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.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Part 2 of 10 Non-Biblical Proofs of Christianity

This is the second 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

Let's move on to reason #2:
2. A Personal, Intelligent Creator is mandated by logic.
After considering the overwhelming evidence for a finite (non-eternal) universe, most will concede that there must have been a Creator of some type. But just what or who is that Creator, and what are His/Her/It's characteristics? Good questions. Where do we look for some of the answers? That answer may surprise you---science and logic.

Science and logic?

Absolutely. There is a principle of both logic and observational experience, to which there has never been a known exception. That concept is called the Law or the Principle of Cause and Effect. Simply stated, the Law of Cause of Effect mandates that every effect (event) is the result of (or preceded by) some cause. We are exposed to this principle so often that, most of the time, we do not even consider just how fundamental it is.

A baseball goes flying through the air (effect or event). But it did not suddenly jump off the ground by itself, something caused that motion, perhaps the swing of the bat or a skilled pitcher. The law of cause and effect is the foundational concept behind forensics (the science of studying crime scenes). Forensics is based upon the fact that things happen, because other things caused them to happen. It's like a row of dominoes, once you push one domino down (or it tips over due to the table shaking or a strong breeze) then it leads to a chain reaction, a series of causes and effects. Let's stay with the domino example. There must be a first cause to lead to all of those other dominoes falling. The first fall starts the second, the second causes the third, and so on. But the entire chain of events of dominoes falling all began with a FIRST CAUSE.

This same concept or principle applies to the universe. As we go back in time (careful-this could cause your head to hurt!) all of life and time is a long series of causes and events. Keep going further and further back in time and eventually (as required by logic) you must arrive at the VERY FIRST CAUSE. This is the ultimate cause that led to everything in existence today. We calls this the Original or the First Cause.

There is something very special about the First Cause.

According to logic, the first cause itself must be eternal, in other words, it could not have been caused by something before it. We call that an Uncaused Cause. Logic demands that as we trace all events back earlier and earlier, we must ultimately arrive at something that always was, something that did not need to be created or caused. It is the Uncaused Cause.

Hold that thought.

Now, there is another related concept involving Causes and Effects, and it is this: No effect can be greater than it's cause. Now that sounds obvious, but think about how important that really is. This is primarily due to the laws of physics, but it's importance in this argument cannot be overstated.

To write this out would look like this: Cause>=Effect(the cause must be greater than or equal to the effect)

You can't yell with the unaided human voice and have that sound knock over a large building. Why? The energy involved in the wave of sound (the cause) is not strong enough to push over a building (the effect). To knock over a building (the effect) you need something much stronger, like a bomb (the cause). Similarly, a small child cannot push a stopped freight train and make it move down the tracks at 60 miles per hour on a level track. That would be illogical, it violates the principle of cause and effect. If the child did push the train at that speed, then obviously other factors are at work, and not merely the child's strength.

No effect can be greater than the cause. Now, think about the universe. Mentally step back, and think about the universe itself as one giant effect. Due to the Law of Cause and Effect, the universe (the effect) cannot be greater than whatever caused it. Therefore, logically speaking, whatever led to (or created) the universe must be GREATER than the universe. Wow, something even greater than the universe existed BEFORE the universe. It's inescapable logic.

Also, since each Cause must be (at least equal to or) greater than it's Effect, the cause (Creator) must be equal to or (most-likely) greater than any particular aspect of the Effect.

To get a better grasp on this, think about a mathematics example, using a simple equation.

10 >= 5+2+3. Think of "10" as the "Cause", and "5+2+3" as 3 particular parts of the "Effect". The equation works as long as the numbers on the right add up to 10 or something less than 10.  But what if the equation said:

10 >= 5+2+27

This is obviously false, since 10 is not greater than or equal to 34. The problem with the equation is that the number 27 throws everything off. Whatever that third number is, it can't be greater than 3 or the whole logic of the equation is invalid. The third number can be 1, or 2, or -1000, but it can't be greater than 3.

Now think about this equation: Cause >= The Universe

Since the entire universe is the Effect, no particular aspect within that universe can be greater than the Cause. So---what is the universe? Cosmologists say that it is the combination of (1) Time, (2) Space, and (3) Matter/Energy. So, now we can rewrite this as:

Cause >= Time+Space+Matter/Energy (and, by the way, you can't have a negative number for any of those three things--it's illogical to have a negative "reality")

Since no individual aspect of an effect can be greater than the cause (Creator), then: the Creator must be greater than (1) Time (remember, you can't get around it by randomly assigning a negative value to one of the other aspects). What do we call something greater than time, something that has no beginning or end?


Next, the Creator (cause) must be greater than (2) Space. What do we call something that is not bound by space, without limits?

INFINITE (and omnipresent by implication)

Also, the Creator must be greater than (3) Matter (or energy). We call matter "physical". What do we usually call something that is of substance that is real, and yet not physical within this universe?

We often call that SPIRITUAL or metaphysical.

Now, here is where it really gets good. Since no Effect can be greater than the Cause, and since we find INTELLIGENCE in the universe (people) which is a subset of the effect called the universe, then the Cause, or Creator, must be at least equal in intelligence or greater, most-likely a super-intellect. When you think about DNA, and that it took us 20 years with super computers to crack the code, you can see that the Causal agent must be a super-intellect.

Since no Effect can be greater that the Cause, and since people have individuality or personality, which is a subset of the effect called the universe, then the Creator must be at least a "person" in the sense of an individual with the qualities of self-awareness. This is different than saying that "Since there are flowers, that means the Creator must be at least equal to or greater than a flower" (which is still true), because our discussion is not about physical attributes, so to speak. It is about transcendent qualities, such as personality and intelligence, which must logically be inferred in the Creator (causal agent), to have created both of these transcendent qualities. It is illogical that an IMPERSONAL force could create PERSONAL beings. It is illogical that a mindless, unintelligent cause could create INTELLIGENCE.

So what can we understand about the Creator, just using logic and inference? We see that the causal agent, (Creator/God) is:

1. Outside the universe (He/she/it created it)
2. Eternal
3. Infinite (omnipresent)
4. Spiritual
5. Intelligent
6. Qualities of an individual "person" or greater

Now, what do we read in the Bible? We see that the God of the Bible claims to be the creator of the universe, eternal, infinite, a spirit, intelligent, and is a person that is knowable, and who seeks for us to know Him. Therefore, the God of the Bible is a logical candidate for the Creator of the Universe.

We now have established two non-Biblical evidences for the truth of Christianity:

1. Known Universal Laws require a Creator consistent with the type of God the Bible describes.

2. A Personal, Intelligent Creator is mandated by logic.

Next time we will look at our third non-Biblical evidence for the truth of Christianity, and you can get an early glimpse of reason #3, simply by looking into the mirror. Hint: you.

To move on to PART 3, CLICK HERE