Tag Archives: creation

Presuppositionalism, Science, and Faith

I know I’m probably going to take a beating for writing this, but here goes, anyway.

I suppose you could say that I’m a “pressuppositionalist”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositionalist – I tend to follow an apologetic approach that believes it is impossible to find “meaning in anything where man himself is at the center of the pursuit for truth and understanding”:http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa210.htm. I carry with me a “certain set of core beliefs and assumptions”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2005/04/16/saturday-april-16-2005-at-0812-pm/ that guide and govern, not only those things that I do, but also the way I fit together all knowledge into a cohesive whole.

It’s interesting – when the evolutionist looks around him and witnesses nature, “he sees millions of years of natural selection at work”:http://highlyallochthonous.blogspot.com/2006/10/mountain-musings-2-whats-god-got-to-do.html; when I look around me, I can’t but believe that _something_ had to have put all this in place. This belief is based purely in logic and observation – I just find it impossible to think that chaos at the beginning of time could have somehow found its way into some sense of organization that just naturally progressed over billions and billions of years to what we have now. That, to me, requires a much greater leap of faith than believing in an intelligent creator. From everything I’ve seen and witnessed and studied, the natural state of the universe at large tends toward entropy. Everything that currently exists is moving steadily toward a state of decay and decline, not the other way around. This has ever been the way of things. So I find it much easier to believe that everything started in a state of perfect order that somehow began a downward spiral toward chaos.

Both of these viewpoints are based on a set of presuppositions. For the evolutionist, there is no God, no creator, no intelligent designer, merely a “long process of natural selection”:http://skatje.com/?p=103, with new species adapting to their environments until we have the diversity that we see today. And natural selection makes some amount of sense, since it _is_ directly observable in the world around us – the strongest of the herd survive while the slowest, sickest, and least able to adapt die off, thus strengthening the species as a whole. I just have trouble believing that natural selection could ever have, ultimately, brought humanity into existence from a single-celled bacterium – and I have yet to see compelling evidence that states such. For the creationist (or the IDist), there must have been something intelligent and powerful to have set all this in place, that there is no way for something like this universe in which we live to have come about by chance or some evolutionary process.

Consider this – what if the all that scientific data that has been collected on the origins of the universe and the evolutions of the species can’t be trusted? Secular scientists place a lot of faith in rationality. They place man at the very center of rationality itself by presupposing that systematic, scientific study will eventually unlock all the secrets of the universe – or at least that’s the goal and hope – and this methodology _does_ and has worked in a great many areas of study and research. But what if scientific study as it relates to these two macroscopic issues has been placed in the wrong context? What if, by placing man at the center, by assuming that if we only ask the right questions and study things in as unbiased a manner as possible, what if in doing science in this manner, we are getting it wrong? What if this basic assumption in secular science has led to a great many misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the data we have?

I believe that faith and science _can_, indeed, “complement each other”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/05/christians-and-scientific-discussion/. When “framed in the context of an intelligent designer”:http://www.answersingenesis.org/, the scientific data that seems to lend itself so strongly for evolution yields a very different picture. And contrary to popular belief, scientists who believe in intelligent design _are_ still scientists who work within the constraints of their field. The data I’ve seen on sites like Answers in Genesis is the same data I’ve seen shown on secular science sites, with the same explanations of what it means. The difference is that Christian scientists provide alternative solutions for why some of that data might be misleading. It is unfortunate, in a way, that many of these explanations can never be verified, as they are the result of “unreproducible events”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/05/christians-and-scientific-discussion/#comment-8899. Similarly, neither can secular scientists prove their claims about the origins of the universe for the exact same reason. Despite objections from the secular community, Christian scientists _are_ able to provide a complete, unified response for their conclusions based on their presuppositions. And theirs is a response that makes _much_ more logical, rational sense to me than the origins answers that secular science sometimes provides.

And this is where faith bonds with science. We believe, based on a record given in the Bible, that the Earth looked a certain way during its beginning. Framing scientific data into this context provides an explanation why, for instance, “carbon dating may not be as accurate”:http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/carbon_dating.asp as is generally assumed by the secular scientific community. Because none of these events that various groups believe in – Creation, Big Bang, Great Flood, evolution – can actually be reproduced and examined first-hand, certain things must, by necessity, be taken with a certain measure of faith. This does not stop scientific study itself, nor should it. Mankind is, by his very nature, curious and so there is a great deal of worth to be derived from such pursuits. But the scientific community, no matter what camp, should bear in mind that personal presuppositions are going to greatly influence the way the collected data is interpreted.

So does secular rationality actually fail when faced with its own presuppositions? We can only wait and see, but I would posit that, yes, it does. Mankind is a “limited”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/09/05/finite-to-infinite-2/, “finite”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/04/05/finite-to-infinite/ creature, and as such our abilities to know and understand will always be subject to that limitation. If science, by itself, reveals anything to us with regard to the origins of everything that is, it will be that we can never know everything and that some ‘secrets’, like how the universe began or where mankind came from, will never be answered by science alone.

But don’t mind me – those’re just my presuppositions talking.

A Conflict of Viewpoints

Man, I really hate “falling under a label”:http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/this-blog-is-different/ that seems to generate so much animosity and antagonism from folks in the scientific community – that being, in this case, Creationist (as opposed to the term ‘denialist’ that is also mentioned). It honestly makes it difficult for those of us who are genuinely interested in the study and research in those fields to actually have calm, rational discussions with these folks because they’ve already labeled us as ‘quacks’, ‘kooks’, and ‘idiots’. We never even get a fair shake to ask our questions because as soon as we do, we’re blown off with some sarcastic, derisive answer. I am actually quite hesitant to identify as being with any one particular camp exactly because of the reaction I know I will get – I _hate_ being written off just out of hand. It kind of annoys me, really.

I’ve deliberately subscribed to RSS feeds from a number of science blogs recently because I want to stay abreast of the things that are being discussed in the scientific community. I have to admit, though, that I have to grit my teeth through just about every single one because the comments and snide remarks directed at Creationists and people of faith who hold opinions and beliefs that differ from those popularly recognized in the scientific community set me right on edge. Granted, a lot of this animosity some of these folks bring on themselves due to ill-informed arguments and general ignorance, but some of it is truly undeserved, as well. There’s something about people of faith being involved in science that almost instantly seems to generate the hostility of secular scientists. It makes it tough on those of us who do belief in a literal 6-day creation but who also want to be involved in, at the least, the discussions going on around the scientific community.

Consider me a true skeptic, I guess, who also holds Creationist beliefs. I know _I’m_ not going to get in your face about things, but I _will_ look at the evidence presented with as impartial a mind as I can.

So, I guess I’d just like to see the hostilities dialed back.

Created

bq. He could have created us as peers, with all His knowledge and wisdom, so we could relate to Him perfectly. But even such created beings would still be inferior because they would not be gods. “#”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=467

How can the created be greater than the Creator? How can the created even stand on the same level as the Creator? In short, he cannot for the created by his very nature is less than the Creator. He will ever and always stand somewhere beneath the Creator because he owes his very existence to the Creator. He has no rights before the Creator but for those that the Creator bestows upon Him. There is a gap between the Creator and created that is seemingly uncrossable, a deep divide that forever separates the Master from His people.

Except that a bridge has been built. The Creator has made a Way for the divide to spanned, for his people to relate to Himself in a personal, active way. The created have not been made equal to the Creator. They still cannot fully understand Him or know Him in any comprehensive manner. But they can share in the benefits of relationship _as though_ they _have_ been placed on equal footing, being able to approach the Creator at any time with any request and not be turned away.

The created will always be below the Creator, but the Creator is compassionate and sympathetic and wishes to know His creation intimately, and they him. It is a unique and powerful relationship, one that is forever lifechanging.

Standards of Truth and Righteousness

I continue to be befuddled by those who would claim that absolute truth does not and cannot exist. I am also somewhat bemused by this because I find such individuals cannot remain true to their own arguments and philosophies. Their arguments claim that it is impossible to know truth because every determination of what is true is tainted and colored by the interpretation of that truth and by one’s own experiences, thus leading to many different understandings of what that truth actually says and means. Naturally, the more complicated the concept, the greater the deviation in understanding that truth (though I would posit that a complex truth is really actually made up of many smaller, individual truths, which easily understood separately, may combine to create a concept whose relationship between the smaller truths may be more difficult to observe and determine, yet not negating the truth of either the smaller truths or that of the composite truth).

Now, I have also talked with non-absolutists (as I will refer to them here) who have said that such-and-such act is or was wrong or evil. My response then becomes, Well, how do you do know? By what standard do you compare such an act to determine its level of good or evil, or its degree of rightness or wrongness? For anything to be considered in terms of morality (and the need to conceive of the world in such terms is obvious and necessary and inherent in all men, as evidenced by the natural inclination to establish rules and laws in order to keep the peace), there must be an absolute standard by which that morality can be measured. In the world of weights and measures, for instance, there are standards for all units — an object measured out to be the standard for the gram, or the liter, or the centimeter, etc. All all larger units are based upon these smaller, more basic standards so that measurement around the world may be consistent and uniform. It is the same with truth and morality. The rub seems to come in because these are more abstract concepts, not observable through any of the five senses. Yet the world functions in terms of morality, as it must in order to prevent its descent into anarachy and chaos.

So, there must be some standard for truth that is knowable and attainable and that can be standardized across the entire population. Men have tried using rationality as a basis for determining truth, and ultimately they are able only to return to the self as a standard, since that is the very origin of the rational mind, themselves a shifting morass of thoughts, ideas, emotions, and opinions. It should be obvious that this is not an ideal reference point due to that very continuous shift. Therefore, the standard of truth must lie elsewhere.

Science itself is not an adequate standard of truth. It is an ever-changing source of knowledge as its observations become more acute and the knowledge gleaned from its studied more comprehensive. And science addresses only those things that are directly observable; there is no ability for it to address the truth of good and evil, moral and immoral, those concepts that are often most necessary for the daily exercise of living. Therefore, the standard of truth must lie elsewhere.

Creation is not equipped to answer the truth of good and evil, to establish standards of moral and immoral, much for the same reasons as science cannot. Creation is observable and supplies only those truths that we can see, even though we may not be able to understand them fully. It has no voice to speak to the abstract, to the intellectual knowledge that governs the behavior of men. Therefore, the standard of truth must lie elsewhere.

So, the standard for truth would most likely belong to a sentient being, one gifted with a mind to fully know the secrets, both of the universe and of the ways of mankind, with a vision of the whole so complete that it could speak the knowledge into the hearts and minds of men, teaching them how they should live so that they may act with wisdom and live at peace with each other. Such an individual cannot be found among men, creatures who by their very definition are confined to and limited by the world they inhabit. Only an individual who is outside of the known universe, yet lives within it so as to interact with it, would be able to hold the entirety of it within their mind and be able to know it so completely as to speak the truth into it that would give men a standard by which they could govern their lives. This being would have to be a personal being, for no other would be able to establish the relationship with mankind to communicate the truth by which men may live.

There is One who claims to be all this and more, and who may be determined, through the testing of His precepts, to be the absolute standard of all truth. He is wise and all-knowing, greater than all existence, personal and knowable. His words are the truth and the way of life. His name is Jehovah.

For His Enjoyment

Why?

Stop and think about it for a second. Why did God create us? Why did He create anything? He had to know how much trouble it would create. He was the only being for all eternity, and it was VERY unlikely that anything would appear on its own. Was he lonely? Unlikely. He could have created us as peers, with all His knowledge and wisdom, so we could relate to Him perfectly. But even such created beings would still be inferior because they would not be gods. He could have left well enough alone. He would have suffered no lack for it. He could have created other gods like Himself, perfect in every way, with no way they could sin because of their perfect holiness. He is powerful enough that He could have done that. So why then did He create something lower than Himself that could sin? He could have avoided so much trouble.

I believe the answer is in something I read some time ago in my devotions. We have been created for God’s enjoyment. He created us so that He could enjoy us. Of course, God being the all-knowing being that He is knew that His creation, created in His image, would fall into sin and that that creation, having then fallen into sin, would bring Him great pain, anger, and displeasure. Knowing this, He still created us, and created us for His pleasure and enjoyment. Does that mean that He gets enjoyment from us, even now, even though we still consistently cause Him so much pain? Or did He cease to find enjoyment in us at the Fall and will not truly
enjoy us again until we are perfected in eternity? I suspect that He enjoys us even now, even in our fallen state. Now whether He enjoys us as a race or just enjoys individuals throughout time I do not know, but He must find some pleasure in us or I fear He would have destroyed us long ago. I’m sure He will not find full and complete enjoyment in us again until eternity, when we are returned to that state in which we were originally intended to exist. But to think that I could possibly cause Him enjoyment even now, that is an ideal for which I can truly strive. And I think I can begin doing that by doing all things with His pleasure, including any job I have,
even if it’s the lowliest of jobs.