Missing the Plank Because of the Mote
When you predict something, there is always some satisfaction to be found when the prediction comes true. In 1968 when the Does God Exist? ministry began, I predicted that in the next 50 years the battles and debates would not be over baptism or worship or other doctrinal issues. My prediction was that the battles and debates would be over whether God exists, was Jesus the son of God, is the Bible God's Word and does Christianity make any sense. There is not much satisfaction in seeing a prediction like this come true, but it has come true to an extent far greater than I could have ever imagined. We are not only seeing confrontations about these fundamental questions, but we are seeing legal actions, physical persecutions, building burning, governmental pressure, and terrorism in a constantly increasing frequency.
The Does God Exist? work has tried for 30 years now to show anyone who will consider the evidence in a fair and open minded way that God does exist, that it is the God of the Bible that the evidence supports, and that the Christian system as portrayed in the Bible is the way we should live. Taking a strong position on anything in our culture is a dangerous thing to do, because anyone who believes there are absolutes and that we can find and live by those absolutes is likely to be considered to be some kind of nut and thus not just easily ignored but one who must be silenced. We have had just about every possible kind of attempt made to silence us, but we are still functioning and feel we have been blessed in what we have tried to do.
As the years have gone by, we have seen an incredible growth of evidence of all kinds. In astronomy new instruments and telescopes of all kinds have given us a torrent of data and new discoveries. Every one of these discoveries has supported the biblical declaration that there was a beginning and that it was caused. Studies in astronomy and biology have given us vastly improved understanding of how life works. Research in genetics, biochemistry, and all areas of medicine have expanded our appreciation of how complex life is and how clearly the design features built into life shine through. There has been incredible progress in psychology and the lessons that life brings. For the first time, research has been done that shows how positively the Christian system impacts life and the problems of life. Those advocating systems opposed to Christianity have seen multiple failures of their systems. From the Soviet Union to Aynn Rand we have seen atheistic anti-Christian systems fall like dominos.
We have covered all of these things in this journal since 1972 and in over 12,000 lectures and classes. Have we had to change our understandings over the years? Yes--learning and growing never stop. Have we convinced everyone that our understandings are right? No--not by a long shot. We are not trying to get people to respond to us in any way. We do not have a foundation and do not raise money. Many of the people who study with us go on their way and we never know what they do or how or if they change. We are pointing people to Christ and the Christian system--not to any human organization. There are those who make a point out of letting us know we have not convinced them, and for some the opportunity to buck us must be therapeutic because it is a regular activity.
But the most frustrating and depressing aspect of being rejected is the number of times that the rejection is based on an assumption or minor point. You can show someone 100 examples of design in the cosmos, but if they can find a way to give a possible explanation of one of them they will sometimes be willing to ignore the remaining 99. People who find something in the Bible they do not agree with or what they feel is a factually erroneous will summarily reject the Bible as a fraud. Because quantum mechanics challenges our traditional understandings of time, space, and matter, there are many who will reject the whole notion of evidence because most evidence is seen in the physical world. There are those who will take a foolish sinful act on the part of a Christian leader and use that to denigrate all of Christianity.
There are some good reasons why the things listed in the last paragraph should not be followed in making any decision about spiritual matters.
Consider the following:
Many times people who reject God, Christianity, or the Bible do so because they missapply a fact or some knowledge or apply it in an impractical way. A good example of this is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. As scientists began to study the atom, electrons, and the radiation given off by accelerating electrical charges, it became obvious that the things being studied moved very rapidly. In order to give any mathematical description of these objects, one had to use statistics and speak in terms of probabilities--not absolutes. This was a very new problem for scientists to have to deal with. Heisenberg formulated what is now known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal.
"Every material particle has inherent uncertainties in position and velocity." This principal is used in modern physics to define limits for particles. Heisenberg went on to say that "Although either one of these uncertainties can take on any value, the two quantities are related by ÆX ÆV = h/m." Without attempting to explain the ins and outs of the equation we can see that certain useful calculations could be made if you needed to know what m was or what ÆV was.
In recent years there has been an attempt to bring the Heisenberg Principle into theology, philosophy, and psychology. What is being taught is that knowledge of all kinds is uncertain. Heisenberg did not develop his principle to be used to formulate an agnostic approach to reality. Those who contend that there are no absolutes because of Heisenberg are misapplying the principle. They are also promoting an unrealistic view of life. We do not fail to eat because the food might not agree with us or fail to sleep because we might die in our sleep or have a terrible dream. We function on the basis of evidence and make decisions every minute based upon an observation of some sort.
There are some non-critical areas of our existence where we know there is an uncertainty in our observations--a good example being the weather. The fact is that we all pay attention to weather forecasts, and many professions rely heavily on weather prediction. No one would use Heisenberg's Principle to negate all weather prediction. In fact, what has happened in weather prediction is that weather behavior thought to be random and chaotic is now being understood by chaos mathematics. This new tool recognizes that complexity is not the same thing as random chaos, and by working to deal with and understand the complexity better prediction is possible.
The Bible and its teachings are very much like the physical examples we have given. Human behavior is highly complex, the number of variables (or attractors as they are called in chaos theory) are huge. To give a right way to live is an incredible undertaking, and yet over the centuries the Bible standards have been proven to work. In astronomy there have been enormous strides as man has ventured into space, and yet the basic Biblical claims about creation have only found more support. More evidence has been accumulated to show that there was a beginning as we have pointed out in previous issues. Quantum mechanics has altered our concept of cause, but the fact that there was a cause has not been questioned. More evidence has come from all sides to show that the cause was an intelligence and that blind chance is not a valid mechanism to explain the world around us.
The skeptic tends to throw a large number of "what ifs" at evidence of this kind. What if they find life in space? What if the universe turns out to be closed instead of open? What if a human is cloned? What if life is created in a test tube? The answer to these types of questions is "so what?" If life is found in space, it will mean God created life in many places--not just here. If the universe turns out to be closed, the second law of thermodynamics is still valid and matter/ energy is still not eternal. If a human is cloned, it will prove it took incredible intelligence to create man, life, and matter in the beginning. These are distractors, not questions that in some way invalidate the biblical claim.
Jesus used a rather comical analogy that has relevance to the time in which we live. Jesus was talking about the inconsistency involved in trying to pick at a minor issue when there was a major issue radically affecting your ability to function. "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5).
A mote in the original language was a small irritation--a splinter. The beam would be something like a 2x4. Visualize someone trying to remove a splinter from someone else's eye when they had a 2x4 sticking out of their own eye. The extremism of the comparison would have made the ancient Jewish listeners laugh, but in our day the extremism is accepted as normal. Our society staggers from the results of sexual promiscuity, the breakdown of the home, substance abuse, and numerous other maladies which the Bible offers solutions to. Our population stands around pointing fingers at one another so as to affix blame. Biblical principles are rejected because of the perception that there are errors in the Bible or uncertainties in how its principles should be applied. We are the reverse of what Jesus said. Because we think we see a mote made of uncertainty or flaws in the Bible, we reject the beam of solution to our problems. We are missing the beam because of the mote!
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