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22 July 2009

Why Would a God of Love Allow Pain in His Universe?

A good friend of mine made me a few very important questions that I would like to answer in here.

I start by the final part of his questions:

Are there answers to what I ask?

Sure there are, and I hope I can give some in here. Those won't be complete nor flawless because only God has all the answers. However, I believe that God has revealed enough of Himself for us to have suficient answers.

The first question reads:

What moved me there [agnosticism] is that I've seen a lot of human suffering and I don't... I can't understand why a loving God would allow this

Depending on who asks this question, it can be very profound and almost leave me a bit tearful. When a sincere heart makes this question (and I know that my friend has one of those hearts), it is heart renting because many times it's a question that they themselves have asked in certain sad moments of their life: "Where was God when my little girl died?" "Where was God when my wife was stolen and beaten by a burglair?" "Where was God during Katrina?" "Where was God when I found out that I had cancer?"

Having that in consideration, I am very careful not to say something that can in anyway minimize what people have gone through. God Alone knows how many people in the world today cry for justice and for cure for something that they feel that they don't deserve.

Let me start by telling a story.

In the movie "Superman III", Clark Kent, in his superman costume, says something that I have never forgotten. The background of the incident is that, after superman left Earth, Lois Lane wrote that "the world doesn't need a savior". However, in his night flyings, superman had the habbit of standing away from Earth and listen to the cry of help coming from all over the globe.

Because of that, he then tells Lois something like this (typing from memory):

You said in your article that the world doesn't need a savior, but when I close my eyes and hear what is going on in the world, I hear them crying for a savior.

When I read that, it really touched me deeply because it says a lot about the world we live today. The world is getting more and more secular, more and more sexualized, more and more materialistic, but ... the inner hunger for justice and comfort still cries out inside the hearts of millions of human beings. Why is that? Why hasn't money, technology, sucess, sex and power filled our souls? Man denies needing help from above, but his cries say otherwise.

The short answer to the question as to why there is pain in the world is that, from the beggining of creation, humans have decided to live as if God doesn't matter.

God made a perfect world, with a perfect enviroment, and had a perfect relationship with us humans. When the moment came for us to make a moral decision (trust in what God had said or follow our desires), we made the wrong decision, and disobeyd Him Who had given us everything. Ever since the sin of Adam, all humans have been born with a fallen nature and thus, inclined to do evil. When we look at the world today, we see it. It doesn't matter how rich I am, how powerful I am, how influential I am; when the moment comes, I will reveal the fallen nature that is in me.

Because of the sin of Adam, God placed a curse on the universe. Ever since then, the world has got worse and worse and worse. It is because of the sin of Adam and the curse placed in the universe, that we see the things we do in the world today. That is why people die, have deseases, fell lonely, get despaired and other things. The sin of Adam had the effect of changing everything God had made for our benefit. These are the bad news.

The Good News are those in which God says that, even after what we have done (murder, lying, stealing, adultery, fornication, etc) He has prepared a Way for us to gain accees to His eternal blissfull future. The Way is not made of stone or wood, but is a Person:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" John 14:6

Heaven is restored by the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross, and by accepting Him into our lives. By telling God that we have done things we knew He would call sin, and that we are willing to turn away from it by accepting the Lord Jesus, we are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Messiah.

God's focus is always in the eternal not in the temporal. God has plans for our eternal future, regardless of what happens in here.

If it hadn't been for that solid foundation, my life would be a total mess. Ever since I was younger, i had a feeling that I was "missing the good things" of life because of my life style. I was never a "party animal" nor a womenizer or something like that. Having been born in conservative catholic family, I had the feeling that life was passing by me, and I wasn't enjoying it.

However, after a few years something begun to happen. The people I thought were having so much fun (party, girls, etc) would return with empty lives, shatered dreams, and spiritual bruises that would take years to heal.

I begun to wonder and search for truth and something that really matter beyond our mear temporal existence. If the best the world could give wasn't making people happy, then what would? I wanted Truth not empty "good feelings" (the kind you get when you go to a disco but then are gone the following morning). After much reading and many online debates, I have found that in the Lord Jesus. I now know that my life has a purpose and value, and that whatever condition I am today, it will be over on day. One day there will be universal peace to all those whose sins have been erased by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.

Having that in mind, and going back to the original question, we can see thigns from God's perspective: There is pain an suffering in the world, and it is caused by our sin, however God will fix and restored the world to the way it was before Adam sinned.

Now, does this anul the pain we feel? Does it anul the pain we feel when we loose a close member? What about that little girl who, for all her child life, was abused by her dad? Where was God? What about the baby who is born blind? What fault do they have? What sins have they comited? Those are genuine and honest questions that deserve a direct answer.

The answer, once again, is in realizing in what kind of world we are (a fallen world) and taking into consideration that God will undo all the evil we will ever make in this world. God allows certain things to happen because a) those are consequences of the fallen world we live b) those are the consequences of our sin c) He will remove away all the pain and injustice man has ever created.

I know that this answer is not 100% satisfying, but I hope and pray that, a sincere heart can say something like

"Ok, God, the world You have made is in a total mess, but I know that You are Good, and that You have good plans for me. I know that You love me because You have sent Your Son Jesus Christ to pay for my sins. I don't have all the answers, but I have enough answers. I have seen that the best the world can give doesn't make us happy. Our souls cries for something more, and I know You have it."

13 July 2009

Evolutionary Materialism Faces its own Enlightenment

Students of the religious history of Western civilization are well-acquainted with the effect that the so-called “Enlightenment” had upon the religious life in Europe and America. The winds of skepticism, doubt, rationalism, and progress were sweeping the West, causing many to question and reject the traditional religions of their forefathers. To many, this was and is a cause for lamentation. For others, a cause for celebration. Blown in by these winds of change was a revival of the philosophy of materialism – the view that this world is all there is, there are no supernatural powers or gods, the sum total of existence is contained in the material universe around us that we can see, measure, quantitate, and control.

The natural corollary to philosophical materialism was atheism – to reject supernatural underpinnings to existence practically necessitates the rejection of the supernatural, period – with Deism merely being an ungainly compromise. As philosophical materialism began to take hold of the hearts and minds of the upper and educated classes, empiricism became the accepted rule for epistemology. In the 19th century, Huxley, Lamarck, Darwin, and others contributed to the “scienticizing” of materialism – the attempt to give the worldview a more solid basis than merely philosophical arguments by attaching it to “science”, the growing body of knowledge about the world around us gathered by empirical observation and rational experimentation. It seemed natural and obvious that science – based upon empiricism – should fit like a glove on a hand to materialism, which presumed that empirically-derived sensory evidences were all that existed.

The natural effect that this had upon traditional religion was corrosion. After all, the new philosophy was based upon the self-conceit of “rationality” and “free thinking”, while “religion” represented just the opposite, or so the story goes. Granted, much of what passed for Christianity during the period of the Enlightenment – what with its religious wars, appeals to the authority of hierarchy, dogmatic refusal to even entertain the arguments of its antagonists, and so forth – lent itself to a falling away. The sclerotic state-religion edifices built up by centuries of complacent ascendancy came crashing down, and the old assumptions about reality began to pass away. Frankly, a good many people were disillusioned by the failings of organized religion. Materialism, atheism, and evolutionism filled the void left by the collapse of the old worldview.

Yet, the materialists failed to remember that nothing lasts forever.

Religion refused to die. Theism refused to go quietly into the night. The worldview which accepts the supernatural would not yield to that which rejected it and sought to extirpate it from the minds and hearts of men. And thus, today, we see a mightily disconcerted set of atheistic and evolutionary materialists who have fallen into the same traps that religionists did during the Enlightenment, who are being faced by a challenge as gravely serious to their worldview, as materialism was to religion and tradition when it first rose against them.

This re-emergence of a religious perspective and worldview is especially strong in the United States, though it is not confined there. One of the most conspicuous aspects of this challenge is that of the rejection of evolutionism – the rejection of the application of materialistic scientism (a philosophical underpinning that is not to be confused with actual “science”) by those who advocate for creation and intelligent design. However, this is certainly not the only outlet for the growing rejection of materialism. In the schools of philosophy, theism is making a resurgence. In politics, religion continues to strengthen as a factor, despite the proclamations of the “death” of the “religious right” that are issued every so often. Within religion itself, the trend is towards theological conservatism and polarization, as Americans either leave dead, theologically-liberal bodies and join themselves to conservative groups, or else wash themselves of religion altogether (the trends go in both directions, in what seems like but is not a paradox). While we commonly think that American society is increasingly secular and godless, we should note that this godlessness is generating a backlash that has not been without effect, though it sometimes seems to us to be long in coming.

It is perhaps not surprising that the United States is where this happened. Post-revolutionary America was built upon a foundation of liberty in conscience, and never had the hardened encrustation of state-religionism. Since its independence, it has had a freedom of religion that allowed religious dissent to be channeled into other outlets besides the European dichotomy of either submission to the state religion or rejection of religion altogether. In America, the soil was ripe both for religious novelty, but also for the growth and spread of truly Bible-based, primitive Christianity, for the Baptists and the evangelicals and others who had previously existed as small and despised “out-groups” in the European religious framework. This outward-looking and vigorous Christianity provided many influences in American society that helped to hinder the taking root of materialism as fully as it did in Europe and other Western regions, and has helped in the efforts at pushing it back to a greater degree than seen elsewhere.

This has not been without its effect on the fortunes of philosophical materialism. Majorities of Americans – more now than fifty years ago – reject evolutionism as an explanation for the world we see around us, and this trend even seems to be starting to take hold in Europe, as well. More and more people reject the assumptions that are made, but not rationally supported, by atheists and materialists and evolutionists. Indeed, we almost seem to be seeing the emergence of the “Second Religiousness” predicted by Oswald Spengler based upon his observations about the histories of other civilizations that have experienced the rejection of their traditional religious and philosophical bases by the people, only to later see an “Indian summer” return to some sort of religiosity (though not always the traditional old religion) after the society has matured and moved beyond its interlude of skepticism and doubt. That the resurgence of the power and force of religion in the public square is taking place in America first is not surprising – despite the common assumption that America is a “young, frontier” society, there is a good argument to be made that America is actually very old, because America is the culmination of the history, experiences, and trends in the Western world that began in Europe, but were transplanted and perfected on this continent.

The increasingly muscular counter-attacks against atheism, materialism, and evolutionism are proving to be effective in the public square. This is because philosophical materialism, after a century of perceived ascendancy, began to form the same sort of impenetrable, crustose layer on society that state-religionism had imposed centuries earlier. Indeed, we see that the hard core of materialist atheists and evolutionists come off seeming not unlike the hidebound, “anti-reason” bishops and vicars who defended the old regime in Europe. We see the crystallization of an evolutionist “orthodoxy” about which no dissent or discussion is allowed. There is the same refusal on the part of materialists and evolutionists to even consider alternatives to their philosophical worldview. There is the same out-of-hand condemnation of dissent as not merely wrong, but evil and indicative of moral or intellectual failure on the part of the one who does not accept materialistic evolution. Prominent evolutionary scientists form much the same sort of orthodox hierarchy as the cardinals of old, people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett serving the role of archbishops of “reason” whose purpose is not to rationally defend, but instead to denigrate and disparage. Finally, there is the same inability, or perhaps purposeful refusal, to acknowledge that the criticisms made against the system are legitimate and perhaps even right. Instead, ever-intricate epicycles are introduced to defend evolutionary materialism from the refutation of the system by empirical, scientific evidences. Yet, it has been to no avail, and the influence and propagation of reasoned and reasonable alternatives to humanistic, materialistic evolution – themselves relying upon appeal to science and rationality - have increased in almost direct proportion to the virulence and desperation of the defenders of materialism.

In other words, atheistic materialism is suffering from an Enlightenment of its own, and is falling before it. Atheistic materialism is seeing the undermining of its moral and philosophical authority as an arbiter of truth and wisdom. What is happening to it is the same thing that it did to religionism in previous centuries. People are questioning the system, skeptical of its claims, disobedient to its authority, and unsure that it really is as “rational” and “scientific” as it has claimed for itself. As questions are asked that materialistic evolution will not, or cannot, answer, the assurances that the system is right “because we said so” grow increasingly hollow.

This Enlightenment ought to be encouraged, and indeed, will be in a free and open society – the type of society, unfortunately, that the defenders of materialism, atheism, and evolutionism seem to want to do away with. How can we have free discussion when, for instance, people like Dawkins say that bringing children up in religion is “child abuse” and that they should be taken away from their parents? You can't. All that can be done is to continue to chip away at the system, no matter how hard the defenders of materialist orthodoxy cling to the disintegrating fragments of their worldview's edifice. We need to continue to encourage the doubting of atheism and evolutionism. People need to be presented with the questions that challenge this worldview, and encouraged to ask these questions of themselves. As a mature and thoughtful society, we can no longer take, for instance, the evolutionists' word for it that evolution is “obviously” right. Because it is not. Indeed, there are a number of serious obstacles – both scientific and philosophical – that call evolution into doubt, despite the raving, wild-eyed attempts by its defenders to silence dissent and criticism. People need to see that the “evidences” that evolutionism adduces for itself are based upon circular reasoning and the selective interpretation of the data by filtering it a priori through the lens of the assumed truth of materialism. If the materialists want to make their case, then they need to prove it, not assume it and expect us to do the same. Atheistic materialism needs to learn that the forces of Enlightenment cut both ways. If our society does anything less, we will end up less “enlightened,” more inflexible, and less able to deal with the intellectual winds of the 21st century.

07 July 2009

Some Scientists Are Allowed to Question Darwin

Surprisingly as it may be, there are some scientists who are allowed to question the theory of evolution and remain within the mianstream scientific circles. Of course, the scientists who do attack Darwin have to be careful enough to broadcast their materialistic faith nonetheless.

A good article concerning the "free pass" some materialistas have concerning the theory of evolution has been posted in "Evolution News".
Here is a snap:

We're often told that the evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution -- where unguided natural selection acting on random mutations is the driving force generating the complexity and diversity of life -- is "overwhelming." But hints of dissent from this position can be found throughout the mainstream scientific literature. One article in Trends in Ecology and Evolution last year acknowledged that there exists a "healthy debate concerning the sufficiency of neo-Darwinian theory to explain macroevolution".[1] Likewise, Günter Theißen of the Department of Genetics at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany recently wrote earlier this year in the journal Theory in Biosciences:

while we already have a quite good understanding of how organisms adapt to the environment, much less is known about the mechanisms behind the origin of evolutionary novelties, a process that is arguably different from adaptation (Wagner 2000). Despite Darwin’s undeniable merits, explaining how the enormous complexity and diversity of living beings on our planet originated remains one of the greatest challenges of biology.[2]

Even more striking criticism of what he called the "dogmatic science" of neo-Darwinian thinking can be found in a 2006 paper by Theißen, also in Theory in Biosciences:

Explaining exactly how the great complexity and diversity of life on earth originated is still an enormous scientific challenge. ... There is the widespread attitude in the scientific community that, despite some problems in detail, textbook accounts on evolution have essentially solved the problem already. In my view, this is not quite correct.[3]

What is most interesting is how these hints of dissent are often accompanied by statements disclaiming any support for intelligent design (ID), seemingly intended to help deflect attacks upon the dissenter. Theißen's 2009 article is quick to protest that "'anti-Darwinians' should not be confused with people, such as creationists, that see Darwin as their opponent,"[2] and his 2006 paper expressly disclaims any support for ID (where Theißen again inappropriately lumps with "creationism"):

There is the opposite view gaining ground mainly outside of scientific circles that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by an external intelligence – a novel version of creationism known as "Intelligent Design" (ID). A philosophical analysis of whether ID is a scientific hypothesis at all is beyond the scope of this review. In any case, its ability to develop fruitful research programs has remained negligible so far (Raff, 2005). With few exceptions (e.g., see Lönnig, 2004, and references cited therein) biologists do not consider ID helpful in our endeavour to explain life’s complexity and diversity. This does not mean, however, that we already have a complete and satisfactory theory which explains how the complexity and diversity of life originated. Thus the rejection of ID or other varieties of creationism is not based on the comprehensive explanatory power of any existing evolutionary theory, but has to be considered as an epistemological presupposition and heuristic basis of biology as a natural science.[3]

Significantly, Theißen's disclaimer admits that his rejection of ID is "not based on the comprehensive explanatory power of any existing evolutionary theory" but due to an "epistemological presupposition," namely materialism. This calls to mind Scott C. Todd's statement in Nature in 1999 that "[e]ven if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic."[4]

Theißen apparently feels it necessary to announce his rejection of ID and his commitment to material explanations in order for his "anti-Darwinian" ideas to have any hope of gaining traction. Yet his 2006 paper contains a stark lamentation admitting the opposition faced by even materialists who dissent from neo-Darwinism:

It is dangerous to raise attention to the fact that there is no satisfying explanation for macroevolution. One easily becomes a target of orthodox evolutionary biology and a false friend of proponents of non-scientific concepts. According to the former we already know all the relevant principles that explain the complexity and diversity of life on earth; for the latter science and research will never be able to provide a conclusive explanation, simply because complex life does not have a natural origin.[3]

Theißen's admission is telling in that it not only recognizes it is politically "dangerous" for a materialist to question predominant evolutionary thinking (what scientist wants to "becom[e] a target of orthodox evolutionary biology"?), but also that there is even more intense opposition awaiting "friend[s] of proponents of non-scientific concepts" who believe that "complex life does not have a natural origin." If materialists face such dangers, imagine the opposition facing non-materialists seeking to have their views taken seriously in scientific journals.

Read the rest...

04 July 2009

Teleological Evolution and the Clash of Worldviews

An interesting post by Michael Egnor over Evolution News & Views, the Discovery Institute's group blog. He points out the "civil war" that is brewing between atheistic evolutionists and theistic evolutionists (whom he calls "accomodationalists") over the compatibility of science and religion.

We are entering an era in which a substantial and loud minority of atheist scientists and philosophers are claiming that science validates and depends on atheism and materialism. A ferocious fight has broken out in the pro-Darwinist blogosphere over this question: are philosophical naturalism and atheism essential to good science? Some of those on the side of accommodation with religion no doubt are atheists who believe that accommodation of religious beliefs is necessary for tactical reasons; others, such as Ken Miller and Francis Collins, are scientists who are Christians and who see their science as entirely compatible with their theism.

This debate is about whether worship at the materialist/atheist altar is a prerequisite for good science. My sense of it is that the accomodationists have easily gained the upper hand. The atheist insistence that science depends on and validates atheism is historically ignorant and philosophically incoherent.

That theists and open-minded agnostics and atheists on the pro-Darwinist side of this debate are finally engaging the same fundamentalist atheist dogma that intelligent design proponents have engaged for several decades is a good sign. Fundamentalist atheists are of course fighting back ferociously, because they understand, as perhaps the accomodationists don’t, the profound implications of an understanding of the natural world that is not causally closed.

Teleology is obvious in nature. Atheists and materialists intrinsically deny the reality of teleology --Aristotelian final causation-- in nature, yet nothing in the natural world can be understood without reference to teleology. Science is saturated with reference to purpose and goals of natural things. Atheists deny teleology, because acceptance of teleology in nature raises devastating questions about their atheist faith.

Fundamentalist atheists-- secular priests-- fight ferociously to extinguish challenges to their faith, because they understand that to raise the question of teleology in nature is to answer it. Atheism, for good reason, fears questions.

I could have told them that it would eventually come to this. The actual evidences for God's work of creation are all around us in nature, and people can only go for so long in ignoring them before the cognitive dissonance becomes unbearable and people have to deal with them. This is the obvious teleology in nature that Egnor references. It's also why evolutionists so often speak of evolution in teleological terms - e.g., "Evolution developed the ability for bombardier beetles to defend themselves chemically", etc. Evolutionists will unwittingly attribute to evolution independent and intelligent powers of creation - even to the point of approaching a position of atheistic "intelligent design." The reason is because the evidence of design is all around us - they can't get around it, and subconsciously will accede to it, even if consciously they try to deny it.

We need to understand that the issue of origins is not about science, per se. It is about the clash of underlying worldviews. "Evolution" is no more obvious from empirical science than is phlogiston or the aether. Both evolution and creation (as well as Intelligent Design, which really occupies a medial position) rely upon inference from forensic evidences, and hence are based upon subjective interpretation - which gets you right back to worldviews. Science, as it is commonly understood to rely upon empiricism, is completely incompetent to deal with the actual events of our origins, at least until somebody builds a time machine that actually works.

Hence, both creationism and evolutionism are dependent upon faith. This is something that creationists will readily admit, but is something that evolutionists, in their zeal to promote the fiction of the incontestability of evolution, avoid like the plague. Yet, as the article points out, hard-core evolutionists really do approach their belief system in ways that are amazing similar to religion. They have a priesthood of people like Dawkins and PZ Myers to whom they go for consolation and reassurance. They have a set of sacred scriptures which they study to firm themselves up on what they believe. They have a set of orthodox dogmas that can get you in a lot of trouble if you dissent from them. I remember years ago a discussion I had with an evolutionist on some forum somewhere. I had basically argued down every point he made, and destroyed every argument he tried to make for evolution. A few months later, I was doing some ego-googling, and came across another forum where this same fellow had gone shortly thereafter to try to reinforce himself in his evolutionism by confessing his doubts about evolution and seeking absolution for his sin from some other guy who was likely the Darwinian equivalent of a small country parish-priest. Their exchange really seemed for all the world like a confession and reinstatement to faith. It was, frankly, kind of creepy.

But that's just it - evolutionism in not science, it is not synonymous with science, nor is it necessarily always compatible with science. It is a worldview and a belief system.

Happy 4th of July, USA!

God bless the USA, Israel (and Portugal!) ;-)


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