The Evolution of Life, Probability Considerations and Common Sense-Part 8

By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2002
In the end, a creator God is our only logically possible explanation for origins. The authors list four options to be considered for the origin of the universe, then point out that only one—that it was created by something self-existent—does not contradict the laws of logic.

The Evolution of Life, Probability Considerations and Common Sense – Part Eight

In the end, a creator God is our only logically possible explanation for origins. How do we know this? In order to answer this question, we must first make one assumption that is crucial to almost everything else. Dr. Sproul has pointed out the necessity of not only as­suming the validity of the laws of logic but the necessity of adhering to them. Without this, even science is impossible and must end up teaching nonsense, as it does now in the area of origins.

To argue validity to logic is an assumption, but an absolutely necessary one. If logic has no validity, even the words used to argue against logic have no meaning:

To say anything intelligible, positive or negative, about logic requires that the words we use in the assertion or denial have intelligible meaning. If the words we use can mean what they mean and they’re contrary, then they mean nothing and our words are unintelligible.
Philosopher Ronald H. Nash writes: “Strictly speaking, the law of noncontradiction cannot be proved. The reason is simple. Any argument offered as proof for the law of noncontradiction would of necessity have to assume the law as part of the proof. Hence, any direct proof of the law would end up being circular. It would beg the question.”
Nash is correct in his analysis. But again we remember that any attempt to refute the law of noncontradiction also requires one to assume the law being refuted.
When I declare that the law of noncontradiction is a necessary assumption, I mean that without it all other assumptions about anything become impossible. To challenge this assumption makes science an excuse in absurdity. Again, the scientific method itself must be discarded.
People do challenge and deny the law of noncontradiction, but they do so selectively. They deny it when it suits them…. Although most people I’ve met who argue against logic will readily admit to or even glory in the irrationality of it, they will protest if you label their position absurd. They want irrationality without absurdity—a difficult request to fulfill. [1]

Put another way, “How do we know that the real is rational? We don’t. What we do know is that if it isn’t rational, we have no possible way of knowing anything about reality. That the real is rational is an assumption. It is the classical assumption of science. Again, it is a necessary assumption for science to be possible. If the assumption is valid and reality is rational and intelligible, then the falsifying power of logic can play a major role in scientific inquiry.” [2]

In other words, if we reject the laws of logic, we reject everything and all knowledge becomes impossible. But if we accept the laws of logic, as we must, then this leaves us only one valid option for explaining the origin of the universe—creation by God. Let’s see why.

Only Four Options

As Sproul points out, there are really only four options to consider for the origin of the universe: 1) that the universe is an illusion—it does not exist; 2) that it is self-created; 3) that it is self-existent and eternal by itself; and 4) that it was created by something self-existent. He further argues out that there are no other options: “Are there are options I’ve overlooked? I’ve puzzled over this for decades and sought the counsel of philosophers, theologians, and scientists, and I have been unable to locate any other theoretical options that cannot be subsumed under these four options.” [3] For example, the idea of spontane­ous generation inherent to naturalistic evolution is the same as option 3, self-creation; philosopher Bertrand Russell’s concept of an infinite regress, an infinite series of finite causes, is simply a camouflaged form of self-creation disguised to infinity.

Dr. Sproul proceeds to show that the first three options concerning the origin of the universe must logically be eliminated as rational options.

Option 1 must be eliminated for two reasons. First, if the universe is an illusion, the illusion must somehow be accounted for. If it’s a false illusion then it isn’t an illusion; if it’s a “true” illusion then someone or something must be existing to have the illusion. If this is the case then that which is having the illusion must either be self-created, self-existent, or caused by something ultimately self-existent, i.e., again, everything is not an illusion.

The second reason for eliminating option 1 is that if we assume the illusion is absolute (that nothing exists), including that which is having the illusion, then there is no question of origins even to answer because literally nothing exists. But if something exists, then what­ever exists must either be self-created, self-existent or created by something that is self-existent.

The problem with option 2, self-creation, is that “it is formally false. It is contradictory and logically impossible.” [4] In essence, self-creation requires the existence of something before it exists: “For something to come from nothing it must, in effect, create itself. Self-creation is a logical and rational impossibility…. For something to create itself it must be before it is.

This is impossible. It is impossible for solids, liquids, and gases. It is impossible for atoms, and subatomic particles. It is impossible for light and heat. It is impossible for God. Nothing anywhere, anytime, can create itself.” [5] Sproul points out that an entity can be self-existent and not violate logic but it can’t be self-created. Again, when scientists’ claim that 15 to 20 billion years ago “the universe exploded into being” what are they really saying? If it ex­ploded from nonbeing into being then what exploded?

Sproul summarizes his reasoning in six points. First, chance is not an entity. Second, non-entities are powerless because they have no being. Third, to argue that something is caused by chance attributes instrumental power to nothing. Fourth, something caused by nothing is self-created. Fifth, the idea of self-creation is irrational and violates the law of noncontradiction. Sixth, to retain a theory of self-creation requires the rejection of logic and rationality. [6] While the concept of self-creation can be believed, it cannot be argued ratio­nally. It is as rationally inconceivable as a round square or a four-sided triangle. [7]

The problem with option 3, that the universe is self-existent and eternal, is that the discoveries of modern science force us to reject it. And there are other problems.

Again, how did the universe exist forever and then do in time (i.e., create life) what it had not done forever? Are all parts of the cosmos self-existent and eternal or only some parts? If we say all parts, that includes ourselves and every single man-made item that exists. But

we know these cannot be self-existent and eternal. Cars, watches, chairs and all people were brought into existence at some point in time. If we say some parts of the material cosmos are self-existent and that they created other parts, we have essentially transferred the attributes of a transcendent God to the self-existent, eternal parts of the universe and thereby rejected our own assumption of materialism. Besides, it simply is not rational to argue that matter created life.

All the laws of science, logic and common sense show that life does not originate from non-life.

Finally, if there were ever a “time” when nothing existed, what would exist now? Clearly, nothing would exist—unless we argue something can come from nothing—more magic that places us back at self-creation, a logical impossibility. So if things exist now, then some­thing is self-existent, and it must either be God or matter. If it can’t be matter, and it can’t, then it must be God. [8]

Sproul continues to point out that the remaining concept of a self-existent reality, i.e., God, is not only logically possible it is logically necessary:

…there must be a self-existent being of some sort somewhere, or nothing would or could exist. A self-existent being is both logically and ontologically necessary…. We have labored the logical necessity of such being. Yet it is also necessary ontologically. An ontologically necessary being is a being who cannot not be. It is proven by the law of the impossibility of the contrary. A self-existent being, by his very nature must be eternal. It has no antecedent cause, else it would not be self-existent. It would be contingent. [9]

After logically demonstrating option 4 as the only reasonable option available in the realm of the debate over origins, Sproul also shows that the classic arguments by Kant and Hume against the cosmological argument are invalid. Indeed, Kant and Hume are vastly overrated by skeptics, and, in fact their theories are actually antithetical to science. For example, Roy Abraham Varghese comments as follows:

Jaki, Meynell, and a number of other thinkers have repeatedly demonstrated that the Humean and Kantian theories of knowledge used against theistic arguments cannot be accepted uncritically because they fly in the face of the key assumptions underlying the scientific method. [Bertrand] Russell himself once said, “Kant deluged the philosophical world with muddle and mystery, from which it is only now beginning to emerge. Kant has the reputation of being the greatest of modern philosophers, but to my mind he was a mere misfortune”. Additionally, Kant’s attempt to identify the cosmological argument with the ontological argument has often been effectively derailed, most notably in A. E. Taylor’s Theism. [10]

In sum, based upon the law of non-contradiction and its extension, the law of causality, Sproul demonstrates that we have no other rational option than option 4, that the universe was created by something that is self-existent, i.e., God. [11] But it is also a necessary and practical conclusion that this God be personal, not impersonal. “Can there be an imper­sonal cause of personality ultimately?” [12] No. Of course, many people today prefer the idea that God is impersonal, whether we have the Brahman of Hinduism, some other form of pantheism, or the essentially illogical “deification” of matter as in naturalistic evolution. (Again, if the universe is created, then pantheism is impossible for this would mean God was created.)

The reason for this preference for impersonality is evident. If God is impersonal, we are off the hook and accountable to no one. The concept of an impersonal origin is attractive because it allows us to think we escape moral responsibility to a personal God. We can live as we wish and do what we want. Biblically, of course, and often practically, this is the ultimate exercise in self-delusion.

Sproul concludes by stating, “Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue the advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all.” [13]

If the results of a Gallup poll reported on a CNN “factoid” are correct, only 9% of Ameri­cans believe that life on earth arose by chance anyway. This would seem to imply that most Americans are better informed about origins than most scientists. Of course, most Americans also believe in evolution; they simply believe God used the evolutionary pro­cesses to create life. The reasoning is that, if life exists, it is much more reasonable to think it came from God than from nothing, regardless of the process. At this point, unfortunately, most Americans have also bought into the second level of modern scientific myth making, the garnering of scientific data in such a manner as to make evolution seem possible. In other words, if chance is rejected, and we assume God used the process of evolution to create life, then all the “evidence” scientists claim for evolution “must” be valid. Biblically, however, it is impossible that God could have used the process of evolution, and this ex­plains why its claimed evidences are found to be non-existent.

In conclusion, once we have God on board, it is simply a matter of logically employing Christian evidences to prove that the Christian God is the one true self-existent being. Indeed, what other rational, comprehensive, convincing worldviews do we have as options? Apart from Christianity, there are none. [14] For example, Eastern religions are philosophi­cally self-refuting and nihilistic; modern materialism/secularism/atheism/humanism is bank­rupt philosophically, morally, and in most other ways, as demonstrated by a number of modern philosophers and theologians. [15] Polytheism, deism, pantheism, panentheism, and other worldviews are also inadequate or logically deficient. [16] Only Christianity survives the tests of logic, rationality and empirical, historical verification as a comprehensive worldview.

Notes

  1. R. C. Sproul, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science & Cosmology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994), p. 145-46.
  2. Ibid., p. 156.
  3. Ibid., pp. 157-58.
  4. Ibid., p. 158, cf., p. 12 ff.
  5. Ibid., p. 12.
  6. Ibid., pp. 12-13.
  7. Ibid., p. 173.
  8. Ibid., pp. 159-60; See Also Richard Swineburn’s trilogy, esp. The Existence of God.
  9. Ibid., pp. 185-86.
  10. Roy Abraham Varghese, “Introduction” in Henry Margenau, Roy Abraham Varghese, eds., Cosmos Bios Theos, (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1992), p. 16.
  11. Sproul, p. 192.
  12. Ibid., p. 190.
  13. Ibid., p. 214.
  14. Cf., our Ready With an Answer (Harvest House, 1997) and companion volume Know­ing the Truth about Salvation (Harvest House, 1997)
  15. Stuart C. Hackett, Oriental Philosophy (Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1979); David L. Johnson, A Reasoned Look at Asian Religions (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1985); R. C. Sproul, Lifeviews (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1986); David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978); Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God? (Dallas; Word, 1994); R. C. Sproul, If There’s a God Why Are There Atheists? (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1978); Phillip Johnson, Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education (InterVarsity, 1995); Norman L. Geisler, William Watkins, Perspectives: Understanding and Evaluating Today’s Worldviews (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1984); John Warwick Montgomery, “Is Man His Own God?” in John Warwick Montgomery (ed.), Christianity for the Toughminded (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1975).
  16. Norman Geisler, et al., Perspectives; “Creationism: Is It a Biblical Option?” Proceedings of the Third Creation-Science Conference (Caldwell, Idaho: Bible Science Association (1976) and Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Hu­man Fossils (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), Ch. 20.

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