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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Inspired Writers and Competent Copyists

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

If you were to open your Bible and read Mark 14:16, you would learn that Jesus’ disciples went into Jerusalem to prepare the final Passover meal before His crucifixion. The wording of the verse is as follows: “So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover” (emp. added). The highlighted conjunction “and” (kai in Greek) is found in the Greek manuscripts of Mark. It also appears in most English translations of the Bible. However, in one particular copy of the Bible that I possess, the stem of the “d” in “and” is missing, causing the word to be misspelled: “So His disciples went out, ano came into the city...” (emp. added).
Most people who read Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14) learn of the king asking one particular attendee a very specific question: “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” (vs. 12, emp. added). A colleague of mine has a reliable translation of the Bible that words Jesus’ question as follows: “Friend, now did you come in here without a wedding garment?” Obviously, the “now” should be “how” (Greek pos). Similar to how the “d” in “and” was skewed so as to look more like an “o”, the “h” in “how” lost its stem, causing it to look more like an “n.” Question: Whose fault is it that “and” has been incorrectly printed as “ano,” and “how” has been copied errantly as “now”?
Surely no one would blame such errors in a modern English copy of the Bible on God or His inspired penmen (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Almost everyone recognizes that publishing companies are responsible for such minute mistakes. Although the accurate reproduction of books nearly has been perfected during the past few centuries (thanks in large part to the invention of the printing press), still, for various reasons, slight errors can creep onto the printed page. God did not intervene and miraculously keep the aforementioned errors from appearing in copies of His Word. Instead, He gave humankind the ability and resources to understand that such errors can be resolved rationally without assuming the inspired writers erred. We know that “ano” should be “and” in Mark 14:16 and “now” should be “how” in Matthew 22:12 partly because millions of other copies of the Bible (in both English and Greek) have the correct words “and” (kai) and “how” (pos), and also because we easily can see how a printing press might occasionally leave off the stems of certain letters.

COMMON SENSE AND COPYISTS’ ERRORS

One of the most popular books of the 21st century has been Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. Since 2003, some 50 million copies of this book have been sold worldwide (“The Official...,” n.d.). Imagine for a moment the potential differences in the millions of copies of The Da Vinci Code if, instead of being printed on a press, they all were reproduced by hand. No doubt, many copyists’ errors would have been made. Occasionally, names would have been misspelled, numbers would have been inverted, and there would have been the occasional duplication or omission of words or entire lines. However, if several million copies of The Da Vinci Code were retrieved from all over the world, and then compared, contrasted, and critiqued by hundreds of scholars over several decades in an effort to recover the precise wording of Dan Brown’s original manuscript, the text, in effect, would be restored to its original condition. Most copyists’ errors would be weeded out. Through textual criticism, the text of The Da Vinci Code eventually would be restored.
Whether one is referring to secular works or the Bible, prior to the invention of the printing press, copies of books were made by hand, and thus were susceptible to errors. In the 19th century, respected Christian scholar J.W. McGarvey noted: “There is not a writing of antiquity which has come down to our age without many such changes” (1886, 1:7-8). In fact, “[a] large part of the labor of the editors of Greek and Latin classics consists in correcting as best they can the erroneous readings thus introduced into these works” (McGarvey, 1:8). Take, for instance, the comedies of Terence (c. 190-158 B.C.). Seventeenth-century English scholar Richard Bentley noted how Terence’s works were some of the better preserved classical texts, yet Bentley testified that he had witnessed “twenty thousand various lections [readings—EL] in that little author, not near so big as the whole New Testament” (as quoted in “The Text...,” 1822, 15(37):476; see also McGarvey, 1886, 1:8). Consider also the writings of Tacitus. They are known to contain at least one numerical error that Tacitean and classical scholars have acknowledged as a copyist’s mistake (Holding, 2001). Scholars recognize that, at some point in history, a copyist accidentally changed a number (from CXXV to XXV). Although such copyists’ errors are known to exist, historians around the world cite such ancient works as Herodotus, Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius, etc., and consider them trustworthy, educational, and worthy of study.
If scholars defend the integrity of ancient authors partly by acknowledging that many of the mistakes contained within their writings are the result of copyists’ errors, it is only reasonable for these same scholars (whether atheists, agnostics, skeptics, or Christians) to recognize that alleged problems within the biblical text may be the result of scribal errors rather than mistakes on the part of one or more of the original Bible writers. Just as those who copied secular historical documents sometimes made mistakes (e.g., misspelling names, omitting words, etc.), scribes who copied the Bible from earlier texts also had the opportunity to err. As Gleason Archer observed: “Even the earliest and best manuscripts that we possess are not totally free of transmissional errors. Numbers are occasionally miscopied, the spelling of proper names is occasionally garbled, and there are examples of the same types of scribal error that appear in other ancient documents as well” (1982, p. 27).
Norman Geisler and William Nix have mentioned several ways that a scribe might accidentally change the biblical text, including: (1) omissions or repetitions of letters, words, or lines; (2) reversals (transpositions) of letters or words; (3) divisions of words in the wrong places (since words in the early manuscripts were not divided by spaces); (4) errors of hearing (such as when scribes copied the Scriptures by listening to someone read them); (5) trusting in memory instead of relying on exactly what the text says; (6) errors of judgment (possibly caused by insufficient lighting or poor eyesight); (7) poor penmanship; etc. (1986, pp. 469-475). Recently, I wrote a note asking an assistant to send a package to a Mrs. Ward. Unfortunately, the package got mislabeled “Mrs. Word,” either because my handwriting was too poor to distinguish adequately between an “a” and an “o,” or the assistant simply misread the name. This example shows how easily copyists’ mistakes can occur, even in modern times.
How many Bible students have memorized passages of Scripture and quoted them for months or even years without realizing that at some point in time they mistakenly changed, added, or omitted a word from the text. I once memorized 2 Peter 3:9 (“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness...,” emp. added), only to find, several years later, that at some point I had incorrectly made “promise” plural, and had quoted it that way for months. One of the occasional mistakes copyists made was to trust too much in their own memory. Instead of carefully noting every letter in every word on every line, some copyists might have memorized too much at a time without looking back at the text. Keep in mind that scribes did not have computer keys that made the same letters every time, or that allowed them to copy and paste a paragraph of text with the push of a few buttons. Copying the Bible in ancient times was a painstaking, tedious job that required constant attention and care even in the best of circumstances.

CAINAN, SON OF ARPHAXAD: A CASE STUDY IN COPYISTS’ ERRORS

Luke 3:36 is the only verse in the Bible where one can read of the patriarch Arphaxad having a son named Cainan. Although another Cainan (the son of Enosh) is mentioned seven times in Scripture (Genesis 5:9-10,12-14; 1 Chronicles 1:2; Luke 3:37), outside of Luke 3:36, Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, never is mentioned. He is omitted in the genealogies of Genesis 10 and 11, as well as in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1-28. When the son of Arphaxad is listed in these genealogies, the name always given is Salah (or Shelah), not Cainan.
One important thing we learn from the various genealogies in Scripture is that sometimes they contain minor gaps—gaps that are both intentional and legitimate (see Matthew 1:1; see also Thompson, 1989, 9[5]:17-18). Thus, just because Luke 3 contains a name that is not recorded in Genesis 10 or 11, or in 1 Chronicles 1, does not have to mean that someone made a mistake. The fact is, terms such as “begot,” “the son of,” and “father”—often found in genealogies—occasionally have a much wider connotation in the Bible than might be implied when such words are used in modern-day English (cf. Genesis 32:9; John 8:39). Simply because one genealogy has more (or fewer) names than another genealogy, does not mean that the two genealogies are in disagreement.
Still, the insertion of the name Cainan in Luke 3:36 most likely has a far different explanation—one that may be more plausible, yet at the same time is more complicated to explain, and thus less popular. It is very likely that the “Cainan problem” is the result of a scribal error made when copying Luke’s gospel account.
Realizing that the New Testament originally was written in Greek without punctuation or spaces between words, the insertion of the name Cainan easily could have crept into Luke’s genealogy. Notice in the following chart, what the original text (in agreement with Genesis 10:24, 11:12, and 1 Chronicles 1:18,24) might have said:
touserouchtouragautoufalektouebertousala
touarfaxadtousemtounooetoulamech
toumathousalatouhenoochtouiarettoumaleleeeltoukainan
touenoostouseethtouadamtoutheou
If a scribe happened to glance at the end of the third line at toukainan, he easily could have written it on the first line as well as the third. Hence, instead of reading only one Cainan, what we read today is two Cainans:
touserouchtouragautoufalektouebertousalatoukainan
touarfaxadtousemtounooetoulamech
toumathousalatouhenoochtouiarettoumaleleeeltoukainan
touenoostouseethtouadamtoutheou
As you can see, it would be easy for a weary scribe to copy “Cainan” inadvertently from Luke 3:37 as he was copying 3:36 (see Sarfati, 1998, 12[1]:39-40; Morris, 1976, p. 282).
Although some apologists reject the idea that the insertion of Cainan in Luke 3:36 is a copyist’s error, the following facts seem to add much credence to this proposed explanation.
  • As stated earlier, this part of Luke’s genealogy also is recorded in Genesis 10:24, 11:12, and in 1 Chronicles 1:18,24. All of these Old Testament passages, however, omit the Cainan of Luke 3:36. In fact, Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, is not found in any Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament.
  • Cainan is omitted from all of the following ancient versions of the Old Testament: the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac, the Targum (Aramaic translations of the Old Testament), and the Vulgate (a Latin translation of the Bible completed between A.D. 382 and 405) (see Hasel, 1980, 7(1):23-37).
  • Cainan’s name is absent from Flavius Josephus’ patriarchal listing in his historical work, Antiquities of the Jews (see 6:1:4-5).
  • The third-century Christian historian, Julius Africanus, also omitted Cainan’s name from his chronology of the patriarchs, and yet he had copies of the gospels of both Luke and Matthew (1971, 6:125-140).
  • The earliest known copy of Luke (a papyrus codex of the Bodmer Collection dated between A.D. 175 and 225) does not contain this Cainan (see Sarfati, n.d.).
This manuscript of a portion of Matthew dates to about A.D. 350.
Credit: The Schøyen Collection MS 2650
Some are quick to point out that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) mentions the name Cainan, and thus verifies that he was the son of Arphaxad, just as Luke 3:36 indicates. The problem with this line of defense is that the oldest Septuagint manuscripts do not include this reference to Cainan (Sarfati, 1998, 12[1]:40). Patrick Fairbairn indicated in his Bible encyclopedia that this Cainan does “not appear to have been in the copies of the Septuagint used by Theophilus of Antioch in the second century, by Africanus in the third, or by Eusebius in the fourth” (1957, 2:351). He further stated that this Cainan also was left out of the Vatican copy of the Septuagint (2:351). That “Cainan” was a later addition to the Septuagint (and not a part of it originally) also is evident from the fact that neither Josephus nor Africanus mentioned him, and yet all indications are that they both used the Septuagint in their writings. They repeat too many of the same numbers of the Septuagint not to have used it. Thus, Larry Pierce stated: “It appears that at the time of Josephus, the extra generation of Cainan was not in the LXX [Septuagint—EL] text or the document that Josephus used, otherwise Josephus would have included it!” (1999, 13[2]:76). As Henry Morris concluded in his commentary on Genesis: “[I]t is altogether possible that later copiers of the Septuagint (who were not as meticulous as those who copied the Hebrew text) inserted Cainan into their manuscripts on the basis of certain copies of Luke’s Gospel to which they then had access” (1976, p. 282, parenthetical comment in orig.). Although it is possible that “Cainan” in Luke 3:36 merely supplements the Old Testament genealogies, when all of the evidence is gathered, a better explanation is that the name Cainan in Luke 3:36 is the result of a copyist’s error.

MORE EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE COPYISTS’ ERRORS

Jehoiachin’s Age When He Began to Reign

In 2 Kings 24:8, we read that Jehoiachin succeeded his father as the 19th king of Judah at the age of eighteen. However, 2 Chronicles 36:9 informs us that he was “eight years old when he became king.” Fortunately, there is enough additional information in the biblical text to prove the correct age of Jehoiachin when he began his reign over Judah.
There is little doubt that Jehoiachin began his reign at eighteen, not eight years of age. This conclusion is established by Ezekiel 19:5-9, where Jehoiachin is described as going up and down among the lions, catching the prey, devouring men, and knowing the widows of the men he devoured and the cities he wasted. As Keil and Delitzsch observed when commenting on this passage: “The knowing of widows cannot apply to a boy of eight, but might well be said of a young man of eighteen” (1996). Furthermore, it is doubtful that an eight-year-old child would be described as one having done “evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 24:9).
The simple answer to this “problem” is that a copyist, not an inspired writer, made a mistake. A scribe simply omitted a ten (the Hebrew numeral letter ח [yod], which made Jehoiachin eight (Hebrew י) [heth]) instead of eighteen (Hebrew יח). This does not mean the inspired penmen erred. Rather, it indicates that minor scribal errors have slipped into some copies of the Bible. Indeed, if you ever have seen the Hebrew alphabet, you doubtless recognize that the Hebrew letters (which also were used for numbers) could be confused quite easily.

The Spelling of Hadadezer

Should the king’s name be spelled with a “d” (2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Kings 11:23) or an “r” (2 Samuel 10:16; 1 Chronicles 18:3; KJV and ASV)? It would appear that the difference in spelling came about through the mistake of a scribe. Most likely Hadadezer (with a “d”) is the true form since, “Hadad was the chief idol, or sun-god, of the Syrians” (Barnes, 1997; cf. Benhadad and Hadad of 1 Kings 15:18; 11:14; etc.). As William Arndt stated, “D and R may be distinct enough in appearance in English, but in Hebrew they are vexingly similar to each other” (1955, p. xv). The Hebrew daleth = ד, while resh = ר. There should be little doubt in our minds that Hadarezer simply is a corrupted form of Hadadezer. One can see how easily a copyist could have made this mistake.

When Did Absalom Commit Treason?

When David’s son Absalom finally returned after killing his half-brother Amnon, 2 Samuel 15:7 indicates that “after forty years” passed, Absalom left home again and committed treason. Anyone who knows much Israelite history quickly realizes that Absalom most certainly did not spend 40 years at home during this time, for David’s entire reign was only 40 years (2 Samuel 5:4). The number given in 2 Samuel 15:7 likely should be four years, which is more in keeping with the lifetime of Absalom, who was born in Hebron after David’s reign as king began (2 Samuel 3:3). The number “four” also agrees with such ancient versions as the Septuagint, the Syriac, the Arabic, and the Vulgate. There is little question that the number “forty” represents a copyist error.

CONSCIENTIOUS COPYISTS

Although scribes are mentioned in the Bible as far back as 1000 B.C. (e.g., Samuel 8:17), history records three general periods of Jewish scribal tradition: (1) the period of Sopherim (from Ezra until c. A.D. 200); (2) the Talmudic period (A.D. 100–c. 500); and (3) the period of the Massoretes (c. 500–c. 950) (Geisler and Nix, 1986, p. 502). Jewish copyists were aware of the importance of their work and took it very seriously. They were not flawless in their transcription work (as noted above), but the evidence shows that they were very conscientious. Infinitely more important than students copying spelling words, cooks copying recipes, or secretaries copying a boss’s memo, scribes understood that they were copying the Word of God. Even the important work of medical transcriptionists cannot compare with the copyists of old. McGarvey noted how copyists in the Talmudic period “adopted for themselves very minute regulations to preserve the purity of the sacred text” (1886, 1:9). Later, the Massoretes took even more stringent steps to insure top-quality manuscripts. With a deep reverence for the Scriptures, they went above and beyond the “call of duty,” laboring under ultra-strict rules in order to make the most accurate copies possible. In his Introduction to the Old Testament, Professor R.K. Harrison addressed the approach of the Massoretes to the Scriptures and their professionalism, saying:
They concerned themselves with the transmission of the consonantal text as they had received it [Hebrew has no vowels—EL], as well as with its pronunciation, on the basis that the text itself was inviolable and every consonant sacred.
The detailed statistical work that the Massoretes undertook on each book included the counting of verses, words, and letters, establishing the middle of the book (a procedure which was useful in the case of bifid, or two-part, compositions) noting peculiarities of style, and other similar matters (1969, pp. 212-213, parenthetical item in orig.).
By taking such precautions in the copying of letters, words, and verses (by sections and books), it could be known if a word or letter had been omitted or added. Indeed, as Eddie Hendrix affirmed: “Such minute checks contributed to a high degree of copying accuracy” (1976, 93[14]:5). No other group of ancient copyists is more renowned than those of the Old Testament.
Although much less is known about New Testament copyists, according to Philip Comfort, who wrote The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament, paleographic evidence has revealed that “several of the early manuscripts were copied carefully with precision and acumen...,” no doubt “by educated and professional scribes” (1992, p. 51,50). New Testament copyists also had grave motivation to copy the Scriptures with care. Although not typically quoted with copyists in mind, consider the words of Revelation 22:18-19:
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
In the second century A.D., Irenaeus applied this condemnation to copyists who knowingly contribute to the initiation and perpetuation of textual errors (5:30:1). Undoubtedly, due to the grace of God and the conscientiousness of copyists, “[t]he New Testament...has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in purer form than any other great book” (Geisler and Nix, p. 475).

NO AUTOGRAPHS? NO PROBLEM.

Some may wonder how Christians can be confident that we have God’s Word today, when the original manuscripts (called autographs) are no longer available for our viewing. How can one know the Truth, if the Truth comes from copies of copies of copies...of the autographs, many of which contain various minute transcriptional errors? Should we simply give up and declare that attempts at finding the Truth are futile?
It is highly unreasonable to think that truths can be learned only from autographs. Learning and forming beliefs based on reliable copies of various written documents, objects, etc. is a way of life. To conclude that a driver in a particular state could not learn to drive adequately without having in hand the original driving manual produced by the state years earlier is absurd. To assert that no one could measure the length of one yard without having the standard yard in hand from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is ridiculous. Even if the standard yard was lost, the millions of copies of the yard in existence today would be sufficient in finding (or measuring) exactly what a yard is. Consider also McGarvey’s example of an autograph, which eventually was destroyed.
A gentleman left a large estate entailed to his descendants of the third generation, and it was not to be divided until a majority of them should be of age. During the interval many copies of the will were circulated among parties interested, many of these being copies of copies. In the meantime the office of record in which the original was filed was burned with all its contents. When the time for division drew near, a prying attorney gave out among the heirs the report that no two existing copies were alike. This alarmed them all and set them busily at work to ascertain the truth of the report. On comparing copy with copy they found the report true, but on close inspection it was discovered that the differences consisted in errors in spelling or grammatical construction; some mistakes in figures corrected by the written numbers; and some other differences not easily accounted for; but that in none of the copies did these mistakes affect the rights of the heirs. In the essential matters for which the will was written the representations of all the copies were precisely the same. The result was that they divided the estate with perfect satisfaction to all, and they were more certain that they had executed the will of their grandfather than if the original copy had been alone preserved; for it might have been tampered with in the interest of a single heir; but the copies, defective though they were, could not have been (1:17).
Everyday, all around the world, individuals, groups, businesses, schools, etc. operate with the conviction that autographs are unnecessary to learn the truths within them. Copies of wills, articles, books, etc., can be gathered, inspected, and scrutinized until new copies are published that virtually are identical to the original. “[A]ccurate communication is possible despite technical mistakes in copying” (Archer, 1982, p. 29). So it is with the Bible. Even though copyists were imperfect in their transcription work, more than enough copies of the Scriptures have survived so that, as Sir Fredric Kenyon remarked, “it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world!” (as quoted in Lightfoot, 2003, p. 204).

EVIDENCE OF RELIABLE BIBLE TRANSMISSION

The Old Testament

The Dead Sea Scrolls make up one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all times. In 1947, a number of ancient documents were found by accident in a cave on the northwest side of the Dead Sea. This collection of documents, which has become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, was comprised of old leather and papyrus scrolls and fragments that had been rolled up in earthen jars for centuries. From 1949 to 1956, hundreds of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts and a few Greek fragments were found in surrounding caves, and are believed by scholars to have been written between 200 B.C. and the first half of the first century A.D. Some of the manuscripts were of Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings (e.g., 1 Enoch, Tobit, and Jubilees); others often are grouped together as “ascetic” writings (miscellaneous books of rules, poetry, commentary, etc.). The most notable and pertinent group of documents found in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea is the collection of Old Testament books. Every book from the Hebrew Bible was accounted for among the scrolls except the book of Esther.
One of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered
The Dead Sea Scrolls serve as strong evidence for the integrity of the Old Testament text. Prior to 1947, the earliest known Old Testament manuscripts went back only to about A.D. 1000. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible scholars have been able to compare the present day text with the text from more than 2,000 years ago. Textual critics have found that these ancient copies of Old Testament books are amazingly similar to the Massoretic text. Indeed, they serve as proof that the Old Testament text has been transmitted faithfully through the centuries. As Rene Paché concluded: “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the Old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning” (1971, p. 191). What’s more, if copies of the Old Testament in the first century were sufficiently accurate for Jesus and the apostles to quote them and teach from them, and we possess Old Testament manuscripts that date back to (or before) the time of Christ, then Christians should feel extremely confident about the condition of the Old Testament in the 21st century—at least as confident as was Jesus (cf. Matthew 22:31).

The New Testament

How confident can Christians be that the text of the New Testament is essentially the same today as it was in the first century? Could it be that one of the central tenets of Christianity (e.g., Jesus’ deity) is the result of a person’s manipulation of the New Testament text centuries ago, as is alleged in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code (2003, pp. 233-234)? Did someone come along in the Middle Ages and drastically change the text of the New Testament? Just what evidence do we have for the reliability of the New Testament?
Twenty-first-century Christians can be confident that the New Testament has been transmitted faithfully through the centuries in large part because of the vast amount of manuscript evidence in existence today, some of which goes back to the early second century A.D. When F.F. Bruce published the sixth edition of his classic book The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? in 1981, he noted that “there are in existence over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part” (p. 10). Nearly 25 years later, Michael Welte of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Munster, Germany, indicated that the number of Greek manuscripts stood at 5,748 (2005). This number represents a far greater body of manuscripts than is known to exist for any other ancient volume (cf. Westcott and Hort, 1964, p. 565; Ewert, 1983, p. 139; Kenyon, 1951, p. 5). For example, The Histories of Herodotus, Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and the Annals of Tacitus, three well-known and oft’-quoted ancient historical works, are backed by a combined total of 38 manuscripts (Geisler and Nix, p. 408). The most documented book of antiquity next to the New Testament is Homer’s Iliad. Some 643 manuscripts of the Iliad are in existence today (p. 475), which is still 5,000 less than the number of extant copies of the New Testament.
Old, worn page of a papyrus document
Equally impressive as the number of manuscripts of the New Testament in existence is the age of the manuscripts. Whereas the extant copies of Plato, Thucydides, Herodotus, Tacitus, and many others are separated from the time these men wrote by 1,000 years, manuscript evidence for the New Testament reaches as far back as the early second century, and possibly earlier. In The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, a 700-page volume edited by Philip Comfort and David Barrett, more than 60 of the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts are transcribed (2001). Many photographs of these early manuscripts (the originals of which are housed in museums throughout the world) also are contained in the book. In the introduction, Comfort and Barrett state: “All of the manuscripts [contained in the book—EL] are dated from the early second century to the beginning of the fourth (A.D. 100-300)” (p. 17). In fact, “[s]everal of the most significant papyri date from the middle of the second century” and thus “provide the earliest direct witness to the New Testament autographs” (p. 18). They even suggest that “it is possible that some of the manuscripts thought to be of the early second century are actually manuscripts of the late first” (p. 23). Thus, we can have great confidence in the transmission of the New Testament, not only because of the great number of extant copies, but because of how closely these manuscripts date to the time when the autographs were written.
But, that’s not all. To the manuscript evidence, one also can add the ancient versions of the New Testament (e.g., Old Syriac, Old Latin, Coptic, etc.), as well as the “more than 36,000 patristic citations containing almost every verse of the New Testament” (Geisler and Nix, p. 467). Non-inspired Christian writings from the first few centuries (by men such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and many others) are saturated with quotations from the New Testament apostles and prophets. “Indeed, so extensive are these citations,” wrote the eminent New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger, “that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone in reconstructing practically the entire New Testament” (1968, p. 86). These witnesses, along with the ancient versions, speak voluminously on behalf of the integrity of the Bible’s transmission.
Is there ample evidence from surviving manuscripts, versions, and early quotations of the New Testament documents that indicates the New Testament is essentially the same today as it was in the first century? Most certainly. The former director of the British Museum, Sir Frederic Kenyon, summed up the matter: “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (as quoted in Lightfoot, 2003, p. 126).

CONCLUSION

Considering the potential over the past 1,900 years for the text of the Bible to be grossly corrupted, and the fact that such did not occur, Christians can be confident that God, though not inspiring the copyists in their transmission of His Word, used them in His providential preservation of it. Isaiah assured his listeners 2,700 years ago of the permanence of God’s Word, saying, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6). Then, after more than seven centuries of transmission, the apostle Peter echoed Isaiah’s sentiments, describing the Word of God as “incorruptible,” and that which “lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23-25).

REFERENCES

Africanus, Julius (1971 reprint), “The Extant Writings of Julius Africanus,” Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Archer, Gleason L. (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Arndt, William (1955), Does the Bible Contradict Itself? (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).
Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Brown, Dan (2003), The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday).
Bruce, F.F. (1981), The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), sixth edition.
Comfort, Philip (1992), The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Comfort, Philip W. and David P. Barrett (2001), The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House).
Ewert, David (1983), From Ancient Tablets to Modern Translations (Grand Rapids, MI: Zonder­van).
Fairbairn, Patrick (1957 reprint), “Genealogies,” Fairbairn’s Imperial Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Hasel, Gerhard F. (1980), “Genesis 5 and 11: Chronologies in the Biblical History of Beginnings,” Origins, 7[1]:23-37, [On-line], URL: http://www.ldolphin.org/haselgeneal.html.
Harrison, R.K. (1969), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hendrix, Eddie (1976), “What About Those Copyist Errors?” Firm Foundation, 93[14]:5, April 6.
Holding, James Patrick (2001), “Copyist Errors,” [On-line], URL: http://www.tektonics.org/copyisterrors.html.
Irenaeus (1973 reprint), “Irenaeus Against Heresies,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Josephus, Flavius (1987 edition), The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1996), Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Kenyon, Sir Frederic (1951 reprint), Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), second edition.
Lightfoot, Neil (2003), How We Got the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), third edition.
McGarvey, J.W. (1886), Evidences of Christianity (Cincinnati, OH: Guide Printing).
Metzger, Bruce (1968), The Text of the New Testament (New York, NY: Oxford University Press).
Morris, Henry M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
“The Official Website of #1 National Bestselling Author Dan Brown” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.danbrown.com/meet_dan/index.html.
Paché, Rene (1971), The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pierce, Larry (1999), “Cainan in Luke 3:36: Insight from Josephus,” CEN Technical Journal, 13[2]:75-76.
Sarfati, Jonathan D. (1998), “Cainan of Luke 3:36,” CEN Technical Journal, 12[1]:39-40.
Sarfati, Jonathan D. (no date), “How do You Explain the Difference between Luke 3:36 and Genesis 11:12?” [On-line], URL: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/3748.asp.
“The Text of the New Testament” (1822), The North American Review, 15(37):460-487, October, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/ncps:@field(DOCID+@lit (ABQ7578-0015-27)).
Thompson, Bert (1989), “Are the Genealogies of the Bible Useful Chronologies?” Reason and Revelation, 9[5]:17-18, May.
Welte, Michael (2005), personal e-mail to Dave Miller, Institute for New Testament Textual Research (Munster, Germany), [On-line], URL: http://www.uni-muenster.de/NTTextforschung/.
Westcott, B.A. and F.J.A. Hort (1964 reprint), The New Testament in the Original Greek (New York: MacMillan).





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

“Only Science” Should be Taught in Science Classrooms


by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


On September 1, Science magazine published a letter from Heslley Silfa, evolutionary biologist and professor at the University of California, Irvine and the University Center of Formiga. The letter is titled, “Intelligent Design Endangers Education.”1 In the letter, several recent victories for Creation and Intelligent Design in science classrooms across the world were highlighted. Apparently, Silva, just like so many of his colleagues, believes that teaching kids to follow the evidence—that the presence of design always, without exception, implies the existence of a designer—“endangers” their education, and should be “spoken out against” by scientists. That, however, is not the extent of the irrationality and self-contradiction of the naturalist mantra. In a call-to-arms, Silva charged the Science audience, “The global scientific community must work to ensure that only science is taught in science classrooms.” We would, by-and-large, agree with that statement. Why, then, was Silva’s request self-contradictory?

Silva and his evolutionary colleagues subscribe to the notion that “science” only allows natural, observable, experimental phenomena2—no supernatural realm with a God Who miraculously created the Universe allowed. The problem with such thinking, as we have noted elsewhere,3 is that it is impossible to explain the Universe without resorting to supernatural activity—and even many naturalists acknowledge that fact.4 The origin of the laws of science, the matter/energy of the Universe, life, and genetic information, for example, have no rational explanations from a purely naturalistic perspective. They require a supernatural Cause.5 So Silva and any other naturalists who agree with him in their belief that science should only allow for natural phenomena must inevitably contradict their own position when attempting to explain several characteristics of the Universe.

Bottom line: if the scientific evidence demands the existence of a supernatural Creator, why would scientists define science in such a way that a Designer/Creator is precluded? And further, why would acknowledging that the evidence points to an intelligent Designer of the Universe “endanger” children? There are certainly answers to those questions—but it is certain that they are not rational answers, because they cannot be, according to the evidence. “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

Endnotes


1 Heslley Machado Silva (2017), “Intelligent Design Endangers Education,” Science, 357[6354]:880.
2 Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (1998), National Academy of Sciences (Washington, DC: National Academy Press).
3 Jeff Miller (2012), “The Atheistic Naturalist’s Self-Contradiction,” Reason & Revelation, 31[5]:53.
4 Jeff Miller (2017), “Atheists’ Design Admissions,” Reason & Revelation, 37[12]:134-143.
5 Jeff Miller (2017), Science vs. Evolution (Apologetics Press: Montgomery, AL), revised and expanded.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Atheists' Design Admissions

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Atheistic philosopher Paul Ricci summed up the Teleological Argument for the Existence of God well when he said, “[I]t’s true that everything designed has a designer…. ‘Everything designed has a designer’ is an analytically true statement.”1 There are an infinite number of design examples that present themselves to us when we study the natural realm—a problem for Ricci and his atheistic colleagues, to be sure. We have documented dozens of such examples in the past (see the various “Design” topics in the “Existence of God” category on our Web site), but consider the following points in addition to those examples of design. It is one thing for theists to provide positive evidences for the existence of design in the Universe, but it makes the job much simpler for theists when naturalists themselves admit evidences for design. Here are five areas of science where scientists openly acknowledge design in nature.

#1: “We Need to Figure Out Who Wrote the Laws of Science.”

Famous atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, clearly highly reveres the laws of science. In 2011, he hosted a show on Discovery Channel titled, “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” In that show, he said,
[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.2
Hawking, in obvious awe, acknowledges that the laws of nature exist, are unbreakable (i.e., without exception), and apply to the entire Universe—not just to the Earth. But that admission by the evolutionary community presents a major problem for atheism. Humanist Martin Gardner said,
Imagine that physicists finally discover all the basic waves and their particles, and all the basic laws, and unite everything in one equation. We can then ask, “Why that equation?” 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. There had to be quantum laws to fluctuate. And why are there quantum laws?...There is no escape from the superultimate questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, and why is the something structured the way it is?3
Even if Big Bang cosmology were correct (and it is not), you still can’t have a law without a law writer.
In “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” Hawking boldly claimed that everything in the Universe can be accounted for through science without the need of God. This is untrue, as we have discussed elsewhere,4 but notice that Hawking does not even believe that assertion himself. 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?”5 He provided no answer to that crucial question—not even an attempt. And he is not alone. No atheist can provide a reasonable answer to that question.
The eminent atheistic, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, Paul Davies, noted Hawking’s sidestep of that question 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…. You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws.6
Writing in New Scientist, Davies asked, “How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software...?”7 In a more extensive discourse on the subject in The New York Times, Davies said,
[W]here do these laws come from? And why do they have the form that they do? When I was a student, the laws of physics were regarded as completely off limits. The job of the scientist, we were told, is to discover the laws and apply them, not inquire into their provenance. The laws were treated as “given”—imprinted on the universe like a maker’s mark at the moment of cosmic birth—and fixed forevermore.... Over the years I have often asked my physicist colleagues why the laws of physics are what they are. The answers vary from “that’s not a scientific question” to “nobody knows.” The favorite reply is, “There is no reason they are what they are—they just are.” The idea that the laws exist reasonlessly is deeply anti-rational. After all, the very essence of a scientific explanation of some phenomenon is that the world is ordered logically and that there are reasons things are as they are. If one traces these reasons all the way down to the bedrock of reality—the laws of physics—only to find that reason then deserts us, it makes a mockery of science. Can the mighty edifice of physical order we perceive in the world about us ultimately be rooted in reasonless absurdity? If so, then nature is a fiendishly clever bit of trickery: meaninglessness and absurdity somehow masquerading as ingenious order and rationality.... Clearly, then, both religion and science are founded on faith—namely, on belief in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws.8
In conclusion, Davies highlighted the fact that naturalists have a blind faith when assuming that the laws of science could create themselves free from an “external agency”: “[U]ntil science comes up with a testable theory of the laws of the universe, its claim to be free of faith is manifestly bogus.”9 Bottom line: there must be a rational origin of the laws of science. In 2016, Davies reiterated, “The ballyhoo about a universe popping out of the vacuum is a complete red herring. It just dodges the real issue, which is the prior existence of the laws of physics.”10 In an article titled “Taking Science on Faith,” Davies responded to the assertion that the existence of a multiverse could account for the origin of the laws of science, saying,
The multiverse theory is increasingly popular, but it doesn’t so much explain the laws of physics as dodge the whole issue. There has to be a physical mechanism to make all those universes and bestow bylaws on them. This process will require its own laws, or meta-laws. Where do they come from? The problem has simply been shifted up a level from the laws of the universe to the meta-laws of the multiverse.11
Astrophysicist and science writer for New Scientist, Marcus Chown, wrote:
If the universe owes its origins to quantum theory, then quantum theory must have existed before the universe. So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from? “We do not know,” admits [cosmologist Alex—JM] Vilenkin. “I consider that an entirely different question.” When it comes to the beginning of the universe, in many ways we’re still at the beginning.12
University of Oxford physicist David Deutsch said, “Even if the answer to why there is something rather than nothing were because of how quantum field theory works, the question would become why are the laws of quantum field theory as they are.”13 Cosmologist and Professor of Physics at California Institute of Technology Sean Carroll, writing in Scientific American, discussed the question of the origin of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: “[E]xplaining why low-entropy states evolve into high-entropy states [i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics—JM] is different from explaining why entropy is increasing in our universe.... [T]he real challenge is not to explain why the entropy of the universe will be higher tomorrow than it is today but to explain why the entropy was lower yesterday and even lower the day before that.”14 In other words, why is there such a thing as a law of nature, like the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”?
Theoretical physicist, faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo, Lee Smolin, admitted, “Cosmology has new questions to answer. Not just what are the laws, but why are these laws the laws?”15 In a 2014 interview with Scientific American, cosmologist George F.R. Ellis of the University of Cape Town, co-author with Stephen Hawking of the book The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, gave a stinging response to theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who argues in his book, A Universe from Nothing, that physics has ultimately answered the question of why there is something rather than nothing. Among other criticisms, Ellis said,
And above all Krauss does not address why the laws of physics exist, why they have the form they have, or in what kind of manifestation they existed before the universe existed (which he must believe if he believes they brought the universe into existence). Who or what dreamt up symmetry principles, Lagrangians, specific symmetry groups, gauge theories, and so on? He does not begin to answer these questions.16
Quantum physicist Michael Brooks agreed with Ellis in his criticisms of Krauss’ book. Writing in New Scientist, he said, “[T]he laws of physics can’t be conjured from nothing.... Krauss contends that the multiverse makes the question of what determined our laws of nature ‘less significant.’ Truthfully, it just puts the question beyond science [i.e., beyond the natural—JM]—for now, at least.”17
In his book, The Grand Design, Hawking tried to submit a way that the Universe could have created itself from nothing without God and still be in keeping with the laws of nature—an impossible concept, to be sure. He said, “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”18 Of course, even if such were possible, he does not explain where the law of gravity came from. Professor of mathematics and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Oxford University John Lennox concurred. He took Hawking to task over his assertion that the laws of physics alone can explain the existence of the Universe, saying,
Hawking’s argument appears to me even more illogical when he says the existence of gravity means the creation of the universe was inevitable. But how did gravity exist in the first place? Who put it there? And what was the creative force behind its birth? Similarly, when Hawking argues, in support of his theory of spontaneous creation, that it was only necessary for “the blue touch paper” to be lit to “set the universe going,” the question must be: where did this blue touch paper come from? And who lit it, if not God?19
Simply put, a more rational statement from Hawking would have been, “Because there is a law like gravity, the Universe must have been created by God.” Bottom line: the existence of the laws of science is evidence of a Designer—even atheists tacitly admit it.

#2: “We Need to Know Who Created Life.”

In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, well-known British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Oxford University’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 to 2008, said concerning the possibility of intelligent design:
It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the Universe, a civilization evolved by, probably, some kind of Darwinian means, to a very, very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto, perhaps, this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that, if you look at the details of our chemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some kind of designer. And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the Universe.20
So, according to Dawkins, when we look at our chemistry—our molecular biology—(1) there could be evidence of design there, and (2) that design would imply the existence of a designer—a direct admission of the validity of the Teleological Argument. Granted, Dawkins does not directly endorse God as that Designer. Instead, he irrationally postulates the existence of aliens.
Ultimately, since there is no evidence for the existence of aliens, there can hardly be any evidence for their establishing life on Earth. Such an idea can hardly be in keeping with the evolutionist’s own beliefs about the importance of direct observation and experiment in science. Such a theory does nothing but tacitly admit (1) the truth of the Law of Biogenesis—in nature, life comes only from life (in this case, aliens); and (2) the necessity of a creator/designer in the equation.
However, notice: since aliens are beings of nature, they too must be governed by the laws of nature. Recall Hawking’s claim: the laws of physics “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.”21 Evolutionary physicist Victor Stenger submitted his belief that the “basic laws” of science “hold true in the most distant observed galaxy and in the cosmic microwave background, implying that these laws have been valid for over thirteen billion years.”22 In the interview with Stein, Dawkins went on to say concerning the supposed alien creators, “But that higher intelligence would, itself, had to have come about by some ultimately explicable process. It couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously.”23 So, the alien creators, according to Dawkins, have been strapped with the laws of nature as well. Thus, the problem of abiogenesis is merely shifted to the alien’s abode, where the question of the origin of life must still be answered.
Bottom line: life is evidence of design, and by implication, an intelligent designer. Writing in New Scientist, Dawkins admitted, “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer.”24 Sadly, the atheist simply cannot bring himself to accept the clear cut, “obvious alternative” that is staring him in the face.

#3: “We Have to Figure Out a Way to Explain All of This Design in Nature.”

George Ellis and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, Joseph Silk, wrote in 2014 in Nature: “This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done.”25 Ironically, the “difficulties” theoretical physicists have encountered have become considerable enough that going beyond nature is necessary. According to cosmologist Bernard Carr of Queen Mary University in London, a supernatural option of some sort is demanded. He warned cosmologists to accept the inevitable implications of the evidence: “If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”26 The multiverse has, therefore, been latched onto by many naturalists to try to explain away the “difficulties” facing physicists without resorting to God, even though, among other issues with it, there is absolutely no evidence for its existence.27 Lee Smolin said, “We had to invent the multiverse,”28 and according to Lawson Parker, writing in National Geographic, it was from our “imagination.”29 The use of our imagination to determine where we came from certainly sounds like today’s “science” is moving ever further into the realm of fiction.
Regardless, notice that according to many physicists, something beyond the current definition of science is needed to explain certain things—i.e., the existence of the unobservable, supernatural realm is demanded by the evidence. Recall how Davies put it: “Clearly, then, both religion and science are founded on faith—namely, on belief in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws, maybe even a huge ensemble of unseen universes, too.”30
Besides the existence of the laws of physics, what kind of “difficulties” are physicists encountering that are forcing them to conclude that something outside of the Universe exists, and therefore, that they need to “invent” the multiverse to avoid God? Many have articulated well the problem. Read on to see a great lesson by naturalists on the need for a supernatural Designer for the Universe.
According to Tim Folger, writing in Discover magazine, “The idea that the universe was made just for us—known as the anthropic principle—debuted in 1973.”31 Since then, the mountain of evidence supporting the principle has drastically grown in elevation. Consider, for example:
  • In a 2011 article, under the heading “Seven Questionable Arguments” for the multiverse, Ellis discussed argument number four: “A remarkable fact about our universe is that physical constants have just the right values needed to allow for complex structures, including living things…. I agree that the multiverse is a possible valid explanation for [fine tuning examples—JM]…; arguably, it is the only scientifically based option we have right now. But we have no hope of testing it observationally.”32 [Notice that the multiverse is “the only scientifically based option,” and yet “we have no hope of testing it observationally.” Doesn’t that make it not a “scientifically based option”?]
  • By 2014, Ellis and Silk went even further:
The multiverse is motivated by a puzzle: why fundamental constants of nature, such as the fine-structure constant that characterizes the strength of electromagnetic interactions between particles and the cosmological constant associated with the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe, have values that lie in the small range that allows life to exist…. Some physicists consider that the multiverse has no challenger as an explanation of many otherwise bizarre coincidences. The low value of the cosmological constant—known to be 120 factors of 10 smaller than the value predicted by quantum field theory—is difficult to explain, for instance.33
  • John Rennie, the editor for Scientific American, noted, “The basic laws of physics work equally well forward or backward in time, yet we perceive time to move in one direction only—toward the future. Why?”34 Carroll, along the same lines, noted that “[i]f the observable universe were all that existed, it would be nearly impossible to account for the arrow of time in a natural way.”35
  • According to Smolin,
Everything we know suggests that the universe is unusual. It is flatter, smoother, larger and emptier than a “typical” universe predicted by the known laws of physics. If we reached into a hat filled with pieces of paper, each with the specifications of a possible universe written on it, it is exceedingly unlikely that we would get a universe anything like ours in one pick—or even a billion. The challenge that cosmologists face is to make sense of this specialness. One approach to this question is inflation—the hypothesis that the early universe went through a phase of exponentially fast expansion. At first, inflation seemed to do the trick. A simple version of the idea gave correct predictions for the spectrum of fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background. But a closer look shows that we have just moved the problem further back in time. To make inflation happen at all requires us to fine-tune the initial conditions of the universe.36
  • Folger quotes Linde in Discover magazine:
“We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible,” Linde says. Physicists don’t like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea…. Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse…. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non-religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life…. [Andrei Linde:] “And if we double the mass of the electron, life as we know it will disappear. If we change the strength of the interaction between protons and electrons, life will disappear. Why are there three space dimensions and one time dimension? If we had four space dimensions and one time dimension, then planetary systems would be unstable and our version of life would be impossible. If we had two space dimensions and one time dimension, we would not exist,” he says…. [I]f there is no multiverse, where does that leave physicists? “If there is only one universe,” Carr says, “you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”37
  • Stuart Clark and Richard Webb, writing in New Scientist, said,
We can’t explain the numbers that rule the universe…the different strengths of weak, strong and electromagnetic forces, for example, or the masses of the particles it introduces…. Were any of them to have even marginally different values, the universe would look very different. The Higgs boson’s mass, for example, is just about the smallest it can be without the universe’s matter becoming unstable. Similar “fine-tuning” problems bedevil cosmology…. Why is the carbon atom structured so precisely as to allow enough carbon for life to exist in the universe?38
  • Greene, commenting on Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University Leonard Susskind’s thinking about the multiverse, said,
Susskind was suggesting that string theory augments this grand cosmological unfolding by adorning each of the universes in the multiverse with a different shape for the extra dimensions. With or without string theory, the multiverse is a highly controversial schema, and deservedly so. It not only recasts the landscape of reality, but shifts the scientific goal posts. Questions once deemed profoundly puzzling—why do nature’s numbers, from particle masses to force strengths to the energy suffusing space, have the particular values they do?—would be answered with a shrug…. Most physicists, string theorists among them, agree that the multiverse is an option of last resort….  Looking back, I’m gratified at how far we’ve come but disappointed that a connection to experiment continues to elude us.39
  • Mary-Jane Rubenstein, writing in New Scientist, said,
Here’s the dilemma: if the universe began with a quantum particle blipping into existence, inflating godlessly into space-time and a whole zoo of materials, then why is it so well suited for life? For medieval philosophers, the purported perfection of the universe was the key to proving the existence of God. The universe is so fit for intelligent life that it must be the product of a powerful, benevolent external deity. Or, as popular theology might put it today: all this can’t be an accident. Modern physics has also wrestled with this “fine-tuning problem,” and supplies its own answer. If only one universe exists, then it is strange to find it so hospitable to life, when nearly any other value for the gravitational or cosmological constants would have produced nothing at all. But if there is a “multiverse” of many universes, all with different constants, the problem vanishes: we’re here because we happen to be in one of the universes that works. No miracles, no plan, no creator.40
Notice: Physicists cannot help but acknowledge the truth of the Teleological Argument for the existence of God. The Universe seems to have been perfectly designed—with detailed fine-tuning—just for us. Design demands a designer. Resorting to belief in the multiverse is a concession by naturalists that we have been right all along: there exists an “unseen realm.” But rather than concede God, naturalists invent the evidence-less, imaginary multiverse. Ironically, all the while the multiverse is itself a supernatural option—albeit, one without any rules concerning how we should behave, making it attractive to many.

#4: “We Need to Mimic All of the Design We See in Nature.”

One area of scientific study where scientists are admitting, many times unconsciously but forcefully, the presence of design in the Universe, is in the field of biomimetics, or biomimcry—as well as the related field known as bio-inspired design. Biomimicry is an attempt to engineer something—design something—using the natural world as the blue print. Engineers are becoming more and more aware of the fact that the world around us is already filled with fully functional, superior designs in comparison to what the engineering community has been able to develop to date.
The Web page for George Washington University’s Center for Biomimetics and Bioinspired Engineering admits: “[D]espite our seeming prowess in these component technologies, we find it hard to outperform Nature in this arena; Nature’s solutions are smarter, more energy-efficient, agile, adaptable, fault-tolerant, environmentally friendly and multifunctional. Thus, there is much that we as engineers can learn from Nature as we develop the next generation machines and technologies.”41
It would be difficult to better summarize the decisive evidence for design that is clearly evident to professional designers (engineers) when they look at the natural realm. This same mindset about nature’s design, however, is becoming widespread in the engineering community. Consequently, biomimicry is becoming a major engineering pursuit. The field of biomimicry is growing by leaps and bounds, with research centers being established all over the world, with their express purpose being to mimic the design of nature.
Some engineers are going even further. Realizing that nature’s designs are so impressive that many times we simply cannot mimic them, they are attempting instead to control nature to use it as they wish, rather than mimic it.42 Animals, for instance, possess amazing detection, tracking, and maneuvering capabilities which are far beyond the knowledge of today’s engineering minds, and likely will be for many decades, if not forever. An insect neurobiologist, John Hildebrand from the University of Arizona in Tucson, admitted: “There’s a long history of trying to develop microrobots that could be sent out as autonomous devices, but I think many engineers have realised [sic] that they can’t improve on Mother Nature.”43 Of course, “Mother Nature” is not capable of designing anything, since “she” is mindless—but notice that the desire to personify nature and give it design abilities is telling. While mindless nature has no ability to design anything, the Chief Engineer, the God of the Bible, on the other hand, can be counted on to have the best possible engineering designs. Who, after all, could out-design the Grand Designer? In spite of the deterioration of the world and the entrance of disease and mutations into the created order, after several millennia, His designs still stand out as the best—unsurpassed by human wisdom.
Do not miss the implication of practicing biomimicry and autonomous biological control. They are a tacit concession by the scientific community that nature exhibits design! Engineers are the designers of the scientific community. When we engage in biomimicry, we are, whether consciously or not, endorsing the concept that there is design in nature. It would be totally senseless to try to design something useful by mimicking something that was random and chaotic. For the highly educated, brilliant designers of the scientific community to copy nature, proves that nature must be much more than the product of random chance and accidents.44

#5: “Evolutionary Design”?

A casual perusal of nearly any article by atheistic scientists when they are discussing the complexity of various species reveals that even they cannot help but intuitively acknowledge a designer. Such writings are riddled with the term “design,” apparently without the naturalistic writers following out the implications of that term. Phrases like, “This feature of the salamander is designed to do this,” are common place. Is it not true that the moment one acknowledges the existence of design, he is admitting the existence of a designer at some point—just as acknowledging a poem implies the existence of a poet? We simply cannot escape the evidence for design in nature and the reasoning ability that God has put within us that presses us to acknowledge His existence and ensure that those who wish to find Him will (Acts 17:26-28).
Some atheists have apparently noticed the tendency of naturalists to use such terminology. So, rather than try to rectify atheistic terminology, they embrace it and simply try to redefine the word “design.” Kenneth Miller is an evolutionary biologist at Brown University and co-author of the popular Prentice Hall high school Biology textbook that is used extensively in the United States. In his 2008 book, Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul, he admits that structural and molecular biologists, as they study the natural order, routinely mention the presence of design in their explorations. He, himself, admits that the human body shows evidence of design, pointing out examples like the design of the ball and socket joints of the human hips and shoulders and the “s” curve of the human spine that allows us to walk upright. In spite of such admissions, he irrationally claims such admissions should not be considered to be self-defeating for naturalists. According to Miller, the evidence for design in nature should be embraced. In an article published by Brown University, he said, “There is, indeed, a design to life—an evolutionary design.”45 Merriam-Webster defines an oxymoron as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (such as cruel kindness).”46 Another example: “evolutionary design.”
If there is a painting, there must have been a painter. If there is a fingerprint, there must have been a finger that made it. If there is a building, there must have been a builder. If there is an engine, there must have been an engineer. If there is a creation of some sort, there must have been a creator of it. And if there is design, there must have been a…. If a person completes that sentence with any other word besides “designer,” is he not being the epitome of irrational? While we understand Miller’s dilemma as a naturalist and his desire to find a way to dismiss the incessant, forceful admissions of design by his highly credentialed colleagues, he must attempt to do so through some other avenue besides merely attempting to redefine the word “design” in such a way that it does not require intent and purpose—a mind.
The silliness of irrationally postulating that the clearly designed Universe could have designed itself through evolution has not been lost to many in the engineering community. Typically, in the first semester of engineering school, an introductory course presents broad concepts about engineering. Students may learn the basic differences in the engineering fields (e.g., civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical, structural, etc.). They may spend some time considering ethical dilemmas that engineers have often faced in their careers. First-year students also usually give consideration to the design process. Even in its basic form, the design process proves to be very complex, even before considering the specialized scientific knowledge required to design a given item.
Many steps are necessary in order to get a product to the public. Consider one introductory engineering textbook’s template for the design process47:
  1. Problem symptom or expression; definition of product need; marketing information
  2. Problem definition, including statement of desired outcome
  3. Conceptual design and evaluation; feasibility study
  4. Design analysis; codes/standards review; physical and analytical models
  5. Synthesis of alternative solutions (back to design analysis for iterations)
  6. Decision (selection of one alternative)
  7. Prototype production; testing and evaluation (back to design analysis for more iterations)
  8. Production drawings; instruction manuals
  9. Material specification; process and equipment selection; safety review
  10. Pilot production
  11. Production
  12. Inspection and quality assurance
  13. Packaging; marketing and sales literature
  14. Product
The design process is unquestionably lengthy, technical, complex, and calculated. To claim that an efficient design could be developed without a designer is insulting to the engineering community. Where there is design—complexity, purpose, planning, intent—there is a designer.

Conclusion

Truly, the Universe is replete with evidences of design. So much so, that even atheists cannot help but concede that truth. It is noteworthy that leading naturalists are unwilling to suggest that the laws of nature could create themselves naturally.
  • Physicists know there must be a supernatural origin for those laws.
Similarly, more and more leading scientists are acknowledging that the existence of life is no accident either.
  • Biologists know there must be an intelligence behind it.
  • Engineers are so awed by the clear-cut evidences for design on the Earth that they have developed entire centers devoted to biomimicry—effectively plagiarizing the work of God when they fail to give Him due credit as the Chief Engineer.
  • Cosmologists gush with incredulity when they see the perfection of the created order as well, knowing that the “fine-tuning”48 that is evident in the Universe seems to have resulted in it being “custom tailored”49 for humans.
But how can there be “fine-tuning” if no One exists to tune in the first place? How can the Universe be “custom tailored,” and yet there be no Tailor? If one is to be rational—drawing appropriate conclusions from the evidence—he must recognize that there are implications to realizing that the Universe is finely tuned and tailor made. The design in the Universe demands the existence of a Universal Designer.

Endnotes

1  Paul Ricci (1986), Fundamentals of Critical Thinking (Lexington, MA: Ginn Press), p. 190.
2  “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7, emp. added.
3  Martin Gardner (2000), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? (New York: W.W. Norton), p. 303, emp. added.
4  Jeff Miller (2011), “A Review of Discovery Channel’s ‘Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?’” Reason & Revelation, 31[10]:98-107, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1004&article=1687.
5  “Curiosity…,” emp. added.
6  “The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7, emp. added.
7  Paul Davies (1999), “Life Force,” New Scientist On-line, 163[2204]:26-30, September 18.
8  Paul Davies (2007), “Taking Science on Faith,” The New York Times, November 24, emp. added, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?_r=0.
9  Ibid.
10 As quoted in Richard Webb (2016), “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?” New Scientist, 231[3089]:32, emp. added.
11 Davies, 2007.
12 Marcus Chown (2012), “In the Beginning,” New Scientist, 216[2893]:35, December 1.
13 As quoted in Webb, p. 32.
14 Sean M. Carroll (2008), “The Cosmic Origins of Time’s Arrow,” Scientific American, 298[6]:50, June, emp. added.
15 Lee Smolin (2015), “You Think There’s a Multiverse? Get Real,” New Scientist, 225[3004]:24, January 17.
16 As quoted in John Horgan (2014), “Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will,” Scientific American Blog Network, July 22, emp. added, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/physicist-george-ellis-knocks-physicists-for-knocking-philosophy-falsification-free-will/.
17 Michael Brooks (2012), “The Paradox of Nothing,” New Scientist, 213[2847]:46, January 11, emp. added.
18 Stephen Hawking (2010), The Grand Design (New York: Bantam Books), p. 180.
19 John Lennox (2010), “As A Scientist I’m Certain Stephen Hawking is Wrong. You Can’t Explain the Universe Without God,” Daily Mail Online, emp. added, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1308599/Stephen-Hawking-wrong-You-explain-universe-God.html.
20 Ben Stein and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media), emp. added.
21 “Curiosity…,” emp. added.
22 Victor J. Stenger (2007), God: The Failed Hypothesis (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books), p. 115.
23 Stein and Miller, emp. added.
24 Richard Dawkins (1982), “The Necessity of Darwinism,” New Scientist, 94:130, April 15, emp. added.
25 George Ellis and Joe Silk (2014), “Defend the Integrity of Physics,” Nature, 516[7531]:321, December, emp. added.
26 As quoted in Tim Folger (2008), “Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory,” DiscoverMagazine.com, November 10, http://discovermagazine.com/2008/dec/10-sciences-alternative-to-an-intelligent-creator.
27 Jeff Miller (2017), “7 Reasons the Multiverse Is Not a Valid Alternative to God [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 37[4]:38-47, http://apologeticspress.org/pub_rar/37_4/1704w.pdf.
28 Smolin, p. 25.
29 Lawson Parker (2014), “Cosmic Questions,” National Geographic, 225[4], April, center tearout.
30 Davies, 2007, emp. added.
31 Folger, emp. added.
32 George F.R. Ellis (2011), “Does the Multiverse Really Exist?” Scientific American, 305[2]:42.
33 Ellis and Silk, p. 322.
34 John Rennie, Editor’s Note in Sean M. Carroll (2008), “The Cosmic Origins of Time’s Arrow,” Scientific American, 298[6]:48, June.
35 Carroll, p. 57.
36 Smolin, p. 24, emp. added.
37 Folger, emp. added.
38 Stuart Clark and Richard Webb (2016), “Six Principles/Six Problems/Six Solutions,” New Scientist, 231[3092]:33, emp. added.
39 Brian Greene (2015), “Why String Theory Still Offers Hope We Can Unify Physics,” Smithsonian Magazine, January, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/string-theory-about-unravel-180953637/?no-ist, emp. added.
40 Mary-Jane Rubenstein (2015), “God vs. the Multiverse,” New Scientist, 228[3052/3053]:64, December 19/26, emp. added.
41 “Center for Biomimetics and Bioinspired Engineering: COBRE” (2012), George Washington University, emp. added, http://cobre.seas.gwu.edu/.
42 Jeff Miller (2011), “Autonomous Control of Creation,” Reason & Revelation, 31[12]:129-131.
43 J. Marshall (2008), “The Cyborg Animal Spies Hatching in the Lab,” New Scientist, 2646:41, March 6.
44 For specific examples of biomimicry and bio-inspired engineering, see http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&topic=66.
45 As quoted in: Brown University (2008), “There is ‘Design’ in Nature, Biologist Argues,” ScienceDaily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080217143838.htm.
46 “Oxymoron” (2017), Merriam-Webster On-line, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oxymoron/.
47 Introduction to Engineering at Auburn University: Manufacturing—Industrial and Systems Engineering (2004), (Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing), pp. 10, 32.
48 Folger; Clark and Webb, p. 33; Rubenstein, p. 64.
49 Folger.
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