William A. Dembski is a well-known proponent of Intelligent Design. But in his book The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World he makes an interesting foray into theology, specifically the question of theodicy. Dembski holds to the standard age of the cosmos as accepted by the scientific consensus. Nonetheless, he also holds to the divine inspiration of the Bible and thus he seems to accept the literal existence of Adam and Eve as the parents of modern humanity. He also maintains the orthodox Christian belief in the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden which he also seems to accept as a literal event in a literal place in the Genesis account of origins. But like other old earth creationists, Dembski holds that animal death, parasitism, disease, and natural calamities like tsunamis and earthquakes occurred prior to the Fall. These affirmations set up the dilemma Dembski seeks to solve in this book. Dembski believes that the Fall of Adam and Eve, which constitutes a collapse into moral evil, is responsible for natural evil (i.e. death, disease, calamity, etc.). Again, this is standard Christian orthodoxy. But since Dembski believes that natural evil existed prior to the Fall then how can he hold that the Fall into moral evil is responsible for pre-existing natural evil? This is the problem he seeks to solve (46).
Dembski proposes some novel moves to make the case that moral evil is the cause of pre-existing natural evil. He sees the effects of the Fall acting retroactively. In other words, the effect occurred before the cause (50). He points to the retroactive saving work of the cross to prove his point (50, 110). Jesus’ death was not only an atonement for sins that occurred after the fact, but also before the fact. This event in time and space transcends time and space and has a retroactive saving impact upon Old Testament saints (Rom. 3:25-26). Both historical situations are possible due to the transtemporal nature of God who is unbound by time (50). Because God is unbound by time He can rewrite the story of history “while it is being performed [like a play] and even change the entire backdrop against which it is performed—that includes past, present, and future. An infinite God who transcends time can redeem a botched performance by acting in creation so that those effects, though attributable to the Fall, come temporally prior to it. In other words, the effects of the Fall can be retroactive” (110). Continue reading
I recently read some interaction on a blog site in which some Christian responders were wondering if the discovery of life on other planets should cause our faith to be shaken since the Bible seems to assume that God created life only on earth. The consensus was that such a discovery would not be so earth shattering (!).
This got me to thinking. Should we have any reason to expect that God created life elsewhere? Actually, I think the question needs to be more focused. Do we have any reasons to reject the idea that “intelligent” life exists elsewhere?
First, we must understand what is meant by “intelligent” life. What most people think of as intelligent life is some sort of beings that are human-like. We usually have in mind sentient beings with self-awareness, complex systems of language and communication, and the capacity to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Intelligence involves imagination and complex creative skills that are put to use in various aesthetic pursuits and technological advances. Such intelligence requires the capacity for problem solving in a multitude of disciplines. Others of course would add that intelligent beings are moral beings, those who have a conscience and are endowed with some sort of free agency. It includes the ability to express a wide range of emotions. We expect such intelligent creatures to form intimate personal relationships on a small scale and complex societies and governing structures on a large scale. Other things could be added, but you get the picture. Continue reading
Starlight, Time and the New Physics by John Hartnett is an important book in the world of Creation Science literature. Hartnett is an avowed Young Earth Creationist who believes the creation account in Genesis is to be taken at face value. As such, he seeks to deal with the thorny problem of distant starlight in a young universe. Hartnett earned his B.Sc. and his Ph.D. from the Department of Physics at the University of Western Australia. He works with the Frequency Standards and Meteorology research group, and is a tenured Research Professor at his Alma Mater.
As far as the intriguing and fascinating concepts of this book, it is superb. However, as far as readability and clarity, it is a bit tough going. Unless you have some familiarity with concepts in cosmology and astrophysics you will have trouble reading this book, and I am not talking about the technical appendices. Furthermore, it is not always clear how Hartnett is making his case for solving the problem of distant starlight in a young universe.
The first 2 chapters are easy enough and do a good job of explaining some background to the book. Hartnett was inspired by the more well known work by Russell Humphreys and his book of 1994 entitled, “Starlight and Time.” Humphreys was the first YECer to propose a theory for the starlight problem using a time-dilation model. Hartnett points out that most YECers have been reluctant to use such models because they have historically preferred theories that assume time is absolute. However, I think Hartnett is right that time-dilation models are profitable for pursuing answers to the problem of distant starlight. His book takes this approach. Continue reading