As a sixteen-year-old, I was probably the most “on fire,” committed Christian of all my friends. Nothing was more important to me than my relationship with Jesus, and I wanted the world to know him. I had read some creationist books like The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris and had listened to a number of tapes produced by the Institute for Creation Research. Josh McDowell was my favorite apologist at the time. Armed with the knowledge I gleaned from these and other sources, I set out to pen a treatise that would show the world, once and for all, that the Christian faith demanded the assent of skeptical minds.
The result was a partially completed nine-page handwritten document I called “For Skeptics Only.” For what it’s worth, I’m attaching both the original scanned document and a transcribed version below. Apparently I aimed to address three broad topics: the existence of God, the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of the Bible. As it turns out, I ended up writing about only the first of these topics and never found a skeptic to share it with. Ironically, I would be the first skeptic to read it, a full 30 years later.
This evening I transcribed the document, reading it for the first time since I wrote it so many years ago. What waters have passed under the bridge since that time! What would I have thought back then if I had known my future self would take such a precipitous turn away from the faith of my youth? What emotions flood me this evening as I contemplate who I was and who I’ve become!
It’s impossible to describe the surreal nature of connecting again with my past self. So much has changed, and yet strangely, so much has remained the same.
Here are some points of comparison between my past self and my present self:
- I wanted others to know what I passionately believed. I still do.
- My writing was stilted (did I know how to write non-passive sentences?), and still is, but hopefully a little less so now. (My boss at work is making every effort to help me simplify and boil down my thoughts to the basics when I write.)
- My handwriting style hasn’t changed much, perhaps in part because I really haven’t done much handwriting since then, thanks to the advent of word processing.
- I thought I knew more than I really did, and I was confident in what I thought I knew. I still have this tendency, but the more I’ve read from scholars and scientists, the more I realize how paltry my knowledge is.
- I still don’t know the answers to some of the questions I posed to skeptics back then, but I no longer feel compelled to answer them all. As Thomas Jefferson quipped, “He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”
- I’ve learned a lot since then. My earlier musings were full of misunderstandings about the Big Bang and evolution. I know better now, but my knowledge is still incomplete and skewed. I now love to read and learn more about these topics, filling in some of the holes and misconceptions. I realize I’ll never have the all the answers; the process of picking up bits and pieces is like solving a giant puzzle that will never be complete in my lifetime.
Here’s the scanned copy of my handwritten document: 1985 For Skeptics Only – Ken Daniels
And here’s the transcribed copy:
For Skeptics Only
Ken Daniels, 1985
The modern thinking man may look at Christianity at a surface level and see it as merely one of many world religions. He may regard all religions as concocted myths to explain certain natural phenomena or to meet emotional needs. Admittedly many Christians do not provide sufficient intellectual reasons to convince skeptics of the uniqueness of Christianity. One may view the activities of evangelists in churches and conclude they do nothing but play on the emotions of people ignorant and susceptible enough to accept the dogma of Christianity based on the Bible.
Furthermore, the naturalist, having convinced himself that there is insufficient proof to verify any one religion, has thrown out religion from the picture. To reject religion is to reject a Supreme Being and to reject the latter is to be forced to explain the origin of the universe and of life by chance. Therefore, the theory of evolution was contrived, which has been the most widely accepted explanation for the spontaneous origin of life.
Along with the rejection of the belief in a supreme being comes the freedom from responsibility. Therefore the atheist is free to act according to what he or she believes is right in a particular situation. It is not hard therefore, to understand why the skeptic may look at the standards and beliefs of Christians with considerable disdain.
Having now briefly examined the point of view of the modern thinking man, we will now focus on the beliefs of Christians and some reasons to support them.
The Christian faith is built on 3 essential pillars: the existence of God, the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration of the Bible.
While these pillars cannot be proven by sight or scientific method, the Christian may hold to what he or she believes is very strong circumstantial and historical evidence supporting his or her convictions. However, it must be noted that the one who has previously resolved not to accept the premises of Christianity will always be able to find a way to rationalize the retaining of his or her position.
Let us now examine the first pillar, the existence of God. Since the naturalist claims to be led foremostly by his or her five senses, the question of God’s existence will be dealt with in terms of that which can be seen: the universe and life.
Every rational man will agree that those things which exist came into being by chance or the act of an intelligent and all-powerful Creator. Therefore, offering evidence against one theory will give proof for the other. It may be argued here that since the creation of the cosmos by a supreme being necessitates the deviation from existing natural laws, there can be no proof against creation by using these laws. Therefor the theory which holds to a natural view of origins must rely completely on that which supports itself according to natural laws and that which can be seen. The creation theory, on the other hand, can better be supported by discrediting its counterpart, which is bound to the framework of natural laws.
The theory of natural origins is most widely explained on the basis of uniformitarianism and evolution. It is held that many billions of years ago, a small but dense particle of matter exploded and sent matter in all directions into space. In short, stars and planets were formed by the regathering of matter after a period of time. Following the formation of the earth, a single cell of life was spontaneously generated. As this organism reproduced, mutations or changes in offspring occured.
Those mutations which were harmful to the organisms caused the elimination of the latter. Those mutations which were beneficial to the survival of the organism were carried on to subsequent generations. Through this process of natural selection over millions of years, life went through the development from a simple cell to complex human beings.
At first glance, these premises may seem logical and attractive in explaining away the existence of a Creator. Further support is given to this theory by scientists who have succeeded in integrating it as a scientific fact into public and higher education and the media. It is shown that fossils found in many parts of the earth are simple in lower strata and more complex in higher strata, demonstrating the general development of evolution. Furthermore, reconstructed ape-men are depicted to give on the impression that they are links in the development of men from lower primates. The evolutionist constantly talks on the basis of millions or billions of years, time which is necessary to even consider the possibility of evolution.
However, upon further examination, one can find numerous fatal flaws in the naturalistic theory for the origin of the cosmos:
1) If all processes and laws have been the same throughout time, there is no way to account for the explosion of the original dense particle of matter, which had previously existed in a state of equilibrium for eternity past.
2) if the explosion of the original particle of matter resulted in matter being expulsed in all directions, it is not possible that some of it could lump together to form stars and planets. The matter would more likely collapse into the center where gravity was next to infinite.
3) The spontaneous generation of the first cell of life is statistically next to impossible, no matter how much time is allotted for this event.
- Man has developed many sophisticated technologies, including X vehicles which can enter and leave space with payloads, but to date he has not been able to produce anything faintly resembling life. He has merely been able to create simple amino acids and proteins for all his efforts Therefore, the simplest form of life is more complex than say, a space shuttle. No one would argue that, given enough time, materials, and energy, a space shuttle could arise spontaneously from the earth. Yet this is more possible than the chance of life coming into existence alone.
- The chance for the spontaneous generation for just one of many proteins in a simple cell is approximately one in 10^500. After 4 billion years and taking into consideration all the possible opportunities for the formation of proteins throughout the earth, this chance is reduced to one in 10^415, a blatant impossibility.
- In order for life to have formed on earth, there had to have been nitrogen compounds prevalent in the atmosphere which are not found today. The evolutionist attempt to rectify this situation by suggesting that the atmosphere had no oxygen at that time and that it contained the gases necessary for the formation of life. It is said that later plants gave the oxygen to the atmosphere as it presently exists. However, this would have considerably reduced the organism’s chance for survival in that there would have not been an ozone layer compressed of oxygen in the upper atmosphere to protect life from harmful radiation of the sun.
- In order for the first organism to have received nutrition and energy for survival, it would have needed to obtain its own energy directly from the sun. Thus, this creature must have had the incredibly complex compound of chlorophyll, which would greatly increase the odds against the spontaneous generation of life.
4) There are numerous evolutionary gaps both in the fossil and living record of life. Charles Darwin himself, the found of the modern theory of evolution, wrote, “Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, is not all nature in confusion, instead of being, as we see them, the species well-defined?”
5) It is not possible to explain the development of new structures and organs in organisms on the basis of natural selection. For example, the development of wings on lizards to produce flying reptiles meets strong logical barriers. While the lizard was in the beginning stages of wing development, the outgrowths on its shoulders would have been useless and cumbersome, because it would not yet be able to take the the advantage of flight. Therefore, this harmful mutation would have been eliminated and evolution could not have proceeded. This principle is true also of the development of the eyes, ears, circulatory system, arms, legs, sexual reproductive system, etc.
6) The theory of evolution is at odds in explaining the development of characteristics in man such as his taste for music and art, his ability to read and write, his sense of right and wrong, his almost universal recognition of a God or gods, and his ability to choose the direction that his life will take.The unguided force of natural selection would have no reason to select any of these characteristics in the struggle for survival, even if any of them could appear by chance.
7) Mutations are almost always harmful. Suppose that a computer program was continually recopied from tape to tape, occasionally with small accidental changes. The changes that were harmful to the continuity of the program were discarded, and the ones that increased its complexity were kept and passed on. Needless to say, this process would not be sufficient to explain the development of a simple child-created program to one that is complex and technical, even after millions of reproductions. What order can come about by chance? The evolution of complex life forms encounters still much more difficulty. It may be argued here by the naturalist that life, unlike a computer program, can undergo small changes in reproduction without being disrupted. However, these changes are small and simply create diversity horizontally, not upward.
8) The existence of natural laws in the universe is left unexplained without a supreme being. What caused the origin of gravity, energy, magnetism, time, etc.? Why does matter exist? It is reasonable to assume that each of these phenomena was created and controlled by a pre-existing force outside of the confines of the cosmos.