Category: Evolution


Some people today, especially those of anti-Christian opinions, have the mistaken notion that the Bible prescribes permanent racial divisions among men and is, therefore, the cause of modern racial hatreds. As a matter of fact, the Bible says nothing whatever about race. Neither the word nor the concept of different “races” is found in the Bible at all. As far as one can learn from a study of Scripture, the writers of the Bible did not even know there were distinct races of men, in the sense of black and yellow and white races, or Caucasian and Mongol and Negroid races, or any other such divisions.

The Biblical divisions among men are those of “tongues, families, nations, and lands” (Genesis 10:5,20,31) rather than races. The vision of the redeemed saints in heaven (Revelation 7:9) is one of “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues”, but no mention is made of “races”. The formation of the original divisions, after the Flood, was based on different languages (Genesis 11:6-9), supernaturally imposed by God, but nothing is said about any other physical differences.

Some have interpreted the Noahic prophecy concerning his three sons (Genesis 9:25-27) to refer to three races, Hamitic, Semitic and Japhetic, but such a meaning is in no way evident from the words of this passage. The prophecy applies to the descendants of Noah’s sons, and the various nations to be formed from them, but nothing is said about three races. Modern anthropologists and historians employ a much-different terminology than this simple trifurcation for what they consider to be the various races among men.

Therefore, the origin of the concept of “race” must be sought elsewhere than in the Bible. If certain Christian writers have interpreted the Bible in a racist framework, the error is in the interpretation, not in the Bible itself. In the Bible, there is only one race—the human race! “(God) hath made of one, all nations of men” (Acts 17:26).

What Is a Race?

In modern terminology, a race of men may involve quite a large number of individual national and language groups. It is, therefore, a much broader generic concept than any of the Biblical divisions. In the terminology of biological taxonomy, it is roughly the same as a “variety”, or a “sub-species”. Biologists, of course, use the term to apply to sub-species of animals, as well as men.

For example, Charles Darwin selected as the subtitle for his book Origin of Species the phrase “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. It is clear from the context that he had races of animals primarily in mind, but at the same time it is also clear, as we shall see, that he thought of races of men in the same way.

That this concept is still held today is evident from the following words of leading modern evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson:

“Races of man have, or perhaps one should say ‘had’, exactly the same biological significance as the sub-species of other species of mammals.”

It is clear, therefore, that a race is not a Biblical category, but rather is a category of evolutionary biology. Each race is a sub-species, with a long evolutionary history of its own, in the process of evolving gradually into a distinct species.

As applied to man, this concept, of course, suggests that each of the various races of men is very different, though still inter-fertile, from all of the others. If they continue to be segregated, each will continue to compete as best it can with the other races in the struggle for existence and finally the fittest will survive. Or else, perhaps, they will gradually become so different from each other as to assume the character of separate species altogether (just as apes and men supposedly diverged from a common ancestor early in the so-called Tertiary Period).

Most modern biologists today would express these concepts somewhat differently than as above, and they undoubtedly would disavow the racist connotations. Nevertheless, this was certainly the point-of-view of the 19th century evolutionists, and it is difficult to interpret modern evolutionary theory, the so-called neo-Darwinian synthesis, much differently.

Nineteenth-Century Evolutionary Racism

The rise of modern evolutionary theory took place mostly in Europe, especially in England and Germany. Europeans, along with their American cousins, were then leading the world in industrial and military expansion, and were, therefore, inclined to think of themselves as somehow superior to the other nations of the world. This opinion was tremendously encouraged by the concurrent rise of Darwinian evolutionism and its simplistic approach to the idea of struggle between natural races, with the strongest surviving and thus contributing to the advance of evolution.

As the 19th century scientists were converted to evolution, they were thus also convinced of racism. They were certain that the white race was superior to other races, and the reason for this superiority was to be found in Darwinian theory. The white race had advanced farther up the evolutionary ladder and, therefore, was destined either to eliminate the other races in the struggle for existence or else to have to assume the “white man’s burden” and to care for those inferior races that were incompetent to survive otherwise.

Charles Darwin himself, though strongly opposed to slavery on moral grounds, was convinced of white racial superiority. He wrote on one occasion as follows:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

The man more responsible than any other for the widespread acceptance of evolution in the 19th century was Thomas Huxley. Soon after the American Civil War, in which the negro slaves were freed, he wrote as follows:

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.”

Racist sentiments such as these were held by all the 19th century evolutionists. A recent book has documented this fact beyond any question. In a review of this book, a recent writer says:

Ab initio, Afro-Americans were viewed by these intellectuals as being in certain ways unredeemably, unchangeably, irrevocably inferior.”

A reviewer in another scientific journal says:

“After 1859, the evolutionary schema raised additional questions, particularly whether or not Afro-Americans could survive competition with their white near-relations. The momentous answer was a resounding no…. The African was inferior—he represented the missing link between ape and Teuton.”

The Modern Harvest

In a day and age which practically worshipped at the shrine of scientific progress, as was true especially during the century from 1860 to 1960, such universal scientific racism was bound to have repercussions in the political and social realms. The seeds of evolutionary racism came to fullest fruition in the form of National Socialism in Germany. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a contemporary of Charles Darwin and an ardent evolutionist, popularized in Germany his concept of the superman, and then the master race. The ultimate outcome was Hitler, who elevated this philosophy to the status of a national policy.

“From the ‘Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’ (i.e., Darwin’s subtitle to Origin of Species) it was a short step to the preservation of favoured individuals, classes or nations—and from their preservation to their glorification…. Thus it has become a portmanteau of nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and dictatorship, of the cults of the hero, the superman, and the master race … recent expressions of this philosophy, such as Mein Kampf, are, unhappily, too familiar to require exposition here.”

However one may react morally against Hitler, he was certainly a consistent evolutionist. Sir Arthur Keith, one of the leading evolutionary anthropologists of our century, said:

“The German Fuhrer … has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

With respect to the question of race struggle, as exemplified especially in Germany, Sir Arthur also observed:

“Christianity makes no distinction of race or of colour: it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect, the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce?”

In recent decades, the cause of racial liberation has made racism unpopular with intellectuals and only a few evolutionary scientists still openly espouse the idea of a long-term polyphyletic origin of the different races. On the other hand, in very recent years, the pendulum has swung, and now we have highly vocal advocates of “black power” and “red power” and “yellow power”, and these advocates are all doctrinaire evolutionists, who believe their own respective “races” are the fittest to survive in man’s continuing struggle for existence.

The Creationist Position

According to the Biblical record of history, the Creator’s divisions among men are linguistic and national divisions, not racial. Each nation has a distinct purpose and function in the corporate life of mankind, in the divine Plan (as, for that matter, does each individual).

“(God) hath made of one blood, all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him” (Acts 17:26,27).

No one nation is “better” than another, except in the sense of the blessings it has received from the Creator, perhaps in measure of its obedience to His Word and fulfillment of its calling. Such blessings are not an occasion for pride, but for gratitude.

The Intelligent Design Theory says that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology and that these causes are empirically detectable. Certain biological features defy the standard Darwinian random-chance explanation, because they appear to have been designed. Since design logically necessitates an intelligent designer, the appearance of design is cited as evidence for a designer. There are three primary arguments in the Intelligent Design Theory: 1) irreducible complexity, 2) specified complexity, and 3) the anthropic principle.

Irreducible complexity is defined as “…a single system which is composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.” Simply put, life is comprised of intertwined parts that rely on each other in order to be useful. Random mutation may account for the development of a new part, but it cannot account for the concurrent development of multiple parts necessary for a functioning system. For example, the human eye is obviously a very useful system. Without the eyeball, the optic nerve, and the visual cortex, a randomly mutated incomplete eye would actually be counterproductive to the survival of a species and would therefore be eliminated through the process of natural selection. An eye is not a useful system unless all its parts are present and functioning properly at the same time.

Specified complexity is the concept that, since specified complex patterns can be found in organisms, some form of guidance must have accounted for their origin. The specified complexity argument states that it is impossible for complex patterns to be developed through random processes. For example, a room filled with 100 monkeys and 100 computers may eventually produce a few words, or maybe even a sentence, but it would never produce a Shakespearean play. And how much more complex is biological life than a Shakespearean play?

The anthropic principle states that the world and universe are “fine-tuned” to allow for life on earth. If the ratio of elements in the air of the earth was altered slightly, many species would very quickly cease to exist. If the earth were significantly closer to or further away from the sun, many species would cease to exist. The existence and development of life on earth requires so many variables to be perfectly in tune that it would be impossible for all the variables to come into being through random, uncoordinated events.

While the Intelligent Design Theory does not presume to identify the source of intelligence (whether it be God or UFOs or something else), the vast majority of Intelligent Design theorists are theists. They see the appearance of design which pervades the biological world as evidence for the existence of God. There are, however, a few atheists who cannot deny the strong evidence for design, but are not willing to acknowledge a Creator God. They tend to interpret the data as evidence that earth was seeded by some sort of master race of extraterrestrial creatures (aliens). Of course, they do not address the origin of the aliens either, so they are back to the original argument with no credible answer.

The Intelligent Design Theory is not biblical creationism. There is an important distinction between the two positions. Biblical creationists begin with a conclusion that the biblical account of creation is reliable and correct, that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent agent—God. They then look for evidence from the natural realm to support this conclusion. Intelligent Design theorists begin with the natural realm and reach the conclusion that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent agent (whoever that might be).

A very persuasive and thorough observation on science and the burden of proof.

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

image

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper

-T.S. Eliot

Recently, an atheist told me this.

“If God loves me, wants to have a relationship with me, and yet doesn’t give me the evidence I need to make me believe in Him, He is basically failing and that has to suck for Him.”

This statement is baffling to me for a few reasons.

1.  It assumes that God does not love the non-believer because God is not playing by the arbitrary rules the non-believer set up.

2.  It assumes that God can fail.

3.  It is arrogant beyond all measure.

4. It regards ALL of the evidence God has provided as insufficient and makes this insufficiency God’s problem.

So, what kind of proof do non-believers generally demand?

In almost all…

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Hank Hanegraaff

Hank Hanegraaff
  • Devotionals Daily

March 1, 2013

Acts 17 bible verse: from one man he made every nation of menUnder the banner of “theistic evolution,” a growing number of Christians maintain that God used evolution as his method for creation. This, in my estimation, is the worst of all possibilities. It is one thing to believe in evolution; it is quite another to blame God for it.

First, the biblical account of creation specifically states that God created living creatures according to their own “kinds” (Genesis 1:24–25). As confirmed by science, the DNA for a fetus is not the DNA for a frog, and the DNA for a frog is not the DNA for a fish. Rather, the DNA of a fetus, frog, or fish is uniquely programmed for reproduction after its own kind. Thus, while Scripture and science allow for microevolution* (transitions – adaptation – within “the kinds”), they do not allow for macroevolution* (amoebas evolving into apes or apes evolving into astronauts).

Furthermore, evolution is the cruelest, most inefficient system for creation imaginable. Perhaps Nobel Prize–winning evolutionist Jacques Monod put it best: “The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethic revolts.” Indeed, says Monod, “I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”

Finally, theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms- like flaming snowflakes. God can no more direct an undirected process than he can create a square circle. Yet this is precisely what theistic evolution presupposes.

Evolutionism is fighting for its very life. Rather than prop it up with theories such as theistic evolution, thinking people everywhere must be on the vanguard of demonstrating its demise.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. — Acts 17:26-27

The cosmological argument attempts to prove God’s existence by observing the world around us (the cosmos). It begins with what is most obvious in reality: things exist. It is then argued that the cause of those things’ existence had to be a “God-type” thing. These types of arguments go all the way back to Plato and have been used by notable philosophers and theologians ever since. Science finally caught up with theologians in the 20th century, when it was confirmed that the universe must have had a beginning. So, today, the cosmological arguments are even powerful for non-philosophers. There are two basic forms of these arguments, and the easiest way to think of them might be the “vertical” and the “horizontal.” These names indicate the direction from which the causes come. In the vertical form, it is argued that every created thing is being caused right now (imagine a timeline with an arrow pointing up from the universe to God). The horizontal version shows that creation had to have a cause in the beginning (imagine that same timeline only with an arrow pointing backward to a beginning point in time).

The horizontal is a little easier to understand because it does not require much philosophizing. The basic argument is that all things that have beginnings had to have causes. The universe had a beginning; therefore, the universe had a cause. That cause, being outside the whole universe, is God. Someone might say that some things are caused by other things, but this does not solve the problem. This is because those other things had to have causes, too, and this cannot go on forever. Let’s take a simple example: trees. All trees began to exist at some point (for they have not always existed). Each tree had its beginning in a seed (the “cause” of the tree). But every seed had its beginning (“cause”) in another tree. There cannot be an infinite series of tree-seed-tree-seed, because no series is infinite—it cannot go on forever. All series are finite (limited) by definition. There is no such thing as an infinite number, because even the number series is limited (although you can always add one more, you are always at a finite number). If there is an end, it is not infinite. All series have two endings, actually—at the end and at the beginning (try to imagine a one-ended stick!). But if there were no first cause, the chain of causes never would have started. Therefore, there is, at the beginning at least, a first cause—one that had no beginning. This first cause is God.

The vertical form is a bit more difficult to understand, but it is more powerful because not only does it show that God had to cause the “chain of causes” in the beginning, He must still be causing things to exist right now. Again, we begin by noting that things exist. Next, while we often tend to think of existence as a property that things sort of “own”—that once something is created, existence is just part of what it is—this is not the case. Consider the triangle. We can define the nature of a triangle as “the plane figure formed by connecting three points not in a straight line by straight line segments.” Notice what is not part of this definition: existence.

This definition of a triangle would hold true even if no triangles existed at all. Therefore, a triangle’s nature—what it is—does not guarantee that one exists (like unicorns—we know what they are, but that does not make them exist). Because it is not part of a triangle’s nature to exist, triangles must be made to exist by something else that already exists (someone must draw one on a piece of paper). The triangle is caused by something else—which also must have a cause. This cannot go on forever (no infinite series). Therefore, something that does not need to be given existence must exist to give everything else existence.

Now, apply this example to everything in the universe. Does any of it exist on its own? No. So, not only did the universe have to have a first cause to get started; it needs something to give it existence right now. The only thing that would not have to be given existence is a thing that exists as its very nature. It is existence. This something would always exist, have no cause, have no beginning, have no limit, be outside of time, and be infinite. That something is God!

There are three premises in the argument:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

Now what follows logically from these three premises?

From 1 and 3 it logically follows that:

4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.

And from 2 and 4 the conclusion logically follows:

5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

Now this is a logically airtight argument. So if the atheist wants to deny the conclusion, he has to say that one of the three premises is false.

But which one will he reject? Premise 3 is undeniable for any sincere seeker after truth. So the atheist is going to have to deny either 1 or 2 if he wants to remain an atheist and be rational. So the whole question comes down to this: are premises 1 and 2 true, or are they false? Well, let’s look at them.

According to premise 1 there are two kinds of things: (a) things which exist necessarily and (b) things which exist contingently. Things which exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist by the necessity of their own nature. By contrast, contingent things are caused to exist by something else. They exist because something else has produced them. Familiar physical objects like people, planets, and galaxies belong in this category.

So what reason might be offered for thinking that premise 1 is true? Well, when you reflect on it, premise 1 has a sort of self-evidence about it. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods one day and you come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder how it came to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “It just exists inexplicably. Don’t worry about it!”, you’d either think that he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story so that it’s the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of a continent or a planet. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of the entire universe. Same problem. Merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation.

Premise 1 is the premise that the atheist typically rejects. Sometimes atheists will respond to premise 1 by saying that it is true of everything in the universe but not of the universe itself. But this response commits what has been aptly called “the taxicab fallacy.” For as the nineteenth century atheist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer quipped, premise 1 can’t be dismissed like a hack once you’ve arrived at your desired destination!

It would be arbitrary for the atheist to claim that the universe is the exception to the rule. The illustration of the ball in the woods showed that merely increasing the size of the object to be explained, even until it becomes the universe itself, does nothing to remove the need for some explanation of its existence.

Notice, too, how unscientific this atheist response is. For modern cosmology is devoted to the search for an explanation of the universe’s existence. The atheist attitude would cripple science.

Some atheists have tried to justify making the universe an exception to premise 1 by saying that it’s impossible for the universe to have an explanation of its existence. For the explanation of the universe would have to be some prior state of affairs in which the universe did not yet exist. But that would be nothingness, and nothingness cannot be the explanation of anything. So the universe must just exist inexplicably.

This line of reasoning is obviously fallacious. For it assumes that the universe is all there is, so that if there were no universe there would be nothing. In other words, the objection assumes that atheism is true! The atheist is thus begging the question, arguing in a circle. I agree that the explanation of the universe must be a prior state of affairs in which the universe did not exist. But I contend that that state of affairs is God and His will, not nothingness.

So it seems to me that premise 1 is more plausibly true than false, which is all we need for a good argument.

What, then, about premise 2? Is it more plausibly true than false?

What’s really awkward for the atheist at this point is that premise 2 is logically equivalent to the typical atheist response to the contingency argument. Two statements are logically equivalent if it is impossible for one to be true and the other one false. They stand or fall together. So what does the atheist almost always say in response to the argument from contingency? The atheist typically asserts the following:

A. If atheism is true, the universe has no explanation of its existence.

This is precisely what the atheist says in response to premise 1. The universe just exists inexplicably. But this is logically equivalent to saying:

B. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.

So you can’t affirm (A) and deny (B).

But (B) is virtually synonymous with premise 2! So by saying in response to premise 1 that, given atheism, the universe has no explanation, the atheist is implicitly admitting premise 2, that if the universe does have an explanation, then God exists.

Besides that, premise 2 is very plausible in its own right. For think of what the universe is: all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy. It follows that if the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause must be a non-physical, immaterial being beyond space and time. Now there are only two sorts of thing that could fit that description: either an abstract object like a number or else an unembodied mind. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. That’s part of what it means to be abstract. The number 7, for example, can’t cause any effects. So the cause of the existence of the universe must be a transcendent Mind, which is what believers understand God to be.

The argument thus proves the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. This is truly mind-blowing!

The atheist has one alternative open to him at this point. He can retrace his steps, withdraw his objection to premise 1, and say instead that, yes, the universe does have an explanation of its existence. But that explanation is: the universe exists by a necessity of its own nature. For the atheist, the universe could serve as a sort of God-substitute which exists necessarily.

Now this would be a very radical step for the atheist to take, and I can’t think of any contemporary atheist who has in fact adopted this line. A few years ago at a Philosophy of Time conference at City College in Santa Barbara, it seemed to me that Professor Adolf Grünbaum, a vociferous atheistic philosopher of science from the University of Pittsburgh, was flirting with this idea. But when I raised the question from the floor whether he thought the universe existed necessarily, he was quite indignant at the suggestion. “Of course not!” he snapped and went on to say that the universe just exists without any explanation.

The reason atheists are not eager to embrace this alternative is clear. As we look about the universe, none of the things that make it up, whether stars, planets, galaxies, dust, radiation, or what have you, seems to exist necessarily. They could all fail to exist; indeed, at some point in the past, when the universe was very dense, none of them did exist.

But, you might say, what about the matter out of which these things are made? Maybe the matter exists necessarily, and all these things are just different contingent configurations of matter. The problem with this suggestion is that, according to the standard model of subatomic physics, matter itself is composed of tiny particles called “quarks.” The universe is just the collection of all these quarks arranged in different ways. But now the question arises: couldn’t a different collection of quarks have existed instead of this one? Does each and every one of these quarks exist necessarily?

Notice what the atheist cannot say at this point. He cannot say that the quarks are just configurations of matter which could have been different, even though the matter of which the quarks are composed exists necessarily. He can’t say this because quarks aren’t composed of anything! They just are the basic units of matter. So if a quark doesn’t exist, the matter doesn’t exist.

Now it seems obvious that a different collection of quarks could have existed instead of the collection that does exist. But if that were the case, then a different universe would have existed. To see the point, think about your desk. Could your desk have been made of ice? Notice that I’m not asking if you could have had an ice desk in the place of your wooden desk that had the same size and structure. Rather I’m asking if your very desk, the one made of wood, if that desk could have been made of ice. The answer is obviously, no. The ice desk would be a different desk, not the same desk.

Similarly, a universe made up of different quarks, even if identically arranged as in this universe, would be a different universe. It follows, then, that the universe does not exist by a necessity of its own nature.

So atheists have not been so bold as to deny premise 2 and say that the universe exists necessarily. Premise 2 also seems to be plausibly true.

But given the truth of the three premises the conclusion is logically inescapable: God is the explanation of the existence of the universe. Moreover, the argument implies that God is an uncaused, unembodied Mind who transcends the physical universe and even space and time themselves and who exists necessarily. What a great argument!

EmpiricalPierce left a  comment on a post of mine entitled: “How is belief in God any different from Flying Spaghetti Monsterism?

His argument raised is simply this: “You cite deistic arguments like the cosmological argument as examples of Christianity being rationally defensible, when there is a massive difference between the deistic claim “This universe was created by a god” and the Christian claim “This universe was created by a god named Yahweh, who had a son named Jesus,” ( in relevant part ).

For those unaware The cosmological argument is the argument that the existence of the world or universe is strong evidence for the existence of a God who created it. The existence of the universe, the argument claims, stands in need of explanation, and the only adequeate explanation of its existence is that it was created by God.

Like most arguments for the existence of God, the cosmological argument exists in several forms; two are discussed here: the temporal, kalam cosmological argument (i.e. the first cause argument), and the modal argument from contingency. The main distinguishing feature between these two arguments is the way in which they evade an initial objection to the argument, introduced with a question: “Does God have a cause of his existence?” [Robin Le Poidevin, Arguing for Atheism, Routledge 1996, Chapter 1]

Counter-Cosmological Argument:

Is God the Father Causally Prior to the Son?

 ‘One nice way of expressing God’s priority to creation is to say that God is causally but not temporally prior to the beginning of the universe’.

Also, J.P. Moreland in his book Scaling the Secular City has also stated (in p. 41) ‘Prior to the first event–where prior means “ontologically prior,” not “temporally prior”–there was no time, space, or change of any kind.’

1) What is the difference between saying God is causally prior, ontologically prior, or temporally prior to the universe? Can you define each of these, i.e., causally prior, ontologically prior, or temporally prior? Also, are causally prior and ontologically prior synonymous?

2) Is saying ‘God is causally prior to the universe’ the same as saying ‘God is the cause of the universe’? Or is it possible for God to be the cause of the universe yet not be causally prior to the universe? If so, how?

3) How would you interpret Jude 1:25 “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” i.e. “before all time”? Is it possible to say “before all time” without implying a time “before all time”? If so, how?

4) Also, how would you interpret the Nicene Creed “…begotten of the Father before all ages…”?

5) At least some early church fathers seemed to believe that in the Trinity, the Father is the source/cause of the Son. For example, John of Damascus in An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 8, ‘Concerning the Holy Trinity,’ states,

“And we mean by this, that the Son is begotten of the Father and not the Father of the Son, and that the Father naturally is the cause of the Son: just as we say in the same way not that fire proceedeth from light, but rather light from fire. So then, whenever we hear it said that the Father is the origin of the Son and greater than the Son, let us understand it to mean in respect of causation. And just as we do not say that fire is of one essence and light of another, so we cannot say that the Father is of one essence and the Son of another: but both are of one and the same essence.”

Also, Augustine, in ‘A Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed’, states,

“Imagine to yourselves fire as father, its shining as son; see, we have found the coevals. From the instant that the fire begins to be, that instant it begets the shining: neither fire before shining, nor shining after fire. And if we ask, which begets which? the fire the shining, or the shining the fire? Immediately ye conceive by natural sense, by the innate wit of your minds ye all cry out, The fire the shining, not the shining the fire. Lo, here you have a father beginning; lo, a son at the same time, neither going before nor coming after. Lo, here then is a father beginning, lo, a son at the same time beginning. If I have shown you a father beginning, and a son at the same time beginning, believe the Father not beginning, and with Him the Son not beginning either; the one eternal, the other coeternal.”

So would you describe John of Damascus’ and Augustine’s view of the Trinity, where the Father is the source/cause of the Son, as:

a) the Father is causally prior to the Son? Why/why not?     b) the Father is ontologically prior to the Son? Why/why not?     c) how would you describe John of Damascus’ and Augustine’s view of the Trinity, where the Father is the source/cause of the Son?

What an interesting question! I’ll address these queries in order.

1. Causal priority has to do with what’s called causal directionality. That is to say, if A and B are causally related as cause and effect, is A the cause of B, or is B the cause of A? Temporal priority has to do with whether A is earlier than B. Notice that even if A and B exist or occur at the same time, so that there is no temporal priority of one to the other, the question of causal priority still makes sense. To borrow an illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion from eternity past. Some philosophers who believe that the future is as real as the past or present think that there can be cases where causal priority can actually run in the opposite direction of temporal priority: first the effect occurs and then later comes the cause, so that although A is causally prior to B, B is temporally prior to A! As for ontological priority, that would indicate that some being’s existence presupposes the existence of another being. I think that in this context it basically comes to the same thing as causal priority. (In another context, one might say, for example, that a substance or thing is ontologically prior to the thing’s properties.)

2. To say that God is causally prior to the universe is to say that God is the cause of the universe.

3. I love Jude 25! It basically lays out the view of divine eternity that I defend, namely, that God exists timelessly without creation and forever in time ever since the beginning of time at creation. It uses an excusable façon de parler (manner of speaking) to describe the state of God’s existing without the universe as “before” time. The philosopher will understand this to be an ordinary language expression of the idea that time had a beginning, whereas God did not.

4. The notion of the Son’s being eternally begotten of the Father, which appears in the Nicene Creed, is a vestige of the primitive Logos Christology of the early Greek Apologists, men such as Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Athenagoras. I have discussed this development in my chapter on the Trinity in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (IVP: 2003), an expanded version of which you’ll find under “Scholarly Articles: Christian Doctrines.”

The Greek Apologists sought to explain the doctrine of the Trinity by holding that God the Father, existing alone without the world, had within Himself His Word or Reason (Greek: Logos) or Wisdom (cf. Prov. 8.22-31), which somehow proceeded forth from Him, like a spoken word from a speaker’s mind, to become a distinct individual who created the world and ultimately became incarnate as Jesus Christ. The procession of the Logos from the Father was variously conceived as taking place either at the moment of creation or, alternatively, eternally. The Holy Spirit, too, might be understood to proceed from God the Father’s mind. Here’s how Athenagoras describes it:

The Son of God is the Word of the Father in Ideal Form and energizing power; for in his likeness and through him all things came into existence, which presupposes that the Father and the Son are one. Now since the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son by a powerful unity of Spirit, the Son of God is the mind and reason of the Father… He is the first begotten of the Father. The term is used not because he came into existence (for God, who is eternal mind, had in himself his word or reason from the beginning, since he was eternally rational) but because he came forth to serve as Ideal Form and Energizing Power for everything material… The… Holy Spirit. . . we regard as an effluence of God which flows forth from him and returns like a ray of the sun (A Plea for the Christians 10).

According to this doctrine, then, there is one God, but He is not an undifferentiated unity. Rather certain aspects of His mind become expressed as distinct individuals.

The Logos doctrine of the Apologists involves a fundamental reinterpretation of the Fatherhood of God: God is not merely the Father of mankind or even, especially, of Jesus of Nazareth, rather He is the Father from whom the Logos is begotten before all worlds. Christ is not merely the only-begotten Son of God in virtue of his Incarnation; rather he is begotten of the Father even in his pre-incarnate divinity. This view becomes enshrined in the Nicene Creed as orthodoxy.

5. Protestants bring all doctrinal statements, even Conciliar creeds, before the bar of Scripture. In this case one has to say honestly that nothing in Scripture warrants us in thinking that God the Son is begotten of the Father in His divine, rather than in merely His human, nature. The vast majority of contemporary New Testament scholars recognize that even if the word traditionally translated “only-begotten” (monogenes) carries a connotation of derivation when used in familial contexts–as opposed to meaning merely “unique” or “one of a kind” as many scholars maintain–nevertheless the biblical references to Christ as monogenes (John 1.1, 14, 18; cf. Revelation 9.13) do not contemplatesome pre-creation or eternal procession of the divine Son from the Father, but have to do with the historical Jesus’ being God’s special Son (Matthew 1.21-23; Luke 1-35; John 1.14, 34; Galalatians 4.4; Hebrews 1.5-6). I John 5.18 does refer to Jesus as ho gennetheis ek tou theou (the one begotten of God), which is the crucial expression, but there is no suggestion that this begetting is eternal or has to do with his divine nature. Rather, Christ’s status of being the Only-Begotten has less to do with the Trinity than with the Incarnation. This primitive understanding of Christ’s being begotten is still evident in Ignatius’s description of Christ as “one Physician, of flesh and of spirit, begotten and unbegotten, . . . both of Mary and of God” (Ephesians 7). There is here no idea that Christ is begotten in his divine nature. Indeed, the transference by the Apologists of Christ’s Sonship from Jesus of Nazareth to the pre-incarnate Logos has helped to depreciate the importance of the historical Jesus for Christian faith.

Theologically, it seems to me, the doctrine of the generation of the Logos from the Father cannot, despite assurances to the contrary, but diminish the status of the Son because He becomes an effect contingent upon the Father. Even if this eternal procession takes place necessarily and apart from the Father’s will, the Son is less than the Father because the Father alone exists in Himself, whereas the Son exists through another. Such derivative being is the same way in which created things exist. Despite protestations to the contrary, Nicene orthodoxy does not seem to have completely exorcised the spirit of subordinationism introduced into Christology by the Greek Apologists.

For these reasons evangelical theologians have tended to treat the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son from the Father with benign neglect. If we do decide to drop from our doctrine of the Trinity the eternal generation and procession of the Son and Spirit from the Father, how should we construe the intra-Trinitarian relations? Here I find it useful to distinguish between the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity. The ontological Trinity is the Trinity as it exists of itself apart from God’s relation to the world. The economic Trinity has reference to the different roles played by the persons of the Trinity in relation to the world and especially in the plan of salvation. In this economic Trinity there is subordination (or, perhaps better, submission) of one person to another, as the incarnate Son does the Father’s will and the Spirit speaks, not on His own account, but on behalf of the Son. The economic Trinity does not reflect ontological differences between the persons but rather is an expression of God’s loving condescension for the sake of our salvation. The error of Logos Christology lay in conflating the economic Trinity with the ontological Trinity, introducing subordination into the nature of the Godhead itself.

Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument

by Jacob Greenleaf 
A brief summary
In order to show that the Universe did not begin to exist, I will prove by contradiction. In brief, the argument is as follows:
Let S1= a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist.
Let S2 = a state of affairs in which the Universe exists.
1.The Universe began to exist.
2. S1 and S2 must be distinct.
     .1.If S1 and S2 are not distinct, then either the Universe always existed or the Universe never existed.
     .2.The Universe exists, and began to exist. [By 1]
     .3.Therefore, S1 and S2 are distinct. [Modus Ponens]
3.The Universe cannot exist and not exist at the same state of affairs. [Law of Non-Contradiction]
4.Time cannot be a framework to distinguish between S1 and S2
     .1.If the Universe was temporally caused, then time would be ontologically prior to the Universe.
     .2.Time is ontologically posterior to the Universe.
     .3.Therefore, the Universe cannot be temporally caused. [Modus Ponens]
5.Atemporal causation cannot be a framework to distinguish between S1 and S2.
      .1. If the Universe was atemporally caused, then S1 and S2 would be simultaneous.
      .2. S1 and S2 are not simultaneous.  [By 3]
      .3.Therefore, the Universe cannot be atemporally caused.
[ModusPonens]
6.There are no frameworks of causation that can be used to distinguishbetween S1 and S2. 7.The Universe did not begin to exist [By2]
Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
Rationale for controversial premises
In order to make the argument concise and short, I have had to state some propositions without further supporting them. Here, I will do so in more detail.
Premise 4.2
In Premise 4.2, I stated Time is ontologically posterior to the Universe. Says William Lane Craig
[1], As for ontological priority, that would indicate that some being’s existence presupposes the existence of another being. I think that in this context it basically comes to the same thing as causal priority. (In another context, one might say, for example, that a substance or thing is ontologically prior to the thing’s properties.)
As defined by William Lane Craig, I am saying here that time is a property of the Universe –or that time’s existence presupposes the Universe. This viewpoint is emphasized by thefindings of modern science as well as Saint Augustine. As described by Stephen Hawkings in“A Brief History of Time”,
Before 1915, space and time were thought of as a fixed arena in which events took  place, but which was not affected by what happened in it. This was true even of thespecial theory of relativity. Bodies moved, forces attracted and repelled, but time and space simply continued, unaffected. It was natural to think that space and time went on forever. The situation, however, is quite different in the general theory of relativity. Space and time are now dynamic quantities: when a body moves, or aforce acts, it affects the curvature of space and time – and in turn the structure of space-time affects the way in which bodies move and forces act. Space and time not only affect but also are affected by everything that happens in the universe. Just asone cannot talk about events in the universe without the notions of space and time,so in general relativity it became meaningless to talk about space and time outsidethe limits of the universe.
Premise 5.1
In Premise 5.1, I stated
If the Universe was atemporally caused, then S1 and S2 would be simultaneous. Here, I am building off of an explanation of “atemporal causation” by William Lane Craig [1],itself an explanation from Kant:
 Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
To borrow an illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion frometernity past.
Here, we can see that if the cause of the depression is the ball, then the cause and effect(cause being the ball, effect being depression) are simultaneous.
Counter-Argument to the Cosmological Argument
Premise 6
In Premise 6, I stated
There are no frameworks of causation that can be used to distinguish between S1 and S2. This is a tentative proposition in order to prove the conclusion. I have ruled out atemporalcausation, and temporal causation. The burden of proof to show a coherent framework of distinguishing between S1 and S 2 is on the proponent of the Cosmological Argument.
Objections
What Craig emphasizes is that God’s act of creating time-y is simultaneous with the instantiation of time-y. From my perspective, this doesn’t involve any contradiction or equivocation. We simply have a timeless cause that brings about a temporal effect.
 This can be analyzed in context of creating a moment of time “outside” of time. Rephrased, the argument can apply when S 1 and S2 are rephrased from a state of affairs in which the Universe did not exist to a state of affairs in which time-y did not exist. I think this emphasizes the point – that an “atemporal act of creation”requires that simultaneity of existence and non-existence of whatever is being created.

There is currently a lot of debate over the validity of creationism, defined as “the belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution.” Creation science is often dismissed by the secular community and accused of lacking scientific value. However, creationism is clearly compatible with a scientific approach to any topic. Creationism makes statements about real world events, places, and things. It is not concerned solely with subjective ideas or abstract concepts. There are established scientific facts that are consistent with creationism, and the way in which those facts relate to one another lends itself to a creationist interpretation. Just as other broad scientific ideas are used to lend coherence to a series of facts, so, too, does creationism.

How, then, is creationism—as opposed to “naturalism,” defined as “a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted”—scientific? Admittedly, the answer depends on how you define “scientific.” Too often, “science” and “naturalism” are considered one and the same, leaving creationist views out by definition. Such a definition requires an irrational reverence of naturalism. Science is defined as “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.” Nothing requires science, in and of itself, to be naturalistic. Naturalism, like creationism, requires a series of presuppositions that are not generated by experiments. They are not extrapolated from data or derived from test results. These philosophical presuppositions are accepted before any data is ever taken. Because both naturalism and creationism are strongly influenced by presuppositions that are neither provable nor testable, and enter into the discussion well before the facts do, it is fair to say that creationism is at least as scientific as naturalism.

Creationism, like naturalism, can be “scientific,” in that it is compatible with the scientific method of discovery. These two concepts are not, however, sciences in and of themselves, because both views include aspects that are not considered “scientific” in the normal sense. Neither creationism nor naturalism is falsifiable; that is, there is no experiment that could conclusively disprove either one. Neither one is predictive; they do not generate or enhance the ability to predict an outcome. Solely on the basis of these two points, we see that there is no logical reason to consider one more scientifically valid than the other.

One of the major reasons naturalists give for rejecting creationism is the concept of miracles. Ironically, naturalists will typically say that miracles, such as special creation, are impossible because they violate the laws of nature, which have been clearly and historically observed. Such a view is ironic on several counts. As a single example, consider abiogenesis, the theory of life springing from non-living matter. Abiogenesis is one of the most thoroughly refuted concepts of science. Yet, a truly naturalistic viewpoint presumes that life on earth—self-replicating, self-sustaining, complex organic life—arose by chance from non-living matter. Such a thing has never been observed in all of human history. The beneficial evolutionary changes needed to progress a creature to a more complex form have also never been observed. So creationism actually holds the edge on evidence for “miraculous” claims in that the Scriptures provide documented accounts of miraculous happenings. To label creationism as unscientific on account of miracles demands a similar label for naturalism.

There are many facts that are used by both sides of the creation vs. naturalism debate. Facts are facts, but there is no such thing as a fact that absolutely requires a single interpretation. The divide between creationism and secular naturalism rests entirely on different interpretations. Regarding the evolution vs. creation debate specifically, Charles Darwin himself made this point. In the introduction to The Origin of Species, he stated, “I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I arrived.” Obviously, Darwin believed evolution over creation, but he was willing to admit that interpretation was key to choosing a belief. One scientist might view a particular fact as supportive of naturalism; another scientist might view that same fact as supporting creationism.

Also, the fact that creationism is the only possible alternative to naturalistic ideas such as evolution makes it a valid topic, especially when this dichotomy has been admitted to by some of the leading minds of science. Many well-known and influential scientists state that the only possible explanations for life are naturalistic evolution or special creation. Not all scientists agree on which is true, but they almost all agree that one or the other must be.

There are many other reasons why creationism is a rational and scientific approach to learning. Among these are the concepts of realistic probability, the flawed evidential support for macro-evolution, the evidence of experience, and so forth. There is no logical basis to accept naturalistic presuppositions outright and flatly reject creationist presuppositions. Firm belief in creation is no barrier to scientific discovery. Simply review the accomplishments of men like Newton, Pasteur, Mendel, Pascal, Kelvin, Linnaeus, and Maxwell. All were clear and comfortable creationists. Creationism is not a “science,” just as naturalism is not a “science.” Creationism is, however, fully compatible with science itself.

It is not the purpose of this answer to present a scientific argument in the creation vs. evolution debate. For scientific arguments for creation and/or against evolution, we highly recommend Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research. The purpose of this article is to explain why, according to the Bible, the creation vs. evolution debate even exists. Romans 1:25 declares, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

A key factor in the debate is that the majority of scientists who believe in evolution are also atheists or agnostics. There are some who hold to some form of theistic evolution and others who take a deistic view of God (God exists but is not involved in the world, and everything proceeds along a natural course). There are some who genuinely and honestly look at the data and arrive at the conclusion that evolution better fits with the data. However, these represent an insignificant percentage of the scientists who advocate evolution. The vast majority of evolutionary scientists hold that life evolved entirely without any intervention of a higher being. Evolution is by definition a naturalistic science.

For atheism to be true, there must be an alternate explanation—other than a Creator—for how the universe and life came into existence. Although belief in some form of evolution predated Charles Darwin, he was the first to develop a plausible model for the process of evolution—natural selection. Darwin once identified himself as a Christian but as a result of some tragedies that took place in his life, he later renounced the Christian faith and the existence of God. Evolution was invented by an atheist. Darwin’s goal was not to disprove God’s existence, but that is one of the end results of the theory of evolution. Evolution is an enabler of atheism. Evolutionary scientists likely would not admit that their goal is to give an alternate explanation of the origins of life, and thereby to give a foundation for atheism, but according to the Bible, that is exactly why the theory of evolution exists.

The Bible tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). The Bible also proclaims that people are without excuse for not believing in a Creator God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). According to the Bible, anyone who denies the existence of God is a fool. Why, then, are so many people, including some Christians, willing to accept that evolutionary scientists are unbiased interpreters of scientific data? According to the Bible, they are all fools! Foolishness does not imply a lack of intelligence. Most evolutionary scientists are brilliant intellectually. Foolishness indicates an inability to properly apply knowledge. Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Evolutionary scientists mock creation and/or intelligent design as unscientific and not worthy of scientific examination. In order for something to be considered a “science,” they argue, it must be able to be observed and tested; it must be “naturalistic.” Creation is by definition “supernatural.” God and the supernatural cannot be observed or tested (so the argument goes); therefore, creation and/or intelligent design cannot be considered science. Of course, neither can evolution be observed or tested, but that does not seem to be an issue with evolutionists. As a result, all data is filtered through the preconceived, presupposed, and pre-accepted theory of evolution, without alternate explanations being considered.

However, the origin of the universe and the origin of life cannot be tested or observed. Both creation and evolution are faith-based systems in regards to origins. Neither can be tested because we cannot go back billions (or thousands) of years to observe the origin of the universe or of life in the universe. Evolutionary scientists reject creation on grounds that would logically force them to also reject evolution as a scientific explanation of origins. Evolution, at least in regard to origins, does not fit the definition of “science” any more than creation does. Evolution is supposedly the only explanation of origins that can be tested; therefore, it is the only theory of origins that can be considered “scientific.” This is foolishness! Scientists who advocate evolution are rejecting a plausible theory of origins without even honestly examining its merits, because it does not fit their illogically narrow definition of “science.”

If creation is true, then there is a Creator to whom we are accountable. Evolution is an enabler for atheism. Evolution gives atheists a basis for explaining how life exists apart from a Creator God. Evolution denies the need for a God to be involved in the universe. Evolution is the “creation theory” for the religion of atheism. According to the Bible, the choice is clear. We can believe the Word of our omnipotent and omniscient God, or we can believe the illogically biased, “scientific” explanations of fools.

The key difference between creationism and evolution comes down to our certainty about everything we think we know. Think about it: if our five senses and our brains are merely the product of random, purposeless evolution, how can we be sure that they’re giving us reliable information? The thing that my eye and brain perceives as “red” might be perceived by your eye and brain as “blue,” but you call it “red” because that’s what you’ve been taught. (The colors themselves won’t actually change, since they consist of certain, unchangeable frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum.) We have no sure way of knowing we’re talking about the same thing.

Or suppose you see a rock that seemed to have carving on it that reads “Chicago: 50 miles.” Now also suppose you believe that those markings really are nothing but the result of random erosion from wind and rain that just appear to spell out this message. Could you have any real confidence that Chicago is really 50 miles away?

But what if you knew that every normal set of eyes and brains is designed to perceive a certain frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum as “red”? Then you can have confidence in knowing that what I see as red is also what you see as red. And what if you knew that a man had carefully measured the distance 50 miles from Chicago and then put a marker there to indicate that? Then you can have confidence that that marker is giving you accurate information.

Another difference in how creationism vs. evolution affects a person’s view of the world is in the realm of morality. If we are merely the products of random, purposeless evolution, what, precisely, do the terms “good” and “evil” mean? “Good” as compared to what? “Evil” as compared to what? Indeed, without a measuring stick (e.g., God’s nature), we have no basis for saying that something is good or evil; it is merely an opinion, which really has no weight in judging how I act or how I judge the acts of others. Mother Teresa and Stalin simply made different choices in such a world. There is no answer to the ultimate “Says who?” when it comes to determining right and wrong. And while atheists and evolutionists can certainly lead moral lives—if they were true to their beliefs they would have no reason to—nor would they have any basis to judge the actions of those they determine to have done something “wrong.”

But if there is a God who created us in His image, then we are not only created with a sense of what is right or wrong, but we also have an answer to “Says who?” Good is what comports with God’s nature, and evil is anything that does not.