Monday, August 22, 2016

Hugh Ross: Naturalistic Origin of Life Strangled by Young Universe

Introduction
One of the teleological arguments for God's existence comes from the combination of the incredible complexity and large variation of life and the cosmologically minute amount of time that is permitted by this universe to accomplish such a feat. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains:
"As astronomical advances proved the universe to be some 10 to 15 billions years old a majority of both scientists and Christians mistakenly assumed that billions of years allowed ample time for a naturalistic account of life. This error has been costly. Recent scholarship increasingly reveals that time boundaries as brief as only several billions years constrict evolutionary theory so tightly, particularly concerning life's origin, as to strangle it. In other words, a 14-billion-year-old universe is too young for any conceivable natural-process scenario to yield on its own, even the simplest living organism."
"As astronomical advances proved the universe to be some 10 to 15 billions years old a majority of both scientists and Christians mistakenly assumed that billions of years allowed ample time for a naturalistic account of life. This error has been costly. Recent scholarship increasingly reveals that time boundaries as brief as only several billions years constrict evolutionary theory so tightly, particularly concerning life's origin, as to strangle it. In other words, a 14-billion-year-old universe is too young for any conceivable natural-process scenario to yield on its own, even the simplest living organism."


Dr. Ross has spent the last few decades studying the universe and what must be in place for it to be hospitable for life's creation and thriving. It turns out that the full age of the universe is not the total amount of time available; indeed, the time is much shorter (nearer to 4 billion years). This constrains the naturalistic process even further. But even if it did have the full age of the universe, 14 billion years is several orders of magnitude too young.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Don't Force Your Beliefs on Others

Introduction
An interesting meme came across my Facebook feed the other day. It states, "It is okay for you to believe what you believe. It is not okay for you to insist that everyone else believe the same as you." I shared it with a short explanation of the fact that the claim self-destructs. This meme self-destructs because it violates its own claim. It insists that the readers believe what is included in the meme (the idea that we should not insist others believe what we believe). It was not long before my comments were challenged. The conversation included a few different challenges that I addressed. I have included those challenges and my responses below (with a few edits for clarity).

Challenge #1: This is a religion thing!

Response: This is actually a belief that someone is affirming is right and affirming that its opposite is wrong. "Right" and "wrong" are terms of morality. It is logically impossible to not affirm someone's morality with the statement in the meme because it is affirming a moral belief. If someone affirms that the belief (that you should not force your beliefs on others) is right, then they affirm that its opposite (that you should force your beliefs on others) is wrong. If they insist that others hold to that same belief, then they have violated their own belief. That is why it is self-defeating. This has nothing to do with religion; rather it has everything to do with logic.

Challenge #2: There is no morality in this meme.

Response: morality is found in the meme in the implied "should" or "ought" in the affirmative phrase "is not okay." These are terms of obligation that are independent of a person (this is called "objective"). The moral claim is that someone should not force their beliefs on someone else. However, for something like morality to exist, it must have an ontological/metaphysical grounding. If your worldview does not contain such an object (such as God), then objective morality does not exist in your worldview, and nothing can be said to be truly "right" or "wrong;" it is all just a matter of opinion (and enforceable by who's in power). Now, if the person posting this meme is merely offering an opinion, then that is fine. It is their opinion that beliefs should not be forced on someone else, but it cannot go beyond an opinion to be an actual moral obligation. If morality is not objective, then any obligations end at the person asserting them; they do not apply beyond that person (this is called "subjective"). And that is exactly what this meme is denouncing and violating simultaneously. There is morality in this meme; there is not sound logic in this meme.

Challenge #3: We can be good without God. You are saying that I'm immoral because I don't believe the way you do.

Response: That is not my claim. I'm saying that it is only with an ontological foundation that morality (in any objective sense, which is what the meme seems to want to enforce) even exists. It is only if God exists that someone can be either moral or immoral. If there is no ontological grounding for morality, then we are all amoral because the world is amoral. This is not the same as "immoral." "Amoral" indicates the absence of a standard by which to conclude someone or something is moral or immoral. None of what I have said even implies someone's moral status; I've only made claims about the existence of morality that would allow statements about someone's moral status.

Conclusion
This meme and many of its type are quite common in social media these days. It is imperative that we logically evaluate their claims for soundness. If we find that they are not, we need to show how that is so. It is important that people be able to recognize bad logic when they see it, so they can learn to think clearly as other issues and claims arise.

Recommended Books for Further Investigation:



Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Review: Legislating Morality- Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible

Introduction
Legislating Morality: Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek has been on my reading list for quite some time. It is often brought up by skeptics that Christians do not have a consistent view of morality, especially when it comes to government. This is often used as evidence of internal inconsistency within the Christian worldview and often leads to the conclusion that Christianity is false. And with the political season upon us yet again, I have been involved in many discussions about morality and politics. When defending the existence of God by using the moral argument, it is important to recognize the difference between moral ontology and moral epistemology (does objective morality exist vs. which objective morality exists) to address the claim of an internal inconsistency; however, we cannot stop there. Often the challenge comes from a genuine concern about the consistency of the moral code that Christians say is objectively established by the God of the Bible. So, it is important that defenders of the Christian worldview educate themselves on views of morality, and in political seasons, the morality of legislating morality.

A few weeks ago I decided to put reading two other books on hold and go through this one to better prepare myself as these discussions become more and more common with the season. Was I disappointed with that decision? I will give this book my usual chapter-by-chapter summary treatment then provide my recommendations at the end.

Monday, July 18, 2016

12 Quotes From Greg Koukl on Theological Discussions

"Loving God with the mind is not a passive process. It is not enough to have sentimental religious thoughts. Rather, it involves coming to conclusions about God and his world based on revelation, observation, and careful reflection...This is not rationalism, a kind of idolatry of the mind that places man's thinking at the center of the universe. Rather, it's the proper use of one of the faculties God has given us to understand him and the world he has made."

"In order to understand the truth of the Bible accurately, our mental faculties must be intact and we must use them as God intended."

"The Bible is first in terms of authority, but something else if first in terms of the order of knowing. We cannot grasp the authoritative teaching God's Word unless we use our minds properly. Therefore the mind, not the Bible, is the very first line of defense God has given us against error."

"A commitment to truth -- as opposed to a commitment to an organization -- means an openness to refining one's own views. It means increasing the accuracy of one's understanding and being open to correction in thinking. A challenger might turn out to be a blessing in disguise, an ally instead of an enemy. An evangelist who is convinced of her view, then, should be willing to engage the best arguments against it."