Semiotics

The point that Lennox is trying to make can be illustrated in the following manner: Suppose thousands of years ago a group of primitive individuals came across a leather bound book filled with letters and symbols the likes of which they had never seen before. If the individuals were reductionist they would only try and explain the nature of the book in terms of the ink and paper.

Though the specific semantics of the symbols might not be deducible, we certainly do as rational and logical creatures have the capacity to recognize the product of other minds. Of course the symbols are abstract but we still have the capacity to infer intelligent causation. This can also be understood through logical syntax, where we recognize the ordered structure of things as meaningful, again this is part of being a rational and logical human being.

In fact the scriptures tell us that all of creation – the sun, moon and stars – are symbols with a semiotic dimension, they are a universal language that denote the existence of a creator.

Psalms 19: 1-4

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.”

As Christians we hold that there is a semiotic dimension to the world around us where we can reasonably infer intelligent design, in the same way that primitive individuals finding a leather bound book with mysterious and foreign symbols inside of it would.

Belief vs. Knowledge

A brilliant post from Seth

Weighing the Evidence

Ah, tildeb, you’ve done it again — you’ve raised such an incisive point that I have no choice but to devote an entire post to my reply 🙂 Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

Now, I for one highly recommend my readers to take the time to go through the entire discussion (it actually starts back here, then jumps to here) — but, since this may be a tall order for people who already live rich and busy lives, I’ll set the stage by saying, simply, that the discussion thus far has been characterized by tildeb offering critique of my methods in arriving at the truth about God.  I have provided evidence of both subjective and substantive natures, but all were rejected because, at the end of the day, my metaphysical worldview boils down to faith — I cannot know definitively that what I believe is the truth, because none of…

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Is Faith The Absence Of Evidence?

In the arena of philosophical and scientific discussion the word faith is often used to describe a belief that is unsubstantiated. In other words faith is employed to fill gaps in knowledge, thus the more faith I have the further I travel outside the scope of empirical evidence.

But what exactly is it that constitutes faith? Derived from the Greek word pistis, faith is simply translated “to be persuaded.” So what is it that persuades someone like myself to believe in God? Is it evidence in that which is evident? or is it blind unsubstantiated claims completely void of reason?

I am frequently told that it is the latter of the two, that to profess the notion that God created the world is to place some abstract wibble wobble like widget in place of science. Such ideas falsely assume that creationist such as myself are inserting God as a mechanism in place of science. On the contrary, I hold God as an agent who has established the laws of nature.

In the words of John Lennox -“Suppose we have a Rolls Royce turbo jet engine, and I offer two explanations of it, first is aeronautical engineering and the basic laws of thermodynamics. Another explanations is Rolls and Royce, Choose one! Well anyone can see that’s an absurdity, their two different kinds of explanations, the first is in terms of law and mechanism, that is the scientific one, and the second is in terms of agency”

The conflict between theism and atheism is not whether God and science contradict each other, what it really boils down to for me is the question of origins – How did life begin? There are only two possible explanations

a) life was created

b) life evolved naturally through non-living particles

Both have some rather supernatural implications. On one hand you have to either accept that an all powerful and eternal God created the universe, or that – despite it being mathematically impossible and scientifically implausible – life evolved naturally through an unguided process – take your pick!

I recently had a conversation with a blogger in which he explained to me how “New Atheists [such as himself] clearly self identify as agnostic atheists.” which simply means that while they don’t claim to have sufficient knowledge to make a conclusion on how life began, they are persuaded that God doesn’t exist.

When confronted with the question of origins most atheist like the blogger I mentioned will try to conveniently play the agnostic card and say they don’t presume to know how life began and that they would never pretend to know something so silly. We are often led to believe that atheist make no claims of belief, that they simply assert the “lack of a belief” in a intelligent designer. Albeit to deny the existence of God is to directly infer the only other alternative whether they care to admit it or not. The agnostic card hidden up the sleeve is just an attempt to save face and not commit intellectual suicide by saying that they believe life evolved naturally.

The English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle’s explained why life could not have arisen by a purely natural unguided process:

“life could not have had a random beginning.. the trouble is that there is about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the 40,000 power, an outrageous small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court….The enormous information content of even the simplest living systems…cannot in our view be generated by what are often called “natural” processes…For life to have originated on the Earth it would be necessary that quite explicit instruction should have been provided for its assembly…There is no way in which we can expect to avoid the need for information, no way in which we can simply get by with a bigger and better organic soup, as we ourselves hoped might be possible a year or two ago.”

Why I Believe

How I Came To Believe

I can’t say that there was ever some great epiphany that first caused me to start believing in God. Being raised by Christian parents I naturally adopted the values that they instilled within me; and while they never forced me into the pew’s or dragged me to Sunday school, I wasn’t any older than seven or eight when I first started to believe in God. Growing-up I never had any compelling supernatural experiences, there were no great tell-tale signs that were tailored to my life. In contrast my persuasion was a result of a profound intuitive awareness pulsing through my veins; it was my inherent moral consciousness testifying to a God above.

There was never any sharp dichotomy between God and the world around me. Even as a young boy, belief in God always made sense to me. The need to express what I saw and felt through a purely naturalistic world-view seemed irrational. I had no problem believing in a transcendent cause to life because my capacity to reason, intellectualize and soulfully produce profound emotions all seemed wonderfully and inexplicably poetic – call me a romantic but something about the grandeur of life inspired me. Sure I never seen God with my own two eyes, but did people actually expect me to believe that the beauty and complexity of creation came about by some natural unguided process? In my mind such atheistic ideologies seemed mystical, exotic and unequivocatingly absent of reason.

Why the Judeo-Christian God?

So why Christianity? – you might ask. Why not one of the other mono or polytheistic religions such as Islam or Hinduism? While my acceptance of Christianity was initially due to my up-bringing in a Christian household, I can say that there are several key components that have solidified my faith in Christianity over the past several years.

One such component was the historical accuracy of Biblical prophecy – something that no other religion can lay claim to. Foretelling the restoration of the nation of Israel and the predominance of gentile believers, the scriptures persist as relevant even to the present day. Furthermore books like Psalms, Isaiah, and Micha foretold  nearly a thousand years in advance the life and crucifixion of Jesus.

Psalms 22:16 “For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil doers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.”

Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

Micha 5: 2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past”

In fact Jesus himself fulfilled over 300 biblical prophecies – how was this to be explained? Was one suppose to simply write it off as coincidence? or conveniently dismiss it all together as fairy-tale? One might simply claim that Jesus never existed, that He was just another illusory fictitious god like Zeus or Hercules. Indeed this is the most common argument that skeptics raise in order to deny the divine anomaly that was the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Bart Ehram, a famous American scholar and self-professed agnostic criticized the absurdity of those who try to argue that Jesus was not a historical figure, saying “this is not even an issue for scholars of antiquity.. there is no scholar in any college or university in the western world who teaches classics, ancient history, new testament, early Christianity, or any related field that doubts that Jesus existed.*”

The life of Jesus as well as his followers are abundantly attested in early sources. Tacitus, a Roman historian from the 2nd century recorded the following events: “Christus, the founder of the name, was Put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign Of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time Broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief Originated, but through the city of Rome also.” I often wonder, once the mischief broke out again why didn’t the Romans simply display the dead corpse of Jesus?  clearly the apostles had been going around telling people that Jesus had risen from the dead, the Romans only needed present his dead body to smash such pernicious superstitions (speaking only as though He had never risen from the dead of course).

The life of Jesus was profoundly unique beyond all historical measures. Even to this day He persist as the most influential person to ever walk the planet – but why? He commanded no great army, He held no official political position, He never conducted any great scientific experiments. On the contrary, He was stricken and we esteemed Him not. Jesus came only preaching the kingdom of Heaven; He came only to bare a cross – a cross that was to be the burden of our sins.

The Greek scholar Fredrick Nietzsche once said “The gods justified human life by living it themselves – the only satisfactory response to evil ever invented.” Jesus came to offer the Gospel of regeneration and redemption, He did not distanced Himself from our suffering, rather He became apart of it – tackling the perennial issues of misery and wickedness that so often fester our minds. It was after his conversion to Theism that the famous English philosopher Anthony Flew said “if there is a truth, it’ll have to be in the person of Christ,” I tend to agree with him.

Further Conclusions

Over the last year I have developed a genuine interest for diverse fields of study such as biology, cosmology and archaeology. Being raised in the public school system I was taught that such studies fundamentally contradicted belief in God; that the existence of a intelligent designer was preposterous and anyone who held such delusions should be patronized. Yet It wasn’t long until I realized such beliefs were simply fashioned around ones willingness to bow to the evolutionary dogma.

It appeared to me as if evolutionist had simply commandeered the secular hierarchy within the scientific community – presupposing a random unguided process as the default for all creation. But what is the precedent in which they derived such a conclusion? Does history tell us that earth like planets just naturally arise from nothing? Does our knowledge of cause and effect tell us anything other than complexity and intelligence most assuredly always point to an agent?

When abandoning God one must sacrifice absolutes; moral law, hope, and meaning all become arbitrary. Self-reference becomes the only grounds that one has to derive any sort of foundation for their values. Thus if self-reference is the only grounds for gaining traction, what right do we have to insist any moral code? The French philosopher Etinne Borne once said that “Atheism is the deliberate, definite, dogmatic denial of the existence of God. It is not satisfied with the existence of appropriate truth or relative truth, but claims to see the ins and outs of the game quite clearly being the absolute denial of the absolute.”

For the longest time I couldn’t fathom why people chose not to believe in God. Who would want to live such a hopeless life? In this I will leave you with the words of Plato:

Behold! Human being living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light..

Here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move..

They see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave..

At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion but that now when is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned more real existence, he has a clearer vision..

And if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, then only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

Darwin’s Doubt – The Fossil Record

Darwin-Doubt

Charles Darwin knew there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. In what is known today as the “Cambrian explosions,” many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record 530 million years ago without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock. Stephen Meyer makes a compelling case for the theory of intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of the Cambrian animals and the biological information to produce them.


I recently began reading Stephen Meyer’s critically acclaimed best seller “Darwin’s Doubt” and decided to make periodic post in a attempt to provide a comprehensive, yet concise, summary of its contents. Praise for “Darwin’s Doubt” has come not only from his fellow colleagues, but from corners all around the scientific community.

Darwin’s Doubt represents an opportunity for bridge-building rather than dismissive polarization.” – Dr. George Church, Prof of genetics at Harvard Medical School.

“It is hard for us paleontologist, steeped as we are in a tradition of Darwinian analysis, to admit the neo-Darwinian explanation for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably. New data acquired in recent years, instead of solving Darwin’s dilemma, have made it worse. This book is a game changer for the study of evolution” – Dr. Mark McMenanin, paleontologist at Mt. Holyoke College.


Darwin’s theory of evolution was established on two basic concepts – the idea of universal common ancestry and natural selection

The idea of common ancestry was Darwin’s theory for the history of life, he argued that “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form.” This process of “descent with modification” acts on the power of natural selection to produce new biological novelties. Meyer explains the ability of natural selection to create new and significant biological changes depends on three different elements: (1) Randomly arising mutations. (2) the heritability of those mutations. (3) a competition for survival , resulting in differences in reproductive success among competing organisms.

“Darwin conceded that the beneficial mutations responsible for permanent change in species are both rare and necessarily modest. Major variations in forms, what later evolutionary biologist would term “macromutations,” inevitably produced deformity and death. Only minor variations meet the test of viability and heritability.”

By the internal logic of his own reasoning Darwin acknowledged that the process of evolution must occur very gradually, thus requiring million of years resulting in innumerable transitional fossils embedded in the strata, thus simply finding a handful of plausible intermediates wouldn’t come close to documenting the Darwinian picture of life. On that note, Darwin fully acknowledged that Cambrian explosion gave rise to fundamentally new biological forms that had no known precursors in the fossil record. “The difficulty of understanding the absence of vast piles of fossiliferous strata, which on my theory were no doubt somewhere accumulated before the Cambrian epoch, is very great.. I allude to the manner in which numbers of species of the same group suddenly appear in the lowest know fossiliferous rocks.

There was one scientist who would not let Darwin forget this. Louis Agassis was a world renown paleontologist from Harvard university. Darwin initially sent Agassiz his book in order to win his support, however it would be Agassiz who ultimately became Darwin’s biggest critic. He called attention to the sudden appearance of complex designs like the compound eyes of the first trilobites, creatures already thriving at the apparent dawn of animal life. The abrupt appearance of complex anatomical features in the Cambrian period presented a challenge to both the main parts of Darwin’s theory.

“Agassiz thought the evidence of abrupt appearance, and the absences of ancestral forms in the precambrian, refuted Darwin’s theory. Of these earlier forms, Agassiz asked. “Where are their fossilized remains?” he insisted that Darwin’s picture of the history of life contradicts what the animal forms buried in the rocky strata of our earth tell us of their own introduction. Let us therefore hear them; -for after all, their testimony is that of the eye-witness and the actor in the scene.”

Because Darwin was well aware of this problem he came up with two different explanations, suggesting that the fossil record may be significantly incomplete: either the ancestral forms of the Cambrian animals were not fossilized or they hadn’t been found yet. “I look at the natural geological record, as a history of the world imperfectly kept.. only here and there a short chapter has been preserved; and of each page, only here and there a few lines.”

Darwin himself was less than satisfied with this explanation. Agassiz for his part, would have none of it, saying “Both with Darwin and his followers, a great part of the argument is purely negative. Thus they throw off the responsibility of proof…However broken the geological record may be, there is a complete sequence in many parts of it. from which the characters of the succession may be ascertained.” Agassiz further argued that “since the most exquisitely delicate structures, as well as embryonic phases of growth of the most perishable nature, have been preserved from very early deposits, we have no right to infer the disappearance of types because their absence disproves some favorite theory.

Stephen Meyer asserts that those who will in turn try to destroy the credibility of Agassiz expertise would be better off taking a different route. Agassiz was tutored by none other than Georges Curvier the founder of paleontology. Darwin himself said this of Agassiz “Both our universities together cannot furnish the like. Why, there is Agassiz – he counts for three.”

While the general population has been duped into believing that evolution and the fossil record share a perfect marriage, a rising consensus is beginning to emerge that theory of evolution is miserably flawed. The sudden appearance of animal forms in the Cambrian period gave Darwin pause, and still persist as one the greatest arguments that can be raised against neo-darwinian evolution.

Materialism, Atheism & Naturalism – The M.A.N. Made World

Naturalist will often argue that the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) isn’t verifiable because we can not “put God under the microscope,” thus they conveniently erect the self-serving impasse that if God can’t be put into a test tube then He must not exist, or simply doesn’t deserve any significant consideration. So If God were alive how does the naturalist presume one might conclude his existence? Its important to distinguish that advocates for ID do not claim to have God in a test-tube, they are simply arguing that ID is in inference to the best explanation.

Naturalism has befuddled itself with the materialistic concept of reality while dismissing the more important concept of actuality, what the naturalist have managed to do is to create a system or rhetoric which precludes their acknowledgment of Gods existence regardless if He actually does or doesn’t exist. It appears as if the naturalist are not concerned in discovering reality as much as they are seeking to preserve a materialistic ideology. It’s followers seem more predicated on defending the walls of their skepticism than expanding their horizons.

Our inability to falsify God hardly disqualifies Him from being true, if one wants  to assume that reality ends where the material stops, then by all means one is welcome to stay in it’s naturalistic conclave. Sir Arthur Eddington, an astrophysicist from the early 1900’s  exemplified this type of argument from incredulity when he said “Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply don’t believe the present order of things started off with a bang.. its preposterous.. it leaves me cold.”

The idea behind scientific theories is not to formulate a hypothesis which best conforms to our world view, but to see which explanation can best track the footprints of life back to its origins, technically speaking we will never be able to determine who or what actually caused those prints i.e. the existence of God or an unguided natural process, but we can most certainly tell which foot best fits the shoe.

The poster-boys for the ‘new atheist’ such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens hold the idea of an intelligent designer as superfluous in understanding how the universe began, thus the idea of God is nothing more than a delusion – or a disease as the more militant atheist would argue. However, the concept of design was actually the foundation for early modern scientist such as Kepler, Boyle, Galileo, Copernicus & Newton. The motto of such early scientist was intelligibility; they believed that they could study nature and make sense of it all – Why? because they believed science was intelligible to the human mind in that it was designed by a rational intellect.

Don’t doubt the Creator, because it is inconceivable that accidents alone could be the controller of this universe.” – Isaac Newton

The concept behind materialism is that matter and energy are the entities from which everything arises. Essentially there’s nothing beyond the physical world that exists; ultimately life evolved from non-living particles, thus there is no God and ultimately no purpose – only electrically charged signals blasting through our material brains. Proponents of such naturalistic and atheistic ideologies usually appeal to reason and science while arrogating to themselves the “high-ground” in the debate. Early evolutionary scientist didn’t have any problem with the idea of materialism because they assumed the world was infinite, that the origins of life and the solar system could simply be explained through a seamless materialistic account – Human life, simpler life, chemical life, elementary particles from eternities past. However, several scientific discoveries in the 20th century have brought this materialist thesis toppling down.

In 1935, Astronomer Edwin Hubble headed a startling breakthrough in the field of Cosmology; the great dome telescopes revealed to us that the universe was not eternal like scientist had once thought. Hubble discovered that not only were we just one out of an innumerable number of galaxies, but even more significant was that the light coming from these galaxies was being shifted in the magnetic spectrum, indicating that the light was coming from objects that were receding, revealing that the universe was expanding. This led cosmologist to contemplate, what happens if we begin to wind the clock backwards? if you go back a million years, a hundred-million years, etc. With each step backwards the universe would get smaller and smaller until eventually all matter was locked in a finite beginning; this discovery directly contradicted the materialistic view point that the universe is eternal and self-existent. After looking into Hubble’s telescope for the first time Albert Einstein famously stated

einstein

“I now see the necessity of a beginning”

Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe had remarkable theistic implications in the field of astronomy and cosmology. Renown American astronomer, Allan Sandage reluctantly stated “Here is evidence for what can only be described as a supernatural event. There is no way that this could have been predicted within the realm of physics as we know it” Furthermore, leading NASA scientist and astronomer, Robert Jastrow famously said “This is an exceeding strange development unexpected by all but the theologians who have accepted the word of the Bible. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conqueror the highest peak, as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been siting there for centuries.”  

In 1968 Stephen Hawking solved Albert Einstein’s field equations of general relativity and further cemented Hubble’s discovery of a finite beginning. Hawking proved that if you go back in time you eventually reach a point where the curvature of spacetime becomes so tight that it becomes infinitely tight, a circle so tight that it has no volume. Thus we come to the question asked by Stephen Meyer “how much stuff, can you fit in zero space?” obviously no stuff goes into no space, Thus we can see how the ‘big-bang’ theory coupled with general relativity describes both a beginning in time and a beginning in space and matter.

“Hubble’s discovery on the expansion of the universe was one of the most important intellectual discoveries of the 20th century, or of any century. It transformed the debate about whether the universe had a beginning. If galaxies are moving apart, they must have been closer together in the past.. Many scientist were still unhappy with the universe having a beginning because it seemed to imply that physics broke down. One would have to invoke an outside agency, for convenience sake, one can call God.” – Stephen Hawking

A World Suffering From Evil

Carry-Your-Cross

We live in a world plagued with suffering, a world where evil wanders to and fro, preying on the innocent and the weak, chaos howls like the wind, and death hangs ominous like stormy weather. How can a loving God tolerate so much injustice? How could such wickedness be permitted? In order to answer these questions we first need to understand why we were created. Were we put here merely to display the glory and power of God’s sovereignty? Or is there a deeper and more intimate purpose for why we are standing here today?

At the heart of every human being is the overwhelming desire to love and to be loved. Thus it is not sufficient that we love someone if the gesture is not reciprocated, in order for us to find fulfillment the affection must be mutual – that harmony between loving and being loved. The scripture tells us that we were made in the image and likeness of God himself; thus if our heart is merely to be a reflection of His heart, what then does this tell us about our created purpose? The Bible often uses the metaphor of God as a loving husband and the church as His bride. It has been depicted to us in manner which we can relate to; we can imagine those who are closest to us – whether a spouse, a child, or a good friend – just as we desire companionship in this way, so God desires it from us.

An honest and genuine relationship is deeply rooted in the ability to choose. True intimacy could never be coerced, just as you could never force someone to be your friend. Love suspended in complete and utter free-will is the mark of authenticity, no strings-attached. Because love is not a feeling that can be imposed, rather it’s an individuals personal decision. Sure God could have created a world of robots where everyone bowed down and worshiped him; but in order for our relationship to be meaningful and authentic it must hang in the balance of free-will. He has already chosen us, now we have to decide whether we’re going to choose Him.

There is no reason why we should have desired anything else other than to faithfully love God all the days of our lives. A relationship with God is the most satisfying existence that we could ever experience. But it was Satan, the father of lies who came in and seduced us that we should deny our first love and give ourselves over to sin. Thus the extent to which our love was real and authentic, so now is the extent of our evil and wickedness. There are no strings-attached to our evil just as there are no strings-attached to our love. There is no limit on the wickedness of man; at one end of the spectrum we have perfect unfailing love, and at the other end we have callous and cold-blooded murder. God created man with free-will knowing all the while that if we should choose to turn away, the ramifications would be without measure.

sad jesus

Genesis 6:5 “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and the Lord was sorry that He made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart

But the Lord did not distance Himself from our suffering, rather He became apart of it. Fredrick Nietzsche once said “The gods justified human life by living it themselves – the only satisfactory response to evil ever invented” Nietzsche was speaking of the Greek deities, he never drew the same connection to Jesus. The Lord is ever present and deeply concerned in the affairs of man, but He won’t step in and stop us from being wicked anymore than He we would ever force us to love Him. We know that God has the power to preserve the righteous and the power to destroy the wicked, the time is coming when the Lord will put all evil beneath him and cast it into the lake of fire, He has promised to come back and deliver His children from the wrath of the wicked, but He is waiting, delaying his return, for time is mercy that the lawless might come unto repentance.