God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Were You There?


"Were you there?" When I was younger that is a question that I was taught to ask a naturalist when they tried to tell me that the universe was started by the big bang. Before I recognized the big bang as powerful evidence for the Creator (I vehemently rejected it as an atheistic theory), when presented with evidence for the big bang, I would respond by asking, "were you there to witness all those events you say happened...no?...I didn't think so, so how can you be so sure that God didn't create the universe like the Bible says?" I remember using this in several occasions in college and came across a couple students who turned the question around on me: "you weren't there either?...then how do you know it didn't happen as I described?" I realized that this was not a very good way to defend the idea that God created the universe (and the Christian worldview).

I have not seen this question used in quite some time as an apologetic strategy; however, it did come up last year in an article from the popular young-earth creationist organization, Answers in Genesis. The author proposed that the way the question was asked (similar to how I was taught) was unwise but that there is a proper way to use the question. Please read the original article here before you continue; I want you to be sure that in my critique, I am accurately representing the author.

Pride in Discourse


Those who have followed Faithful Thinkers for quite some time know that I not only defend the truth of the Christian worldview in general, but I also defend a specific view on creation (my reasons for defending specifics are detailed here and here). I have also entered into discussions on the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's free will and have passed by a few on various other topics that are debated within the Christian worldview. As with anyone who has watched these discussions for very long, I cannot help but observe that in every one of these debates (and on all sides of the debates) are people who lack humility in their discussions. They act as if they have infallibly interpreted the Scriptures and nature and have arguments that are completely fallacy-free (though, ironically, their fallacies are easy to spot). Many even have the tenacity to proclaim damnation on those Christians who disagree with them.

Presuppositions, Circumstantial Evidence, and Free Will


In the last month or so, I have become more of a "fly on the wall" in different scientific groups on Facebook. It has been interesting to take a break from interaction for a while and simply observe it. Something that I have noticed come up quite often is that many Christians, when debating scientific evidence with skeptics, end up telling the skeptics that they do not accept the evidence based on their presuppositions of atheism. That is bad enough, but what is disturbing is that I have also witnessed Christians say this same thing (presupposition of atheism) to Christians who take a different perspective (specifically on the age of the universe or evolution). (I have been a victim of this myself but did not think much of it until I saw it committed against several other Christians in multiple groups by multiple people.) Included in the attacks on both the skeptic and the fellow Christian is (sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit) the claim that presuppositions cannot be set aside. This leads the attacking Christian to feel justified in cutting off discussion and no longer answering questions or challenges to their view, and consigning the questioner to damnation. Today, I want to address the idea that presuppositions cannot be set aside, for if this is false, then the attacker has a false sense of logical security in their decision to be dismissive in the face of challenges they cannot (or will not) address.

17 Quotes from Norman Geisler On Evidence for Special Creation

"It will not suffice for the creationist simply to point to the lack of evidence for a secondary cause of life. From no evidence no scientific conclusion follow. Some positive evidence for creation must be presented before a positive conclusion can be drawn."

"It is true that special creation is not testable against any regularly recurring pattern of events in the present. But neither is macroevolution. Both views involve unobserved past singularities. That is, they involve rare occurrences. For example, so far as we can tell, life did not emerge from nonlife over and over. Nor were the great transitions between major forms of life repeated again and again. Hence there is no recurring patterns of events against which to test how the universe began, how life began, or how diverse life forms originated. So neither macroevolution nor creation comes within the discipline of operation science. This does not mean that there is no sense in which macroevolution and creation are scientific. Although they are not an empirical science, nevertheless they function like a forensic science. Just as a forensic scientist tries to make a plausible reconstruction of an unobserved (and unrepeatable) murder, so the evolutionist and creationist attempt to construct a plausible scenario of the unobserved past singularities of origin. So neither view is operation science. Rather both are in the domain of origin science."

Philosophy of Science, Circumstantial Evidence, and Creation

The Big Bang: Evidence of Creation Out of Nothing


For those who have followed me for some time, you know that I take a strong stance on the importance of defending the Christian worldview in its specific claims about reality, as opposed to only defending general claims. For those who are not familiar with my reasons for this position, please see my posts here and here. One of the theological debates that I defend specifically is a particular view on creation. I take the old-earth creation (OEC) position that holds to the literal historicity of the records of Genesis 1-11. I came from a position of young-earth creationism (YEC) but changed due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the view and the complete compatibility of OEC with Christianity. A couple years ago, a prominent YEC leader (Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis) debated Bill Nye on the scientific status on YECism. Ham constantly drew a distinction between "observational/operational science" and "historical science" to say that what happened in the past cannot be known. I wrote a post last year critiquing this philosophy of science and provided a followup clarification on my position (here and here, respectively).

Since then I have read and reviewed one of the foundational works on the philosophical distinction (Origin Science: A Proposal for the Creation/Evolution Controversy by Norman Geisler and J. Kirby Anderson). My previous posts dealt with the distinction as presented by Ken Ham (and many other YEC proponents); however, today I want to deal with the distinction as presented by Geisler and Anderson. There is a wide chasm between the two understandings, and if Ken Ham is getting the distinction from the work of Geisler and Kirby (or someone who agree with their distinctions), then he has misunderstood the distinctions. My goal is to explain the distinctions made by Geisler and Anderson and show how they have been misunderstood by Ken Ham and other YEC proponents. I will also show that the rejection of circumstantial evidence in Ham's understanding necessarily undermines the presuppositional grounding of knowledge of all events recorded in the Bible, which is what Ken Ham promotes in place of a circumstantial, evidential approach to discovering the mechanisms, timing, and purposes of creation.