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A Christian Proposal
This is a Christian call with a twofold purpose: on the one hand, to offer a critique of the modern intellectual context known as "secular western worldview" ruling in our society, from the Christian consciousness that God is, that God has created and that God has spoken revealing himself to men. On the other hand, to give an answer, certainly not exhaustive, but true nonetheless: the Christian answer to the most vital questions about life and death, about God and man, about righteousness and sin, about the nature of faith and of knowledge.
And none of us is stranger to these questions: each human being, man or woman, stands between the cradle and the tomb, and there is no question so important as the origin and destiny that we have as individuals. And the final destiny of each person depends on the origin, and on the attitude of that person, of the answer that each person gives, in regards to the purpose for which that person was created by God. It depends on the attitude of that person in regards to his/her Creator.
And the Christian answer to such question can only come from the wisdom of
God, revealed in and through Jesus Christ. It is an answer that seeks not only
to settle some given questions, but that goes on to solve the great question of
man's alienation from God, the matter of the nature and contents of truth, and
man's contradictions. It is an answer that is besides an invitation of God to
each one to know Him, to accept the reconciliation with Him. It is at once a
call to man as an enemy and adversary to God, to repentance towards God and
salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. To pass from spiritual and moral death to a
life full of meaning and joy in the knowledge of God and in fellowship with Him
who is Creator and Lord of all.
A distorted view
According to the secular consensus of the Secular Academia, man comes from inferior animals, which came from other more inferior ones, which came from protozoa which came by chance in a primitive sea in a world that had condensed by unguided physical processes, a world that came from coalesced matter that had its origin in an alleged Big Bang of a primordial atom. This process is known globally as Evolution, and is the belief system professed by the Scientific Establishment.
At the same time, this Scientific Establishment proposes a worldview in which
all reality is matter and motion, where the human reality is nothing but a
manifestation of complex biochemical and electrochemical reactions --a marvelous
machine appeared by chance. All life and all the meaning of man are but relative
things and have their context on this earth ... and no more. It is also proposed
that the only real knowledge is the so-called scientific knowledge.
Scientific knowledge: its nature and limitations
It is true that by means of the scientific method we can acquire a knowledge about things. But in the worldview just considered the great limitations of scientific knowledge are not taken into account, and some great capabilities are attributed to it which it cannot have at all. In words of Darby:
Strictly speaking, the scientific method can only deal with those things that are under the human capability of study and direct observation, or manipulation in a laboratory, that which is present and repeatable. It can only give us material and quantitative cause and effect relationships within our universe. But, strictly speaking, it cannot give us any other knowledge than this one: how things relate with one another, not their reason of being. Speaking strictly, the scientific method cannot touch upon the how of the origin of the universe, nor of life, nor that which has to do with purpose or values, nor that which is unique and unrepeatable. And even less the reason for its existence.
Nobel Prize Severo Ochoa, a long time researcher of the biochemistry of the
material basis of life, stated shortly before his death: "I have given myself to
researching life, and I do not know why it exists, nor what for" [Tiempo,
Feb. 24, 1992, p. 50). Perhaps the key for this lies in his statement: "I have
not been religious for a long time" (Ibid., p. 55). Certainly, if we
ignore God and the knowledge that He gives us in His Revelation, we cannot know
what matters most of all. What is the purpose of knowing how something works, if
we do not know why it has been made nor what for?
"How" is NOT "Why"
It is very common to confuse the how and the why of things, and so it happens that some times students are confounded by teachers that have a poor foundation on these issues and by sloppy textbooks. The following example, taken from another author, gives an illustration of these differences, so little taken into account:
How the water of a kettle boils (a present process which can be
repeated and tested) can be determined, up to a certain point, by our
observation, the scientific method. Why the water is boiling in the
kettle we can only get to know by means of a personal communication.
A bit of history
In fact, scientism and the evolutionary concept, as a whole, are not a modern advancement of knowledge, but a rehashing of the naturalistic views of the ancient Greek philosophers about the nature of science and of the origin of life. Henry Fairfield Osborne, former director of the American Museum of Natural History, had this to say about it:
The fact is that the Creational view of the Bible spread in open debate in the midst of a heathen world. This heathen world rejected the action of a sovereign God in creation and revealed in history, and employed aprioristic philosophical reasonings as the one expounded by the well-known physician Galen (130-201 A.D.), who spoke against the Genesis record in the following words:
The course of nature vs. intelligent action
Of course, there are things that are naturally impossible, but the fact that something is naturally impossible does not mean that it is absolutely impossible. In the framework of the natural systems, the behaviour of the said systems is ruled by some very well defined conditions. On the other hand, in a framework of intervention, with an action directed intelligently and with a purpose, other conditions prevail that can change radically the course of some given processes.
A good example is that, in the course of nature, heat flows always from hot bodies to colder bodies, so that the temperature of the first ones decreases while the temperature of the second ones increases, until all reach a thermal equilibrium (the same temperature). It is impossible, naturally speaking, that heat may go another way. In its spontaneous, non directed behaviour, heat will always go this way.
But in the fridge, man has designed a mechanism impelled by a certain
energy which locally reverses the flow of heat, so that what is
naturally impossible, as to the tendency of things, that heat may flow
from a cold body to a hot body --in this case the expulsion of heat from the
inside of a freezer, a cold body, to the exterior, the hot body-- is made
possible by intelligent intervention. Thus, the argument that something
is naturally impossible is not applicable in the case of the intervention
of a supernatural being, whether man, with all his limitations, or God,
with no limitations of knowledge or power.
No historical evidence
The fossil record itself, so often hailed in popular presentations as an evidence of evolution in the past, does not really give any evidence for this process. Simply stated, there are no transitional chains nor true intermediate forms between different types of life. This fact has been admitted freely in public by some professionals like Harvard Professor Stephen Jay Gould, who stated the following in his monthly column in Natural History:
Also Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist, Curator of the British Museum (Natural History), gave the following statement in an interview to the BBC-TV on March 4, 1982, about the efforts to explain the non existence of fossil transitional forms:
Many quotes could be given of professionals of paleontology in
this sense. It is true that the perception of the public about the nature of the
fossil record is not the one given here. There is a strong propaganda campaign
in some media that are not too respectful to the true nature of the evidence,
and the public is not well informed about the true state of the matter. The myth
that the fossil evidence supports the evolutionary worldview is broadly spread.
And this is regrettable.
A belief, not a scientific conclusion
It should be clear to all that evolutionism is not a conclusion of science, but, as it was in ancient times, it is really a doctrine, a belief system which rejects the action of God and that seeks to explain the origin of all the world of the living from a philosophical stance that excludes the Creator from the very beginning. This point is well expressed by the evolutionary cosmogonist Carl F. von Weizsäcker in his work On the importance of Science:
That is to say, Evolution is not believed in because there is a positive proof that may lead to it as a scientific conclusion. Rather, "modern" man takes as it starting point the rejection --a priori-- of any possible revelation from God, and interprets all the reality surrounding him --and himself-- in terms of a philosophy that rejects God as a starting point. Thus, Evolutionism and the atheistic rationalist mindset are not a conclusion demanded by the study of reality, but are themselves the method, the mental attitude with which all is considered, from a position of unbelief. And it is time to stop and check if this attitude based on unbelief really agrees with the reality of the universe, of the world of the living, of history, and of human nature.
And von Weizsäcker is not alone in this admission. The famous Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin, an evolutionist as Weizsäcker was, said the following recently about the true basis of evolutionary science, in a remarkably candid essay in the New York Review of Books (Jan. 9, 1997, p. 31):
Is there design?
Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Origin of Species that he had no difficulty at all to imagine that a long drought could have caused that some hypothetical short-necked ancestors of the giraffe lengthened their necks continuously to reach a supply of leafs that were more and more in short supply. Of course, he had no fossil evidence for such an evolutionary story. Apparently, neither did he know certain peculiar problems of the giraffes that make his rash supposition about the evolution of giraffes increasingly difficult to accept.
The heart of the giraffe has to pump the blood to quite a height, so the pressure it has to give the blood to reach the head through that long neck is about double than the normal for other animals. So, the giraffe's heart is possibly the most powerful in the animal kingdom.
However, the brain is a very delicate structure that cannot resist a high pressure of the blood. When the giraffe lowers its head down to drink, what happens to prevent the brain from being destroyed?
There are three designed regulatory elements in the giraffe that make this whole system work.
First, the giraffe spreads its legs to drink. This makes the level of the heart to lower somewhat, so that in the moment of drinking the height difference between the heart and the head decreases somewhat. The net result is that the excess of pressure in the brain is lower than it would be if the legs stayed straight.
The second trait is that the giraffe has in its jugular veins a series of one-way check valves that close as soon as the giraffe lowers its head, so the blood cannot flow back to the brain.
This would leave the giraffe with a problem: The heart keeps pumping blood into the brain through the carotid artery. But a third trait is the 'wonder net', a spongy tissue full of blood vessels placed near the base of the brain. The arterial blood reaches and flows first through this network of thin vessels that irrigates the giraffe's brain. It seems that when the animal lowers its head to drink, the 'wonder net' controls somehow the blood flow so that the pressure is not applied directly in the brain.
Scientists who have studied this matter believe also that probably the cerebral-spinal fluid that bathes the brain and the spinal column produces a counterpressure which impedes the bursting or the leaking of the brain capillaries. The effect is similar to that of an antigravitatory suit as the one worn by combat pilots and by astronauts. The antigravitatory suit exerts a pressure on the body and the legs of its wearer when under strong accelerations, preventing its wearer from passing out. Capillary leaks on the giraffe legs are also probably prevented by a similar pressure of the fluids out of the cells. Besides, the walls of the arteries of giraffes are thicker than in the case of any other mammal.
There have been recent researches and there have been measurements of blood pressure taken on living giraffes in motion. However, the exact manner in which these various factors cooperate to permit this strange creature to live has not been clearly demonstrated.
In any event, the giraffe is a great success. When it has finished drinking, it stands up, the valves open, the effects of the 'wonder net' and of the diverse counterpressure mechanisms are relaxed, and all works fine. This is one of the uncountable examples of an intelligent design of a coordinated and integrated system which is clearly incompatible with evolutionism.
Obviously, Darwin did not know all these problems in the case of giraffes,
nor many other that have been brought to light since then, amongst others the
structure the cell itself with its intricate cybernetic functions. The added
knowledge of the intimate structure of life, and, at a larger scale, of the
physiological and anatomical systems, piles wonder upon wonder, and all these
wonders strengthen so much more the argument of design, which Darwin and others
have so much denied and fought against, but never refuted at all.
Another example of this fact, that of design and purpose in the eye, was already so evident in times of Darwin that he himself confesses that rationally it seemed to constitute an irresistible difficulty for his attempt to explain an evolution by chance.
According to the evolutionary hypothesis, all that exists in the world of the living came to be by natural selection of those elements that sprang quite by chance. If they were useful, they were preserved in the context of the struggle for existence in a competitive environment. If they were useless, they were done away with. Thus, evolutionism states that all the elements of the world of the living exist because they have an immediate usefulness for survival.
Darwin and Wallace (his colleague and co-propounder together with him of the
hypothesis of Evolution by Means of Natural Selection in 1858) had a clash some
years after, because of this concept. Wallace, after much thought, came to the
conclusion that Natural Selection was incapable of explaining the origin of a
certain structure that was obviously in excess of an immediate need, and that
man had not arrived to employ beyond around a ten per cent of its capacity: the
brain. According to Wallace, how could one explain the origin of the
brain, all of its intricacy and design, if a 90 per cent of it was not used? If
a 90 per cent of the structure of the brain had not acted nor worked, and we do
not yet use it, it could not have been formed in the context of competition and
struggle for survival. How can we then explain its origin through evolution by
means of natural selection? Darwin reacted in a strong emotional way against
this type of argument, but could not refute it. This argument stands, and to
every thinking mind it is so more powerful as more is known about the wonderful
complexity and design of this organ, the greatest wonder in the created
Complexity and rationality
It so happens that in the minds of many a very curious thing happens when the matter of complexity is brought forward. Most of us will acknowledge that with an increase of the complexity of information and of design there has to be a greater intelligence and capability in the one that produces it.
Most people would acknowledge that the drawing of a three year old child is not a mere collection of lines that simply happened.
Ascending in the scale of complexity through different gadgets, cameras, etc., and to the space shuttle --which is considered as the most complex machine ever built by man--, the increase in complexity is related automatically with a greater skill and intelligence. The greater the complexity of something, the greater the intelligence needed to produce it.
But, when we come to the gigantic jump in complexity that exists between the most complex production and the living beings, even if it is the lowly ameba, irrationality attacks without any warning. Those that consider themselves the most rational people of all throw all of a sudden their rationality through the window. Instead of following the logic that an increase in complexity demands an even greater intelligence to create it, now they say that the increase in complexity demands a decrease in intelligence, and even to the point that no intelligence at all is necessary to produce the most complex of existing systems.
How did the first cell come about, an entity with a functional and cybernetic complexity beyond our comprehension, by pure chance processes? How did the human brain come about, when its functionality could never be directed by any natural selection nor by any need of the environment, being far in excess in capacity to any historical use known?
The humanistic mindset criticized by Darby in this and previous paragraphs constitutes a denial of all transcendent reality of God and of God's Revelation. It denies as a matter of principle the Being of God or either that God may be known or that He may reveal Himself to man. According to the humanist mindset, the only true knowledge that man may reach is the one derived from his own observations and reasonings on them. From the start there is a refusal to admit any possibility of a source of knowledge outside man. Any knowledge that man may receive by divine revelation is denied a priori.
With all these denials, the result is a perspective of man that not only is
far from the Christian perspective that man is a responsible creature before
God; this humanistic perspective is also openly hostile to the Christian
perspective and postulates that man is the measure of all things, the absolute
center of reference. It asserts that Man must be the master of his destiny, with
all his potentialities.
Man, his greatness and his misery
Man, made a little lower than the angels, not a little upwards from the beast. With great potentialities indeed, given to him by God and made evident in his creativity, inventiveness, skill, art, even if ever with the stamp of his fallen condition. And so, from the ivory tower of the Scientific Establishment, and from the comforts of a prosperous, materialistic West filled up with the goods of this world, it is possible for a passing moment to hold to the empty idea of the autonomy and glory of Man as his own god. But in the last analysis we do have the brutal facts of death, suffering and guilt. Of the wickedness of man. Here and there the fact of sinful man comes to light. The evolved marxist self-governed man gives way to the reality of inward cruelty. The old topic shows itself true again: man is a wolf to his fellow man. For the proud Europeans it is not now a matter of Abisinia or Iraq. Now we found it again on our own turf, in the dream of so many intellectuals and theorists: Yugoslavia. And not so far back in history we can also see how the secularism of Germany opened the way to the pseudoscientific fallacies of a Haeckel and to the humanistic dementia of a Nietzsche, with the bitter fruit of Hitlerism that the cultured, sceptic and illustrated Germany brought forth, with the horrors of cold, calculated, dispassioned, unnatural, technified mass killings and genocide. It is in vain to pretend that the answer to the human problems is education. The problem of man is not a lack of education, but its alienation from God. Man's problem is a moral one. Man needs conversion. To return to the revealed God. In the culture of the modern western world the death of God is openly proclaimed. Far away from the true and living God, the revealed God, it is man who is dead as such.
The belief in chance to explain the origin of man leads necessarily to the belief in the final futility of man. And it does not answer the questions. The denial of God does not do away with all the moral problem of man: the fact, an intimate fact, known by intuition, that there is good and evil, that there are behaviours and attitudes worthy of censure as evil, and that what is right and worthy of praise exists. And chance, an origin from nothingness and purposelessness, does not explain it. Evolutionism is only a particular philosophy, a conceptual framework, a mental invention which tries to explain our origin and the origin of all things denying the uncomfortable reality of the Creator God and the purposefulness of Creation in general, and the purposefulness of man and his moral responsibility in a particular way.
Besides, the claims of the speculative philosophy called Evolutionism of
being science clash against a critical and rigorous analysis of reality. A
worldview founded upon fallacies is as a house built upon the sand, without any
foundation whatsoever. In spite of the apparent solidity of the building, the
first flood of waters causes the ruin of the building. The denial of God and of
the purpose of the creation around us in conformity to the will of God is
founded upon a complex of fallacies that will bring those founded upon them and
the present day civilization as a whole to their utter ruin. And to the
announced judgment by God.
The divine answer: grace, life and fulness
We do have a revelation from God. And revelation is the only means by which a personal being can make himself known to another as such a personal being. The verbal communication and interaction are an absolute requirement. By means of the Creation we can know some about God: His eternal power and Godhead. But it is only by revelation that we may know Him in a personal way, through a verbal communication. And thus the sublime words of the Revelation: «In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word became flesh. ...» (Gospel of John, 1:1, 14).
Of course, it will be countered that there are many alleged revelations. How are we going to know which is the true one? This is a question usually given as an objection to the idea itself of a revelation.
Reflecting deeper about this question, what we can point at first of all is that in fact with this question some very disturbing is confessed. Man does not know God. What has happened so that man is so far away from God that he does not know Him any more, that his natural state is not that of a happy fellowship and friendship with God? This very question is a confession of alienation. Something has happened, and man is alienated from God. There is a barrier between man and God. And the Revelation that claims to come from God and in which God appears going after man from the very beginning, the Bible, gives us from its very start the explanation for this matter, detailing, amongst many other things:
On the other hand, unbelief, and its philosophical expressions, agnosticism and atheism, are really irrational positions, in the light of the nature of man and of his deepest needs and longings.
By intuition, man sees death as something foreign, hostile, an enemy. In the deepest recesses of his being, he has the feeling, perhaps repressed sometimes, but undeniable, that death does not belong to the true nature of his being. Death, for man, is not the culmination of his natural existence. It is a break-up.
God's Revelation tells us that death came into the world, into the ordered system of Creation set under man and in the human race itself, as a consequence of man's disobedience to God. As Tertullian remarked already in the 3rd. Century A.D., summarizing the teaching of God's Word about death: «We who know the origin of man know for certain that death does not proceed from nature, but from sin.» Thus, death is not a necessary condition of human nature nor of the created universe, but rather a state in which it all fell when man departed from God. It is the wages of sin.
In the face of death and of its cause, sin, God intervenes with Redemption,
by pure grace and love to men: God the Son became man, and shared in flesh and
blood, made in all like us, sin excepted, so as to deliver through his death and
resurrection them that were subject to slavery by the fear of death, far away
from God and in condemnation. And this Redemption, as the Revelation, is God's
initiative. And the mere denial of these realities, by whoever it may be, is no
refutation. The reality stays.
The answer of God to the fall of man, to man's apostasy, to the enmity of man against Him, is an answer of love, of revelation; it is a going to find the lost sheep, where the Shepherd gives the life for the sheep; it is a triumph in Resurrection, annulling the power of death, and the offering of the reconciliation with God for all and each that go back to Him through Jesus Christ the Saviour, who died, the just for the unjust, to bring us back to God. And although He died in the hands of men who hated Him, He nonetheless gave Himself in love for us.
In the midst of it all, God's answer is an answer of forgiveness that invites
us to stop, that calls us to repent of our hostility towards Him and of our
pathetic affirmation of independence. His answer was: "Father, forgive them; for
they know not what they do" (Gospel of Luke, 23:34).
God the Son became Man. It was necessary that the righteousness of God were satisfied in regards to our sins. God could not simply leave our sins aside. He would cease being Just. Sin had to be condemned and punished. Thus it was that Jesus Christ, God the Son, true man, presented himself as the representative of men. He had the right to do it, because he was a true man. He was able to do it, in His nature at once of a perfect sinless Man and almighty God. His sacrifice in obedience on the cross vindicated in such a way the righteousness of God in regards to the sins of men, that God can give forgiveness and judicial absolution, and accept all and each that come to Christ as his/her Saviour and Substitute. This sacrifice of Christ on the cross, of the sinless God-Man, under the wrath of God in the place of those men that He was representing, was necessary so that «he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus» (Romans 3:26).
With the Resurrection, God vindicated Jesus. Death could not retain Him, as
He was holy. The work of atonement finished, and with the justice of God
satisfied as to us, Jesus rose again, destroying in principle death and its
power, in regards to Himself. And this power is manifested in the life of those
that believe in Him, and will be manifested in the resurrection and in the
regeneration of the new creation.
This is the life that God offers to all and each that believe in Jesus Christ. He said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (Gospel of John 10:10). A life that goes beyond and that wins over death. Jesus said: "I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live» (Gospel of John 11:25). And the basis for our knowledge of this fact is certainly not science with all its limitations, nor our limited observations and short reason: it is the personal and faithful testimony of God in Jesus Christ, the Risen Saviour, He by Whom and for Whom all things have been made, the Lord of all things and of every one.