FAQ November 2, 2009
Fight Al Qaeda? Fix All Quibbles? Free Albert Quinn?
None of the above (who is Albert Quinn anyway?) If you’re into computers you will know that FAQ means Frequently Asked Questions. But here we’ll answer some FAQs you won’t find on the internet.
Q. You look intelligent. So how can you believe the Bible?
A. I believe the Bible first and foremost because God speaks to me through it. That doesn’t mean that I ‘hear voices’! But as I read the Bible my mind is instructed and my heart is moved to trust in God and in Jesus Christ — of whom the Bible speaks from cover to cover.
Q. But Richard Dawkins says that the Bible can’t be trusted. It has been ‘cobbled together’ over centuries and has passed through umpteen revisions. He says the only difference between the Da Vinci Code and the Bible is that one is modern fiction and the other is ancient fiction.
A. He would, wouldn’t he? Richard Dawkins is a militant atheist. You wouldn’t find Labour’s Tony Blair endorsing David Cameron’s Tory manifesto! Atheists will make every effort to discredit the book on which Christianity is based. But Dawkins is no biblical scholar and doesn’t really know what he is talking about. The fact that the Bible is a collection of writings compiled over a period of 2000 years — and yet spells out a consistent message — is actually evidence that its human authors were divinely supervised. And most of the so-called revisions were actually attempts to get closer to the original writings. The books of the Bible are better attested and more reliable than any other ancient manuscripts in our possession.
Q. OK, if you say so. But hasn’t science disproved the Bible?
A. Speaking as a scientist my answer is a resounding ‘no’. I became a Christian when I was studying physics at university and nothing has changed my confidence in the Bible during fifty years of scientific teaching, writing and research. Many leading scientists have been Bible-believing Christians, including scientific giants like Michael Faraday, Clerk Maxwell and Lord Kelvin (and a large number of practising scientists today).
Q. I can’t accept that. Surely the theory of Evolution has done away with the need for a Creator and the whole idea of God?
A. Not at all. There are in fact many people who accept Evolution and continue to believe the Bible. However, contrary to what the media and others would have you believe, Evolution is still only a theory — and one that doesn’t explain the facts very well.
There is a lot of confusion about Evolution, some of it deliberate. Even Darwin himself distinguished between small-scale changes (‘micro-evolution’) and large-scale changes (‘macro-evolution’).
Micro-evolution involves things like changes within a given species — the different races of man, for example, or the kind of changes that can be bred into dogs, roses or racing pigeons. Depending on your definition of a ‘species’ it also covers ‘speciation’ or the separation of different lines that do not interbreed.
Macro-evolution, on the other hand, refers to the development of entirely new kinds of living things — like the supposed emergence of man from apes or birds from dinosaurs. It also covers the origin of life itself, supposedly by the self-organisation of non-living matter.
Micro-evolution, which can be observed and studied scientifically, is perfectly in harmony with the Bible. In the case of mankind, in fact, it is specifically taught in the Bible (see Acts 17:26 for example). But macro-evolution has never been observed scientifically, nor is it supported by the fossil record (as many evolutionists privately admit) in spite of claims to this effect.
Q. Aren’t you just appealing to ‘the God of the gaps’? That is, you bring in God to explain things that science cannot yet explain (but may do so in years to come)?
A. No, because there are many ‘gaps’ that science will never, by its very nature, be able to explain. A prime example is the laws of nature. Without the laws of nature (such as the law of gravity, the laws of chemistry, the laws of electricity and so on) there could be no such thing as science. It is the work of science to discover, unify and investigate the laws of nature. But by definition science can only describe the laws of nature not explain them. Science cannot tell us where they came from or why they are as they are and not different. I like to put it this way — science can never explain itself! The idea that ‘science can explain everything’ is a modern fiction.
Q. I take your point. But at least by using these laws science can explain how life arose, can’t it?
A. I’m afraid not. Science cannot explain the extreme complexity and information-content of life at a molecular level. As long as ‘science’ restricts itself to the operation of natural causes such things will remain unexplained.
For example, random chemical reactions cannot make molecules assemble themselves into living matter. For that you need information — a blueprint, if you like. An increasing number of scientists are signing up to the theory of ‘intelligent design’ which holds that the complex molecular machinery on which life is based cannot have arisen by chance without design.
Q. So you think that God was the missing designer? But if that is so, who made God? Aren’t you just pushing the problem back a stage further without actually answering anything?
A. No, I don’t think so. Consider how science itself works. The goal of all pure science is to unify the phenomena and laws of nature. When he discovered the law of gravity, Isaac Newton was immediately able to reduce to a single very simple law, the motion of the planets, the trajectory of a cannon ball and the fact that water runs downhill!
Physicists are striving today to come up with a ‘theory of everything’ that will unify all the different laws of force and interaction observed in nature. Even the theory of evolution is an attempt (though not a very convincing one) to unify observations in many different fields of study.
But even if you succeed you are left with a unified theory — that still needs explaining! In other words, there is no such thing as a truly ‘final’ explanation. But that doesn’t stop scientists doing research!
Of course, we cannot explain the origin and existence of God, for he is beyond our comprehension. If we could explain God we would be God! But by describing God as the ultimate Creator and ruler of all things, the Bible provides us with the greatest possible unification of our knowledge and experience — whether of the universe, the earth, human society or ourselves. Science should surely approve!