Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Should I Trust Science?

Last night, along with a few others from my church family, I watched the much anticipated debate between Bill Nye (the science guy) and Ken Ham in which they sought to answer, "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's scientific era?" In other words, is it reasonable to assert that a sovereign, omnipotent Creator made the universe, the earth, and all living things about 6,000 years ago? Or, to be scientific, must we embrace naturalistic causes and billions of years? Is this a conflict between superstition and science or a conflict between two philosophical worldviews based on different interpretations of the evidence?

Bill Nye argued that creation is NOT a viable model of origins in today's scientific era. He repeatedly asserted that there is an overwhelming abundance of astronomical, geological and biological evidence of an 'old earth' and chemical evolution (molecules to man). Conversely, he made the point that creationism is not only unscientific, but deleterious to scientific advancements and discoveries.

Over the last few years, I've spent a lot of time researching the alleged evidences for the Big Bang, an old earth and Darwinian evolution. I've spent even more time studying the Scriptures to discern the age of the earth and whether there is a way to harmonize evolution and Scripture (i.e. Theistic Evolution). I've discussed and debated these issues with brethren at church, on Facebook, from the pulpit, and even with atheists and agnostics on the university campus.

I am one of those Christians who believes in a young earth. So I would side with Ken Ham on this issue. You can find out why I believe this by reading an article I wrote back in January called 5 Biblical Reasons to Believe in 6 Literal Days

But setting the Bible aside for just a moment, my question is this: from a purely scientific perspective, can we all implicitly trust the consensus of modern scientists that the earth is old and that we are here because of evolution? As Bill Nye argued in last night's debate, are we ignorant when we question the abundance of evidence for an old earth and evolution?

I would say that even without the Bible, it is still reasonable to have doubts about the current consensus of scientists regarding the origins and age of the universe. And I have two reasons that I hope you will consider with me...
  1. There are a number of well-documented examples throughout history of widely-embraced scientific "facts" that turned out to be completely wrong. For example, in ancient Greece, it was believed that the liver, not the heart, pumped the blood in your body, and that your organs consumed your blood as fuel. This was finally disproven in 1628 by William Harvey. Another example: Until the late 19th century, doctors didn't wash their hands before surgery and blamed the subsequent diseases, not on germs, but on "bad air" and the "four humors." You might also research spontaneous generation, phlogiston, alchemy and blood-letting. And there are so many other examples. My point is that there is a difference between consensus and fact, and sometimes, it is hard to tell the difference (because of limited knowledge and presuppositions). Darwinian evolution may be the consensus view of scientists today, but that doesn't mean it's a fact. And even though we know a lot more than folks did a few hundred years ago, don't think we know it all. In fact, I would suggest to you that we have barely scratched the surface of scientific truth.
  2. Even among evolutionists, there isn't consensus regarding what exactly has happened and how it has happened. For example, not all evolutionists explain the origin of the universe by the Big Bang theory. Others ascribe to the "Steady State Theory." There are different views regarding the means by which dinosaurs "went extinct." Some say it was a meteor, others, a volcanic eruption, and so on. And if you think there is consensus regarding human evolution, you are mistaken! There is constant debate regarding the identity of so-called "primitive man." In fact, if you've been following the news lately, there is growing skepticism that Neanderthal was an intermediate link between man and our so-called "ape-like ancestor." And so within the scientific community, there are countless disagreements and debates raging over even the most basic tenets of origins and evolution. Don't let them tell you otherwise.
So let's set the Bible aside for just a moment and honestly examine science. Are we really being unreasonable and ignorant when we have doubts about billions of years and Darwinian evolution? And if we have such doubts, are we suddenly a threat to the progress of science? Men such as Galileo and Louis Pasteur (who challenged the consensus and turned out to be right) are proof-positive that we can still love science while rejecting a particular scientific claim.

Having said this, I want to make it very clear that science is wonderful and that there are a lot of great scientists out there. And even though Darwinian evolution and billions of years are the consensus views of modern scientists, not all scientists agree; there are many, many scientists who are also young earth creationists, and others who objectively question the status-quo. My objection in this article is not against science or scientists per se, but to the notion that all scientific claims have to be regarded as inerrant fact to the neglect or injury of the Scriptures.

 So..."is creationism a viable model of origins in today's scientific era?" Of course! As with "old earth evolutionists," creationists have a worldview that is based on an interpretation of the evidence that exists. And I would agree with Ken Ham's assertion last night that creationism, in fact, offers the most sensible explanation of the evidence.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heart. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4).
In closing, while scientific claims are ever changing, and while man will always be limited in what he can know about the universe (on his own), we find consistent, unchanging, infallible truth in the inspired Scriptures...which have been authored by the Creator of us all, the sovereign originator of science itself (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I will put my trust in the incorruptible word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:22-25) rather than the claims of fallible men, especially when it comes down to choosing one over the other.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

You Mean Something to God!

In the midst of Job's suffering, one of his friends, Bildad, said the following to him:
"Dominion and fear belong to Him; He makes peace in His high places. Is there any number to His armies? Upon whom does His light not rise? How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? If even the moon does not shine, and the stars are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is a maggot, and a son of man, who is a worm?" (Job 25)
Bildad was attempting to bring Job down a notch. He was trying to prove to his suffering friend that he wasn't so righteous after all and that he had no right to boast before God. After all, God is SO great and SO who are we to stand against Him?

I enjoy playing basketball, and I feel that I'm a decent player in my own right. But would I challenge Kobe Bryant or Lebron James in a game of one on one? I wouldn't stand a chance! That's kind of Bildad's point here in this passage.

But I would suggest to you that while Bildad's premise is absolutely correct - and beautifully worded, I might add - his conclusions are just a bit off...

God's greatness should certainly humble us. But is Bildad right in saying that because of God's greatness, we cannot possibly be righteous before him? And is he right in saying that men are mere maggots before God? Again, I can appreciate the sense of humility, but in Job 1, we get to see Job from God's perspective. How did God view Job? As an unrighteous maggot? No! God said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (Job 1:8).

The sovereignty and brilliance of God is truly astounding. And if God were at all like the so-called gods of the world (Baal, Zeus, etc.), Bildad's point would be valid. But our God, in addition to being omnipotent and majestic, is also a God of incredible love and mercy.

While we are truly undeserving of God's grace, and while "all have sinned and fall short" of His glory, we are more than maggots before Him. We may feel like maggots at times, but unlike the maggots, we have been made in the image of God and, like Job, can bring pleasure to God.

Bildad's words in Job 25 are quite lovely. His premise is 100% true...and something that I appreciate more and more each day. But thanks to God's loving nature and the gift of His Son, we can be righteous before Him and pleasing to Him.

You mean something to God!

What a thought!