An Introduction to Intelligent Design

Posted by: David Carroll

This is the Sunday School Lesson I taught June 28, 2009 in Steve Wherry’s class.
Listen to the mp3 Audio here.

ID is a movement that is both old and new. It is biblical.

These verses speak to God’s general revelation of himself in His creation.

Romans 1:20 (NKJV)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse

Psalm 19:1-3 (NIV)
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Those are wonderful and familiar verses to most Christians. You probably haven’t seen this next one used in this context.

Job 12:7-10 (NKJV)
But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?

Job is supposed to be the oldest book in the Bible, so you can see that the argument for God’s creation has been around for a long time.

Modern ID movement

Its modern form has come about in the past 30 years and has received increasing media attention with the battle over teaching evolution in schools. The media associates the ID movement with Christian fundamentalists who are trying to repackage Biblical Creationism under the guise of Intelligent Design. This is supposedly in response to the 1987 Supreme Court prohibition against teaching Creationism in public schools.

However, the first ID scientists were actually motivated by the inability of modern biology to explain the origin of the digital information encoded in the DNA molecule well prior to the 1987 ruling. And many physicists during the 60’s and 70’s, including Fred Hoyle who coined the famous “Big Bang” quote, had increasingly been persuaded by the evidence of a finely tuned universe ideally suited to support the existence of life.

There is however an interesting tension between the ID movement in science and Christians who believe the Genesis account of creation literally. The ID people do not advocate any particular designer or even refer to God at all. That is not their interest. This tension is not to say that ID is not a friend to Christians who believe the Bible Creation story. Their scientific arguments and rational thinking are a refreshing respite from the bulldog like evolutionists whose primary motivation appears to be to eliminate God.

Richard Dawkins in 1986 said living systems “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” But he wrote a whole book called “The Blind Watchmaker” to prove that this was only an illusion and that evolution and natural selection could explain all of it.

So the bottom line is that the Christian Creationist can greatly benefit from the ID scientists work.

As a philosophical argument, ID goes back to Plato and Aristotle.

The teleological argument (known as the argument from design) is an argument for the existence of God based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, and design in nature.

Teleology: study of causes

19th Century: Watchmaker analogy

William Paley said that if you were walking through the woods and saw a smooth stone on the ground, no big deal, just a river stone formed by the forces of nature.

But if you saw a watch on the ground, you would immediately know that this was made by a watchmaker because of its complexity. Since a living organism is more complex than that watch, it too must be designed.

Age of Enlightenment, Darwin, Origin of Species (1859)

Up till then, almost everyone believed that God created. Atheists had no plausible creation story, eccentric. During a trip to the Galapagos islands, Darwin developed his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Darwin observed that variations would randomly occur in a species. For example he observed that some birds (finches) had long beaks and other ones had short stout beaks. On some islands one beak style would predominate and on other islands another beak style would predominate.

On one island there were a lot of predators and a short stout beak was good to have because it helped the bird to fight. On another rocky island, a long curved beak was helpful to fetch tiny bugs out of crevasses in the rock.

He proposed that this adaptation was due to a natural process of selection. He observed:

  1. There were heritable variations within the population
  2. Scarcity of food (not all would survive)
  3. Some were better suited than others to survive/reproduce

Competition ensues and you have this idea of “survival of the fittest.” An ill suited critter would not survive to the age of reproductively.

So you have adaptation over many generations. He imagined that eventually these small changes can add up to creating entirely new species. Note the lack of any need for intelligent guidance in this process. This simple idea, a plausible explanation for the complexity of life, has fueled the growth of Naturalism and Atheism ever since.

At bottom, evolution is a purposeless, unintelligent, material cause with no need for God at all.

Further supporting the idea of evolution was the observation of similarities between the species. If you look at an x-ray of the upper limb of a crocodile, a bird and a human, you will notice that all three have five digits for “fingers” and two bones in the forearm. The study of homology says that these sorts of similarities are evidence that we have all descended from some common ancestor.

We should ask what else could explain these adaptations and similarities. Could it be that it was good design, worthy of being duplicated by an intelligent designer for functional response? Could it be that a living organism looks designed because it is designed?

Engine of Change?

Darwin well understood that Natural Selection could accomplish nothing without some sort of engine of variation to produce the new biological structures.

Watson and Crick, 1953, the DNA molecule

Before the discovery of modern genetics, nothing was known about the engine of change.

There is enough information in the gene pool of two medium brown mutts to create through selective breeding in one man’s lifetime everything from a Great Dane to a miniature poodle.

From Small Changes to All Changes

Once you get used to nodding your head in agreement with the idea that evolution explains the drift in populations guided by natural selection, then it is no big deal for these small changes to keep going until a new species occurs.

But there is one problem with that. We have been breeding plants and animals since biblical times. What is our experience however? All breeding hits limitations. You can only get an ear of corn so big. You can never get a dog to be as big as a horse. Furthermore, when you reach these limits, we find that the animals or plants have weaknesses. Why can’t a mule have any offspring? Breeding does not create new information, rather it loses information. You can’t go backwards with a miniature poodle and get back to a medium brown mutt even less so a Great Dane.

Random Mutation

What is the cause of modifications that can create new biological structures? The only known source of is said to be mutation due to radiation. A mutation is the result of a mistake which occurs when a cell makes a copy of its DNA for cell division. Genes specify how a protein is built (long chain folded) function follows form. A mutated gene makes a mutated protein, a broken part. These broken parts can make disease, cancer, organ failure, and even death.

Mutations are either harmful or neutral at best. Supposedly, in rare cases, a mutation can be beneficial. As it turns out, some mutations can be inherited by offspring.

Since we all are supposed to have evolved from a single celled animal. Think about the amount of new biological information necessary to create all these new structures, organs, brains, eyes, flight, circulatory systems, respiratory systems, waste removal systems, and reproductive systems.

All of this had to result from trillions of trillions of tiny beneficial random mutations preserved through their offspring. Furthermore, we don’t see any beneficial mutations occurring today. Mathematicians are increasingly expressing doubts that random mutations could possibly produce this vast amount of new genetic information in the length of time available to the evolutionary process.

How does the first living thing get started?

This is beyond the scope of this article but let me just mention that if there is no reproducing going on, then there is no cell division, hence no engine of change. Without that engine, Natural Selection has nothing to act on. Evolution does not explain the origin of life.

The Simple Cell

And what about that simple cell we started with? How complex is it?

“Although the tiniest bacterial cells are very small, they are actually a microminiaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery made up of a hundred thousand million atoms far more complicated than any machine made by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world.”

Michael Denton, Evolution a Theory in Crisis

Irreducible Complexity

Michael Behe wrote Darwin’s Black Box in which he explains the idea of irreducible complexity with a simple mousetrap which has five parts: hammer, spring, catch, holding bar, and a platform. He asks how many mouse could this trap catch if it were missing one of it’s parts?

In order for the mousetrap to function, it needs all five parts. And if it were to evolve, then each part along the way must be beneficial until the whole thing can come together. He maintains that biological systems are far more complex and are also irreducibly complex.

Non-viability of transitional forms

Two lizards had some little babies. They noticed their scales were a bit fuzzier than normal. Then these fuzzy scaled lizards passed on these traits to their offspring and the scales continued to mutate to more feather like things. You see, these are the pre-cursor to wings. But the feathers are getting so long now, they are getting in the way when they. They can’t yet fly but they can’t run very well either. They can escape predators nor can they compete for food.

What does natural selection do? This is the problem with transitional forms for complex features. Until some primitive if not complete functionality is there, there is advantage. This is known as the non-viability of transitional forms.

Transitional Fossils

“The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, must be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Charles Darwin

Transitional Fossils, 150 years later: have they found them yet? No.

Do you notice any fish today growing little stumps, legs, so they can crawl up on land? Are there any reptiles developing feathers today? We should be able to see this sort of evidence if evolution is occurring today. Why don’t we see half formed organs instead of complete ones?

Stephen Jay Gould knew about the absence of transitional fossils and invented the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” to explain this absence. The basic idea is that there were periods of extreme biological changes that occurred over short periods of time which precluded the build-up of a fossil record due to lack of time.

What is his primary evidence for his theory? The lack of evidence

What do we actually find in the record? We find a sudden appearance of a vast number of highly complex organisms (known as the Cambrian explosion) then stasis. What model does this best fit?

Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Jeremiah 10:12 (NKJV)

He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.

Psalm 33:6 (NKJV)

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

Psalm 111:2 (NKJV)

The works of the Lord are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.

Psalm 111:4 (NKJV)

He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 77:12 (NKJV)

I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.

Psalm 115:16 (NKJV)

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.

Acts 17:23-25 (NKJV)

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

Acts 17:28 (NKJV)

for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.

Resources

http://www.shrinkster.com/lhh
Amazon book list

http://www.shrinkster.com/3tr
10 questions to ask your biology teacher

http://www.creationscience.com
Walt Brown, In The Beginning

http://www.youtube.com/user/IllustraMedia
Lots of videos

Joshua Chapter 1

Posted by: David Carroll

Hear the class lesson on mp3.

It applies to what’s happening in church right now.

Homology, Evidence for Evolution?

Posted by: David Carroll

homology One of the primary evidences given for evolution is homology--the observation that different species have similarities. For example, the vast majority of animals have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears and four limbs. This supposedly indicates that somewhere, far back in the history of life many hundreds of millions of years ago, there was a common ancestor who had these traits and the descendants eventually split off into a variety of species.

The bone structure of many skeletal reptiles and mammals are similar. Notice for example the picture on the right. This cartoon depiction of an x-ray of an alligator's front limb, a human arm and a bird's wing respectively. You can see that the bone structure of all three share some similarities. All three have two bones in the "forearm" part of their limbs. The radius and ulna, as these bones are called, allow the end of the limb (our hand) to rotate about 200 degrees. This benefits us as well as the alligator and the bird. Other similarities are the five digits on both the alligator and human. In Darwinian evolution, these benefits were selected in the original ancestor because of it's ability to compete and survive over it's less endowed siblings and cousins who did not have such features. And then of course these traits were passed down to their descendants and continued to be preserved even in widely divergent species.

You can see that there has been an observation and then a hypothesis proposed but never tested. Such a test is impossible to make because of the extremely slow pace of the process. There is a test however. If the evolution hypothesis is true, there should be evidence in both the fossil record and in some species of life today of transitional forms. This we do not see. Stephen Jay Gould in a moment of honest reflection admitted:

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils… We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

There is another hypothesis. Perhaps this benefit of having two bones in the forearms of so many creatures is a design feature which was used by a wise Designer who efficiently used the same excellent design on many different kinds.

Darwin's Logic

Posted by: David Carroll

Darwin was the naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle for a trip to the Galapagos islands of the South American coast in the Pacific ocean. The basic elements of his logical argument for evolution was as follows:

Observation:

  • He saw large populations of birds and other species.
  • He noticed there were limited resources of food and shelter.

Conclusion:

  • There would be a struggle for existence within a given species.

finches Observation:

  • He saw a variation among individuals within a species.
  • For example, finches beaks varied long, short, thin, stout, straight and curved.
  • He noticed that some of these variations were heritable from parent to offspring.

Conclusion:

  • Some of these variations were beneficial; others were detrimental. Long, curved beaks were well suited to get insects out of holes in the rocks. Short, stout beaks were better suited for defense against a predator.
  • As such there would be a differential in the reproductive success between them depending upon the surroundings.
  • The fittest will be more likely to have offspring.
  • Populations will evolve over time.

There is really nothing wrong with Darwin's logic based on his observations. But notice what he did not observe: that there were limits to which variations can occur. The reason he did not notice it was because he was not looking for it.

How do we know there are limits? Darwin was noticing what he called "natural selection" which works very slowly and consequently it is impossible to see the limitations since one would have to wait many thousands of generations to see it. But what about unnatural selection? I am talking about "intelligent breeding." This is where a farmer breeds his corn crops for the largest, sweetest and most yellow corn. Or where a rancher breeds for the largest steer or fattest cows or the meatiest hog. Because they use intelligent breeding, they speed up the process of genetic variation by many times. What these farmers and ranchers know through experience is that you can only get an ear of corn so big and so sweet and so juicy before you reach a limit. And they never see corn becoming something other than corn. Furthermore, they notice that as you continue to selectively breed, weaknesses sometimes result. The corn may be sweeter, but it becomes more susceptible to insects.

Another limitation is when trying to cross breed species, different kinds of animals and plants are not able to breed with each other to produce offspring. Dogs and cats cannot have offspring. Interestingly you can breed a horse and a donkey to get a mule but what is the problem with the mule? Mules are infertile.

If Darwin had combined his observations with the practical knowledge of the rest of the world, he might not have been as far-reaching in his ideas about evolution. The migration of a population progressing from one kind to another kind was all imagination and not observation. What he did observe is explained by the well-known ability of the gene pool of dogs for example to produce a fantastic variety of poodles to Great Danes, all dogs mind you. But Darwin was driven by a desire to find an explanation apart from what God had said:

Genesis 1:24 (NKJV)

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.

The Grand Scope of Evolution

Posted by: David Carroll

crawlonland Normally when we think of evolution, we think of biological evolution. We think about man evolving from monkeys and birds evolving from reptiles. The typical progression is given from bacteria to fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal to man. As far-reaching as that is, the grand scope of evolution is even wider.

nebula First we have stellar evolution which says everything started about 15 billion years ago with a singularity (nothing) exploding in a big-bang and producing all matter. The sub-atomic particles became hydrogen atoms which then gathered into clouds of gas due to the forces of gravity. Then by virtue of the heat of gravitational friction these increasingly dense clouds ignited on fire and coalesced into giant stars while grouping themselves into galaxies. The stars lasted for billions of years and finally burned out, collapsed in on themselves and exploded producing the heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen and iron. The particles resulting from the explosive death of stars went through similar gravitational coalescing and formed into planets, moons and eventually new stars.

aminoacids Next we have chemical evolution. Some of the planets formed during stellar evolution had sufficient amounts of water and atmospheres capable of supporting life. After millions of years of rain falling on the rocks created warm ponds of water, ammonia, methane and other chemicals. This primordial soup was struck by lighting creating amino acids. These amino acids formed chains of proteins which finally organized themselves into a self-reproducing bacterium, the first life.

So now we have something Darwin can work with, biological evolution. Life can now grow in to populations which can create offspring which may be slightly modified from their progenitors due to random mutations.

I hope you noticed the two biggest leaps in this story of evolution. The first jump was from nothing to everything. The second jump was from non-life to life. There other big jumps as well such as between the major kinds of life. It's one thing to consider evolution of a dog population into the various species. But it is a very different thing to imagine evolution between reptiles and birds or between amphibians and mammals. The most interesting things always seem to happen at the major boundaries of things. I find it easy to believe God is in these places.

DNA, Information and Eternity

Posted by: David Carroll

dna Language is a code which allows information to be stored and communicated. The words I am writing now are very specific and irregular but they are recognizable. No one would ever think these words were the result of my randomly striking keys on my computer. They are designed, and I am the designer.

DNA is a code which specifies how proteins are to be constructed from amino acids. DNA is a language which stores and communicates information. The arrangements of the base pairs of the DNA helix are irregular but very specific and are recognizable to the machinery of the living cell. DNA is designed and God is the Designer.

I have tons of information stored on my computer's hard drive. The individual bits of information in my computer are coded by orienting tiny magnetic particles on the surface of a disc. harddrive Emails, programs, pictures, music and videos are all stored in the specific arrangements of these little magnetic bits spread out in rings on the disc.  A reading head is able to move across these rings and decode this arrangement of magnetic orientations and deliver to the central processor the specifications for how to display the text or picture or how to play the musical recording. This is a fascinating technology that we hardly think about anymore. A similar but vastly more complex orchestra is occurring in our own bodies every moment of every day allowing us to experience life. And we hardly give a thought to that either.

This information stored on my hard drive--does it depend on the computer or on any part of the computer? If I could weigh the disk containing the information very precisely then I could compare the weight of the information on the disk with the same disk before I put the information on there. I would discover that the weight was unchanged. No new particles were added to the disk to store the information. In fact I could print the information out on to ink and paper or burn it to a CD or even send it via wireless radio waves somewhere else and it would not affect the information.

Information has no mass and does not depend on energy, space or matter. That is to say it has zero mass, zero energy and zero space. We can infer from this that information is also timeless. Note Einstein's famous equation relating the four aspects of our universe that came about at creation: Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light. The speed of light component there is how time enters the equation.

mosquito Remember the movie Jurassic Park? The premise was that the dinosaurs could be brought back because they found a mosquito buried in a piece of amber (hardened sap) and there was dinosaur blood still in the mosquito. From this blood they were able to get the DNA to clone the dinosaurs. Now even though the movie was purely fiction, it has an element of truth to it that makes sense and lends the feeble feasibility necessary that allows us to suspend our disbelief for a couple of hours of entertainment.

My body is specified by the code written in the language of my DNA. It does not matter whether I am cremated or spread out over the sea when I die since God does not need to use the same atoms that are in my body today. The atoms are fungible like the letters on the sign used to spell out the shopkeeper's specials of the day--"Milk 4.50 / Gallon". He does not need a particular "M", he can reach in to the pile of letters and pick up any old "M".

So if information does not depend on any of the four fundamental aspects of our universe then information must exist outside of the confines of our universe and as such it exists in the realm of eternity. The consequences of this are mind bending. The real you and the real me is software not hardware. Everything we are can just be specified by information, stored no doubt in the mind of God.

We are eternal whether we like it or not. That means that we will spend eternity somewhere. The question is where? Find out more here.

The Design Inference

Posted by: David Carroll

According to William Dembski, there are three ways a particular phenomenon can have occurred.

  1. Chance
    The numbers that come up when you roll the dice. The arrangement of letters that occur when you spill a bowl of scrabble letters out on the floor. The features of a thing produced by chance are irregularity or non-patterned result. So this fall if I walk outside and my driveway is covered in leaves, I would never suspect that someone had come over and carefully placed each leaf in its position on my driveway.
  2. Necessity
    The ripples in the sand on the beach. The angular shape of crystals. The perfect roundness of a bubble floating in the air. The features of a thing produced by necessity i.e. by some law of physics or chemistry are regularity and patterns. So when I see a whirlpool in the water of my bathtub as it drains, I know that there are the laws of physics at work. The perfect funnel shape is a result of the vortex of spinning water.
  3. Design
    A watch, a car, a portrait, a choral symphony, a poem, a blog post are all examples of design. When something is obviously designed and made, it has complexity and is not necessarily regular. The complexity that results from design is not the kind of complexity that results from chance. A design is specific. Specified complexity is the hallmark of design. So when I see a completed game of scrabble, I know that those letters did not simply fall into their arrangement because they all spell words very precisely (the opponent made sure of that!).

This seems so obvious that it is odd that anyone would argue with it. But argue they do. Now, the above description of the design inference is not yet science. To be science, this idea much be measurable and quantifiable. And it must be falsifiable and repeatable. To this end, Dembski and his colleagues have gone much further in their attempt to establish the design inference as science. You can see more of his work at http://www.designinference.com/.

Anyway, why would anyone argue with such research? Because the motive for undertaking it was to give an honest critique of Darwinian Natural Selection as the explanation of all the variety of life we see. There are a number of scientists and physicians who seriously question Darwin. They have said:

"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

These honest scientists and physicians are treated with disdain by those who are committed to atheistic materialism. There commitment is so deep that they will not tolerate any investigation or examination of contrary ideas or evidence. Talk about intolerance!

Why Study Creation?

Posted by: David Carroll

Couple of reasons. First of all, because Darwinian Evolution is atheistic to the core, it is the faith of those whom we wish to reach who don't believe in God. How can you tell someone "Heaven is a free gift" when they don't believe in God or heaven? So we study the belief system of those to whom we would like to speak of Jesus to. But before we speak of Jesus, we have to tell the story of creation. Part of that story telling is knowing how to give a defense of the reasons why belief in God is necessary to satisfactorily explain the universe and life.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that before one can come to God, he must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. So belief in the necessity of God is a starting point for evangelizing an atheist.

Consider Peter, when he was preaching to the Jews, how he began his sermon by quoting scripture from the prophet Joel and then said:

Acts 2:22-23

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.

So for those who already believe in God, they can be taken directly to the Bible and immediately be told about Jesus. There was no need for an apologetic about Creation, they already believed that.

Now consider the apostle Paul when he spoke to the Greeks at Mars Hill. Before he speaks of Jesus and of sin and of salvation, he starts with an apologetic about the true creator God.

Acts 17:24-25

"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things."

There is a second reason to study Creation Science--that is to build up our own faith. Yes, I know you believe but none of us are immune to the fiery darts of the wicked one. We must defend against them with the shield of faith. You can strengthen that shield by learning good reasons why what is being taught in our schools about science should not cause us to doubt. And it is not a blind faith we have. Rather it is based on good science starting from a different perspective.

Our children are being challenged every day by teachers and professors who do not believe in God and have the support of the scientific establishment for such a belief. They offer up scientific dogma which seems to go against a belief in the necessity of Creation. It is hard to withstand this bombardment without hearing from other, God honoring, Bible believing scientists who see through the logic and arguments and are able to interpret the facts in a way that will build up our faith and give us confidence that the Bible is supported by what we observe in the real world.

You may not understand everything these respected scientists who believe in creation are saying but even so, it is good to know someone who is smarter than me has thoroughly investigated the science and has concluded that the Bible is true based upon his own research. God is not afraid of our questions, in fact he commanded us to "subdue the earth" and that's what we are going to do in this course.

Beliefs About Origins

Posted by: David Carroll

There are many different viewpoints with widely different ideas about how this world came to be. I'll try to organize them in order from the most conservative to the most liberal (biblically speaking).

Young Earth Creationist

This is the position that God created the earth in six days about six thousand years ago.

The young earth creationist (YEC) believes this because it is the conclusion you come to with a plain reading of the Bible. The first 11 chapters of Genesis are considered to be a true and accurate history of the world and not just an allegorical story. Biblical inerrancy is the hallmark of the Young Earth Creationist. This viewpoint, however, does not mean that the YEC is disinclined to ignore science, on the contrary, God gave us science and knowledge and told us to "subdue the earth". The Bible is the authority and any apparent discrepancies between the Bible and what we see in nature can be explained by properly interpreting the facts.

Old Earth re-Creationist (Gap theory)

This is the idea that God created an original perfect world according to Genesis 1:1 and then something went wrong, probably rebellion of Satan and angels in heaven and then there was a Divine Judgment on the earth which caused the world to become formless and void in Genesis 1:2.

This idea hinges on whether the verse should read "The earth was formless and void" or "The earth became formless and void". There is some additional obscure support for this in Isaiah 45:18.

The Gap Theory is also known as the Ruin/Recreation theory. Supposedly God had to recreate everything about six thousand years ago after some indefinite period of time which occurred between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It is this period of time which explains the motivation for believing this theory. About 130 years ago, it had recently become common knowledge, at least within the scientific circles, that the geology of the earth proved that it must be billions of years old. What was a theologian to do with this? Where would he fit this billions of years into a Biblical model of creation and time? The answer was "in the gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2". This became a very popular explanation as a result over the next century. In the last thirty years, it has fallen out of favor when consideration is given to how catastrophic events such as Noah's flood could explain the geological strata in the earth.

Progressive Creationist

The progressive creationist pretty much accepts all standard models of how the universe and earth came to be including the Big Bang, stellar evolution, and planet formation over billions of years. The one thing they are against however is evolution. Instead, they believe that God performed special creative insertions of life into the world at various stages which explains all the species. These episodes of creative activity explain the word progressive.

The first chapter of Genesis is simply an long age framework divided into six "days", each one lasting millions or billions of years. Life shows up billions of years ago.

To hold this position, You have to be somewhat liberal in your interpretation of Gen 1-11 and on some theological issues. Hugh Ross, a brilliant man and charismatic speaker, is the main proponent of this view, and believes in pre-Adamic hominids (ape-men) with no souls, death before sin, no world-wide flood. These ideas have huge theological impact and so why does he believe these things? Because he believes Adam showed up about six thousand years and all of the geology and fossils were already in the ground. So you must have life and death before Adam. And you can't explain the layers of rock we see over the whole world by appealing to a world-wide catastrophic flood because Noah came after Adam and after the rocks were already laid down in layers by other naturalistic processes that he wants to preserve in his belief system.

Intelligent Design Movement

These are honest scientists who have no religious or biblical agenda but are simply bothered by the inability of Darwin's natural selection to explain the origin of complex systems of biological life. The specific complexity and appearance of design we see in life is better explained by appealing to an intelligent designer.

The proponents of the ID movement are agnostic about any particular designer and are not interested in appealing to the God of the Bible or to the Bible as any kind of authoritative book. Most of what they do is to critic the model of evolution by pointing out its weaknesses.

Because they are accredited, real working scientists, they are able to gain a lot more traction within the scientific community than a Creationist would be able to. Still, the ID movement is vigorously opposed by most mainstream scientists.

Theological Evolutionist

This group is typically quite liberal regarding the authority of the Bible and wants no part of being labeled a "foolish" creationist. Basically, they have no problem saying that God used evolution as his means to create life. Certainly an all-powerful, sovereign God could create life anyway he so chooses. The only problem is how to reconcile the meaning of the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

More importantly, Darwinism (random chance mutation acting through natural selection) is an unguided, purposeless material process with no room or need for God.

Atheistic Evolutionist

It used to be that an atheist was an eccentric. They had no plausible story for how we came to be. So they needed a plausible creation story and Darwin provided one. For the Atheist, naturalism must explain everything. In fact, science has now been defined to exclude any appeal to the supernatural.

Now, to be an atheist is mainstream. And Post-modernism is adding to its ranks daily.

Creation Resources

Posted by: David Carroll

I created a list of recommended books on Amazon.Com related to Creation Sciencewww.shrinkster.com/lhh
Gap Theory (apologetics rebuttal against)www.shrinkster.com/lhk
Answers in Genesiswww.answersingenesis.org
Institute for Creation Researchwww.icr.org
In the Beginning, Walt Brown, (online book)www.creationscience.com
Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution.www.shrinkster.com/3tr
The Intelligent Design Movementwww.shrinkster.com/3ts
"Progressive Creationist" Hugh Ross, who is he and what does he believe?www.shrinkster.com/3tv
www.reasons.org

Offense not Defense

Posted by: David Carroll

The book of Joshua is about the Israelites taking the land. It is a book about warfare. As Christians we talk a lot about spiritual warfare but do we really practice it?

Remember when Jesus was at Caesarea Philippi? It’s up near the Golan heights, where the tribe of Dan was. Caesarea Philippi was the center of pagan worship. Jesus said in Matthew 16, while he was pointing to the temples of pagan worship, “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Who is doing the defending in that verse? Gates are for defense. They were the gates of hell. Hell was defending against the church! The church of Jesus Christ is to be in an offensive posture not defensive. But we tend to act like we are prisoners of war.

Joshua teaches us about victory and how to get it. A Christian does not work towards victory, he works from victory! Jesus Christ already won the victory when he rose again from the dead. That’s our guarantee of success.

Training Pastors in Nicaragua

Posted by: David Carroll

Walt Morgan is a good friend of mine and is president of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Nicaragua. This week, I am helping Walt raise support for the Seminary among some churches in the Atlanta and East Tennessee area and then back in Memphis later this week.

Here is a brief video introduction to the Seminary:

Respect for God

Posted by: David Carroll

My friend Michael Earls commented on my last post and expressed appreciation for my respect for God. (Hi Micheal, good to hear from you!) I’ve been thinking about respect for God. First let me say that respect for God is a a rare thing in today’s world and I know Michael too respects God. So many people have no respect for God because they do not believe in Him. Or if they do believe in God, he is not occupying much place in their thoughts. So I really appreciate Michael noticing that and it is something everyone should take a step towards. But respect for God is not a final destination rather it is just a step or a move towards God. Although God is worthy of respect because respect has the meaning of being honored and esteemed, somehow respect does not rise to the level of adequately describing my attitude toward God.

What attitude then glorifies God? I’d like to say that I love God but even that sounds like too much like me giving something to Him. (I do love Him, I’m just trying to find the attitude that really glorifies God.) You see God is the source of everything; He is always the giver and never the receiver as if He needed anything from us. I might say and do in fact fear God because of his holy righteousness. That’s good and true too certainly in the sense that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. (Don’t you fear someone who could squash you in an instant and moreover knows all your secrets?) Let’s see, how about grateful…yes that works too because of God’s great mercy. Mercy is the part that keeps God from squashing me or making me pay for all those dirty dark secrets that only He and I know about.

But someone did pay. God paid. God absorbed the righteous wrath of God against my sin. Wait a minute. Did I say that right? God paid God’s penalty? Yes of course, Jesus Christ paid it all. And all the while God the Son was hanging on that cross suffering for my sake, it was God the Father in heaven pouring out his wrath. That way he is both just and the one who justifies. God’s wrath was spent not withdrawn.

How do I know all this is true? Of course I got it all out of the Bible. But God provided proof by raising Jesus from the dead. The ressurection is the proof that God is satisfied.

That’s why respect, love, fear, and gratefulness as attitudes toward God don’t seem enough. Oh they are necessary and right. I suppose gratefulness comes the closest because it describes my receiving instead of my giving. But when I talk about God and see His work in everything around me including in the budding forth of spring foliage and flowers, I am delighted. Delight, yes that’s the word. I am really delighted and soul-satisfied when I consider God. And I am not giving him anything in my delight rather I am soaking it all in: His love toward me, his mercy toward me, his goodness all around me, his magnificence in his creation.

He made me and he made you to delight in his glory!

On Cue

Posted by: David Carroll

I was out walking in the forest last week (March 23) and took this picture of a ridge and a ravine. The weather was delightful and you could tell the forest was waking up from it’s winter slumber.

DSC40_0165

Nine days later (yesterday April 1) I was walking the same trail and took a picture of the same ridge (below).

DSC_0313

Now I was standing a litte further up in the second shot but you can tell it is the same location by examining the roots of some of the trees hugging the ridge.

The astonishing thing I’m sure you notice is the difference in green foliage. A little rain, a little warmth, longer days and the program kicks in to high gear. I say program because that is what it is, it does this every year automatically. Such astonishing beauty and unbelievable and complex innerworkings of sap rising and photosynthisis. I’m glad I got to see this as I ponder God’s unfathomable excellence in His design for life.

Psalm 8:1,3–4

O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

 

Backpacking!

Posted by: David Carroll

Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

I went backpacking with some wonderful friends this past weekend to the Richland Creek Wilderness area just north of Russellville AR. What a delightful trip and considering what I've been through, a miracle! God is good! Three Davids went (should have been four David D. :-) and Roxanne and Tiffany and Kyle.

DSCN0608The water was high and so we could not make the second stream crossing like we had planned but no matter, the campsite we stayed at for two nights was delightful and we were close to a bend in the river with a beach and within a short (although rugged) hike to Richland Creek Falls and Twin Falls. It was cold the first night and the temp was in the low twenties when we woke up Sunday morning. We day hiked to the falls that afternoon and said our goodbyes' to Dave and Kyle who had to head on back home that afternoon. It rained in the middle of the night Sunday night and it was only in the thirties Monday morning. David S. and I determined that we could cross the stream at about thigh deep to go see the twin falls before we broke camp to head on back home. After a quick breakfast and finally some warm coffee after that cold crossing, we packed it up and headed out of the woods for the two mile trek and final stream crossing. The trail was wet and muddy in places so we gingerly scrambled over the rocks and narrow ledges and arrived at our car early afternoon. Two nights in the woods and base camping does not sound all that much but I was so encouraged and filled with gratitude for my friends who spurred me on and gave me a new start in backpacking adventures.

Check out the album on bubbleshare by clicking here. Dave and David, you can download a zip file of the pictures when you go to the album. They should be a decent size, but if there are any you want the fullsize original of, let me know and I'll email them to you.

Link Blogs

Posted by: David Carroll

Note that I have removed from the front page the "Notable Links" that I post here from time to time. They are also removed from the main RSS and Atom feeds for those who use aggregators.

Of course they are still available as two separate "Link Blogs" on the menu on the right side. You can subscribe separately to those "Link Blogs" on those pages.

The Misc Link Blog contains items I want to save or find interesting that anybody might find interesting. The Link Blog for Developers contains items that would be of interest only to other software developers.

Just trying to reduce the clutter and noise from the main page.

New Look, works with Firefox too

Posted by: David Carroll

I was informed by a visitor (thanks Matthew!) that the site was not working right with FireFox 2.0 (embarrassed look :-). Anyway, I’ve been working on cleaning up the CSS stylesheets today and it all seems to work now in both browsers. 

That explains the new spartan look. I may dress it up later but it’s growing on me so I may leave it for a while.

Of making many books there is no end

Posted by: David Carroll

Ecclesiastes 12:12

And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.

I buy lots of books. The two main genres are books about software development and books with a religious theme. For novels, I usually buy from Audible so that I can enjoy them while driving or walking or just sitting in the hot tub. Anyway, I am a very good customer of Amazon. I just cannot resist the latest book on some new technology. What amazes me about books about computer programming is that I am never satisfied. Typically I graze through the  book looking for some little tidbit of information I can use or that I am unfamiliar with. Most of the time, I find two or three little things that I learn from the book and then I am done with it. I never use them as a reference manual. Google has replaced that.

So why do I keep buying these very expensive books (they are very proud of them at $50 each)? I guess I justify that the two or three tidbits of new information is worth it.

Comment Spam and Google juice

Posted by: David Carroll

No big deal but I had to shut down the site for about 36 hours while I put some protection in against comment spam.

GooglesearchSomebody evidently found the site and was using it to post a bunch of links to other sites. Nothing trashy as far as I could tell without clicking on the links but still a bunch of gibberish in the comments. The motivation probably was in hopes of getting some “Google juice.” Google’s page-rank system uses a measurement of the number of sites that link to a given site to measure that site’s importance in the Google search results. The more important the site, the higher up in the search list it goes. So it is not only how many sites link to a site being measured for rank but their relative ranks as well. If a high ranking site links to a site, the linked site will increase in stature in Google’s page-rank system.

I’ve had enough high ranking sites link to me so that David’s Bible Blog makes it to the top of the search results for some queries. For example, if you search for “Bible Blog” (click here to try it) I am number two. And if you search for “David Carroll” (again click here to try it) I am number one!

He made the wind and the waves stand still!

Posted by: David Carroll

Jesus can heal the sick and he does it through a touch or just a word. I’ve been healed and I am convinced that it was by faith and through the prayers of God’s people. (I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of how many people were praying for me!) But there are those who would say that when people get healed they simply want to give God credit when actually time or medicine actually did the work. In my case, time and medicine certainly were the means of God’s grace, but it was a miracle how God revealed where the real problem was because I went through two surgeries fixing something that evidently was not the problem. Go here to read more about that. But that’s not the point of this post. Healing could be dismissed by naysayers as wishful thinking.

WavesWhen Jesus and the disciples were out on the sea of Galilee during the storm about to be swamped by the waves, Jesus was sound asleep in the stern of the boat. (It takes a real peace of mind to sleep in a situation like that!) Anyway, the disciples who were scared to death, wake Jesus to inform him of their plight. After rebuking their little faith, he “rebuked” the storm by saying “Peace, be still.” And immediately there was total calm. Now you’d think these guys would be relieved by now, but the Bible records that now they were exceedingly afraid. Think about what they have just witnessed! A man stands up in a boat and commands vast amounts of energy and matter to stand still. That got their attention. In fact the Bible says they exclaimed “What manner of man is this!?” That’s the point: Jesus is no mere man. He is the God-Man. Jesus is not just the Son of God, he is God the Son. He is the Logos, the Word of God who spoke everything into existance.

Continuing with the series, you can listen to the audio of the second Sunday School lesson on Jesus Miracles from the book of Matthew here. (right click on the link and choose “save as” to download the mp3 file)

Miracles

Posted by: David Carroll

It has been a long time since I taught Sunday School and last weekend I got the chance to teach for several Sundays in a row. I was a bit anxious about teaching again after my hiatus but I have been praying about when I would start full time again. So this opportunity to teach as a substitute for a few weeks is really an answer to prayer. What is an answer to prayer if not a miracle? Speaking of miracles, that is what I am teaching on. Beginning in Matthew 8, Jesus performs a series of miracles mixed in with some teachings. I really like this section because there is so much action. Jesus is showing his muscle which is his complete authority over everything including human sickness, demons and even nature itself.

So in keeping with the podcasting I have done in the past, I am posting the audio of the first lesson on Jesus’ miracles here. Sorry about the recording quality, I inadvertantly set the mic switch on high gain boost so there are some pops in the audio.

Needless to say, I really am enjoying digging into God’s word and the discipline has been good for me. Thank you Lord!

Listen to the audio of the first lesson on Matthew Chapter 8.

Cure for stress

Posted by: David Carroll

Things around here have been a bit stressful, not bad, just a bit overwhelming when thinking about all that I need to get done over the next few months. Times like this can make you feel guilty for procrastinating which tends to make the stress even worse. It is important to have some times of refreshing during such a period, something that makes the worry melt away even for only a few hours.

I know two things that accomplish this. One is prayer. Prayer that admits your own fraility and inadequacies and lays your burdens on Jesus. It is not that the prayer itself makes you feel better although it certainly helps. Rather it is that prayer actually works. God answers prayer.

James 5:16 (NKJV)

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

The second thing that works is worship and fellowship. Go to church and love and be loved by the brethren. Sweet fellowship and worship can accomplish wonders for the weary and stressed out soul.

Psalm 84:1-2 (NKJV)

How lovely is Your tabernacle,  O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV)

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.

I sat with dear friends from my old Sunday School class tonight and sang and worshiped and I could feel my worries melt away. That’s what I call times of refreshing. Jerry Vines preached the last of four Wednesday nights we call Awesome August. He preached on the importance of Church and my own experience of being refreshed totally underscored and validated the message.

Acts 3:19 (NKJV)

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

Img003Johnny Hunt preached last Wednesday night. It was the next to last night Bethany was home before we took her back to Birmingham for her Junior year in college. Johnny is a dear friend and gifted preacher. Bethany was baptised by Johnny back in 1997. What a great message Johnny preached on perseverence as the proof of our faith. God has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Johnny preached on the following text.

2 Peter 1:1-11 (NKJV)

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You can listen to the mp3 here.

Spiritual Reformation

Posted by: David Carroll

Time to reform my inner life, that is to form again into what it should be. I may look OK on the outside but that’s only because I can prop it up and build quick facades so that no one notices what’s behind. It’s time to work on the inner man. That means I might start to look like a “construction zone.” Like my body has been in tatters and I am now starting to exercise and make it stronger, healthier, my spiritual disciplines are in tatters too and I need to begin to exercise it and make it stronger, healthier. Just like the goal for my physical reformation is stamina, strength, and flexibility I could describe the goal for my spiritual being in the same way but that would be superficial and ignore the most important thing. Jesus is the focus of spiritual reformation; Christ-likeness is the goal.

What does Christ-likeness look like? I think it looks like obedience on the outside. But that is not what it is on the inside. Obedience is the manifestation, what you see as a result, not what causes Christ-likeness. Obedience simply makes me look like the scribes and the Pharisees.

Matthew 5:20 (NKJV)

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

So, what does Christ-likeness look like on the inside? It looks like thoughts, affections, choices, rest, peace, desire, love and all that. But still, it is not the source. The Holy Spirit of God is the source and it is His work. That’s called grace. Grace is not so much like resting in a tub of warm water; it is more like standing under an invigorating waterfall. Grace is not so much what God has done for me but more what God is doing for me and continues to do for me. Piper calls that Future Grace.

So although I am to do all things He has commanded me, I must not forget that He is master over everything in heaven and He will be with me every step of the way. So when I decide to do a command He is right there with me and He has all the resources under his power.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

On Guard!

Posted by: David Carroll

DSC_1033Lots of errands to run this morning, but as I stepped onto the back deck I saw this critter. When I would approach him he would raise his hind legs up and hold this tail up in the air as if it were a sword he would attack me with. So this is the guy (among thousands) who has been making all the noise at night. Those crickets are really loud and they have this rhythm when they all get to going at the same time it just magnifies. God really makes some strange creatures and they are everywhere. I don’t see any eyes on this bugger. I think those flat spots on his head are his hearing organs and those antenna have sensory purposes too. Amazing!