"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS" The Promises Of God's New Covenant (8:7-13) INTRODUCTION 1. Up to this point, the focus of "The Epistle To The Hebrews" has been on Christ... a. His superiority to prophets, angels, Moses b. The superiority of His priesthood to the Levitical priesthood 2. With the transition in He 8:1-6, the focus shifts to the New Covenant... a. A new covenant in which Jesus has already been described as: 1) The "surety" (guarantor) - He 7:22 2) The "Mediator" (one who intervenes) - He 8:6 b. In both passages, this covenant was described as a "better" covenant 3. Better than what? Better in what way? In Hebrews 8, we learn the answer... a. Better than the "first covenant" - cf. He 8:7 b. Better because of the "promises" contained in it - cf. He 8:6 [In this study, "The Promises Of God's New Covenant", we shall examine our text (He 8:7-13) to ascertain how the New Covenant is better, especially with regard to its promises. Let's begin by noticing...] I. GOD'S PROMISE OF A NEW COVENANT (7-9,13) A. THE FIRST COVENANT WAS NOT FAULTLESS... (7) 1. Otherwise, there would have been no need for a second covenant 2. We have already seen concerning the first covenant that... a. The Levitical priesthood could not bring perfection - He 7:11 b. The Law made nothing perfect, and was therefore annulled due to its weakness and unprofitableness - He 7:18-19 3. This inadequacy has special reference to the sacrifices of the first covenant... a. They could not make those who approach perfect - He 10:1-3 b. The blood of animals offered by the priests could not take away sins - He 10:4,11 B. THE PEOPLE OF THE FIRST COVENANT WERE ALSO AT FAULT... (8-9) 1. God found fault because they did not continue in His covenant - cf. Jer 11:7-10 2. For this reason He disregarded them, allowing them to be taken away by their enemies - cf. Jer 11:11-14 -- Even so, He did not leave them without some hope, for through the prophet Jeremiah He made a promise... C. GOD PROMISED A NEW COVENANT... (8-9) 1. Promised in Jer 31:31-34 2. In which God would make a "new covenant" with Israel and Judah 2. A covenant different than the one made at Mt. Sinai (how, we shall see in a moment) D. THE NEW COVENANT HAS MADE THE FIRST "OBSOLETE"... (13) 1. By even calling the promised covenant "new", God made the first covenant obsolete a. The old covenant actually continued on for about 500 years after Jeremiah b. But with the promise of the new, attention would be taken away from the old covenant and directed toward the new one that was coming! 2. Its obsolescence was especially seen in the days of the Hebrew writer... a. It was "becoming obsolete and growing old" 1) The death of Jesus rendered the sacrifices of the first covenant unnecessary 2) Before long, the temple itself would be destroyed, and along with it, the last vestiges of the Levitical priesthood b. Truly, it was "ready to vanish away" [So God promised a "new covenant" to replace the "old covenant"; and Jesus is the "Mediator" of this covenant, which is "a better covenant". Better in what way? Better because it "was established on better promises". Let's now consider some of...] II. GOD'S PROMISES INVOLVING THE NEW COVENANT (10-12) A. IT WILL BE INWARD AND SPIRITUAL... (10) 1. "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" 2. The first covenant had its laws written on tablets of stone; the new covenant is one that requires God's laws be written in our hearts 3. It is not enough to have God's Word in our hands, on our coffee tables, etc. a. We must plant God's Word into our hearts - cf. Jm 1:21 b. For only then can we truly be born again by the incorruptible seed, the word of God - 1Pe 1:22-23 -- Are you living up to intent of the New Covenant, or are you little different than those under the first covenant, who had the Word, but not on their hearts? B. IT WILL PROVIDE A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD... (10) 1. "I will be their God, and they shall be My people" 2. The actual terms of this promise is really nothing new - cf. Exo 6:7; Lev 26:12 3. But in each successive "age", its promise is filled with fresh meaning; for example... a. In "this age", we enjoy a closer relationship with God - cf. 2Co 6:16-18; 1Pe 2:9-10 b. But even more so, in the "age to come", which is in eternity - cf. Re 21:1-7 -- Are you utilizing the blessings whereby you can have a closer relationship with God? C. IT WILL BE WITH PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE LORD... (11) 1. "None of them shall teach...saying, 'Know the Lord', for all shall know Me..." 2. The New Covenant will be with people who have already come to know the Lord a. Unlike the first covenant, in which people entered it at birth; as they grew up, they needed to be taught about the Lord b. In the new covenant, one must come to know the Lord before they can enter the covenant 3. So it is that one must believe in Jesus before they can enter into a covenant relationship with their Lord through baptism - cf. Ac 8:36-38 -- Does not this feature of the New Covenant preclude the practice of infant baptism? D. IT WILL PROVIDE TRUE FORGIVENESS FOR SIN... (12) 1. "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" 2. Here is the ultimate basis of the blessing previously described; by virtue of the forgiveness of sins can we truly be God's people, and He our God! 3. Thus the New Covenant provides what the first covenant could not: true forgiveness of sins! - cf. He 10:1-4,11 CONCLUSION 1. Such are "The Promises Of God's New Covenant"... a. As foretold through the prophet Jeremiah b. Now fulfilled through the coming of Jesus and His death on the cross -- By virtue of "better promises", Christ is truly the Mediator of a "better covenant"! 3. But there is more to be said about why the New Covenant is a better covenant... a. It also has a better sanctuary b. It also has a better sacrifice -- But consideration of these things will be saved for later At this point it might be appropriate to ask: Have you truly entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord? The entrance terms of this New Covenant are simple: They involve faith in Christ and a confession of that faith (Ro 10:9,10), along with repentance of sins and baptism into Christ (Ac 2:36-39). The promised blessings of the New Covenant await any and all who are willing to so respond to the gospel of Christ!
A Review of Discovery Channel's "Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?"
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
Perhaps you saw the advertisements leading up to the commencement of Discovery Channel’s latest television series titled, “Curiosity,” in which things that humans are curious about are featured in each week’s new episode. The first show addressed the question, “Did God Create the Universe?” (“Curiosity…,” 2011). Perhaps you, like me, were hopeful that this often biased media outlet and longtime supporter of the liberal agenda would give the Creation perspective a fair shake. Sadly, hopes were dashed. For one hour, renowned atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, was given a platform to spread his atheistic perspective.
Throughout the show, Hawking is the speaker, although the voice switches between his computer-generated voice (Hawking has Lou Gehrig’s disease and cannot speak) and that of a man speaking for him with a British accent. The primary thrust of the show was for Hawking to assert the idea that the reasons many people have had in the past for being theists—namely that there are things we cannot explain in the Universe without a Supernatural cause—are no longer relevant.
Though people used to attribute thunder and lightning to gods, we now know, scientifically speaking, what is actually occurring. So, a higher being is not necessary as an explanation, according to Hawking. He believes that everything, including origins, can be explained through science and nature without the need for God. While wrapping up the show, after discussing his theory about the origin of the Universe, he says, “So, what does that mean on our quest to find out if there is a God? It means that…you don’t need a God to create it. The Universe is the ultimate free lunch” (“Curiosity…”). Though he boldly and presumptuously makes that claim, he does not even address many of the arguments theists have used for centuries which still stand as proof positive that God exists (e.g., the Moral Argument, Teleological Argument, Aesthetical Argument, Intuitional Argument, and Ontological Argument). He spends his time addressing only one of the arguments—the Cosmological Argument, along with the law of nature closely connected with it, the Law of Causality. His dealings with that argument illuminate the fact that atheism, even in this enlightened age, is still an inadequate worldview.
Much of the first part of the show tap dances around the common logical fallacies known as an “appeal to consequences” and “straw man” (“Appeal to Consequences,” 2009; “Straw Man Fallacy,” 2009). The viewer is subtly encouraged to be an atheist (1) because of the pagan religious beliefs of the Vikings and other religionists of old who erroneously used various gods as a way to explain common natural phenomena, and (2) because of the inappropriate behavior of certain Catholic authorities in antiquity who viewed belief in the laws of nature as a heretical concept. The impression is left that such examples exemplify the nature of theism.
Such individuals in history, carrying the banner of theism, have been sadly misled, but such examples do not exhibit the nature of true theism. The views and practices of such people should not be a factor in the determination of truth, just as the views of the scientific world in the 1400s that spontaneous generation occurs should not be used as a reason to reject science. Likewise, the behaviors of some atheists throughout history, including Hawking himself, should not be used to dismiss atheism. Truth stands on its own, regardless of those who do or do not espouse it or represent it accurately.
“No Cook Needed” for the Universe Recipe
Halfway through the show, Hawking gets to his defense of his primary assertion—God is not necessary for the creation of the Universe. He boldly states, “Despite the complexity and variety of the Universe, it turns out that to make one, you need just three ingredients”
(“Curiosity…”). He explains that those ingredients are matter, energy, and space, and further explains that matter and energy, according to Einstein, are ultimately one and the same. So, Hawking revises his cosmic cookbook and asserts that only two ingredients are really needed to make a Universe—energy and space. These, Hawking states, “were spontaneously generated in an event we now call ‘The Big Bang’” (“Curiosity…”).
How can one get these two ingredients from nothing? Hawking uses an illustration involving a man who builds a hill by digging a hole in the ground, thus perfectly balancing out the “positive” hill with the “negative” hole. He then claims, “This is the principle behind what happened right at the beginning of the Universe. When the Big Bang produced a vast amount of positive energy, it simultaneously produced the same amount of negative energy” (“Curiosity…”). But how could a bang “produce” or create something from nothing? A bang has no creative power. It is merely an explosion that is generated from already existing substances. Expansion will occur in an explosion, sometimes resulting in an enormous blast radius in comparison to its initial state, but there must initially be something to explode and expand from. Using Hawking’s analogy, how could a hole or hill be made without first having dirt—or in the case of the supposed Universe creation, energy? Where did the dirt, or energy, first come from?
Although such a contention is logically impossible, Hawking asserts that quantum mechanics provides the answer. According to Hawking, at the sub-atomic level, “conjuring something out of nothing is possible, at least for a short while” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). Particles “can appear at random—stick around for a while and then vanish again to reappear somewhere else” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). Since this happens, theoretically, in the sub-atomic world, then according to Hawking, the Universe could have popped into existence from nothing as do these particles. How, exactly, it follows from quantum particle generation that spontaneous Universe generation is possible is a mystery, especially without any empirical evidence to support such a contention. Further, how, exactly, would spontaneous energy generation work without violating the First Law of Thermodynamics—i.e., that energy cannot be created or destroyed in nature, but can only change forms (see Miller, 2007)? If the Universe—all nature with all of its space, energy, and matter—came into existence on its own from nothing, the First Law would be violated.
As will be discussed, Hawking firmly believes in the immutability of the laws of nature and their application to the Universe as a whole. So, he would not wish to contradict his firm reliance on the laws of nature by holding to a theory that would violate one of those laws—and yet, his position (i.e., all energy coming from nothing) requires such a violation. Notice, however, that he contradicts himself on this matter. While he wants to believe that everything came from nothing, as his own statements imply, the alleged popping particles are actually already in existence and merely disappear and “reappear,” jumping around to different places. Thus, the ultimate problem with the atheistic position remains. Where did these particles originally come from? And where’s the empirical evidence that these particles that pop in and out of existence could stick around for the alleged billions of years of our existence, instead of the “short while” he asserts is possible? He does not explain. The truth is, there is no empirical evidence to verify the theory that sub-atomic particles could pop into existence and stick around for long periods of time at all, much less develop into a Universe over billions of years. That being the case, how would we expect Hawking to press the matter further? He cannot press what he cannot prove, and therefore, he moves on without further presentation of evidence. He condescendingly alleges, “Unless mathematics is your thing, this is hard to grasp, but it’s true” (“Curiosity…”). So, we are left to just blindly take his word for it and trust that he has the answer—though he will not share it.
Quantum Mechanics and Universe Generation
|Stephen Hawking in 1999|
Though Hawking does not enter into a discussion of the topic, a review of the scientific literature on the idea of quantum vacuum fluctuations accounting for the creation of the Universe reveals that such a theory does not actually start with nothing and end with something—which is what Hawking needs in order to eliminate the necessity of a higher being. In keeping with the First Law of Thermodynamics, quantum theories start with something and end with something. So, quantum mechanics does not provide an answer as to where the original “something” came from. Prominent humanist mathematician and science writer, Martin Gardner, wrote: “It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing” (2000, p. 303, emp. added). Philip Yam of Scientific American wrote: “Energy in the vacuum, though, is very much real. According to modern physics, a vacuum isn’t a pocket of nothingness. It churns with unseen activity” (1997, p. 82, emp. added). Edward Tryon, professor of physics at Hunter College in Manhattan, proposed the idea that the Universe could be the result of a large-scale vacuum energy fluctuation (1973). Alan Guth, professor of physics at M.I.T., wrote in response: “In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from” (1997, p. 273). Theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, a professor of physics and director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, while explaining the problems inherent in Tryon’s work, said:
A more fundamental problem is that Tryon’s scenario does not really explain the origin of the universe. A quantum fluctuation of the vacuum assumes that there was a vacuum of some pre-existing space. And we now know that “vacuum” is very different from “nothing.” Vacuum, or empty space, has energy and tension, it can bend and warp, so it is unquestionably something (2006, p. 185, ital. in orig.).
Vilenkin went on to propose that quantum tunneling could be the answer to the creation of the Universe out of nothing. However, quantum tunneling starts with something and ends with something as well. Particles that can jump or tunnel through barriers still must initially exist to do so. So, the problem remains. There must be an ultimate Cause of the Universe. According to Hawking, in order to create a Universe, “you need” energy and space (“Curiosity…”). Though he boldly claims his theory provides these entities, his claims fall quite short of the truth. His needs simply remain unmet—without a Creator.
“There is No Time For God”
Towards the end of the episode, again without having addressed the multitude of arguments that theists have made over the centuries, Hawking asserts that “[t]he role played by time at the beginning of the Universe is, I believe, the final key to removing the need for a Grand Designer and revealing how the Universe created itself” (“Curiosity…”). According to Hawking, inside a “black hole itself, time doesn’t exist, and that’s exactly what happened at the start of the Universe” (“Curiosity…”). He then claims that since time does not exist in a black hole and the initial moments of the Big Bang were supposedly something of a black hole, there was no time before the Big Bang. He asserts:
You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang, because there was no before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me, this means that there is no possibility for a Creator, because there is no time for a Creator to have existed…. Time didn’t exist before the Big Bang. So, there is no time for God to make the Universe in (“Curiosity…”).
Setting aside the unsubstantiated assertion that Hawking can know with complete certainty anything about the true nature of a black hole (and whether they even exist; cf. Muir, 2002 and “New Theories Dispute the Existence of Black Holes,” 2002), and therefore, whether or not he can know the theoretical idea that time does not exist within one, there are still problems with Hawking’s claims. First of all, it is true that Einstein showed that there appears to be a correlation between gravity and time. Perfectly synchronized atomic clocks placed at different elevations on the Earth—and thus, with differing local gravitational accelerations—do not “tick” the same. The higher the gravitational force, the slower time appears to move. So, theoretically, on an entity of infinite mass and infinitesimal volume, and therefore, infinite gravitational acceleration, time would stop. Hawking implies that the initial “cosmic egg”—the “ylem,” as it has been called—was just such an entity. As Robert Jastrow of NASA stated, originally “all matter in the Universe was compressed into an infinitely dense and hot mass” that exploded in the Big Bang (1977, pp. 2-3, emp. added). The problem is that the hypothesis that such an entity was ever in existence is not in keeping with the contentions of Big Bang cosmologists themselves, much less scientific evidence.
First of all, Jastrow’s statements, “all matter” and “infinitely dense,” are contradictory. “All matter” implies that there is a quantifiable amount of matter in the Universe, while “infinitely dense” implies that the amount of matter cannot be enumerated. If matter is quantifiable, then the spatial volume that contains that matter must also be quantifiable, and therefore, its density has a finite value. So, as one should expect, cosmologists do not technically define the ylem as infinite in density, but rather, just really, really dense. The initial cosmic singularity is thought to have been 1014 times the density of water, yet smaller in volume than a single proton. Rick Gore, writing in National Geographic, said, “Astonishingly, scientists now calculate that everything in this vast universe grew out of a region many billions of times smaller than a single proton, one of the atom’s basic particles” (Gore, 1983, 163:705). Karen Fox, physics and astrophysics science writer, said the ylem was a “mind-bogglingly dense atom containing the entire Universe” (Fox, p. 69). So, the singularity is thought to be of a specific size and density—not infinitesimal or infinite, respectively. So, the “cosmic egg” is really not thought to be infinitely dense. Big Bang cosmologists loosely use the term “infinitely” as an approximation for “really, really dense.” Now, don’t miss the ultimate point. In theory, in order for time to completely stop, infinite gravitational acceleration would be necessary, but the hypothetical ylem does not provide that. Thus, time would tick on, albeit, theoretically very slowly. Bottom line: Stephen Hawking’s contention that time did not exist before the Big Bang is without merit—even if the Big Bang were true or even possible, which it is not.
A second problem with Hawking’s statement is that he strongly acknowledges the immutability of the laws of nature, as will be discussed further. These laws, according to Hawking, cannot be violated. They are fixed. The Law of Cause and Effect is no exception. And yet, Hawking contradicts himself by claiming that it was, in fact, violated at the beginning. He has no empirical evidence to substantiate such a claim. Instead, we are to take him at his word, although he claims that science, which is based on empirical evidence, can explain everything. If he, being a scientist intent on finding all of the origin answers without the need of the supernatural, is intent on basing his decisions on only the scientific evidence, then he must find empirical evidence that proves that the Law of Cause and Effect—a law of nature, which he says is immutable and fixed—has ever been violated. Until such evidence can be found, he is unjustified in theorizing such a violation. There is no such evidence—only his conjecture. According to the Law of Rationality, Hawking is guilty of being irrational since he has drawn conclusions that are not warranted by the evidence. To hold to that view is, therefore, illogical and unscientific. By definition, he has abandoned his premise. Science and its natural laws cannot explain the Universe without a Supernatural Creator, because the laws of nature are not in harmony with any theories that require a purely naturalistic origin.
Third, Hawking believes that the Creator would have to exist prior to the Big Bang, assumedly because of his interpretation of the Law of Cause and Effect. He believes that if the Big Bang is true, then time would not have existed before the Big Bang because of Einstein’s findings, and therefore, there could be no prior existence of a Creator and, therefore, no cause. We have already examined the false idea that time would have ceased to exist in the hypothetical “ylem.” However, even granting him his assertion that time could not have existed before the Big Bang, he is incorrect in claiming that the Law of Cause and Effect would prohibit the existence of a Creator. Such a contention illustrates Hawking’s ignorance concerning the true nature of the Law of Causality.
Even if the Big Bang were true (which it is not), the work of a Creator would not be in violation of the Law. First of all, the Law of Causality as a law of natural science only applies to that which can be empirically observed—namely, the natural Universe, not supernatural entities. So, it does not even apply to God. Second, even if it did apply to the Creator, Hawking’s belief that there’s no room for the Creator since the Law of Causality requires a previous cause—which could not be if time did not exist before the Big Bang—is erroneous. The Law of Cause and Effect (or Law of Causality) states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause (see Miller, 2011a). When one sits in a seat, his legs form a lap. The cause of the lap is sitting, which occurs simultaneously with the creation of the lap. So, causes can take place simultaneously with their effects. A proper understanding of the Law of Causality reveals that the Law does not rule out the existence of a Creator even if the Big Bang were true, since the effect of the Universe could occur simultaneous with its causal activity. Again, though Hawking is inaccurate in his use of the Law of Causality, it is ultimately irrelevant since the Big Bang is unscientific and logically impossible.
A fourth problem with his statement is that a black hole is still something—not nothing. In order for time to theoretically not exist in a black hole, there has to be a black hole to start with. The question remains: where did the black hole come from? The Law of Cause and Effect cannot be dodged. A cause is always necessary in nature.
A fifth problem is that Hawking incorrectly assumes that spiritual entities are even bound by time as we know it. The nature of the Creator is such that He is omnipresent (cf. Exodus 3:14; John 8:58; Psalm 90:2,4; Psalm 139:7-8; 2 Peter 3:8; Hebrews 13:8). He is simultaneously everywhere and everywhen. Time is irrelevant to God. The temporal existence we reside in—one in which black holes may exist—came into being a few thousand years ago when God created it. However, He existed long before time came into being. Stephen Hawking betrays his ignorance of true theism by such assertions. Truly, the episode makes it clear that Hawking’s entire perspective on theism has been formed by various false religions—not by true Bible theism.
The Immutable Laws of Nature
Throughout the episode, Hawking ironically comes out strongly in support of the immutability of the laws of nature. He says,
[T]he Universe is a machine governed by principles or laws—laws that can be understood by the human mind. I believe that the discovery of these laws has been humankind’s greatest achievement…. But what’s really important is that these physical laws, as well as being unchangeable, are universal. They apply not just to the flight of the ball, but to the motion of a planet and everything else in the Universe. Unlike laws made by humans, the laws of nature cannot ever be broken. That’s why they are so powerful (“Curiosity…,” emp. added).
The implications of the immutable laws of nature have long been a strong contention of creation scientists in support of theism. Sadly, though Hawking acknowledges the immutability of the laws of nature, he does not allow his brilliant mind to follow the implications of such strong statements in support of the laws of nature. The laws of nature—specifically the Laws of Thermodynamics (see Miller, 2007), Law of Biogenesis (see Thompson, 2002), Law of Causality (see Miller, 2011a), Laws of Probability (see Miller, 2011b), and Laws of Genetics (see Thompson, 2002)—point unequivocally to the existence of a Supreme Being. With the exception of the Law of Causality, Hawking leaves these laws untouched in his lecture. How presumptuous to assert that science has answered all of life’s questions without the need of God, while not even addressing many of the arguments that theists have used through the millennia to highlight the need of a Supreme Being in the origins equation.
Hawking goes on to say, “If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then it doesn’t take long to ask what role is there for God” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). Quite a presumptuous statement to make, to be sure. There are hundreds of creation scientists, myself included, who have come to the exact opposite conclusion. The laws of nature attest to the existence of God. A list of just 186 of those credentialed scientists has been posted on-line by Creation Ministries International (cf. “Creation Scientists…,” 2010; Miller, 2010).
Ironically, though Hawking claims that science can explain our existence without the need of a Creator, in the show he actually acknowledged a significant problem with that claim which is inherent in the laws of nature for which science still cannot even attempt an answer. He said, “Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang?” (“Curiosity…”). He, of course, made it clear that he did not believe that to be the case. However, he did not even attempt to offer an alternative option, much less any proof for his assertion. He moved on to discuss other matters, never to return to that question. Though he believes science has eliminated the need for a Creator, he simply did not address one of the most powerful proofs that attest to the need of a Supreme Being to explain what we see in nature.
How can there be law without a lawgiver? The eminent atheistic, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, Paul Davies, noted that very thing in the “round table discussion” on the Discovery Channel following “Curiosity,” titled, “The Creation Question: a Curiosity Conversation.” Concerning Hawking, Davies said, “In the show, Stephen Hawking gets very, very close to saying, ‘Well, where did the laws of physics come from? That’s where we might find some sort of God.’ And then he backs away and doesn’t return to the subject” (2011). In response, concerning the laws of science, Davies further said, “You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws…. I think the key point here is that these very laws that we’re talking about…are simply, for most scientists, unexplained. So, either you have an unexplained God or you have unexplained laws” (“The Creation Question…”). Davies, at least, is partially correct. The laws of nature are unexplained without God. The question is, who among the atheists are willing to drop all preconceived notions and bias and accept where the scientific evidence points? The answer to that question highlights the fact that most atheists, as well as most people on the entire planet, simply are not interested in the truth—no matter how much they claim that they are. Could it be that most people want to do what they want to do, without having to have a guilty conscience due to disobeying authority—especially the Ultimate Authority?
Unintentional Concessions in Favor of Theism
Though he certainly would not embrace several implications that follow from his statements, in this episode Hawking ultimately concedes the main thrust of at least three of the classical arguments for the existence of God. First of all, he acknowledges the “complexity and variety of the Universe” (“Curiosity…”), which creationists have long contended is evidence of a Designer. An explosion is not capable of the complexity and variety in the Universe. Intelligent design is necessary. Further, he makes the statement,
I believe that the discovery of these laws has been human kind’s greatest achievement. For it’s these laws of nature, as we now call them, that will tell us whether we need a god to explain the Universe at all…. Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang (“Curiosity…”)?
So, he concedes the need for a law writer, but offers no explanation—other than “a god.” Therefore, by his lack of an alternate explanation, he concedes that there is no other. So, he tacitly concedes the validity of the Teleological Argument for the existence of God. There is evidence of design in the Universe, especially in the design of the laws of nature. Therefore, there must be a Designer—a law Writer.
Early on in the episode, Hawking states, “For centuries it was believed that disabled people, like me, were living under a curse inflicted by God” (“Curiosity…”). He is correct that many people throughout time have incorrectly believed that suffering and misfortune are necessarily a result of displeasing God or a god (consider Job’s friends, who were ultimately proven wrong in their contention). However, by this statement, Hawking acknowledges that the world, “for centuries,” has largely embraced some form of theism—believing in a god of some sort. This admission is the thrust of the Intuitional Argument for the existence of God. Humans have a religious inclination—a tendency to be religious and worship something. We may suppress it or ignore it, but it is there and has historically been so. People have always worshipped something. In fact, though he used the past tense “believed,” as though it is not the case anymore, human inclination to believe in Something and be religious is clearly still in our nature. In fact, according to Adherents.com, 92% of the world believein some form of theism (“Major Religions of the World…,” 2005). Our intuition tells us to be religious, and neither evolution nor a random explosion can account for that religious inclination. After this statement, Hawking went on to say, “I prefer to think that everything can be explained another way: by the laws of nature” (“Curiosity…”). As you will recall, he then attempted to prove that statement, and his explanation was shown above to be inadequate, logically and scientifically, in accounting for the existence of the Universe. So, we are left with his stated alternative. Belief in God is the logical choice. Human intuition to be religious still stands as the sensible viewpoint. No adequate explanation exists for our religious tendency without the existence of a Creator.
Recall also that Hawking stated the following:
So where did all this energy and space come from? How does an entire Universe full of energy—the awesome vastness of space and everything in it—simply appear out of nothing? For some, this is where God comes back into the picture. It was God that created the energy and space. The Big Bang was the moment of creation (“Curiosity…”).
This is the thrust of the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God. The Universe (i.e., the cosmos) is here and a Cause is needed. Hawking tacitly acknowledges that a Creator is needed in the equation if there is not an adequate explanation for the Universe without Him. He believes that science and nature provide that explanation, but again, that explanation has been shown to be scientifically unfeasable. So, again, the alternative that he raises—the existence of God—is still the best option for explaining the existence of the Universe. The Cosmological Argument stands unscathed as a testament to the existence of the Creator. The cosmos is here. Who made it?
In the end, Hawking’s assertions are just that—assertions. Before his claim that the power of science can eliminate the need for a Creator has validity, Hawking has a lot of answering to do. The truth is, science cannot explain our existence without a Creator. Quite the opposite is true. Science proclaims the Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, emp. added). “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20,22, emp. added). “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, emp. added). Stephen Hawking would do well to realize thatthere is a God in heaven, and according to Him, it is the fool that “has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” (Psalm 14:1), not the man who believes himself to be more enlightened because of his atheistic mindset. Sadly, “not many wise according to the flesh…are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
We close with another quote from Paul Davies concerning Hawking and his wild assertions in “Curiosity”: “I think science can get a bad press by scientists appearing to be too arrogant and taking on more than perhaps they should. So, it’s as well to lace definitive statements with a certain amount of humility, I think” (“The Creation Question…”). Someone had to say it. Perhaps Hawking will hear it since it came from a fellow atheistic cosmologist.
“Appeal to Consequences” (2009), Logical Fallacies, http://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/appeals/appeal-to-consequences/.
“Creation Scientists and Other Specialists of Interest” (2010), Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/creation-scientists.
“The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Fox, Karen (2002), The Big Bang Theory—What It Is, Where It Came from, and Why It Works (New York: John Wiley & Sons).
Gardner, Martin (2000), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? (New York: W.W. Norton).
Gore, Rick (1983), “The Once and Future Universe,” National Geographic, 163:704-748, June.
Guth, Alan (1997), The Inflationary Universe (New York: Perseus Books).
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton).
“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2005), http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html.
Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/2106.
Miller, Jeff (2010), “You Creationists Are Unqualified To Discuss Such Matters!” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/3730.
Miller, Jeff (2011a), “God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/3716.
Miller, Jeff (2011b), “God and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Probability,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/3726.
Muir, Hazel (2002), “Death Star,” New Scientist, 173:26, January 19.
“New Theories Dispute the Existence of Black Holes” (2002), http://www. cosmiverse.com/space01170204.html.
“Straw Man Fallacy” (2009), Logical Fallacies, http://www.logicalfallacies.info/ambiguity/straw-man/.
Thompson, Bert (2002), The Scientific Case for Creation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Tryon, E.P. (1973), “Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?,” Nature, 246:396-397, December 14.
Vilenkin, Alex (2006), Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes (New York: Hill and Wang).
Yam, Philip (1997), “Exploiting Zero-Point Energy,” Scientific American, 277:82-85.
A Reaction to Big Bang Euphoria
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
I have heard that recent findings from a NASA satellite support the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe. Is this correct?
In 1992, newspapers plastered new findings about the Big Bang theory across their front pages. The Associated Press quoted physicist Joel Primack as saying that the new scientific data represent “one of the major discoveries of the century.” The reports often are couched in highly religious terms, suggesting that scientists have found the “Holy Grail of cosmology.” What is all this talk about, and what is its significance to the biblical record of creation?
The Big Bang theory rests on three basic assumptions: (1) that from some sort of original “cosmic egg,” itself smaller than a single proton, hydrogen and helium atoms were created and ultimately gave rise (through a process called “nucleosynthesis”) to 99% of the visible matter in the Universe; (2) that the heat generated by this initial process has cooled to only a few degrees above absolute zero; and (3) that the Universe is expanding away from a central point. These points have been discussed in a previous article (Major, 1991). But how is the current controversy related to these assumptions, and what ramifications do these new findings have on biblical creation?
Although the extremely high temperatures thought to be associated with the Big Bang could not be measured directly, evolutionary cosmologists felt that one day it might be possible to find a remnant of these temperatures in what they termed “background” radiation—the “afterglow” of the Big Bang. In 1965, two scientists from Bell Laboratories, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, pointed an improvised radio telescope into space and found a uniform background radiation of three degrees above absolute zero (3-Kelvin). Cosmologists took this as evidence for the Big Bang, and Drs. Penzias and Wilson subsequently were awarded a Nobel Prize for their discovery. In 1989, NASA launched its Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), and it began its survey of deep space. It, too, found a 3-K temperature (or, more correctly, 2.735 ±0.06 K, measured to an accuracy of one in 10,000).
There were still serious problems with the Big Bang theory, however. For example, in any Big Bang scenario—according to evolutionists’ assumptions about initial conditions—the Universe can contain no more than 10% protons, neutrons, and other ordinary matter found in stars, planets, etc. What makes the rest of the matter—90-99% of the Universe—still is a mystery. Cosmologists do not know what it is, and have not found direct evidence of its existence. One suggestion is that it consists of “cold dark matter”—“cold” because it cannot interact with other matter (except gravitationally), and “dark” because it cannot be seen. Evolutionists need this matter—both known and unknown—to allow for expansion and galaxy formation. If this extra matter did not exist, the ordinary matter of the Universe would have scattered into the empty reaches of space without ever coming together to form galaxies.
The problem is, the Universe is “lumpy.” There are clusters of galaxies, for example, which stretch 550 million light years across the sky. The cold dark matter theory cannot account for this, and circumventing this problem is what the current controversy is all about. Big Bang supporters now are suggesting that the “cosmic egg” had small defects—minor variations that could grow into major variations. The existence of these “minor variations” should have had some effect on the background radiation. However, until now, the evidence of any serious fluctuations in the background radiation has been conspicuously absent, leaving the Big Bang concept riddled with problems for which there seemingly were no solutions.
When NASA’s COBE satellite reported its first results, those results supported previous findings of a uniform background radiation. A second survey was carried out to an accuracy not of one in 10,000, but to one in 100,000. The current media reports are all about the results of this last survey, which evolutionists say documents the existence of minor variations in the background temperature of the known Universe.
These variations are presumed to represent early defects, which could explain how the Universe got to be so “lumpy.” However, most people likely are unaware of the infinitesimal nature of the variations being reported. In reality, the “variations” differ by barely thirty-millionths of a Kelvin from the approximate 3-K background. Some scientists doubt that these are large enough to account for the large-scale structure of the Universe (see Flam, 1992). So, while scientists were relieved to find variations, they have been forced to admit that the results are not exactly what they need to “fix” the theory.
Recent articles in science journals also make mention of other concerns. For example, the measured temperature variations, according to the principal investigator, George Smoot, are “well below the level of instrumental noise.” In other words, the variations may turn out to be statistically unimportant, because the instruments are not accurate enough to produce the published results. Al Kogut, who also worked on the initial research project, said: “You can’t point to any one point in the data and say that’s signal and that’s noise” (see Flam, 1992). These evolutionists believe, of course, that they are observing a real phenomenon, and not just instrument noise. [It should be pointed out, however, that the variations were not apparent from the raw data. They were “extracted” by manipulating COBE’s data.]
These recent findings are not an unqualified success, and should be downgraded from “greatest discovery” to “interesting,” and from “proof” to “possible corroboration.” The British journal Naturecommented: “The simple conclusion, that the data so far authenticated are consistent with the doctrine of the Big Bang, has been amplified in newspapers and broadcasts into proof that ‘we now know’ how the Universe began. This is cause for some alarm” (1992, p. 731).
Not so long ago, adherents of the Big Bang held to a smooth Universe, and pointed with pride to the uniform background radiation. Then they found large-scale structures, and revised their “predictions.” Now they have found infinitesimal variations, and are hailing them as the greatest discovery of the century. We must urge caution when a theory, claiming to be scientific, escapes falsification by continual modification with ad hoc, stopgap measures. Certainly there is no need for George Smoot to say, “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” This statement spurred the media to seek comments from various religious quarters. According to the Associated Press, the “Rev. Mr. Burnham said many theologians will find having another confirmation of the big bang theory to be very compatible with the belief that God created the universe out of pre-existent chaos.” However, the idea that God just started the creation and left it to evolve on its own is not supported anywhere in the Bible. The evolutionists’ time scale is inconsistent with biblical chronology, and the creation record tells us that God created the heavenly objects on the fourth day. This order of creation differs markedly from the evolutionary account. Overall, this new discovery is not anywhere near as conclusive as its promoters claim. The Big Bang theory still is rife with problems.
Major, Trevor (1991), “The Big Bang in Crisis,” Reason & Revelation, 11:21-24, June.
Flam, Faye (1992), “COBE Finds the Bumps in the Big Bang,” Science, 256:612, May 1.
Nature (1992), “Big Bang Brouhaha,” 356:731, April 30.
A Personal Note About the Darwin Day Debate
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
As most of our readers are aware, I participated in a debate February 12, 2009 in which I defended the existence of the God of the Bible. My opponent was Dan Barker, the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the largest atheistic organization in North America. The debate took place on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. The venue for the debate held 550 people. It was filled to capacity, and several came that could not get in due to fire regulations. From what I can gather, there were probably about 650-700 who showed up. The entire debate lasted about two hours with alternating speeches from Dan and me and an audience question segment that lasted about 30 minutes.
We don’t have any precise records as to the make-up of the audience, but in my estimation, it looked as though there were about 400 members of the Church in attendance, with another 50 or so Christians who could not get in due to seating limitations. Many of the Christians traveled several hundred miles, driving for 6-8 hours to be in attendance. Several congregations brought bus loads of people, some even chartered buses. It was truly energizing to see so many Christians who cared enough to spend their valuable time and money to be there to support the Lord’s cause.
Months before the debate, Christians all over the world had been including the debate in their personal prayers as well as congregational prayers. From what I have been able to gather, literally thousands of Christians, some from other countries, were praying for the success of the debate. As the debate got closer, many Christians fasted and spent hours praying specifically for the truth to be obvious and God’s name to be glorified.
We arranged for Apologetics Press to have a table set up at the debate, from which we distributed material. We passed out information about A.P., as well as articles and books that addressed the specific arguments that were part of the debate. In all, we gave away about $5,000 worth of materials (of course, this was only possible through the generous donations of our supporters). We also gave people the opportunity to sign-up for weekly e-mail updates, and we made hundreds of personal contacts with other members of the church, those in denominations, and those in the skeptical community. We have already been involved in several e-mail, postal mail, and phone exchanges that stemmed from the debate, and we anticipate many more opportunities in the upcoming months and years to spread the truth because of the networking done at the debate.
I had about six months to prepare for the debate. During that time, I tried to watch each of Dan’s debates on the subject, as well as read all his books and many of his articles or other writings. I also found various Web sites that addressed Dan’s specific arguments. Thomas Baxley, a senior at Faulkner University who was interning with us at the time, also watched the Barker debates and helped me tremendously in narrowing down the material to be used during the debate. For the six months of preparation, my co-workers Eric Lyons, Dave Miller, and Caleb Colley, picked up most of my other writing responsibilities for our monthly journals and our Web site. I am extremely grateful for their extra effort that allowed me to stay focused on the debate.
My overall assessment of the debate is that it was a huge success on several different levels. First, I believe it invigorated the Lord’s Church, and reminded our people that New Testament Christianity is founded on truth and reason, and can stand against and defeat the best that the atheistic, unbelieving world has to offer. Second, it also manifested what the Lord’s Church can do when we work together. The prayers offered up to God, the financial support given to Apologetics Press, and the personal presence of so many Christians were an overwhelming testimony to the fact that the church of Jesus Christ is alive and well in the United States of America and is not afraid to stand up and be counted for His cause. Third, the debate helped show some of those in the skeptical community that rational, logical arguments undergird the Christian faith, and that those arguments are powerful and respect the dignity and God-given freedom of choice for all humanity.
Finally, and most important, it needs to be stressed to the point of redundancy that anything good that has been or will be accomplished by the debate must be attributed to the God of the Bible Whose existence I defended. It is His truth that was presented, His providential hand worked out the arrangements for the debate to transpire, and His strength and power, accessed by the prayers of thousands of faithful Christians, support those who are employed in defending His cause. We must always remember, that no matter what part we play in furthering the Lord’s Kingdom, at the end of the day, we are merely servants of the Most High who are doing what it is our duty to do (Luke 17:10). To God be the glory, great things He has done!
A Lesson From the Sophists
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
The ancient Sophists occupied the period in Greek philosophical history just after the physical philosophers had posited various explanations concerning the substance of the material world (ca. 450 B.C. [Kahn, 2005]). Sophists are often dismissed as charlatans or hypocrites, and to some degree this charge is just. Our purpose here, however, is not to evaluate the Sophists’ project, but rather to learn a lesson from the circumstance in which the Sophists found themselves and from the major question they posed. As the answer to this question highlights the value of special revelation, it is relevant to Christian apologetics.
The earliest Greek philosophers (e.g., Thales, Anaximander, Democritus, etc.), had focused primarily on developing accounts of physical reality, asking “Of what is the world made?” However, social and political unrest demanded that philosophers move beyond the merely physical questions (i.e., questions about substance) in order to address spiritual and ethical issues. The traditional Greek religion, with its accompanying supernatural explanations for the phenomenal world, were being questioned. Likewise, traditional laws were being questioned (see Rogers, 1923, p. 45). As all citizens in Athens had the opportunity to participate directly as legislators, those who wanted to advance in politics desired special training in rhetoric for the purpose of learning to persuade audiences in the legal/political realm. The Sophists occupied themselves as teachers of rhetoric, among other topics. Consider the following summary:
The basis [of the Sophists’] work was apt to be rhetorical, but with the abler Sophists, this was broadened out to cover the field of an all-round and liberal culture. Any knowledge that was available of the workings of the human mind, of literature, history, language, or grammar, of the principles underlying the dialectic of argument, of the nature of virtue and justice, was clearly appropriate to the end in view.... Now all this seems innocent enough.... In reality, however, there were some grounds for...suspicion. On the practical side, merely, there always was a danger lest the Sophistic skill be prostituted to unsocial ends.... Apart, however, from such chances for abuse, which no doubt were often taken advantage of, there was a more fundamental reason for the popular distrust. The habit of unrestricted inquiry and discussion which was crystallized by the Sophistic movement, the free play of the mind over all subjects that interest men, meant the overthrow of much in the existing civilization.... (Rogers, pp. 42-43).
While some of the Sophists had high ideals (e.g., Protagoras [see Plato, 1997, pp. 746-790]), nonetheless the legacy of the Sophists is that of a general ethical relativism.
Greek culture was at a crossroads. At issue was whether the traditions of previous generations of society would be maintained, or the desires of each present individual would be accepted as his own standard. Should the individual or society take prominence? The Sophists, exposing at times the lack of rational support for tradition, essentially offered the solution of “Every man for himself.” In so doing, they posed the following philosophical question: Is man the measure of all things (as modern secular humanists allege; see Colley, 2007), or is there some external, objective standard to guide human action? Some philosophers, such as Socrates, were rightly concerned that any solution whatever be subjected to the test of human reason, and that the solution be applied to all humanity. Yet, even a Platonic solution, such as that presented in the Republic, has aspects that are unsatisfactory to many (especially its communistic aspects [Plato, 1997, pp. 971-1223]).
This quandary is ancient, yet bears a strikingly current application. Our present culture is largely divided concerning the validity of divine authority and religious tradition. At least two lessons present themselves for the Christian apologist. The first, general lesson to be learned from this Greek predicament is that man needs divine guidance in order to flourish (Jeremiah 10:23). Anytime man rejects an objective standard concerning what is good, relativism threatens. “Someone who holds that nothing is simply good, but only good for someone or from a certain point of view, holds a relativist view of goodness,” and has invited revolution, as did the Greeks (Craig, 2005, p. 894). Yet, even a universally accepted standard, if not grounded in objective truth, is not desirable (it could happen to be philosophical pessimism, Nazism, etc.).
It is interesting to note that within a few generations of the Sophists, the greatest theophony Jesus Christ would appear, providing the way to human fulfillment and peace in the fullness of time (see John 10:10; 14:6; Galatians 4:4). The Greek-speaking world would be influenced heavily by Christianity, and many philosophers throughout the centuries would come to appreciate Christian principles, even developing philosophical systems involving biblical teaching (see Rogers, pp. 185ff.).
The second, specific lesson to be learned from the Greek situation during the Sophistical age is that Christianity provides grounds for perfect balance between emphasis upon the individual person and deference to his community. The individual is uniquely responsible for his own obedience and righteous lifestyle (Acts 2:40; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 11:6; Jude 21-23). The individual’s own rationality is central, but not for the purpose of originating religious truth. Rather, the individual uses his rationality to examine evidence for the validity of revealed truth, and to apply revelation properly. At the same time, he is divinely situated in the church, a community of believers who bear each others’ burdens (Philippians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 John 4:7), exercise godly discipline (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Peter 5:5), and appeal to a single standard for conduct (2 Samuel 22:31; Romans 10:13-17; Colossians 3:17). Christianity is not designed in such a way that its adherents exercise faith in isolation. No one Christian is more valuable or more important than another (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).
The Bible contains the answers to philosophical questions—even those asked by the ancients. The Sophists indirectly raised the question of the degree to which such a source should be consulted when philosophers develop ethical and metaphysical arguments. To defend the affirmative answer is the task of the Christian apologist, who considers philosophy in light of divine revelation in order to develop the most effective response.
Colley, Caleb (2007), “Secular Humanism and Evolution,” http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3336.
Craig, Edward (2005), “Relativism,” in The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig (New York: Routledge).
Kahn, Charles H. (2005), “Sophists,” in The Shorter Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig (New York: Routledge).
Rogers, Arthur Kenyon (1923), A Student’s History of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan).
Plato (1997), Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett).