Intellectual Honesty, Evidence, & Evolutionary Theory

LanguageOne one hand, I am often accused by Christians of being an “evolutionist” because I believe that the creation is billions of years old. On the other hand, atheists accuse me of being a science denier because I doubt Darwinism.  As one with training in chemistry and physics from an accredited University. It seems like I would have to check my brain at the church door to believe in a thousands-of-years old world. (However, a scientific possibility remains plausible.) Bishop Ussher’s goal was admirable but misguided given recent Ancient Near East scholarship and archeology. The date of creation is not in the Bible, rather it’s an extrapolation more akin to date-setting the rapture than exegesis. Paul said atheists are without excuse by what has been made (Rom 1:20). However, if God made a young earth look so old just to fool the atheists, it seems as if they have a viable excuse. In light of Romans 1:20 the “appearance of age” argument I often hear from young earth creationists (YEC) disparages God’s character. I do not accept the negative implications young earth creationism imposes on a Holy God who does not lie.

YEC effectively turns Yahweh into a trickster, who is fooling scientists with deceptive data. However, that does NOT make me a “theistic evolutionist” – the proper term is “progressive creationist” or perhaps “intelligent design theorist.” Neo-Darwinism as defined by Richard Dawkins and his crew is incoherent and self defeating. Without pre-existing reproducing life, Darwinism never gets off the ground, it explains adaptation at best, not origins. It’s a faith position the way atheists hold it.

I am far more challenged by Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the Human Genome Project and an evangelical Christian — who promotes the Gospel. His book “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.” –presents a case for “theistic evolution” — which seems almost contradictory given the Dawkins definition (it seems incoherent as well because nothing is “theistic” about a random process).

However, the word “evolution” is notoriously imprecise and is usually used in equivocation fallacies like when micro-evolution is used as evidence for macro-evolution and basically proves nothing but adaptation and breeding to promote certain traits is even in the Bible. So small changes within a phenotype over time are NOT evidence for common ancestry.

Worse yet, is abiogenesis (life from non-life) — the darwinist will always attempt to end the discussion by announcing its an entirely different subject and quickly steer the conversation as far away as possible. I refuse to follow the red herring – my REAL issue is with NATURALISM leading to atheism / agnosticism.

Naturalists make appeals to evidence when asserting the superiority of their atheistic worldview. Without abiogenesis naturalistic evolution has NO viable chance of being true, and there’s conspicuously no evidence for abiogenesis– special pleading about a primordial mythological “RNA World” aside — there much more evidence to the contrary — the best theory naturalists seem to have is “aliens seeded life on earth” which does not even answer the origin of life question, but rather pushes it out into space, where no life has been observed, — I call it “aliens of the gaps” reasoning but in science is a real theory called Panspermia and advocated by Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins too— this is naturalism as a religious faith, not science.

I object to naturalist evolution for theological reasons but mostly from mathematical proofs showcasing the massive improbabilies involved in intelligent life evolving by random mutation and natural selection. When you realize that virtually nothing feasible has come from centuries of abiogenesis research, the neo-darwinian tale resembles Greek mythology more than science.

Yet Dawkins and his kind, call Christians “delusional” for believing in a Creator God. So I am posting this article, that might anger some of my brothers in Christ. I I am now convinced that to God my intellectual honesty is more important than being right. Yes, the discussion on evolution is very important… but as my chemistry teacher at NCSU, Kay Sandberg PhD Organic Chemistry. once advised me “Cris, do not let your opinion about origins ever get in the way of the fact that Christ died for your sins.” — That’s right a science teacher at one of the top engineering schools in the USA, gave me that wisdom.

Now I am on thin ice, very thin in Baptist circles, and some seminaries would fire me for even suggesting the possibility that this verse might be a metaphor for a process – elements like carbon forming into a carbon based body which has a soul breathed into it.

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”(Genesis 2:7)

It creates problems with other passages but quiet a few conservative scholars do not find them unsurmountable exegetically, take a look at BioLogos.org for that material. I find Brian Godawa’s articles and movie reviews to be thought-provoking and, often, personally convicting.

Accordingly, it’s important to READ Francis Collins carefully and make an effort to understand his reasoning and the evidence behind it, BEFORE assuming he is misled by his naturalistic scientific training (which is still on the table).  But real science is EVIDENCE BASED and is usually well reasoned. For example, we are communicating over the internet which assumes truths derived from the wackiest (but most reliable) theories in the world of science, called quantum mechanics and thermodynamics — both can seem so awesomely contradictory that many successful scientists have committed suicide over the nature of reality, according to real observational science.

Ludwig Boltzmann, who spent much of his life studying statistical mechanics, died in 1906, by his own hand. Paul Ehrenfest, carrying on the work, died similarly in 1933. Now it is our turn to study statistical mechanics. Perhaps it will be wise to approach the subject cautiously.”

David L. Goodstein, States of Matter, (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2002) pg. 1

When it comes to the implications presented by thermodynamics and quantum mechanics, naturalists seem to prefer death to science.

Read Quantum Enigma : Physics Encounters Consciousness if you really want to rock your understanding of the world we really do live in. There is strong evidence subatomic particles can be in two places at the same time. Even worse, a light photon can behave like a particle or a wave, depending on if a person observes it… how could human consciousness affect the nature of physical reality in a naturalistic universe?  Quantum mechanics is considered the most proven theory in all of science – all computer technology is absolutely dependent on it being true – yet it presents enigmas that are downright illogical — hence the suicides by brilliant mathematicians and physicists when they faced its implications.

I am convicted that, although I will always be a creationist of some stripe, a simple hand-wave type dismissal when it comes to the theory of evolution, common ancestry is laziness on my part. It makes one seem ignorant and it actually misrepresents God, just as much as the atheist. Why? Do you really understand the science? I cannot say I am even a marginal biologist. Francis Collins is a Christian but was competent enough to be hired to direct the human genome project. Collins has the Holy Spirit and a PhD in science, he says the evidence is compelling from the genome that God used an evolutionary process to form our physical bodies. Collins deserves a fair hearing from Christians but most will label him a heretic or liberal. I am ashamed to say I purchased his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief over a year ago but haven’t made the time to read it, (I have a easy excuse because I read most of the day for my work as an apologist, writer, and researcher). I also work with many scientists at Cocoon Resources a group of Christians investing in transformational energy, medical, pharmaceutical, and biotech inventions–through a Christian worldview ethic. I value intellectual honesty, if I am wrong about evolution I would like to know, even if it makes me feel a bit foolish about my former opinions). God reveals himself two ways: Natural Revelation (Romans 1:20) and special revelation (2 Timothy 3:16). They both need to be interpreted by experts to be properly understood. If they disagree, someone’s interpretation is incorrect, either the biblical exegesis is in error, as Galileo learned the hard way, or rather the interpretation of natural revelation (science) is faulty.

I am not “coming out” as an evolutionist but rather admitting a level of prideful incompetence.  I have been quite vocal against Darwinism – I still believe naturalism is incoherent — but I have a feeling Collin’s perspective might lead me to an ethical conviction, mainly because I am hardly qualified to speak with authority concerning the evidence from genetics. Collins seems to believe it is decisive that something like evolution was involved in creating our physical bodies.

Collins: Why this scientist believes in God

By Dr. Francis Collins
Special to CNN
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Editor’s note: Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the Human Genome Project. His most recent book is “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.”

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (CNN) — I am a scientist and a believer, and I find no conflict between those world views.

As the director of the Human Genome Project, I have led a consortium of scientists to read out the 3.1 billion letters of the human genome, our own DNA instruction book. As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God’s language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God’s plan.

I did not always embrace these perspectives. As a graduate student in physical chemistry in the 1970s, I was an atheist, finding no reason to postulate the existence of any truths outside of mathematics, physics and chemistry. But then I went to medical school, and encountered life and death issues at the bedsides of my patients. Challenged by one of those patients, who asked “What do you believe, doctor?”, I began searching for answers.

I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” “Why does mathematics work, anyway?” “If the universe had a beginning, who created it?” “Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?” “Why do humans have a moral sense?” “What happens after we die?”

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Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13–14)

All religions can be false or one can be true and the others false but they cannot all be true. All religions make contradictory truth claims about God, Jesus, and the nature of reality. If you are troubled by the contradictory implications of the “Coexist” sticker then the Contradict sticker is the perfect response. We ordered a large quantity for the Koinonia Institute Strategic Perspectives conference but they were misplaced by the hotel until the last few hours of the conference… as a result, we are offering them at my Amazon store hoping to recoup our loss, It’s an awesome counter to “coexist” and they should be popular without my sob story – lol – its a great way to get into conversations about spirtual things and lead folks to Christ.

The Fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy Concerning Damascus?

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book I am co-writing with Tom Horn:

It’s no secret amongst scholars, that early Syrian Christianity has a profound influence on the fledging pre-Quran Islam. McCants writes “In early Islam, Syrians were particularly partial to the Sufyani because his kin, the Umayyads, had ruled the caliphate from Damascus.”[1] The term Sufyani, a term referring to his descent from the progeny of Abu Sufyan, is yet another legendary character who will allegedly emerge before the Mahdi from Damascus. He is not the ally of the Mahdi nor the Dajjal, The hadith regarding the Sufyani specify that he is a tyrant who will spread corruption and mischief on the earth before the Mahdi.

A man will emerge from the depths of Damascus. He will be called Sufyani. Most of those who follow him will be from the tribe of Kalb. He will kill by ripping the stomachs of women and even kill the children. A man from my family will appear in the Haram, the news of his advent will reach the Sufyani and he will send to him one of his armies. He (referring to the Mahdi) will defeat them. They will then travel with whoever remains until they come to a desert and they will be swallowed. None will be saved except the one who had informed the others about them. (Mustadrak Al-Hakim)

This is from a five volume hadith collection written by Hakim al-Nishaburi. He wrote it in approximately 1003 AD. It contains 9045 hadith and al-Nishaburi claimed all hadith in it were authentic according to the conditions of either Sahih al-Bukhari or Sahih Muslim or both. What makes it especially germane to the present argument concerning Syrian influence on the Qur’an and Hadith, it connects the Sufyani to Damascus, Syria. Of course many dispensational theologians assert God still has plans to annihilate Damascus in an unpresented destruction that excludes all alleged past fulfillments:

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, And it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: They shall be for flocks, Which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, And the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: They shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 17:1–3)

Scholars we respect like Michael Brown and Craig Keener have concluded this was fulfilled by the Syro-Ephraimitic War which raged during the middle 730s, [BC].”[2] However Brown qualifies, “In principle, I have no problem with the concept that ancient biblical prophecies can refer to contemporary events, since it’s clear that there are many prophecies still to be fulfilled, including the future world war against Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 12 and 14.)”[3] While they might be correct about dual fulfillment, the past simply does not match God’s word spoken through Isaiah that “Damascus is taken away from being a city, And it shall be a ruinous heap.” Up until a week ago, the capital of Syria, reveled in its status as one of the oldest existing cities in the world, and evidence exists of a settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC.[4] While we recognize apocalyptic symbolism when we see it, “taken away from being a city” does not seem like figurative language. We expect Damascus to be destroyed, and as of October 21, 2015  pro-Moscow internet news service, Russia Insider, has published what it says is footage of the battle raging between the Syrian army and US-and-Australian backed rebels in the Damascus suburb of Jobar

Damascus is a ruinous heap

See full story with a Russian drone flying over the devastation

Russia releases shockingly clear footage of the devastation surrounding Damascus 

 

[1] William McCants, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, Kindle Edition, (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), Kindle Locations 1904-1905.

[2] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Isaiah 17:1.

[3] Michael Brown, “Does the Bible Predict the Destruction of Syria?,” Charisma, September 11, 2013, http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/40946-does-the-bible-predict-the-destruction-of-syria Accessed October 19, 2015.

[4] Ross Burns, Damascus: A History, (London: Routledge, 2007), 2.

 

Why I Support Jim Bakker

Jim I first want to thank you for sharing the supernatural photos from heritage USA, the last time I was there at Morningside talking about On the Path of the Immortals. Even though I am S. Baptist, (and I know they gave you a hard time in the media.) I am sure you know at least some of them genuinely wanted to protect the church from a percieved scandal. Before, I was a believer, I used to use Jim Bakker as a reason Christians were all hypocrites. But I had never read the Bible and I honestly didn’t want too. So I was worse than a hypocrite anyhow.  Then I met real Christians, not legalists, the kind of people who confessed their own sin and they told me unexpected things like  “If you’re not a hypocrite, your standards are probably far too low. Why not visit our church we always have room for another one!” Although we strive not to judge others hypocritically, we are all hypocrites according to scripture:

For what I am doing I do not understand, because what I want to do, this I do not practice, but what I hate, this I do.(Romans 7:15)

That very same Paul taught the purpose of the law was to gain knowledge of sin, no one other than Jesus was able to keep it perfectly.

For by the works of the law no person will be declared righteous before him, for through the law comes knowledge of sin.: (Romans 3:20)

Paul also taught:

“The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. For there is no distinction,(Romans 3:22)

James was a little more harsh:

“Come now, you rich people, weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming upon you! Your wealth has rotted, and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have become corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you, and it will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in the last days.(James 5:1–3)

I am convinced Bakker is a redeemed Christian with good intentions who was misled by the prosperity gospel popular in AOG churches during the PTL era. He has now confessed it was wrong. It takes a humbled man to make such an admission, that’s character, that impressed me.

It was my Mom’s church Providence Baptist that led me to Christ, when I was hopeless and suicidal. So I continue to go there. After some struggles, I earned a Masters in Theological studies from Liberty Baptist Seminary because it’s the only accredited school that holds to biblical inerrancy, traditional marriage, creation, and the traditional Gospel that offers most of the curriculum online.   (They taught me to research and write)
I graduated from Liberty but I do not approve of cessionationism, Falwell’s cult of personality, nor  of the way he treated Jim Bakker in the 1980s. Today I believe a small group just wanted to take Bakker’s ministry for themselves, the critics in the church’s motives were not Godly either but just as greedy and more mean spirited. Not that Bakker’s motives were always good, but, frankly, I understand and empathize with Bakker more than the self-righteousness Falwell exhibited – who accepted a lot of money from cultist Sun Myung Moon and was, frankly, a pompous ass himself at times, but, in his defense, Falwell was a an accomplished evangelist and spokesperson for morality.  He’s with the Lord now, so God bless him.

Most people are unaware that the majority Bakkers jail sentence we repealed for lack of evidence. It was trumped up. (At the same time Wachovia bank was laundering Pablo Escobar’s cocaine profits but the NC attorney General was more interested in crucifying Jim Bakker in the media.) So, today, I consider Bakker a Christian  hero for having the courage to “die to self,” admit past mistakes, and ride out an unjust sentence, much like Joseph in Egypt, and, upon release, proclaiming that he’s a new creation in Christ, while preaching against the prosperity Gospel (he used to advocate).

It takes a genuine Christian to admit he was mistaken and humble himself as Bakker did. Bakker truly seem genuine. Instead preaching to itching ears Bakker is now preaching impending judgment on America– the the ongoing apostasy and imminent appearance of antichrist (2 Thes 2:3) and pre-wrath rapture and tribulation judgements. It’s not what most folks like to hear… It takes a genuine anointing from the Spirit of God. No one likes to hear it and tend to shoot messenger.

 In context of the NT era. We Americans (including the unsophisticated folks living in the trailer park down the street)  are “the rich in this present age” –that’s right you are wealthy by biblical standards —that is, the rich being referred to in this convicting and scary passage:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be proud and not to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but in God, who provides us all things richly for enjoyment,(1 Titus 6:17)

By world standards the average american is quite “rich in this present age. In Pope Francis’ homeland, Argentina, a salary of $30,000 American a year, literally less than what most school teachers make, ranks a worker one of the top 15.3% wealthiest folks in the country. In contrast, in Elzalvador, literally an American fast food job salary can put one under the top 1% richest in the country, (see source) So we Americns, as the rich of this age, have a stewardship and responsibility, to be humble and trust God, not the idol of wealth.
Jim Bakker, in your down moments please recall that VERY FEW preachers from any denomination are willing to call people out for greed and using God like “the tooth fairy .” My wife said it best, “If Christianity is not about forgiveness, then what it is it about?” The church needs more Jim Bakkers and fewer Rick Warrens and Joel Osteens.

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View From the Bunker 281: Cris Putnam – The Last Crusade

Derek Gilbert VFTB, SkyWatch NewsI had a nice conversation with Derek Gilbert about the book I am currently writing with Tom Horn about how ISIS, Pope Francis, USA and Russia are paving the way to Armageddon. I promise to be intellectually honest about my speculations as opposed to VERIFIED facts but am making effort to use those facts to support a particular reading of biblical prophecy -not newspaper exegesis as much as revealing how recent history seems to be pulling us toward what  premillennial futurism  has been saying for a century. The regathering of ethnic Jews, entailing s two stage regathering (first in unbelief ongoing since 1948 and before) followed by a, soon to come, national repentance and belief  in Jesus as Messiah as according to the Hebrew prophet Zechariah (Zech 12:10) and Jewish convert Paul – who encountered the resurrected Lord (1 Cor 15:8) and preached the Gospel he first received (1 Cor 15:3). I always enjoy talking with Derek because he so well informed.

VFTB 281: Cris Putnam – The Last Crusade

THE ISLAMIC STATE has made no secret of its plan to take over the world. But it’s not the only group with that goal in mind.

Cris Putnam, co-author of Petrus Romanus, Exo-Vaticana, and most recently, On the Path of the Immortals, discusses the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and the possible goals of IS, Russia, and the Vatican in the how the map of that part of the world is ultimately redrawn.

Podcast available here: http://vftb.net/?p=5977