Tag Archives: Piety

Is the Big Bang cosmology a theistic or atheistic theory of cosmic origins?

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

Dr. Michael Strauss is a practicing particle physics employed as a professor at University of Oklahoma. He does research in particle physics at CERN, a large hadron collider. It’s safe to assume that he knows something about experimental physics.

Here’s what he writes about Christians and the Big Bang at his new blog:

When my children were young, I would often drive to the home of the person babysitting my kids, usually a young teenage girl, pick her up, then drive her back to my house.  In the car I would ask questions about her interests or her school.  In addition, I would sometimes ask a question that intrigued me since I am a scientist and a Christian, “Do you think the Big Bang is a theistic theory or an atheistic theory?”  Now that question is not on most people’s list of babysitter interview questions, but I was interested to know their answer even though it would not affect their monetary tip. Every time I asked this question I always got the same answer, that the Big Bang is an atheistic theory.  This is just one example of the fact that many kids growing up in an evangelical church environment have the perception that the Big Bang is an idea which removes God as the creator.  It seems that many Christians may disdain the Big Bang.

Subsequent conversations with people of all ages have shown me that many individuals (1) don’t really understand what the Big Bang is, (2) don’t know the scientific evidence for the Big Bang, and (3) don’t comprehend the theistic significance of the Big Bang.   So let’s explore these ideas a little bit.

Here is his overview of the scientific evidence for the Big Bang:

There are three primary observations that are best explained by the Big Bang.  First, the universe is expanding so that it must have had a beginning of expansion in the past.  Second, because the universe was once very hot, we can still see the remnants of that heat in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation.  The latest measurements of the CMB spectrum made by the Planck satellite (shown above) agrees almost perfectly with theoretical calculations using the standard Big Bang cosmological model (see the plot at the end of this post).  Third, the theory predicts the amount of primordial light elements that should have been created in the first few minutes of the Big Bang, like hydrogen and helium.  Again the observations and the theoretical calculations align almost exactly.   A few other observations are supported by Big Bang predictions, like the distribution of galaxies and primordial gas.  The agreement between what we measure and what is expected from a Big Bang is so remarkable that just about all scientists accept the Big Bang as the origin of our universe, despite its implication that the universe had a beginning.

Does this scientific evidence support theism, or atheism?

Because we don’t have any observations that tell us exactly what happened “in the beginning” of our universe, we can only speculate.  But let me point out the obvious.  All of the observations we do have, and all the theoretical calculations, and even some projective calculations like the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem… give credence to the conclusion that all of the space, time, matter, and energy of this universe had a beginning.  The Big Bang is a misnomer for it is not some kind of explosion since there was nothing that existed to explode.  It is the origin of the universe.  So if this universe had a beginning, then the cause of the universe can not be a part of the universe.  The cause must be transcendent, like the Christian idea of God.  Is the fact that all the evidence points to our universe having a transcendent cause proof for God?  No, but it is extremely powerful evidence.  If one hundred years ago you had predicted that scientists would obtain unambiguous evidence about the history of the universe for 13.8 billion years, all of its lifetime except the first fraction of a second, and that all of the evidence would point to an actual beginning consistent with a transcendent cause, I don’t think anyone would have taken you seriously.  But that is exactly what has happened.  Theists could not have outlined a better scenario to support theism.  The scientific facts are completely consistent with the statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

I know how I account for this scientific discovery in my worldview: a non-physical mind that existed eternally created the physical universe at time t=0. But how do atheists, who can only explain the world by appealing to matter, explain the origin of matter itself?

Here’s Oxford University professor of physical chemistry (and atheist) Peter Atkins explaining how he grounds the Big Bang cosmology:

Easy! Nothing actually exists, according to Peter Atkins.

What about a theoretical physicist, like Lawrence Krauss? Well, he just redefines the nothing that causally preceded the origin of the universe so that it is actually something. Pure speculation, and it goes against the experimental scientific evidence we have. Exactly what you’d expect from a man who wrote a book about “the physics of Star Trek”.

Each of us has to come to terms with this scientific evidence. What could have caused the beginning of the universe? It can’t be matter, because this was the beginning of all the matter in the universe. It has to be a mind.

Although most theists have no problem with this scientific evidence, atheists really hate it. When I tell them about this evidence, they tell me that in a few years or decades, all the evidence for a beginning we have now will have gone away. “How do you know that?” I ask. We have faith” they reply. I don’t think anyone should deny the objective reality we all share just because it’s what they want to believe.

Ben Shapiro promotes books that challenge atheism and naturalistic evolution on his podcast

Come here, Mr. Dragon, I want a word with you
Come here, Mr. Dragon, I want a word with you

So, I was listening Ben Shapiro’s podcast, and he mentioned how he had been reading Stephen C. Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell”, which makes the case for intelligent design in the origin of the first living system. Dr. Meyer is a Christian, and got his PhD from Cambridge University. His work is the most effective statement of the case for intelligent design. His second book, “Darwin’s Doubt”, strengthens his argument for intelligent design by discussing the sudden origin of body plans in the fossil record.

Ben also mentioned that he was reading agnostic biologist Michael Denton’s book “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis”, which is a comprehensive argument against naturalistic evolution. If that were not enough, he has previously mentioned reading “On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision” by Dr. William Lane Craig, and Ed Feser’s book “Five Proofs of the Existence of God”. He’s already had Ed Feser on his podcast, and William Lane Craig was mentioned as a future guest.

I posted this good news on my Facebook page and declared something like: 1) “Wow! Isn’t it great that this Jewish conservative thinker is publicizing arguments to his audience that will help people explore belief in God, and evaluate naturalistic evolution?” and 2) “I wish that more Christians were reading these books, and that pastors in the churches encouraged Christians to read them, too”.

In a later dialog, I also mentioned how good it was for Jordan Peterson to have tweeted an article about the minimal facts case for the resurrection of Jesus to his massive audience. Peterson also had a dialog with William Lane Craig where Dr. Craig presented his arguments for Christianity. Many people went to that dialog to hear Dr. Peterson, but they came away having heard the arguments of Dr. Craig – the most able defender of Christianity today. I considered both the tweet and the dialog to be good things, because any time evidence for the Christian worldview is promoted to large audiences, it is good for the Kingdom of God. Most people haven’t heard of this evidence, and they are settling these important questions based on their feelings, or what the popular culture tells them. It is good for people who are still deciding the big questions to know that there is real evidence to evaluate before they decide.

Two women disagreed

Imagine my surprise when two Christian women I was friends with on Facebook disapproved of my two observations.

The first one said this exactly:

“What difference does it make if he has all the knowledge in the world and not Christ? Maybe I’m missing something?”

And the second one is even worse than the first:

“What good is the evidence, though, if people remain in unbelief toward Jesus, as Peterson and Shapiro do.”

Does the Bible support the use of evidence?

As I blogged before, the Bible records believers in God using evidence to convince non-believers from the start through to the finish. Whether it’s the miracles of Moses, Elijah on Mount Carmel, or Jesus’ miracles, or the resurrection, you can barely find a page where evidence is not being presented to non-believers in order to get them to believe. That is God’s approach, it’s seen in Jesus offering “the Sign of Jonah” (his resurrection) to unbelievers. These people were not saved FIRST. Evidence was presented to them FIRST. Evidence was part of God’s saving initiative in the lives of these non-believers. They were expected to evaluate and respond to the evidence when it was presented to them.

Why did they say it?

So then why not get excited when influential people promote resources filled with evidence relevant to the big questions of life?

First, some people think of Christianity as being about themselves. One Christian woman I worked for once told me why she wouldn’t read books about apologetics: “there’s enough unhappiness in the world already, I’m sure God doesn’t want me to do anything that would make me feel unhappy”. This woman was a troop leader for the “Calvinettes”, the Reformed equivalent of the Girl Scouts. She saw Christianity as being about her, and her feelings. Any expectations, responsibilities, obligations, etc. in the Bible could easily be dismissed, because she knew (from her feelings) that God would never want her to do anything that would make her feel unhappy.

Her view was: “Who cares about those people over there in the university, in Hollywood, in government, and in the Supreme Court, who are discussing whether God exists and whether evolution is true? I shouldn’t have to do any work to convince them that the Christian worldview is correct about these big questions.” It doesn’t matter to some people whether Christianity is respected as a “live option” in the marketplace of ideas. It doesn’t matter whether the rationality of the Christian worldview is diminished in the culture. They don’t care about being ready with an answer to questions from college professors, co-workers, and children. God’s concern for the universe begins and ends with their happiness.

There are conversations going on out there in the culture about big questions. How did the universe begin? Does God exist? How did life begin? Is there life after death? Is anything really right or wrong? We should read good books in order to know how to participate in those conversations with non-Christians. And we should rejoice when  influential non-Christians recommend those books to people still leaning and deciding those big questions.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Stop telling women that God will give them husbands later if they delay marriage now

Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship
Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship

Dalrock blogged a splendid post about people who claim that there is a shortage of “good men”. He says that if there really were a shortage of good men, then people who want women to actually get married would be telling women not to delay marriage, but to instead get serious about marrying early, when their ability to attract husband candidates is at its peak.

Dalrock writes:

We can see the same pattern in Dr. John Piper’s recent post Why Are Women More Eager Missionaries?*  Piper explains that missionary work has become a pink ghetto:

…the actual situation among most evangelical faith missions is that between 80–85% of all single missionaries are women. It is a rare thing, like two out of every ten, for a single man to make missions his life’s vocation, which results in the overall statistics being that one-third of those in evangelical world missions are married men, one-third are married women, and 80 percent of the last third are single women. Which means that something just less than two-thirds of the total missionary force are women.

Piper’s main concern with the post however is not that there aren’t enough single men doing missionary work, but that women who choose this field aren’t marrying as they would like.  Piper complains that the problem for husband hunting missionary women is really an exacerbated version of the same problem all Christian women have, and that is an overall lack of marriageable Christian men…

I’ll save you the quotation of Piper, but his reason why missionary women struggle to find husbands is – SHOCK! – that Christian men refuse to man up. I.e – Piper believes that women can’t find husbands because men are not ready and willing to marry.

More:

But if Piper actually believed… that there was a severe shortage of husband material men, he would focus his attention on helping the women reading navigate this incredibly difficult situation.  Overseas mission work may feel empowering for young women, but (according to Piper) single women going into the mission field are greatly handicapping their prospects in an already bleak field.  His advice to young women would be to choose which was truly more important to them, being a missionary or finding a husband.

If Piper really believed that there were a shortage of marriage-minded, marriage-capable Christian men, then Piper would be counseling women who genuinely want to marry to make marriage a priority when they are younger, prettier and more fertile. Some women say that they want to get married “some day”. But the hidden truth is often that they just want to delay marriage in order to have fun and thrills, until they get tired of it. And then they just expect a suitable man to show up right when they need one. But do men want to marry a 35-year-old woman when they are 40 as much as they want to marry a 23-year-old woman when they are 25?

More Dalrock:

Piper even tells a story which would be a perfect way to teach this lesson.  He describes a single woman named Gladys Aylward who went to a place where she found no marriageable men, and then blamed single men for not following her and proposing marriage:

“Miss Aylward talked to the Lord about her singleness. She was a no-nonsense woman in very direct and straightforward ways and she asked God to call a man from England, send him straight out to China, straight to where she was, and have him propose to me.” I can’t forget the next line. Elisabeth Elliot said, “With a look of even deeper intensity, she shook her little bony finger in my face and said, ‘Elisabeth, I believe God answers prayer. And he called him.’” And here there was a brief pause of intense whisper. She said, “‘He called him, and he never came.’”

Now, that experience, I would guess, is not unique to Gladys Aylward.

If Piper really believed that Christian husbands were scarce, he would be sharing this anecdote to warn young women of the foolishness of moving away from the pool of men they hope to choose a husband from and then expecting God to send the man of their choosing across the world to propose.  If we were in a culture of scarcity of good men, this would be the obvious lesson from this story.  But we live in an age with unshakable confidence that good men are not only available all around us, but will always be abundant.  If Piper believed that the husband Miss Aylward was praying for was surrounded by real life English women eager to win him as a husband, this story wouldn’t be complaining about why he didn’t drop everything, fly to China, and propose to a woman he had never met.  If Piper believed that the man was sought after as a husband in England, he would be pointing out the foolishness of Miss Aylward flying off to China and then wondering why a man she had never met didn’t show up to propose once she decided she wanted to marry.

Miss Aylward either needed to accept that being a missionary in a secular country meant not marrying, or she needed to focus on marriage first when she was attractive to men as a life partner. Many women are propositioned for sex after they hit their mid-30s, but few of them are asked to marry. This is because men need women more when they are just starting out in their careers than when they are established in their careers.

Many women have no appreciation of how investing in a husband early causes him to be loyal to her when she is older. Women think that a husband will show up when she is ready, and be loyal to her even though she was absent during the hardships of the first decade of his career. A woman can do a lot of good for a man when he is starting out in his career and trying to save money for a house. But when those years have passed, the man’s ability to work and save have been largely set – without anyone’s help. If he went through those years single, then he typically will have earned less and saved less than a married man, because he did it without a wife’s support. Men do better in their careers and finances when they have a wife’s support. Especially in the early career, which is more stressful because of the lack of work experience. If a woman wants a man to be faithful and loyal, then she needs to choose a man who needs her, and invest in him using her youth and beauty to support him during his critical 20s and early 30s. Men respond to support during the critical years with lifelong fidelity and loyalty.

By the way, for an explanation of why men prefer not to be missionaries, read this post on Deeper Strength blog.

Stop telling women that God will give them husbands later if they delay marriage now

Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship
Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship

Dalrock blogged a splendid post about people who claim that there is a shortage of “good men”. He says that if there really were a shortage of good men, then people who want women to actually get married would be telling women not to delay marriage, but to instead get serious about marrying early, when their ability to attract husband candidates is at its peak.

Dalrock writes:

We can see the same pattern in Dr. John Piper’s recent post Why Are Women More Eager Missionaries?*  Piper explains that missionary work has become a pink ghetto:

…the actual situation among most evangelical faith missions is that between 80–85% of all single missionaries are women. It is a rare thing, like two out of every ten, for a single man to make missions his life’s vocation, which results in the overall statistics being that one-third of those in evangelical world missions are married men, one-third are married women, and 80 percent of the last third are single women. Which means that something just less than two-thirds of the total missionary force are women.

Piper’s main concern with the post however is not that there aren’t enough single men doing missionary work, but that women who choose this field aren’t marrying as they would like.  Piper complains that the problem for husband hunting missionary women is really an exacerbated version of the same problem all Christian women have, and that is an overall lack of marriageable Christian men…

I’ll save you the quotation of Piper, but his reason why missionary women struggle to find husbands is – SHOCK! – that Christian men refuse to man up. I.e – Piper believes that women can’t find husbands because men are not ready and willing to marry.

More:

But if Piper actually believed… that there was a severe shortage of husband material men, he would focus his attention on helping the women reading navigate this incredibly difficult situation.  Overseas mission work may feel empowering for young women, but (according to Piper) single women going into the mission field are greatly handicapping their prospects in an already bleak field.  His advice to young women would be to choose which was truly more important to them, being a missionary or finding a husband.

If Piper really believed that there were a shortage of marriage-minded, marriage-capable Christian men, then Piper would be counseling women who genuinely want to marry to make marriage a priority when they are younger, prettier and more fertile. Some women say that they want to get married “some day”. But the hidden truth is often that they just want to delay marriage in order to have fun and thrills, until they get tired of it. And then they just expect a suitable man to show up right when they need one. But do men want to marry a 35-year-old woman when they are 40 as much as they want to marry a 23-year-old woman when they are 25?

More Dalrock:

Piper even tells a story which would be a perfect way to teach this lesson.  He describes a single woman named Gladys Aylward who went to a place where she found no marriageable men, and then blamed single men for not following her and proposing marriage:

“Miss Aylward talked to the Lord about her singleness. She was a no-nonsense woman in very direct and straightforward ways and she asked God to call a man from England, send him straight out to China, straight to where she was, and have him propose to me.” I can’t forget the next line. Elisabeth Elliot said, “With a look of even deeper intensity, she shook her little bony finger in my face and said, ‘Elisabeth, I believe God answers prayer. And he called him.’” And here there was a brief pause of intense whisper. She said, “‘He called him, and he never came.’”

Now, that experience, I would guess, is not unique to Gladys Aylward.

If Piper really believed that Christian husbands were scarce, he would be sharing this anecdote to warn young women of the foolishness of moving away from the pool of men they hope to choose a husband from and then expecting God to send the man of their choosing across the world to propose.  If we were in a culture of scarcity of good men, this would be the obvious lesson from this story.  But we live in an age with unshakable confidence that good men are not only available all around us, but will always be abundant.  If Piper believed that the husband Miss Aylward was praying for was surrounded by real life English women eager to win him as a husband, this story wouldn’t be complaining about why he didn’t drop everything, fly to China, and propose to a woman he had never met.  If Piper believed that the man was sought after as a husband in England, he would be pointing out the foolishness of Miss Aylward flying off to China and then wondering why a man she had never met didn’t show up to propose once she decided she wanted to marry.

Miss Aylward either needed to accept that being a missionary in a secular country meant not marrying, or she needed to focus on marriage first when she was attractive to men as a life partner. Many women are propositioned for sex after they hit their mid-30s, but few of them are asked to marry. This is because men need women more when they are just starting out in their careers than when they are established in their careers.

Many women have no appreciation of how investing in a husband early causes him to be loyal to her when she is older. Women think that a husband will show up when she is ready, and be loyal to her even though she was absent during the hardships of the first decade of his career. A woman can do a lot of good for a man when he is starting out in his career and trying to save money for a house. But when those years have passed, the man’s ability to work and save have been largely set – without anyone’s help. If he went through those years single, then he typically will have earned less and saved less than a married man, because he did it without a wife’s support. Men do better in their careers and finances when they have a wife’s support. Especially in the early career, which is more stressful because of the lack of work experience. If a woman wants a man to be faithful and loyal, then she needs to choose a man who needs her, and invest in him using her youth and beauty to support him during his critical 20s and early 30s. Men respond to support during the critical years with lifelong fidelity and loyalty.

By the way, for an explanation of why men prefer not to be missionaries, read this post on Deeper Strength blog.

And one last point. I have known 3 women missionaries, and many women who thought about becoming short-term missionaries. In every case the women had grown up as Christians, and then gone wild in their 20s with alcohol and promiscuity. And they saw missions work as a fun and thrilling way to “atone” for their wild past. Another reason for Christian men to be skeptical of women missionaries.

Stop telling women that God will give them husbands later if they delay marriage now

Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship
Man helping a woman with proper handgun marksmanship

Dalrock blogged a splendid post about people who claim that there is a shortage of “good men”. He says that if there really were a shortage of good men, then people who want women to actually get married would be telling women not to delay marriage, but to instead get serious about marrying early, when their ability to attract husband candidates is at its peak.

Dalrock writes:

We can see the same pattern in Dr. John Piper’s recent post Why Are Women More Eager Missionaries?*  Piper explains that missionary work has become a pink ghetto:

…the actual situation among most evangelical faith missions is that between 80–85% of all single missionaries are women. It is a rare thing, like two out of every ten, for a single man to make missions his life’s vocation, which results in the overall statistics being that one-third of those in evangelical world missions are married men, one-third are married women, and 80 percent of the last third are single women. Which means that something just less than two-thirds of the total missionary force are women.

Piper’s main concern with the post however is not that there aren’t enough single men doing missionary work, but that women who choose this field aren’t marrying as they would like.  Piper complains that the problem for husband hunting missionary women is really an exacerbated version of the same problem all Christian women have, and that is an overall lack of marriageable Christian men…

I’ll save you the quotation of Piper, but his reason why missionary women struggle to find husbands is – SHOCK! – that Christian men refuse to man up. I.e – Piper believes that women can’t find husbands because men are not ready and willing to marry.

More:

But if Piper actually believed… that there was a severe shortage of husband material men, he would focus his attention on helping the women reading navigate this incredibly difficult situation.  Overseas mission work may feel empowering for young women, but (according to Piper) single women going into the mission field are greatly handicapping their prospects in an already bleak field.  His advice to young women would be to choose which was truly more important to them, being a missionary or finding a husband.

If Piper really believed that there were a shortage of marriage-minded, marriage-capable Christian men, then Piper would be counseling women who genuinely want to marry to make marriage a priority when they are younger, prettier and more fertile. Some women say that they want to get married “some day”. But the hidden truth is often that they just want to delay marriage in order to have fun and thrills, until they get tired of it. And then they just expect a suitable man to show up right when they need one. But do men want to marry a 35-year-old woman when they are 40 as much as they want to marry a 23-year-old woman when they are 25?

More Dalrock:

Piper even tells a story which would be a perfect way to teach this lesson.  He describes a single woman named Gladys Aylward who went to a place where she found no marriageable men, and then blamed single men for not following her and proposing marriage:

“Miss Aylward talked to the Lord about her singleness. She was a no-nonsense woman in very direct and straightforward ways and she asked God to call a man from England, send him straight out to China, straight to where she was, and have him propose to me.” I can’t forget the next line. Elisabeth Elliot said, “With a look of even deeper intensity, she shook her little bony finger in my face and said, ‘Elisabeth, I believe God answers prayer. And he called him.’” And here there was a brief pause of intense whisper. She said, “‘He called him, and he never came.’”

Now, that experience, I would guess, is not unique to Gladys Aylward.

If Piper really believed that Christian husbands were scarce, he would be sharing this anecdote to warn young women of the foolishness of moving away from the pool of men they hope to choose a husband from and then expecting God to send the man of their choosing across the world to propose.  If we were in a culture of scarcity of good men, this would be the obvious lesson from this story.  But we live in an age with unshakable confidence that good men are not only available all around us, but will always be abundant.  If Piper believed that the husband Miss Aylward was praying for was surrounded by real life English women eager to win him as a husband, this story wouldn’t be complaining about why he didn’t drop everything, fly to China, and propose to a woman he had never met.  If Piper believed that the man was sought after as a husband in England, he would be pointing out the foolishness of Miss Aylward flying off to China and then wondering why a man she had never met didn’t show up to propose once she decided she wanted to marry.

Miss Aylward either needed to accept that being a missionary in a secular country meant not marrying, or she needed to focus on marriage first when she was attractive to men as a life partner. Many women are propositioned for sex after they hit their mid-30s, but few of them are asked to marry. This is because men need women more when they are just starting out in their careers than when they are established in their careers.

Many women have no appreciation of how investing in a husband early causes him to be loyal to her when she is older. Women think that a husband will show up when she is ready, and be loyal to her even though she was absent during the hardships of the first decade of his career. A woman can do a lot of good for a man when he is starting out in his career and trying to save money for a house. But when those years have passed, the man’s ability to work and save have been largely set – without anyone’s help. If he went through those years single, then he typically will have earned less and saved less than a married man, because he did it without a wife’s support. Men do better in their careers and finances when they have a wife’s support. Especially in the early career, which is more stressful because of the lack of work experience. If a woman wants a man to be faithful and loyal, then she needs to choose a man who needs her, and invest in him using her youth and beauty to support him during his critical 20s and early 30s. Men respond to support during the critical years with lifelong fidelity and loyalty.

By the way, for an explanation of why men prefer not to be missionaries, read this post on Deeper Strength blog.

And one last point. I have known 3 women missionaries, and many women who thought about becoming short-term missionaries. In every case the women had grown up as Christians, and then gone wild in their 20s with alcohol and promiscuity. And they saw missions work as a fun and thrilling way to “atone” for their wild past. Another reason for Christian men to be skeptical of women missionaries.