The statement, “Nature is the only cause behind existence,” is not scientific, it’s philosophical. Nothing is wrong with engaging in philosophy, so long as we remember never to cross the fine line between a) studying the sciences and appreciating what those pursuits show, and b) concluding that science “proves” nature to be the only cause behind everything that exists. Science can show God’s handiwork, but it cannot disprove His existence. The minute that line is blurred, we’ve crossed over from science (demonstrable facts) into philosophy (seeking wisdom about the world and its people). The highly praised scientific model is based only on observation and empirical verification; true science proves and disproves hypotheses regarding the natural order when it is allowed to be tested properly, but suggesting there is no God because of what appears under a microscope, in a petri dish, or within a mathematical calculation cannot be proven and, therefore, is not considered true science. Thus, cosmology—though many scientific branches of study and research stem from it—is not inherently a field of science, because until we develop a time machine and travel back to the first moment anything in the universe existed, none of the many origin-of-the-universe theories can be tested against empirical verification, let alone subjected to peer review!
Nevertheless, folks in the fields of cosmological science often do blur this line, making “proof” statements with conviction, showing that a particle over here or a bit of matter over there makes nature our only god and creator. For believers constantly bombarded with “proof that God does not exist” (as I have been many times), remember: Science can be helpful in illustrating what we can see and test in laboratories, but the minute its findings are used to join the debate about “proofs” regarding a Spirit who has been invisible from the beginning (John 1:18) and who is uncontainable within any human-conducted testing facility or mathematical models, we’ve stopped talking about science completely and moved into the realm of philosophy. Faith is believing in what we hope for, whether we can see it or not, including planet Earth, which was “framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:1–3). Science is a different animal altogether. So, regardless of what progressive discoveries and advances ever spring from human research, we have the right to stand firm in our beliefs and philosophies about the untestable, unconfinable, invisible God.
Yet, before we assume that faith is only defined by belief in what we cannot see or prove, consider the integrity of the Message God has given us.
The Alternative to Biblical Faith: It’s Still “Faith”
The Bible was documented over the course of approximately fifteen centuries and written by about forty authors who ranged from poor and uneducated men to wealthy kings of nations and everything in between: physicians, lawyers, shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, prophets, priests, and at least one now-famous tentmaker. Not only were almost all the biblical writers strangers to each other, their varying backgrounds and life experiences prepared them to approach God from completely different angles…yet there are no contradictions within the whole of Scripture.
How is that possible?
Some skeptics of the Word nonchalantly claim inconsistencies or contradictions do exist, but they usually make those claims without responsibly considering the primary Hebrew or Greek languages and context. (Actually, and quite tragically, “inconsistencies” and “contradictions” are often pointed out by those who haven’t read the Bible at all and are only reiterating atheistic views shared by friends.) I admit that, in English Bibles, some verses do appear to conflict with others. This is an unfortunate side effect of variances in translation…but that is another series for another day.
That said, when correct context is responsibly applied to Scripture by observing what the original author intended to communicate to the first audience and in the first language, we arrive at the unnatural miracle of what scholars call the Bible’s “internal consistency”: one God, immutable and unchanging forever, consistently portrayed in the writings of many men from all over the world who experienced Him differently over the course of a millennium and a half.
But even without having to defend the integrity of the whole Word altogether, let’s focus on a more concise example: Mathematicians have calculated that, if Jesus had satisfied only eight Old Testament prophecies in His New Testament coming, it would be by “one chance in one hundred million billion” that it occurred outside the realm of divine guidance and intervention.[i] Likewise, “the probability of [Jesus] fulfilling forty-eight prophecies [by coincidence] was one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion!”[ii] As well-known former Jesus skeptic and Case for Christ journalist Lee Strobel attests: “Our minds can’t comprehend a number that big. This is a staggering statistic that’s equal to the number of minuscule atoms in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, billion universes the size of our universe!”[iii] This, for obvious reasons, makes the 365-plus prophetic utterances of the coming Messiah prior to their fulfillments almost unfathomable to even attempt to calculate (and, by the way, 365 is a conservative number).
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO:
LUCIFER AND SATAN ARE DIFFERENT ENTITIES CONNECTED TO A PRE-ADAMIC BATTLE?
Of course, we aren’t required to believe the testimony of the Bible, but that doesn’t mean we are free from having to put our faith in something unseen and unprovable: Though the Bible cannot be irrefutably proven via empirical data or the scientific method, when it comes to cosmology, science can’t, either! The unity of Scripture occurring on its own is so unbelievable that, in my opinion, as stated prior, it takes more faith for mature and rational thinkers to believe in the randomness of evolution than it does to believe in Intelligent Design.
In January of 1982, in the New Scientist Magazine, powerful insight was posed by Chandra Wickramasinghe, who said: “The chances that life just occurred are about as unlikely as a typhoon blowing through a junkyard and constructing a Boeing-747 [airliner].”[iv]
If this “chance that life just occurred” scenario is what some choose to put their faith in, I respect their freedom of choice, and I do respect their faith…but it is still—unquestionably and categorically—faith that is required to accept and adhere to this human-drawn conclusion that many for good reason have found implausible. We can remove God from the picture and disassociate scientific creeds from all labels resembling “religion,” but one thing doesn’t change: Both religion and science, when it comes to the great cosmological debate, require believing in something we cannot see.
Until we invent the time machine that can handle the trek back to the beginning of all time, space, and matter, that will always be true.
Let’s dig in.
Naturalistic Evolution and Creationism—the “two views”—branch into subgroups (which, in some cases, overlap at certain points, such as Old Earth Creationism and Theistic Evolution discussed shortly). For those who may be new to this subject, I will list the major categories briefly and follow each with some logic behind why I support them or don’t. (Note that the following list only covers approaches to cosmology that pertain specifically to science or Christianity [not, for instance, the “ongoing creation” views from Hinduism, etc.], since the harmony of both is the focus of this series.)
Secular, Naturalistic Evolution
“In the beginning, there was nothing; then it exploded.” This statement, though humorous (and often shared from pulpits as a dig against the secular world), is ultimately what the secular naturalistic evolutionary view proposes. (There is a sort of “Christian Naturalistic Evolution” we will cover in the next few pages, though it goes more accurately by the term “Theistic Evolution.”)
This view covers most of what is taught in Western government-sponsored/funded schooling. It is the idea that all life on this planet and in the universe came about via natural means over a great period of time—no Creator involved.
The most common explanation for this is the Big Bang theory, which, in short, claims all the matter in the universe originated in one hot, dense, concentrated point of energy and light (the Big Bang Singularity) upwards of 13.8 billion years ago, then exploded outward (during an event called “cosmic inflation”), making room for particles, atoms, and gases to form and develop what would eventually become stars, planets, galaxies, and so on. Other theories in this category of natural cause do exist and have some following, such as the Steady State Theory (which holds that the universe is infinite, with no beginning and no end, and that the creation of matter is continuous, steady, and always has been) or the Cyclic/Oscillating Model (an endless number of Big Bang-style expansion-explosions that, over time, reverse and collapse inward [an event known as the “Big Crunch”], and then rebuild, creating a perpetual, self-sustaining cycle), to share two examples. However, it’s fair to say that, by far, most experts in research fields related to space adhere to some strict form of the Big Bang.
Whether it relies entirely on the Big Bang theory or not on a case-by-case basis, Secular Naturalistic Evolution disregards the involvement of any Intelligent Designer (God), and instead seeks to explain all of matter as occurring on its own from nature. The major problem with this approach is that nobody in the scientific world has ever been able to produce a solid answer for what came first. If the Big Bang was the first event in the known universe, where did that concentrated matter come from? No matter what our digs into subjects of general relativity, energy, physics, inflation, vacuums, gravity, or any other space research pursuits produce, we are always left with the question of what caused each of those things before they existed or acted, as well as why the natural laws exist to govern them the way they do. If the origin of the cosmos can be traced to one event, who or what caused that event? Who first created, then lit, the proverbial stick of dynamite that exploded into the debris we now know as “space”? Each time science provides an answer, another cosmological-origin question forms.
A few years back, an atheist friend phoned me excitedly saying science had discovered the “God particle” (Higgs boson), explaining the formation of particle mass and, apparently for some, placing our origins singularly back into the hands of nature and debunking God as mere myth. When I asked who put the God particle there and who decided it would function the way it did, there was no answer.
We are living in a moving, changing universe, and nothing can move or change without a force or cause behind it, as well as a preexisting element that adequately required movement or change from where or what it was before. (This is why, in apologetics, God is sometimes referred to as the “First Mover.”) Science, itself, attests to this—repeatedly and consistently—yet it cannot explain what the very first moving force was. To put it another way: Nothing can come from purely nothing, exploding into existence by itself, yet that is essentially where the Big Bang (and other secular Naturalistic Evolution theories) ceases to make available any explanation that can be proven or even reliably charted. Something—or Someone—had to be at least the initial cause.
Italian priest and theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) said in his work on the cause-and-effect support of God (otherwise known as the “argument from causation”): “There is no case known…in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible.”[v] This is complicated, so follow my modernized rewording: “We do not have a single known case in the history of the universe or science in which something has caused itself to exist, because that thing, whatever it is, would have had to ‘create itself,’ which means it existed before its own creation in order to execute its own creation.” Mind-boggling… Yet, by that same logic, tracing all things back to the beginning through a secular lens, we arrive at a point where a vast “nothingness” had to have created a “somethingness” from within itself, illustrating a creative self-awareness in the process.
What “nothingness” could be that self-aware? Space dust?
…And we’re round-about back where we started: Who put that space dust there?
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To quote yet another theological giant from the Church’s past, here is an excerpt from the celebrated Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis:
People who take [the secular or materialistic view] think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why; and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened, by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think. By one chance in a thousand something hit our sun and made it produce the planets; and by another thousandth chance the chemicals necessary for life, and the right temperature, occurred on one of these planets, and so some of the matter on this earth came alive; and then, by a very long series of chances, the living creatures developed into things like us.[vi]
There is no identifiable “first cause” outside of the One whose innate eternality transcends (and therefore makes irrelevant) “the starting point” our human minds get hung up on, and Lewis, as advanced as his thinking was at the time, is actually wrong. It’s not even close to “one chance in a thousand.” If we dig into some of the Chuck Missler-type analyses calculating the probability of chance in the earliest moments of the universe, we see early on that “one chance in a thousand” is far too conservative a number to take seriously.
And the unanswerable inquiries don’t end with what came first: What is time, exactly, and why does it move forward in an irreversibly linear direction? Whose idea was gravity, and why does it work the way it does? Why are there even planets out in space to begin with? Why aren’t planets big, blue blobs of a gelatin-like substance—or something else? Without the planets, would there simply be nothing but blackness, forever, since nothing comes from nothing? And if there are planets farther out than our technology can perceive, do they operate under the same laws of physics as Earth? Why does any of this exist? Why are any of us here to begin with? Where do the natural laws come from that all of our known creation submits to (gravity, motion, etc.)?
In order for there to even be sustainable life on Earth, our planet needs to be a certain distance from the sun, with just the right angle of tilt; an exact speed of rotation; precisely the correct ocean depths and weather patterns; magnetic fields that stave off fatal radiation levels; water; carbon; atmospheric insulation…and a countless other contributing factors, any one of which could have, with the most microscopic adjustment in its earliest development, corrupted all of life and made Earth an uninhabitable, evolutionary catastrophe. Without these laws, patterns, and fixed positions, all of creation would fall into chaos, but the perfection of these laws couldn’t have designed, managed, and ordered themselves into existence (no self-aware space dust could have done it), so who or what established the natural order of the universe?
I could give numerous other examples of unanswerable inquiries, but you get the idea—and, generally speaking, they all lead to the same place: We don’t know and we will never know. (This is why science, too, is a matter of faith—both in the conclusion demonstrated and in the people who demonstrated it, as they don’t always address the evidence stacked against their conclusions.) Meanwhile, our presence here only amounts to a giant question mark, giving us a bleak destiny and pessimistic outlook on what we are and how we should live as long as we’re forced to suffer this maddening condition called “life” with all its pain and pointless suffering…
…unless there is a God.
The second God is restored as Creator, things click into place: Life on Earth, humanity, creation, all the governing laws of nature, the mysteries of space, and every other imaginable related subject is under the Great Scientist’s management—made by Him and for Him, intelligently and with intrinsic purpose and intent, before the Big Bang or any other theories can even come into play. If we rationally accept Intelligent Design, then there is a God out there behind all of this, and that same God has a plan for His creation, including humanity, which gives all of human life a role in the grand design. Suddenly, questions like “Why are we here?” have the beginning of an answer. (The rest of that answer, of course, is the individual’s spiritual journey to identify whether that belief leads to the Yahweh of Genesis and, by extension, to Christ. This philosophical trail is not herein shared to prove the God of the Bible as much as it is to challenge the atheistic approach that there is no God at all.) Ironically, the acceptance of the reality of an Intelligent Designer satisfies both the scientific inquiry (how/why we came to be created in the beginning) as well as the emotional, psychological, spiritual, moral, and philosophical explorations that feed the deepest human yearnings (the purpose and meaning of all existence).
However, as the more philosophical teachers of the Word are quick to point out, there is yet another sad side effect of adopting Secular Naturalistic Evolution: lawlessness.
If everything that exists is no more than the result of a cosmic accident, then there is no real accountability to any entity higher than ourselves. Every crime, from theft to rape to murder and beyond, is only a “crime” if humankind deems it so. But the moment that one person disagrees with another about what is lawful, the only true authority that can weigh in and side with either one is a judicial system built by other people. By the “majority rules” conviction of the human conscience, we can, and have, established some code of moral conduct called “law” and subjected residents of Earth to this system by force or threats of consequences. But because people are inherently subject to making mistakes, even the most virtuous and honest systems of judiciary order are at risk of error, leading them to be rightfully and perpetually challenged.
Further, no one system can objectively be raised above another. Russian law, for example, is not North American law, yet both are enforced upon the people of each nation, so which country outperforms the other in upholding morality? They could argue forever (and such turbulence has resulted in endless warring), but without God, the only moral absolutes that will ever rule are those initiated by the finite minds of people, and are therefore fundamentally and permanently flawed.
Secular Naturalistic Evolution thereby not only ends in the philosophical, “I don’t know why I’m here” dilemma, it additionally takes on the philosophical, social, political, ethical, and moral question of what authority has its ultimate grip on all things right and wrong while we live in the very existence we’ve just shown to be pointless. From there, as we’ve already begun to witness in the Western world, is the development of individualistic truth instead of unconditional, objective reality, wherein folks feel justified saying, “Your truth is not my truth, so I will follow my truth.”
Two subjective and irreversibly incompatible human judgments cannot both be true. Read a book on war and watch how that plays out. The end is always chaos.
Evolution, by itself, allows for the eternal questioning of human decency, since there is no one Creator-system of governance to which all humanity is subject in communal peace and respect. The cyclical, pathetic loop of “do the best we can in our own human strength, power, and reason” eventually climaxes in lawlessness—just like the book of Revelation forecasts.
To contrast this bleak approach, however: God provides a flawless system of law. It was conceived in the foreshadowing Old Testament and climaxed in perfect love in the New Testament—a law under which all people are equally priceless, uniformly deserving of respect, and whose Savior thought of each specifically when He submitted to death for the sake of their eternal joy.
UP NEXT: Young-Earth Creationism
[i] Strobel, Lee, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Zondervan. Kindle Edition), Kindle locations 3024–3025.
[ii] Ibid., locations 3030–3032.
[iv] Wickramasinghe, Chandra, “Threats On Life of Controversial Astronomer,” New Scientist Magazine, January 21, 1982, 140.
[v] Aquinas, Thomas, On Faith and Reason (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company; 1999), 126.
[vi] Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, book one, “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” In: The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 2002), 28.