Monday, August 3, 2015

The Multiverse Instead of God?: Four Philosophical Problems

Introduction
A few weeks ago a skeptic asked me about my concerns with the multiverse as an explanation for the beginning and fine-tuning of the universe. He stated that he did not want a scientific critique, though, because he believes that the multiverse is outside the ability of science to test. He was more interested in my philosophical concerns. Four issues come to mind. None of them remove the possibility of a multiverse in a theistic world; however, two make the multiverse unpalatable in a naturalistic world, and the other two do remove it from possibility in a naturalistic world.

I will start by showing the power of the multiverse as an explanation, and at the same time I will show how two of the issues make a naturalistic multiverse impossible as a naturalistic explanation (but do not necessarily rule it out). I will then describe the two issues that make the naturalistic multiverse even less desirable as an explanation. Finally, I will conclude by demonstrating how all these issues are consistently and comfortably resolved by a theistic worldview (with or without a multiverse).

Monday, July 20, 2015

13 Quotes From Hugh Ross on Biblical Inerrancy, Interpretation, and Authority

"Humility demands that Christians hold interpretations of controversial passages somewhat tentatively, expressing a willingness to learn more. No matter how much study anyone devotes to an issue...room still exists to improve understanding."

"Literal interpretation, properly understood, is a method of interpretation that gives full weight to all aspects of a passage's context, including the immediate textual context, the literary genre of the passage, the way words were used in the culture, the historical setting and purpose of the text, and the broader theological context."

"No single passage reveals the entire masterpiece. At best, each text uncovers an element or two. By fitting these pieces together and discovering their nuances, one can begin to see and make sense of the overall picture...Assuming a big picture from just one or two parts can lead to a distorted whole."

"To interpret the Bible literally is not enough, one must also interpret it with internal (as well as external) consistency."

"People who seem most concerned with defending biblical inerrancy may be the most resistant to any information derived outside the Bible that might help illuminate what the Bible means. Logically, taking Scripture seriously means being passionately concerned about interpreting it correctly and thus welcoming any evidence that exposes erroneous understandings of Scripture. Unfortunately, many zealous Bible believers confuse their favored interpretations of the Bible with the Word of God itself."

"The Bible teaches a dual, consistent revelation. Just as readers rightfully expect valid interpretation of Isaiah to be consistent with that of Mark, so too they can expect accurate interpretation of the facts of nature to be consistent with the message of Genesis and the rest of Scripture."

"Since God created the cosmos, there can be no contradiction between what He has made and what He has spoken through the inspired writers of Scripture. The testimony of both will always agree, and we need never back away from facts that may appear daunting to our faith. We need only study and investigate further, checking for accuracy--the accuracy of scientific interpretations and the accuracy of biblical interpretations."

"Constructive integration advocates freely acknowledge that conflicts can and do arise between theology and science. After all, theology is not the same as the words of the Bible. It is the human effort to interpret the Bible's words. Neither is science equivalent to the record of nature. It is the human attempt to interpret nature, past and present. Because human knowledge must always be incomplete and to some degree biased, both theologians and scientists sometimes arrive at incorrect conclusions about Scripture and nature, despite God's rendering these records perfectly reliable and trustworthy."

"When science appears to conflict with theology, we have no reason to reject either the facts of nature or the Bible's words. Rather, we have reason to reexamine our interpretations, because the facts of nature and Scripture will always agree."

"In no way does God's revelation via the universe detract from the importance of His written revelation. Nor does this belief in the trustworthiness of nature's message imply that God never intervenes in the natural realm by performing miracles. It does mean that when He performs such miracles God does not remove, hide, or distort physical evidence for them."

"We want to have our ideas tested. We are persuaded that our positions today are going to need adjustment as we gain more understanding...we need some diversity; we need open dialog. What I'm concerned about is that we have so much hostility in this dialog and that needs to be replaced with a more humble spirit where we say, 'Chances are we are both wrong in part, at least, and we may discover that we need to develop something new that none of us have thought of.' How are we going to discover that if we don't have open dialog without the threat of hostility?- where we say, 'we're making progress together. We're allies; we're not enemies. We're allies working together toward the common goal'."

"Truth holds no threat for the Christian. Truth in the scientific arena, which can be directly or indirectly tested, will always be consistent with truth in the spiritual arena. And, despite protestations from all sides, truth in nature must be connected with something, or Someone, beyond the natural realm—the something or Someone responsible for nature’s existence and characteristics."

"Perhaps the most tragic aspect of denying nature's scientifically established characteristics is that such a denial forces the rejection of timely, compelling evidence for the God of the Bible and for the accuracy and authority of His Word."

These quotes can all be found in Dr. Ross' books "Navigating Genesis" and "A Matter of Days" and various other resources available at Reasons to Believe.

More quotes from Dr. Ross may be found here:
10 Quotes from Dr. Hugh Ross on Why The Universe Is The Way It Is

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy

Introduction
The debate surrounding the age of the universe has been a hot topic in the Christian Church for quite some time, and it seems that the tensions grow tighter every year. As someone who loves science and who's faith in Christ was solidified by the evidence from the sciences for the inerrancy of scripture, I find it quite discouraging that there is so much emotional hostility in the Church against the sciences and even scientists, themselves. Dr. Hugh Ross is an advocate for Christ and is a practicing scientist. His desire to see growth in the Kingdom has compelled him to write several books showing how many (not all) interpretations of the record of nature demonstrate evidence for the truth of Scripture. Unfortunately, his efforts have been met with a barrage of criticism from within the Church because he believes the evidence conclusively supports the fact that the universe is billions of years old and not merely thousands.

A Matter of Days (Second Edition) is one of Dr. Ross' books that addresses this topic in a humble and gentle manner. He brings the evidence of nature and the evidence of Scripture together to show that there is no real reason to fear the fact that the universe is billions of years old, and that such evidence actually provides spectacular evidence for the God of the Bible and the inerrancy of His revelation to us. The book is divided into twenty-three chapters and is 264 pages long (not counting the almost one hundred pages of notes). This review will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary and will conclude with my thoughts and specific recommendations.