Sunday, July 16, 2006

Creation Vs Evolution Part 2

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on his apologetics series on Creation vs Evolution Part 2 on 9 July 2006

Regarding evolution, many Christians simply ignore it and assume that this issue has been settled without thinking through the questions themselves. They desensitize themselves and do not care about the issue and think that they only need to care about ethics. However, we should build a wholesome Christian faith which includes the realm of intellect too. We need to recognize the source of challenge to the intellect so that we mature and no longer get tossed by heresies.

All most important universities today still use evolution theory as their science textbook. Underlying this is the assumption that Christians are not scientific. This is a very unjust assumption made of Christianity. If Christians themselves also take it lightly, then we are not worthy to be called the witnesses of the Truth. Such apologetic sessions are not mere consolation for Christians but are a means to equip us to become warriors of the Truth.

The basis of evolution is the phenomena of change. We learnt last week that Greek philosophy built two major schools of thought. One holds that what is true is unchanging while the other one holds that what is true is always changing.

Christianity comes and holds that God is unchanging while the world is changing. So we grab the unchanging in the midst of the changing world. Truth does not change and surpasses time and space. So Truth is not affected by the progression of time and the boundary of geography.

The truth in non-Christian philosophy is a product of thought and metaphysical understanding. However, the Truth in Christianity is a Subject, a Person and the Source of Life. The Truth is not a subject of discussion, not a product of reasoning, but is itself the Source of Life and Reason. Between the Truth and I, the Truth is the Subject and I am the object. Truth in itself is the Subject from whom all things come. Truth fills us so that we can understand the Truth.

In order to understand, we need to surpass the boundary of all worldly philosophies and even exceed the theory of Kierkegaard that sees human beings as seeker of the Truth. There is a need to totally change the way we perceive things.

To illustrate, we used to think that the sun revolves around the earth because our senses tell us so. We look at the earth as the center from which we judge and observe all things. But later on we discover that it is the earth that revolves around the sun. The sun is the center while we are revolving around it. This kind of fundamental shift of center and direction in the way we perceive the universe is required for us to understand the Truth.

When we believe that everything that moves needs a prime mover, it necessarily also means that that there is the ultimate unmoving mover, i.e. the concept of the first cause.

However, today's philosophy is hoping that God Himself is also part of the moving stuffs. So this changing god also cannot guarantee what he will be like in the future. The only thing unchanging is change itself. This is actually a self-contradictory statement because if all things are changing, then this statement itself is subject to change so it cannot be the foundation of faith.

But why should we need a Creator? Is it true that materials are self-existent and therefore everlasting? We do learn about the conservation of energy. However, the constancy of energy is truer than the constancy of matter. Even the famous Einstein equation E=mc2 shows only one direction of change from matter to become energy. But how do we turn energy into matter? In Science, energy comes from matter.

Evolution needs philosophical assumption that is based on optimistic view of change. That is the direction of change is to become better, more advanced, and more complex. But where does this optimism come from? There is no answer.

In Physics, there is the law of decadence where change will worsen and tend toward decay. This law is contrary to the optimistic assumption of evolution.

Over the past few centuries, there have been 2 great revolutions in the civilization of mankind. The first one is in the area of astronomy and the second one is in biology.

Nicolaus Copernicus said that the earth revolves around the sun (heliocentric system). After his theory is proven, it becomes clearer that “I see with my eyes” cannot be used as scientific rule of evidence. This gives a breakthrough that fact is above experience. From the time of Adam until today, our eyes are still seeing the sun revolving around the earth. This is the phenomena we see with our own eyes. But is Science the same as phenomena?

About 300 years ago, there is a split between English and continental European philosophies. English philosophers walked the way of empiricism as the means to the truth while continental European philosophers walked the way of rationalism. In rationalism, understanding is greater than feeling or senses. Human senses cannot be the climax of understanding. For instance, our sense of touch with regards to temperature is often deceiving because our sense of hot or cold is dependent on the rate of transfer of heat rather than the actual temperature itself. Our experiences feel so real but they are very subjective and often lead to wrong conclusions.

Kant tried to harmonize both views by segregating what we can know from phenomena and what we cannot know from phenomena. There are things we can reach by observation and study of phenomena. There are things that we cannot reach by phenomena but can be reached by reason. And things that our reason cannot reach belong to an even higher realm of faith.

Evolution hopes to defy the creation of the world that belongs neither to the realm that can be proved by phenomena or resolved completely by reason. So it enters the realm of faith while disguising as science. It is extremely irresponsible of Christians to care nothing about it.

Copernicus is correct in explaining the creation of God. The church has taught wrongly and still used the Bible (e.g. Psalms 19:6 talks about the sun rises from one end of heaven and makes its circuit to another end) to oppose the theory of Copernicus. Such false understanding causes Christianity to be a laughing stock in history. In this case, the church needs to repent and be corrected. But is the Bible wrong? Does the Bible need to repent too? The Bible is the Revelation of God. Our interpretation can be wrong but that does not mean the Bible is wrong in itself.

When there is conflict between the Bible and science, there are two possibilities.

1. Have Christians explained the Bible wrongly such that it causes conflict with Science?
2. Or has Science explained nature wrongly such that it conflicts with the Bible?

Johann Kepler later on proved that Copernicus is correct. The church was wrong but that does not mean God is wrong. Christians wrongly interpret the Bible and its authority so they must repent. The church has indirectly mixed error with authority and gone against those witnesses of the truth.

Why do we say that it is the Christians who have misinterpreted the Bible? What about Psalms 19? We have to understand that the book of Psalms is a literary work. Today everyone believes that the earth revolves around the sun, but when writing poems or song lyrics people still write about the sun rising and setting, instead of writing the earth revolving around the sun. It is written from an observer point of view in a literary way so we cannot use this expression as science.

Copernicus was not against the church but was merely expressing a true scientific spirit. Regrettably, after astronomy another revolution in biology began and the church, once bitten twice shy, now kept quiet while they should have stood up to rebuke the error. As a result, the theory of evolution became a leading force in culture and entered into the curriculum of most universities.

We need to solemnly ask ourselves the following questions:

When wrong is acknowledged as right, how much do we lose?
Conversely, when right is acknowledge as wrong, how much do we lose?

Copernicus was right and the church's objection was wrong. But Darwin was wrong, so the church's compromise silence was wrong too.

But why can't we equate both revolutions in the same manner? Why is Copernicus right but why can't we say Darwin is right too?

Copernicus is right because his heliocentric theory is based on observation of facts.

Darwin is wrong. Why? Because his theory is not scientific at all. Science uses facts and builds theories upon facts. But evolution does not use this methodology.

In Latin, there are 3 stages of culture.

1. I know
2. I think what I cannot know
3. I believe what I cannot think

The first one belongs to the realm of Science. It comes from the word “scio” which means to observe and to prove. Beyond this, it is the realm of philosophy or “corgito” where we think. What we think may or may not be true, but Science cannot prove it. When even our thought cannot reach, we enter the realm of faith, called “credo”. Faith also can be right or wrong. But it is the realm which science cannot prove and philosophy cannot comprehend totally.

Therefore, we see that what we can know from science is very limited as it only deals with things at the lowest level. But even at the level of science Darwin's theory of evolution is wrong. So we have no obligation to accept it. Evolution attempts to discuss biological facts but its conclusions are not based on assumptions rather than facts. It is not scientific to take assumptions as science. In science, assumption should lead to observation and hypothesis should be proven by experiment.

Darwin is a great man who spent his entire life in the study of life science. He had made great contribution especially in the classification of species. As far as this his good contribution is concerned, we need to honor him. However, his evolution theory is not science because he used his philosophical assumptions to jump into science. His method of assumptions has already moved out of the realm of science. When we read his book on “the Origin of Species” we would find many statements with phrases like “If”, “suppose”, “we may imagine”, “hypothetically speaking”, etc. which clearly indicate that they are mere assumptions without scientific and historical facts.

How can we take it as science? If you still take it as a fact, then your faith towards evolution is a much greater blind faith than the blind faith you accuse Christians of having towards the Bible.

We need to face everything with the same attitude. If it is the truth, we need to accept it. If not, we discard it. But why do people accept evolution? There are two main reasons. One is to escape the idea that God create the world so that they can get away from the thought of accountability before God. The second one is because they want to be considered modern and scientific. So the reasons are not because the theory of evolution has any solid ground. The motive and methodology are already wrong. Evolution is based on assumption that is not worthy to be considered science. At best, we can consider it as a faith towards naturalism.

So you make two mistakes when you take evolution as science and faith as superstition. Firstly, faith is not the same as superstition. Secondly, science is not the same as pseudoscience.

Beginning of 20th century, intellectuals take faith as superstition but non-intellectuals take superstition as faith. Superstition might contain the element of faith but faith might not necessarily contain the element of blindness (superstition). I should critique my faith if there is element of untruth in it. We need to do this to our own faith and denomination.

In summary, there are two main assumptions in the theory of evolution. The first one is that everything is changing for the better. This is a naïve optimism that the theory cannot explain. The second one is the survival of the fittest. The strongest will survive while the weak will be eliminated. The principle of natural selection is partially true. But this can also be an escape from our responsibility and is a very unjust view of life. This view was able to support the history back then. It was easy for Hegel to propose a new idea. His theory through Darwin easily found acceptance. Imperialists used this idea to get rid of the weaker race in order to expand themselves. Atheists receive strength. Karl Marx wrote to Darwin in response to his theory of evolution. Communism accepts the theory of evolution. Evolution is also used as a good tool to attack Christianity.

Do we have solemn attitude or do we just let Satan do whatever he wants? If a theory has an evil motive to attack the truth, we need to stand up to be witnesses to the truth. When evil people appear they always pull along all the great names to advance their own ends. Darwin himself might not have such a far-reaching evil motive when he wrote the theory of evolution but his theory has been used by evil people which result in frightening disasters. The last page of the Origin of the Species in fact states that the first life form must come from the breath of God. It is so amazing that evolution theory becomes what it is today.

We should not escape from our responsibility. What have we done to defend the true faith?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Creation vs Evolution Part 1

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on his apologetics series on Creation vs Evolution Part 1 on 2 July 2006

There are some passages in the Bible that are more difficult to understand. But many people think that they cannot believe in the Bible because they are educated. Does the Bible really contradict reason?

Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Implicitly we have the concept of creation within us. In the depths of the demand of our conscience there is a Creator that created the universe. This is not only a concept in religion but also in culture. In ancient days, there was no concept of evolution the way we know it today. Although there was already a concept of evolution in early times, it did not develop in the theory that opposes the creation of the world. Evolution only became a system of thought against creationism in the 19th Century. But the basic concept of evolution itself was already in Greece about 2000 years ago.

No statement can compare to that of the Scriptures, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen.1:1)

This is not a sentence of investigation, a topic for debate or a process of seeking, but a confident declaration in by the Holy Scriptures.

This verse declares that there is a beginning. But starting point for what? For the created world or for the Creator?

“In the beginning” in Gen.1:1 is qualitatively different from “In the beginning” in John 1:1 which says, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The Chinese translation of the Scriptures for Gen.1:1 is 起初(qi3 chu1) while for Jn.1:1 is its 太初 (tai4 chu1). The word 太(tai4) refers to the greatest and the ultimate. So it is the beginning of the beginning, the ultimate beginning.

Gen.1:1 talks about the beginning of the created world. It tells us about the beginning of time. Jn.1:1 talks about the beginning even before the creation of the world. It tells us the Source of time itself.

Time is the original container of all existence. All things created are contained in time. God created, hence existence exists. And God place existence in the time He has created. God also place existence within space. Space is material in nature so it can be measured. But it is not so with time. Space is the existence that is tangible. But time is the existence that surpasses the tangible. The existence of time-space becomes the container of all things in the universe.

“Heavens and earth” in Gen.1:1 refers to all the things our eyes can see. We stand and exist within heavens and earth. They are also called nature. The word ‘nature’ is often what the unbelievers use implying that things are as they are so there is no need to account for nature. It is more clearly implied in the Chinese term for nature, 大自然 (da4 zi4 ran2), with the word 自然(zi4 ran2) means it is just there by itself naturally.

Lao Zi believes that human comes from the earth, the earth comes from the rules of heaven, and heaven comes from Dao (道) or logos. Logos is self-existent so it is just there and does not come from anywhere. From this statement, it seems as though Lao Zi believes in creation, but it is also as if he believes that this logos is nature itself.

The word ‘universe’ is 宇宙 (yu3 zhou1) in Chinese. The word 宇 (yu3) refers to space. Architecture uses this term to express the 6 directions possible in 3D space: up, down, left, right, front and back. The word 宙 (zhou1) refers to the continuation of time from ancient history till today into the future. Therefore the word 宇宙 (yu3 zhou1) is a combination of time and space. This Chinese phrase in itself contains meaning which is of a higher level of concept compared to the English word ‘universe’.

However, the first sentence of the Bible, “In the beginning God created heavens and the earth” already has the concept of time and space. The difference is that there is another concept inside that sentence, that is, God is the Creator. Other religions might have the concept of the Creator God but only the Bible declares so clearly this way.

God is the Creator. So only God is not created, the rest are created. God create time and space as container of all creation. Hence all creation is constrained by time and space. Only God is not constrained by time and space. When we understand this clearly, we will discover that a lot of our questions are problematic in themselves.

“When did God exist?” This is a wrong question. God create time. Rather, the correct question is “When did “when” exist?” because time itself is created.

“Where does God come from?” This is a wrong question. God create space. Rather, the correct question is “Where does ‘where’ come from?” because space is created too.

“Who created God?” This is even worse. He is the Creator. God that is created is not God at all.

Christians need to be clear what kind of questions they should ask. We need to realize that the methodology of such questions violate their own basic principles.

God is not in the container of Time and Space.

The Creator of time is not constrained in time. God create time, so He transcends time.
The Creator of space is not constrained in space. God create space, so He transcends space. Hence, if we try to seek God within time constrain (when did God exist?) we are wrong and will not find Him. Similarly, if we try to seek God within space constraint (where does God come from?) we are wrong and will not find Him.

We are within the constraint of time and space, how then can we understand what is beyond time and space? This is very difficult.

Hence, many people propose that nature comes by itself. Many evolutionists believe that their conclusions come from scientific analysis and think that those with religions believe in creation. This leads to extreme thinking that evolutionists are scientific while creationists are unscientific. In this dangerous dualistic thought, they equate evolution with science and creation with superstition.

So can one be an evolutionist and still believes in God? Are creation and evolution necessarily mutually exclusive? Can science truly disprove creation? We want to know the truth.

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell said something like this, “If you ask a Christian where the universe comes from, he will say it is created by God. Ask him further why must the universe be created? He will say that all things that exist must be created. Based on his answer, pursue further! If every existence must be created and God is an existence too, so who then created God? He will not be able to answer anymore. So don’t even try to fight against Christianity. It is a self-defeating religion that will collapse on its own.”

There is great French thought worth remembering, “When you open your mouth, in reality you are not criticizing others but you are truly introducing yourself.”

Russell was indeed a Mathematics genius and a great philosopher but he was not a good theologian. Whenever he talked on the issue of theology, he only exposed his own ignorance and stupidity.

From his statements, it is clear that Russell could not accept God who is not a product of creation. He immediately started his argument from the premise of a ‘created God’. Using this concept, there is no end to the question of who created who. There will be infinite upward progression of a creator who is created by another creator who is in turn created by another creator and so on.

Aristotle dealt with this issue long ago. He said, “If I push an object, I am the pusher and the object is pushed. If another person pushes me so that I push the object, then I am not the actual pusher but the other person is. So if we go all the way to the original pusher, it is the first cause.” So the concept of the First Cause and the Unmoved Mover is possible.

However, Russell would not accept this answer. He would challenge that if God could be the First Cause, why can't we make nature the first cause instead? Why do you tell me that God does not need a creator, but impose on me to believe that nature needs a Creator?

This is where the difficulty comes. We have to go one step further now.

Firstly, we need to establish the concept of self-existence. Is it possible that there is such thing as self-existent truth that does not need to have a beginning?

It is possible. For instance, when does 2+2=4 begin? This statement never needs a beginning. It is always true. It does not change to become another value with the progression of time. By nature, it is eternal truth. Before the mathematicians are born, it is already true.

Hence, there is self-evident truth. There is the existence of the immutable, eternal, unchangeable. It is the truth. Truth is eternal, self-existent, it just IS. It does not need a creator. It surpasses time and space.

So, whether believers or unbelievers, we have common ground now. We hold that there is truth.

Can I say nature is truth then? The question that challenges us is why we think God is the Truth, not nature. So although we have a common ground in holding that there is truth, this is also where we have great differences.

The Truth that Christianity believes is the Creator and Source of Life and is a Subject. The truth the non-believers believe is nature, something outside of life itself, outside of their lives, and is an impersonal object. This is a very huge difference.

The God in Christianity is the Subjectivity of Truth in Person. (Personal Note: I love this, original Rev.Tong’s statement).

Non-believers believe that truth is not a person, but just something you believe in. In this way, we begin to see that the Dao spoken by Lao Zi and the Logos spoken by the Greeks are different from the Truth revealed in Christian faith. To the non-believers, the relationship between the seeker and the truth is just about knowledge, not Life. But Truth in Christianity is Life. There is a life relationship between the seeker and the Truth.

Soren Kierkegaard said that God is not a topic we discuss in philosophy, but the Object of our worship. He is the Source of Truth and Life. He has a Personhood.

In 19th Century, the understanding that life must come from life became an important scientific fact that the theory of evolution could not explain. Louis Pasteur made an experiment to verify this. He sealed off a container containing water inside, but without any life at all and disconnected from lives from rest of the world. He subjected it to warm temperature suitable for living things. He waited and waited but the container never produced life. So he concluded that life cannot come from non-living things. This has an important implication in medical field, and is particularly the starting point of the study of germs.

Wallace, an Englishman, published a book that had the concept of evolution which inspired Charles Darwin. He wrote about the idea of natural selection and the survival of the fittest. Later on both Wallace and Darwin wrote on the theory of evolution in the book, “The Principle of Biology”. Then in 1859, Darwin himself wrote The Origin of the Species, which became the starting point of the evolution system of thought. Sir Herbert Spencer and Thomas Henry Huxley later propagated the though to all English-speaking people, including France and Germany.

However, Wallace himself talked about an important principle that would end the theory of evolution. He said that there are 3 things that cannot be bridged. The first one is that between existence and non-existence is a gap that cannot be bridged. That means non-existence cannot become existence. Secondly, between existence and life is a gap that cannot be bridged. This means that a non-living thing cannot become a living thing. The last one is between life and human being is a gap that cannot be bridged. This is saying that non-human living things cannot become human beings. There is qualitative difference between all the things above which cannot be bridged through the process of change.

Wallace's thought on the unbridgeable gaps is in conflict with the theory of evolution. Evolution gives assumption to bridge those gaps above. Evolution theory believes that nothing can become something, something non-living can become living, and lower form or life can become higher form which ultimately becomes human being.

The theory of evolution does not have sufficient scientific evidence to stand on but 19th century is the era where people were against religion. Bateson said the theory was accepted not because it is an objective science but because it was more appealing to modern thinker.

Evolution is built on the premise of the concept of change. And this concept of change itself is based on observation of natural phenomena.

In Greek philosophy, there are two major philosophies about the truth. The first school of thought believes that the universe exists the way it is without change. All change is illusionary. What is true is unchanging. This is the concept of being. The second school of thought believes that the universe is constantly changing. All static things are illusionary. What is true is changing. So we never know how things will become because they always change. This is the concept of becoming.

Both concepts contain great thoughts.

Heraclitus said that the only thing unchanging is change itself. And change is the foundation of the principle of history. It is illustrated like a fire. The fire is one but if you keep taking the picture of the fire you will not find an identical one. So it looks the same but it is in fact always changing. Another one is the river. It is the looks like the same river, but the fact is that water is always flowing so you never step into the same river twice.

In our heart we know that change is a fact. However, we wish that certain things never change. So we are very contradictory within us and our struggles with contradiction are also changing.

This concept of change being the only permanent thing becomes the philosophy that influenced Karl Marx, Stalin and Mao Zedong.

But Christians believe that God is immutable and there is no shadow of change with Him. So do Christians belong to the camp that holds the concept of being? Are Christians anti-change, rejecting advancement and against evolution?

It is not so simplistic.

As a matter of fact, we know that evolutions talk about things that change. Christians talk about things that do not change. Before we answer the question, we need to think deeper and segregate what change and what do not change.

The theory of evolution is based on the premise that whatever one learns in life can be passed to the next generation continually and adds a lot of hypothetical methods into science. There are a lot of philosophical assumptions behind the theory of evolution.

If evolution is science and science can discover truth, why then should we impose on ourselves to believe in creation?

But if evolution is not science, and further, if science itself is so limited that it cannot go that deep to the ultimate truth, and if Truth is revealed by God, why then should we give up Truth for our superficial understanding?

With serious thinking, we will arrive at a solemn choice of whether we will receive the truth or deceive ourselves.