Friday, April 23, 2010

Part 3 of 10 Non-Biblical Proofs of Christianity

This is the third installment in our series:
10 Non-Biblical Proofs of Christianity in which we examine 10 solid areas of evidence that support the unique claims of Christianity.

To read part 1 CLICK HERE
To read part 2 CLICK HERE

Let's move on to reason #3:
3.  The Characteristics of Mankind defy Natural Explanation

They often say that "it's easy to miss the forest because of the trees." Meaning: Sometimes we are so close to something that we don't actually realize that it's there, or, maybe we do realize it's there, but we fail to appreciate it. People who live near naturally beautiful areas, such as the mountains, can become so accustomed to the views that they lose (to some degree) the ability to appreciate the wonder of their surroundings. When friends or family from out of town come to visit, the visitors will remark about the breathtaking vistas, and the natives of the area will just smile and nod. They have become jaded.

My brother moved to Cincinatti years ago and his house was located near the end of an airport runway. As we were outside talking, the planes would regularly pass directly overhead, and I would look up every time and be distracted by the sight and the noise. He didn't even notice.

Where is this going in terms of evidences of Christianity? My third proof of the truth of the faith is US. Mankind. People. Humanity.


Are you unimpressed with evidence #3? I bet you are. Probably something akin to 95% of you are thinking: "Wow, if this is his third best reason, he is really scraping, blah blah blah."

I think we are missing the forest for the trees, or should I say, we are missing the evidence because it is US. 

Pause for just a moment and think about mankind, humanity. There are animals, there are fish, and trees, and birds, and bacteria, and insects---and then there is mankind. Though we are flesh and blood beings, think about how different we are than all of the rest of the created order. This is so important, it is worth spending a lot of time pondering (and we don't because we are on the inside looking out).

Imagine if someone found a diamond that was about 6 feet tall and weighed about 150 pounds. People would travel from all over the world to just look at it, or maybe even touch it. Some would maybe risk their lives to even try and steal it. But now, look in the mirror. Staring back at you is a technological, intellectual, and creative wonder that makes all the gems and treasures of the world look like trash by comparison.

Diamonds are made out of one of the most worthless and common substances on the earth---carbon. When you burn a piece of paper or wood, and you have black residue left over, you basically have carbon. Worthless. Ugly. But, compress it and align the atoms just right and you form a diamond. If the atoms weren't lined up just right to create the transparent gem, even 100 pounds of it would be worth only a few bucks. Now, the human body is composed of fairly common materials as well, and if you could separate them out into piles of powder, each of us would be worth (on the open market) less than twenty bucks. So, it's not the actual chemicals or is the arrangement of them that creates something truly amazing.

But are we only just a combination of chemicals and molecules? Are we only an animal, just an animal, and nothing but an animal? Even a casual examination of the evidence reveals that mankind is not only different, we are exceptional to an absurd degree. If one were looking at the evidence for or against evolution, a simple perusal of humanity's properties alone destroys the Darwinian model. To put it simply: we are overkill in just about every measurable area, and beyond overkill in unmeasurable areas (transcendent qualities such as creativity, intelligence, personality, etc)

I am not meaning to sound arrogant, or sacrilegious, or blasphemous, but hear me out. By comparison to the rest of the creation, mankind is almost godlike in terms of our intellectual capacity, our potential, our achievements, and our creativity. The gap between the smartest and the "highest" of the animal kingdom and mankind is nearly infinite.

There are much-vaunted reports about the chemical similarity between human DNA and that of chimpanzee's as being around 95% similar (that is actually for only a part of the human genome). But, even if that were true for the entire 3-billion-plus code of our DNA, that does nothing to mitigate or to minimize the nearly infinite difference between humans and these primates in terms of actual, real, practical differences. Remember, a burned piece of wood and a diamond are almost 100% identical (chemically--they are both just carbon). But would anyone place a chunk of burned wood on a ring and offer that as an engagement token? Would people pay thousands of dollars for the black remains of twigs from a Boy Scout campfire? Nope.

Actually, all earthly life is basically similar at some elemental level. From bacteria to bananas to people, we (physically) are arrangements of the common atoms such as hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, or more rarely nitrogen, phosphorus, even sulfur. Some studies have shown that your DNA is over 95% similar to a mouse, and over 50% the same as a banana! But oh, what a difference 5% can make. Did you know that rat poisoning is about 95% edible and safe for humans? But, it is the 5% of the poison that kills, and kills quickly. 5% can make a BIG difference.

I want to restate an earlier premise:
By comparison to the rest of the creation, mankind is almost godlike in terms of our intellectual capacity, our potential, our achievements, and our creativity.

As you look at the above chart, you see that humanity is (orders of magnitude) higher than any other life on earth. This is a complete mystery to Darwinian evolutionists. Evolution tries explain small differences caused by random genetic errors that are selected or enhanced over time, but the traits in mankind are off the chart, they are off the scale, and no amount of mental gymnastics have ever been offered that can even come close to explaining this "overkill" of abilities and capabilities.

We do not need the ability to paint, sculpt, and draw, or to create magnificent novels or poetry in order to survive. In fact, these types of creative behaviors are time- and energy-stealers, and not only do they not contribute to our survivability, they could be seen as deficits. It is argued that evolution might be able to produce better species, but no amount of genetic fantasizing can explain why it would create an IDEAL species.

In comparison to the rest of creation, our transcendent qualities (intelligence, creativity, emotion) are nearly godlike. If there were an alien species as high above us, as we are above chimpanzees, they would no doubt be worshipped as gods. No other creature on earth builds schools and libraries, hospitals and museums, art galleries or shopping malls, nuclear power plants or gymnasiums. No other species besides man is working on space colonies in geosynchronous orbit about the earth, or is contemplating colonizing the nearest planets.

Stop and think about that for awhile, it will almost give you chills. We forget just how amazing humanity really is (but, I am not denying that we have great faults as well---which, by the way, is another evidence of the truth of Christianity)

Let's look at a short list of the innumerable ways that mankind is unique among the creation. These are known as transcendent qualities, i.e. characteristics that go beyond (transcend) just the mere physical aspects of our existence.

1. Intelligence
The difference between the most intelligent non-human primate and us is almost beyond measure. Can you even imagine a chimpanzee working out advanced calculus formulas or designing microprocessors for the latest series of Intel chips?
2. Creativity
While some animals show the ability to build ornate nests or dwellings, and even some crude implements for getting at food, there is nothing in the non-human animal kindgom which can even compare to the simplest of human creativity. It would be laughable to even imagine a monkey painting the Sistine Chapel, or to picture an ape designing an air conditioning system for cooling a shopping center. It takes nearly a godlike level of creativity to analyze, theorize, and then to synthesize solutions.
3. Self-Consciousness.
This is incredibly important. It is rare in nature to find any creature (except man) that has any true awareness of self. Man can consider himself as separate from the world, and how he/she relates to the world. We realize what we are and who we are. Even computers, though incredibly fast and "intelligent," do not have anything remotely like self-consciousness.
4. Objective Morality
Regardless of your personal opinion about the factors which affect people's inner values and conscience, there is no doubt that, universally, mankind has objective morality. It goes far deeper and is much more intrinsic to who we are than the "social contract" theory. It is expressed in small children, with no language as yet. Universally, concepts of fair, right and wrong, good or bad, are experienced and felt at the deepest levels of who we are. There is nothing even remotely similar to this in all of the known animal kingdom. Animals live by instinct, not conscience. They can be conditioned, but will almost always act according to well-known natural inclinations.
5. Artistic and Aesthetic Appreciation
As far as we know, mankind is the only creature that demonstrates any awareness and appreciation of wonder and beauty. Only man can admire the changing glories of the sunset, or to subjectively enjoy the subtleties of an intricate painting. I have personally sat for hours enjoying the beauty of nature, to the point of becoming oblivious to my natural cravings of hunger or exhaustion. But, any animal will quickly seek out to fulfill natural, instinctive cravings when they arise, they are not impressed with a waterfall or a brilliant rainbow.
6. Language with Complex Syntax
Some mammals can learn simple commands (trust me, or you wouldn't see ads for "Obedience Schools" for dogs in the newspaper). But the ability to take multiple words or phrases, and to string them together to create complex sentences containing various concepts is completely unknown in the non-human animal kingdom. The most "intelligent" chimps that are subjected to intense training can learn up to about 150 simple words, but even the "smartest" chimp is a far cry from even a small child.

Children learn language naturally, and can even acquire multiple languages quite easily. Chimpanzees have to be diligently taught, and reinforced constantly in various reward systems to achieve a vocabulary of even a 2 or 3 year old child. People acquire languages naturally, without teaching, but chimps must be consistently taught. Language is fundamental to who are as humans, we are communicating beings.

We could go on and on, with other transcendent qualities such as humor, love, compassion, worship/religion, music, introspection, reasoning, wisdom, and scientific curiosity/investigation.

What natural processes could ever explain such profound differences between mankind and animal-kind? None. The existence of a creature like mankind on earth is a deathblow to all evolutionary models, from traditional, gradual Darwinianism, all the way to Punctuated Equilibria.  It's not just that we are different---it's that we are almost alien to any other form of life on earth. Mankind does not merely stand in a select group, he stands alone in creation.

So, bringing it all home. How does this amazing and inexplicable fact support the truth of Christianity?

The Bible says that God created mankind as the highest order of beings on this earth. God made all life, including plant and animal life, but when it came to humanity He says that we were made in "His image," in the likeness of God. This does not mean that we look like God, rather it means in the likeness of His character, His attributes. God is a creator, and so man, in His likeness, is very creative. God is wise and intelligent, and mankind is wise and intelligent, in His likeness. Sometimes we will meet a child, whose parents we have known for years, and we will immediately see a "likeness" of the parents in the child, such as how they talk, or how they act, or their interests or talents. It is not the visible appearance, it is the inner qualities that we find to be similar.

The Bible says that God gave mankind "dominion" over the rest of creation. This is demonstrated every minute of every day. From great and mighty dams on the most turbulent of rivers, to the domestication of animal life, to the ability to split and extract power from atomic nuclei, man has been given dominion. We are now reaching out to the stars, with probes to the outer reaches of our own solar system, and we have plans to colonize the moon and beyond. We have mastered the use and properties of nearly the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and we have mastered and harnessed multitudes of sources of power and energy. We have invented machines to heal the weakest of individuals, and created monstrous weapons to annihilate entire regions in the blink of an eye.

Because God has given us tremendous potential and capabilities, it does not mean that we have always used those gifts for good and noble purposes. But, in spite of all of our many failures and atrocities, the glimpses of God's image and likeness in mankind is unmistakeable. Natural causes are impotent and completely incapable of explaining even the least of these many transcendent qualities.

The single fact of mankind's transcendent potential is undeniable proof of both God's existence in general, and Christianity in particular.

To read Part Four of this series, CLICK HERE.

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