Monday, July 07, 2003

Creation and Science -- Part 3

The Anthropic Principle and other evidence for Intelligent Design in the universe provides a vehicle by which we Christians can talk about the God who is there. However, as I alluded to on Friday there is a catch.

The Catch

I can best introduce the catch by relating how the Institute for Creation Research treats the Anthropic Principle. ICR Impact 149, Design in Nature, the Anthropic Principle, mentions these "three examples of design."

  1. Proton Mass
  2. Gravitational Force
  3. Strength of Electrical Charges

The ICR impact article, while mentioning that there are other parameters, lists these three, because they are independent of the universe's age. In other words, it is safe to quote these examples. The truth is that much of the Anthropic Principle relates to a universe that appears to be several billions of years old. Hugh Ross lists 34 examples of fine tuning in the universe. Of these, some 24 have value only within current scientific cosmology that asserts the universe is from 10-15 billion years old and the earth 4.5 billion years old. Let me put this another way. The Big Bang cosmology  tells us that the universe had a beginning and that it is reasonable to assert that a master designer knew just what constants were needed to fashion at least one planet on which life that could know and love Him.

Indeed, not only in Astronomy, but in biochemistry, evidence for design is more and more apparent. Michael Behe's excellent book, Darwin's Black Box, contains chapter after chapter of finely tuned chemical reactions that support such things as sight, blood clotting, and sending messages within the cell. He tells of molecular machines in the cells. For him, each of these examples exhibit what he calls "irreducible complexity" by which he means that you cannot remove a single component and have anything left but non-functioning pieces. He has challenged the Darwinian community to theorize their creation without a designer. Michael Behe has met with great ridicule, but know one to my knowledge has answered his challenge.

In light of this, I had to take a long hard look at some facts:

  1. Creation means that God created the heavens and the earth. Whether they are young or old is not an a priori requisite.
  2. Whether the heavens and the earth are thousands of years old or billions of years old has no bearing on whether macroevolution occurred. An honest look at the evidence for macroevolution shows it to be unlikely. An old earth does not imply macroevolution.
  3. If one accepts the evidence for an old universe, one has a broad foundation from which to argue for the God's existence. That foundation is firmer than arguing from a young earth viewpoint. The Anthropic Principle and Intelligent Design arguments are very compelling, and although not everyone will accept our conclusions, they are nonetheless reasonable conclusions. Along these lines, it would seem as if "The heavens declare the Glory of God." It also confirms Paul's words in Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

The Anthropic Principle seems to reveals God's eternal power and divine nature in a way consistent with Paul's words on general revelation.

One must now reconcile evidence which supports Psalm 19 and Romans 1, but seemingly contradicts Genesis 1. This is a real problem and cannot be taken lightly.

  • We can say the universe and the earth are some 6,000 years old, put up with sloppy scientific efforts to prove this, close the gospel to those who simply cannot go there, and be left to wonder why God would create a universe with such apparent age. Genesis 1 is preserved in its generally accepted understanding, but one might even wonder what God has made evident to unbelievers. The cosmic distance ladder-by which we deduce that certain stars are 10,000 light years distance, and certain galaxies are 2,000,000 light years distance-is easy to grasp and hard to refute. Why has God created such a contradiction? The best hope is that science might find itself in a jam from which a young earth emerges as an only solution. If the earth and universe are that young, I predict that such an upheaval will occur before the end.
  • We can say the universe and the earth are billions of years old, challenge the scientific community to acknowledge evidence for design, open the gospel to those who feel compelled to accept evidence of an old earth, and marvel at the fine tuning of the creation. For this we have to see if there are alternative understandings of Genesis 1. This is a dangerous undertaking. In taking this step, will we find the rest of the scriptures eroding away? Are we thumbing our noses at God and refusing to accept Him at His word and trust Him? Is it a test by which He requires us to trust Him over the works of man? 

Neither position is without tension. Because of that, we must seek understanding with humility and extend the hand of friendship to those who do not see things as we do. It is possible to look at Genesis 1 in a different light. On the other hand, it is not always safe to base theology on contemporary scientific views. There are scientists who still attempt to dethrone Big Bang cosmology. If they succeed, it may render the Anthropic Principle meaningless. Faith must still rest on the Bible, and those who hold the generally accepted reading of Genesis 1 may be all the wiser, in the final analysis.

Still, the possibility of reconciling Genesis with an old creation is worth exploring. And that is where I will go from here. In doing so, I do not disdain those who by faith alone accept a young earth. Salvation comes from believing that God raised Jesus from the dead: a scientific impossibility. so, the Bible must be exalted above science. However, we are in an area of study that connects to the Bible in two different ways. We either have to adjust our understanding of Psalm 19 and Romans 1, which tell us that we can know God from His creation, or adjust our understanding of Genesis 1, which implies a young universe.

Tuesday: An Appeal to the Creation Science Community

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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