Symposium 2013 Roundup Week One

Facts and Faith Symposium attendees prepare to view the first film, Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator,  followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

Facts and Faith Symposium attendees prepare to view the first film, Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

We have just concluded our first week of the Facts and Faith Symposium. You will not want to miss the next two weeks!  But if you are unable to attend, we will be covering the conversation here for you.

Handout

Facts & Faith Handout

Here on Veracity, we have talked a lot about science and faith issues as they relate to Creation as we have been ramping up over the past few weeks in preparation for the Symposium.  CAVEAT: For those of you who feel overloaded by science/faith stuff, do not worry.  We do blog about other things, too!   John and I have just been on a roll lately!

Below is a selection of many of the Veracity blog posts that address various issues regarding Creation.  In addition, we will have extra material that seeks to address a number of questions that come up during our conversation.  If you have further questions, or things you want to talk about, please put them down in the comments section below. Thanks!

Having a conversation about Creation and the Bible:

Science and the Question of the Existence of God:

Different Christian Views about Creation:

Intelligent Design:

Thinking about Creation and the Bigger Picture:

Have a Comment or Question?

Our panelists will address comments and questions we couldn’t get to due to time constraints. Please post your questions in the “What do you think?” box below, and check back soon for the answers.

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

33 responses to “Symposium 2013 Roundup Week One

  • fred nice

    John and Clarke, thanks so much for doing this! The first night was great and am looking forward to the next 2….especially the Hugh Ross, Cosmic Fingerprints session.

    • John Paine

      Thanks so much Fred for your words of encouragement, and for being such a faithful disciple (and Veracity reader). We hope that these sessions give people plenty of material to think through, and that in so doing they will come to better appreciate the magnificence of Creation and our Creator.

      There is overwhelming evidence to support the accounts of Creation in the Bible, as related so brilliantly by Hugh Ross in Cosmic Fingerprints. I can’t wait for that night either.

  • John Paine

    Questions submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    1. What happened to the dinosaurs, and how were they destroyed?
    2. What about the possibility of a “mirror earth”? Why only one planet for the Lord to visit…and create man in his image—aliens?

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    DNA does mutate forming other cells and tissues. Why can’t that account for evolution?

    • C. Richard Terman

      Last week we talked about Micro- and Macro-evolution. Microevolution (speciation) which is the formation of new species by natural selection operating on apparently random mutations which are rare in distinct populations over a limited period of time. Most mutations do not increase fitness and are therefore selected against. Those which increase fitness may be selected for and bring about small changes in a species.

      Macroevolution (general evolution) extrapolates microevolution as the mechanism by which all organisms have been derived from a single original source over the span of geological time.

      There is abundant evidence of for microevolution whereas much of the support for macroevoloution producing all species is conjecture.

      I illustrated microevolutioon in the Deermouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) with its 64 subspecies as an example of microevolution. With time and selection in different environments these subspecies may not be able to interbreed successfully and be regarded as separate species. These are small changes which prevent successful interbreeding with parental forms: evolution.

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    Regarding the recent discovery of the “God particle”—where is this process now, and does this address or imply any relevance to the “Intelligent Design” discussion?

  • John Paine

    Questions submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    Is there scientific evidence that supports a cyclical expansion and contraction of the universe? How would this apply to the implication that this process, over an infinite cycle, could support the idea of multiple universes?

    • John Paine

      This is an interesting question, well beyond the scope of our Symposium. To get a flavor for potential answers, see

      http://www.space.com/21421-universe-multiverse-inflation-theory.html

      As stated in the post above, “Nothing in the current body of scientific knowledge prohibits a multiverse, and inflationary theory supports a number of principles that make it possible. At the same time, there is also no hard evidence that a multiverse does, or must, exist.”

      In short, scientists do not have conclusive evidence.

      Are there theological implications if multiple universes exist? Not so much, but if you like thinking, I would refer you to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, which proves that any universe (or multiverse) that is expanding (as is ours) must have an absolute beginning.

      Here are some references if you’re up to the challenge:

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/contemporary-cosmology-and-the-beginning-of-the-universe

      As stated in the Case for a Creator video, the existence of multiple universes would not create any inconsistencies with the account of Creation in Genesis, because even if there are multiple universes, those universes would necessarily require a beginning (if they are are expanding). What if they don’t expand? I would ask, “How would the material for a non-expanding universe get out there?”

      As Tim Keller would say, “You cannot be a Christian without using your brain to its uttermost.” Thanks for such a heady question!

  • John Paine

    Questions submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    Is there a proven problem with decreasing ozone in the atmosphere? Are there proven causes?

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    How do other faiths explain the supernatural (for example Buddhist, Muslim, etc.)?

    • Clarke Morledge

      What a great question.

      For starters, I would recommend a series of four Veracity blog postings on the topic of religious pluralism as a challenge to the biblical doctrine of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ with respect to salvation, starting here (warning: the posts are rather long):

      https://sharedveracity.net/2012/11/08/common-vs-saving-grace-pluralism-1/

      On night three of the Symposium, you will hear one scientist’s attempt to answer the type of question you have.

      If these resources do not address your question well enough, please let us know. It is definitely worthy of a thoughtful response.

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    Where can we get copies of these videos for personal use?

    • John Paine

      Please click on the image of the Symposium handout (above) for websites or phone numbers where you can order these videos. They are also available through Amazon.com, Christian Book Distributors, and many other outlets.

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    Where did God reside before the spoken word and creation?

    • Clarke Morledge

      Hopefully, I addressed this question at the Symposium. But for the sake of clarity, let me add that the question of where God “resides” assumes the concept of “place” or “location”. From a Biblical viewpoint that God created everything out of nothing, this would include any concept of “place” or “location”. As God is uncreated, He has no place or location, and therefore no physical residence.

      For God to have a physical residence would therefore imply God as being part of creation itself, which is an idea contrary to the teachings of the Bible. See Genesis chapter 1.

      Positively though, the central Christian claim is the mystery that this God did enter human history and assume human nature in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. So, in this sense God in Jesus acquired a “residence” in Christ’s body. God also takes “residence” within the hearts of those who believe in Jesus and have a relationship with Him.

    • John Paine

      You might enjoy this post on the question of “Who created God?” (John Lennox is an amazing, entertaining Christian apologist and Oxford mathematician):

      https://sharedveracity.net/2012/12/17/who-created-god/

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    Can you explain how the seven days of creation are not seven 24-hour days?

    • John Paine

      This question will be covered in detail during our next two Symposium presentations, particularly the last one (Cosmic Fingerprints). As Clarke says, you won’t want to miss it.

      The short answer is that the ancient Hebrew word that was written in Genesis by Moses is ‘yowm’, which can have four or more meanings, including “a long but finite period of time.” There is considerable scriptural and scientific support that ‘yom’ would be most accurately interpreted as long periods of time rather than literal 24-hour days, and we will cover these in the upcoming videos and panel discussions.

      There are a number of contrary opinions and positions on this issue, which we will explore with “gentleness and respect” as prescribed in 1 Peter 3:15. Clearly, not everyone agrees.

  • John Paine

    Questions submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    1. What does the search for truth reveal?
    2. Regarding the young-earth versus old-earth debate:
    a. What are the differences in the scientific positions and what evidence supports these positions?
    b. What Scripture supports these positions?
    c. What is your position, and what is the Chapel’s position?
    3. So what?! (Why does it matter?)

    • John Paine

      Thank you for asking these questions! We think a lot about truth on this blog (hence the name ‘Veracity’–which is a one-word description of the Bible). Ultimately, ‘truth’ is a person (John 14:6)–namely Jesus Christ.

      We will cover the scriptural and scientific support for Old-Earth Creationism in the next two Symposium sessions, so I’d like to defer on answering Old-Earth vs. Young-Earth questions for now (we will really present a LOT of material on this topic).

      Regarding my personal position, I am Old Earth (as you may have guessed). I came to this position through considerable personal study, but am not so much interested in convincing other people of the correctness of Old-Earth Creationism as I am in sharing the joy that comes from appreciating just how accurate the Bible is when viewed from this perspective. Christianity is all about truth, so we can have great confidence as we seek to grow our understanding (and more importantly our appreciation) of God, His creation, and His redemptive plan for people like you and me.

      What is the Chapel’s position? Our constitution speaks beautifully to this issue; the Chapel was intended to be a place where people holding different points of view on non-essential issues (outside our eight-point Statement of Faith) could come together and worship in the name of Jesus Christ. The older I get, the more meaningful this idea becomes. No one has it all figured out, and we don’t all sing from the same sheet of music. We don’t have to.

      So why does it matter? We will cover that as well. Knowing the age of the earth does not affect anyone’s personal salvation, but it can affect our witnessing for Christ–not only in terms of what we present and how we relate to non-Christians, but also how we as Christians handle our disagreements (John 13:35).

      This (very) recent post addresses the question of whether or not it matters:

      https://sharedveracity.net/2013/11/06/evidence-of-transformation/

  • John Paine

    Questions submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    The video mentioned that the fossil record could be represented as a 24-hour period, and 2 minutes as the creation of life. He said he thought it was 4 billion years, so 2 minutes would equal 5.5 million years. Does this mean we should support creation taking place over millions of years? Can the Bible be interpreted as “a day is like 1,000 years”?

    • John Paine

      Great questions with profound implications. We don’t tell people what to think on this blog (in fact we go out of our way not to do that), but we will present a lot of material over the next two Facts & Faith Symposium sessions on this topic.

      Scientifically, the point made in The Case for a Creator video is that the Cambrian explosion is problematic for macroevolution, and is therefore a dramatic refutation of Darwin’s “tree of life” (which claims common descent for all animal species from only a few forms or life, possibly even just one form). There just is not enough time for Darwinian processes to explain the appearance of most of the major animal forms so suddenly (in a “geological instant”).

      The Young-Earth versus Old-Earth debate hinges–among other things–on the interpretation and translation of the Hebrew word “yowm” which has multiple meanings, including a long but finite period of time–as listed in the Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon:

      http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/yowm.html

      As you can imagine, contentious debates unfortunately arise over the meaning of yowm.

      So we should be able to turn to the New Testament for help, right? 2 Peter 3:8 states, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Case settled!? Not so fast. The New Testament was written in Greek, so arguments about the meaning of the ancient Hebrew word yowm are off the table. But…we can acknowledge the truth that God exists outside of time and that He can dwell in very small instances as effortlessly as He can very, very quickly transcend what we would consider to be long time periods.

  • John Paine

    Question submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    The video stated a perfect mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, etc. is necessary for life. Yet extremophiles live in areas where man cannot live. Life seems to be able to live in a vast variety of environments. For example there are life forms that live in methane gas at extreme temperatures, where we cannot live. Given the preceding, why do we need a Goldilocks environment or world for life to be plausible?

    • Clarke Morledge

      Great question.

      According to Old Earth and Evolutionary Creationist positions, as you have stated, simple life forms can exist in relatively hostile environments, but complex life forms (like humans) require the type of mature environment that we have on earth today.

      I think Lee Strobel in the video was assuming a “Goldilocks” environment for complex life forms. Strobel’s neglect of the situation of more simple life forms is an excellent criticism to be noted.

      In the Young Earth position, your question is basically superfluous since we are only talking about six literal 24-hours days to accomplish the entire creative process.

  • John Paine

    Questions submitted at the 11/10/2013 Symposium:

    1. What about (in our carbon-based world) the life and half-life of carbon as related to carbon dating?
    2. To Darwin (who did not originate the theory of evolution, but the writings and influence of his grandfather) one should point to the Bible where, before the flood, every living creature ate grain or vegetables and did not fear man, or vice versa.
    3. Another point kind of where God reveals Himself in what He has created and other scientists (including Newton) referred to discoveries in science that were just man thinking God’s thoughts after Him and the many discoveries made through first reading what they found in the Word of God. And then the perfect fulfillment of prophecies hundreds and thousands of years beforehand?

    • Clarke Morledge

      Regarding question #1:

      See the latest Veracity post, particularly towards the bottom under “Additional Resources” for more detailed information:
      https://sharedveracity.net/2013/11/13/dinosaurs-in-hell/

      Regarding question #2:

      Good point about Erasmus Darwin as being very influential in his grandson’s thinking about evolutionary theory. To continue some more thoughtful reflection on the Flood of Noah, here is a good place to start from an Old Earth perspective:
      https://sharedveracity.net/2012/04/21/noah/

      For a general discussion of issues related to this from a Young Earth perspective, you should go the following post and scroll down to “Additional Resources” where you will find a video that lays out the basic case for a Young Earth:
      https://sharedveracity.net/2013/03/01/no-compromise/

      Regarding question #3:

      Your quote from Johannes Kepler, “O God, I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee”, is very apt for this discussion.

      For more of the story on biblical prophecy and its fulfillment, you may be interested in this series of posts on the “Son of Man” (I am still working this…. I should pick the story back up after the Symposium is done):
      https://sharedveracity.net/tag/son-of-man/

      Clarke

  • Faith Smagalski

    What is the recorded evidence that Paul, Luke, Matthew and John actually wrote the books in the bible. History channel has a segment where they compare these books to the book of (James or Thomas). That later discovered text was supposed written 300 years after Christ. The History channel speculated that John’s biblical text was the same. I believe the gospels are authentic to their authors but would like the verification.

    • Clarke Morledge

      Faith,

      While this is a great question, it is not directly related to the topic of the Symposium: Creation.

      But it is one that is hard to resist. The short answer: most Biblical scholars are agreed that Paul wrote a fair number of the letters attributed to him, such as Romans and Galatians. Where the issue is disputed is when it comes to other letters of Paul and the Gospels. More conservative scholars are confident that the traditional assignment of authorship of material associated with Paul, Luke, Matthew, and John is still correct. More critical/liberal scholars will reject traditional authorship of various writings for various reasons. Digging through the nitty gritty on this is what keeps biblical studies students so busy in graduate school!

      Hopefully, Veracity can get to addressing your question with a more substantial answer, but that will probably take several blog posts to adequately cover. Veracity leans in a more conservative direction, but considers the critical arguments ones that need to better addressed, instead of doing a lot of hand waving.

      Clarke

    • John Paine

      Faith:

      Thanks for stopping by and asking this important question. A lot of ink has been spilled over questions regarding biblical authorship, and some of it is quite skeptical. No need to worry, credible scholarship is on the side of truth.

      The ultimate questions are, “Can we trust the Bible?” and “How did we get our Bible?”—although how we attribute the inspired text to specific authors is indeed an interesting study.

      As Clarke points out, credible scholarship can provide much better and more reliable information than television shows. It takes work to get to the answers, but that’s what this blog is all about (i.e. personal discipleship). The good news is the juice is worth the squeeze. The producers of Facts & Faith (that’s an inside joke) are formulating ideas for a follow-up symposium, and these questions on are the top of the topic list.

      In the meantime, here are a couple of resources that may help in your studies of this topic (some of which are based on the excellent work of Dr. Daniel B. Wallace and the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts):

      I would also recommend From God To Us Revised and Expanded: How We Got Our Bible by Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. William E. Nix.

      Finally, here’s a graphic that shows just how weighty the preponderance of evidence is regarding the New Testament. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy your research!

      New Testament Reliability

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