Response to Calvary Nexus Dr. J.P. Moreland on “The Evidence for Christianity”

A pastor friend of mine recently tweeted/facebooked a link to the following video from Dr. J.P. Moreland – in this video Dr. Moreland attempts to prove that god exists using what he calls “creation”. I responded to the post on Facebook – but wanted to share my answers to three of the main points made by Moreland.

 

 

Firstly I’d like to take a moment to say the following:

 

Though I respect Dr. Moreland’s stance and fully understand it – I find it best, when I want to know how the Christian community or individual Christians feel about certain things, that I ask the sources directly. When Dr. Moreland here speaks as to the goals of the new atheists, although some of them are somewhat correct, I believe he does his audience a disservice – My challenge to you and anyone that bothers to read this is simply this:  Ask a New Atheist (which I am) what it is that you want to know about New Atheism (I hate to use capitals on those) – never take someone’s word over those of true sources. The same goes for any questions you have about Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc…even though myself or Dr. Moreland may be well versed in a few different belief systems we are not nearly as valid a source than a reasonable selection of believers in those faith systems.

This approach helps us to avoid a false understanding of one another, which promotes a more respectable dialog.

 

Now, to move on to some of the points that Dr. Moreland made:

Three Evidences for God’s existence from the Created world

 

Contention 1: The Universe began to exist, something supernatural had to create it.

 

 

Dr. Moreland uses the 2nd law of thermodynamics – aka Entropy – to explain that the universe actually had a beginning point – of which there is zero question amongst the scientific community that I am aware of.

 

I have never heard any scientific mind of the 20th century or later claim that the universe did not have a beginning nor that the galaxies are not expanding (and cooling) over time (See the Doppler effect – this is where the Big Bang theory came from)

 

The problem arises when Dr. Moreland makes the claim that there must have been an external supernatural actor…That’s like saying that the ice cream you have in your hand must have come from Wal-mart – when it could have just as easily come from Dairy Queen or Wendy’s. The beauty and the frustration in science is in the ability for us to say “I don’t know” in relation to where or what caused the singularity to expand or even where the singularity came from. We do not know, but that’s ok – what is NOT ok is to say that you KNOW what the singularity came from and his name was YHVH (or other god) because that simply cannot be proven true. This is science done backwards – having an answer first and then working your way back to the question or hypothesis.

 

The actor very well could have been God…perhaps even YHVH, but it also could have been a collision with another universe in a multiverse…truth is, I don’t know – to claim that you do is to lie.

Contention 2: Origin of Biological Information

 

 

Dr. Moreland uses multiple examples that rely on simplified computer models – so for the sake of this argument I’ll stick with that.

 

DNA is a compilation of data in the form of proteins/Amino acids (1’s and 0’s of binary code if you will though in this example a quantum code would be necessary) – RNA (the step below DNA) can and has been repeatedly formed in the laboratory from materials that are completely inorganic – in other words RNA – or the information that supposedly cannot be formed outside of intelligent intervention has and is something that can be formed simply by random process. Not only is abiogenesis possible, but considering the number of amino acids that would have existed in the early atmosphere of the earth, it was almost unavoidable. It was like – if you will – having 10 million computers compiling random code for millions of years – eventually one or many of them will result in recognizable patterns that we call information. These are the building blocks of life.

 

I’m not incredibly familiar with the inner operations of SETI, but it sounds to me like their actual standard for intelligence is that transmissions that are in pattern would definitely be a result of intelligent life…but not non-transmitted information. It is the effort of transmission that would lead one to believe that intelligent life compiled and sent data…not the data alone.

 

Contention 3: Moral Absolutes Exist and are best explained by a Moral law giver.

 

 

I am not, and don’t actually know any people that are true relativist. Dr. Moreland is spot on here and I do not disagree. However – his understanding of the source for moral law disagrees with mine. (Though torturing little babies does sound tempting…jk)

 

I believe that the evidence of our anthropological history points to a moral law which is almost entirely centered on Survivalism and Empathy. That is – the need to survive, and the somewhat unique mammalian ability to consider how one would feel if in the same situation as another.

 

This trait is a unique one that was evolved in higher society mammals – (Dogs, Dophins, Monkeys, Apes, and Humans) – wherein these animals have diminished medula oblongatas and therefore fewer tendencies for anger and killing as well as a greatly enlarged Temporal Lobe – wherein emotions, self-awareness, and empathy reside.  Simply put, it is our need to survive that guided us into a more communal way of life as well as the need to cope with conflicts without constant killing in that communal way of life – empathy drives us to compassion and a willingness (sometimes) to help others.

On Chance:

 

I like to think of the likelihood of our existence and kind of a cosmic lottery – where the chances of winning are 1 in about 10 Trillion – seemingly ridiculous odds right? However – in this lottery there are Trillions of galaxies, each with trillions of stars/solar systems that lie in the Habitable zone, each system has it’s own habitable zone and likely has 2-3 planets each…half of which might be habitable and congruent to some form of life formation….when you consider the number of lottery tickets that buys you’ve got to know that someone is very likely to win. So the odds might be 1 in about 10 trillion, but you’ve sold 1000 Trillion tickets to this lotto….so the odds of there being a winning ticket are actually 100/1.

There is a chance of god existing, of course…lets just hope for your sake and mine that it isn’t Allah or Cthulu.

On Dr. Morelands final comments regarding the responsibility of believers to be able to account for their faith – I completely agree…and I hope that more believers will take the time to familiarize themselves not only with their own currently held beliefs, but also the beliefs of others and the findings of the scientific community.

  • Geoff

    This sounds consistent with discussions we've had in the past. A comment and a question though.

    1. I believe the ice cream is from Wal Mart.

    2. In point 3, what basis do you use to assert the higher mammals have empathy? Seems to me like, apart from their ability to tell me so, it's not possible to know?

    Love ya bro.

    Geoff

  • Ang

    This was well written and I feel respectful. You made some very valid points and you did yourself and others that are part of the New Atheist movement a favor by opening the question yet allowing for doubt on both parts. When something is presented in this manner, it makes me and others like me; scientific people who don't embrace young earth creation but do not rule out the existence of God.

  • Andrew

    The observable universe has an estimated 200 billion galaxies. The Milky Way Galaxy contains between 100 and 400 billion stars, estimated 500 million planets in the habitable zone of their parent star.

    • RevOxley

      I think that even with those numbers the odds are highly in the favor of chance to allow for some cosmic lottery winners. The Drake Equation is really what I'm pointing to when the numbers are all boiled down and I wasn't meaning to be authoritative with my "Trillions" numbers – though once the number of galaxies are multiplied by the average number of habitable zone planets Trillions will be far exceeded.

  • What is the difference between a new and old atheist? LOL

    • I guess there is no difference? Semantics is it? LOL

  • Your Ice Cream analogy is flawed. Saying something outside of nature is the cause of nature is the only -and unavoidable- conclusion if one agrees that at some point there was not nature. A system cannot be created by that system. I agree that this in no way requires a deity or a specific deity though.

  • Where is the need for "Faith", if evidence for God existed? Scientific evidence of God's existence is contrary to what the Bible teaches on Faith. There is no evidence, there never will be any evidence. It is either Faith, or nothing. I love Calvary Chapel greatly, but fighting atheists on their own ground, on their terms is simply Auto-FAIL.

  • I agree that it is Auto-FAIL. Glad to finally understand the difference by the way between old and new atheist. The only problem I have with the activist part of the new atheist is that they can't prove that God doesn't exist any more than a christian can prove that he does. I would like to define what I consider a christian. A christian in my mind is a true believer in Jesus that is reading God's word and living it with all they are and all they understand it to mean and that are not committing crimes against society on a regular basis at least but are aiding society. I say "on a regular basis at least", because there are humans in all religions and all walks of life that at times choose to live opposed to the very words they profess to believe. When that happens there are crimes and pain brought on by their hypocrisy. I unfortunately am one of these people because I am human. For me that is why I desperately needed His grace. I cannot maintain perfection. That being said I do continue to strive to correct my path when I fail as instructed in His word.

  • If Yaweh's Word is wrong then atheist whether old or new will be just fine. And all these discussions will be for nothing. A spitting in the wind. And all the actions of Christians to evangelze won't matter. NO Harm No Foul. If His word is correct then atheist and all the people that have been lead to believe that there is no god are in serious trouble. It is often sadly true that people use the failings of humans as their "proof" that there is no god. I respect you Matt very much. I know that you are very intelligent and have given so much thought to all of this. I can't possibly touch you on a discussion like this based on science. These are just some of my thoughts. Thanks for listening to my blowing in the wind.

    • RevOxley

      Hi Caramia,

      Thanks for the comments, you and I have had some lengthy discussions about the tenets of the faith…not sure if we ever really touched on this particular fallacy or not…

      The problem here is that you are making the assumption that either YHWH is the one true god or he is not….which is true until you consider the following: There are 10,000+ other deities past and present that have been worshipped by various millions of people over the eons of our existence….some of which are descendents of YHWH. There are hundreds of holy books still preserved today from some of those religions, there are many thousands more that have been lost in wars and fires and that have been victims of history….any of which could have just as easily been correct….

      You can't know that Allah is not the one true god, and that your exaltation of Jesus Christ as deity is going to end in your lengthy punishment and torment….yet you deny Allah's place as the one true god….much like I deny YHWH's position – can you truly say that somehow your position is safer than my own? Of course not!

  • Thank you for responding. Yes I am assuming that because as you well know I believe God's word to be true and you more than most know what it says. Jesus claimed to be the only way in which we maybe saved. And while I haven't done quite the extensive research you have I have researched other religions (not all 10,000 deities mind you) in my desire to find what was correct in my mind and the one that I chose to believe is Christianity. Many people that don't follow Christ believe him to be a great teacher but choose not to follow him.

  • Even the Muslim's consider him a prophet. Well I choose to believe that He was either a great teacher or he was a great liar. He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to be the only way in which we might be saved. A great teacher would never lie to his students in that way. If he was a liar then he wasn't a great teacher. I choose to believe he was much more than a great teacher, I believe what He said. No I can't know whether I am right any more than you can know you are right. We both choose to believe what we believe. Yes I do believe my position is safer for me. For several reasons first many would contend that Allah isn't the God of the Bible at all but a reinvented Moon God. Also Jesus is reported as saying that he came: "To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me." (Qur'an 3:50)
    See even the Qur'an says to obey Jesus.

  • Khan

    Relevant TED talk by David Christian.
    http://youtu.be/yqc9zX04DXs