Monday, 22 August 2011

Without a leg to stand on

I want to tell you about a conversation I had with a very intelligent man recently.  The conversation enforced something I have often observed - intelligent people can say really unintelligent things.

This man was telling me (in a slightly patronising manner) that he takes things on evidence while I (the gullible, brainwashed Christian) take things on faith.  Now notice first of all the false dilemma here - either evidence or faith, but of course the two things aren't opposite, in fact evidence strengthens and increases faith, it doesn't weaken or reduce it.  Do you have more faith in a doctor you know nothing about or in the doctor who has treated you for years and has proved himself caring and capable?  The more evidence you have, the stronger your faith is (John 20 v 31).

Our conversation focussed mainly on three areas.  The first was the origin of the universe.  The man was very well read on the subject of evolution, but more or less admitted that the fossils we have are of fully formed complex creatures - we do not have the intermediate steps getting you from one species to another - the very thing Darwinian evolution is supposed to do.  His response was to tell me how hard it is to get fossils (funny though how no fossils can be found of any of what must have been billions of intermediate life forms), and he said that new life forms can suddenly appear without a gradual series of intermediate steps - here I commend him on his faith, I simply couldn't believe that, (it would of course have to happen twice in the same area for these new life forms to be able to reproduce).  He also couldn't account for the complexity of the cell or the information in the DNA on a Darwinian view.

But I tried to tell him that all that aside, he still has to account for why there is anything at all.  He agreed that the universe came into existence, but I pointed out that whatever begins to exist has a cause, and since the universe came into existence the universe must therefore have a cause (for an in depth look at this argument see here).  This cause cannot be anything physical because matter and energy came into existence - they aren't eternal.  The cause of the universe is therefore non-physical / immaterial, but it must also be a personal being, because if the cause is non-personal then the effect will be as old as the cause - if the cause is sufficient to produce the effect then the effect will exist alongside the cause.  The only way you can have the effect coming into existence from an eternal cause is if the cause is a personal being who chose to act.  He told me that I can't introduce a personal cause because that introduces religious and spiritual considerations into the discussion - exactly!  He doesn't dismiss the idea of a Creator because it's the wrong answer, he dismisses it because it's the wrong kind of answer - he doesn't want to go there.

The second area of our discussion focussed on Scripture.  I'll tell you about that in another post...