Scripture and Science: 2 Sides of the Same Coin

Exploring The Question, "Can Christianity And Science Coexist?".

Eric Estes: [00:00:03] So this last week was our family's spring break. And for many of you, I know that was the case. So we decided we were going to go camping this past week. And so we did it, and so it's been a while since we've been tent camping. And so we loaded up and it was a chore, we had two pickup trucks full of stuff, ten of those tote bins full of stuff, four tents, we had a horse trailer, we had all this kind of stuff to take camping. We went out Wednesday to the campsite and we had a great time, set up camp, everything else, even with one-armed, you know, it was we were able to set up camp, everybody chipped in and did a great job. And then Thursday morning, we heard all these reports of these storms rolling in, so we packed it all up and came on home.

Eric Estes: [00:00:45] But it was redeemed because that next Friday, we went back out there not to camp, just to hike. And we had an amazing hike, we had all seven of our kids. It was the first time we've done a hike with all seven of our kids in a long time, and so we did this hike, and as we were hiking through the woods, we had a great time laughing and joking with each other, but it was just so impactful to be out in God's creation. There's just a sense where you can feel God out in his creation, and we can see his fingerprints all over the place, whether it's the sunrise or the sunset, whether it's the way that the trees are shaped, whether it's the way that he created everything to work together. It's all of those pieces, the mountains, not in Texas, but the majesty of the mountains, the ocean, all of those pieces of creation scream that there is a creator and that it's God.

Eric Estes: [00:01:39] But now there's been other trips we've been on where there was a different story being told, right? We've gone to museums in different places. We've been helping kids with their homework, right? Or as kids go off to college, as we have conversations, there's another story that rolls around that says, no, there wasn't a creator that created all this, all of that happened out of just random chance.

Eric Estes: [00:02:04] These are two different stories, and so what do we do with those? If that kind of wells up attention in me, it makes me uncomfortable. Like, okay, well, what do we do? How do we reconcile these two things? I mean, all these scientists say that this is true. How do we reconcile that with what the Scripture says? And for many Christians, we come to a place where we feel like we have to choose between science or our faith. And y'all, that's not true, that is not true, we don't have to choose between the two. When we understand science as it's meant to be, we actually see that those two pieces work together, that they're in harmony, that there's a complementary nature between science and our faith, that when we see through the lens of Scripture and see science and how it functions, it just brings more and more of God's beauty to bear.

Eric Estes: [00:02:57] So we've been in a series called Lenses, and we've been spending the last nine weeks walking through what does it look like to look through a biblical lens? Everybody you ever encounter is looking through a set of lenses, that's how we see the world. And it's based on our beliefs, our values, our experiences, all those types of things play into how we see the world. And we've been making the case that the biblical lens, God's lens, is the best way to see the world, it's the clearest, it's the way that best helps us understand the reality around us. So we spent three weeks talking about why we trust the Bible, and then we spent another five weeks talking about God, and who God is, some of his attributes. Because if we want to see through that lens, we have to understand who God is, and when we understand who he is, we start to see things more clearly, how things line up, and how we are to go about things on that.

Eric Estes: [00:03:51] So last week, then we turned a corner, and rather than just talking about a biblical lens, we started looking through that biblical lens. And so last week we looked at entertainment, culture, and social media, right? How do we see that through a biblical lens? Today we're going to talk about science. How do we see science through a biblical lens that makes it clear and helps us to understand how God sees it and what that looks like? So in order to do that today, I've asked a friend of mine, Rick Townsend, to come out here and to do this with me. Many of you know Rick, he's been a part of our church for a while, he is serving in a lot of different areas. He's probably done your name tag at the front door. He serves in our student area. He also, he and his wife, Gail, host, a young adult life group at their home. He's heavily involved, and they're both heavily involved in ESL. And then also Rick is heavily involved in our equipping ministries here, and you'll see why today as we go through some of these difficult topics. But with Rick and Gail, what I love about them, one of the many things is how well they're doing retirement, they are really focusing and spending their time on the things of God that matter.

Eric Estes: [00:05:03] And one of the things that Rick has done is he has pursued a passion of his, and he's pursued his Ph.D. and then gotten his Ph.D., so I guess I have to call you Dr. Townsend now.

Rick Townsend: [00:05:11] Please don't.

Eric Estes: [00:05:13] But he received his Ph.D. in the history of ideas. And so what we're talking about today, the ideas that have flown through, are really a piece of what he does. And he has a passion for the topic of science and how we understand science and also how it leads to a deeper faith in Christ, not pushes us away. So today we'll not only do we get to interact with Rick this morning, but Rick will be here this afternoon at 2:30. We're going to do a workshop like we've been doing a Hard Conversations workshop, and we would love for you to come. We'll go deeper into some of these topics and really understand, kind of bring your questions, whether it's dinosaurs, fossils, whatever it is to help Rick and a team of people to kind of help have these difficult conversations.

Eric Estes: [00:05:53] Also, if you're a life group leader, Rick and some other folks have gone into life groups before and had some of these discussions in their life groups. So he is an incredible resource and we're lucky to have him here at our church. So Rick, let me just start there with as we talk about that tension between faith and science, where else do you see that play out?

Rick Townsend: [00:06:13] Yeah, that's a great question. So again, from our perspective, we see science and faith as two sides of the same coin. They really are integrated well, but that's not the way we see it when we look at the world. When we look at the world, we see a different kind of story, and we're constantly being told that faith and science or faith and reason are at odds with each other and they're pointing in different directions. If you just have reason, then you can reason beyond, and you don't need God anymore.

Rick Townsend: [00:06:39] In fact, there are a lot of ways that cartoons communicate this. Here's one, I'll show a couple here. Science flies you to the moon, religion into skyscrapers. Or here's one where the religious people are suppressing and misleading and rejecting, denying, and they are stopping progress. There are others that come at us, they're fast and furious, you see them in the culture all the time. Religion is a brain-eating bacteria, or religion is my science. Or this next one is one of my sort of favorites, it's what would it take to change your mind? And the Christian says nothing could change my mind. And yet Bill Nye the Science Guy, the guy who failed as a stand-up comic, so his fallback career is confusing kids about science. Right? And so he says evidence would change his mind, and therein lies all the difference in the world. So we get this parody image of what it is between science and faith. Here's one that's almost blasphemous, worship science. Or this next one, too stupid to understand Science? Try religion. Yeah, that'll work. And then this one you'll see on bumper stickers or on back windows all the time where evidence is eating up faith, the Darwin idea. And so we see these ideas, but again, we don't see it that way, instead of this we see a Christian perspective instead of cultural memes. And so what that looks like from our perspective is that faith and reason are actually pointing in the same direction and they're complementary, they build each other up. And so we see science and faith as being really two parts of the picture that complete the whole.

Eric Estes: [00:08:10] Yeah, and we see that in Scripture, too. So today we want to anchor in on Romans 1. Marissa read it earlier, a piece of it, but I want to start off in Romans 1 starting in verse 16, we'll be in 16 through 25 today, kind of interacting with the Scripture. But in Romans 1:16, Paul writes this, he says, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." We're going to come back to that idea, "For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them." Here's what's key, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made."

Eric Estes: [00:09:11] So as we look at this particular passage, there are really three things I want us to pull out of it today. First of all, we want to see that the evidence for a creator is clear. All throughout creation, we see this evidence of the fingerprints of God, that there is a creator. And if we're doing science well, then science is just simply the observing of creation and it should point us to God, so that's number one. The second thing we see is that by nature, we tend to suppress the truth. That's not we, as far as each individual here, we as a society tend to suppress the truth because we want to be in control. So anything that tells us that no, somebody else is in control, we tend to suppress that truth. And so that's something we need to be aware of and we'll walk through it today. And then the third thing is, we can't forget this, the way Paul starts off this part of the Scripture is that there is power in the Gospel and that we should walk forward unashamed of that.

Eric Estes: [00:10:12] And we'll walk through that because the Gospel is the good news of Jesus, it's the story of how God has created everything and what He has done, and there is power in that, and we can walk forward and confidence knowing that that is not only true, but it is what is best and real and beautiful. So that's what Scripture tells us. There are also, I want to point out, two different ways that God shows us here that he reveals things to us. First of all, he says by his word, and then secondly, through his world. And so through his word, we see in that first part in verse 16, that I am not ashamed of the Gospel, that gospel is the good news of Jesus. And it's what was written in Scripture. It was what Jesus did, what happened, why God sent him, that He died for our sins, and that he rose again so that we could be forgiven, right, that's the Gospel.

Eric Estes: [00:11:03] So he reveals himself through his word. But then also we see later on in verse 20 that his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived since the beginning of creation, the creation of the world, in the things that have been created. So we see that he reveals himself in the Word and the world. So if we come upon a situation like I just described, where the word says one thing, the Bible, and creation or science says something else, either we've misunderstood the word or we've misunderstood our world, and sometimes that happens in science. And so, Rick, can you kind of just kind of walk through how should we understand science and how maybe has it been misunderstood or misused?

Rick Townsend: [00:11:48] So we see those puzzle pieces coming together when we look at the word and the world together. And we look at science from a Christian perspective with a number of presuppositions that have come to us through our investigation. So we look at nature as real and good, and we look at it as a creation, we look at it as orderly and lawful. Now, that last one may confuse you a little bit, but think about this. there's a place in Jeremiah where God promises and he says, this is what the Lord says, "If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, 26then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David." He's reassuring the descendants of Jacob and David by how fixed they understand the laws to be. They know the day and night are fixed, they know that the laws, even though they don't have names for everything, they know that gravity is true, that they know that they drop things that will fall, those things are reliable, and cause and effect works. And God reassured David and his descendants through the fixed laws of nature.

Rick Townsend: [00:12:47] We also see nature as precise and mathematical, knowable and testable, that's what allows us to do experiments where we have reliable cause and effect. It allows us to do physics, and chemistry, it allows us to study the effects of gravity, and see how the laws of planetary motion work. We also see that nature is for the benefit or for the glory of God and the benefit of mankind from Genesis 1. And finally, we see time as linear, it's sequential. So a lot of times you'll see space travel or time travel in science fiction, and that's where it belongs because it's science fiction. There's a new movie that just got the best movie of the year, Everything Everywhere, All at Once, multi-dimensional, it's all science fiction.

Rick Townsend: [00:13:29] But these things are reliable, and so when we do science, we look at the attributes God has put into science. There's a book, we'll refer to a couple of books today, but these are not books that you have to read cover to cover, but you can look up specific things. But Frank Turek talks about these individual aspects that we can rely on and that atheists have to steal from God to make their case, both logically and philosophically. And in history, that's been the way it has been perceived. So we see people like Kepler who did the laws of planetary motion, and he attributes nature to his Creator and God. We see Isaac Newton, who looked at the universe or the solar system specifically and said, this is such a finely balanced thing, it has to have come by the one who is the Lord overall. And then there's Blaise Pascal, who has a famous statement that he made, there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus. And God made His attributes evident to us in the same way that Blaise Pascal experienced it so long ago.

Rick Townsend: [00:14:38] So when the materialists look at science, on the other hand, they look at materialism or naturalism. And I'm going to use those terms interchangeably, so they mean the same thing, they mean that if I'm investigating something physical, I'm going to do experiments with that physical universe, my method is going to include naturalism. And so we have these big terms, methodological naturalism, it looks like a big scary term. It just means the method is going to be material, and they make it sound pretty cosmic and hard to understand. But it is not hard to understand If you're going to do an experiment on physical things, you're going to use, guess what? Physical things. The method is natural or material, that's all it means.

Rick Townsend: [00:15:19] And so if we're going to look at ultimate causes, though, this is where science gets into trouble, is where they do philosophy. So if you look at causal events and you want to say, let's look at science and find the cause of the universe. And so science will drag out its tool kit, and it'll be lab equipment and all this sort of thing. But if we try to interject supernatural causation, they draw a line and say, we can't look at that. This stuff over here, the lab equipment, that's okay. But when we have supernatural causation, we can't consider that. So what you end up doing is you look at the material world to figure out where the material world came from. And so guess what? If you look in the material world for a cause of the material world, what are you going to find? Something material. But that doesn't really answer the question, does it? It's circular logic.

Rick Townsend: [00:16:08] As Christians, we believe that God and the material world are where we can find answers to ultimate causation type things. And so look at it this way, in 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew his airplane, the Spirit of Saint Louis, across the Atlantic Ocean. And when he did, he ended up in Paris. Okay. Now he's walking down the streets of Paris, here's a thought experiment, let's say he runs across a friend who didn't know he was going to be in Paris. Would that friend, not knowing anything about airplanes, okay, he didn't have a Twitter account yet, it was 1927. He didn't have social media, he didn't know about airplanes crossing the Atlantic, and he sees Charles Lindbergh in Paris. How did he get there? He's going to assume what he knows, which is an ocean liner. Right? He is not going to assume that Charles Lindbergh flew his airplane across the Atlantic. And so he would ignore, he would count that out and he would not consider that in his solution set. Airplanes are not there; you can't use an airplane because he doesn't know about it. He would assume the wrong thing because the correct answer is not in the set of things he's considering.

Rick Townsend: [00:17:15] Here are a couple of other ways to look at it. You've probably heard the analogy that if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Right? Well, how do you explain this from a hammer and a nail? You need, first of all, an architect, some plan, some design that's not evident from the hammer. You need saws to cut things precisely, that's not in the hammer, you need a foundation et cetera, et cetera. You have to have the right tool in your toolbox if you're going to get the right result. So in this example, if you have a flat-head screw and all you've got is a Phillips head screwdriver, you're going to end up not being able to get the screw out in this case. And what you're going to end up with is frustration, but not the right answer, it's just not going to work. And so when we look at the material world, we have to think about the fact that God is the one who created the material world, so we have to look outside the material world to find out how it started, and so that's how materialists get it wrong.

Eric Estes: [00:18:14] Yeah. So I think just another way to say that is not that science is bad, science is good, but we're using the wrong tool in certain situations. Science has limitations to it, and we understand that, right. Even outside of the supernatural, if we just take that aside for a second, there are things that we know that Science is able to measure that what we can taste, touch, feel, see, and all of those things. But there are certain things that we know are real that don't exist in that. Let's just take love, for example, love is an example. We know it's real, but that's not something you can measure through science or do studies on it, that kind of thing.

Eric Estes: [00:18:53] Let me tell a story that I stole from Glen Scribner, but I think it makes the point really well. So there are two scientists, right, there's Sally and Bob. And let's say Sally gets to the laboratory early one morning and she finds a specimen on her desk, a plant. And so she starts immediately dissecting it, putting it under a microscope, she does chemical analysis, then she classifies it. And when Bob comes in a little bit later, Sally says, Bob, thank you so much for that specimen. That is exactly what I wanted to see, and I've done all this different research and analysis on it, and I think it's going to help us understand the properties of this particular plant, all this kind of stuff. And Bob just kind of looks at her and goes, Sally, you moron, do you know that today is February 14th? He says it's Valentine's Day, and that specimen is a long stem rose, I'm trying to communicate something to you. And Sally totally missed it. So on one hand, she understands that rose better than anybody else, but yet she missed the meaning behind it.

Eric Estes: [00:20:01] And I think with science, it's a great tool for understanding the how, and sometimes the how and the what, but it's not going to answer those ultimate questions of why. And so we need to make we need to bring other tools to bear on that, like theology and philosophy and those types of things. So as we look at science, what happens oftentimes is we get it out of whack rather than looking at science through a biblical God perspective, many people, the people who are materialists or naturalists, which just means there is no God, we can't consider anything outside of the material world, they try and do that without taking it from a God perspective. So the lenses our backwards, rather than looking at science through a God lens, we're trying to look at God through a science lens.

Eric Estes: [00:20:44] So what I want us to do today, is I want us to kind of walk through this worldview, this lens of God's big story that we've been talking about. Because if you remember, we've been looking at this pretty much every week to answer these sets of questions, and we have been given in Scripture, a story that God has given us, this is the story of reality. And so just as a reminder, it starts with God, God is the center of the story, not us. It's God's story, He's the center.

Eric Estes: [00:21:13] And chapter one of this story was creation, he created everything. And then chapter two was we broke it, right, that's what we call the fall, where we have rebelled against God. We said we want to be in control, and so as a result, it severed the relationship between us and God. But then but God didn't leave it there, in chapter three he sent his son Jesus, to provide redemption for us, to draw us back to him, to provide a way to make things right again, by Jesus dying for our sins and taking them on himself and giving us his relationship and right standing with the Father. And then chapter four goes on because we know things aren't quite, while we're redeemed with God, things aren't completely made right in the world yet. But one day Jesus is coming, and the new heavens and the new Earth, where he will restore all things to where they were. Right, that's the story of Scripture, that's God's big story, and that's the lens that we look through from a biblical standpoint.

Eric Estes: [00:22:15] But what happens, now, I want to look at this from the naturalist or the materialist standpoint. If we take God out of, I was hoping I could do that with my left hand, as long as I don't have to write anything, I think we're good. If they take God out of the picture it changes the whole story in how we understand that. And so what I think is helpful for us today is we're going to go through this looking at it from both a biblical standpoint and a natural standpoint, which means we're just taking God out of the equation, we're looking only at the things that science can measure and what we do. Okay? And by doing that, hopefully, we can find some areas where there's common ground, so as we interact with people and talk with people, we can find common ground there. But then also there are some areas where we disagree, and I think what we'll see is that the more compelling story is the story that we're telling with the Scriptures of the Gospel.

Eric Estes: [00:23:08] So let's start with the middle, with God. What we believe is from a biblical standpoint, we've talked about who God is, and we know that He is sovereign, that He is holy, that He is unchanging, that He is truth, and that He is love. Right? Those are the five attributes that we've looked at over these last several weeks. There's many more to that, and Rick will talk about some of those here in a minute, but that's who we understand God to be. But from a naturalistic standpoint, when we take God out, what happens is you trade in a God who is sovereign with random chance. Right? That's kind of scary. When you trade in a God who is unchanging with science that's hanging every day, right? How many times have you heard the phrase, this discovery changes everything we thought we knew about blank, right? Black holes, quantum physics, the molecular structure, whatever it is, right? Science is always learning new things and updating, and so it's always changing. How about we're trading a naturalistic perspective, we would trade in the holiness of God, the separateness of God from creation, with its all just creation. The love, we would trade in love, because in a truly naturalistic world, there is no reason for love, it's purely survival of the fittest, right? So it's a bad trade.

Eric Estes: [00:24:31] And here's why it happens, here's what we see in Scripture. If we go back to Romans 1, verse 25, Paul writes this, he says, "Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." That's what we tend to do because we want to be in control, we take God out of the picture and we focus purely on the creation and completely ignore the creator, and that's where we get into problems with science when we take that completely out of the picture. So when we do that, when we change God, then it has implications for the rest of the story.

Eric Estes: [00:25:08] And so I want to spend some time on each of those elements, but I want to spend most of our time on creation because that's probably where we hit the most tension and conflict between what is a lot of times science and what the Scripture teaches. So as we do that, let's start with chapter one creation. And we know from a biblical standpoint that God created everything. Genesis 1, it tells us, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." He spoke everything into existence, and then we see in Genesis 1:25 that "God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds." So that seems to indicate not a progression of things that happened over a long period of time, but that each animal, each creature was created as it is. And then ultimately in verse 26, he says, "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image." Right, that man was created by God as a special creature among the creation.

Eric Estes: [00:26:09] Now, this biblical understanding really conflicts with what we typically hear on college campuses or high school campuses or in any science book almost that, no, this happened just purely out of random chance over millions of years, the evolution story. These are two different stories, so Rick, help us understand how do we reconcile those two things.

Rick Townsend: [00:26:31] Yeah, so we reconcile them by realizing, again, that science only can go so far, that it can only take certain licenses to do certain things. The stories that we were all given growing up included that progression. They included this guy who might be referred to as Cheerful Charlie, he was the original cheerful guy, I've never seen a picture of this guy smiling. Okay, there was a reason for that, what he had to say was pretty bleak, it wasn't that optimistic. He was saying that things degenerate, that things progress through death, I mean, just not a cheerful guy. But he had some really good things to say about categorizing animals and helping us understand them, he did some really good observational stuff. But then he came up with this idea that because of outward appearances, things were related in the way that they developed, as opposed to the way we can think about them or study about them. And so we see these ideas of trees, of life. And it starts down here with a simple, allegedly simple one-celled organism, and it progresses into sea life and reptiles and birds and animals. The problem is he tells a really good story, but he doesn't give any evidence that that's actually what happened. An explanation is not evidence, it's simply an explanation.

Rick Townsend: [00:27:47] I remember when I was first studying about this stuff, what caused me to study it, I was in a Bible study, well, my first ever Bible study. I became a Christian as a child, and I had a Bible, but that's all I knew about. It was kind of what the books were because I had to memorize those to get the Bible, and then I had the Bible and it was all over, but I didn't know how to use it. And so I was invited when I was in pilot training in 1975, these friends of mine, Frank, Bob, and Mike, haven't seen him in years, they have no idea the impact they made. They asked me a simple question because we came across this passage where it said that God created everything and made himself apparent. And they said, well, my response was, well, I think, yeah, it all happened, and evolution happened, and God did it. And they said, well, what's your evidence that it actually happened that way? And so ever since 1975, I've been looking everywhere for the evidence, I can't find it. There is no evidence that one creature developed into another. What we see is the adaptability within certain fixed limits, but we don't see creatures changing from one into another.

Rick Townsend: [00:28:47] In fact, when I look at this stuff, I'm not a biologist, I'm a historian of ideas, which means I study how the ideas came about. I'm not an expert in their content, but as I study this stuff, I find myself worshiping God more, the more I understand about how complex it is and how well it works. I just can't get away from that, so other than reading the Bible, some of my most meaningful times of worshiping God are studying His creation. So we want to talk for just a second about the origin of life, how complex that first thing at the bottom down there, and how difficult it was for that first cell to come about because Darwin takes things and moves them in progression in his mind. But it's not simple and we don't know how to do it. So if you have that video clip for James' tour, that'd be great.

Video : [00:29:35] (Video Plays)

Rick Townsend: [00:29:59] So simply speaking, we're told all the time, oh, we have chemicals of life. What we have is a chemical experiment. We'll go into some more detail this afternoon with some longer clips where he explains this a little bit more thoroughly, but we just don't know anything about how life originated. We can build some of the basic chemicals, but we can't put them together in any meaningful way. So this guy, you can look for him online, James Tour, he's a synthetic organic chemist. I had to practice saying that. He synthesizes organic chemicals, he knows how hard it is to make chemistry work, and you can't do it in a primordial soup, it just doesn't work.

Eric Estes: [00:30:36] So, Rick, what do we do with the fossils? We see this fossil record. How do we explain that?

Rick Townsend: [00:30:41] Yeah, so fossils are an interesting thing, they became more and more a topic of conversation early in the 1800s when they started finding these dinosaur things, they didn't even know they existed. But here's an example of a fish eating another fish, many of the fossils are trapped in Mid-action, and so we don't see them as you would expect, to find them. So if we have an animal that dies today, Eric, so an elephant dies in the Serengeti, it gets covered up with more and more dust over time and it eventually becomes a fossil, right?

Eric Estes: [00:31:12] No, it gets eaten.

Rick Townsend: [00:31:13] It gets eaten. Yeah, so we don't get fossils from normal progress of what happens on the earth. Instead, it takes a cataclysmic, catastrophic, huge event, maybe called a flood, and we see these fossils all over the world in the same general layout as we find them, anywhere we find them. Here's what frequently these animals are clearly in distress, in death throes, as they're being covered up by this cataclysmic flood event that happened. We are frequently told that there's a thing called a geological column where we have simple animals on the bottom, going to more and more complex as we progress up. Sometimes it's done with more of a cartoonish way of looking at it, but the problem is it doesn't make as much sense to think about it that way as thinking about it in the progression of mobility.

Rick Townsend: [00:31:59] So if there was a big flood and there were lots of mud flows being pushed around by this flood, they would cover up the animals least able to move first. So we'd have shellfish, and then we'd have sea creatures that can't get out of the way because they're in the water, and then we have the more mobile reptiles, and then the land animals, those that can run away fast tend to be gathered together in what we see today are fossil graveyards of dinosaurs, mammals all mixed together, mostly dinosaurs. But we see lots of mammals, why do we see more, more mammals? They're more mobile, they can get out of the way and run farther away where they're more on the surface than would be deteriorated over time instead of being created into fossils. And so this is more, to me, a snapshot of what happened at the flood and the progression in which things were buried than it is a picture of progression or development over time.

Rick Townsend: [00:32:49] One of the problems is we have this thing called index fossils, trying to figure out how old things are. And we have a shellfish, we say, that's okay, 100 million years old. We just decided that it's so far down, it must be 100 million years. And then we have this dinosaur, it's only 45 million years old, it's always higher. Well, again, mobility. But then they'll say, okay, so any time we see a shellfish, it's this old, and every time we see that dinosaur, it's that old. The problem is it's circular, if I find the shellfish in a layer, I date the layer by the shellfish. If I find a layer, find with the shellfish, I date the layer by...It's just circular. You're dating the shellfish by the layer, and the layer by the shellfish, it just goes on and on. So there are some flaws in this logic.

Eric Estes: [00:33:30] And by the way, we'll go deeper into these types of issues in the afternoon session. So if you have questions or want to interact more with Rick and the team on this, this is a great way to go. Also another resource, especially for parents, but really for anybody, I would encourage life groups to do this. The Institute for Creation Research has a museum in Dallas. We had some people go Saturday and it's really well done, and it's cutting-edge research that they're doing that shows a lot of they're doing experiments and trying different things to see and to paint the picture that, no, this isn't the best picture of the way things actually happened, there are better explanations for that. Okay, so, Rick, we talked about evolution a little bit. What are some of the things in science that point us to God that shows that really science is on our side?

Rick Townsend: [00:34:18] Yeah. So one of the things that are happening is we're making discoveries all the time. One of them is when we start looking at how old things are, we're finding dinosaurs with soft tissue, which means science is reinforcing the idea that maybe the flood happened and maybe it wasn't that long ago. So we're finding larger dinosaur bones with blood cells and ligaments and stuff that are still a little bit stretchy. How does that happen over 68 million years? It's a dinosaur shocker, that's the headline. Okay, well, maybe it's God who is the shocker. Who knows? So when we look at science from God's perspective, we really do find some incredible evidence. This guy, Stephen Meyer, is one of the most gracious, brilliant men I've ever been around. He is very accessible at conferences, you can go up and talk to him, he's a normal guy. But then he writes a 600-page book on The Return of the God Hypothesis. You know, we used to have scientists who believed in God primarily, as we talked about earlier, but then he kind of went away in the thinking of society in many places with the scientific revolution. Meyer is saying it's time to bring him back and have a return of the God hypothesis, and he cites three scientific discoveries that reveal the mind behind the universe, there really is a mind behind these things.

Rick Townsend: [00:35:29] And so those three things, we'll look at real briefly. The first one is the origin of the universe. Before the mid-20th century, there was this idea that the universe was infinite, it was expanding and collapsing and just kind of an infinite cycle. But then the equations were done by Einstein, he doctored them to change them, to look like it was an infinite universe, and then was confronted with the reality that there was a finite beginning. Edwin Hubble stretched the redshift of stars, and the expansion of the universe proved that the universe had a finite point of beginning, and so this is the first big discovery that Meyer points to is the origin of the universe.

Eric Estes: [00:36:10] Yeah, I've heard it explained before that if there's a big bang, which most scientists would say there's a big bang. Well, that doesn't explain it, because if there's a big bang, there has to be a big banger, it doesn't just happen out of nothing. So the origin of the universe is something that points to God.

Rick Townsend: [00:36:27] Yeah. I mean, again, we can't look in the material world for the material world, it's just any way, awesome. So the next thing that Meyer goes into is the fine-tuning of the laws of nature. You know, the law of gravity is interesting, we don't really know how it works. Newton tried to define parameters in describing the way that gravity works, he did a great job, but he was kind of ridiculed because he had this idea of a force that could extend beyond any physical realm. So he had this idea of gravity working through space where there's no electromagnetism, it's not electromagnetic. We don't know how it works, okay, but it does, and it's finely tuned. If it was any different, if you stretched a tape measure across the universe and you had one inch of that, that's how finely tuned it is. It's hard to comprehend, I can't comprehend it, and I won't ask you to. But it's finely tuned as well as the strong and weak force of the nucleus, the speed of light, the bending of light, and the way these things all work together for what they call the time-space continuum, whatever that is, we don't understand it. So that's the second thing, is the finely tuned laws.

Eric Estes: [00:37:41] I've heard of that referred to oftentimes as the Goldilocks principle, right? If it was too hot or too cold, just a little bit hotter, a little bit colder, life wouldn't exist and so it has to be just right. And there are hundreds of things that have to be just right, just finely tuned, for life to exist. The chances of that happening randomly are next to impossible, it's as if there was a designer behind all of it.

Rick Townsend: [00:38:06] And then the third example he gives is the DNA content of information. When you look at this complex molecule that has to unwind to replicate, it has a code that defines how everything in the cell works. It defines the molecular machines that do things like reproduction, there are over 50,000 different types of protein in your body right now, you should be exhausted with all this stuff going on inside you. When I look at that complexity, just from the level, I can understand it as an outsider getting the concepts, I am in awe of what God did, it just boggles the mind.

Eric Estes: [00:38:47] So I think these are great examples of, and these are recent, more recent studies, and so the more we do science, the more we find things that really point to there is a God, a Creator, a Designer who designed all of this stuff.

Rick Townsend: [00:39:02] Yeah. So we can actually derive some certain attributes of God as we look at these things of the origin of the Universe, fine-tuning, and the coded information. If we look at what are the implications of that, we can derive a couple of things. One is, God created time, space, and matter, which means he has to be bigger than time, space, or matter. I make things out of wood; I am greater than the things that I make out of wood. The creator has to be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. He has to be incredibly powerful to put this level of power, innovation, and intelligence to create the information content that makes the genome work and other things as well. Taken all together, we can see that he's decisive. The entity is decisive, and it's also personal because someone who decides to do something at a specific finite point in the past, creating the universe, etcetera, had to make a decision to do that. And the only entity that we know of in our universe that is decisive, we call personal. So when we take all these attributes together timeless, we have an entity that is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, innovative, intelligent, decisive, and personal. Eric, if I was to describe that entity to you, what would you say it was?

Eric Estes: [00:40:14] Sure sounds like God.

Rick Townsend: [00:40:15] It does sound like God. Now we can't get the Christian God out of this kind of analysis, but we can get to at least deism, the idea that there is a God. And then from there, we use anthropology, history, archeology, and textual evidence to determine which of the religions, if any of the religions we have are correct, and that is a whole different discussion, but it clearly lines up behind Christianity.

Eric Estes: [00:40:39] Very good. So I think this is what Scripture tells us, right, this is what we've been reading in Romans 1. Can you go to the next slide, that he has made it plain, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them, his invisible attributes." Right? We just saw some of his attributes, they are clearly seen when we look at the creation of the universe, his eternal power and his divine nature are clearly seen in the creation. So I think it's just so powerful that we see in the creation, in the advanced science, that we're seeing fingerprints and evidence that there is a creator that lines up with what we see in Scripture. I think that's incredible.

Eric Estes: [00:41:21] So we've talked a little bit about creation as chapter one of God's big story. I want to go quickly through some of these other elements and see, okay, if we take God out of the middle, and we take purely a humanistic, materialistic, naturalistic, perspective and say only what we can see is what exists. Then what else happens in the story? How do people who buy into that, we've talked about the origin, what would they see as the problem that we have in our culture, our society? What would they say is the solution to that? So as we look at that from a naturalistic worldview, Rick, what would you say to someone with that worldview would you say of the problems and the solution?

Rick Townsend: [00:42:04] Well, the problem would be whatever touch button, whatever their hot button issue is. So they might be thinking that people are the problem. We hear that sometimes there are too many people, we have to reduce our population, reduce our rate of birth, and so on. So sometimes people are the problem. They might say climate change is the problem. They might say pollution is the problem. They might say social change is the problem. And so they will fixate, they will zero in on that, ignore everything else, and put all their energy into trying to fix that problem that they've defined as their own.

Eric Estes: [00:42:33] Right, and I think for a lot of people with that naturalistic lens, too, they would say that the problem is ignorance, if we just knew more, and if we studied more, then we'd be all right. Right? Education would be the solution. But I think we all know that we can know a lot of stuff and still not do the right thing. Right? And so there's a problem that's deeper than the naturalistic problem that that they would bring up. And the problem from a biblical standpoint is this, it's what we call the fall. And we see it in Romans 1 verse 21, which says, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." And I think that's what happens in that worldview. Can we go back to the picture here, in that worldview, and we take God out of it, then that's what happens is we start people exchange the truth of God for a lie. And that is the problem that we encounter in our culture is that we've rejected God, and we've turned away from God, and that is the biblical problem that we see there. So Rick, what is the solution to that problem?

Rick Townsend: [00:44:08] Well, again, the solution is whatever the hot-button issue is, but it doesn't matter, whatever they do, it's not going to be enough, it's never going to be enough, whether it's social change or whatever. And so from a Christian perspective, we typically have seen this diagram called the Bridge to Life illustration, and the idea is we start with either verse, but we'll start up here, "The wages of sin is death." What we've earned because of sin is death. "But the gift of God is eternal life." And that's the solution part. And then in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him..." This keyword believes, whoever believes puts trust in what Christ did apart from us, he can have eternal life and be reunited with God. So how does that fit with the diagram that we've been using? Well, so we'd have God over here, the fall over here, redemption in Christ here, and then reunification with God, restoration here. That's the way we typically see it. And we're used to asking the question, so where would you put yourself? So just think about it right now. Would you put yourself on the side of being apart from God, separated by sin, or have you trusted in the bridge, the Christ, that piece of the illustration and are living imperfectly, but trying to serve God. Which side would you put yourself on?

Rick Townsend: [00:45:30] So if we take this and we try and put it into the diagram we've been using, now it looks more like this. And so the question is, where do we put people on here? And so for me, it's been helpful to think through the idea that we, as lost people, are beyond the fall, but before redemption, are over in this quadrant. And that if Christ is your Lord and you've put your trust in Him, then you have moved over to the saved side. You're not quite at restoration, but you're beyond redemption that's assured in the promises of God. And so we can know that those things are fixed for us because God promised it.

Eric Estes: [00:46:05] Yeah. So I think some of the things that we see, and we see this in what Rick just described is the Gospel, that's the good news of Jesus and what Jesus did for us. And so in verse 16, when Paul writes, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." There is power in that redemption that we have because the ultimate problem is our sin and our separation from God, and that's the cause of every evil that we encounter in our world today. And education isn't going to do it, and saving the planet isn't going to do it, those are good things, but it doesn't deal with the ultimate problem, which is our separation from God and our own darkened hearts, as Paul Paul calls it.

Eric Estes: [00:46:53] So, okay, so we looked at God's story and we've kind of looked at it through a naturalistic lens of like all there is, is what we can see, and there's no such thing as God. We've looked at creation, we've looked at the fall, and we've looked at redemption. And remember, the fall is the problem, and then the solution is redemption. A couple more things we want to address the first one, as we talked through this diagram after redemption, we have a purpose. And what is our purpose? And that's one of the big questions is, what's our purpose?

Eric Estes: [00:47:24] So from a naturalistic lens, the purpose is really, remember going back to the evolutionary model, it's survival of the fittest. So the purpose of someone who's truly consistent with a naturalistic lens that takes God out of the picture, really the only purpose is to survive and to reproduce, right, that is the purpose through a naturalistic lens. But we know there's more to it than that, right? We have people who operate that way, Right, who don't care about anybody else? And we call them sociopaths. Right? There's something not right with that. And so that seems like a very superficial, not a very good purpose to rely on.

Eric Estes: [00:48:10] But from a biblical perspective, what we see is the purpose that we have as we're right here, is to point back to God, our Creator. And this is the same purpose of all of creation, we're right in line with creation. In Psalm 19:1, the psalmist writes, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." That's what all of our creation does. In Psalm 148, he talks about the sun, and the moon, and all of these are to praise him, the waters, the hail, the snow, the mist, the mountains, the hills, everything exists to praise him. And that's our role as followers of Jesus, is to point people to him, to point people to this story that he has written. I love what Rick said about how he felt like by understanding more and more about how God created things, that it moves him to worship. And I think that's the case, if you have a little bit more, if you really kind of like and geek out on some of this stuff and have a mind to really dig into the science, that is a way to worship God. Rick has said before he feels like he worships God with his mind on these things. So I want to encourage you on that, and especially if you are a student who loves science, pursue that field. We need more Christian scientists. We need more Christian doctors. We need more Christians in that field to not narrow the scope to just the material, but to say there is a bigger picture here, and let's do science the right way. Because we know that when following that path, it ultimately points to God. So that's our purpose, which is to point to God.

Eric Estes: [00:49:54] And then finally, the restoration, the new heavens, and the new Earth. From a Christian perspective, from a biblical perspective, we know that the answer to that is that Jesus returns, and we are with him forever. We live forever in glory if we're a follower of Jesus. That's the new heavens, that's the new earth for eternity. And that's the hope that we have that where sin will be no more and every tear is wiped away, that's the hope that we have and that we live for in the biblical lens. Rick, from a purely naturalistic lens, what's the destiny?

Rick Townsend: [00:50:29] Yeah, the destiny is simply if they're intellectually consistent, it's just annihilation, nothing. Or it's the term Ross used, the moralistic therapeutic deism, step five is good people go to heaven when they die. But what's good? How do you define that without God? And what is heaven? What does that mean? So it's a meaningless phrase.

Eric Estes: [00:50:51] Yeah, so as we kind of wrap up time, what I want to do is I want to come back to Romans 1 for a little bit. I want to come back to those three ideas that we saw in Romans 1. And the first thing is that there is evidence in creation for a creator. I think we've seen examples of that, and we can see more this afternoon. But as you look, you will see examples of our creator in the design of how things work and how he has created things. So there is evidence there, we just have to look for it and have the right mindset as we look for it. And then also we saw that by nature we tend to suppress the truth, right, as a culture, we, tend to suppress the truth and leave out parts of the equation that might point to someone greater than us, someone that would be in control, that would let us not be in control. And so we just need to be on guard, and as we're having conversations, it's okay to point out that that is our natural reaction is to suppress the truth, and we need to understand that.

Eric Estes: [00:51:48] And then the last thing is this, is that there is power in the Gospel. And we do not need to be ashamed, we shouldn't be ashamed. We can move forward in confidence because we know that this story, the Gospel, the good news of what Jesus did for us, the way God wrote it, is the story. It's not only the true story, which it is, and it reflects reality better than any other story out there. But it also is the more beautiful story, it's the better story because it not only gives us the truth, but it also points us to something we know deep in our hearts is true, that idea that we can't do it ourselves, but we need a Savior, and the God of the universe sent his Son to die for us. And so because of that, we have hope. This story is not only true, but it gives us hope. And y'all in the dark and despairing world we live in, what people need more than anything else is that hope. Yes, they need truth for sure, because there are eternal consequences, but not only truth, we need to give them hope. And when we tell this story, we can be confident, we don't need to be ashamed, we can be confident because this is a story of hope on what God has done for us.

Rick Townsend: [00:53:16] Yeah. So, Eric, I love the way you put that. You know we live in a broken world; we're told that it's broken all the time, but we believe we have answers and we have hope. We don't have all the answers, but all the answers we have are on our side, all the evidence is on our side. I've heard that from numerous scientists in recent years. One of my favorite verses on this whole creation and origins thing is in Ecclesiastes, where it says, "God put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." We cannot comprehend it, we can't understand it, we can't discover it. But we have enough, we have everything we need for life and godliness from First Peter. It would be nice if answers were this easy, if we could just find an answer at an exit on the interstate, but it doesn't work that way. So the question for you is, I got this at my son's church in upstate New York last week, there is hope, there are Christians in upstate New York. But their catchphrase was, this is where it's okay to not be okay. So my question related to science is, are you okay without all the answers? Because we don't have all the answers. We do have everything that we need for life and godliness, though, and we have everything we need for salvation.

Eric Estes: [00:54:28] So as we wrap up our time, I just want to ask you to kind of pause, and we'll just take that moment of silence to kind of just wrestle through some of this. Is there anything that you've been wrestling through, or where is it that you find that you see the fingerprints of God in creation, and focus on that? And how can you use creation to bring more awe into your life? And also wrestle with the idea of where are you on the diagram of God's story. Are you secure resting in Jesus, or are you still questioning and wondering and trying to figure this out? Let's pray for just a moment and we'll wrap up.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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