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Monday, June 26, 2017

Cause and Effect

God—The Cause of the Universe

Imagine that you are sitting in a school classroom one day while the teacher is up at the front speaking. All of a sudden, a book flies off her desk going 100 miles per hour and crashes into the back wall. All the students are stunned. One student, Julie, turns to the teacher and says: “Ms. Smith, what caused that book to fly across the room?” Imagine how surprised you would be if Ms. Smith said, “Nothing caused it, Julie. Sometimes books just shoot across the room going 100 miles per hour.” Could that happen? Of course not, and every first grader knows books don’t fly across rooms without a cause. Why would it never happen? In order to answer this question, we need to understand a little about a scientific law.

Scientific Law

What is a scientific law? A law of science is very different from a law in our country. For instance, suppose the law says that on a certain street the speed limit is 50 miles an hour. If the people who make the laws think that 50 miles an hour is too fast, they can change the law. Those people can vote to make the new speed limit 45 miles an hour, and the law is changed.
A law of science is very different. Laws of science cannot be changed or voted on. They are always the same for all people and places for all time. For instance, think about the law of gravity. There are some complicated numbers and equations involved in calculating the law of gravity, but the law basically says that things fall down, toward the center of a large object (in our case, the Earth). That means that if you step off a 20-story building, you are going to fall down to the ground. Now suppose that we assemble one million of the most brilliant scientists in the world to vote on the law of gravity. They all decide that they would like the law changed, and all one million of them vote to change the law. Next, they ask for a volunteer to step off a 20-story building to show that they have just changed the law of gravity by vote. Are you going to volunteer? Absolutely not, because you would fall straight to the ground. No vote by any scientists can change the law of gravity. Scientific laws, such as the law of gravity, cannot be changed by people. People can study the laws. They can name the laws and try to understand them, but they cannot change the laws.

The Law of Cause and Effect

Now, let’s go back to the book that flew across the classroom. We all know that books don’t fly across rooms by themselves. How do we know that? Because we all understand the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect says that for every material effect we see in nature, there must be a cause that came before it (or happened at the same time), and a cause that is greater than or equal to it. A book flying across a room is an effect. Since it is an effect, we know it must have a cause. It is scientifically impossible for a book to shoot across a room by itself without a cause.
Not only must the book flying across the room have a cause, but it must have a cause that is great enough to bring about the effect. If Ms. Smith claimed that a housefly landed on the book and catapulted it 100 miles per hour across the room, her explanation would be just as wrong as if she said that there was no cause. The cause must be big enough for the effect.
The reason the law of cause and effect is important in a discussion about God is because the Universe is a material effect that must have a cause. Some atheists claim that the Universe created itself out of nothing. One man named Stephen Hawking said that our Universe just appeared out of nothing. That is impossible. It would violate the most basic scientific law, the law of cause and effect.

The Universe Is Really Big

Our Universe is a really big effect. Have you ever wondered how big our Universe is? Did you know that if you could travel as fast as the speed of light (which travels about 186,000 miles a second), it would take you 28 billion years to go across our Universe? Also, our Universe contains an estimated 100 billion galaxies. Our Milky Way Galaxy is one of those 100 billion. If you had a spaceship that would travel as fast as light, it would still take you 100,000 years to go across our one galaxy. Furthermore, the Milky Way contains between 200-400 billion stars. Our Sun is one star in the galaxy. It is so large that over one million planets the size of Earth would fit into it. And there are some stars in our galaxy that are 400 times as big as the Sun. This huge Universe where we live had to have a cause that came before it and was big enough to cause it. That is where God comes into the picture.
There is nothing in nature that is big enough to cause a Universe like ours. The cause of our Universe had to be more powerful than anything in nature. Only a supernatural God, or a God that is outside of nature, could bring the Universe into existence. Genesis 1:1 says: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” The first verse of the Bible gives the only possible cause for our Universe—God. We also learn that God is “almighty” (Genesis 17:1). That means God can do anything that it takes force or might to do. When we look at the Universe, we can see its massive size and realize that its cause must be all-powerful. That is why Romans 1:20 says when people look at the Universe they can see God’s “eternal power.” That is also why the writer of Psalms said: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). There had to be a first Cause, and God was (and is) the only One suitable for the job.



Copyright © 2017 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

TIME

“With God One Day is a Thousand Years”?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

If I had a dollar for each time I heard someone use this phrase to add thousands of years to the biblical, six-day Creation, I finally might be able to purchase that newer model minivan my wife would love to have. It seems as if whenever there is a discussion of the days of Creation, someone mentions how those days may have been long periods of time. After all, the Bible does say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” Does this phrase really support the Day-Age Theory as many suggest?
First, the Bible does not say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” The apostle Peter actually wrote: “[B]eloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Peter used a figure of speech known as a simile to compare a day to a thousand years. It is not that one day is precisely equivalent to 1,000 years or vice versa. Rather, within the specific context of 2 Peter 3, one could say that they share a likeness.
What is the context of 2 Peter 3? In this passage, Peter reminded Christians that “scoffers” would arise in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of His [Jesus’] coming?” (vss. 3-4). Peter declared: “[T]he heavens and the earth...are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (vs. 7). Regardless of what the scoffers alleged about the Second Coming, Peter wanted the church to know that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise [of a return], as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (vs. 9). Sandwiched between these thoughts is the fact that the passing of time does not affect God’s promises, specifically the promise of His return. If Jesus promised to return 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, it is as good as if He made the promise yesterday. Indeed, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” With men, the passing of long periods of time generally affects their keeping of promises, but not with God. Time has no bearing on whether He will do what He said He would do: “a thousand years are like a day” (vs. 8, NIV).
Another point to consider is that Peter used the term “day” (Greek hemeraand the phrase “thousand years” (chilia ete). This in itself is proof that God is able to communicate to man the difference between one day and 1,000 years. (For similes to make sense, one first must understand the literal difference between what is being compared. If there were no difference, then it would be meaningless to use such a figure of speech.) What’s more, within Genesis chapter one God used the terms “days” (Hebrew yamimand “years” (shanim). Many rightly have questioned, “If a day in Genesis is really a thousand years (or some other long period of time), then what are the years mentioned in Genesis chapter one?” Such a definition of “days” makes a reasonable interpretation of Creation impossible. The facts are: (1) God knows the difference between a day and a thousand years; (2) Peter and Moses understood this difference; (3) their original audience comprehended the difference; and (4) any unbiased reader today can do the same.
Finally, even if 2 Peter 3:8 could be tied to the length of the Creation days (logically and biblically it cannot), adding 6,000 years to the age of the Earth would in no way appease evolutionary sympathizers. A person could add 600,000 years or 600 million years and still not come close to the alleged age of the Universe. According to evolutionary calculations, one would still be 13+ billion years away from the Big Bang and four billion years this side of the formation of Earth. Truly, even an abuse of 2 Peter 3:8 will not help Day-Age theorists.




Copyright © 2007 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Is Cause Necessary?

Quantum Mechanics: "No Universal Cause Necessary"?

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Q:

If causality fails in quantum mechanics, doesn’t that prove that a Universal Cause isn’t necessary?

A:

Writing in Nature, Howard Wiseman, Professor of Physics at Griffith University, explained that, “In 1964, Northern Irish physicist John Bell proved mathematically that certain quantum correlations, unlike all other correlations in the Universe, cannot arise from any local cause.”1 Does that mean that a cause for the Universe is unnecessary? If a “quantum fluctuation” does not necessarily require a local cause, doesn’t that mean that a Universe-generating quantum fluctuation would not necessarily require a cause?
The key word that must not be overlooked in a proper understanding of Bell’s Theorem is the word “local.” In order to answer the above questions, that term must be defined and understood. Consider a simplified example: it takes about eight minutes for light from the Sun to reach Earth. But let’s say you were standing on the Sun by yourself, without any interaction with me, but every time I clicked my computer mouse on Earth, you immediately and uncontrollably hopped. There was not a delay of eight minutes. The effect was immediate. The effect of you hopping would be the result of a “non-local” cause. In his article, “Spooky Action at a Distance,” Dr. Gary Felder, Professor of Physics at Smith College, explains locality as “the principle that an event which happens at one place can’t instantaneously affect an event someplace else. For example: if a distant star were to suddenly blow up tomorrow, the principle of locality says that there is no way we could know about this event or be affected by it until something, e.g. a light beam, had time to travel from that star to Earth.”2 The question is, does that principle always hold true? According to what’s known as Bell’s Theorem, at the quantum level, the principle of locality does not hold true. Jacob Aron, writing in New Scientist, explained that in quantum theory, “particles could become entangled, so that measuring one would instantly influence the measurement of the other, even if they were far apart.”3 Felder explained: “Bell proved that the results predicted by quantum mechanics could not be explained by any theory which preserved locality. In other words, if you set up an experiment like that described by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, and you get the results predicted by quantum mechanics, then there is no way that locality could be true…. In short, locality is dead.”4
Now what does this mean for using the Law of Causality to prove the Universe could not create itself?5 Three quick points to consider in response to that question:
  • Most important: even if Bell’s Theorem holds true, and it very well may, it does not disprove the Law of Causality—i.e., the need of a cause for every effect in the Universe. Bell’s Theorem argues that there is not a need for a local cause at the quantum level (i.e., locality), but it does not claim that there is not still a necessary relationship between cause and effect—i.e., that causality still holds. While Bell experiments seem to show that there is not always a direct correlation between a cause and effect at the local level, scientists see that there does still seem to be a correlation between the causes and effects in Bell’s Theorem experiments, even if the correlation is not local. According to Bell’s Theorem, a cause can create a distant effect instantly without apparent (or, at least, understandable) interaction (e.g., separated electrons can “affect each other instantly”6), but there is still an acknowledged relationship between the cause and effect even if it is distant and immediate. My clicks are undeniably causing you to jump, even if we do not understand why. In the words of Wiseman, concerning the non-local reality interpretation of Bell’s Theorem, it is possible that “the setting of one measuring device can influence the reading of another instrument, however remote”7—i.e., the cause and effect are still apparently correlated. So, Bell’s Theorem may highlight another type of cause and effect relationship, but it does not negate the need for a cause in the first place.
  • Scientists recognize that they do not completely understand why Bell’s Theorem seems to hold true. They acknowledge that there may be things we have not discovered about reality which could affect our understanding of what is happening at the quantum level and which could prove that the cause is ultimately still “local.”8 In other words, compared to what we know about the macroscopic realm from centuries of study, we are relative novices when it comes to the study of the quantum world. We simply do not have all the answers as to what is happening in that realm, but, on the other hand, the evidence for the Law of Causality is abundant and undeniable.
  • Scientists even acknowledge that Bell’s Theorem may be false and that further investigation and accumulation of knowledge may reveal that fact. According to Felder, hidden assumptions (e.g., the assumption that “no signal can propagate faster than the speed of light,” which is a fundamental element of Einstein’s theory of relativity) could be corrupting the Bell experiment results.9 Wiseman conceded that “[b]efore investing too much angst or money, one wants to be sure that Bell correlations really exist. As of now, there are no loophole-free Bell experiments.”10
Bottom line: all observed evidence in the Universe, whether at the quantum or super-quantum level, indicates that in the realm in which we live, an effect must have a cause. The Universe is an effect, and if one is to be rational (i.e., follow the evidence we have at our disposal), he must acknowledge that there must be an ultimate cause for the Universe, whether it be local or non-local. According to the evidence, that Cause is none other than the God of the Bible.11

ENDNOTES

1 Howard Wiseman (2014), “Bell’s Theorem Still Reverberates,” Nature, 510[7506]:467-469, p. 467.
2 Gary Felder (1999), “Spooky Action at a Distance,” Math and Physics Help, http://www.felderbooks.com/papers/bell.html, italics in orig.
3 Jacob Aron (2015), “Quantum Weirdness is Reality,” New Scientist, 227[3037]:8-9, September 5, p. 8.
4 Felder.
5 Jeff Miller (2011), “God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3716&topic=90.
6 Felder.
7 Wiseman, p. 468.
8 Felder.
9 Ibid.
10 Wiseman, p. 468.
11 Jeff Miller (2015), “How Can a Person Know Which God Exists?” Reason & Revelation, 35[5]:52-53, May, http://apologeticspress.org/pub_rar/35_5/1505.pdf.




Copyright © 2017 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

En-Gedi Scrolls and the Accuracy of the Bible

Any honest person who has studied the process of how ancient books have come down to us in modern times knows this remarkable fact: the Bible is the most accurately transmitted book in the history of the world. Skeptics and those of other religions (such as Islam) often attempt to cast doubt on the biblical text by claiming that the words that were in the originals have been lost over thousands of years of copying. This accusation is patently false. The accurate and meticulous transmission of the 66 books we call the Bible is nothing short of divine. To document this truth would take entire volumes of thousands of pages each, which has been done, but we have no room to repeat it here. One good summary article of that vast research is the AP article “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible Has Not Been Corrupted.”1

One astounding fact about the Bible’s transmission is that new information continues to come to light, silencing the skeptic, and bolstering an already irrefutable case. One such discovery was made in 1970 near the area where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. A group of scrolls known as the En-Gedi scrolls came to light, but were badly damaged by fire and were unreadable with the technology available at the time.2 While the dating methods used to date the scrolls are not completely reliable, experts place the date of the writing near A.D. 300. That means the scrolls predate the Masoretic Text from which the King James Version was translated by about 500 years.

By using technology known as volume cartology, computer scientist Brent Seales and others were able to “map” the text and identify the writing. When they did, they found an ancient Hebrew text that coincided perfectly with the Masoretic Text of Leviticus 1:1-8. Newitz wrote:
What’s incredible about these chapters, according to archaeologist Emanuel Tov, is that they are virtually identical to the medieval Masoretic Text, written hundreds of years later. The En-Gedi scroll even duplicates the exact paragraph breaks seen later in the medieval Hebrew. The only difference between the two is that ancient Hebrew had no vowels, so these were added in the Middle Ages.3

Were this situation to have occurred with some other ancient text (such as the Quran or even the texts of ancient writers such as Herodotus or Thucydides), scholars would hail the event as unprecedented. In truth, however, this is a “run-of-the-mill” normal occurrence for the biblical text. The accusation that the biblical text has been miscopied or corrupted, in light of such evidence as the En-Gedi scrolls, is vacuous and unsustainable.

Emanuel Tov went on to say this about the En-Gedi text: “[It is] 100 percent identical with the medieval texts, both in its consonants and in its paragraph divisions…. [T]he scroll brings us the good news that the ancient source of the medieval text did not change for 2,000 years.” Newitz added, “In other words, the Jewish community managed to retain some of the exact wording in passages from their biblical texts over centuries, despite massive cultural upheavals and changes to their languages.”4

Indeed, such text preservation is unparalleled when compared to all other ancient documents in the world. We should recognize and appreciate the Providential care by which the biblical text has come down to us. And we should let that knowledge spur us on to study the Holy Bible, knowing that the words we read are those that God inspired.

ENDNOTES

1 Dave Miller (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible Has Not Been Corrupted,” Reason & Revelation, 35[8]:86-89,92, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5196&topic=103. For more extensive information, see Neil Lightfoot (2003), How We Got the Bible  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), third edition.
2 Annalee Newitz, “One of the World’s Oldest Biblical Texts Read for the First Time,” https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/scholars-use-x-rays-to-read-ancient-biblical-text-for-the-first-time/.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.



Copyright © 2017 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why Be An Atheist?

Why Be An Atheist?

Why do we believe what we believe? Answers to this question are legion. However, the most basic human motivations that lie behind belief and practice may be identified in light of Bible teaching. Here are a few:
Greed/Materialism—“I can make money by believing this viewpoint.”
Jealousy—“If I hold this viewpoint I will be held in higher esteem than others.”
Loyalty—“I believe this viewpoint because my parents did.”
Ambition—“I will advance in my career if I believe this viewpoint.”
Selfishness—“I want to believe this viewpoint because it makes me feel better.”
Sensualism—“I believe this viewpoint because I can indulge myself sexually.”
Ignorance—“I’m not sure why I believe this viewpoint, but I do.”
Bias/Prejudice—“I don’t believe that viewpoint because of who else believes it.”
Indifference—“I hold this viewpoint, but it really doesn’t matter much to me.”
Foolish Pride—“The smart people don’t believe that viewpoint.”

If God exists and the Bible is His Word, then what we believe and why we believe it are crucial and eternally significant.
Intellectuals throughout history have considered themselves superior to others based on their alleged intellectual prowess. The atheistic elite of our day ooze arrogance in their condescending dismissal of those who believe in God. They seek to give the impression that they believe what they believe due solely to a rational, unbiased, sensible analysis of facts that have, in turn, led them to the beliefs that they hold. On the other hand, those who do not consent to their infidelity are depicted as ignorant, biased, and stupid. Consider the frantic judgment leveled by prominent evolutionist Richard Dawkins of Oxford University: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”1

Despite such high and holy self-righteous declarations, the fact is that the very nature of error is such that a person can continue to embrace it only by means of impure motives. If an honest atheist is willing to examine the facts, he will either cease being an atheist or he will cease being honest. Hence, those who have distinguished themselves for their ongoing vociferous defense of their infidelity most assuredly possess one or more motives deep down in their hearts that enable them to dismiss the actual evidence that disproves their viewpoint.

Interestingly, atheists occasionally divulge their inner motives without particularly intending to do so. For example, in a makeshift “debate” conducted in 2010 on the campus of Caltech between atheists Sam Harris and Michael Shermer on the one hand, and Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston on the other, Sam Harris made the following observations:

Most of our neighbors believe in…a personal God who hears our prayers and occasionally answers them…. The God that our neighbors believe in is essentially an invisible person. It’s a Creator deity who created the universe to have a relationship with one species of primates. Lucky us. And He’s got galaxy upon galaxy to attend to, but he’s especially concerned with what we do, and he’s especially concerned with what we do while naked. He almost certainly disapproves of homosexuality.2

While we humans often constitute a hodge-podge of conflicting motives and inclinations, nevertheless, in our conversations we often unwittingly expose one or more of our hidden motives for believing what we believe. To ridicule Christians for holding to an ethical framework that was authored by the Creator of the Universe (Who created human sexuality) implies that the accuser disagrees with those restrictions on sexual behavior. But notice further that Harris implied something else: his belief in atheism enables him to not be concerned about his sexual behavior. The same motives that infected pagans throughout history in which their heathenism enabled them to be released from sexual inhibitions—from the Moabites3 in 1500 B.C. to the Ephesians4 in A.D. 60—are the same for atheists. Unbelief allows a person to be free to engage in whatever sexual activity he desires, whenever and with whomever.

 The intellectual sophistication and academic elitism that accompanies modern atheism is nothing more than a smokescreen to indulge the flesh. The reason Hollywood hates Christianity is because they want to be able to give full vent to their illicit fleshly appetites without feeling the guilt that comes from flaunting the moral restraints given by the Creator. Christians in Ephesus in the first century fully understood these ulterior motives that underlie one’s belief system. They lived in a city that hosted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Temple of Artemis—dedicated to the goddess with her vulgar adornments.5

 Paul spoke right to the soul of the population when he penned the following inspired words to the church—an apt evaluation of the unbelief that grips both atheism and much of the religious error of the world:
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! (Ephesians 4:17-20, ESV, emp. added).

ENDNOTES

1 Richard Dawkins (1989), “Book Review” (of Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey’s Blueprint), The New York Times, section 7, April 9, p. 3, emp. added.
2 Sam Harris (2010), “The Future of God Debate: Sam Harris and Michael Shermer vs. Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston,” Nightline Faceoff, ABC News, March 14, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E99BdOfxAE; See also Dan Harris and Ely Brown (2010), “‘Nightline’ ‘Face-Off’: Does God Have a Future?” March 23, http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/nightline-face-off-god-future/story?id=10170505.
3 Numbers 25:1-2.
4 Acts 19.
5 James Edwards (2016), “Archaeology Gives New Reality to Paul’s Ephesus Riot,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 42[4]:28-30, July/August.



Copyright © 2017 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.