Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aren't we born atheists?

Humans are the only species that are able to self examine. We ask ourselves “What is my purpose, and why am I here”? Assuming that people are born without the knowledge of God is not provable either. Infants are born without the knowledge of airplanes, but that has no bearing on the validity of airplanes whatsoever. We cannot ignore either the evidence in Scripture. Who are we as a species? The writer of Psalm 8 sees our potential and strives to give us honor and dignity and purpose by making us “a little lower than the angels.” Then how does an atheist reckon with the most powerful description of the gift of love? Concepts such as love, trust, hope, friendship, caring, respect, self-sacrifice and even humor, go to the very heart of our humanity. They are spiritual entities, not intellectual or physical. They introduce us to a sense of the presence of God every day. Life’s experiences are therefore not a matter of will. People get married, for example, not on the basis of arguments but on a determined desire to build a happy, meaningful and fruitful relationship. I do know that not all people get married for the same reason but traditional marriage is based off of these desires. Man and women engulfed in sin do marry for wrong reasons. So it is with our understanding of God. GOD made US. Technically speaking a skeptic says, “I doubt that God exists” and an agnostic says, I don’t know (or can’t know) whether God exists.” But an atheist claims to know or (or at least believe) that God does not exist, which would be a bold assertion whether it be an infant or a young adult. There are many types of agnostics (as I’m sure you know). Some of the types I believe are based off of apathetic ignorance and or arrogance. Some agnostics believe you can’t know anything hardly recognizing they just made a self-contradicting statement. Others believe there is either insufficient evidence or none at all; sadly simple ignorance is the reason for that belief. Socrates said “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing”. Wisdom is the knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. So if the statement the typical agnostic makes is you can’t know truth then how do they know that’s true? Isn’t that a truth statement in itself? Could it be that we are born children of God but allow the convincing and deceiving world views shift the way we think. Many former Christians I have met made their transition to skepticism based off of weak reasons. There weak faith led to disbelief, disbelief to bias outlook, and bias outlook to their current stance on God.

The canon of Scripture

To add to or subtract from God’s words would be to prevent God’s people from obeying him fully, for commands that were subtracted would not be known to the people, and words that were added might require extra things of the people which God had not commanded.

Deuteronomy 4:2

“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

If we are to trust and obey God absolutely we must have a collection of words that we are certain are God’s own words to us. If there are any sections of Scripture about which we have doubts whether they are God’s words or not, we will not consider them to have absolute divine authority and we will not trust them as much as we would trust God himself. The earliest collection of written words of God was the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 31:18

“And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.

The content of the Old Testament canon continued to grow until the time of the end of the writing process. If we date Haggai to 520 B.C, Zechariah to 520-518 B.C, and Malachi around 435 B.C, we have an idea of the approximate dates of the last Old Testament prophets. Roughly coinciding with this period are the last books of the Old Testament history-Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Ezra went to Jerusalem in 458 B.C, and Nehemiah was in Jerusalem from 445-433 B.C. Esther was written sometime after the death of Xerxes-1 (=Ahasuerus) in 465 B.C, and a date during the reign of Artaxerxes 1 (464-423 B.C.). Thus approximately 435 B.C. there were no further additions to the Old Testament canon.

Josephus (born A.D. 37/38) explained “From Artaxerxes to our own times a complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets” (Against Apion 1.42) This statement by the greatest Jewish historian of the first century A.D. shows that he knew of the writings now considered part of the “Apocrypha” (The Apocrypha is a collection of uninspired, spurious books written by various individuals) but that he and many of his contemporaries considered these other writings “no worthy of equal credit” with what we now know as the Old Testament Scriptures. There had been, in Josephus’s viewpoint, no more “Words of God” added to Scripture after about 435 B.C

In the New Testament, we have no record of any dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the extent of the canon. Apparently there was full agreement between Jesus and his disciples, on the one hand, and the Jewish leaders or Jewish people, on the other hand, that additions to the Old Testament canon ceased after the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The fact is confirmed by quotations of Jesus and the New Testament authors from the Old Testament. According to one account Jesus and the New Testament authors quote the various parts of the Old Testament Scriptures as divinely authoritative over 295 times, but not once do they cite any statement from the books of Apocrypha or any other writings as having divine authority. The absence of any such reference to other literature as divinely authoritative, and extremely frequent reference of hundreds of places in the Old Testament as divinely authoritative, gives strong confirmation to the fact that the New Testament authors agreed that the established Old Testament canon, more and no less, was to be take as God’s very words

Challenging Chance

If you look at the individual parts of the eye (wires) as simple organs than yes it would seem plausible that natural selection and random mutation could have brought about the complex eye we have today. However each part of the eye is highly complex, even the proteins which make up the eye are far complex than you make them out to be. The human brain consists of 12 billion cells, forming 120 trillion interconnections. The light sensitive retina which is also part of the brain contains over 10 million photoreceptor cells.

There are 20 different kinds of amino acids that are used to construct the proteins of all living organisms, including man. The average person consists of a string of 500 amino acids. The total number of combinations of 20 different amino acids in such a string is, for all practical purposes unlimited. Each protein in our body however must contain a specific sequence of amino acids if it is to function properly. I urge you to take an honest look at the probability and see if gradual evolution is still a reasonable argument.

The 500 amino acids that make up an average sized protein can be arranged in over 1 x 10^600 different ways (one followed by 600 zeroes). If we had a computer that could rearrange the 500 amino acids of a particular protein at the rate of a billion combinations in a second, we would still stand essentially no chance of hitting the correct combination

There are things that are irreducibly complex (bacterial flagellum) how does gradual evolution explain this. For biological things to operate they need genetic information. My question to you is where did the information of DNA come from how did it arise in the first place. Lots of people have wanted to explain the origin of information by reference to the laws of physics and chemistry or by reference of chemical properties of the constituent parts of the DNA. That would be like saying that you could explain the information in the morning paper by reference to the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper. There is a chemical explanation as to why the ink sticks to the paper but that does not explain the way the ink got arranged to convey a message that could be understood by speakers of English language information requires a material medium but it transcends the material medium

Even if every mutation has a positive result (which it doesn’t) an unguided process has far greater odds than that of an intelligent designer. Forgive me for using Occam's razor on this one but to put it simply a designer seems much more probable than chance. There is only one known cause for the origin of information and that is intelligence. It looks like a creator left his signature for us on creation. -Psalms 19