Book Review: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist – Ch 5.1

5: THE FIRST LIFE: NATURAL LAW OR DIVINE AWE? (PART 1)

The thing that I hate about apologetics is getting bogged down in biology long before the claims of the Bible are seriously mentioned. It is particularly discouraging because although I do not believe Christianity to be true, theologically I hold that being convinced into a set of doctrines is not how people become Christians. The Bible claims that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The writer of I Corinthians says: I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (2:2-5). That is what I would like to see as a proof of Christianity rather than arguments about cosmology and biology: a demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

But I am responding to this book, so I must address its claims. When the author criticizes scientists for looking for material explanations for the origin of life, he treats scientific understanding as if it is complete. Throughout the history of scientific thought, there have been gaps in people’s knowledge, and they attempt to explain natural phenomena with theoretic explanation, and sometimes metaphysical explanation. Knowledge of natural laws is continually increasing. Where insufficient evidence exists, judgment should be withheld. Modifications to the theory of evolution are being made based upon new research. It is plausible that in the future, genetic changes could be monitored in an entire population of animals. Evolutionary theory could predict certain types of changes, and it would become evident whether the predicted changes occurred or not.  What new evidence would or could change the position of the ID advocate?

Moreover, as I already mentioned in the previous chapter, positing an unknown intelligence is useless to science unless the effects of the designer are observable and distinguishable. The author accuses Darwinists of having philosophical bias toward materialism and against intelligent causes (p 122), but being inclined to believe that unknown phenomena will have a physically understandable explanation is not blind faith. It is strongly backed by the trend that other phenomena that were previously attributed to gods or spirits have been shown to have natural causes that require no explicit supernatural interference. What if every currently unknown phenomenon in science were treated the way that the author wants to treat the origin of life? Every time that we did not understand something, we could say god did it supernaturally. That would be bad science.

Let us break for intermission.

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