintain premise 2.

 

Without the FWD, Christians need to find another way to answer the Logical Problem of Evil. The most promising route to take to do so is to find a reason for God allowing evil not in the greatest good of man, but for the sake of His glory. Towards this end, books such as Frame’s Apologetics to the Glory of God go a long way. [150] Whether or not we have an answer now, or will ever in this world, we can know that in Glory, we will have no doubts, we will sing with the rest of heaven,

“Great and marvelous are Your works,

O Lord God, the Almighty;

Righteous and true are Your ways,

King of the nations!

4“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?

For You alone are holy;

For all the nations will come and worship before You,

For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”[151]

 


[150]Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, chap. 149–190.

[151] Rev. 15:3-4


 

Bibliography

Adams, Robert Merrihew. “Middle Knowldge and the Problem of Evil.” American Philosophical Quarterly 14, no. 2 (April 1977): 109–117.

Ames, William. The Marrow of Theology. Translated by John Dykstra Eusden. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1997.

Augustine. “Evil and Free Will.” In Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources, edited by Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Baugh, S. M. “The Meaning of Foreknowledge.” In Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge & Grace, edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware, 183–200. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2000.

Bruce, F. F. The Epistle of Paul to the Romans : An Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1963.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008.

Campbell, Travis James. Middle Knowledge: A Reformed Critique, n.d. Accessed April 18, 2014. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/Middle_Knowledge.pdf.

Carson, D. A. The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2003.

———. The Gospel According to John. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991.

———. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002.

Craig, William Lane. “Divine Foreknowledge and Newcomb’s Paradox | Reasonable Faith.” ReasonableFaith.org. Accessed April 17, 2014. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/divine-foreknowledge-and-newcombs-paradox.

———. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. Colorado Springs, Colo.: David C. Cook, 2010.

———. “The Problem of Evil.” Bethinking.org. Accessed April 17, 2014. http://www.bethinking.org/suffering/the-problem-of-evil.

———. Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2001.

Danker, Frederick W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Davison, Scott A. “Divine Providence and Human Freedom.” In Reason for the Hope Within, edited by Michael J. Murray. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1999.

Edwards, Jonathan. Freedom of the Will. Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 2012.

Feinberg, John S. “God Ordains All Things.” In Predestination & Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty & Human Freedom, edited by David Basinger and Randall Basinger, 19–43. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1986.

Fischer, John Martin. “Molinism.” In Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, edited by Jonathan L. Kvanvig. Vol. 1. Great Clarendon Street, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Forlines, F. Leroy. Classical Arminianism: A Theology of Salavation. Nashville, Tenn.: Randall House, 2011.

———. Romans. Edited by Robert E.Editor Picirilli. First Edition. The Randall House Bible Commentary. Randall House Publications, 1987.

Frame, John M. Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction. Phillipsburg, N.J: P&R Publishing, 1994.

———. “Scientia Media.” Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker reference library 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1984.

———. “Scientia Media.” Edited by Walter A. Elwell and Peter Toon. The Concise Evangelical Eictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1991.

———. The Doctrine of God. A Theology of Lordship. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Pub, 2002.

Geisler, Norman L. Systematic Theology : In One Volume. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 2011.

Grigg, Russell. “Eugenics… Death of the Defenceless.” Creation, December 2005.

Hendryx, John. “A Short Response to the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace.” Monergism. Accessed May 24, 2013. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/prevenient.html.

Hick, John. “Evil,The Problem of.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. & The Free Press, 1972.

Howard-Snyder, Daniel. “God, Evil, and Suffering.” In Reason for the Hope Within, edited by Michael J. Murray. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1999.

Koukl, Gregory. Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2009.

Laing, John D. “The Compatibility of Calvinism and Middle Knowledge.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47, no. 3 (September 2004): 455–67.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1996.

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Mourant, John A. “Scientia Media And Molinism.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. & The Free Press, 1972.

Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1995.

Murray, Michael J. “Heaven and Hell.” In Reason for the Hope Within, edited by Michael J. Murray. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1999.

Nash, Ronald H. Faith & Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Academie Books, 1988.

———. Life’s Ultimate Questions : An Introduction to Philosophy. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999.

———. The Concept of God. Contemporary evangelical perspectives. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1983.

Oliphint, K. Scott. Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013.

Olson, Roger E. Against Calvinism. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2011.

———. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2006.

Pinnock, Clark H. The Grace of God, the Will of Man: A Case for Arminianism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Academie Books, 1989.

Plantinga, Alvin. “The Free Will Defense.” In Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources, edited by Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Pope, W.B. A Compendium of Christian Theology: Being Analytical Outlines of a Course of Theological Study, Biblical, Dogmatic, Historical. Vol. 2. 3 vols. Hunt & Eaton, 1889. http://books.google.ca/books?id=w9s4AAAAMAAJ.

Purkiser, W.T. Exploring Our Christian Faith. Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill, 1960.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament 6. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1998.

Sproul, R.C. Classic Teachings on the Nature of God. Hendrickson Publishers, 2010.

———. What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2012.

Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament). Electronic ed. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

Sweis, Khaldoun A., and Chad V. Meister, eds. “The Problem of Evil.” In Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Taylor, Richard. “Determinism.” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. & The Free Press, 1972.

Thayer, Joseph Henry, Carl Ludwig Wilibald Grimm, and Christian Gottlob Wilke. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1996.

Wellum, Stephen J. “Divine Sovereignty-Omniscience, Inerrancy, And Open Theism:  An Evaluation.” Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society 45, no. 2 (June 2002): 257–279.

White, James R. The Potter’s Freedom. New Revised. Amityville, NY: Calvary Press Publishing, 2009.

Wiley, H. Orton. Christian Theology, n.d. Accessed May 18, 2013. http://wesley.nnu.edu/other-theologians/henry-orton-wiley/h-orton-wiley-christian-theology-chapter-26.

Witzki, Steve. “A Preliminary Defense of Prevenient Grace.” IMARC. Accessed May 19, 2013. http://www.imarc.cc/pregrace/v18n2witzki.html.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

“The Canons of Orange”, n.d. Accessed May 18, 2013. http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html.

“The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy”. International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, n.d. Accessed April 16, 2014. http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_1.pdf.

 

<PreviousContents