The Disappearance of the Need for Truth

Truth, can be defined as “That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”[1] The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Truth, with a capital “T”, as “a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality.”[2]

In this modern age we are not short of things to do or activities to fill each day. The ubiquitous smartphone provides a compelling and ever-present link to friends, family, and acquaintances, and also to personalized, pre-selected sources of information that constantly interrupt and inform our consciousness. With on-demand access to all of this information and advice, together with the accumulated historical experiences of several millennia, it might reasonably be expected that people today would be better informed, better prepared, and closer to understanding Truth than any generation that came before them.

Multiple Truths?

But this is not the case. The latter part of the twentieth century saw the rise of “postmodernism,” a movement which denies the validity of objective reality and Fact or Fake concept, Hand flip wood cube change the word, April fools dayencourages each individual to create their own truth and then live accordingly. An article by Rebecca McKown entitled, Step Into Your Truth With These 4 Simple Steps  encourages readers to “define your truth and roll with it.”[3] The spread of personal communication devices and the accompanying growth of informational services is further empowering the individual and offering the seductive promise of being in self-directed control of all aspects of life. However, If people really were able to create their own truths, there would be a multiplicity of truths in this world. As an engineer, I know and believe that, in all things, there is only one truth. There is only one winner of the Superbowl in 2019, irrespective of the wishes of thousands of Rams fans.

Rules of the house

If we visit a museum, we accept without question the fact that this organization can and will lay down the rules for our visit, such as the entrance fee, opening times, and whether or not photography is permitted. It doesn’t matter what we would like the rules to be, we don’t get that choice. The truth, as far as the house rules are concerned, is established by the owner. When visiting a house in Japan, we would of course follow the house rule of removing our shoes prior to entering the house and entering only those rooms into which the host invited us. If we were uncertain about what we could or could not do, we would ask the host’s permission. In these and all other similar instances, the accepted rule is that the owner of the house can establish the house rules.

In God’s House

In the same way, since we did not ourselves create, nor do we own, the world we live in, we need to know and understand the rules of its creator and owner. God went to extraordinary lengths to create a world that is finely-tuned for our existence and pleasure. The very least we should do is to know and follow the rules He has laid down for us to follow while we are guests in His house. To do anything else would be just downright rude!

When we visit someone else’s house, we don’t invent our own rules for the visit, we follow the established house rules. When compared to eternity, our time on Earth is just a brief “visit,” so we have no justification for believing that we can create our own reality and do what we want to. We are in God’s house, and we need to know and follow His rules, the single truth of which is comprehensively described in His Word.

 

[1]English Oxford Living Dictionaries, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/truth, accessed April 3, 2019.

[2]Merriam-Webster.com, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/truth, accessed April 3, 2019.

[3]Rebecca McKown, Step Into Your Truth With These 4 Simple Steps, HuffPost Contributor Platform, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/step-into-your-truth-with_n_5564066, accessed April 3, 2019.

Becoming a Christian: A Single Moment That Lasts for the Rest of Your Life (and After)

Before I became a Christian, I had no idea what it meant. I did not understand that it would lead to a whole new way of life; something that would impact just about everything I do, and even the way I think. My earlier ignorance assumed that Christianity, or any other religion, was simply a matter of attending a house of worship on a weekly basis and following a few basic rules of living.

Holy bible,Teenager man holding Holy bible ready for read and have relationship with god faith, spirituality and religion concept.Becoming a true Christian means that you have come to believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. This is a process that, for me, took several years of reading Christian books, going to bible studies, and finding and attending the right church. I remember feeling a little envious of those who appear to be “saved” instantly when attending a Billy Graham meeting or going forward for an altar call. Could it, or should it, really be that easy? Why did it take me about four years of investigation before I even began to feel comfortable as a Christian? I now realize that it is a lifelong journey. Fifteen years and an MA in Christian Apologetics later, I am still learning, and the more I learn, the more I discover I still need to learn, and want to learn.

“Salvation” is the term used by Christians for the process whereby a person is accepted by God to become a citizen of His future kingdom, a citizenship that lasts for eternity following our brief time on Earth. It appears that there are three parts to this process. First comes Justification, which happens at the instant in time that we are accepted by God and is enabled by our faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Second is Sanctification, a process that begins after justification and continues, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for the rest of our lives in that we are willingly being conformed into God’s image. Finally, Glorification occurs when we leave our aging, imperfect, earthly bodies and begin eternity in Heaven with a new, “glorified” body.

God is in control of all aspects of salvation, so where does the much-debated “free will” come in? After much thought and investigation, I believe that, before salvation, each of us has to take the decision to accept Jesus Christ into our lives and, openly and honestly, reach out to Him. Hebrews 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” After that, God takes over, draws us towards Him (John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”),and the Holy Spirit begins working within us to prepare us for God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”).

God’s saving grace is available to all of mankind, but each person, individually, has to choose to accept it by welcoming Jesus into his or her life. Then begins the journey, firmly based on the truth of how we came to be in this world in the first place, towards the life that God has always planned for us. This life is clearly described in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” So, if your hectic, technology-driven, comfortable-yet-not-fulfilling life is not bringing the inner satisfaction you thought it would, an honest, heartfelt acceptance of the truth in Christianity, in my experience, will never fail.

Intelligent Design Versus Naturalism

A Little Learning . .

The saying “A little learning is a dangerous thing” may be proving true for proponents of naturalism. The constant and inexorable march of growing scientific knowledge is changing our understanding of the origins of life and the universe and now casts strong doubt over many assumptions made by scientists over the last century and a half. These assumptions, necessary to explain significant gaps in the evidence available to support theories essential to the case for naturalism, such as Darwinian evolution, are now being called into question by new and detailed evidence. Multiple new discoveries, ranging from the nature of the universe as a whole to the exciting new evidence in the field of microbiology, bring into question some of these assumptions and instead build a strong, cumulative case for the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

The Claims of Naturalism

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Naturalism is defined as “a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically: the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena.” This definition does not explain how these “scientific laws” came into existence, or how, against incredible odds, they came to be so precisely adjusted to support human life on Earth. Nor does it tell us about the origination of the huge database of information contained within each living entity. Naturalism excludes the possible existence of a spiritual or supernatural realm and requires that all of the origination, creation, and development of life must have happened by chance within the natural properties of the materials and energy of the universe.

The Fine-Tuning of the Laws of Nature and of the Earth

The physical conditions governing the universe, the existence of matter, the Earth, and its galactic location are based on the four fundamental interactions of nature, also known as fundamental forces.[1] Two of these, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, operate at subatomic levels and their effects are not directly visible. They control the formation of the elements and the natural processes upon which the existence of the universe depends. The other two, gravity and electromagnetism, are widely evidenced and part of everyday life.

God's hand holding and creating the sun or star near planet Earth. Christian Seven Days of Creation concept. Day Four, the sun and the moon. Genesis. Day and light Bible creation story. Vector.

Our understanding of these forces is changing as a result of our increased ability to model variations in their levels, and we are beginning to understand the incredibly finely-tuned nature of our natural environment. As Karl Giberson, Executive V.P. of Biologos, states “For many years these forces were just numbers, part of the physicists’boring formulas. But in the past few decades all this has changed.Computer modeling makes it possible to see how the values of thesenumbers affect the structure of the universe, from the formation ofgalaxies to the structure of DNA.”[2] He goes on to explain that changing the force of gravity by even a very small amount would change the universe such that galaxies and planets, and hence any form of life, would not exist, and that the other three fundamental forces are delicately balanced in a similar way. Allen Hainline, in his Cross Examinedblog, provides further detail: if the force of gravity, for example, was stronger by just 1 in 1040, the universe would be dominated by black holes instead of stars, and if it was one part in 1036weaker, stars would be unstable.[3]

It is not only the absolute value of these forces that need to be precise, but there are significant constraints on the ratios of one force to another. In his article The Designed Just-So Universe, Walter Bradley, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor University, explains that a two percent increase in the strong nuclear force relative to the electromagnetic force would result in the elimination of hydrogen, resulting in no sustainable stars and no water.[4]

Not by Chance

The chances of just one of the many conditions relating to the fundamental forces being correct by chance are almost that of winning the Powerball lottery five times in succession (1 in 250,000,0005or 1 in 1042). Looking at these odds, it is much more logical to believe in design than in chance. The finely-tuned nature of so many different parameters, at multiple levels, and to such a fine degree of accuracy, builds a strong, cumulative case for the existence of an Intelligent Designer with the intent of creating an attractive environment for His creation to inhabit.

 

[1]Robert Curley, “Fundamental Interaction”, Encyclopaedia Britannica, July 20, 2006, http://www.britannica.com/science/fundamental-interaction (accessed February 28, 2016)

[2]Karl Giberson, “The Road Less Travelled”, Biologos Blog, May 4, 2009, accessed February 22, 2016, http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-road-less-traveled.

[3]Allen Hainline, “Fine-tuning of the Force Strengths to Permit Life”, Cross Examined Blog, August 3, 2014, accessed February 28, 2016.

[4]Walter L. Bradley, “The Designed ‘Just So’ Universe”, 1999, http://www.leaderu.com/offices/bradley/docs/universe.html, accessed February 28, 2016.

The Human Database of Information – Part 2

Human Database1Part 1 of this blog described the amazing amount of expertly-designed digital information that is held within the human body. Part 2 outlines the existence of multiple forms of human data and their embedded communication processes, all working together to allow a human body to adapt to different environments.

More Than One Form of Data

There is much still to be discovered about the way genes function in the body, and the field of epigenetics is a rapidly growing area. Epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that change the way genes are expressed. These mechanisms respond to certain circumstances in life by causing specific genes to become dormant or active. As McGill University epigenetics pioneer Moshe Szyf comments in this extract from Febish and Oxley’s book Food for Thought: An Epigenetic Guide to Wellness, “Epigenetics introduces the concept of free will into our idea of genetics”[1]. In other words, where we live and how we live will affect the way that our fixed, inherited, gene set functions. He further compares DNA to a computer’s hardware, epigenetics to its software, and the environment to data for the software.

Epigenetic Communication

Since the epigenome is independent of DNA, this adds a further dimension to the information held within human cells. It would appear that this bank of human information at the cellular level is so powerful, and has such an efficient communications system, that it can correct itself when needed, and can manage the interaction between separate databases in response to changing environments and conditions external to the body. Febish and Oxley describe a form of epigenetic communication between cells:

Our cells, through epigenetics, can send signals in our bodies that will throw ON/OFF gene switches within a cell, between neighboring cells and between distant cells. Neighboring cells can communicate via direct connect (touching each other) with each other like a handshake. Nearby cells can communicate by passing signals back and forth like throwing a ball in a game of catch. Some signals, like stress, send out broadcasts like a radio or TV signal. These broadcasts affect large number of cells throughout the body. Stress signals the body to prepare for an event. Different cells do different things to prepare. The signal stops and things return to normal when the stressful event ends.[2]

From Disorder to Order

Opponents of Intelligent Design believe that the assembly of this amazing amount of structured information that forms the human body all happened as a result of the accumulation of random, unguided processes over a very long period of time. However, this movement from disorder to order is completely at odds with the second law of thermodynamics, which indicates that any system left to its own devices will naturally decay over time, rather than spontaneously organizing itself in this way. Further, if we developed on the “survival of the fittest” basis, it would have been necessary for all of the various conditions that our epigenome can adapt to, to have been encountered, and remembered, during the human body’s earlier development. An intelligent designer, however, who lives outside of time and could see the whole of mankind’s existence from start to finish, would be able to “design in” the ability to cope with all that we might encounter, including environments that we have not yet seen.

 

[1]George J. Febish and Jo Anne Oxley, Food For Thought: An Epigenetic Guide to Wellness, (Bloomington, IN, Xlibris, 2011) Kindle edition, Kindle location 534.

[2]Ibid., Kindle location 600.

The Human Database of Information – Part 1

As a member of the human race, each and every one of us is a huge, walking library of exquisitely-crafted information.

Human Database1

Large Amounts of Data (Thirty Trillion DVDs) in each Human Body

Each human being is effectively a repository of a huge amount of data, and scientists are now beginning to discover the nature of the information that is encoded within the human body. It seems that not only is there an incredibly large amount of data in each human cell, but this data is also encoded into high-quality information. Looking at the amount of data present, Yevgeniy Grigoryev, doctoral graduate of the Scripps Research Institute, estimates information equivalent to 1.5 gigabytes to be present in a single DNA molecule.[1]  Using an estimate of one hundred trillion cells in the human body, he further equates this to an amount of information in the whole body equal to one hundred and fifty trillion gigabytes, or 150 x 1021bytes. In current storage terms this is equivalent to thirty trillion DVDs!

Specified Complexity

The high quality of the information within the body is described by Stephen Meyer in his book, Signature in the Cell.[2] Quoted in a magazine interview about the book, Meyer states “the discovery that DNA codes information in a digital form points decisively back to a prior intelligence”.[3] In the book, he describes the nature of the information in DNA as being of “specified complexity”. The term “specified complexity” or “complex specified information” relates to a concept adopted by William Dembski and describes the introduction of previously-determined constraints into otherwise random information. An example of this is the use of the English language, which employs the letters of a 26-character code, but only in specific combinations (words) that can also be recognized by any others familiar with the language. The creation of the language requires design, and hence intelligence, and it is reasonable to assume the same requirements for the organized and intricate information stored within the human body.

Information Communication

Meyer also quotes information scientist Hubert Yockey, “The genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found… in modern communication and computer codes.” Since “modern communication and computer codes” are obviously products of design, then it is reasonable to assume that the genetic code is also a product of design. A comparison of the efficiency and effectiveness of these two types of design shows the genetic code to be superior by far in all aspects. From this we can also conclude that its designer is much more capable than the best that mankind can offer.

Apart from the genetic code itself, there are many other attributes and processes of the cell that also require the existence of data to function correctly, including cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes and lysosomes. In popular school materials, these elements are likened to the factory floor, assembly line, workers, and maintenance crew of a functioning factory. While explaining the function of the elements, these materials all fail to explain how each element knows how to do the task assigned to it. A modern factory will have well-documented, designed processes, plus a training department to ensure that all staff members know how to do their jobs. The living cell, far more efficient than any process of human design, appears to have all of the required manufacturing and processing information designed into its various elements.

In part 2 of this blog – More Than One Form of Data.

 

[1]Yevgeniy Grigoryev, “How Much Information Is Stored in the Human Genome?”Bytesize Bio, 16th March, 2012, http://bitesizebio.com/8378/how-much-information-is-stored-in-the-human-genome/, accessed February 29, 2016.

[2]Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell,(New York: Harper Collins 2009), Kindle Edition, 110.

[3]Stephen Meyer, “Can DNA Prove the Existence of a Designer?” Biola Magazine, summer 2010, http://magazine.biola.edu/article/10-summer/can-dna-prove-the-existence-of-an-intelligent-desi/, accessed February 29, 2016.

Thoughts on Interaction Between the Physical World and the Spiritual Realm

Living in the physical world, our physical senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) and sensitivities are constantly bombarded by physical stimuli, so it is not surprising that many of us consider the physical realm to be the sum of mankind’s existence. If you take the time to look, however, there is ample evidence of physical interaction from a realm outside of this.

How Does the Physical World Interact with the Spiritual Realm?

For our physical world to have direct interaction with the spiritual, or supernatural,

Idea of Earth creation

realm, one of two things must happen. Either the physical world must extend into the supernatural realm, or vice-versa. But how, exactly, does this happen? There are many recorded instances of the spiritual, or “higher” realm communicating with the physical, or “lower” realm, such as the appearance of angels (Lk 2:13), and God speaking to humans (Mt 3:16). The physical mechanism of that communication is less clear. Did God actually cause the angels to temporarily physically exist in the earthly realm, and did He generate physical sound waves, or did He cause all those present to believe simultaneously that they saw or heard exactly what He wanted them to? It may have been neither. If we are already creating three-dimensional lifelike images using holographic technology, I imagine that it would certainly be possible for God to project images into our world without the need to generate physical presences.

Bidirectional Communication Between Realms

The main physical messenger from the higher realm was, of course, Jesus. His natural birth and documented life within the world for more than thirty-three years leaves little doubt that His was a physical presence. There is also evidence of frequent non-physical communication from the supernatural realm, such as messages from God in dreams (Mt 1:20), or in direct communication with the sensibilities of humans, as in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 9:12). There are also numerous biblical references to actions by angels relating to the physical world, including observing (1 Cor 4:9), encouraging (Acts 27:23-26), rescuing (Acts 5:19-20), and protecting (Dan 6:22).

Looking at communication from the worldly realm to the supernatural realm, the Bible describes several instances of people being granted the ability to visit, or to “see” into heaven. In biblical order, these include Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1), Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), Paul (2 Cor 12:2-4), and John (Rev 4:1-11). As well as being able to see into heaven, Ezekiel also describes being spoken to by “the spirit” and eating a scroll during his vision. Of course, the most common form of interaction from the worldly realm is prayer, and this is a unidirectional flow of information, with responses that are uncertain to man, subject to the will of God, and not under man’s control.

Miracles

In his book Miracles, C. S. Lewis defines the word “miracle” as “an interference with Nature by a supernatural power.”[1]  He describes just two classes of events – miracles and natural events.[2]He then establishes the case for the supernatural by dealing first with philosophy, and then demonstrates that rational thought and moral standards have supernatural sources.[3]Later, he uses this principle to show that man is “a composite being – a natural organism tenanted by, or in a state of symbiosis with, a supernatural spirit.”[4]When we, as individuals, cannot even fully comprehend our own personal element of the supernatural, how much more difficult would it be to describe the supernatural realm itself?

The perpetration of miracles opens up further questions on the interaction between the supernatural and the physical realm. Looking at the first miracle performed by Jesus, when He changed water into wine, exactly what process was used to effect the transformation? The production of wine is usually a lengthy process, but this happened immediately. Did this wine already exist within another dimension of the spiritual realm, and was it then moved into the physical world, or does God have the ability to instantaneously create any material, anywhere, at any time? The latter, perhaps, would not be difficult for a Being that originally spoke the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6), demonstrating an ability to create matter from nothing.

[1]Lewis, C. S., (2009-06-03), Miracles (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis), HarperCollins, Kindle Edition (p. 5).

[2]Ibid., (Kindle location 2741).

[3]Ibid., (p. 60).

[4]Ibid., (p. 203).

Does God Exist? And Why It Is Really Important to Know For Sure – Part 2

Our Environment Is Finely Tuned for Us

If the absence of physical explanations for important aspects of our lives acts as negative evidence that points towards the existence of God, there is plenty of positive evidence for His existence also. A mathematical examination of the finely-tuned-for-life nature of so many of the conditions that make up our environment, makes any claim that it all

Jesus Christ in heaven

came to exist by chance appear groundless.[1] For example, the four forces that hold our universe, and everything in it, together are the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetic forces, and gravity. If just one of these had been slightly different, even in some cases merely by a factor of 1 in 1037, the basic elements of our universe could not have existed, much less complex life. One chance in 1037 is roughly the same as buying one ticket and winning the national lottery 5 times in succession.

If gravity had been slightly different, the structure of the universe would not have been as life-friendly as it now is. If the value of the gravitational constant were slightly larger, one consequence would be that stars would become too hot and burn out too quickly. If it were smaller, stars would never burn at all and heavy elements would not be produced.[2] If the strong radioactive force had been slightly different, there would have been a totally different set of elements within the physical realm. If the strong nuclear force were slightly more powerful, then there would be no hydrogen, an essential element of life. If it was slightly weaker, then hydrogen would be the only element in existence.[3]

Similar fine-tuning is evident in many other aspects of our physical world, such as the position of the Earth within our galaxy, the structure of the solar system and of the Earth itself, and the composition and characteristics of essential life-supporting materials such as the atmosphere and water.

The (Irreducible) Complexity of Life

Further evidence of the handiwork of a supernatural designer lies in the complex structure of the human body. The DNA molecule incorporated into most of our living cells holds around 1.5GB of information, or about 800 electronic books, stored in a four-character digital code. It is not just the complexity that defies explanation, but the nature of the complexity, combined with the huge amount of information encoded within each one of the one hundred trillion living cells in one human body. It is remotely conceivable that complex organisms might have evolved over an enormous amount of time, but the recent discovery of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines in living cells appears to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution, which is currently taught in our public-school system. Darwin’s theory requires that natural random changes will generate a slightly-improved version of the original, which will then survive over others when reproducing because of its superiority. Irreducible complexity, referred to by Michael Behe in his book, Darwin’s Black Box, happens when a device or organism requires several separate components to be simultaneously in place to function, and hence could not possibly have evolved on a step-by-step basis.[4]

A simple example of irreducible complexity is the mousetrap. It has just six components, but if any single one was to be taken away, the mousetrap would not function. Therefore, it could not have evolved in the way that Darwin’s theory requires. The butterfly, which metamorphoses through three separate life forms prior to its adult form capable of reproduction, provides further contradictory evidence. Darwin himself stated, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case.”[5] If he and the scientists of his time could have had access to electron microscopes, he would have found many “such cases.”

Summary

In summarizing both parts of this blog, we can draw two conclusions. First, there has to be a supernatural realm in existence to explain certain aspects of our physical lives, and this could take the form of the spiritual realm, in which God and spirits reside. Second, the amazingly-complex and life-friendly construction, both of our bodies and of our environment, reflect the work of an incredibly capable designer using skills far in advance of any human capability. Sounds to me a lot like the omniscient, omnipotent, loving God of Christianity!

 

 

[1]Taeil Albert Bai, The Universe Fine-Tuned for Life, http://sun.stanford.edu/~bai/finetuning.pdf.

[2]Evolution News & Science Today, I D’s Top six – the Fine Tuning of the Universe, November 8, 2017, https://evolutionnews.org/2017/11/ids-top-six-the-fine-tuning-of-the-universe, accessed 1/12/19.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, (New York: Touchstone, 1966).

[5]Darwin, Origin of Species, Chapter 6, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/origin/chapter6.html.