Monday, November 28, 2016

Hugh Ross: Purposeful Cambrian Explosion Argues for God's Existence

Introduction
I love watching illusionists. They perform feats that seem to defy the very laws of physics- cutting people in half (who live to tell about it), disappearing and reappearing, escapes, and many, many others. It is interesting that we see all these things "magically" happen, but we know that they could not happen unless the illusionist was involved. The illusionist has a purpose for making something "appear" or "disappear." They wish to impress and entertain their audience. They usually pick an object with a certain level of complexity that is easily recognizable- a ball, a playing card, or dove or rabbit for instance. They carefully prepare the environment for the illusion; often the audience is a witness to this setup. Now, if any of those objects just appeared on stage (or in the street for that matter), we would not think for a moment that it "just happened" with no explanation. We would immediately look for a cause, a purposeful agent who designed and orchestrated the stunt.

Appearing Acts in Nature
The Cambrian and Avalon explosions are quite analogous to the appearance of an object by an illusionist. These acts were complete with the setup of the environment and everything. In his book "Navigating Genesis" Dr. Hugh Ross explains what has been discovered in nature and how it argues for a purposeful agent behind the setup and execution of the appearances:
"Only through billions of years of photosynthetic activity could Earth's atmosphere and oceans build up sufficient oxygen to support animal life. The very moment oxygen reached appropriate levels, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions occurred. The lack of any appreciable gap between the time of oxygen's rise to minimum life-sustaining levels and the appearance of animals argues strongly for the involvement of a purposeful Creator."

"Only through billions of years of photosynthetic activity could Earth's atmosphere and oceans build up sufficient oxygen to support animal life. The very moment oxygen reached appropriate levels, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions occurred. The lack of any appreciable gap between the time of oxygen's rise to minimum life-sustaining levels and the appearance of animals argues strongly for the involvement of a purposeful Creator."


Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: Where the Conflict Really Lies

Introduction
This review has been a long time coming. I first heard of Alvin Plantinga and his "evolutionary argument against naturalism" several years ago. I was impressed by the original paper, and when I heard that he wrote a whole book on it, I was quite excited. As a defender of the Christian worldview, I constantly come across skeptics who believe that there is a glaring conflict between science and faith. I have defended the complete compatibility of modern science with the claims of Christianity using the sciences and some philosophy. My reading "Where the Conflict Really Lies" by Alvin Plantinga is an attempt to expand my philosophical defense. Is it successful? This review will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book that will conclude with my thoughts.

Part 1: Alleged Conflict
Chapter 1: Evolution and Christian Belief (1)
Plantinga begins by explaining that over the centuries many people have claimed there is conflict between science and Christianity. The only thing that has changed is the source of the claimed conflict- biology not astronomy. He explains it is important to define our terms in order to properly identify any conflict. He uses common affirmations of the historic Christian creeds regarding creation as a source for the minimum necessary claims of Christianity: God is the creator. As for science, he takes the current scientific theory and breaks it into its mere components: an ancient earth, rise in complexity of life over time, descent with modification, common ancestry, naturalistic mechanisms, and naturalistic origin of life. He explains that conflict has been alleged between the first scientific thesis (an ancient earth) and the interpretation of the Bible by some Christians, but since age is not part of the Christian creeds, he concludes that the conflict is merely superficial and not actual.

Richard Dawkins is one scientist who also alleges great conflict between science and the Bible. Plantinga addresses Dawkins' argument that modern evolutionary theory has revealed a universe without design. He shows that while Dawkins may be able to envision a general naturalistic mechanism to get complex systems, he has not proposed a detailed map from the simple to the complex, nor has he provided any scientific evidence of the details of a mechanism that would produce the specific points on the map. Plantinga also addresses Dawkins' appeals to probability and the claim that God, Himself, would require a designer. He concludes that Dawkins has not demonstrated that evolution (even if it is correct) can take place independent of an intelligent agent guiding the process.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Norman Geisler: Christians Must Build a Positive Case For Creation

Introduction
As a defender of the Christian worldview it is important for me to show how other worldviews fall short of reality. In my discussions regarding the specifics of the biblical model for the origins of the universe, life, and humanity, I do this quite a bit. However, as Norman Geisler emphasizes in his book "Origin Science: A Proposal for the Creation/Evolution Controversy," that is not sufficient:
"If Creationist views are to gain scientific credibility then they must follow the principles of origin science and build a positive case for a primary cause, rather than relying on the ineffective means of pointing out flaws in various evolutionary hypotheses."
"If Creationist views are to gain scientific credibility then they must follow the principles of origin science and build a positive case for a primary cause, rather than relying on the ineffective means of pointing out flaws in various evolutionary hypotheses."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Providing The Case Against And Solutions For Abortion

Introduction
As I have defended the truth of the Christian worldview over the last decade or so, I have been investigating the finer details of the Christian worldview also. It is not enough to defend a "mere" Christianity, for many skeptics see contradictions between reality and what many Christians believe. We must also investigate and defend these theologically nuanced portions of the Christian faith (for more details on the importance of investigating and defending the details, see my post "Internal Debates and Apologetics"). 

One the big internal debates that skeptics see as internally inconsistent is the area of ethics and morality. But not just having the proper view of morality, but seeing it lived out in the Christian's life (the issue of hypocrisy in the Church). An accurate ethical system and the consistent application of it are just as apologetically important as defending the essential truths of the Christian worldview. But this goes beyond just those who are intentional with philosophically and scientifically defending the faith. This affects every Christian's evangelical witness. This is why I have been recently addressing defending the correct ethical system (see my review of "Christian Ethics: Options and Issues" by Norm Geisler) and how it should be applied in our lives (particularly in the area of politics; see my review of "Legislating Morality" by Geisler and Turek and my post "How Should Christians Vote In Political Elections"). My attention has been more acutely focused on our moral duty to protect life.