“Imagine that you are walking with a friend in the woods. Suddenly your friend is pulled up by the ankle by a vine and left dangling in the air. After you cut him down, you reconstruct the situation. You see that the vine was tied to a tree limb that was bent down and held by a stake in the ground. The vine was covered by leaves so that you would not notice it and so on. From the way the parts were arranged, you would quickly conclude that this was no accident – this was a designed trap. Your conclusion is not based on religious beliefs; it is based firmly in the physical evidence…The bottom line is that we need additional information to answer questions such as who, what, where, when, why, and how the trap was designed. But the fact that the trap was designed is apprehended directly from observing the system” (Michael Behe, Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe, 127-128).

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  1. Don’t act the fool, Matthew. You are playing with words. Your argument is as empty as you claim ours is. Where did the molecules come from can be easily and correctly morphed into where did your god come from. You will eventually fall back on the argument that you have to have faith. A dead end statement. You cannot convince someone of the existence of a myth by inventing arguments that will eventually boil down to that simple fact; you have to have faith.
    It is as easy to believe that the Easter Bunny started the whole process; one myth is as good as another. Simply because you do not understand something does not mean that you have to believe in magic to attempt to understand it. We may some day understand the source of the original spark, but I promise you it will not have come from your invented deity.
    Lloyd

  2. Thank you, lloyd for your comment. I must say, though, that it was a little more volatile than I thought someone who would disagree would sound.

    I would like to hear what kind of defense you make for such sweeping statements. You say, “Where did the molecules come from can be easily and correctly morphed into where did your god come from.” First of all, you are mixing two different realities. You are starting from the wrong square. You assume that God came from somewhere…and paralleling that with where molecules come from. Believe me, I did not just jump off a theist bandwagon with a knife to sharpen on some hollow argument. I was a self-proclaimed atheist. Faith is not a net to fall into, it is based upon sure realities and tried proofs.

    If you see my other posts, I hope you see that faith is not wrapped up in some blind notion of an infinite being existing in my heart and therefore I posit God’s existence. The point of all my posts is that there is sufficient evidence for the existence of God. It is a priori knowledge (a child knows it from birth), but it is suppressed by fine sounding arguments.

    If one myth is as good as another, why are you so adamant that evolution is superior to intelligent design? If the beginnings of the existence of molecules can be easily explained, how come there has been on sufficient…or easy explanation as such. If you don’t have to believe in magic, why does it seem that evolutionary theory pulls a rabbit out of its hat when dodging the quesiton of existence and purpose in life?

    I hope we can continue this dialogue. I would like to hear more of what you have to say. If my argument is as empty as you claim it is, please let me know where the holes are. I admit, I have much to learn. I would appreciate any questions you might have so that I can clarify and explain my position better. So please do respond and hopefully we can understand each other’s position better. And I hope that at the end of the day, no one will be able to say I am merely playing with words. That is the last thing on my mind…

  3. Where did the molecule come from? Where did God come from? Who’s to say that God came first? Why not the Easter Bunny? I agree with Lloyd that these are good questions.

    No matter what theory you begin with, everyone comes back to the same question: Why is there anything at all? Why does God, or a molecule, or the Easter Bunny exist in the first place? It is a question that all serious philosophies must attempt to answer.

    Another question that could help answer this question is this: if there ever was a time when there was nothing, what would there be now?
    There wouldn’t be anything. Out of nothing, nothing comes. Nothing (whether God, a molecule, or the Easter Bunny) can create itself. It would have to be and not be at the same time and in the same relationship–an impossibility. In order for anything to exist at all, there must be something that has within it the power of existence and that has always existed. This thing cannot not exist. And it can give existence to other things. That is, it can create other things.

    I guess the question is, if something has to have this power, who or what is it? I’m pretty sure I don’t have this power. Is it a molecule? Theoretically it could be. However, a molecule posseses many other attributes that don’t seem to jive with self-existence (eg. mutability, lack of self-awareness). Is it the Easter Bunny? I haven’t ever met him so i don’t know. Is it the God of the Bible? Well, there are probably a lot of good reasons for thinking that it could be.

    I would ask Lloyd: who or what do you think has this power? And how does your answer make sense of your world and the universe we all live in? In this sense, i definitely don’t believe that one myth is as good as another.

  4. What is this world coming to when the belief in God is equated with the belief in the Easter Bunny!

    But let’s try to bring Matthew’s argument a little closer to home. You wake up one morning only to find that your front door is opened, all the drawers and doors of your kitchen and living room are opened. Things are tossed about. Pillows are scattered here and there. Your wallet is missing, as is your cell phone and your car keys. You pick up your phone to call the cops. You dial 999 and when you hear the person on the other side speak you say: “I would like to report that the Easter Bunny just came to my house. He must have been hungry because he opened the doors of my kitchen looking for food. He must have been bored because he took my keys and wallet. And he must have forgotten his manners because he left the front door open. If you see him, can you please tell him to return my stuff as soon as possible. Thanks.”

    Ya right, and I’m a monkey’s uncle!

    But you see, somebody out there reading, might ACTUALLY be saying to himself: “it is possible that it was the Easter Bunny etc etc.” I would have to say that if you are thinking like that…please stop. Don’t give logic a bad name. I mean, we all know it wasn’t the Easter Bunny. It was obviously Batmam, for crying out loud! Those are his obvious traits….everyone knows.

    No but seriously, if you can’t see the evidence for God and realize that it is real evidence, then I am afraid you are like the snake who cannot be charmed, “however skilful the enchanter may be” (Ps 58). But if you think you can just give belief a try, then don’t wait, before you become frozen in unbelief.

    God bless

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God’s Broad Shoulders

One of the fascinating aspects of my profession is that I come in contact with a lot of Christians who want to engage with their faith in a deep way. Rather than being content with showing up on Sunday or being CINO (Christian In Name Only), these folks want to understand the Bible better and tease out the implications for their lives.

On the flipside of this, many of these same people are afraid to engage with their doubts in a deep way. It’s almost as if, doubts and questions are treated from a distance–“I don’t struggle with this, but…”

The biggest breakthrough in my own journey of faith came through (and continues to come through) engaging my doubts and questions as my own. They are not theoretical. They are honest struggles: problem of evil is the perennial one. I was in the throes of one of these bouts several years ago when a friend told me, “God can handle your doubts.”

I have used this same bit of advice for my struggling friends and self. If truth is not relative. If God is truth. Your doubts and questions will not overthrow this objective, transcendent truth. It’s not as though you are the first to struggle with doubts and fears and pain. The heavens will not collapse under the weight of your doubts. You won’t come up with a question that will cause God to close up shop. You can honestly engage with your doubts and fears and pain and suffering without having to be quick to give the typical and trite answers to matters of faith.

Go ahead, roll your burdens on God. He’s got broad shoulders.

Blow the Roof Off

Reading through Os Guiness’ new book, Fool’s Talk, for an Honors Seminar I’m leading on the art of persuasion. It is EXCELLENT.

I find that too many apologists take the defensive in explaining the Christian worldview. That has a place, but I would recommend that after you listen and listen and listen some more to the person you are engaging in dialogue, that you take the offensive. Of course, this is not being offensive, but taking the offense in showing the foolishness of the worldview. At some point the team has to score. If they only have defense, they will not score (okay, for the nay-sayers, the defense can score on a take-away…but even then there was an aggression to get the ball and not merely to prevent…BTW, prevent defense is such a great way to lose a ballgame, isn’t it?).

Here’s a juicy quote that I have underlined in the book:

From Jesus onward, the dynamic is crystal clear in Christian proclamation. “The tree is known by its fruit,” Jesus said–not by its seed (Mt. 12.33). If you had tried to persuade the prodigal son to return home the day he left home, would he have listened? If you had spoken to him the day he hit the pigsty, would you have needed to persuade him? Always “see where it leads to,” St. Augustine advised when dealing with false ideas. Follow it out to the “absolutely ruddy end,” C. S. Lewis remarked with characteristic Englishness. “Push them to the logic of their presuppositions,” Francis Schaeffer used to say. Too many varieties of unbelief are halfway houses. Too many unbelievers have not had the courage or the consistency to follow their thoughts all the way home –Fool’s Talk, p.118 (emphasis added)

Modern-day Power Encounters

I remember reading in my Perspectives Class on world mission a phenomenon called “power encounters” whereby a missionary would directly confront the idols of the day in some bombastic way to show the futility of such idols. For example, tearing down a totem pole or cutting down a tree (if these were the items of worship) in an area. While the confrontationalist in me loves the idea, I wonder how much was missed in these opportunities to really get to the heart of idolatry–namely, through teaching that idols are nothing (1Cor 8.4). Yet for those who worship an idol, it is very much a real thing.

I am currently reading Roland Allen’s formative text on mission, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours, and have been immensely helped (in tandem with Lesslie Newbigin’s The Open Secret). Regarding the moral and social condition in which Paul preached, Allen makes this side comment:

Incidentally I should like to remark that in heathen lands it might still perhaps be the wiser course to preach constantly the supremacy of Christ over all things spiritual and material, than to deny or deride the very notion of these spirits. Some of our missionaries know, and it were well for others if they did know, that it is much easier to make a man hide from us his belief in devils than it is to eradicate the belief from his heart. By denying their existence or by scoffing at those who believe in them we do not help our converts to overcome them, but only to conceal their fears from us. By preaching the supremacy of Christ we give them a real antidote, we take them a real Saviour who helps them in their dark hours” (pp.28-29)

Allen brings balance. Too often preachers can assume they are preaching the supremacy of Christ, but they never pinpoint what exactly he is supreme over. Put another way, we preachers can preach rather generically. “Jesus is Lord over all!” We declare full throttle. Yet those listening have not been helped.

What is he supreme over?

He is supreme over your doubts of salvation. Your incessant anger. Your slavery to lust and pornography. Your boring and romantic-less marriage. Your bad parenting. Your disobedient children. Your greed. Your self-doubt. Your self-aggrandizement. Your obedient children. Your good parenting. Your healthy marriage. Your pure eyes. Your self-control.

He owns you. Therefore, the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore. Instead, he sets you free to think of others. Even more, he empowers you by his Spirit to think of other more highly than yourself. Your fears that you will be passed over for the job promotion. Your self-righteousness toward your unbelieving neighbor is set under his lordship in such a way that you no longer possess the answers, but are possessed by One who does. You cannot gloat that you understand the world en esse. Rather, you are saddened by the way the world actually is.

So, Christian, we need a modern-day power encounter. Not where we smash totems. But by understanding the world around us and helping others see our need for a Savior. We limp forward together. We bind up wounds together. We use the splint our arm is wrapped in to bind our neighbors’ arms. Thereby we see that instead of hiding the idol in shame, our neighbor is free to admit the idol and know that he will not be condemned but helped.