Part 2 examined biblical truth and what Christ meant by a true witness or testimony. We now look briefly at how truth is personified in Jesus, before applying all we’ve studied to the debate over origins, and what it means to have faith.
Biblical truth—whether conveyed by ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia) in the New Testament or אֱמֶת (ʾěmeṯ) in the Old Testament—means much more than factual accuracy. Yes, it most certainly incorporates our modern understanding of “truth.” But at its core are the concepts of faithfulness and constancy, implying dependableness, reliableness, and integrity.
Think about appliances. The answer to a simple question such as, “Is it a vacuum cleaner?” may be “Yes, that’s true.” But if you’re going to spend $100 or more, you want to know a bit more than that. (Besides which, if that’s the only question you ask the salesman in the appliance store, he probably won’t be impressed!) You want to know if it will work properly. And, if you’re like me, you’ll be especially keen to know if it will be reliable, and if it’ll last a long time. A disreputable retailer selling inferior-quality vacuums may advertise their products as being genuine, but if they quickly break down or have poor suction, you wouldn’t be pleased. That’s the difference between the real deal and a substandard or counterfeit product. It’s also the difference between a full and rich definition of “truth” and a partial, shallow one.
Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth.”
The true measure of the promised authenticity and genuineness of something is its efficacy and durability. With this in mind, we can see why Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth1” (John 14:6)—not only because He is “true, and teach[es] the way of God in truth” (Matthew 22:16), but because His whole character is utterly dependable and reliable.
So in a sense Oscar Wilde was on to something when he ventured that, “Truth, in the matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.”2 The fallible philosophies and false religions of men are transient. They come and go (Isaiah 40:6–7). But that which is true endures (Isaiah 40:8). Jesus puts it like this:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)3
Let’s apply all we’ve learned about faithfulness, reliableness, and the enduring quality of truth to the context of the debate over origins (which is fundamentally about the authority of the Bible). Ultimately it boils down to how reliable the witnesses (or testimonies) are. Let me explain.
INTERPRETER. An expert, who is very knowledgeable in a given field of study, can bear witness for or against a particular view, by means of his interpretation of the evidence. But it is very important to note that no scientist or expert is completely free of preconceptions and assumptions. Every human being carries his own personal “baggage,” whether you call it his beliefs, his philosophy, his perspective, his worldview, or his religion. So the accusation, often leveled by atheistic proponents of Darwinian evolution, that the views of creation scientists should be dismissed because of their religious beliefs is hypocritical. Atheism is a belief system just like any other religion.6
The very fact that there are extremely knowledgeable experts on all sides of the debate on origins plainly demonstrates that the data can be interpreted in more than one way. After all, even Darwin (1859) admitted,
I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume [On the Origin of Species] on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question. (p. 2)
Yet Richard Dawkins believes there is only one legitimate side to the debate over origins. He doesn’t seem interested in “fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides” of the question. Instead, he wrote in 1989,
It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that).7
Later in 2006, in reflecting upon his “much quoted” statement, he affirmed,
Examine the statement carefully and it turns out to be moderate, almost self-evidently true. . . . My “arrogant and intolerant” statement turns out to be nothing but simple truth. . . . I don’t withdraw a word of my initial statement.8
Is Dawkins’ statement really “self-evidently true?” Is he telling the “truth?” Certainly not!
Just browse the 800+ courageous signatories of “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism,”9 or read In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation.10 These scientists are no lightweights. They hold doctorates in a wide range of scientific fields. They are neither ignorant nor stupid. To call all such eminent scholars “insane” is insulting, and potentially libelous. And Dawkins’ only remaining character slur is “wicked”—a scandalous defamation that betrays the totalitarianism of militant atheism, which, for instance, demands that Darwinian evolution be taught in schools and universities without questioning the evidence or presenting alternative interpretations, and which labels parents who teach their children the biblical account of creation as “child-abusers.”11 These are disturbing examples of “those who are wise in their own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21) and “who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
Dawkins and other militant atheists like him have strayed way beyond the boundaries of scientific endeavor into the realms of philosophical activism.12 Voices such as these have deceived governing authorities into believing that they need to defend “science” against “religion.” This Trojan-horse argument has allowed the religion of atheism (often mingled with humanism, hedonism, and pantheism) to infiltrate and reign supreme in most of our schools and universities. And they’d also like control over our homes.13 Dawkins says that he is against religion—but in reality, what this means is that he is against all other religions but his own. And he is pursuing his goals with great religious fervor.
EYEWITNESS. No mortal was present at the beginning, neither evolutionist nor creationist. But the Bible states several times that all things were made by God, through the One who was later to become incarnate as Christ.14,15 Jesus is the eyewitness of creation!
As no living human witnessed the beginning, any conclusions are taken on faith.
Consider, then, the following in summary of the above:
So we are left with these important questions: Are our data completely reliable? Do we really trust those who are interpreting the evidence for us? Have we given honest and adequate consideration to the eyewitness account of the Bible? And, ultimately, are we absolutely sure and confident in our “faith?”
The Oxford Dictionary of English defines “faith” in the following ways:
Many people associate faith with the second of these two, as they think it only applies to established religion. They also wrongly assume that just because something is taken on faith and cannot be proven irrefutably, it lacks evidence. This is what people often mean by “blind faith,”17 which they associate with an unthinking, uncritical acceptance of crazy ideas and myths. But the irony is that the biblical concept of faith is something strong and sure, being based on a very firm conviction and confidence in God and His Word (in addition to corroborating evidence), even though the object of faith may be unseen:
Now faith is the substance [NIV “confidence”; NASB “assurance”] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
As creationists we openly and willingly admit that our position is one of faith, in the true sense of the word. We weren’t there at the beginning, but we’re very happy to place our confidence completely in One who was, and in the account of creation that He gives us in His Word, the Bible.
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrew 11:3)
This does not mean that there are no data or evidences that support and corroborate the biblical account of history. On the contrary,
since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that [ungodly and unrighteous men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness] are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
Every view on origins is ultimately accepted on a faith of sorts,18 though most proponents of evolution do not like to admit it. But, ironically, the “faith” of Richard Dawkins, even at his own admittance, is not totally, one hundred percent sure. In the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, when Ben Stein asked Dawkins if he would be willing to put a number on how convinced he is that God doesn’t exist, Dawkins responded,
I’d put it at something like ninety-nine percent against . . . I just think it’s very unlikely. . . . And it’s quite far from fifty percent.
Stein then asked Dawkins how the heavens and the Earth were created, to which he replied,
Nobody knows how it started. . . . We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life. . . . It was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule.
Next, Stein wanted to know what Dawkins thought is the possibility that intelligent design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in Darwinian evolution.
It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto, perhaps, this planet. . . . And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, of molecular biology. You might find a signature of some sort of designer.
Richard Dawkins is admitting that the data may point to a designer of life.
This is astonishing! Richard Dawkins is admitting that the data may point to a designer of life on Earth. This concurs with the interpretation of creationists. It is simply his conclusion about the identity and nature of the designer that differs. Whereas Christians say the designer of the universe is God, Dawkins claims,
And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. But that higher intelligence would itself have had to come about by some explicable, or ultimately explicable, process. It couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously. That’s the point.
Well, I think the point that Dawkins has made abundantly clear is that he has a “faith”-based interpretation of the evidence; evidence that could equally—indeed more convincingly in my estimation—be taken in corroboration of the biblical account of origins. Ultimately it all boils down to faith. Who do we trust—God, or some man (or group of men)?
If you’re looking for God to send a conclusive sign of incontrovertible proof that the Bible is true, that creation happened in six literal days around 6,000 years ago, and that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, you’ll be disappointed. When the Pharisees sought a sign from Jesus,
He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:3919)
I can think of at least two reasons why God would not present unassailable proof of the Bible’s veracity (in the sense that skeptics, such as Dawkins, demand):
Because He has already provided generous evidence in support of the truthfulness of His Word:
Because He wants us to trust Him. Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). And the writer to the Hebrews states emphatically that
without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Considering the greatness of God, the abundant loving-kindness of God, and the merciful compassion of God, it is a very small thing for Him to ask us to trust Him. In fact, given all of the above, failure to trust in God is grossly insulting to Him.
We have no right to demand further “proofs.” It is enough that Jesus came into the world to bear witness to the truth.
Ultimately each person has to choose whether to accept or reject the One who calls Himself “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He put it bluntly when He said,
. . . No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
Christ came for anyone who is honestly seeking the truth with an open heart and mind. And those who find Him need look no further. Those who wholeheartedly trust in and submit to Him and His teachings will be truly enlightened and liberated (John 8:12, 31–32), and through His death and Resurrection will find forgiveness of sin and eternal life in relationship with the God who created the universe.
Everything about His character and Word are utterly dependable (including His teaching about the origin and history of the creation). Millions of Christians—including outstanding scientists who are neither ignorant, nor stupid, nor insane, nor wicked—can testify to that.
Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6)!
The statement of scientific dissent from Darwinism reads,
We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
Accessed August 16, 2013 from http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=660. In the July 2013 update I counted 838 signatories.
For example, in a video published on YouTube in February 2013, author and activist Professor Lawrence M. Krauss, described the creationist teaching of a young Earth as “child abuse”:
It amazes me that people have pre-existing notions that defy the evidence of reality . . . And one of them is the notion of Creationism . . . Senator Marco Rubio, who’s presumably a reasonably intelligent man and maybe even educated, was asked what’s the age of the Earth, and ultimately, either because he actually believed it, or he was trying to appeal to some constituency, had to argue that it’s a big mystery, that somehow we should teach kids both ideas, that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that it’s 4.55 billion years old, which is what it is. If you think about that, somehow saying that, well, anything goes, we shouldn’t offend religious beliefs by requiring kids to know, to understand reality—that’s child abuse (transcribed from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTedvV6oZjo, accessed August 17, 2013).
In fact creationists agree that children should be taught reality. We have no problem with the teaching of operational science, which is observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. But when it comes to forensic science and origins, we unashamedly teach the stark and full reality as presented in the Bible, including that God’s account of creating everything approximately 6,000 years ago is completely reliable.
For instance, in 2009, Dawkins subsidized a children’s summer camp for atheists. He maintained that the camp was designed to “encourage children to think for themselves sceptically and rationally” (“Richard Dawkins Launches Children’s Summer Camp for Atheists,” MailOnline, June 28, 2009, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196063/Richard-Dawkins-launches-childrens-summer-camp-atheists.html#ixzz2c8vNjPf4). If that was really as far is it went, who could object? Certainly not I! As a Christian, creationist home-educating parent, I encourage my children to think rationally and logically, and to be skeptical (i.e., “not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations”) about human philosophies (including false religions), passing fads, media hype, and so on. I encourage them to ask questions, even as they read the Bible: “What exactly does the text mean here?,” “Why does it use this wording?,” “What is the point of this passage?,” “How does it tie in with everything else I’m learning?,” “What implications does it have for my understanding of the world?,” and so on. Whereas Dawkins has atheistic presuppositions, mine are theistic and biblical.
But it is no secret that Dawkins has another agenda, made abundantly clear in much of what he has said and written. He is unashamedly opposed to the Bible and Christianity, against which he has made scathing attacks (not least in his book, The God Delusion). He wants religion to be completely sidelined and made irrelevant (if not eradicated), by which he means religions like biblical Christianity.
So if he is prepared to subsidize a camp whose organizer, Samantha Stein, maintains is intended to introduce children to a different way of thinking, you can be pretty sure that it will not point them to seriously consider the possibility of the Bible being true and reliable. Stein claims that the camp was not intended to convert children, by which she presumably means that it would not use strong coercion, but it is highly likely that it will have encouraged children away from beliefs like Christianity, towards atheistic and humanistic philosophy. As such, it could arguably be construed as a form of “indoctrination,” at least in the original sense of teaching or instructing someone in a certain set of beliefs.
For example, in the United Kingdom in January 2009 the then-Labour government commissioned the so-called Badman Review into home education, with a view to introducing compulsory registration and intrusive monitoring. It caused widespread anger amongst parents, not least as it implied that home education was being used as a cover for child abuse. The Review suggested that welfare officers be allowed into homes to interview children in isolation from their parents. Thankfully, the proposed changes were ultimately dropped due to a lack of cross-party support in the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election. But had the Badman Review been implemented, it is by no means far-fetched to imagine that an over-zealous, atheistic council employee might have been tempted to extract a “confession” from a young child of being “abused” by their parents’ creationist “propaganda.”
More recently, as part of The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, the Scottish Government unveiled plans to allocate a “named person” for each child, such as a health worker or head teacher, from birth up to the age of 18. The Law Society of Scotland raised concerns that these proposals
could interfere with Scottish families’ right to respect for private and family life and amount to disproportionate state interference. . . . In its written evidence to the Education and Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament, the Law Society argues that the provisions could conflict with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (accessed August 16, 2013 from http://www.lawscot.org.uk/news/press-releases/2013/july/rethink-bill-on-state-involvement-in-families,-urges-law-society).
Alison Preuss, secretary of the Schoolhouse Home Education Association described aspects of the legislation as “sinister,” adding that it “is open to abuse and misinterpretation and many parents could fall foul of overzealous agents of the state or people who are just plain busybodies” (Paul Gilbride, “Parents Fight SNP’s Plan for State Guardians,” Scottish Express, August 1, 2013, http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/418974/Parents-fight-SNP-s-plan-for-state-guardians).
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:3);
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (1 Corinthians 8:6);
yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:6);
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16);
. . . Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things . . . (Hebrews 2:10).
Any genuine seeker of truth would be wise to at least give reasonable consideration to the claims of the Bible. And in doing so, they would not be alone. After all, billions of people—accounting for probably half the world’s population or more—are comfortable with the notion of a supreme being. As a rough guide, Wikipedia lists Christianity as having at least 2 billion followers and Islam 1.5 billion (figures retrieved August 16, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_demographics#Religious_demographics) out of a world population of just over 7 billion (figure retrieved August 16, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population).
Even from the principle of causality and from information science, it is logical and rational to accept the existence of an eternal, intelligent being as the creator of a universe imbued with physical laws, and with self-replicating, information-encoded life, to mention just two of numerous indicators. Naturally, skeptics would want to consider the alternative, that everything came into being from nothing and self-evolved by purely random processes, even if, in my opinion, it is less intellectually convincing. But my point here is that an open-minded enquirer would at very least consider the options.
Of course this all depends on precisely how we define “faith.” If by “faith” we mean “a strongly held belief” (part of the secondary definition of “faith” in the Oxford Dictionary of English), then it could potentially apply to anyone. Similarly, Barr (1961) argues that הֶאֱמִין (heʾěmîn, “to believe”), like בָּטָח (bāṭāḥ, “to trust”), is neutral, and is independent of the object of faith or trust.
. . . baṭaḥ ‘trust, feel safe’. . . . expresses not a relationship but the condition of ‘feeling oneself safe because of’. Hence the use of the word for a sense of security encouraged by riches, by one’s own power, by armaments; and for false security as well as a genuine one. (180–181)
And here, I am mindful of Psalm 146:
Do not put your trust [בָּטָח (bāṭāḥ)] in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. (Psalm 146:3–4)
Barr continues by comparing הֶאֱמִין (heʾěmîn, “to believe”) with בָּטָח (bāṭāḥ, “to trust”):
. . . as far as the grammatical form [of הֶאֱמִין (heʾěmîn)] can indicate the ‘firmness’ is that of the person who ‘believes’ or ‘is sure’, and the sense no less ‘subjective’ than that of baṭaḥ. [Footnote:] It is true of course that baṭaḥ is used quite often of false security and heʾemin is not so used. But this is a matter of the general habits of usage of the two words, and is an entirely different matter from the question of whether the ‘firmness’ supposedly inhering in the root [אמן] ʾ-m-n is that of the person trusted or that of the person trusting. (181)
In other words, Barr is arguing that all sorts of people can have belief or trust in all sorts of things, whether or not we think their faith is justified.
But it could be reasonably counter-argued that authentic faith, as described in the Bible, can only be faith that is placed in Jesus Christ, “the Faithful and True Witness” (Revelation 3:14). As Barr himself concedes, הֶאֱמִין (heʾěmîn, “to believe”) is not used in the Bible of false security (p. 181). True faith is being completely sure and totally confident in what, or whom, you are trusting. And seeing as there is only One who is completely unchanging, faithful, and reliable, it stands to reason that only faith that is placed in Him can be totally, genuinely firm. All other forms of “faith” are ultimately compromised, due to the defective nature of their focus.
This is why later I have used the expression “a faith of sorts.” Elsewhere in this article, for the sake of avoiding wordiness, I have used the umbrella term “faith” to include both genuine and false faith.
I once recounted to an atheist the remarkable healing in 1996 of our five-month-old baby, Jacob, from a severe case of laryngo tracheo-malacia. Most cases of laryngomalacia are mild and do not require treatment.
In more than 90% of cases, the only treatment necessary for laryngomalacia is time. The lesion gradually improves, and noises disappear by age 2 years in virtually all infants. (Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, “Laryngomalacia Treatment & Management,” last updated March 28, 2014, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1002527-treatment#a1127)
However, Jacob’s condition was more serious and eventually he became an outpatient at the famous Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, United Kingdom. The doctors offered to operate, but we declined for the time being as we didn’t want to put any further stress on our then two-year-old daughter who had been showing signs of distress at the inevitable disruption to her life and routine. Also, as we had recently begun tube-feeding Jacob and it appeared to be helping a little, we were keen to see if things improved without the need for surgery. Ultimately, within a relatively short space of time, treatment had become unnecessary as God dramatically intervened and healed Jacob at around five months.
On hearing about Jacob’s healing, the atheist retorted that he could think of many explanations other than God. I asked him for an example, and he replied, “Mind over matter.” To suggest that a baby could heal itself by will power seems to me illogical and far-fetched. Much more plausible is to accept that our all-powerful, loving God—“the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26)—had answered our heartfelt prayers through the faith of a fellow Christian.
In His conclusion to the story about Lazarus (Luke 16:20–31), Jesus said,
If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead. (Luke 16:31; see also John 5:46–47)