by vaughn ohlman 10/15/2008 / Christian Apologetics
On my blog I have proposed that, despite the fact that I believe in a literal six day creation, I am not a 'creation scientist' but a 'philosophical creationist'. By this I mean that I do not, and did not, start with the assumptions of 'science' and methodological (or philosophical) naturalism and then proceed from there to the position of believing in creation. Instead I began with the following presuppositions:
1) God, the all powerful, exists.
2) God is the creator and sustainer of all things.
3)Gods Word is an authoritative account of all it describes, being an inerrant, sufficient, and clear record of all of Gods Word to His people.
With these presuppositions then, the question of creation became and obvious one. All of the evolutionary and 'old earth' varieties of answers to the question of creation, it seems to me, begin by denying one or more of these presuppositions.
All too often Christians assume the presuppositions of atheists when they come to the questions of origins. They act as if someone one can come to the table using the tools of naturalism, and yet not arrive at naturalistic conclusions. But the tools of naturalism will always arrive at naturalistic conclusions, they cannot help arriving at any other.
Suppose that the local police officer in your town believed in 'Investigational Naturalism". Not eager to actually go out and make arrests, he would investigate all crime scenes with the methodology that only 'natural" (ie non-human) actors would be considered in his investigation.
Now, one day you are getting out of work and you discover that a tree has fallen on your car. There it is, denting the roof and scratching the paint job. You are so upset. But when you get up to the car you get even more upset. There, next to the stump of the car, are footprints. And the stump had saw marks on it. Now you are *really* upset. So you call the police.
And Officer Naturalism shows up. He looks around, takes measurements, etc., listens to your statement, nods his head wisely, and calls a tow truck and tree trimming service to rescue your car.
A couple of weeks later you stop by the police station and ask how the investigation is going...
"It is very interesting. I have had biologists from the local center come over, and they are all fascinated."
"Biologists?" You ask, "What are they doing?"
"Why, looking at those marks on the tree. I had never seen any ants or termites that would chop a tree in exactly that fashion. We are all quite intrigued."
"But," You splutter, "Those marks weren't made by ants. They were made by a saw!"
He looks at you strangely, "I have never seen an animal use a saw. It seems more likely that ants or termites made the marks. After all we know that they cut wood."
As you argue more and more you realize what a fool you have been. Officer naturalist will never arrive at a non-natural conclusion to his investigation, because none of his premises are allowed to include non-naturalism. Instead of asking himself 'Is it more likely that a natural or a non-natural cause was involved here?' he asks 'What natural cause was involved here?' And from that question he can *never* arrive at the answer 'a non-natural cause'.
Greg Bahnsen has an interesting series of lectures on apologetics. In one of them he points out the nature of the question of authority when it comes to discussions between atheists and Christians.
The atheist will come to the Christian and ask, essentially, "What do you use to evaluate the authority of God? What evidence do you bring forward, and how do you judge that evidence?"
Of course, the question is rarely so polite, and sometimes isn't even phrased as a question. They might say, 'There is not evidence that God exists." or "I don't need that hypothesis."
The Christian needs to think clearly and carefully when he responds to these 'questions', and first of all he needs to be clear in his own mind about what is going on. The atheist is asking you to evaluate 'the authority of God' using some other authority, perhaps your own reason, logic, 'scientific evidence', etc. But, when evaluating two things, two authorities, it is the 'lesser' authority which must, by definition, evaluate the greater.
Suppose my son is looking for direction on how I want some task performed around the house. And suppose he has two sources of authority to go by in making this evaluation. On the one hand he has the 'best guess' of his younger brother, who knows me, and has some experience in determining my will. Now, this is a good source. It would not be at all a bad idea for him to use this source. Except...
Suppose the other source is directions that I myself left for doing this task. Suppose I knew that he would have to do it today, and so I specifically left him directions on how I wanted it done. What do you think now of using the 'authority' of my younger son?
Similarly then the atheist. He asks us to use the 'authority' of logic and reason. Logic and reason are, indeed, good authorities, we use them every day in myriad tasks. But in this case he is asking us to use them to evaluate an authority which is a 'higher' authority, an authority which we must use to evaluate logic and reason, even as I 'evaluate, my younger son and his knowledge of my will.
Thus the atheist, who asks us to use 'logic and reason' to evaluate Gods written and infallible Word, is asking a lesser authority to evaluate the authority of a greater authority. It is illogical, and irrational. The 'scientific method' is accurate if and only if we live in a universe guided by laws... laws which require a law giver. Logic and reason are logical and reasonable only if there exists One who has put us in a logical and reasonable universe. It is a presupposition that we can not accept, if we are to remain Christian.
But while we are on the question of logic and rationality, there are a couple of issues that lay at the heart of this discussion, common themes in any debate over the issues of origins.
The first is this idea of 'evidence' for evolution. This 'evidence' is often treated as if it were a pile of sand in my front yard. To measure the 'evidence' one should act, it is implied, in the same way as one would measure the sand. One goes out, estimates it 'weight', and is impressed or not as the case may be. A large heavy pile, and the evidence is 'weighty'. A shallow pile, and the evidence is 'light'. Evolutionists are always trying to heap sand onto the pile, Christians always trying to take it away.
But this analogy is wrong. The 'evidence' for any philosophical theory is never a mere 'evidence for' but 'the evidence for this *as opposed to that*'. If Joe dies in the hospital, one might find ample 'evidence' that Sue was the one who killed him. She was the last person in the room before he died, she benefited from his will, etc. But surely we cannot merely look at this heap of sand... we must compare it with the sand lying in other yards. We look at Fred, and find out that he was an expert in rare Asiatic poisons, that he had hated Joe for years for stealing Sue away from him, that he was known to have syringes in his possession.
And then, all ready to call the police and have them arrest Fred, the doctor walks in and tells us that he is sorry that Joe died, but really it was to be expected with the cancer that he had had for years, that the nurses had actually expected Joe to die several nights before, and had been quite amazed that he had lived this long. Oh, and what funeral home did you all want called to pick up his body.
You all look at each other and realize that the large amount of sand in Sues yard, and the larger one in Freds yard, paled in the light of this mountain of sand that the doctor has just dumped into the yard labeled 'natural causes'.
But the case for the evolutionists is worse than this. Suppose the pile of sand that they are looking at is actually sitting in front of an apartment building where 20 different people live. Thus while it quite correct to say of one of the people, say 'George Smith' that there is a 'large pile of sand' in front of his house, one simply cannot 'compare' the pile of sand in front of 'his house' and the house of 'Sue Jones' if it is the same pile that is in front of both houses. It is the *difference* in their piles that we wish to evaluate, not their mere height. One more cup or dump truck load dumped in the same pile does not help us at all.
Thus we must evaluate the 'evidence' of evolution. For each supposed evidence we must not merely ask ourselves, 'does this evidence fit the theory of evolution?' but, 'does this evidence fit the theory of evolution over against the theory of creation?'
Starting with a minor 'evidence' as an illustration, evolutionists often claim that the similarity of the various animal kinds is proof that the one 'evolved' into another. As an evidence over against the idea that each kind emerged independently from the primeval soup, this carries some weight. But what kind of evidence is it over against that of creation? Does the fact that the paintings of Picasso or the writings of John Grisham have similarities one with each other rule out the fact that they had each a common creator? Is it evidence that they must have somehow evolved from each other?
So, suppose I invented a theory that the entire world and all that is in it was created by fiat ten minutes ago. In vain would you go on and on with me about all of your memories, scientific tests, etc. I would merely point out to you that none of those are any evidence at all that the world was not created, with all that is in it, including your memories and your fallen leaves in it, ten minutes ago.
Now what happens at this point in the discussion is that the evolutionists suddenly become theologians. They immediately launch into a diatribe of how either:
1)They refuse to believe in a God that would have created a world with all sorts of 'evidence' that it was billions of years old when it was in fact, only ten minutes old.
2)God is not the kind of being that would deceive us in that way.
Now, the first statement is a mere statement of the will. "The fool" we are told "has said in his heart 'there is no God'". The atheist who makes this statement is merely stating his own atheistic philosophical decision and presuppositions.
The second statement, however, is fascinatingly illogical. Here we have an atheist attempting to do theology, to tell us what God is like. Let us get this straight, God doesn't exist, and yet he had a personality? You are an atheist, and you wish to tell us about the nature of God?
No, if an atheist wishes to be a theologian, they must begin with first principles. The 'fear of the Lord' we are told, is the beginning of both wisdom and knowledge. But certainly it is must be the beginning of theology.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
A former missionary to Africa, I am now an LVN and EMT with a wife, six kids, and small farm. I like to write about Theonomy, Betrothal, Fantasy, and Science Fiction, just for starters.