Is God still relevant?

Good Morning and welcome to Prairie Grove Baptist church. For those of you who don’t know, I’m here because your pastor ran off to Miami with your pianist for the week. I’m sure Dad has talked about what I do for my online ministry of Christian apologetics, but I would like to give my explanation for what it is, why I do it, and how I came to be called to be a Christian apologist. Apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means to give a defense. If you will look at 1 Peter 3:15 with me, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” We are commanded to always have an answer ready for the faith in Christ that we have. Now some non-Christians will be moved by your testimony and accept the authority of the Bible and accept the existence of God, but have never heard the gospel of Christ and come to repent of their sins. Some others require the authority of the Bible and the existence of God to be established before I can even get to Christ with them. That is what I feel called to do. While I was working on my degrees at UNT, I noticed a large amount of these types of atheists and agnostics in the departments I was in. I actually came to see a “mock religion” day in the student lounge of the physics building. After 3 years of this, I decided to try and talk with one of these students and found my faith challenged. When I spoke with this student, he presented quite a few arguments against the existence of God, chief of which being that recent advances in philosophy and science have rendered God irrelevant. These people are like the French mathematician Laplace, who famously stated when questioned about God being in his ballistics equations “I have no need of that hypothesis”. This statement should be troubling to you as God has been reduced from the all-powerful creator of the universe and all you see around you to a simple idea that has been rendered irrelevant by the march of science and technology.  What I would like to do this morning is to examine these arguments, in scripture and in science, and show that not only is God still relevant, but that He is the source of anything relevant today.
The first argument that I got into with this student was the long debated topic of evolution and creation. Well I’m pretty sure what you think of this, but let’s take a minute and unpack this idea. When people discuss evolution, they are actually talking about a set of different ideas. The first and probably easiest to swallow, is the idea of microevolution. This idea essentially encompasses the idea of natural selection, where we can observe the genetic fitness of individuals. This idea was presented in Darwin’s finches, where finches adapted to the different environments of the Galapagos Islands.
The next form of evolution that is enveloped in this encompassing name is described as macroevolution. This evolution is the changing from one species to another. This is the one that I have a harder time swallowing, because we have yet to observe this type of evolution, mostly because evolutionary theory suggests that this takes tens of thousands to millions of years. To continue with that, let no one deceive you into believing that this type of evolution is fact, there are still quite a few open questions and missing pieces of crucial evidence. Even giving the benefit of the doubt to this theory and assuming that it is true, does it really remove God from the equation? Of course not. There is the problem that this theory doesn’t quite even come close to answering the origins question, evolution can only act on existing living material. So where did this living material come from? Well if you are limiting yourself to everything existing within the universe, then the chemicals necessary for life just came together over time. If one thinks about the chances of the chemicals coming together to form the amino acids which are the building blocks of the proteins in your body, it is astronomically small. The time scale required for that event to happen on its own requires more time than the universe itself has been around.
                Since I brought up the origin of life question, one can also bring up the origin of the universe question. In the early days of science, I’m talking ancient Greeks here. The popular idea was that the universe was eternal. Then along came the Jews with the scriptures saying “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth.” A lot of this was discounted among the scientific community, until Georges Lemaitre proposed a cosmological model in which the universe had a beginning. This theory was initially mocked because of a joke made “what? The universe just came into being with a Big Bang?” It wouldn’t be until Hubble observed the background radiation was red shifting, meaning that the universe was expanding, and one can work backwards in time and arrive at the beginning of the universe. Now you would think that this work and others have people at least admitting that the universe had a beginning, but there are still scientists and cosmologists out there who are trying to come up with a viable model for an past eternal universe. That or they are asking the question, “If God created the universe, who created God?” This question is interesting, but I think it is providing a false comparison. The logic that opponents to God is using is the same that I am using in a sense to declare that the universe had a creator, they are just attempting to take it one step further. We can look again at Genesis 1:1 and see that God created the universe, and we can also look at John 1 and see that it was the Word that was God in the beginning. But what does all this mean? We all agree that God was there in the beginning, but was there anything before? Well I said that atheists and myself are arguing with the same logic but stopping at different steps. What I am referring to is the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It has 3 premises: 1. everything that begins to exist has a cause, 2. The Universe began to exist, 3. The Universe has a cause. I would argue that cause is the Christian God, but this argument can only establish a Deistic God, one who made the universe and left, but let’s leave that alone for now. So one can claim that the creator had a creator, but wouldn’t that creator necessarily have a creator and that creator have a creator and so on? This type of question makes God into something that we have gotten rid of quite a while ago, an idol, a created God. If Richard Dawkins had written The Created God Delusion, then I don’t think it would’ve sold as well as it did. To spell it out, the key element to God is that HE is the eternal entity, not the universe. This means that the Kalam Cosmological Argument cannot be turned on God because God is, has been, and ever will be.
                So then God hasn’t been removed as the creator of the universe or the creator of life. There is a danger in these types of discussions, as one can reduce God to merely an idea. Something we need to keep in mind that God is a person, and has created this universe with the purpose of his creation worshipping him and coming to redemption through the sacrifice through Jesus Christ. I speak on philosophy but this is simply myself thinking about the actions of God and explaining them as best as I can. So when people are talking about science and God, there is a mistake going on when it comes to these arguments. The masses would have you think that God is a scientific stop-gap to be used until we come up with a natural explanation for what we are ascribing to God. This is known as a God-of-the-gaps. I know of no intelligent Christian, Jew, or Muslim, who would put their faith in such a changing God. I believe in a God of the whole show, one who has created everything and is simply waiting for us to think his thoughts after him. To provide an analogy for what scientists like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and Lawrence Krauss are giving us: this is like going and looking at a model T ford, and then telling the audience to choose the method between this came about, the laws of thermodynamics or Henry Ford. It’s nonsense right? This has to do with the nature of explanation. God is an agent, not a mechanism, which is what a God of the gaps would be. So when we study science, God is the agent that devised the universe, and we are just puzzling out the mechanisms that he used. It’s like the more one finds out about a painting, you respect the painter all the more, or an engineer with a new car or piece of technology. So when I discover something new in science, I gain a deeper appreciation for God, not less.

                So within science, God is definitely alive and well. Within religion, he is definitely alive and well. Everywhere else, you get the story. I would hope that you have learned something and now have seen the problem in the popular view that science and religion are at war. On the contrary, the church has facilitated the growth of science. This is because we are looking for law in nature, we know there is a lawgiver who gives order to the universe. I want to thank you for coming today and may God bless you in the coming week. Let us pray. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Common Arguments for the Existence of God

Do You Have to Have A Scholarly Answer for Your Faith?

Will Science Answer Everything? (Updated October 2017)