Apologetics for the Masses #257

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

Two things:

1) Just wrote an article last week that was published at www.Aleteia.com about the possible discovery of Jesus' boyhood home in Nazareth.  The article is entitled, "Jesus' House and the Willful Misunderstanding of Atheists."  You can read it here: http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/jesus-house-and-the-atheists-5901823617531904.  If you would be so kind, please share this article, and the Apologetics 101 articles that I also have on Aleteia, with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  There are Facebook and Twitter buttons right there at the top of each of the articles that make it very easy to share those articles - just click on the button and it's done.  The more shares the articles get, the more Aleteia will want to publish my articles, and the more folks that find out about the Bible Christian Society and all the resources we have there - so it will really help us out if you could take a second or two to do that...thanks!

2) Just a reminder that my 5-part series on EWTN Television is coming up soon: Monday through Friday, April 13 – 17.  It will air at 6:30 PM and 3:00 AM, Eastern time.  So, go ahead and program your recorder or TiVo or whatever it's called.  Also, my pre-taped EWTN Live appearance with Fr. Mitch Pacwa will air on Wednesday, April 8th, at it's normal time, which I believe is 8:00 PM Eastern.


Okay, here is more of my conversation with an atheist named Jules.  I will begin with the last thing I said to him in my previous newsletter, and then give his most recent responses.  If you want to read all of the conversation from the last newsletter, you can do so here: www.biblechristiansociety.com/newsletter, Issue #256.


Very good.  I accept your apology and I thank you for making it.  That is the sign of a mature personality and, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting it.  So, yes, we can have a discussion.  You want to know if I think evolution is real or not, eh?  I will give you a direct answer, and then I will explain that answer.  The answer is, no, I do not believe in evolution.  At least, not in the sense of macro-evolution, or inter-species evolution - one species evolving into a completely separate and different type of species.  I do indeed believe in micro-evolution, or intra-species evolution - where a species can evolve adaptations given different environments or different factors within an environment.  

However, and this is key, my belief in God has nothing to do with whether or not I believe in evolution.  I know that’s not what you’re expecting, but that is indeed a fact.  My faith allows me to believe in evolution or not believe in evolution.  There are Catholics who believe in evolution and those who don't.  Each is in good standing with the Church, since the Church has no definitive teaching on that particular subject.  After all, that is a matter of science, not religion. The reason, therefore, that I do not believe in evolution is because I have not yet seen enough scientific evidence to convince me of it.  Oh, there is some evidence, but not enough to adequately explain the questions that I have about it.  But, I’m open to being convinced, if the evidence presents itself.   

For example: Here’s just one question for you to ponder that gives me pause about accepting evolution: An animal can either see, or it can’t see.  There is no in-between.  So, how did animals that can see, evolve from animals that cannot see?  I mean, you can’t see without an eye, but why would an eye evolve in an animal that can’t see?  Makes no sense.  So, at some point in the process, a non-seeing parent would have to give birth to a seeing offspring.  That would be, in and of itself, a huge evolutionary leap.  That’s not hundreds of small changes over millions of years, that’s a radical change from one generation to the next.  But, that’s not how evolution supposedly works.  So it’s questions like that which keep me from accepting the consistency of evolutionary theory.  Now, if there is an intelligence behind evolution that has, in a sense, programmed evolution into nature’s genetic structure, I can accept that.  But, blind random evolution, without any guide behind it, without any purpose behind it, I just don’t see how that could be possible.

Now, my question for you.  The theory of evolution presumes the existence of matter.  Where did matter come from?  And, what scientific evidence can you give me to back up your answer?  



Thanks a lot for replying!! I myself have thought a lot about how matter was itself first created, because before the Big Bang, there was no space, no time, no nothing. So out of that, how did something happen? But then I thought it would be the same for god, I.e. If he does exist, was he born? If so, what created him? Did he just appear? Has he been living forever? 

And for evolution, I myself can't say I know enough about it to properly say I'm 100% sure about what it really is, but from what I think so far (what I've been taught in biology in school), it's random mutation in genes that lead to variation. Then, the better adapted individuals survive and pass on their genes, and for your example of the eye, I think that over generations, the animal would have extremely basic light receptors (called rods and cones) but would gradually evolve through natural selection, so that the animals with the better eyesight are more easily able to find food, escape prey, etc.  And I just don't think there's a purpose to life, I think it's even a bit sad, but I think we're lucky to be here literally, and we have no more purpose than an ant. It would be interesting to talk with other Catholics who believe in evolution for me as well to widen my viewpoint.  Also, there are atheists who don't believe in evolution ( they actually provide less good reasoning than you).  To clarify about the eye, the light receptors would gradually be added to by colour and more advanced movement receptors. 

Also what I think is one of my main arguments against pure belief, is that things that were considered miracles back centuries ago can now be explained by science, for example, the virgin birth!!! Shocking, but an abnormal chromosome mutation ( estimated to be at 1 in 12 billion) (yep) can lead to a sperm cell and an ovum being produced in the uterus, leading to pregnancy without sexual intercourse!!  It's called parthinogenesisAnd I think the reason evolution takes so long is because since it's random mutation, it takes millions of years cause there are millions of mistakes

And I'd just like to say, thank you for excusing my outburst and rudeness.



No problem at all - I have to give you credit for having the humility and the courage to apologize - it's something that unfortunately not a lot of folks seem willing to do these days, so that is certainly to your credit. 

Let’s take this one thing at a time. First, let’s start at the top.  I will say something regarding God and the beginning of the universe. First of all, are you aware that it was a Catholic priest who devised the Big Bang Theory? Catholics and science go hand-in-hand with each other. Secondly, something cannot create itself right? So, a rock can't create itself, a bird can't create itself, and so on. Which also means, big picture, that matter cannot create itself. So, something other than matter, must bring matter into existence. So, the non-material must bring the material into existence. Also, in science, we know that every effect has a cause. So, if we start tracing each effect to its cause, and keep going farther and farther back into time we have two possibilities, either: 1) there is a series of causes and effects that stretches back for an infinite amount of time - no first cause, or no beginning, in other words; or 2) there is at some point in the series of causes and effects, an uncaused cause from which all cause and effect emanate. Something that did not come into existence, but that has always existed. Something that is, in fact, existence itself, which brought the universe into existence. Out of those two choices, the first one is actually impossible. You know, through common sense, that everything has to have a beginning. Plus, the series of causes and effects cannot go back for an infinite amount of time, because that would mean that it would never have gotten to where we are.  We would not exist. So, logic tells us that the universe was begun by an non-material uncaused cause. That is what we call God.



I think this may be the first time I've ever had anyone actually apologize to me when I've called them out for exhibiting behavior that was less than polite.  And if this guy is indeed a teenager, as it seems more and more likely to me that he is, well, so much more to his credit.  Furthermore, he actually answered the question that I asked him...at least, he made an attempt to answer.  Another rare phenomenon for me to experience.  I don't know how all of this will end up, but at least he appears to be serious about having an actual conversation.  I hope it continues along these lines. 

Okay, he mentioned a few different topics in his reply.  As I do when talking with Protestants, I don't want to try and answer every topic he brings up all at the same time.  Let's take 'em one at a time...maybe two...and see how it goes.  And, just as I emphasize how Catholics and the Bible go together with Protestants, I want to emphasize with an atheist that Catholics and science go together.  I will probably end up emphasizing this over and over again.  Find out what it is that the other guy takes as his authority, and align yourself with that authority.  With atheists, it's science.  With Protestants, it's the Bible.  And, as Catholics, we are not just saying that science is in our blood, or that the Bible is in our blood, we have the proof. 

Possibly the most intelligent explanation I have ever heard, and that is actually very convincing, and I mean in a good way.  But then what is the non material?   

I appreciate the kind remark about my explanation, and no worry, no offense taken.  Excellent question: "What is the non-material?"  That is along the lines of one of THE questions: What is God?"  

The non-material can basically fall into two categories: 1) non-material things; and 2) non-material beings.  Non-material things would be, for example, something like an idea.  Do ideas have physical boundaries - height, weight, depth, etc.?  No.  Can you see an idea?  You can see the fruit of an idea - an invention, a poem, etc. - but can you see the idea itself?  No.  Now, a materialist would say that an idea is merely an electrical impulse firing through the neurons of your brain.  Maybe so, but what about concepts such as freedom, love, rights, hope, truth, and so on?  Are these merely electrical impulses traveling through the mind (well, no such thing as a "mind" in a materialist-only universe) - traveling through the brain?  Is freedom not an objective reality?  Would a materialist who was locked in a jail cell, and who demanded to be set free, be satisfied with the jailer's response of, "Freedom is all in your head, there's no such thing!"?

Still, though, the materialist might say, “Yep, all those things are simply in one’s brain as electrical impulses.”  Which would mean that they essentially have no argument for the existence of such a thing as human “rights”.  Rights are non-material.  If they only exist as impulses in a person’s brain, if they are not objective realities in and of themselves, then no one has any rights.  There is no right to life.  To happiness.  To freedom of speech.  To freedom of religion.  To freedom...of any kind, period.  Pretty grim world we would be living in.  

But, what about truth?  Here is where the materialist has all sorts of problems that they just can’t claim can be solved by an appeal to electrical impulses firing through neurons in the brain.  What is the material universe governed by?  Non-material laws of physics.  These laws are true.  The law of gravity is true.  The laws of thermodynamics are true.  The laws of chemistry are true.  The laws of mathematics are true.  Has anyone ever seen gravity?  Does gravity have height, weight, length, width, or depth?  What about time?  Is time real?  Is it material?  What about truth?  Does it have spatial dimensions?  Is it a material item?  What about the mathematical concept of pi?  You can’t slice it because it isn’t material.  But it’s true!  It exists!

So, I contend the existence of non-material things - concepts, laws, truth, and such - that every single human being is aware of and affected by, whether they will admit that they objectively exist or not. It is a scientific fact that the non-material exists.

And, if there are non-material things, then why not non-material beings?  Angels...demons (fallen angels)...God?  Let’s not focus yet on what (or rather Who) I, and billions of others throughout time, have called God.  Let’s start with what you and I have already discussed.  Matter cannot create itself, which means the material universe cannot create itself.  It had to be created by...“something”.  Furthermore that “something” had to be non-material.  Why?  Because matter cannot create itself and there cannot be an infinite regression back through time of matter coming into existence.  So, something other than the material had to bring matter into existence.  The only thing other than the material, is the non-material.  

So far so good.  What else do we know about the “something” that brought the universe into existence?  Well, it cannot have a cause.  If it had a cause, then we are stuck with the same problem already discussed - you cannot have an infinite regression of causes and effects because, being infinite, it would never have arrived at where we are, and thus we would not exist.  So, the cause of the universe was itself, uncaused.  The uncaused cause of which Aquinas, and Aristotle before him, spoke of.  

Also, judging from the order we find everywhere in the universe, one can rightly speculate that this “something” is something which has an ordered nature.  I would also claim that this “something” seems to possess an intelligence by which it ordered the material universe.  Can one explain such precision in the laws of physics, chemistry, math, and so on as just blind chance?  I guess you could, but from a statistical standpoint, what are the odds of that?  I mean think about it - a million monkeys sitting in front of a million keyboards, typing away for a million years would never reproduce a Shakespearean play; nor even a Shakespearean sonnet; and  probably not even a single line of a Shakespearean play or sonnet.  Yet, the tiniest cell of any plant or animal is more complex, more amazing, more glorious, and more incredible than the greatest of Shakespeare’s works - and folks want me to believe it came into being because of the blind laws of the blind universe that came into being by blind chance?  Sorry, not buying it.  Logic points to an intelligence behind the ordering of the universe.  

What else?  This “something” that created the universe is not subject to time.  How so?  Well, time is a function of the material universe.  Therefore, this “something,” not being material, is not subject to time and, therefore, is infinite in time.  This “something” also has to be very powerful - after all, it created the entire universe.  

So, let’s put it all together: there is “something” that is non-material, and which existed before the material universe, that caused the material universe to be brought into being, and which itself does not have a cause.  This “something” is not subject to time - it is infinite.  It is most likely ordered, and most likely intelligent.  And, one other thing then, if it is intelligent, it undoubtedly has a will as it would have made the conscious decision to bring the universe into existence.  

The uncaused, non-material, exceedingly powerful, probably ordered and intelligent, infinite, cause that caused the universe to come into being - you call it what you want, I call it God.  

I’ll leave you with one last thought for now, as I have to run, but it is something you said earlier: You are absolutely 100% correct that if there is no God, then there is no purpose to life.  We are all just bits of cosmic dust that exist only by blind, unthinking, completely random, chance.  We can fool ourselves into thinking we have purpose, but if every thought we have is merely the result of chemical and electrical processes over which we have absolutely no control, and which were brought into being by blind unthinking chance, then by definition, there can be no purpose to life.  Love is not real.  Freedom is not real.  Rights are not real.  We are nothing more than biological robots.  We have no more purpose or value than an ant, or a worm, or even a rock.  That is indeed exceedingly sad.  

I always like to tell the atheists that I get into conversations with on various blog sites, that I believe them to be infinitely loved by an all-powerful God Who has created them for some particular purpose and Who gives them infinite value as human beings; while they believe themselves to be accidental specks of cosmic dust with no inherent value and no inherent purpose.  That is exceedingly ironic.  



Well, it seems we're off to a good start - please keep Jules in your prayers.  I'm focusing here on the various aspects of God without calling Him God, at least, not until the end.  Using common sense, logic, and science to offer evidence for God.  Not trying to "prove" God, just offering evidence for Him.  Just trying to find something that will click with Jules.  Did you notice I did not end my discussion of God with any questions?  I just want to see how he chooses to respond to what I've said so I can see what, if anything, caught his attention.  I don't want to focus him in a particular direction right now, I want him to give me some unsolicited information.  I need to have a better idea of exactly what his objections are and how his mind works so that I can focus my arguments accordingly.  He seems genuinely interested in a conversation, so I don't feel an urgency to force anything just yet.  I will focus on certain things, however, like having a purpose in life.  We all - every human being - eventually reaches a point where they ask questions like, "Why am I here?"  "What does my life mean?"  "Does my life have a purpose?"  Everyone wants to know that their life has purpose and what that purpose is.  So I want to appeal to these feelings and thoughts to get Jules to fully realize that, without God, there really is no purpose to life.  He's pretty much there, but I want him to connect God and purpose in the hope that, in wanting purpose in his life, he will start wanting whatever it is that could bring purpose to his life.  Which will, hopefully, make him a bit more open to the idea of God.  But, even though, God and purpose make perfect sense for us, it's not necessarily an easy sale with an atheist.  We'll have to wait and see how it goes.


I hope all of you have a happy and holy Easter and Easter Season! 


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Apologetics for the Masses