Speaking With Authority About Origins


In an ingenious slam poetry performance, Taylor Mali addresses the trend in intellectualism for the past several decades of doing the easy work of tearing down ideas without doing the hard work of building cohesive new ones.  The last line of his humorous performance suddenly takes a turn for the serious as he pronounces:

“Contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days just to question authority, you gotta speak with it, too.”

Atheism claims that there is no reason to believe in God anymore because we do not need Him to explain the existence of the world around us.  In science, we are told, we do not assume that something exists unless its existence is necessitated by the evidence.  The burden of proof is placed on the believer.

It really is so much easier to tear down an idea than to build one up.  To place the burden of proof on your opponent.  To point out all of the things that we can’t know.  This is really the essence of the argument against God.

In light of this principle I would like to address the use of the studies of physics and macroevolution by the atheistic movement.

In my limited understanding and exposure to the world of contemporary physics, I find it to be a substantial, respectable field.  Much of it is speculative, but much of it is also well documented and speaks with authority in describing the world around us.

I’ve got my own problems with the theory of evolution.  I don’t think it holds water.  But I will say in its favor that the theory of evolution speaks with authority about something.  It isn’t about shifting the burden of proof onto someone else.  It isn’t about pointing out all of the things that we can’t know or can’t prove.  

I don’t believe in the theory of macroevolution, but I can respect the fact that it seeks to explain, rather than to tear down.  What I can’t respect is the arrogance with which atheism takes these theories and others and uses them to tear down the idea of God.  Let me explain why.

Concerning macroevolution:

To claim that because we have a plausible theory (which I would claim is actually very weak) about how life could have evolved from a single cell into man, has little to do with the incredible questions of the universe’s existence or order.  It even leaves the question of the origin of life unanswered.

Concerning contemporary physics:

I said earlier that science claims not to need God to explain the existence and order in the cosmos.  But science has not explained why the universe exists or why it is the way it is.

The general vague idea is that the laws and constants that govern our universe are eternal and that they called the universe into existence.  For starters, this does’t explain where the laws themselves came from.  Secondly, it doesn’t explain why they happen to be so beautifully and incredibly fine-tuned.  And thirdly, this is a very primitive and unsubstantiated view of natural laws.

As philosopher and author Jim Holt points out, “physical laws are actually generalized descriptions of patterns and regularities in the world.  They don’t exist outside the world… they can’t call a world into existence out of nothingness.”  He points out that even Stephen Hawking asks what breathes fire into the equations and gives them a universe to describe.

Why does something exist instead of nothing?  Physics, which merely explains the behavior of our universe, has no answer.

Why is there so much fine tuning in the universe?  The best atheistic answer is that there are an infinite number of universes and that we happen to live in an amazingly orderly one.  So let’s see, the chances of that are about… 1 in infinity.

Where did the first life come from?  Investigate the atheistic theories for yourself.  Panspermia simply dodges the question, and all other proposals are embarrassing and contrived.

Where does consciousness come from?  The best atheistic answer is that it is a fundamental constant of reality.  Which borders on and honestly encroaches on the existence of the supernatural in its implications.

In conclusion:

Macroevolution makes pronouncements and theories about the way things are.  Physics describes our universe with elegance and precision.  But atheism wrongly uses these studies to tear down ideas which it has no ability to replace.  It questions authority without the ability to speak with it.

If you want authoritative, substantial answers, consider a Biblical worldview.


Does the Bible Condone Polygamy?


Entertainer and Atheist Penn Jillette claims that nothing will make you an atheist faster than reading the Bible.  I have read through the entire Bible cover to cover multiple times, and my faith has grown through the experience.

How can this be?  Rationally thinking adults reading through the same book and coming to drastically different conclusions?  We certainly both have our own biases, and those play an important role.  But I want to challenge one of the misunderstandings that those outside the faith often have about the Bible.  It does not condone polygamy.

First of all, the Bible makes it clear that the pattern for marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

When marriage is instituted by God, Adam is given just one wife, Eve.  In Genesis 2:24 we are told that “a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This idea is repeated in Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7, and Ephesians 5:31.  The pronouncement says “wife” and not “wives.”  Furthermore, a man can only leave his father and mother once (unless he goes back to them again, thus leaving his first wife.)

I would also suggest that a man can only experience the true union of two into one in a marriage to one and only one woman.  Thus the requirement that an overseer be the “husband of one wife” (literally: a one woman man) in 1 Timothy 3:2.

So maybe the pattern was for one man and one woman, but isn’t the Old Testament full of polygamy that God supports?  Actually, I think that Timothy Keller – summarizing the work of Berkeley Jewish scholar Robert Alter – sums up nicely how the Bible portrays polygamy: “In every generation polygamy wreaks havoc. Having multiple wives is an absolute disaster—socially, culturally, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and relationally.”

God tolerated polygamy, but He was also very strait forward in his recording of its terrible results.

In Genesis 30, tension between sister-wives Rachel and Leah reaches the boiling point over an argument about some mandrakes that turns into an argument about who gets to sleep with their husband.  Centuries later, Solomon’s many wives turn him away from God and an entire family dynasty is brought to a screeching halt.  At every turn in fact, polygamy is causing rivalry and distress among participants.  If God supported polygamy, you would think His book would hold it up as beautiful, not portray it as a train wreck.

So when those like Penn Jillette read through the Bible, they see that God condones polygamy.  When I read through the Bible, I see His beautiful plan for one man and one woman, as well as the freedom that He gives His people to deviate from that plan, and the painful results that follow.

What implications could this principle have for us today?  For those determined to undermine the Bible, it is a reminder to read with an open mind instead of a hidden agenda.  For those who put their faith in the Bible, it is a reminder that a voice may not come out of the clouds and rebuke all of Christendom anytime someone deviates from God’s original plan.

It is not enough to assume that our lives are in line with His will simply because He has not spoken to us from a cloud.  We must go back to His patterns and invest in understanding the theology of the Word.