Posts Tagged ‘richard dawkins’

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If You Can’t Get Started, You’re Not Going Anywhere

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Picture yourself preparing to take your family on vacation.  For weeks you’ve been talking about where you’re going to go, who you’re going to see and what you’re going to do.  With great anticipation, you’ve thought about your upcoming adventure in such vivid detail that it’s almost as if you’ve already been there.  So you get in the car with your spouse, the kids, your luggage, and plenty of snacks all packed up and ready to go on your long-awaited trip.  As you turn the key to start the car, the unthinkable happens.  You realize that the battery in your car is dead!  At that point, no matter how much you talk about the trip, no matter how excited you are about the prospects of going, and no matter how vivid your imagination may be, you are not going on vacation-  at least not until you’re able to replace the battery.  The point is, if you can’t even get started, you’re not going anywhere.

            Such is the position that the theory of evolution finds itself.  For all of the talk, for all of the hype and speculation, and for all of the stories spun about how, when, and where evolution allegedly happened, scientists have yet to discover a realistic mechanism to begin the “journey”.  Even Richard Dawkins, one of the most visible and certainly one of the most vocal atheists today, cannot provide a convincing explanation for the origin of life.  Despite all of his rhetoric promoting evolution and for all of his rabid hostility toward creationists, when interviewed by Ben Stein in the documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, he openly admitted that scientists do not know how life got started.  The reason I emphasize that no realistic mechanism has been found to explain the origin of life is because many scientific theories and scenarios have been suggested from time to time, such as the “RNA world” hypothesis.  But for all of their explanations filled with “what if”, “maybe”, and “probably”, each theory they propose faces deep and serious obstacles from a biochemical standpoint.

            In order to appreciate how improbable it is that life somehow began on its own, consider the following example given by microbiologist Jonathan Wells.  In the highly acclaimed presentation, “The Case For A Creator”, Dr. Wells walks us through the following experiment.  Take a sterile test tube and fill it with just the right amount of fluid, at just the right temperature.  In addition to this, make sure that the fluid has just the right amount of salts and the right balance of acidity and alkalinity.  In other words, create the perfect environment for a living cell.  Now take a living cell and place it in that fluid.  Notice that this cell already contains all of the “ingredients” necessary for life.  In fact, it contains much more than that because it not only contains the basic building blocks of life, it contains all of the complex molecules of life already assembled.  Now take a sterile needle and poke the cell to puncture it, resulting in all of its contents being released out into the fluid.  What you now have is a test tube which contains everything that is necessary to create life.  If ever  there was a chance for life to begin on its own, here is the perfect opportunity and yet, it’s not going to happen.  It cannot and will not create life.  So if life cannot begin on its own under perfect conditions, with all of the major components already assembled, why would we think that it happened under less-than-perfect conditions?  Or, as Dr. Wells summarizes, “What makes you think that a few amino acids dissolved in the ocean are going to give you a living cell?  It’s totally unrealistic.”  So, while evolution as a theory makes for interesting conversation and speculation, as a plausible explanation of the real world of biology, it leaves too many important questions unanswered.  For now, the theory appears to be dead in the water-  literally.

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Who Made God? – Part 2

Monday, January 25th, 2010

This post is Part 2 in the series “Who Made God?”. Click here to read Part 1 first.

In my previous post, I was talking about a formal debate that I was watching that involved two scientists, one of whom was the famous atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins and the other was Christian theologian, Dr. John Lennox.  I mentioned that they were debating some of the more notable points in Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion”.  Eventually, the question “Who made God?” came up for discussion and I went on to explain why the question itself was invalid according to the rules of logic.  But no matter how many times it is pointed out that such questions would not apply to an infinite God, people of all ages continue to ask it as if there must be another, more “satisfying” answer to this question.  After all, to say that such questions do not apply to God is really just another way of saying that God was “always there”.  Now of course I realize that such an explanation is totally unacceptable to some people and they would even consider such an answer to be not only too “convenient”, but much worse, they would consider such an answer to be a “cop-out”.  Dawkins, in fact, makes it clear that as an atheist, he really does feel that such an answer is a cop-out.

The irony in all of this is that even though Dawkins considers it to be absolutely ridiculous to suggest that God is uncaused, self-existent, and eternal, He (Dawkins) is apparently willing to believe that matter can possess all of those characteristics!  So, according to Dawkins, God must have a beginning, but matter doesn’t require a beginning. God could not possibly be eternal, yet matter must be eternal.  Dawkins insists that “only an idiot” could accept the statement, “In the beginning God..”, yet he finds it perfectly reasonable to accept the statement, “In the beginning dust and gas….”.

All of this reminds me of a similar situation that I encountered a few years ago when I was invited to speak at a Christian club at one of the local high schools.  I had just finished presenting evidence for the existence of God, and I opened it up to Q&A time.  There was one particular student in the audience who was an atheist and he was a very intelligent young man.  He had a reputation for asking tough questions in order to make the speaker look bad and that was obviously his intent on that day.  He raised his hand, so I called on him, expecting a question.  Instead, he had a comment.  He said, “Basically, what you’re trying to say is that nothing caused God, nothing created God, and that He didn’t come from anywhere-  He was just…..always there”.  I responded, “Yes.  That is exactly what I’m saying”.  The atheist student sat down in his chair and was laughing at me, expecting that I would simply move on to the next question, but I stayed with him.  I said , “May I ask you a question?  I understand that you are an atheist”.  He replied, “That’s right.  I don’t believe in God because I believe in the Big Bang”.  I said to him, “That’s fine.  The problem is that you’re trying to start in the middle of the story and I refuse to let you get away with that. In fact, I’m going to “push you backward in time“, back, back, back before the Big Bang.  The point is, what you’re really trying to say is that prior to the Big Bang, there was a “particle” that never, ever, ever had a beginning.  Nothing caused this particle, nothing created this particle, it didn’t come from anywhere, it was just……always there. So, why is it that when I say that God was always there, you think that it’s ridiculous, yet you are willing to accept, by faith, that the particle was always there?”.   Not having a response, he looked at me and said, “Fine.  You can go on believing that God was always there and I’ll go on believing that the particle was always there.  We’ll just call it even-  our views are equal”.  I went on to point out to that young man that there is nothing “equal” or “even” about those two ideas.  As we will see in future posts, the evidence for God is very compelling, whereas the evidence for “eternal matter” requires a tremendous amount of faith.

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Posted in Theology | 3 Comments »

Who Made God? – Part 1

Monday, January 11th, 2010

It was one of those rare nights when I didn’t have any commitments, no meetings, no place where I had to be, and no particular plans. I sat down in front of the t.v. with a plate of buffalo wings that I had just picked up on the way home, and reached for the remote. I’m so busy these days that I don’t have a lot of spare time to watch television, and after only a few minutes of searching through the channels, I realized that I really hadn’t missed anything worthwhile anyway. I decided to watch a dvd that I had purchased a while back and even though I had already watched it once, it was worth viewing again to pick up on any details that I may have missed the first time.

The title was “The God Delusion Debate” which was an actual debate that took place in 2007 in an auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama and was filmed before a sold-out audience. One of the debaters was Dr. John Lennox, a scientist, mathematician, author, and Christian theologian who was representing Christianity. Dr. Lennox holds doctorates from Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Wales, as well as an MA in Bioethics from the University of Surrey. The other speaker was scientist, author, and well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. As an author, he has written several best-selling books. In fact, his most recent book, “The God Delusion”, was the topic of that evening’s debate as the two speakers gave arguments and counter-arguments over some of the points that Dawkins had presented in his book.

One of the points from Dawkins’ book that they discussed was the question, “Who made God?” (“Where did God come from?”, “What caused God?”, etc.). Apparently, Dawkins had devoted a considerable amount of time to this in his book, so he must honestly feel that this is a difficult and serious argument against the existence of God. Even though this question is often asked by the average person on the street, I was both disappointed and surprised to hear such a question put forth in a best-selling book by one of the world’s leading atheists who obviously prides himself on his great intellect.

The question itself is really not all that difficult and it involves a couple of issues. First of all, the question is invalidated by the fact that it commits an error in logic by confusing two different categories. Dawkins’ question would be similar to asking, “Who is that bachelor married to?”, or “What does the color red sound like?” In both cases, the question makes the mistake of attempting to mix two distinct and separate categories. Such questions are therefore invalid because they violate this foundational rule of logic. The same rule applies to this question about God. Such questions as, “What caused this?’, “Who made this?”, and “Where did this come from?” are perfectly legitimate questions within the category of that which is finite. However, God, by definition, would be in the category of that which is infinite, therefore such questions would not apply to God. So, the obvious answer to Dawkins’ question is that no one and nothing “made” God. Nothing “caused” God, and He didn’t “come from” anywhere. Nevertheless, even though we understand that the question itself is invalid, we still feel the need to ask it. And so, many people such as Dawkins continue to ask it. Is there another, more “satisfying” answer to this question? I believe that there is, and we will explore it in my next post.

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Posted in Theology | 7 Comments »

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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.