Friday, July 11, 2003

Creation and Science Part 4

This is part 4 of a series that examines the evidence for a universe created by an Intelligent Designer. I would say that this Designer/Creator is the God of the Bible, but the evidence for this second bit will need to come later. To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

The Anthropic Principle has made the discussion of a Creator respectable again. Even those who draw different conclusions from the principle, will acknowledge the possibility that God exists. Martin Reese in his book Just Six Numbers-The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe writes:

There are various ways of reacting to the apparent fine tuning of our six numbers. One hard-headed response is that we couldn't exist if these numbers weren't adjusted in the appropriate 'special' way: we manifestly are here, so there's nothing to be surprised about. Many scientists take this line, but it certainly leaves me unsatisfied. I'm impressed by a metaphor given by the Canadian philosopher John Leslie. Suppose you are facing a firing squad. Fifty marksman take aim, but they all miss. If they hadn't all missed, you would not have survived to ponder the matter. But you wouldn't just leave it at that-you'd still be baffled, and would seek some further reason for your good fortune.

Others adduce the 'tuning' of the numbers as evidence for a beneficent Creator, who formed the universe with the specific intention of producing us (or, less anthropocentrically, of permitting intricate complexities to unfold). This is in the tradition of William Paley and other advocates of the so-called 'argument from design' for God's existence. Variants of it are now espoused by eminent scientist-theologians such as John Polkinghorn; he writes that the universe is 'not just "any old world," but it's special and finely tuned for life because it is the creation of a Creator who wills that it be so'.

If one doesn't accept the 'providence' argument, there is another perspective, which-though still conjectural-I find compellingly attractive. It is that our Big Bang may not have been the only one. ...[Reese, Martin. Just Six Numbers-The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe (Basic Books, 2000) p.148-150

Martin Reese goes on to propose a multiverse by which our universe is special and finally tuned because there are many other lifeless ones. At least some of the variations would support life.

Read the passage again: Who is hard-headed? Who is eminent? Would he declare silly or unlearned or sloppy someone who concluded, from the six numbers, that there was a beneficent Creator? Has he ruled God out? Answering these questions should underscore for you the opportunities for proclaiming the gospel among the scientific community.

Last time, I wrote about the catch in all this. We have a universe that conforms to the words of David, "The heavens tell of the Glory of God." Martin Reese's six numbers and two-thirds of similar Anthropic Principle evidences, listed by Hugh Ross, conform to an old universe. They do not work and must be discarded if we insist that the universe is only thousands of years old.

My original intent at this point was to open up Genesis 1 and explore how that it does not necessarily rule out an old universe. I am aware that there are problems with these different approaches, but then there are problems anyway. But I am going to defer this discussion for a day and, instead, make an appeal to the creation science community.

There is a motivation for this series that is unlike any I have ever had within my 33 years as a Christian. There was a young man in my church who was becoming a friend. He attended the classes that I taught. He was bright and serious about his faith and life. But when he learned that I prefer an old universe model, he broke fellowship with me and left the church. The witness of my life, my family, and the value he received from my teaching were not enough for him to even ask about my views. For him, my view in this area is a matter of heresy.

I have never been labeled a heretic before.

An Appeal to the Creation Science Community

  1. Creation and evolution are in many ways separate issues. I imagine that no one who holds to a young earth considers macro-evolution to have happened. Many holding an old earth position have come to the same conclusion. Indeed some of the best articulation of macro-evolution's shortcomings have come from old universe creationists. This certainly includes Michael Behe who wrote Darwin's Black Box and Phillip E. Johnson who wrote Darwin on Trial.
  2. Big Bang cosmology, Einstein's special and general theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, diverse dating methods, etc. form an interrelated and consistent view of the universe. Its ability to explain and predict physical phenomenon gives support to its strength. The Anthropic Principle fits within this scheme. This view of the universe does not, in truth, provide any support for macro-evolution, nor, for the Christian, does it deny the special creation of living things in general and man in particular.
  3. If indeed the earth is young, there should exist a scientific model that supports it -- unless God just wanted the earth and the universe to look old. However, it will need to be as strong and internally consistent as the current main stream cosmology. It will have to have the same predictive and explanatory power of the conventional model. Note that it will be impossible to develop such a model until the strength of the conventional model is taken seriously.
  4. It is better to affirm a literal 6 day creation while acknowledging the strength of the conventional model than to counter the conventional model with insufficiently developed ideas. The former will provide a firm foundation and is consistent with Christian values. If we teach our young people to defend their faith on careless research and they discover such, through their own studies or trying to argue against those well armed, we will lose many of them.
  5. We not only have to reconcile Genesis 1 with cosmology, but Psalm 19 and Romans 1. This is especially true of Romans 1, which tells us that men are without excuse because the creation tells us enough about God to come under His judgment. The Anthropic Principle, which comes out of generally accepted cosmology, satisfies the spirit of Paul's warnings here. The current young earth arguments fail to do this. Think of Martin Reese's words above, where he acknowledges the possibility of a beneficent Creator. Would he draw the same from any study of creation science material? I think not. So, let's imagine that Martin Reese says to himself one day, "The multiverse explanation is maybe not so good after all. Let me explore the existence of God." So he goes to a church and begins to see that Christianity might have something to offer. Then he finds out that the condition for belonging is to hold to a universe that is only thousands of years old. Would he go along? Have we served the cause of Christ? Would it not be better to say? "We have some who trust Genesis 1 to be literally true. They acknowledge that there are problems with this view, but they trust that by the end of the age, that view will find vindication. We have others who see that science has a strong argument in this area, and they have other views of Genesis 1. They acknowledge that this view has problems as well. However, we respect each other's viewpoints and all who call on the Name of the Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead are welcome to break the bread of Christian fellowship here."

In our seeking to rightly divide the Word of Truth, may God keep us from wrongfully dividing each other.

Monday: Getting to Genesis 1

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

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