Monday, December 11, 2006

Where did God come from? (Or: Who created God?)

This question is supposed to be the be-all, end-all of questions that are supposed to trump all discussions against theism. Our inability to answer this question is supposed to show that theism and atheism have at least equivalent problems concerning origins.

However, the atheist position is much weaker. The atheist claims that everything, including the complexity and apparent design of the universe, arose from nothing, in a naturalistic fashion, where no such mechanism is observable or has been observed. It is claimed that this is the same position the theist is in: that the origins of God, from whom all complexity and design flows, is also a mystery.

But if our origins are naturalistic, it is wholly unexpected and unexplainable that the natural processes which gave rise to our universe are still wholly unknown and, even worse, unimaginable, whereas it is not unexpected that the God who is outside of and indeed the creator of this complex universe is not open to our scientific investigation. The atheist's position is born from the absurdity of a priori denial of God; the theist's view can be defended as a logical deduction from the staggering complexity of the creation, as described by Behe and others, that so far has resisted all naturalistic and scientific explanation, as the very laws of physics (and therefore chemistry) have been shown to work against chance formations of life's molecules in primordial soups and so on. The fact that some scientists insist otherwise does not make their view scientific; real science, not just dogmatic assertions, wishfull thinking, or irrational faith, must support their claims, and to date this is just not the case.

Moreover, the rational being must accept that even if we cannot explain God's origins, it matters only that he exists, and that he may or may not have revealed himself and his moral demands in some manner or other, and that our choices may have eternal consequences. Even if we posit, as some do, that God was once a man, or some sci-fi (or sci-non-fi) notion of how he came to be, the only thing that matters is which revelation of him can be trusted, if any. And if he claims that he is outside of time and was never a mere mortal, that is something we will have to investigate.

As to the objection that we cannot obey or worship or interact with a being we cannot fully apprehend, this is silliness. We do so throughout our lives, with people, especially as regards the opposite sex. We relate to people whose ultimate origins and internal workings we may not fully or even partially understand. We drive cars without fully knowing their origins or design or internal workings. We use MRIs without knowing the full picture of quantum mechanics. It is irresponsible to use similar ignorance as an excuse when approaching the subject of God and our eternal destinies.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Jonah Mystery

So I was listening to a sermon on Jonah when a question came to mind. Well, two questions.
  1. Why did the Ninevites respond to Jonah's message?
  2. How did they know that judgment had been averted?
What was it about Jonah or the current situation that made them respond to such a wacky message? Did they have a basic knowledge of and fear of God? Did Jonah's strange arrival generate a fearful following? Or was there some visible, physical threat, such as a plague, atmospheric/astronomical anomalies, distant rumblings from enemy nations? Or was the king having scary dreams?

So they're repenting in sackcloth and ashes. How did they know that God had pardoned them, unless there was a threat of the abovementioned variety that could be visibly or experientally "turned off"?

Update: Found this:

This city was spared. Why did they listen to Jonah's message? Well, I think this would always be a mystery to us were it not for clues supplied by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. In the Gospel of Luke in chapter 11, our Lord refers to this account: "For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation." (Lk. 11:30) He said, "Jonah -- the man, the prophet -- was himself a sign to the city of Nineveh, and in just the same manner, I, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be a sign to the whole generation." He referred to Israel but he meant the whole race of man beyond that; and as Jonah was a sign to Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.

There are Bible scholars who feel that what happened to Jonah was that his features were changed by his experience in the whale's belly.
That seems to work. Another view is that it was Jonah's "resurrection" from the dead, or being coughed up on the beach from the fish, that was the sign.

Still doesn't answer how they knew that the crisis had been averted, though.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Darwinist's Nightmare: The Serial Killer Challenge

Heather MacDonald says, "In the personal sphere, conservative atheists and agnostics lead lives as ethical as those of any believer. The Golden Rule and innate human empathy provide ample guidance for moral behavior."

True (I hope). However, here is the key: as long as they choose to. They have no foundation for recommending that belief to others. For example, my serial killer challenge, which I posted on numerous forums some years ago: you are in a basement, immobilized, with a Darwinist serial killer who does not believe in God. He kills others to reduce their gene pool and maximize his own. (His reproductive strategy is another matter.) He is not crazy; he is entirely rational. He is, like Hitler and Stalin, simply taking Darwinism to its logical conclusion.

He challenges you to convince him to not kill you. (You have, say, two days, after which he will kill you.) How would you do so?

Responses usually start off with societal contracts and other things which, I explain, the killer isn't concerned with. He doesn't care if society breaks down. He is totally confident in his own intelligence and ability to survive. His only other concern is evading the law - something which he believes he can do indefinitely. In any case, his progeny - his genes - will live on.

Most atheists, after a couple of failed answers, resort to "I kill him." Well. That underscores the frail underpinnings of simply wanting everyone (or, in most cases, everyone else) to follow the Golden Rule - cuddly (except the part about punishing those who don't follow it), but naive.

However, it's at least possible to rationally argue a Christian theistic viewpoint that will convince this killer to spare you. There is no shortage of angles from which to tackle this - historic, moral , logical, legal, scientific, etc. And Christianity is the only worldview for which this can be done.