The How and Why Questions

There are many things in life which we believe by faith. This is true of Christians and non-Christians, Creationists and Darwinian Evolutionists, those who believe in God and atheists alike. Some do not want to admit this is the case but it is true non-the-less.

Some groups focus on what we might call the “how” and “why” questions and create the illusion that since we cannot give a precise explanation of the mechanics of how something happened that means our belief or claim is untrue and their view is true by default.

Before I go too far, I should point out that faith is not a blind leap into the abyss of not knowingness. Proper faith is a belief based on verifiable evidence that the belief is true and either corresponds to reality or at least does not conflict with it.

Cults and false religious groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses use this type of argumentation to confound Christians. They may ask, “How can God exist as a Trinity? Why would He exist as a trinity?” They then take a Christian’s in ability to precisely explain the mechanics of “how” and “why” as evidence that supports their claims. But this is folly for they too believe things they cannot explain. Is God infinite and eternal? They believe this. Can they explain how or why that is the case? No, they cannot. As it happens, Christians believe these things as well. We do address some of their claims regarding the Trinity in Should You Believe in the Watchtower or Is Jesus Christ Almighty God? and also their objections in Answering Objections to the Deity of Christ.

Some months ago Jonathan Miles asked me to read Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line by Jason Rosenhouse. As I read the book I thought, “This is a guy I could have lunch with and a great conversation.” He is not a Christian but wanted to understand what Creationists think and believe. He wanted to see them in their own environments. Being a missionary to cults and new religious movements often takes me into the places where they hang out, congregate, affirm and exchange ideas so I was intrigued. Evolutionists were also intrigued. Jerry Coyne, Professor of Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago, and author of Why Evolution is True wrote in his endorsement:

Those of us who battle creationism usually wage the war on the Internet, on paper, or in the courtroom. Rarely do we get to know our adversaries as people. Jason Rosenhouse is the rare exception. Equipped with remarkable empathy and a deep knowledge of evolutionary biology, he wades into creationist meetings, trying to understand the mindset that leads people to oppose one of the best-supported ideas in science.

In chapter 3 Jason gives his reasons for pursuing the subject in this way:

It is far more difficult to caricature and stereotype people you have actually met. Have a few conversations over lunch or during breaks at conferences, and suddenly they are no longer abstractions or types. They are no longer defined by a few odd beliefs you have heard that they hold. They become actual people, with depth and personality and reasons for the things they believe.(Kindle Locations 450-453).

There are a number of things in the book that would be worth commenting on but one of them just soars to the top for me and it focuses on the “how” and “why” questions. Jason relates an exchange he had with a teenager named Jane. He recounts a great deal of the discussion and poses the big question:

I asked her, “If you think God explains how the universe came into being, then tell me how He did it.” (Kindle Location 360).

For Jason, Jane’s inability to articulate the mechanics of exactly how God created everything invalidated the idea that God was the creator. But then, as we read further, we find that Jason himself takes his belief in evolution just as much by faith as does Jane.

Science tells us we are incidental by-products of a lengthy process of evolution by natural selection and that this process is wasteful, violent, and even cruel. (Kindle Locations 555-556).

Notice, he does not provide the very thing which he insisted Jane produce to substantiate her claim, an articulation of the mechanics of exactly how everything sprang into existence from nothing, by nothing and for no apparent reason. Exactly how and why did the planets form and what was the exact mechanism for life to spring forth in the primordial soup? Or how and why … well you get the idea. Christians are accused of believing in “the God of the gaps.” That is, whenever they cannot explain something they simply assert “God did it.” The assertion isn’t necessarily false and evolutionists do the same thing, “evolution did it.” The inability to answer all of the how and why questions does not invalidate a claim but there should be good evidence and reason to support the core belief. Anything that came to be had a cause. God did not come to be but is eternally self-existing. On the other hand the universe and all of its creatures had a beginning. So, the initial question is “what began it?” Both creationists and evolutionists have all of the same sets of evidence from which to work. This is a topic which very much intrigues me and we visited it a few years ago in Once Upon a Time … Plus Chance. In that article we noted:

There is clear evidence from creation of God’s existence.
We know that from nothing, nothing comes. Anything that came  to be, had a cause. On the evolutionary view, there is no first  cause. In the beginning was nothing which exploded into everything.  Is this really rational science or is it faith?

“From nothing, nothing comes” is a self-validating argument. To assert otherwise is a blind leap into the abyss of not-knowingness.

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