The Strongest ArgumentJune 17th, 2013 by Anthony Bosman
Recently I was staring at the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (or, more accurately, the reconstruction of a skeleton) when a friend whispered a question, “Why were dinosaurs so big?” This led to a host of other dino-questions. While I had some speculations, I often found myself coming back to a common answer, “I don’t know.”
There’s much I don’t know, especially about our earth’s early history. But in the midst of my questions is the certainty that we came from the hands of a loving Creator as beautifully described in the opening chapters of Genesis.
As a university student, I recognize that many label my faith in the Creator as “outdated” or “unintellectual.” But there are some serious arguments that I believe one should consider before embracing a purely naturalistic worldview. Here’s a few I find especially compelling, followed by what I believe is the strongest argument. Feel free to add your voice by commenting below.
- Naturalism’s Self-defeating Claim: There’s this popular idea that “one should only believe things for which he has compelling scientific evidence”. On the surface this seems quite logical. Thus, many have argued that since a Creator cannot be detected in a lab or seen through a telescope, we should scrap the belief.
But hold on. Say one really believes that “one should only believe things for which he has compelling scientific evidence”. A question lingers. Why does he believe this? Afterall, does he have scientific evidence for this belief? Of course not, such claims cannot be proven scientifically.
Such a claim is called self-defeating. It doesn’t hold up to its own standard of judgment. For this reason, no worldview can be based on scientific claims alone. No matter how “scientific” one would like to think their beliefs are, lurking beneath them are presuppositions. This brings us to the second argument.
- Naturalism’s Bias: Again at first glance a naturalistic view of the universe seems fair, supposedly just following the evidence. But take a careful look at this telling definition for naturalism: “a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically : the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena”. Did you catch it? From the start the supernatural is excluded. Thus when one pursues science from a purely naturalistic perspective and says, “I’ve found no evidence for the Creator”, he is saying nothing of significane at all. By his own rules, he was not allowed to.
- History of Science: Surveying the history of science, one notices that a number of the giants (such as Newton) had incredible faith. Historians of science by large have a consensus as for why this is true: it was these individual’s faith in a Creator that made them expect that the universe is structured and motivated them to try to understand this structure. A priori, there’s no reason to expect that gravity and other phenomena should be governed by mathematical laws. This brings us to another argument.
- Success of Science: Especially in the last hundred years we’ve done some incredible things with science that has affirmed repeatedly (i) that the universe is incredibly ordered and (ii) humans are capable of understanding this order (with predicative accuracy!). But why is the universe mathematically structured? And, moreover, why can we understand it so well?
A year ago while attending a class on philosophy of science at Stanford these twin-questions arose. First we bounced some superficial naturalistic explanations around (evolutionary advantage, multiple universes, etc.), but it didn’t take long to recognize they lacked sufficient explanatory power. Later, a good friend mentioned to me that although he’s studying advanced physics and has read a number of books by leading scientists on the topic, he still hasn’t found satisfactory answers.
I believe these are some strong arguments for faith in the Creator. Indeed, much more could be said about each one, but ultimately, my faith in the Creator doesn’t rest on the shaky foundation of my cleverness and eloquence.
Thus the strongest argument is quite different. I’d like to suggest it’s actually found in an ancient prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10).
No philosophy or word games, just a simple plea.
But it’s powerful! In the original Hebrew of the prayer, the word “create” refers to the type of creating that only God can do: something from nothing. It also appears in the Bible’s opening line, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Recall how “the earth was without form and void” (Gen. 1:2), or more literally, “the earth was in confusion and empty”, but by the power of His Word, Creator God made it “very good”.
Praying, “Create in me a clean heart”, is an invitation for the Creator to step into the darkness and confusion of your heart and from nothing make something very good. The strongest argument isn’t a clever insight that outwits unbelief, but a heart transformed by the Creator’s Word.
In a world of disbelief, perhaps it’s time we rediscover the strongest argument: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”