Important Messages

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Encounter with Michael at 3rd Street

Recently, I went with some friends to 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica to do some witnessing. We were out there for about 4 hours and had numerous opportunities to share the gospel with people. One man I spoke with, named Michael, engaged with me in a long conversation about the Bible, the Ten Commandments, History, Science, etc. We did not go into any depth on many subjects, but had a friendly exchange of ideas. Online, he is known as Feredir28 and took the time to start a blog so that we could continue our dialogue. This blog entry will be in response to his latest post here.

Dear Michael,
I appreciated meeting you and all the different topics we were able to discuss the other day at Santa Monica. Based on past experiences, a lot of these sort of conversations tend to go back and forth where I present some article or evidence to support my view and then the other person finds some evidence to support their view, all the while, nothing really fruitful or productive comes from it. The reason being is that you and I have the same evidence, the same facts. For example, we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same plants, the same animals, the same stars, planets, galaxies, etc. The difference is in how we interpret what we see around us based on our presuppositions. These are the things we assume are true, without being able to prove them. This is especially true when dealing with past events. I hope, by explaining the importance of presuppositions below, we can lay a framework for our conversation that will help it to be as fruitful as possible for the both of us, and not just a waste of your time or mine.

Being a history major, you know that all the facts we see around us exist in the present. When we look at fossil layers, where we came from, where animals came from, etc. we are trying to connect the past to the present. Since we weren't there to observe the past events how can we know what happened in order to explain the present? If we had a time machine, that would be great because we could go back and see for sure what happened in the past. As a Christian, I do, in a sense, have a "time machine", and this is the Bible. The Bible claims to be the Word of God, the God who has always been there, and has revealed to us the major events of the past about which we need to know. So I have an eyewitness account of the things that happened in the past where secular scientists do not, they are simply going on their assumptions about the past.

On the basis of the Biblical accounts of Creation, the Fall of man, the Flood, the tower of Babel, etc. I have a set of presuppsitions to build a framework for thinking and interpreting the way I see the evidence around us. As an evolutionist, you have certain beliefs about the past/present that you presuppose (ie. no God, or at least none that performed special acts of Creation), so you interpret the evidence we see different from me.

So, when a Christian and a non-Christian argue about the evidence, it is important to note that we are really arguing about our interpretations of the evidence based on our presuppositions. Because of this, dialogues like this often turn into something like:

Don't you see what I'm talking about?"
"No, I can't. Don't you see how wrong you are?"
"No, I'm not wrong, it's obvious I'm right."
"No, it's not obvious"...and on and on it goes without anything productive coming from it.

It is not until you and I realize that the argument is really about the presuppositions we start with that we will be able to deal with the foundational reasons for our different beliefs and really have some constructive dialogue. It is not until a person puts of a different set of glasses, so to speak, or changes one's presuppositions, that they will be able to interpret the evidence differently. So, as we move forward, I will ask you, for the sake of argument and discussion, to try and put on the Christian "glasses" or presuppositions (without accepting them as true) when looking at some of the evidence around us. I will do the same for you, assuming you are coming from an atheist or agnostic evolutionary perspective.

Now I know you do not believe the Bible, but I do. I believe it gives me the correct basis to understand ourselves, the universe and to correctly interpret the facts around me. To continue our discussion, I would like to start by giving you some examples of how building my thinking on the Bible explains the world around me and is not contradicted by science.

To start with, here is an example. In Genesis 1:11, 21, 24 and 25, God said that he would create all plants and animals in distinct kinds and to reproduce according to their kind. God actually reaffirms this statement 10 times in Genesis 1. Now, this is a foundational presupposition that I then use to build my thinking on the world around me. Now, with this presupposition in mind, let's look at what we observe in the present and see how it fits with what God's Word says.

Based on Genesis, we would expect to find that all plants and animals reproduce within a certain kind and that certain kinds of animals cannot reproduce with other kinds of animals. If we look at biology today, that is exactly what we find. We see that dogs reproduce with dogs, cats reproduce with cats, horses reproduce with horses, whales reproduce with whales, etc. We do not see cats reproducing with dogs or horses reproducing with elephants. Let's consider dogs for a moment. In November 2002 from the journal Science, secular scientists reported the following:

‘The origin of the domestic dog from wolves has been established … we examined the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation among 654 domestic dogs representing all major dog populations worldwide … suggesting a common origin from a single gene pool for all dog populations.’
Reference: Savolainen, P., Zhang, Y.P., Luo, J., Lundeberg, J. and Leitner, T., Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs, Science 298(5598):1610–1613, 22 November 2002.

From a biblical perspective, this means they are all within the same kind (one of the kinds that God created to reproduce ‘after their own kind’ as we read above from Genesis 1). Now, if all dogs are from the same kind then only two of the original dog kind were needed on Noah's Ark. Once these original dogs left the Ark and they reproduced, new species of dogs formed as they moved to different places on the earth, but they all remained dogs, nonetheless.

For instance, as they spread out over the earth, environmental factors influenced which specific species would survive based on their genetic traits. For example, as dogs migrated north into Alaska, all the long haired dogs would survive while all the short haired dogs would die off because the long-haired dogs were better suited for survival in a cold climate. After a few generations of long-haired dogs reproducing together, the genetic information to produce a short-haired dog would be lost. This is natural selection, which fits perfectly within the biblical framework. Similarly, the long-haired dogs that traveled south after leaving the Ark to the warmer climates would eventually die off and the short-haired dogs would survive. Again, the genetic information for long hair would have been naturally selected out of the gene pool due to the warm environment. However, the long haired dogs up north and the short haired dogs down south would still be dogs and able to interbreed with one another. This is an example of natural selection as well as speciation which are both scientifically verifiable and observable and were predicted thousands of years ago in the Genesis account of Creation.

An important point to learn here is that natural selection actually removes information from the gene pool (remember that after a few generations in cold climates the genetic information for short hair would be lost due to natural selection).This is precisely opposite of what needs to happen for molecules-to-man evolution to take place. To go from a single cell to a multi-cellular organism, vast amounts of genetic information need to be added to the gene pool. Most evolutionists use natural selection/speciation as evidence for molecules-to-man evolution but such changes have nothing to do with one kind of animal changing into a different kind of animal.

Now let me ask you to defend your position concerning the same subject. Based on your way of thinking, your presuppositions about the past, show me how your beliefs make sense of the same evidence. And please point out where my science and logic are wrong as well.

My overall goal, Michael, is to help you to see that God's Word can be trusted and that Jesus Christ is the Creator and Redeemer of all mankind. Also, my goal is to remind you that, like myself, you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, which your conscience testifies to when you look at God's moral law and that Jesus Christ is the only hope for you. He died on the cross for you, because of His great love, and commands you to repent and put your trust in Him alone to save you. Ultimately, I cannot convince you of this truth, nor is it my job to, only God can do that. But I care about you and will do whatever I can to help you on this journey.

My friend recently reminded me that the Bible doesn't attempt to prove that God exists. It simply speaks as though He does. I can try my best, but I might not be able to prove to you that God is real and has revealed himself through the person of Jesus Christ. What I can do is introduce Him to you through His Son Jesus Christ, and you can judge for yourself if the Words of Christ in the Bible convince you of His existence. You may be familiar with the following verses from Scripture:

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)

"And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

I look forward to hearing from you!

4 comments:

  1. good start! i am interested to read his response.

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