I came across an article titled, “50 Questions Christians can’t answer”, by P.E. Puckett. It is not the first time I have seen posts or articles like this and undoubtedly it will not be my last. I am not sure why this post and list in particular caught my attention, but it did.
My initial reaction was to see which ones I could respond to, and then consider using them as some blog material. From there I had illusions of grandeur when I thought I would take a year and answer one of them every week. After a moment’s consideration, I quickly dismissed that idea because of the time it would require. Since I am teaching a new curriculum starting this next school year, (Common Core), my time for blogging will be at a premium.
This premium price was realized on my first day of summer vacation. About two weeks ago, when I was looking forward to some home projects, reading and writing on apologetics to my heart’s content, I somehow strained my sciatic nerve. The only position that was relatively pain free was on my back with my knees up. I will add that it is not easy to eat ice cream while flat on your back. If the ice cream is at all soft, you can easily drop a spoon directly on your face, which, if you’re 18 months old, no one would give you a second glance. Then if you move too fast, the dog or cat will have something to lick up, after it skips across your face. Not to mention, the consequences are more serious if you have an abundance of facial hair. So, unless you’re an expert at tossing nuts into the air and catching them in your mouth, I would not recommend hovering the spoon a foot above your face and rolling it over, to drop spoon fulls of ice cream into your mouth.
It has been about two weeks, and I can now sit at my computer for a while before I have to get up. Also, I can bend over enough to touch the top of my knees, but not much beyond that. I have no doubt my students would gladly point out how old I am getting.
The fellow who posted ’50 Questions Christians can’t answer’ wrote, “Religion is simply a story about how life came to be, why we are here, what we are to do while we are here and how, where we are going after death and what it all really means. This story, however, has to be unique to your environmental experience throughout your life to be believable enough to be accepted by faith. That is why a young Pentecostal Christian child being raised in southern Missouri, USA, will not readily be expected to grow up to be a follower of the Hindu faith. Religion is simply an environmentally influenced and culturally appropriate psychological vehicle needed for one to motivate their faith to positive affect.” 1
I was not even to his first question and I had issues with several things he had written! This is a classic example of the genetic fallacy. That is, religion is nothing more than the result of where you were born. A consequence to location if you wish. This is a common response atheists or skeptics may toss your way. For example, if you were born in India, you would be Hindu. If you were born in Ancient Greece, you would worship Zeus. If you were born in Iraq, your religion would be Muslim. The problem with this line of thinking is that it has no bearing on the truth or validity of any particular religion. Religion, or any belief system, should be investigated, researched, and examined to then stand or fall on its own merits and evidence. Where you were born and how you were raised is irrelevant to the truth of your world view.
Look at it this way. Imagine everyone in the U.S. believed and taught the best way to eat ice cream was to lie flat on your back and drop spoonfuls into your mouth, and in Canada they believed and taught the best way to eat ice cream was to sit upright at a table and carefully place spoonfuls in your mouth. Supporters of both views would have to provide evidence to support their claims. The truth of their claims would analyzed, and interested parties would come to a decision based on the evidence supporting the claim. And I have learned in the past two weeks, one piece of evidence could be to compare how fat the dogs and cats are in Canada, to those the U.S.
Frankly, many of the 50 Questions show remarkable ignorance of scripture and the message held within the gospel from someone who was supposedly raised Christian. Other questions drip with contempt and are difficult to even take seriously. A few are so simple even a child could give a sensible response. Finally, there are some which require some thoughtful consideration. If you are inclined, read all 50 for yourself here, or just read on to my answer for number one.
1 – If God is omnipotent (all-powerful), why did he take six days to create everything? Why not speak everything into existence all at once?
Do you take everything the Bible says as literal? In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Is Jesus really a vine? Are we really branches? Or should we take this verse to have another meaning, another intent?
In Revelation 16:1 it says, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” Do you expect angles to literally pour our seven giant bowls on the earth, or is it some kind of metaphor that would aid our understanding?
No doubt many Christians believe the earth was created in six literal days. This fact was highlighted in a Feb. 5th 1014 debate between Ken Ham (young earth believer) and Bill Nye (old earth atheist). Ken Ham defended the young earth creationist view that God literally made the earth in six 24 hour days. Bill Nye was on the evolution side promoting the view that the earth is billions of years old.
Sadly, a third view held by myself and many other Christians was not part of the debate, that being an old earth view of creation that does not hold to evolution; a view that the earth may be millions or billions of years old, but it still was created. Frankly, to some degree, I think this debate just added to the schism that seemingly divides science and religion. Some people think that science and religion are incompatible; certainly that the Christian religion is incompatible with modern science. Many old earth creationists do not believe in evolution, (with the exception of Theistic Evolutionists), and in fact recognize the serious flaws in Darwinian Evolution despite what is, and has been, taught in public schools for the past 60 years. More importantly though, Ken Ham shared the Gospel message to ten of thousands of viewers, and for that I am thankful.
Old earth and young earth is one of those in-house debates that Christians can have. Many of my friends can be found on both sides of this issue. The problem is when many atheists paint young earth creationists as ignorant and foolish. So foolish they ignore the evidence science provides for an old earth. Couple that with popular culture continually painting Christians in a negative light, anti science, and as if their faith was a mental disorder, you have a stereotype difficult to change. If a being, who was all powerful and created everything in six seconds, six minutes, or six days, who am I to question it?
I certainly believe a God who created our existence is capable of creating the world in six, 24 hour days. What is important here, is to understand what I mean by “creating our existence”. I am not talking about just us, (humans) or even our world and solar system, but all of existence, all of our universe. Our own Milky Way Galaxy has about as many stars as we have grains of sand on the earth. The nearest star outside our own solar system is Alpha Centauri, about 4.3 light years from earth, or about 26 trillion miles. If we took the space shuttle that orbits the earth at approximately 17,500 miles per hour and pointed it at Alpha Centauri it would take us about one hundred and sixty five thousand years to reach it. That is just the nearest system within the billions of solar systems in our own galaxy. Outside of our own Milky Way Galaxy are billions of other galaxies. The immensity of our universe boggles the mind and is truly beyond our comprehension.
His second question, “Why not speak everything into existence all at once?” is answered in what modern science calls it the Big Bang Theory. A moment when everything was created, and to this day continues to create. So it should be obvious that He actually did create everything all at once, including time. Francis Bacon, who many say is the father of modern science said, “True knowledge is knowledge by causes.” In other words, science is learning about what causes things to act the way they do.
I say it continues to create because our universe is expanding. Albert Einstein first came across this notion while working on his theory of General Relatively in 1915. In fact, he was bothered by what it suggested: a universe that was expanding. Up until that time Einstein, and many other scientists, believed the universe was eternal, static, always existing, without a beginning. A few years later, just after World War I ended, Arthur Eddington conducted an experiment during a solar eclipse which confirmed the truth of General Relativity. Like Einstein, Eddington was not happy with what he discovered and wrote, “Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me…I should like to find a genuine loophole.” 2
These men and others were uncomfortable with their discoveries because of what it implied. If the universe had a beginning, much like the first in a long row of dominos to fall, who pushed over the first one? Or better yet, and even more significant, who created the dominos to even start the process of their falling? Never mind who pushed the first one.
As the years passed, other brilliant minds confirmed what Einstein first discovered and published papers collaborating it. Then in 1927, Edwin Hubble discovered a ‘red shift’ in the color of distant galaxies. This new evidence, which could be seen with our own eyes, actually confirmed the universe was expanding. Not only expanding, but the further the galaxies, the faster they were moving away. In 1929, Einstein visited the Mount Wilson Observatory and looked for himself. That visit settled it for him. After that, Einstein focused on how God created the world, everything else was just minor details to him.
Over the decades evidence for the Big Bang began to mount. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us the universe is running out of useable energy. Just as a flashlight only has so much battery energy, so does our universe. If the universe is running down, it must have had a point in which it ‘started’ to run down. It can’t possibly have been running since eternity past, because we would have run out of energy long ago. In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected a ringing from the Big Bang which earned them the Nobel Prize. In 1989, NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer which took pictures of the afterglow of the Big Bang. There is more, but suffice to say the evidence for the Big Bang is substantial, and mounting.
Steven Hawking wrote in his book, A Brief History of Time – From the Big Bang to Black Holes, “What is it that breaths fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe?” 3 In other words, why is there something instead of nothing? Why is there even a universe for us to exist in?
Once my students were discussing some scientific facts and theories. The question was asked about gravity and where it comes from and why it works the way it does; an answer science can’t even explain yet. So I borrowed from John Lennox the Oxford mathematician and Christian Philosopher a story about a cake. I explained to my students that if I baked a cake, they could investigate its ingredients, the quantity of sugar, flour, yeast, butter, eggs, etc. They could research the temperature it was baked, and how long it has been out of the oven. They could even taste it and see what flavors it held. They could tell me just about everything possible anyone would possibly want to know about the cake, except why I baked it. For that, they would have to ask me, the creator.
Robert Jastrow, an astronomer, physicist and scientist who worked in NASA, ended one of his many books his with this famous line, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” 4
To accept the fact that there is an all powerful Creator who did create this magnificent and immense universe which is beyond our comprehension, and then question his methods, is absurd. God did speak everything into existence all at once, which is widely supported by science.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
I think R. E. Puckett needs to revise his claim to “49 questions Christians can’t answer”.
1. Puckett, R.E. “Top 50 Questions Christian’s can’t answer.” Yahoo Voices. http://voices.yahoo.com, 11 Feb. 2010. 16 June. 2014
2. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.
3. Hawking, Steven. A Brief History of Time. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1988. Print.
4. Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomers. New York: Norton, 1978. Print.