The Sundarium of Oviedo is a bloodstained piece of cloth that is said to be the wrapping that was laid around the head of Jesus Christ after he died as described in John 20:6-7. Doug interviews Dr. Guscin who is regarded as the world’s authority on the face covering.
Archaeology is not quite like Indiana Jones. It’s actually better! Many times archaeology clarifies the text of the Bible and helps us investigate the stories in our ancient and texts. Archaeology also emboldens our faith, because unlike other faith traditions, ours is firmly rooted in history, and is therefore subject to investigation.
Matt got to have a great conversation with Ted Wright, the executive director of Epic Archaeology. Ted has a B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology. He’s at the top of his field, and loves Jesus. During this Christmas season, join us as we investigate our historical faith.
Who was Adam and just how long ago did he live? Or did he live at all? How do we make sense of the historical questions surrounding the first man? All these are great questions, and Matt got to catch up with William Lane Craig to talk about his latest work being published soon. The historical Adam is one of those questions in Christian circles that can keep you up at night. So, here we have it. Enjoy this interview with William Lane Craig. He’s not the second Adam, but he is pointing to Him.
To find out more about William Lane Craig, you can check out his website at Reasonable Faith.
Cathryn Buse joins us to talk about Apologetics, what it’s like working for NASA, and high level security secrets. Cathryn has been a guest blogger for us, as well as a local Alabama Apologist. You can find more about her and her organization at Defend The Faith Ministries. Cathryn is also on Twitter @CathrynBuse and Facebook.
Here, we come finally to the end of this series, though clearly not to the end of trying to understand and present the riches of faith, and how faith relates to love, hope, and wisdom. Nevertheless, insofar as this series has worked to show how faith and science are not at odds with one another, this last, rather long, post will hopefully have shown sufficiently that the cause of this division is a truncated and incoherent view and way of valuing the world. Or, to put it differently, it is not a desire for truth that presses us to see faith and science at odds, but a desire to see all things as they might be controlled, that is, made objectively predictable.
If we embrace faith, though, we find that the enmity between faith and science simply disappears, and we gain a fuller, undivided perspective on the world.
But to get there, we need to review a bit, add a few new concepts (including some ugly, but important, words such as “potentiality” and “actuality”), and then draw together various ideas that have been present in the posts of this series. I think we’ll see here a kind of affirmation that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), but that even science (like eating—see the context of Romans 14) can proceed from faith.
A couple of blogs ago, Rich Sam pressed us on whether faith drives us into a kind of relativism. Given that faith is a value-laden perceiving, and of course all perception is value-laden, how can we know if anything we see or believe is anything but wishful thinking—a mere projection of the values through which we are perceiving? Maybe Freud was right, and belief in God is merely a projection of our desire for a father, but into eternity?
This is a great and interesting question. One might conclude—along with Wittgenstein who I think made this same kind of argument: “Whereof one cannot speak, one should remain silent.” That is, the values that frame perception cannot be debated in philosophically precise ways, nor can they be proven with certainty to be true or false. In fact, “true” and “false” belong to the world that is within the frame. Who even knows about the values that frame perception?
Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on Wittgenstein, nor to agree with him completely. But I think there is something to this idea that values—that is, those real, fundamental values—that frame our perception are not really within the space of those things that can be proven or argued for or against. Or, at least not in the ways that we’re used to.
Allow me to review and restate some of the stuff we covered in the previous blogs:
Science is really useful and effective. We, though, are easily deceived by the useful. Science makes no metaphysical claims, but scientists and lovers of science frequently do. And so science shows us what things are made of and gives us good information about how they probably came about. We then take this to answer the question of nature of all things, including that which brought it all about.
And thus science comes to clash with what we might call “common sense” about values and personhood. If I think physics tells us what really is, and that any language that isn’t physics language is in fact some kind of analogical language or likely even a deceptive “folk” way of talking about the reality of elementary particles and forces, then my love for my children is mere elementary particles and forces in their various interactions.
As Richard Dawkins (no relation, I think, to our interlocutor, Rich Sam Harrikins) once stated regarding human action derived from DNA:
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E. Housman put it:
For Nature, heartless, witless Nature
Will neither know nor care.
DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”
This is the claim that our actions and loves and desires and hopes are all merely an outworking of a purposeless world and uncaring DNA.
But there is a kind of value-laden perception—that frankly every science-lover (who is not a sociopath) affirms—that persons are valuable, and that love is a good, even the most important, thing.
Science, Control, and Tension
Again, there are not many who would accept wholeheartedly the above quotation from Dawkins. They might do so in one compartmentalized section of their life and mind—a place of intellect and abstraction and scientific evaluation, and perhaps polemics—but rare would be the person who would look upon those around them, or closest to them, with such coldness.
And so we have a kind of tension between the way that we live our lives and the claims that science presents to us all that there is to know of the universe and life.
What do we make of this tension? Is there a way to hold a principle of knowing or perception that brings our appreciation for science, and its obvious and wonderful capacity for knowledge and benefit to life, into a coherent relationship with the values that we embrace about the world and each other?
Yes, there is. It’s really quite simple, and in fact almost everyone already, almost “naturally” (perhaps “supernaturally” would be better), holds this view. We just don’t have a way of incorporating it into a system of knowledge, like science.
Why haven’t we? Well, that is explainable by simply explaining the different values that give rise to different perceptions.
So, let us set this out. I think there are two basic values that give rise to two distinct ways of viewing the world. These two basic values are not really opposed to one another. At least, not all the time. If you accept one value as fundamental, then you will find the two values to be in a constant tension. If you accept the other value as fundamental, the tension is nonexistent—the perceptions and system of belief that arises from both values come together into a coherent whole. But there is a downside to holding this second value as fundamental: It leaves you exposed to risk. But this will become clear as we lay this out.
So, what are the two basic values. Well, I think the first is control. I’m not sure “control” is the best word for this. Dr. Joel Schwartz has pushed me on this, and he believes that something like “risk aversion” or even “fear” might be better terms. I think these may be right, and “risk aversion” and “fear” get us closer to a sense of deep values that drive us. So, keep those in mind as we go on, but I’ll continue to use the word “control.”
If you look at the world through the lens of control, you are going to see things as objects to be manipulated, resources to be exploited, and so on. Now I want to be very clear here: This is not in essence bad or evil. We all want and need control—from controlling our bowels to controlling rockets that carry resources and people to the International Space Station to controlling infections and so on, control is important, essential to a flourishing life. And indeed this control also means a kind of control in one’s reasoning—logic, rationality, demonstration, repeatability, proof, etc.—these are all forms of making sure that our knowledge makes sense. We then categorize, file away, show connections and relations. These are all forms of control. And they are all good and important.
But control does have a sort of negative connotation. Why? Because we recognize that not only our desire for control, but also our perceptions through the lens of control often go outside their appropriate bounds. To desire only control is bad. To see only objects that are to be controlled is bad.
Indeed, it is not only bad, but essentially impossible. Control is always for a purpose—and this is perhaps where Dr. Schwartz has a good point: We very often seek control as a way of avoiding risk (of exposure, humiliation, pain, loss, etc.). But control can also be used for good things as well: From self-preservation and health to the even more noble helping and serving and even sacrificing of oneself for others.
The problem is that if control is the reigning value through which we perceive, then we will always have a kind of flimsy tension in our values. One person cares about loving people, while another is selfish. If they both share the view that control lies at the base of our perceptions, then their values are mere opinions, preferences, to perhaps be squabbled over, but with no more real meaning than preference in color or music.
So, how do we properly constrain control-perceptions and give our perceptions of the world the right value structure so as to make coherent our control-perceptions and our value perceptions?
A good question. Though, given how it is written, it is perhaps a bit of a fuzzy question. It’ll be clearer if we replace “control-perceptions” with the area of knowledge that reflects best the perceptions arising from that value: science (broadly speaking).
So, let’s put it this way: How do we approach science in such a way that it does not reduce things of real value to meaningless objects?
What I’m asking here is rather complex, though. Most people it seems are not terribly concerned about this issue. Science, we are told, is the realm of facts. Ethics and religion are the realm of values. They have nothing to do with one another.
This division of “non-overlapping magisteria” is neither practical nor true. I referred to this in a blog some time ago. In that blog, I wrote this:
“These magisterial [of science and faith] are in fact overlapping. But not in that science encroaches on faith, but that faith is shown to run roughshod over the publicly available evidence, in the hope that great goodness might grow out of what it already sees. While science tries to deal with what is certain and fears being duped above all, faith seeks that which is not necessarily certain but might be. And it might be because faith sees hints that it is the case, and that something great might indeed come of it.”
And this “running roughshod”—which expresses perhaps too much of a sense of enmity between them—of faith over science is the way that it constrains it. The question is: What is the value that gives rise to the perception of faith?
Well, as in the blog I just noted, it seems to be love.
This seems like a bumper-sticker Disney-like slogan meant to say the best thing I could say so as to make faith look good. So I want to express this in the clearest terms I can—and hopefully without falling into error in my attempt to make an unclear value too clear. To do this, we’re going to use a couple of ugly words: Potentiality and actuality.
Potentiality, Actuality, and the Vision of Love
Most of us know the word potential used in two different ways: We heard our elders refer to our (lack of?) potential, and we learned of potential energy (probably versus kinetic energy). Potentiality carries all these meanings and more. Really, it is a simple term that covers a lot: The potentiality of something is all that stuff that make it up, including the material that makes it up, the distant (temporally and spatially) and proximate causations that brought it into being and maintain its existence, and so on.
Potentiality stands in contrast to actuality. Actuality is, quite simply, what something is. So the actuality of this thing to my left is a book, specifically The Retrieval of Ethics (an excellent book!). It’s potentiality includes pages, the cover and binding, paper, the paper mill, the publishing company, the author and his (in this case, the philosopher Talbot Brewer) words, letters, punctuation, trees and the various raw materials from which the parts were derived, and, if we go further, chemical and physical reactions, atoms, atomic particles, all the way down to the elementary particles and the fundamental laws of physics. But its value is not found in all these various things, but in how they are together, the form they take when collected into what it is as a whole: The Retrieval of Ethics by Talbot Brewer.
What does this have to do with love and faith?
Not much yet. But consider a question: Where does the value of the book lie? In its (pardon the language) “bookness” or, more specifically, The Retrieval of Ethics-ness, or in its parts or causes that brought it into being? Obviously, atoms are a dime a dozen, causal events come cheap, and words and letters tend toward tedious suffering when wielded by most of the people you have to deal with. No, what makes the value of the book are the things that cannot be reduced to their parts: The ideas contained in the sentences—but even more than that, how they all relate as a book, presenting a unified whole.
Now it is hard to apply the vision of love clearly to inanimate objects, and even to most living things. But you can perhaps see a glimpse here: We can analyze the book, pick apart its sentences and claims and even word choice and whether the author (rightly) uses the Oxford Comma. We can criticize the time he took to write it, the sources (or lack thereof) he used, the company that published it, and the order and appropriateness of the chapters. Many of these analyses and criticisms are good, helpful, instructive, clarifying. But they are all in service of a whole that someone is envisioning: Either an actuality that the book seemed to promise but failed to live up to, or an actuality that the critique believes the book should have aimed toward.
But all the criticism aims at the potentiality of the book. For this is where the judgment of good and bad (or evil) come in: Where we perceive potentiality, we can judge. And when we judge, it is because we are looking at the potentiality of something.
It would seem right here to simply say, “Love is the recognition of the actuality.” But this gets a little complicated when talking of inanimate objects, and perhaps when talking of any non-personal entity. Think of it this way: The more an object can be reduced to its parts without violating its value, the more that the object really is merely potentiality whose actuality is something given to it by human thought.
But this begins to change as a book moves from a treatise of discursive reasoning (which can be analyzed, broken into parts, and each part criticized or transformed) into the realm of story or poetry. These latter forms of writing can also be dissected and analyzed, but you get the sense that something sacred, something reflecting the personality or personhood of the artist (no matter how bad), is being trampled on when one does so.
This trampling of something sacred becomes most obvious when we’re talking about a person. Of course, we do this constantly, because most of our interactions with people are at the level of potentiality. Let me add a layer of explanation here.
When I say that we interact at the level of potentiality, I mean that we relate to one another as merely means to an end of a particular desire that we have. I want more money, so I interact with a client for some repair. The client wants their roof to stop leaking. They use me to fix their house. I use them for money. We both go away (hopefully) satisfied.
This is not bad in itself—it is perception of one another through the value of control, and so it is perception of both the other and myself as potentiality. We simply must relate to most people most of the time this way. The problem is when we relate to people only this way, or we declare that this is how we must relate to others.
What is the other way to relate to others? Well, as actuality. What does that mean? It means relating to the person as the person they are. Put another way, it is relating to them not as a (set of) what(s), but as a who. Or, again, in Martin Buber’s language, relating to them not in the I-It manner which is our norm, but in the I-You way that sees the other person—not their parts, but that person.
In short: Seeing them in love. Not merely liking. Not merely a kind of affection (which can arise from the usefulness of others’ potentiality just as much as from love). Love is more than, not less than, as some seem to think, these things.
Kant states in his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals that the command to “love your neighbor” cannot possibly be a command to have some kind of affection for someone, but merely to do actions as if you loved that person (out of duty). Kant is wrong. But his reasoning is appropriate from the perspective of potentiality.
You see, if God has commanded me to love someone, and I interpret love as a kind of affection arising within the realm of control-perception, that is of potentiality and judgment, then it is as if God is commanding me to like the various things about you. But I may not like really anything about you. In that case, I have to take God to be commanding me to ignore everything about you I don’t like, and focus on something that we might share. And I can be low-brow or high-brow about this. I can focus on us liking the same kinds of movies, even though I despise everything else about you. Or I can focus on our “shared humanity,” even if I like nothing about you and share nothing else with you.
But these are not love. These are appreciations for parts.
Then what is this command to love? Love is a seeing of the person as they are, and a kind of awe and wonder and even affection immediately arises from such a perception. The problem is that this is an unusual way to relate to one another. Very unusual. We are living in the judgment-world of having acquired the knowledge of good and bad. So all our affections, kindness, anger, war—these are all driven by the interrelationships not of actual persons, but of our potentialities.
An important side note: It may be sounding like I’m heading down a path that is similar to Gnosticism or the like. Specifically, our potentialities include our desires, and so it may seem like I’m suggesting that we must rise above our desires and interact in a desire-free way. But that strikes me as neither desirable(!) nor possible. What I mean is something more like what I was taught by Plato, and began to recognize was always in Scripture: Our actuality will bring all our desires into a harmony that allows their fulfillment wholly. Sin is always divisive. It pits one (set of) desire(s) against the others. We might give in to the desire for sexual fulfillment so quickly and easily that we lose the capacity to fulfill our desire for real intimacy and the comfort of commitment. We surrender to our desire for a 3rd helping of dessert, against our desire for health and fitness. Or we surrender to our desire for safety against our desire to be able to enjoy life. And so on.
Are these all sin? Well, they are all not beneficial, bad insofar as they cause us to become double-minded, divided against ourselves, dis-integrated.
When we relate to one another in a world of judgment, potentiality, control, we relate based on some one desire or sub-set of desires. This is not bad as long as we are not doing it in such a way that pits these desires against others. Put another way, this is not bad as long as it is all done within the constraints of love. And, to put it a third way, it is not bad to relate your own potentiality to another’s potentiality as long as you don’t do it in a way that reduces them (or yourself!) to their potentiality, but always recognizes their actuality.
You see here, hopefully, the link between intellectually reducing us to our parts and causes and the actions that devalue ourselves and others (which is called “sin”), and the act of judgment and death, and so on.
Is this in Scripture? I think so. Adam and Eve recognized they were naked. That is, they recognized they were judging one another’s potentiality. This is precisely how it is when children grow and start realizing that their bodies are being judged by others. They become shy and clothe themselves. Ham is judged because he looks upon his father’s naked drunkenness—that is, Noah’s potentiality was laid bare to be judged, and Ham took advantage of this. His brothers, being sure not to look upon this and so lose their love and respect for their father, covered him. Just as God gave to Adam and Eve skins, and so on.
It is not wrong to recognize potentiality. It is not wrong to recognize what is beneficial and what is not beneficial, what builds up and what destroys. It is not wrong to relate to one another in terms of a narrow set of desires, nor to evaluate what part of one’s potentiality might be helping or hurting. It is wrong to see only this.
Not merely wrong morally, but wrong epistemically.
In short: To see science as the only source of knowledge is in fact a failure to see what is really there, and will lead to values and knowledge being at odds with one another. It is not that people who believe science—grounded in the value of control, and perceiving all things as potentialities—is the ultimate source of knowledge cannot love. It is that their love is not in harmony with their epistemic allegiance. But most people, including most Christians, are quite comfortable living in these disharmonies and contradictory views.
I’d just suggest to you that love is in fact what brings coherence to our views. For scientism—that is, the belief that control-based perception is the most accurate and therefore judge of all other perceptions—leads one into tension and disharmony (unless you’re a sociopath). But love can quite easily bring scientific method and knowledge into its company without any danger of dissonance or incoherence.
The Vision of Love, the Eyes of Faith
So, what does this all have to do with faith?
Well, all the ground has in fact been covered already. We just need to put the pieces together.
We have covered the idea that faith involves a kind of trust in another based not on objectively observable facts. But the objectively observable is the stuff of science, the stuff of potentiality, the stuff of control and certainty. It is emphatically not the stuff of actual persons. Faith is the way that persons relate insofar as they are relating according to their actuality and not according to their potentialities. Of course, faith is risky. It can lead to betrayal, pain, being duped, humiliated, even being made a servant and dying. Why? Because you can have faith in another person, trying to see who they are, their actuality, rather than their potentiality, while they are responding to you in potentiality, objectifying and using you.
This becomes even more the case when you are approaching the ground of being itself. And there is here a bit of a chicken-egg problem. I’m not entirely sure which comes first—for values arise before perceptions, but values can be changed by experiences that we have. But no matter, these sets of perceptions and beliefs and experiences can lead to a spiraling away from faith, from trust, from risk, from relationship.
If I look out at my world, and I am fearful, primarily fearful of being duped, then my primary concern is control. I am not, contrary to what one may think, primarily concerned about truth. I am concerned about knowing which actions, claims, events lead to what other actions, claims, and events. I may call this “truth,” but that seems to be an accomplishment not of clear reasoning, but of simple fiat.
So, a desire to control causes me to see objects, that is, things that can be manipulated with ever-higher levels of certainty as my cleverness develops. In brief moments, I may feel touched by a sunset, some beauty in nature, the laugh of a child, the suffering of the helpless, the wonder, awe, and tragedy of life. But these are uncomfortable things. It is as if the world is reaching out to me, seeking to present itself to me as more than objects to be controlled to fulfill my desires—many of which are indeed good desires. Perhaps the world does this most powerfully in relationships with other people. So, I seek to re-assert control, to explain things in a way that makes sense. I pigeon-hole people. Stereotype. Objectify.
When the world is messy and unclear, and we haven’t had enough time to really develop science enough that it has defined itself away from magic, we attempt to trade with powerful beings that we believe—even hope—control things. We sacrifice and pray. We build temples and hold festivals, all to bend the desires, the potentiality of the gods, to our desires, our own potentiality. We get the gods of potentiality—the polytheism, tribal gods, and brutal warring of many ancient peoples. Science, not Christianity, is the heir to such things. For science has at its heart a control-based perception, focusing therefore on the causes, the means of controlling the objects we perceive. Christianity, emphasizing faith, love, hope, and having at its heart good news of the Kingdom—not of sacrifices to be made or a god-of-potentiality to be appeased through bartering and trading, nor of a god of favoritism and exclusion, but one who dies even for those who call themselves his enemy. Christianity is faith-based. And faith is not about control, nor the “certainty” that we adore—a certainty not of truth, but of capacity to manipulate, of the confidence that X will not lead to anything except Y (which we confuse for “truth”).
Of course, like I’ve said many times, no one is so cold as to ignore all the beckoning of the world—really, of God—to behold in wonder the goodness, beauty, and majesty of nature, even more so the who before you, the person, the neighbor, friend, lover, parent, child.
Put simply: This is a call to see that personhood truly does exist. That beauty goes beyond its parts. That goodness exists beyond the simple realm of the useful, but in fact calls us beyond utility, beyond the world of controllable objects.
Again, this is kind of a world-shattering idea, while at the same time also quite obvious. Every book, every film, and in the best parts of our lives, we always use control for the sake of persons. In fact, it seems that the very motivation that moves science is a mix of wonder and desire to improve the world for persons and indeed all of life.
You see here, then, perhaps another way of describing the fallen nature of those created in God’s image. We are persons, with the capacity to see persons, love one another. But we are constantly trapped so as to act according to our various, dis-integrated potentialities, and so, in our lack of self-control (which is your actuality controlling your potentiality—your “who-ness” directing your “what-ness”), we try to control others through their potentiality. Thus, we are both good and broken, in God’s image and trapped in sin, able to love and yet always tempering that love with possession and control, judgment. And while this control is not bad, we cannot help reducing both others and ourselves to the dis-integrative process of mere potentiality, mere control, mere double-mindedness and division among our desires and purposes.
And, before us, in the form of mere potentiality, comes a man whom no one can quite control, even though he submitted even to the ultimate reduction-to-potentiality, death, even death could not hold him. In doing so, he revealed the Father of us all, the Creator, who is pure life, pure actuality, the one against whom death—death being the victory of potentiality over actuality, of the “beast of the field” over the “image of God”, of “dust” over personhood, of judgment over relationship—is the final enemy to be destroyed. The One who is utterly unselfish—so much so that “he” is eternally Three, but one God in being, in love, in actuality. And this eternally self-giving Three-in-One has given again, in creation, our actuality, placed upon the material of potentiality, so that we might bring all potentiality into the life of the ever-loving Trinity. But we, seeking power and control of a kind that perhaps we believed God to wield, grasped hold of judgment as a means of life. But it brought us only death, the victory of the beast of the field, of judgment, of controlling knowledge.
Faith is that risky leaning into the personhood of the other who, and ultimately leaning on the “who” who is the source of all being. It demands that we see more than what science, or its predecessors in alchemy, magic, the various gods-of-potentiality, can show us. It is found in the loving face of a friend, and in the love that God has shown us in the face of Christ.
So, what is faith? What is its value? Its value is quite simply found in seeing the way, real truth, and true life. For the way is Jesus, who is the means of life and truth. Truth is personhood. Truth is personal. Truth is a person. For personhood is true, more metaphysically fundamental than all the pieces and parts, of all propositional claims that correspond with demonstrable chunks of potentiality. And life, real life, is that which overcomes the constraints of potentiality, which cannot be held down by death. Life is that relationship with the Father, who knows us and calls us by name, and so we can never again fall into disintegration (sin) and death.
My hope is that this makes some sense to you. If it is still a bit fuzzy, I’d encourage you to listen to the W_ndering toward Wisdom podcast, specifically the series on Evaluative Outlooks. It will explain much more, particularly the last few. In turn, I will likely write more specifically on epistemology and epistemic method to explain how this in fact works out, and how what we call faith in this deeper sense of a kind of personal-relationship-with and trust-toward in fact is a part of even scientific pursuits. This in fact may require me to qualify a few claims I’ve made—specifically that perhaps “control” is a value that we use to perceive knowledge we’ve already acquired, for real knowledge can only be initially acquired through something akin to love. But, again, I need to do a bit more reading and work. If you’d like to skip my rantings and go to the sources, check out the writings of Michael Polanyi and Esther Lightcap Meek, and you’ll see where I may go to give a more concrete sense of how epistemology is shot-through with elements of love and faith, and that our belief that we can have some sort of valueless, objective, “scientism-ic” perception of the world is neither desirable nor remotely possible, and this is shown simply from attending to how we come to know. But this is for another time.
 I’m obviously not speaking of values like that of a car or even values that are truly meaningful but derived from the more fundamental values (important, but derived values: That of, say, religious freedom and similar values). These values that give rise to perception, and the propositions (that is, statements that can be true or false) that make up our world, are obviously pre-propositional and pre-perception, though those values can surely be seen in the perceptions we have and propositions we form.
 Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” in Stump and Murray, eds., Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1999).
 Of course, these could be debated under the ethics of utilitarianism, which is the best moral system within the context of control as the reigning value. After all, it aligns perfectly with it—for it is about controlling outcomes—and requires no reference to ideas of “goodness” or “beauty” and such to derive its moral rules. Of course, even if you despise utilitarianism and its apparent popularity (like I do), you have to admit that the moral actions called for by it line up very well, though not perfectly, with most of the other (decent) ethical systems. Why? Because perceiving the world through control isn’t bad, and so a moral system derived from such a perception isn’t all bad. It is only bad if control is taken as the fundamental value, and utilitarianism is taken as the fundamental ethical system.
 I agree with the folks at the Bible Project who argue that the forbidden fruit in the Garden might better be understood as the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. “Bad” is a broader term, encompassing both the idea of evil as well as the idea of simply “not beneficial,” in that it is something that undermines the health or well-being or success of something. Part of the reason why I like this understanding is not merely textual—which the Bible Project Podcast covers well—but for broader biblical reasons: Specifically, I believe evil is itself designated as evil because it undermines the health/well-being/success of creation, and specifically humans. Put another way, evil is the path to death.
 This, strangely enough, is essentially a re-wording of the second formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative. If I may be so bold, though, I think Kant didn’t understand the full import of what he was saying because he was looking at things through the wrong lens.
 Whether this knowledge of what leads to what corresponds with truth requires a claim something like this: What works is the truth. But this claim has far too many counterexamples to really be believable. It would require a significant set of definitions and complex qualifications for it to avoid being swamped with fatal counterexamples. But this assumption is only required when one has the added value of “truth” to one’s pursuits, which seems to be important to a lot of materialists, though it is unclear why precisely, except for the sake of some kind of status. After all the very ground of our nature, according to materialistic accounts of biogenesis and biodiversity, has nothing to do with right, wrong, truth, and falseness, but only with what works. These other issues are the concerns of purposed, conscious beings, which is what we appear to be, as we “dance” to the “music” of the uncaring, unknowing, unpurposeful, unconscious DNA, which in turn “dances” to the mathematics of physics and ever-smaller particles.
 See above footnote.
 Socrates makes this statement to Meno in the dialogue named after the latter. He says, “…because you do not even attempt to rule yourself, in order that you may be free, but you try to rule me and do so” (Meno 86d), suggesting that lack of self-control—that is, virtue, or being what we really are—causes us to seek to control others. Socrates, in turn, keeps stating that Meno controls him through his charisma, with the suggestion also that he uses other non-virtuous means. As if Meno is applying his own potentiality to leverage Socrates’ potentiality to act toward Meno’s desires. It is unclear, though, if Socrates is indeed being manipulated in this way. You might say, like Jesus in his Passion, both have allowed the other to move them by their potentiality—dragging their bodies even to death—but all this for the sake of manifesting true actuality, virtue, and even divine goodness. (I’m not saying Socrates was some divine incarnation, but it seems clear that Plato is presenting Socrates as reflecting a kind of divine or semi-divine kind of goodness. See Symposium, Phaedrus, and even Socrates’ “divine sign” and sense of having a mission from the god in the Apology.)
With my background in engineering, one of the most common topics I have encountered over the years is Darwinian evolution. Because of that, it has become one of my favorite topics to research and discuss. The theory of macroevolution – that all life descended from one common ancestor due to random genetic mutations – can be found everywhere, from high school science textbooks, college history courses, and even children’s movies. Because it pervades nearly all areas of our lives, people just naturally assume this theory must be true. However the popularity of a theory is not what validates a theory. If so, then I would expect to find unicorns congregating in every elementary school hallway.
Believing something to be true simply because it is a pervasive theory is one of the most dangerous logical fallacies we can make. True scientific pursuits will look at the scientific evidence and follow logically where it leads. When this universe is examined honestly, it reveals details and design that the naturalistic explanation of Darwinian evolution fails to explain. And not just because “we don’t know the answer yet,” but because a naturalistic answer is not possible. From the anthropic fine-tuning of the physical parameters of the universe to the irreducible complexity of DNA replication in the cell, there are too many examples of intricate design found within life to have an unintelligent, material, natural cause. The logical conclusion is that design comes from an intelligent designer, not blind, random forces of nature as Darwinian evolution claims. (For more on this topic, check out chapter 2 of my book, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity).
Darwinian evolution desires to explain this existence using material only, acting through natural processes alone. It does not allow for anything outside of this existence as a cause for this existence. While I love to look at the scientific details that require an intelligent, creative, all-powerful Creator, there are so many other aspects of our existence that cannot be explained without this Creator. Here are just a few to get you thinking about this topic.
1.) Living from non-living One of the first lessons elementary kids learn for biology is identifying living vs. non-living things. My kids have brought home worksheets where they were asked to identify whether a rock, flower, balloon, cat, and baseball were living or non-living. This seems truly elementary but it becomes a significant hurdle for Darwinian evolution. How do natural processes alone make the leap from living to non-living? Is there some physical process that can take a baseball and make it a living thing? There are specific characteristics something must have in order for it to be a living thing (movement, respiration, sensitivity, reproduction, nutrition, growth, and excretion). Natural processes working on matter only cannot make such a change from non-living to living. This is why Darwin’s book is called On the Origin of Species and not on the origin of life. He posited that all living things descended from a common ancestor, but he can give no account for where or how this common ancestor began.
The first item deals with life in general, but the rest of this list will look specifically at human life. According to Darwinian evolution, there is nothing unique or different about humans. We have simply progressed down the same evolutionary path as all other living things, even sharing a common ancestor with apes. However, there are things about humans that cannot be explained through this Darwinian evolutionary process. I came across a quote by Charles Magel that was an interesting assessment of this point. He said, “Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is, ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is, ‘Because the animals are not like us.’” This is a fascinating observation. Yes, we share a lot in common with animals but we must agree there is something unique about humans that separates us from the animal world.
2.) Desire for discovery Humans have an almost insatiable desire for discovery. Whether it is under the sea, across the sea, on top of the mountains, or into space, humans have a desire for discovery and exploration. When humans encounter this world around us we have a deep desire to understand “why.” It is what compels nearly everything we do. If an apple falls and hits a dog on the top of the head, the dog will move to another spot. If an apple falls and hits a human on the head, the human will wonder why it fell, why the tree was there, and even why that particular tree grew apples.
No other creature on earth looks at the heavens and wonders what is out there. No other creature studies nature to understand how it works. These are unique features about humankind. Nothing in naturalism explains why this is a part of the human existence, especially since the quest for knowledge is oftentimes at odds with “survival of the fittest.” Humans are very often willing to sacrifice their life to discover new things, simply to leave the human race with the next bit of knowledge. But what blind natural process could have generated a being that would ask the question why – and would search for the answer?
3.) Complex and theoretical thinking Of course in order to study this universe around us, we must be capable of complex and theoretical thinking. But if we are material only, formed out of natural processes, how could we ever trust any theoretical thinking? We could no more trust our thoughts than we could trust a calculator assembled by apes to do our calculus homework. Granted, if we were a product of only natural processes we wouldn’t have to worry about calculus because it would be meaningless to us. The fact that we have this level of complex, theoretical thinking – and that we trust this thinking – indicates we are more than just matter. Our thoughts have significance and have some level of reliability to them. This goes directly against what our existence would look like if we were a product of naturalism.
4.) Language, specifically written language Most animals have some form of communication. So if this were about communication, that would not be anything unique to humans. Animal communication, however, is very different from human language. Animals communicate when there is danger nearby, for mating purposes, or when expressing some need or basic emotion (hunger, fear, play). Human communication goes so much deeper than that. We express ourselves in ways far beyond simple animal signaling. We express deeper emotion, our passions and desires, and of course all of those complex and theoretical thoughts we have! If that weren’t enough to separate us from animals, we take it a step further and have a language that is written. In studying ancient civilizations, this is always the sign of intelligence. Humans are able to scratch out symbols, pictograms, or characters in a particular arrangement in order to communicate in a far more sophisticated way than animals. Random genetic mutations does not result in an increase in genetic information. It would not be able to add information to increase intelligence in such a way that humans can work out a code for language and complex communication.
5.) Information If archaeologists consider written language a sign of intelligence in ancient civilizations, then we must draw the same conclusion from the written language in our cells. Darwinian evolution works on the idea that there are mutations in the genetic code to program a new feature in an organism. But it can’t explain the very existence of the genetic code itself, that written language in our cells. For that matter, Darwinian evolution cannot explain the existence of information. Information cannot come from an unintelligent source. Therefore, natural processes working only on material entities cannot produce information, especially information that is written in coded form. E.H. Andrews, Professor of Materials in the University of London said, “It is not possible for a code, of any kind, to arise by chance or accident…A code is the work of an intelligent mind. Even the cleverest dog or chimpanzee could not work out a code of any kind. It is obvious then that chance cannot do it…Codes do not arise from chaos.” Yet every cell contains information written in code that directs and organizes every living thing. This cannot be the result of a random, chaotic process acting on matter. This is something Darwinian evolution cannot explain.
6.) Musical instruments Humans are not the only creatures that make music, but we certainly take it to a different level. Typically, animals make sounds as their base form of communication. And while at times to us it can be enjoyable to listen to the cacophony of nature’s sounds, for the animal it is usually serving some actual purpose other than just the joy of making music. Humans, however, take the time to make instruments of all types to find new and interesting ways of producing sounds. We use this music not just to signal other animals around us, but to express emotion and to communicate ideas. We use it to share joy or sadness, anger or love. And we produce this music using instruments – simply for our entertainment! This is something unique to humankind. We paint, sing, dance, and act for entertainment. We stop to admire that which is beautiful, like a colorful sunset or a magestic mountain. We stop to observe the beauty in nature and it brings peace to our souls. How does Darwinian evolution explain this uniquely human feature? What survival advantage is there for making music or creating art? What natural explanation can be given that our existence makes room for appreciating beauty?
7.) Marriage Though many animals mate for life, marriage is vastly different. Marriage is a solemn commitment before God and others that you will not only just co-exist with one another, but will love one another, support one another, care for one another in whatever circumstances life may bring. The marriage vows run far deeper than just mating for life. It involves love and commitment. It involves two people becoming as one. Even when marriages fail, it is so hurtful because deep in our souls we know that is not how it is supposed to be. Our failures and disappointments in marriage point out that we know what marriage is supposed to be like. And it is supposed to be far greater than cohabiting and raising offspring together.
There is no evolutionary reason for the concept of marriage. In all honesty, evolution would promote the strongest male mating with as many strong females as possible. Nature would promote the fittest to survive and would discard the weak. Evolution would not promote monogamy, commitment, devotion, and love. Not only is there no evolutionary explanation for marriage, there’s no human explanation for marriage. Where did humankind come up with this concept? There is no place in nature where it could be observed and no discernible reason why it would be invented. As my dad always says about my mom, who recently passed away, “I love my sweet Jan more than evolution would allow.” There is not a Darwinian evolutionary reason for love. Love is something that goes far beyond our genetic code, our material existence, our perpetuation of our species.
8.) Humans exist You have to admit, there must be something unique about our existence that rises above just the natural world. From the natural world perspective, we would be the least likely species to ever survive to the next generation. We have no fur to keep us warm in cold climates, our skin burns and peels with too much exposure to sun in warm climates, or shrivels up with too much exposure to wet climates. We have no claws for warding off attackers. We have no huge teeth to sink into our prey. We’re not very fast. We can’t stay under water for long periods of time. We can’t jump. We can’t fly. We’re not great at climbing trees. Naturally, we have every reason to be extinct. Except we have these features that Darwinian evolution cannot explain. We have reason. We have complex thought. We have theoretical thinking. We have detailed communication. We have creativity. We have coded information in our DNA. We have marital love. None of these can be the result of random, natural processes acting on material alone. They are the evidence of a divine, loving Creator who uniquely formed humans in His likeness.
Cathryn Buse grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a masters in Engineering. She worked for nearly ten years in the engineering field supporting Department of Defense missile programs, commercial rocket manufacturing, and NASA design programs. From her experience in engineering, Cathryn discovered that people had a skepticism of religion in general and Christianity in particular. This started her pursuit to study apologetics so she could help others see the truth of the Christian faith and bring thinking minds into faith in Jesus. She founded Defend the Faith Ministry to teach, speak, and write on various apologetics topics. Cathryn has authored two books and is currently working on her third. She now resides in Decatur, Alabama with her husband and two sons.You can learn more at www.defendthefaithministry.com.