Why is there Something Instead of Nothing?

The Christian graduate student organization I was a part of at Texas Tech University invited Dr. Michael Strauss to speak in 2015. I was given the privilege of sitting down with him over lunch and visiting with him personally. It was dialogue that strained my intellect, to say the least.

I continue to correspond with him from time to time, as well as subscribe to his blog.

I’m passing along his latest blog because it concerns my favorite physicist who holds to an atheistic worldview, Sean Carroll, a physicist at CalTech. Carroll is brilliant. I admire him greatly as a physicist.

During my grad studies at HBU we were required to watch one of his debates with Christian apologist, William Lane Craig. While Carroll didn’t necessarily “win”, he was quite convincing to anyone with a purely naturalistic worldview.

In Strauss’ recent blog (linked below), Strauss slowly dismantles Carroll’s arguments for “Why there is something instead of nothing,” the proverbial “Achilles heel” for naturalists.

As I visited with a young atheist a few weeks ago about my essay regarding C.S. Lewis’ and David Humes’ opposing arguments for miracles, it all comes down to one’s presuppositions. What’s alluring about Carroll’s presuppositions to naturalists is his acute intellect. But, as we know, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.”

This is heady stuff. Enjoy Dr. Strauss’ blog here.

Nick

 

 

Which Takes Greater Faith? God or Multiverse?

The Multiverse Theory is the latest attempt by non-Christian physicists to eliminate God from being the “un-caused cause” (as Thomas Aquinas coined the phrase) i.e. the creator of the universe.

Here, in this brief 5 minute video, astrophysicist, Brian Keating – University of California, San Diego – answers the question, “What’s the greater leap of faith?”

Think deeply, Nick

God or the Multiverse?

God or the Multiverse?  Which one requires more faith?

To all students having the multiverse presented to you as truth (or as the best option for the origination of life) I encourage you to watch this brief, 5 minute presentation by Brian Keating, Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego.

He poignantly quotes the sharp-witted, British apologist, G.K. Chesterton, who once quipped,

“When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

Mankind will go to extraordinary leaps of faith to embrace philosophical and/or scientific alternatives just to avoid the possibility of the Bible being true.

Former atheist, Lee Strobel, stated in a tweet:

Watch Dr. Keating’s presentation below.  Think deeply, Nick

 

A Legacy of Biblical Defense & Faith

Josh McDowell (left) is a former atheist and has been teaching the Biblical faith to teens and adults for decades.  His son, Sean, has followed in his father’s footsteps and is, himself, a gifted theologian and defender of the Christian faith. Sean presently serves on the faculty of Biola University in southern California.

Below are linked two recent, brief articles by both men on why Christianity is an intelligent, reasonable faith.

Josh, as usual, writes in an extremely intelligent, reasonable and articulate fashion – as he does here in this FOX News article. Read the article here.

Sean, equally intelligent and eloquent, offers evidence of the overwhelming reliability of the New Testament here.

May the words of these men encourage and strengthen you in your Christian faith.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Faith of Atheism

In Conversations with Carl Sagan, Tom Head records Sagan (astronomer, astrophysicist, and ardent agnostic) as saying,

“An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence.”

It is no secret that, despite the reasonable evidence, ultimately, belief in the risen Christ is by faith – we’re told this repeatedly in scripture (cf. Ephesians 2:8)

My only objective here is to remind everyone that atheism also requires strong faith. In fact, atheist Michael Ruse, in his review of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and similar books,

“The material being churned out is second rate. And that is a euphemism for ‘downright awful’.”

The existence or non-existence of God cannot be proven in a laboratory. This is by God’s own design. Dr. Andy Bannister rightly stated,

“The claim ‘only science can discover truth’ is self-refuting, as the statement itself cannot be verified using science.”

I think Ravi Zacharias, echoing a quote by 17th century French physicist, Blaise Pascal, said it best:

“I often put it this way: God has put enough [evidence] into this world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing. But He has left enough [evidence] out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason alone. Faith and reason must always work together.”

nw

NOTE:  The quote referenced by Pascal in the above blog:

“If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . . . There are two equally dangerous extremes: to exclude reason; to admit nothing but reason.”

Newsweek: Where Do You Go When You Die?

As I study the biblical worldview of the afterlife (which I’m convicted is true) I’m always curious to see what mainstream culture thinks about it all. So, when I saw this tweeted article – Newsweek giving credence to the possibility of life-beyond-death – my interest was piqued.

Most of the article cites what scientists are finding truly fascinating: human brain cells continue to function for hours after death. Scientists in no way argue that when a person is “dead” they may, in fact, be “mostly dead,” to borrow a term from The Princess Bride. They agree when a person dies, they’re dead. But this discovery of post-death brain activity intrigues them nonetheless.

Human consciousness is one of the “Achilles heels” of the psycho-physical/natural reductionist worldview (the argument for human existence being purely natural, void of anything supernatural, or outside empirical evidence – this worldview would include the disbelief in any form of an afterlife i.e. when we die, we cease to exist.)

No respected physicist/scientist on the planet claims to be able to define, much less explain, human consciousness & cognition. Presently, this remains beyond human explanation. No doubt, this is by God’s own design.

Citing “near death” experiences, the author writes,

[The scientific findings] seem to suggest that when our brains and bodies die, our conscious may not,…”

Indeed, according to God, they don’t. “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” the author of Hebrews warned. That does not sound to me like, after death, we cease to exist.

Of course, those who would scoff at this biblical warning are wagering there is nothing beyond death.  This, in my opinion, is a bad bet.

I’ve included for you here the final 4 paragraphs of the Newsweek article – which I find the most interesting part of the piece. (The article in its entirety is linked below.)

“In a 2016 study published in the Canadian Journal of Biological Sciences, doctors recounted shutting off life support for four terminally ill patients, only to have one of the patients continue emitting delta wave bursts—the measurable electrical activity in the brain we normally experience during deep sleep—for more than 10 minutes after the patient had been pronounced dead; no pupil dilation, no pulse, no heartbeat. The authors were at a loss for a physiological explanation.

Parnia’s research (Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at New York University Langone Medical Center) has shown that people who survive medical death frequently report experiences that share similar themes: bright lights; benevolent guiding figures; relief from physical pain and a deeply felt sensation of peace. Because those experiences are subjective, it’s possible to chalk them up to hallucinations. Where that explanation fails, though, is among the patients who have died on an operating table or crash cart and reported watching—from a corner of the room, from above—as doctors tried to save them, accounts subsequently verified by the (very perplexed) doctors themselves.

How these patients were able to describe objective events that took place while they were dead, we’re not exactly sure, just as we’re not exactly sure why certain parts of us appear to withstand death even as it takes hold of everything else. But it does seem to suggest that when our brains and bodies die, our consciousness may not, or at least not right away.

“I don’t mean that people have their eyes open or that their brain’s working after they die,” Parnia said. “That petrifies people. I’m saying we have a consciousness that makes up who we are—our selves, thoughts, feelings, emotions—and that entity, it seems, does not become annihilated just because we’ve crossed the threshold of death; it appears to keep functioning and not dissipate. How long it lingers, we can’t say.”

Read the entire article here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Is Christianity Anti-Science?

“…many have come to believe something very odd about Christianity: that it is anti-science, anti-reason, anti-progressive phenomenon fueled by blind faith. That is not Christian faith at all!” (Former atheist, Josh McDowell. Indeed, former atheist, Lee Strobel, a Yale grad, rightly describes Christianity as an “intelligent faith.”)

In addition,  I would encourage the reader to consider McDowell’s quote (above) in light of the arguments for God’s existence from the myriad of Ph.D.’s, scientists, and brilliant men and women, both living now and throughout history. (Significantly, some of the scientists and/or philosophers who argue for the possibility of a creator are not Christians, but are not afraid to admit that there appears to be a designer that exists outside time and space. See, for example: astronomer, Fred Hoyle, and philosopher, Antony Flew)

Biblically, Nicodemus, the disciples, Jesus’ siblings (in particular, James), Saul of Tarsus, the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, and the Roman commanding soldier, Cornelius (just to name a few) were not gullible idiots. They were intelligent people who made intelligent decisions to place their faith in Christ. Luke, a physician, wrote in Acts 17, the Bereans “studied the scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching was true.” (emphasis mine)

Personally, like those mentioned above – and most anyone else who has considered the claims of Christ, I have no interest in fairy tales and fables where my faith is concerned. Nor should anyone else.

So, why doesn’t everyone in academic circles look with, at least, a degree of favor and open-mindedness at the biblical gospel?

McDowell continues, “I am reminded of Richard Lewontin, a renowned geneticist and evolutionary biologist who admitted that some things they propose about evolution is absurd, but he said we must accept these absurdities, because ‘we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

And there it is.

Indisputable proof for or against God’s existence is not a scientific issue. For God can be neither proved nor disproved in a laboratory. Rather, it’s philosophical and theological.  Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University, is well respected throughout academia by people representing all philosophical, theological and scientific positions.  Having been asked about some of Stephen Hawking’s atheistic opinions, Lennox replied, “Hawking is a brilliant, famous scientist.  He [attended} Cambridge just ahead of me.  I have no quibble with his science, [the problem is] what he deduces from it.”  In other words, mere science, as biophysicist and former atheist,  Alister McGrath, asserts is basically agnostic i.e. science neither proves nor disproves anything in regard to the existence of God.  What science does is provide evidence, markers, clues, if you will.  It’s up to the individual to develop their own conclusions, as former atheist, Antony Flew, famously cited, by “following the argument wherever it leads.”   Does believing in God require faith?  Absolutely.  But, so does atheism.

While studying apologetics at Houston Baptist University, I wrote the following based on one of our assigned readings:  “As one begins to study scholarly writing, it is not difficult to discover that philosophy serves (or, at least it should) as a sort of system of “checks and balances” for the sciences. It seems that, more and more, scientists, themselves, are becoming philosophers – perhaps they always have been. However, there is a danger to the lay person/non-scientist who is in the habit of not thinking things through. That danger is to “swallow whole” what the scientist presents as truth, when it is merely a philosophical opinion based on said scientist’s empirical findings.”

Allowing a “divine foot in the door” carries with it implications that affect our everyday lives. And, as is their right, many simply choose to reject or avoid those implications – even though those implications are liberatingMcDowell shares that, in response to statements like the one cited above by Lewontin, “David Berlinski, who is a secular philosopher, defended the theists on this one, saying ‘If one is obliged to accept absurdities for fear of a Divine Foot, imagine what prodigies of effort would be required were the rest of the Divine Torso found wedged at the door… demanding to be let in?”

Planetary physicist, Robert Jastrow, once quipped, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Christianity is not anti-science. Rather, Christianity is evidenced by science. The deeper we search, both, outward and inward, we discover evidence for something beyond us – what Kierkegaard called the “Wholly Other.” McDowell cites as examples “the birth and order of the cosmos, DNA, RNA, transcription and proteins, and 3.1 Billion bits of information in every cell of our body.”

Additionally, Dr. Lennox (mentioned above) once asked a colleague of his – a physicist who is an atheist, “Where does human consciousness come from?” “We don’t know,” replied the physicist honestly.  Further, NYU philosophy professor, Thomas Nagel, an atheist, writes in his book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Neo-Darwinian Conception is Almost Certainly False, “Just as consciousness cannot be explained as a mere extension or complication of physical evolution, so reason cannot be explained as a mere complication of consciousness…If physics alone or even a non-materialist monism can’t account for the later stages of our evolutionary history, we shouldn’t assume that it can account for the earlier stages… No viable account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and information-rich as a self-reproducing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA, or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment.”

Science was given to us by God to serve as a method to discover him. Simply put, scientific findings are God’s “bread crumbs/clues along this path we travel called life.” And, in every clue, he is whispering, “I. Love. You.”

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world…” (Psalm 19:1-4)

The full article by Josh McDowell can be viewed here.

For an additional well-documented, intelligent arguments for God’s existence click here, and here.  The first was published on Yahoo! News, and originally written for Newsweek by University of Maryland professor, Robert Nelson.  The second is written by career police homicide detective (and former atheist), J. Warner Wallace.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick