THINKING CORRECTLY ABOUT SCIENCE

Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-19770) made a major contribution towards Christian theory of reality (ontology). In his theory, Dooyeweerd proposes that we understand creation as having multiple aspects (law-spheres), where an ‘aspect’ is defined as “a basic kind of properties and laws”. Examples of such kinds are: physical, spatial, biotic, logical, sensory, linguistic, ethical, etc. He distinguishes fifteen such aspects of created reality. They are mutually irreducible both in the sense that none can be coherently eliminated in favour of another and also none can be coherently regarded as the cause of any other.

Dooyeweerd

The core idea is that all aspects are created, since there is nothing that God did not create. This includes matter and life, the laws of logic, and the laws governing all the other aspects. The theory goes on to argue that all things in creation have (active or passive) properties of every one of the aspects and so are subject to the laws of all the aspects. For example, a rock has a specific weight whether we know its weight or not. It is has this property independent of an observer. But its sensory colour is not independent. Rather it appears black in relation to a perceiver. Thus the rock’s colour is a passive property because it requires being acted upon by a perceiver to be actualised. The theory takes note of the observed fact that, as far as we know, only humans have active properties in all fifteen aspects. Second the first six (lower aspects) are governed by laws that cannot be broken such as the law of gravity. By contrast higher aspects such as “ethical” can be violated. Dooyeweerd argues that the aspects lower on the list are preconditions for aspects higher on the list, but that no aspect produces an other. For example, it is necessary for there to be things with active physical properties in order for there to be things with active biotic properties, which are in turn necessary for there to be things that have active sensory perception.

The distinctness of modal aspects is anchored in our experiences with all created things: from a molecule over algae and mammals to humans, each kingdom features new active properties that do not exist in the lower kingdoms, neither can they be imagined – as transitional- properties. A philosophy that presupposes a loving God who has given us the ability to observe, know and experience the world in a meaningful way necessarily leads us to trust our observations. The distinctness and irreducibility of modal aspects and laws tells us, then, that things could not have ’emerged’ or evolved form each other, having their origin in God and without the means of some evolutionary process that cannot account for the step changes in the properties we observe.

I would suggest that the only reason special creation is rejected as the best explanation for origins is a pre-existing bias towards materialistic evolutionary explanations.

Extract from article by Martin Tampier in Journal of  Creation Vol. 30 (2) 2016

Answering an atheist on meaning and purpose of life

I hope this article “Answering a reasonable atheist on deep philosophical questions” from Creation Ministries International (CMI) 30th September, 2012 provides helpful answers for Christians and unbelievers as well.

To demonstrate that not all of CMI’s opponents are hostile and unreasonable, we publish feedback by Tim W. of the USA to our article – Answering the ‘new atheists’ (interview with Doug Wilson). In this, Tim W. sought to defend the proposition that atheism can provide meaning and purpose. Tim W.’s email is printed in its entirety  (red), and then followed by point-by-point responses by Dr Jonathan Sarfati.

This is an interesting article. I think you are on the right track when you suggest that modern atheists are worried at the resurgence of conservative Christianity in the United States. Frankly, it concerns me that so many politicians have anti-abortion views with which I strongly disagree. Part of my moral beliefs value limited rights of women to choose the fate of their unfertilized eggs, embryos and their own bodies. Similarly, I understand that Christians have legitimate reason to be concerned that unbelievers will influence a policy or social climate that permits the destruction of actual or potential human organisms. The stakes are high so it should be no surprise that the voices of atheism rise to compete with the voices of religion.

I also agree with the author, and with Hume, that one cannot infer what ought to be, in a normative sense, from what is, was or will be the case. In this way, it is reasonable to say that naturalism or ‘scientism’ cannot suggest a specific theory or morality. However, that does not mean that morality is not compatible with materialism, naturalism or atheism. It only means that morality must come from philosophy (ethics) rather than from theology. There is no reason why an atheist cannot have a more sophisticated ‘sense’ or theory of morality than someone who bases their beliefs of right and wrong conduct (or thoughts) on the teachings of a formal religion. My own beliefs are more consistent with a general sense of basic ‘fairness,’ than obedience to the demands of a deity.

Lastly, I don’t understand the basis of a statement such as “The atheist cannot put forward, within his own framework, a justification for why reasoning is trustworthy, or even worthwhile,” or “the atheist can’t account for reason if there is no God.” These are philosophical questions that do not seem to be contingent on the existence of a God. Is reasoning trustworthy or meaningful? Those are matters of epistemology, not theology. Moreover, I think it is far from obvious that neither life, nor anything else for that matter, can have meaning unless one believes in God. God may give your life meaning, but that does not mean that nothing can provide meaning for an atheist’s life. I can imagine an atheist saying that her daughter, for example, gives her life meaning. Would you call her a liar?

Response

Dr Jonathan Sarfati replies: Thanks (on behalf of CMI and the article author).

TW: I think you are on the right track when you suggest that modern atheists are worried at the resurgence of conservative Christianity in the United States.

JS: What is really striking is how many modern atheists have become such delicate little flowers. They are hurt and offended by plastic baby Jesuses at Nativity scenes and are in danger of having a stroke if they hear a student-led prayer at a football game. (But of course, anyone objecting to obscenity or porn should just look the other way or change channels.) Even leading atheist Richard Dawkins is not such a wimp; he joins in Christmas celebrations. What a contrast the modern activists are with the far more robust atheists of yesteryear who vigorously debated the formidable G.K. Chesterton, and remained good friends even after finishing second.

TW: Frankly, it concerns me that so many politicians have anti-abortion views with which I strongly disagree.

JS: It would concern me if we didn’t have that many. Once we dehumanize one class of humanity, there is no limit. See for example article – Unborn babies may “be planning their future”: What now for the abortion lobby?

TW: Part of my moral beliefs value limited rights of women to choose the fate of their unfertilized eggs, embryos and their own bodies.

JS: Well, there’s the problem: the unborn is not part of a woman’s body. A reductio   ad absurdum I’ve explained is: this would entail that a mother carrying a son must have a penis.

TW: Similarly, I understand that Christians have legitimate reason to be concerned that unbelievers will influence a policy or social climate that permits the destruction of actual or potential human organisms.

JS: Yes, that’s exactly the issue. Without the protection of life, no other right, real or assumed, has any meaning. ‘Rights’ to private property, housing, employment, medical care, or anything else, mean nothing if one is not alive to exercise them.

TW: The stakes are high so it should be no surprise that the voices of atheism rise to compete with the voices of religion.

JS: The problem arises when voices of atheism try to silence the voices of Christianity. This includes university ‘speech codes’, ‘hate speech’, the persecution of Christians in atheistic communist regimes, and the GayStapo attacks on the Church and family. See Gay marriage, politicians, and the rights of Christians.

TW: I also agree with the author, and with Hume, that one cannot infer what ought to be, in a normative sense, from what is, was or will be the case.

JS: A key point.

TW: In this way, it is reasonable to say that naturalism or ‘scientism’ cannot suggest a specific theory or morality. However, that does not mean that morality is not compatible with materialism, naturalism or atheism. It only means that morality must come from philosophy (ethics) rather than from theology.

JS: It certainly can’t come from the axiom ‘God does not exist.’

TW: There is no reason why an atheist cannot have a more sophisticated ‘sense’ or theory of morality than someone who bases their beliefs of right and wrong conduct (or thoughts) on the teachings of a formal religion. My own beliefs are more consistent with a general sense of basic ‘fairness’, than obedience to the demands of a deity.

JS: But where does the notion of ‘fairness’ come from in an evolutionary world? Surely it’s just a delusion caused by certain neurochemical activity that happened to be useful for our ancestors to survive. Just like rape was useful to spread our genes, as two evolutionists seriously argued in a book (look how one squirmed to justify why rape should be considered ‘wrong’). Similarly, the article Bomb-building vs. the biblical foundation documents how leading atheistic philosopher/logician Bertrand Russell could not explain why right vs. wrong was any different from choosing one’s favourite colours.

Think of consistent evolutionist and atheistic philosopher Peter Singer, who justifies infanticide, euthanasia, and bestiality. It’s also notable that some critics of my article Abortion ‘after birth’? Medical ‘ethicists’ promote infanticide claimed that Singer was an anomaly among atheists. Yet I showed that his pro-infanticide views were shared by the Journal of Medical Ethics and the vocal antitheist P.Z. Myers. See also Bioethicists and Obama agree: infanticide should be legal. He also wrote the major Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Ethics (1992), and earlier this year, the Australian Government gave him Australia’s highest honour, Companion of the Order of Australia.

TW: Lastly, I don’t understand the basis of a statement such as “The atheist cannot put forward, within his own framework, a justification for why reasoning is trustworthy, or even worthwhile,” or “the atheist can’t account for reason if there is no God.” These are philosophical questions that do not seem to be contingent on the existence of a God.

JS: I would say they are, as natural selection explains only survival value, not truth and logic. In Canada, one atheistic philosophy professor argued that these things would have selective value. I responded that this is not necessarily so under his belief system. After all, he must regard theistic religion as one thing that evolved for survival value, yet he would regard this as false and illogical. Thus survival, under his perspective, can be enhanced by the false as well as the true.

TW: Is reasoning trustworthy or meaningful? Those are matters of epistemology, not theology. Moreover, I think it is far from obvious that neither life, nor anything else for that matter, can have meaning unless one believes in God. God may give your life meaning, but that does not mean that nothing can provide meaning for an atheist’s life.

JS: One of my colleagues wrote in Answering life’s big questions: Only the Bible provides the answers:

Today we are effectively told, in the evolutionary story, that life is a fluke, a cosmic accident. In this case our existence lacks any purpose, so life is a farce. And where are we going, in this view? Fertilizer! In short, life is: Fluke … farce … fertilizer.

Evolutionist Richard Dawkins said that we live in a universe that has “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference”. The evolutionists’ universe has no purpose because it is an accident; a cosmic accident. With evolution so widely taught in schools and universities, is it any wonder that so many lack any purpose or meaning to their lives?

As Susan Blackmore, psychologist and disciple of Richard Dawkins said, “If you really think about evolution and why we human beings are here, you have to come to the conclusion that we are here for absolutely no reason at all.”

TW: I can imagine an atheist saying that her daughter, for example, gives her life meaning.

JS: But hardly ultimate meaning, since both mother’s and daughter’s entire lives are just a blink of an eye in the uniformitarian cosmic scheme. Bertrand Russell said in his anti-Christian book Religion and Science:

Man, as a curious accident in a backwater, is intelligible: his mixture of virtues and vices is such as might be expected to result from fortuitous origin.

TW: Would you call her a liar?

JS: Not at all. A lie implies intentional deception, not just falsehood. As you could see from searching our site, we are very sparing with accusations of ‘lying’ (although some evolutionists justify deception and are just being consistent), as opposed to having a faulty interpretive framework. (However, we won’t deny that this prior adoption of this faulty framework is culpable according to Romans 1:20 and 2 Peter 3:3–7 and foolish (Psalm 14:1). But the point remains that a valid deduction from a faulty framework is not a lie.)

IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE SCIENCE, IF FACTS OF THE UNIVERSE ARE UNORDERED?

Basic to the unbeliever’s worldview is a denial of creation – the ordered arrangement of the universe according to the mind of God.

The Christian worldview is that not one piece of the created order is where it is, at the time it is, and the size it is , that is not the result of God’s ultimate plan for His creation.

Knowledge requires the ability to differentiate between individual objects (One- and- Many question). This is done by means of universals, or what we might call categories. Examples of categories would be horse, cat, chair, trees, plants and so forth. In the Christian worldview, categories or universals, are part of the creation act of God. This is what unifies everything in the universe (unity and diversity), otherwise we just have a lot of  ‘abstract particulars’ that don’t relate to anything else. Particulars (things, events, words) need something that connects them to something else that will provide meaning to the particular whatever it might be. Right at the foundation of the universe (Genesis 1) God created particulars and kinds (universals), ” The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, each according to its kind …” Genesis 1:11-12.

8764-trinity-color

In God’s own being, the Trinity, we find both unity and diversity. Christian philosopher, Cornelius Van Til recognized the question of the One-and-Many as a metaphysical issue. “Using the language of the One-and-Many question we contend that in God the one and the many are equally ultimate. Unity in God is no more fundamental than diversity and diversity in God is no more fundamental than unity.”

The doctrine of the Trinity provides a solution to the problem of knowledge , the one-and-many or universals and particulars, and therefore a solution to the issues of relationships, or community. In the Trinity the absolute self-sufficient God is both unity and diversity. Creation reveals a one-and-many universe brought into existence by a one-and-many triune God.

The universe is not an accumulation of unknowable abstractions but a creative act of God. Without such a belief in a unifying principle in the universe, science is not possible. It is the unifying principle, the common denominator, that provides order and coherence – rationality – to the universe. This is one of the unproven assumptions of science. It is no coincidence that science has grown on the back of a Christian culture and worldview.

Extracted from article by Ian Hodge “Trinity’s Truth Reflected in Creation”, http://www.creation.com

 

GOD’S WISDOM versus SATAN’S/MAN’S WISDOM

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The problem with worldly wisdom is found back in the very first words of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God conceived, created, defined, rules, and judges the entire universe. God alone is ultimate. Therefore, creation and all creatures (including us!) are derived and dependent.

That is why Genesis 1:1 is the most offensive verse in the Bible. If this verse is true, then every premise and postulate of the world’s wisdom is a lie. This is why men respond in such fury against even the obvious – the universe demonstrates Intelligent Design. If there’s a Designer, then I am not ultimate—and if that is the case, everything collapses.

If we turn to the last pages of the Bible, we see this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1)

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)

God is Lord, on His throne. He designed and created the original universe, which was ruined by sin. God will design and create the new heavens and new earth. So we see here: God’s words (not Satan’s, not ours) that are faithful and true, and God’s deeds (not Satan’s, not ours) that are final and determinative. Worldly wisdom is false, temporary, and doomed.

Our only hope lies in the wisdom of God, which centres in the cross of Jesus Christ. We must turn from the pipe-dream of our own ultimacy, bow before the ultimacy of the Lord God. It is only when we start from God’s ultimacy, and the sufficiency of His Word, that we have any hope of true wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 1:79:10).

see complete article Competing Wisdom’s by Dan Phillips on http://www.creation.com

SOLEMN TRUTH ABOUT EVIL

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The intrusion of evil into God’s creation was permitted by HIM as part of HIS profound and worthy purpose. It is hard to comprehend the wicked were made to serve God’s purpose but it is true.
They shall serve to manifest God’s inflexible justice in the infliction of retribution against unrepentant sinners. How could God be fully known were that not shown. Thus all shall serve, as it is written:
“God has made all things for HIMSELF. Yes even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4
The devil, his angels and impenitent men shall all eventually be seen as vessels or servants, but vessels to dishonour not honour.
“Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour.” Romans 9:21
If God had not allowed evil into His world how would we know the full extent of HIS character. HIS mercy, kindness, goodness, patience and above all HIS sacrificial love for us revealed at the Cross.

IS CONSENSUS SCIENCE, ANTI-SCIENCE?

Ben Stein Expelledignaz_semmelweis
Pictured is Dr Ignaz Semmelweis. He struggled against the scientific consensus of his day. The cost of ignoring his research findings was the loss of countless lives and much suffering.

Sadly consensus science has a poor record. In fact the task of science has nothing to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science on the contrary requires only one investigator who happens to be right.

Dr Ignaz Semmelweiss, a Hungarian surgeon, was one of those investigators who was right. He discovered that ‘childbed fever’ which typically caused a ten to thirty percent mortality level, could largely be abolished if doctors simply washed their hands in a chlorine solution before examining pregnant mothers.
The compelling evidence however failed to impress his superiors and he was eventually dismissed from the clinic even though the mortality rate for his patients was essentially zero. Semmelweis’s procedure went contrary to the whole theory of medical consensus existing in his day. He spent the last years of his life unsuccessfully trying to convince European doctors of his systems effectiveness. He ended his life in a mental hospital and his ideas forgotten until Dr Joseph Lister took up the battle this time successfully.
The story of Dr Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen is much the same. In 1795 he suggested that the fevers which were the number one killer of women following childbirth were an infectious process and he was able to prevent/cure them. The consensus said NO…. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right/same conclusion. These are but two of many examples of scientists resistance to accepting the truth when it conflicts with accepted dogma.

Evolution is also an entrenched dogma despite the overwhelming evidence for amazing design of life and the universe. Since the discovery of the complexity of  DNA (ENCODE PROJECT) and sub-microscopic cell machinery of irreducible complexity there is a growing number of eminent scientists embracing intelligent design.  Why the establishment is so wedded to materialism and evolutionary naturalism is perhaps best explained by Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and probably one of the world’s leaders in promoting evolutionary biology.

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity 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’s 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 an absolute for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.”

Dr Scott Todd, an immunologist from Kansas State University said it more succinctly: “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”

Evolution sheds no light on the beginning of the Universe and life. It postulates matter, energy and time brought this beautiful orderly Cosmos into being, with its intricate life forms, its complex natural laws, its intangible moral qualities and the creative and reasoning powers of man. Even Aristotle and Plato knew this speaks of infinite intelligence and yet evolution insists blind chance can account for it all. At a foundational level we are involved in a battle of world views.

Christians know God, so the idea that matter and energy and blind chance can produce the Cosmos we inhabit is absurd.

Recommended reading: By Design, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, The Design Inference, Dr William Dembski, The Edge of Evolution, Dr Michael Behe and of course  www.creation.com

Foundation for Affirming Moral Absolutes

Truth and Transformation
Without the cross of JESUS CHRIST the world has NO foundation for affirming moral absolutes, for calling corruption by its name – SIN.  The cross of Christ is also the only available force that can withstand and push back the storm of moral relativism that is upon us.
Thanks to the cross of JESUS, we have a firm basis – empirical, historical and philosophical for affirming moral absolutes without the same moral law condemning us. The cross does not just provide a philosophical framework for moral absolutes. It also provides the WAY to deliver us from SIN.
By the cross GOD shows us that the power He wants us to have is not the power to Lord it over others, not power to exploit and oppress, but power to sacrifice ourselves for others.
Of course, God knows we can’t do this in our own strength so He sends the third person of the Trinity, Holy Spirit to indwell all believers. The transformation of the disciples at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon them in power is the same power available to Christians today. They were able to disregard the threats of the Jewish leaders, rejoice in persecution and deliberately chose to disregard the state and continue preaching JESUS. This is real evangelism.
The author of Truth and Transformation, Vishal Mangalwadi described by Christianity Today as India’s foremost Christian intellectual is authentic. Vishal has spent time in jail in India for civil disobedience in helping the lowest caste, Dalits. He has planted churches there, is an international lecturer, social reformer, political columnist and author of fourteen books.
Truth and Transformation is a must read for anyone concerned with the state of current world events.
I like Vishal’s explanation for the rational cynicism that has now become the hallmark of secular universities. “The west has exchanged its worldview shaped by the Bible for a lie that the human mind is an accident of blind chance, no more valid than an animal brain”. Remember most of the prestigious universities in the UK and USA commenced as Christian Institutions, e.g. Oxford and Harvard.

The Tri-une nature of God is the foundation for human thinking and feeling.

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Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s greatest thinkers and theologians in “An Essay on the Trinity” from “Treatise on Grace and Other Posthumously Published Writings” (Cambridge UK 1971) provides a remarkable description of how the three persons of the trinity relate to each other.
Summary: The Father is God existing in the primal, unoriginated, most absolute manner. God the Son stands forth eternally as a work of God’s THOUGHT (thinking). And God the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as an act of their JOY (feeling). They are co-eternal and equally divine.
Also John Piper in his book “Think” says it well: God’s existence as a Trinity of Persons is the foundation of human nature as head and heart, thinking and feeling, knowing and loving.
God’s “thinking” and “feeling” are deeply part of His Trinitarian being.
God made the world so He can communicate, and we his creatures receive, His glory; and that it might be received by both the mind and heart.
If we are to live as people made in the image of God to glorify Him fully, we must engage our mind in knowing Him truly and our hearts in loving Him duly.
The mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fire of the heart.

GOD says, “we are without excuse”

photo (16)Dr Werner Gitt
Information scientist Dr Werner Gitt makes a compelling case in his book “WITHOUT EXCUSE” that the design and information in the universe proves the existence of an all powerful creator.

Dr Gitt obtained his degree in engineering from the Technical University in Hanover, Germany. After receiving his PhD, he was appointed head of the Department of Information Technology at the German Federal Institute for Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Braunschweig). Seven years later he was promoted to Director and Professor at PTB.

Three prerequisites must be fulfilled in order for the German Ministerium to award the title Director and Professor at a German Research Institute on the recommendation of the Presidium. The person must be:
1. a scientist with a PhD qualification from an approved University.
2. one who has published a significant number of original research papers in the technical literature.
3. must head a department in his area of expertise, in which several working scientists are employed.
Dr Werner Gitt has an impressive repertoire of awards and published works so the conclusions reached in his book cannot be lightly dismissed.
WITHOUT EXCUSE relies upon undisputed laws of science and logic, drawing from a wide range of mainline peer-reviewed scientific publications to formulate the premises of the book as well as in representing the main claims of today’s prevalent scientific materialism.

Premised on the truth of Romans 1:20, Dr Gitt and his two co authors Bob Compton and Jorge Fernandez decisively confront the issue of defining information and its properties then proceed to formulate a scientifically valid series of deductions demonstrating how the existence of information leads one first to the existence of ‘a god’ and then specifically to the GOD of the BIBLE.
WITHOUT EXCUSE is an excellent tool for Christians, providing insight into the clash of WORLD VIEWS and tools for defending the claims of scripture.
It is also a must read for any individual who genuinely wants to investigate the claims of Christianity
.

To get a copy of the book WITHOUT EXCUSE go to http://www.creation.com

Can you come to a belief in God purely from the evidence?

There is A God by Anthony Flew

HERE IS WHAT THE WORLD’S MOST NOTORIUS ATHEIST  SAYS IN HIS BOOK.                                                                               

Professor Antony Flew, former Professor of Philosophy, Oxford University.

“Can the origins of a system of coded chemistry (DNA) be explained in a way that makes no appeal whatever to the kind of facts that we otherwise invoke to explain codes and languages, systems of communications, the impress of ordinary words on the world of matter?” p. 127
He pointed out that natural selection can’t explain the origin of first life. Ultimately, a vast amount of information is behind life, and in every other case, information requires an intelligent source, so it is only reasonable that there be a Source behind this information as well.

He is adamant that his conversion to theism does not represent a paradigm shift, because his paradigm remains simply to follow the argument where it leads.

“I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what has traditionally been called natural theology. It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor do I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that maybe called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason not of faith.”

“There Is No God” was published in 2007. Professor Antony Flew died in 2010 at 87, hopefully before he died he met the true God who he had discovered through Natural Theology, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.