Sunday, February 14, 2010

The illogical idea of an impersonal creator

“Naturalism does not have an answer for the ultimate question of why there is something instead of nothing, but then, theism does not try to answer the agnostic’s question: who created God? Creation has to begin with something that is eternal, the uncaused cause of everything that follows. Theists start with God, and scientific naturalists start with matter (perhaps virtual particles emerging from a quantum fluctuation in a vacuum) and IMPERSONAL natural laws. From the ultimate beginning to the emergence of human consciousness, according to naturalistic science, PURPOSELESS NATURAL FORCES of the kind already known to our science were capable of doing, and actually did do, all the work of creating formerly credited to God. This account is what I call the ‘grand metaphysical story of science,’ in which Darwinian evolution is the most important element...” (Phillip E. Johnson, “Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law, and Education." Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995, pp.16-17.)

I’ve been reading some for my apologetics term paper due in a class in a matter of weeks…and while reading Phillip Johnson, I came across this quote. What struck me the most is the idea (which I think just dawned on me) that blind, impersonal forces, if not nature herself, is responsible for creating all of the world itself (according to evolution). I guess the idea, while greatly disturbing, never gets old to the human mind...

But it’s not so much the idea that’s disturbing as the argument itself. To be frank, it doesn’t make any sense; it is illogical to the human mind to conceive of such an argument. Let me explain why.

Think of humanity. Humans possess intelligence, and with that intelligence, we have achieved many things over the years, including walking on the moon and creating the first airplane. The human potential is great. As C. S. Lewis once stated:

“It is a matter of daily experience that rational thoughts induce and enable us to alter the course of Nature----of physical nature when we use mathematics to build bridges, or of psychological nature when we apply arguments to alter our own emotions. We succeed in modifying physical nature more often and more completely than we succeed in modifying psychological nature, but we do at least a little to both. On the other hand, nature is quite powerless to produce rational thought: not that she never modifies our thinking but that the moment she does so, it ceases (for that very reason) to be rational. For, as we have seen, a train of thought loses all rational credentials as soon as it can be shown to be wholly the result of nonrational causes” (C.S. Lewis, “Miracles,” pp. 38-39).

Lewis continues and gets to the heart of the matter:

“That is the peculiar state of affairs at the frontier. Nature can only raid Reason to kill; but Reason can invade Nature to take prisoners and even to colonise. Every object you see before you at this moment----the walls, the ceiling, and furniture, the book, your own washed hands and cut fingernails, bears witness to the colonization of Nature by Reason: for none of this matter would have been in these states if Nature had had her way” (C.S. Lewis, “Miracles,” page 39).

As I stated above, humans possess great power and potential in the world to alter the environment in which they live. However, there is one little thing to add to this point: while humans are able to build and create, they can never build and create anything greater than themselves.

A good example of this would be Israel’s story of the golden calf in Exodus. We are told that when Moses went up to receive the Ten Commandments, the people tired of waiting for Moses after some time and told Aaron to make them a golden calf they could worship:

“ ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt----we don’t know what has happened to him!’
Then Aaron replied to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from their hands, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.
Then they said, ‘Israel, THIS IS YOUR GOD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:1b-4, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Although the people made a golden calf, and exalted it as “god,” the calf itself did not even possess the intelligence of the people (Israel) who worshipped it. This is what made idol worship (and still does today) a humorous, yet ridiculous, matter indeed! Why worship something that doesn’t even possess your own capabilities? The Israelites were rational, thinking beings, while the calf was just a bunch of gold melted together, with no intelligence whatsoever. Who would want to worship a block of gold?

But Darwinists (and evolutionists) do the exact same thing when they attempt to argue for philosophical naturalism. Johnson defines “philosophical naturalism”:

“In our greatest universities, naturalism----the doctrine that nature is ‘all there is’----is the virtually unquestioned assumption that underlies not only natural science but intellectual work of all kinds. If naturalism is true, then HUMANKIND CREATED GOD----NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND” (Phillip Johnson, “Reason in the Balance,” pp. 7-8).

Go back to the first quote I provided at the beginning of this post. Darwinists (those who hold to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution) believe that “impersonal natural laws” and “purposeless” forces are responsible for the creation of the world. But then, why worship “Nature” as God? If nature is “impersonal” and designs without purpose (“purposeless”), then why worship her?

Think about the human potential. Humans possess rationality (thought) and personality (character). If nature possesses none of these (neither thought nor personality), and humanity does, then doesn’t this make humanity GREATER than nature (because humanity possesses things that nature lacks)? And if humanity is greater than nature, shouldn’t humanity be WORSHIPPED rather than nature itself?

Well, I suppose that if nature and humanity were all that existed, I would worship mankind as his own god. However, there is more in life than just humanity and nature. In the same way that nature, as impersonal and lacking personality, cannot produce personal and rational humanity, humanity itself cannot have produced all we see around us. For, if humans were created at a set time, and are limited by human nature (what they can and cannot do), then some Unlimited Being must exist out there, one who is not bound by limitations. This is why humans “discover” territory and planets, not “create” them; we “conserve” natural resources, not “plant” or “place” them in the earth; why we do not “create” days, but “mark” the passage of time. This is why we cannot “guide” storms, but must “flee” from them in order to save our own selves. Finally, this is why we “find” cures rather than “cure” diseases like cancer and AIDS. In contrast to these things, in the world of computers, we “invent” and “design” software programs and other technological accessories. I hate to say it, but we do not possess the same grip on the harder issues of life as we do the easier ones. And this should tell us just how limited man really is.

“When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, WHAT IS MAN THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM, the son of man that You look after him?” (Psalm 8: 3-4, HCSB)

Nature, then, lacks what humanity possesses---and therefore, cannot be the “God” of the universe. There only remains one that can do so...

Some may say, “Well, what can we know about this Creator? If nature is not ‘God,’then who is?”

Let’s go back to Israel and the Golden Calf. Israel melted down her gold to make this animal, this idol; but the worst part is that the idol did not possess the intelligence of the Israelites themselves. They could only make, at best, something INFERIOR to their own identity. They couldn’t create an object that would possess intelligence, or personality, or even something that could talk back to them! Notice that the calf could not talk...

So whoever is responsible for creating humankind (and therefore, all of creation) is someone who at least possesses intelligence (because man possesses rationality). If nature is not it, then there must be a God of the universe who is the exact opposite of everything nature is. This God would NOT be the god of “finite godism” (the god who changes throughout life), nor would He be the god of process theology (the god who is constantly becoming); instead, He would be the God of the Scriptures, the God who said “I AM that I AM” (Exodus 3:14) or “I will be that I will be.”

Psalm 115 tells us why the God of the Bible is to be worshipped:

“Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to YOUR NAME GIVE GLORY because of Your faithful love, because of Your truth.
Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases.
Their idols (the nations) are silver and gold, MADE BY HUMAN HANDS. They have mouths, but CANNOT SPEAK, eyes, but CANNOT SEE. They have ears, but CANNOT HEAR, noses, but CANNOT SMELL. They have hands, but CANNOT FEEL, feet, but CANNOT WALK. THEY CANNOT MAKE A SOUND WITH THEIR THROATS. THOSE WHO MAKE THEM ARE JUST LIKE THEM, as are all who trust in them” (Ps. 115:1-8, HCSB).

The “gods” of the nations are just idols, just statues, just objects. The funny thing is that these idols cannot even “speak, hear, smell, feel, or talk.” These idols are INFERIOR to the humans who worship them! And those who worship the idols are SUPERIOR to the idols themselves!

How ridiculous it is to worship a god who is “less” than ourselves!! And yet, this is what we find the Darwinists telling us to do: worship an impersonal and non-rational nature, one that is inferior to ourselves. How wild is that?

Who would ever worship something inferior to themselves? This makes no sense. All throughout time, humans have longed to worship something “greater” and “beyond” themselves. But if the Darwinists have it their way, man will begin to worship something over which even he himself has power (Genesis 1:26-28). Where’s the logic in all this?

But, such is the state of man when he has forgotten who his Creator is...

1 comment:

Kaitiaki said...

I like your post on this issue. However the case is worse than you state: It's not that "... such is the state of man when he has forgotten who his Creator is..." but that knowing God they deny him and worship and serve the creature, rather than the Creator.

I would say nothing about this except you say you are doing an apologetics class. At the heart of the false view is a step of faith (even as there is a step of faith in the Christian view). The non-Christian makes that step in choosing to believe something or someone other than God is the creator and sustainer of the universe. From that beginning reason is pressed into service to "prove" the original assumption is correct.

Now your argument is a basis for apologetics - an impersonal creator is illogical and so the Creator has to be personal. Then Romans 1 and 2 provide the intellectual framework for our view that natural man knows the true God but denies him - and the use of the illogical argument you describe so well is proof of that fact and is a challenge to acknowledge the true God of Scripture.