Design in the Universe + Evil + Suffering=???

I got a candid question from a reader named Jon:

“I’m curious on how you can see “design” in nature, based on your logic.

How does this line of reasoning explain pain, suffering and natural disasters?

Why design a world that is constantly cooling and erupting with violent events that kill millions of innocent people?

What about our fear of pain and death? If God was real, then he has no fear of death or pain and yet he created beings that must suffer this fate. What does that say about him?

Also, the problem of evil. Where did that come from?

If the universe was “designed” then how do you explain these very real things we deal with?

And I know you are a Christians so I can only assume you will give me a Christian answer to these problems. But since you are a big proponent of logic and reason, please try and answer these using those tools, instead of faith.”

The first thing I’d like to say is: I think this question is the REAL reason people doubt that the universe is designed. In short: “If an omniscient powerful being created the world, then why is it so pathetic and dysfunctional?”

It’s a worthwhile question.

In keeping with the rest of this site, I’m going to answer the question in terms of Information Theory. Reason and logic, as requested.

First, allow me to point out that this is a moral question not a scientific one. To even ask the question is to assume that moral questions are valid. The very fact that we ask these questions at least suggests that valid answers exist.

All moral questions are questions of intent. The reason that communication theory can address this question is that it does deal with intent. The other branches of science do not.

Bear with me for a minute while I define a few things.

Communication theory universally recognizes four layers:

  • The first layer is statistics. Statistics says: In English, the letter “e” appears 13% of the time and the letter “q” appears 0.1% of the time. Statistics recognizes predictable mathematical patterns in the language.
  • The second layer is syntax. Syntax is the mechanical rules of the language. Letters and words appear in very specific patterns: I before E except after C; U almost always follows Q. Words are always made of specific letters. “She is sleeping” is a statement and “is she sleeping” is a question. Essentially, it’s spelling and grammar.
  • The third layer is semantics. Semantics is meaning. In other words, beyond the mechanical rules of the language, what is actually being communicated? Semantics is the aspect of language that refers to something outside itself. “She is sleeping” conveys the meaning that a woman is resting.
  • The fourth layer is pragmatics. Pragmatics is intent. It is the purpose accomplished by meaning. It is always inferred from context. Someone says “She is sleeping” for a reason.

Example of pragmatics: The sentence “You have a green light” is ambiguous. Without knowing the context, the identity of the speaker, and their intent, it is not possible to infer the meaning with confidence. It could mean you are holding a green light bulb; or that you have a green light to drive your car; or it could indicate that you can go ahead with the project.

All four layers exist in any English sentence. They also exist in computer languages. If your computer downloads Windows updates from Microsoft, it sends a string of bits which make bytes which make commands, the purpose of which is to request and install the new files. All four layers are easily identified.

These layers exist in DNA as well. DNA contains base pairs which form triplets which form chromosomes which form genes. DNA by its very behavior expresses intent to multiply; this is precisely what is meant by the popular term “Selfish Gene.” The gene doesn’t have to be conscious to be “selfish.” It carries out its own purpose and that purpose is obvious from its behavior. Genes seek to replicate.

The first thing I want you to notice is that the lower levels are subservient to the higher levels. Any sentence you speak starts with your intent, which dictates meaning, which is expressed via the rules of language. These rules order the words which are in turn made of letters.

Encoding works from the top down:

Intent

which is expressed through

Meaning

which is expressed through

Sentences

which are made of

Words

which are made of

Letters.

Decoding works from the bottom up:

Letters

form

Words

which form

Sentences

which express

Meaning

which expresses

Intent.

Communication ALWAYS follows this process. Encoding is always top-down. Decoding is always bottom-up. There are no exceptions to this.

This is the first and most obvious reason why the materialistic explanation for the Origin of Life is wrong. It assumes that DNA and the genetic code were somehow formed from the bottom up. But real communication NEVER originates that way. Nobody can show you an alphabet that had no purpose which then somehow decided to make some words which eventually turned into sentences which eventually developed meaning.

Communication always starts with intent. When we study DNA and living things we decode from the bottom up. We see the individual base pairs in DNA and recognize that they form triplets and genes and chromosomes. Over time we infer what the chromosomes do, just as we decode ancient stone tablets written in an unfamiliar language.

Thus there are three elements of communication:

1) The intended outcome

2) The language that is used to communicate

3) The communication channel

And there are two ways that communication can be corrupted:

1) Noise in the communication channel

2) Malicious intended outcome

Information theory is all about the communication channel. Redundancy, noise, bandwidth, error correction, all that stuff. The mechanical aspects of communication.

All communication systems are subject to entropy which is signal degradation.

A noisy telephone line seldom produces a lie. Degraded signals are unfortunate but they’re not usually malicious.

A lie, however, is the intent to create a message that contains false information. Lies are evil. A lie cannot succeed without all the other layers of communication working properly. If you tell a lie to someone over the phone, the phone has to work for them to believe it. Also, both of you have to speak the same language with the same syntax and semantics.

Lies are parasitic, because they depend on everything else working properly.

When a lie is told, the highest layer (intent) is defective, while the other layers (semantics, syntax, statistics) are left intact. Lies are created from the top down, not the bottom up. (The best lies are perfectly formed, eloquent, persuasive sentences, aren’t they?)

Since lies are parasitic, truth existed first. Lies could not have existed first since they depend on proper communication for their existence.

The very existence of communication indicates an intentional, top-down process. Effective communication by definition cannot exist without truth.

Thus truth exists and an intentional super intelligence exists, because communication exists.

Lies exist. Lies, like all other forms of communication, are created in a top-down process, not a bottom-up process. Therefore evil intent exists and it has a will of its own.

Therefore free will exists.

Therefore evil has a free will and is not a deterministic result of that which is good. Again, because communication is a top down process. A communication pyramid exists in which the highest layer is evil.

Thus good exists, evil exists, evil is a parasite living on what is good and therefore evil is weaker than good.

Good existed first. Evil existed later and had a free will.

Therefore the intention of Good was to permit free will.

Apparently the intention of Good was also to create a universe in which communication could be corrupted and thus evil came to exist.

Thus the very nature of communication tells us that God exists; that free will exists; free will has produced evil; and that evil willfully corrupts communication with lies.

I have not yet addressed the function of noise in the universe. Let me do that now.

Any accident that destroys communication can be considered noise. Radio interference from the sun is not malicious; it just exists.

Likewise, hurricanes and tornadoes and tsunamis are not intentional. They are just examples of chaos.

Again, apparently the intention of Good was to create a universe in which communication could be corrupted by noise.

We ask the question: But WHY was the intention of Good to do things this way?

The very existence of this question reinforces everything I have said about communication so far: Some sort of WHY is always implied and inferred. All communication is intentional. All acts of creation are intentional.

So yes, there is an intention in the universe.

A “bottom-up” materialistic explanation of the universe not only fails to explain the existence and nature of communication. It fails to even support the existence of the question “why” in the first place. It is a self-defeating worldview. It says, “Don’t ask why, there is no why. There is no reason. It just is.” Which contradicts everything we know about information.

The existence of information is evidence of purpose (teleology) in the universe.

None of these statements answer the ultimate question “why is there evil in the world?” They just validate the existence of the question from every angle.

The only way to know why there is evil in the world is to ask Good to reveal it to us.

Which brings us directly to the doorstep of religion and theology. It’s the only place to go.

(Definition of theology: The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.)

Finally let me address this question:

“What about our fear of pain and death? If God was real, then he has no fear of death or pain and yet he created beings that must suffer this fate. What does that say about him?”

There’s a fascinating book by Dr. Paul Brand called “The Gift of Pain.” It documents the author’s unraveling of the mysteries of leprosy. He discovered that ALL the horrors of this wasting disease are simply caused by the inability to feel pain. Nothing else.

The worst thing that can happen to anyone is to not be able to feel pain. People who can’t feel pain destroy themselves. Dr. Brand found that once someone’s sensation of pain was dead there was NO substitute. Buzzers or bells or warnings were not sufficient. Nothing else would do.

Pain tells us that the world is not right.

Pain tells us that we are out of touch with that which is Good. That what was originally communicated is being destroyed.

Pain drives us back to the Good.

Fear is anxiety about the possibility of future pain.

We fear death because we intuitively know that death might lead to more pain.

Fear is an inevitable consequence of free will.

We are free to choose Evil, and we are free to choose Good.

Unfortunately the detrimental effects of evil also cause us to trust Evil and to mistrust Good. The confusion is endless sometimes.

This confusion also is a lie.

Sooner or later our pain shows us that this is a lie, because as we embrace evil we experience more pain.

Pain is the only way we know the difference between evil and good.

I will now briefly cross into the realm of Christian theology and point out something that is not always obvious.

Christianity never answers the Ultimate Big Question of Why. In the book of Job, Job asks for the reason for suffering and God tells Job he is too small to comprehend the answer. (There is another very interesting, similar conversation in the apocryphal book of Esdras. You can read that story here.)

But God does not abandon Job in his pain. Instead God becomes man and suffers with us, feels pain with us, endures the consequences of evil with us, and dies.

And in the process of God Himself being destroyed by evil and rising from the dead in a body that is incorruptible, redeems a corruptible world and makes it new again. In Revelation Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.” The last two chapters of that book describe an entire world that cannot be corrupted. A world that is the way we wish the world was now.

To participate, we must first ask. To acknowledge, seek, and embrace the Good. We both have free will, free choice, to make that decision. To choose Truth or Lies, Good or Evil.

Perry Marshall

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182 Comments

John says:

Perry,

Very well said! I’ve always said everything we dislike about this world simply presupposes a way it should be. The way it ought to be. We can see the world is evil. But we must have some kind of knowledge of what is good first to know it is evil. I dont know cold without knowing hot. Cant know crooked without the knowledge of straight. So knowing this world is not right, implies there is a way it should be, ie Heaven.

But while we are on it, I’ve always had this terrible thought, quite graphic: right now there are children being molested…and right now God is aware of it and sees it. I do trust God ultimately has reason for it. After all, the most injustice ever was His son dying for sinners. But I just can’t imagine God all mighty, all powerful, all loving watching this very act of children being brutally molested and tortured right now as we speak.

This is one thing I can’t comprehend, I can only trust in His goodness and justice and righteousness will ultimately redeem all evil period!

God Bless

John

John,

Thank you for your question. Believe me, I of all people can relate to it. I have very close friends and relatives who were molested and I have the same questions and heartaches about that as you do.

So with that in mind – and wanting to be clear that I have the utmost respect for this question and others like it – can we do a thought experiment?

When someone is about to molest a child… or whatever other heinous thing that people do….

What should God do about it? What actual steps might He take?

This is a thought experiment. There are no right or wrong answers here. I’d just like you to respond and let’s play out some scenarios and see where it goes.

Perry

John says:

Perry,

Thanks for your reply.

Yea anytime I have serious questions concerning the way things are and why God allows things etc., I always try to play them out the way I might think would be better and alot of times they lead to worse ways or ways that limit consequences therefore limit results that produce certain characeristics, such as any kind of meaningful love, mercy, forgivness and patience etc.

From some of C.S Lewis’s work, he mentions lets suppose God actually did step in everytime someone attempted to do evil. Lets suppose He made a tire tool turn to silly puddy everytime someone attempted to strike someone with it.
Or suppose everytime someone tried to lie, He changed their words so the lie didn’t come out etc., etc. Eventually we lose freewill. Our intents could not be expressed in space and time. So as it stand evil is a monument to mans freewill!

But I’ve always wondered why didnt God just make things where at least child molestation couldn’t take place. Such as designing humans where sexual encounters couldnt physically take place until much much older. Or something like that. But then I guess if He did that, then we would point to the next most evil thing we observe and point to that. On and on it would go until things were perfect. Being creatures made for perfection I think we will always point to whatever is not right, and ask “why?”

And the atheist in all honesty does have a point, that I admit, haunts me alot. In some ways this world does seems as if it is absent of a caring God who loves us. Indiscrimnate suffering, and tragedy that hits all walks of life, “good and bad.” Tornadoes rip through churches full of children and sweet ol grandmothers praying, just as often as anywhere.

I understand we as Christians have biblical reasons for the chaos we observe now after the fall, it just sometimes makes me wonder what if there really was no God, what would be different?? This thought haunts me constantly.

God Bless,

John

John,

If God did not exist then what would we mean when we said something was “good” or “bad”? Would there be any such thing as something which is objectively good or bad? Would there be any moral absolutes?

If there was no God would anything be here at all?

Perry

JohnM says:

Yes, I agree, if there is no God, then there is no purpose, no meaning to anything. If no purpose then nothing can actually be good or evil, right or wrong, no ought way for things to be. We would be nothing more then molecules acting and reacting to the laws of nature, no faults, no wrongs, just events taking place in space and time.

One of the better thoughts I have is, by looking at the cross, He himself hanging there, arms open wide inviting us, I know whatever the reason God allows evil to take place (for now) is certainly is not because he doesn’t love us.

God bless you Perry, may God sustain you in all your efforts here…

JohnM

JohnM says:

I guess I’m just a tormented thinking / doubting Christian (in my head, not heart).

I always wonder if while in my accumulation of knowledge of Christ, scripture and God etc., if I have not also at the same time made it impossible to look / think / and concider things objectively any longer. On one hand its always been my prayer to come to this point of belief, but on the other hand, I want it only if it is ultimately true, not just because it’s what I prefer to be true. What a wretced man me is!!!

I cant remember who it was, but it was said that “the more one doubts and questions what he believes, the more real and genuine his belief actually is!”

John,

“Israel” was Jacob’s new name, it means, “Wrestles with God.”

Some people have to fight these intellectual fights – others have faith without having to figure out all this stuff.

There is a real goodness to working out all these questions. It’s a worthwhile endeavor.

I’ll get to your other questions when I can….

Perry

P.S.: I think Kurt Godel has MUCH to say about the relationship between faith and reason. Great summary of his incompleteness theorem is here: http://www.miskatonic.org/godel.html

I will write more about Godel’s theory and its implications about God and theology in future posts.

Egay Santiago says:

the intent of the Designer is a perfect system but another inteligent being got envious and injected “virus” which causes all the defects.

Asking the same question, “why did God create suffering”? I have come up with the accepted answer. God didn’t create suffering. I’ll let you figure out, “the rest of the story.” Your accepted answer.

Jon says:

Thanks for posting my response as a new blog, I’m honored! I couldn’t wait to read so I could respond in kind.

I know you keep going back to the entire “Communication and Information” argument for the existence of God. You use real world references like DNA and computer code. But again, these are not leaps of scientific proof, these are leaps of FAITH.

Again, we know of one way life is made. We know of no other instance of life in the Universe. Now, if you have traveled the Cosmos and seen all the other ways life is made. You studied them and tested them and then came back to Earth and THEN made the statement, “that proof of life and codes is proof of God.” Then OK, because you have knowledge that exceeds everyone else. But since you only know of life on Earth, it is illogical to make such statements and claim them as truth. Truth of your FAITH perhaps, in no way a proof of God.

Now, I have picked a few quotes from your post and responded in kind.

“Thus truth exists and an intentional super intelligence exists, because communication exists.”

There is a flaw in the logic because if a “super intelligence” existed that created all the codes in the language of life, then there must an even greater super intelligence to create the information in the first one. Wouldn’t it be logical that this first “God” had in him codes and information in him as well? Because the only way “information and codes” can be created is with a super intelligence, right? Then there can not be a super intelligence by itself that wasn’t created, unless it came from the mind of an even greater being….INFINITE REGRESS.

If God is all knowing, omnipotent and omnipresent then freewill DOES NOT exist. I repeat, FREEWILL DOES NOT EXIST.

If God knows every outcome, every choice, even the bad ones, that we are going to make before we make it, then it was not freewill. We have all been “programmed” to make that choice.

Take for example the film series “The Matrix”, when Neo meets the Architect. He said he was an anomaly that was part of the original program. That when the programs run over and over, sometimes an oddity is created. Perhaps, this is what free will is but then again, how could God be God if he didn’t know when something was going to happen.

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL by EPICURUS
“Is God willing to prevent evil? But not able, then he is impotent.
Is God able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil.
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

You said…“Freewill has produced evil”

So since God gave us freewill, then isn’t God responsible for evil?

Also…“Likewise, hurricanes and tornadoes and tsunamis are not intentional. They are just examples of chaos.”

But then you followed it with…”So yes, there is an intention in the universe.”

So what that says then is the intention was to create chaos. Again, this does not speak of some super intelligent design. It speaks of the natural order of the universe, it speaks of luck and chance. We’re here, let’s embrace that fact. Call it, HARMONY in the CHAOS.

“Pain tells us that the world is not right.”

Pain doesn’t tell us the world is not right, our intelligence does. All animals experience pain, but tigers and bears do not think the world us wrong when they get hurt. That is just a part of their existence in a violent world. We know the world is not right because we were the first and only species on the planet to figure out how the world works. Our intelligence figured it out.

DEATH GIVES LIFE MEANING. If this is all that we get, a short existence in a tiny planet but can a lifetime, then doesn’t that make THIS life more important? We invented the afterlife and heaven as a coping mechanism because we couldn’t deal with death. But all things die, when we embrace this fact, the world opens up. Our mortality defines our existance.

“The Universe is neither benign nor hostile; merely indifferent to the concerns of such creatures as we.” Carl Sagan

For many years, we thought of the Earth as chaotic and the heavens as harmony. But as it turns out, both are chaotic. You still haven’t addressed the fact that we life in a constantly cooling and unstable planet. We have violent storms, plagues, diseases and all of these have nothing to do with humanity.

We live in a solar system that is filled with asteroids so large, if they collided with the Earth, they would end all life in an instant. We live next to an unstable ball of hydrogen that unleashes deadly radiation daily and WILL die out eventually. We live in a Universe full of dangers and destruction on a scale never before imagined.

We’re so lucky to be here!

You said: If God is all knowing, omnipotent and omnipresent then freewill DOES NOT exist. I repeat, FREEWILL DOES NOT EXIST. If God knows every outcome, every choice, even the bad ones, that we are going to make before we make it, then it was not freewill. We have all been “programmed” to make that choice.

I question the logic in that. Why does knowing what someone will do equate for being responsible for what they do? Many times I know what my kids are going to do before they do it, but that doesn’t make me responsible for their behavior.

The top-down nature of information proves that what any individual decides to do is not deterministic, i.e. it is not dictated by physics and chemistry. Because, as I have expounded upon elsewhere on this website, you cannot derive the laws of any code from the laws of physics.

Our choices are “top down” not “bottom up.” Which means the only way God can be responsible for our behavior is if he is directly controlling our thoughts. I don’t think many people would agree that God is controlling their thoughts.

Perry

Jon says:

But didn’t God create us? Didn’t God create all that code and information? If God is the creator of all things and all “codes” then he programmed freewill but since God is a being that knows all and see all, then FREEWILL does not exist.

It all goes back to the Adam and Eve story that most Christians believe. Since God was all knowing, he knew Adam and Eve was going to make their fateful choice, and yet he punished them. What does that say about him? Couldn’t he have gotten it right the first time? But then again, you wouldn’t have a religion if God and created humans right the first time.

It’s like if you have problem with your car. You take it to the shop and they work on it. They call you a few days later and find out that there is a defect, a design flaw. So who do you blame? The designer?

Why is God blameless for his creations? Isn’t he God?

Jon,

There can be no question that God INTENDED to give Adam and Eve a choice. Both Christian and Jewish theology clearly understand that God knew beforehand what they would do.

But the fact that they DID have a choice does not change. They made that choice, not God. You and I make choices every day.

I have a question I’d like to start with, and I don’t want you to take it as combative because it’s not: How would you feel about God taking your free will away?

Perry

Jon says:

And you wondered what malevolence was? Knowing they were going to make a bad choice but then punishing them anyway. That is the same thing as if your kid gets accidently hurt in the yard, and then you spank them for it because they made a bad choice.

I don’t really understand the point of asking someone like me your question. Since God isn’t real, he isn’t the creator of my freewill, I am.

There is no secret ingredient!

Death was not a punishment. It was a natural consequence.

You asked me a theological question and then sneered at me giving you a theological answer. You can’t have it both ways.

You ostensibly have freewill. IF God exists then He exists in the same reality in which you have free will. You have free will whether God exists or not. “I have free will, therefore God doesn’t exist” is a non-sequitur.

Jon says:

According to Christian beliefs, death was a punishment. Since God knew A&E were going to disobey him, he punished them anyway. He took away their immortality and caused them to suffer fear and death, if you believe that what the bible says is true.

He said, “in the day that you eat of the fruit, you will surely die.” That was a natural consequence. It was set in motion as soon as they did the deed.

The Curse came later.

Jon says:

But before they ate the fruit, they were immortal and on God’s good side. But when they ate the fruit, they became aware they were naked and became ashamed because God likes his creations naked. That’s when he got upset and “cursed” them with mortality, and painful childbirths for women.

God told them what would happen if they ate the fruit. They ate it, and it happened.

For what aspect of them eating the fruit is God responsible?

Perry

Leo says:

An interesting dialogue.
I would submit that God is experiencing the same pain and suffering that you and I are, in fact He is experiencing the pain that all of humanity(all living things) has suffered, is suffering and will suffer. God is pure love, and in being so pure, He will share everything, hear that, everything He has, untill He is “the all in all.”
Psa 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
In my church, we know that we already are in hell, and “hell” being interpreted is the same as egypt, ditch, grave, pit, etc. Simply put, the meaning of life is to know good and evil. We are eating of the tree of knowledge. This also means that when we help alleviate suffering we are helping alleviate God’s(Christ’s) suffering. We are truly more interconnected than we know.
Sorry, I could go on and on. For those so inclined, I would try to answer the question where is the Tree of Life? Use the Bible and don’t ask a minister. Build your own house. The short answer is, The Tree of Life is in The Garden of Eden, which is in Heaven. It was always there – it was never on earth as we know it.

Smurfmash says:

Something I wrote when I was 16.

What is the point of a soul?

When you die according to religious dogma your soul goes to heaven. So if my soul is the only thing to survive me what will it retain of my personality and that which makes me “me” when it transcends this mortal plain?

Currently I am alive therefore I have a soul. You cannot be alive without a soul. This means that any traits that can be extinguished from my persona while I am still alive are not stored or reliant upon this ‘soul’, after all if I am alive I still have my soul. A soul cannot be damaged in this life as it transcends to the next. Therefore any loss of function is not related to something my soul is the source of.

Frontal lobe damage can drastically change my personality, it can make me more or less aggressive, it can change my morality and my sense of right and wrong. It can change how I think. Damage to the frontal lobe can impact my divergent thinking, or flexibility and problem solving abilities. Orbital frontal damage can even introduce abnormal sexual behaviour. In short my entire personality and demeanour can be changed simply due to a non fatal motorbike accident.

What about my memories? Alzheimer’s can rob me of my memories and those pivotal moments in my life that changed my entire world view. Again a non fatal accident could wipe these memories that define me as I am now, from my mind.

What about emotion and passion? Drugs can change the chemical balances within my body to suppress or enhance my emotional state.

What about my intellect? Drugs and or brain damage can reduce this drastically.

So if all of these traits that define me are biological and not dependant on a soul, my soul cannot store these traits or define them. If the only thing that survives your death is a vessel that does not contain your memories, your personality, your morality, your passions or your intellect.

What is the point of a soul? Everything that defines me is lost

Thank you for sharing this.

Everything you said here is contingent on the statement: if all of these traits that define me are biological and not dependant on a soul….

What if this assumption is somehow flawed?

Most people in most civilizations throughout most of history have had powerful intuition that we are not just body but spirit. I could quote noted philosophers and thinkers for pages and pages. In modern terminology, we are much more than just a walking talking set of chemical reactions. The reasons to suspect this are myriad. In every civilization and EVERY culture we have not only a few but MANY reports of:

-spirit beings
-near death experiences
-miracles
-healings
-angels
-communication with the dead
-personal experiences of the divine
-dreams that accurately predict the future
-clairvoyance
-prophetic utterances
-remote viewing
-telekinesis

I understand that atheists choose to disbelieve all such things, but that is an arbitrary belief they choose to embrace. There is no objective reason to dismiss 100% of these things wholesale. How do you know what others experienced if you don’t live in their body? If you didn’t see what they saw? Just because you believe God didn’t answer your prayers doesn’t mean He didn’t answer somebody else’s.

Some of these phenomena have been confirmed by scientific research (for example the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab and their book “Margins of Reality” which documents telekinesis and remote viewing with 99.999% statistical confidence.) More on this at http://www.perrymarshall.com/travelogue/india/june-12/

In pure engineering terms, our DNA and our thoughts and communication contain information. Information is immaterial. There is no material explanation for the existence of information. As I detail on the main articles on this site, the existence of information requires a metaphysical intelligence. As Norbert Weiner said, “Information is information, neither matter nor energy.” I explain this in the FAQ http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/faq

Belief in a soul is simply an extension that says humans also have a component of our being that is metaphysical.

Smurfmash says:

“all of these traits that define me are biological and not dependant on a soul….
What if this assumption is somehow flawed?”

Indeed that is the key point. One I thought about deeply prior to writing this all those years ago.

My conclusion was based on three key definitions of a “soul”

(1) The soul is eternal and immortal

(2) The soul is responsible for who and what defines me

(3) The soul is separate from my biological form and not dependant on it for my eternal persona

Explain:

(A) Why is it that when biological components of my body are damaged or altered my “persona” is altered or reduced. Why if the soul is responsible for the key things that make me “human” do i lose such key traits when a biological part is damaged.

As for:

“I understand that atheists choose to disbelieve all such things, but that is an arbitrary belief they choose to embrace.”

No… not a “belief” just rational explanations.

-spirit beings = Never proven despite tons of cash rewards offered

-near death experiences = Similar effects can occur during LSD trips. The brain does very strange things when it is starved of oxygen and undergoing cell damage.

-miracles = Never ever ever been proven. Feel free to provide me with a news article documenting a proven miracle. And no… Random chance events are not miracles.

-healings = Has anyone ever been cured? Again produce evidence. And again random chance has to be ruled out.

-angels = LSD, starvation of oxygen to the brain, insanity, or waking dreams.

-communication with the dead = Prove it. As example of proof would be for a research group to ask 50 terminally ill people to enter a security code to a safe which has millions of potential combinations. Then when they die seances can be conducted to attempt contact and get the code to unlock the safe. proof of this nature please.

-personal experiences of the divine = Madness, LSD, brain death, or waking dreams confused with reality.

-dreams that accurately predict the future = No this… Could be possible. The brain works on a quantum level meaning that our brain does use components that are able to jump backward and forward in time. (like quarks do) So yes this could be possible and have a logical explanation. But of course science has not developed far enough ahead to prove this. But again this still has never been proven. But then a test would be very difficult to create.

-clairvoyance = read my above quantum explanation

-prophetic utterances = read previous

-remote viewing = read previous

-telekinesis = never been proven in a tested environment and this IS very easy to test.

You ask: miracles = Never ever ever been proven. Feel free to provide me with a news article documenting a proven miracle.

Actually that is not true. I have a book “Real Miracles” by Richard Casdorph. Each chapter is a case study of one miracle, including doctors reports, xrays, etc. Stuff like huge tumors, Multiple Sclerosis and cancer vanishing completely, with medical documentation.

Here’s an article from a newspaper: The following article was printed in the Charlotte Observer on June 19 2008. I know Charles Chandler, the reporter who wrote it – he followed up with the people described in this article (Brian Burgee for example) personally and checked their stories.

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/21666/tattooed-preacher-todd-bentley-says-god-heals-through-him

This story is no longer on the Observer website but it has been copied on dozens of blogs, including this one.

Not only that, I was there that night. I saw it happen with my own two eyes.

This article is referenced on Wikipedia. My neighbor is the editor in charge of the Todd Bentley page on Wikipedia. The healings in Lakeland were such a hot potato, most of the mainstream media wouldn’t touch it. When people are really getting healed and things are happening that the establishment claims are impossible, mostly what you get is silence. Or irrational protests from people who still insist it’s impossible.

Not all that different from atheists trying to tell me DNA isn’t actually a code.

I have personally seen and experienced other miracles myself: http://www.perrymarshall.com/travelogue/india/june-12/

I know all the atheist pink koolaid about how there’s no such thing as miracles etc but they have a theory. I have an experience. All kinds of people would have you think they know better what happened than the people who were actually there. I was there. I know.

Why is your persona damaged or reduced when parts of your body are damaged? Same reason software runs badly on a bad computer. The software is only as good as the hardware. Doesn’t mean it’s necessarily confined to one set of hardware.

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab ran for 30 years documenting remote viewing, telekensis and clairvoyance with 5 nines of statistical confidence (99.999% statistical validity). See the book “Margins of Reality” by Jahn and Dunne. It documents the research and the results in excruciating detail.

James Randi claims to have debunked all such experiments but I trust Princeton much more than I trust him. Their research is peer reviewed, his is not. Stanford did similar experiments with similar results.

Smurfmash says:

“Stanford did similar experiments with similar results.”

Previously you requested I provided papers detailing a cyclic universe. I did, and I won my point on your terms about a infinite universe. You asked for papers I provided them. Of course you moved the goal posts afterwards. But I am happy I satisfied your request.

Now do the same for me. Provide scientific papers proving miracles.

You say Stanford did research. Show me papers proving your claims.

Easy right? Prove it.

Scientific paper on Stanford research:
http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_10_1_puthoff.pdf

From the conclusion:

“Regardless of one’s a priori position, however, an unimpassioned observer cannot help but attest to the following fact. Despite the ambiguities inherent in the type of exploration covered in these programs, the integrated results appear to provide unequivocal evidence of a human capacity to access events remote in space and time, however falteringly, by some cognitive process not yet understood. My years of involvement as a research manager in these programs have left me with the conviction that this fact must be taken into account in any attempt to develop an unbiased picture of the structure of reality.”

I encourage you to locate the other papers cited by this paper, especially those of Jahn and Dunne.

You are welcome to believe in an infinite number of universes if you wish, that is your choice. So long as we both understand that they are entirely theoretical, it is in principle impossible to detect those universes, and they require an exception to the law of entropy.

Any such exception requires a rejection of empirical science. Note that my position fully accepts empirical science. Thus theism is empirical, while atheism is theoretical. Note also the similarity to atheism’s typical position on the metaphysical and paranormal: Atheism insists that such things simply do not exist, while scientific inquiry holds these things as an open question and does indeed find empirical evidence.

Smurfmash, are you committed to the atheist position? Or are you willing to follow the evidence where it leads?

Smurfmash says:

I provided papers which gave details of how entropy would be avoided. These papers dealt with your entropy issue directly.

As for your paper from the 1970′s It is a well know flawed experiment without proper controls by a professional magician.

http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/ResearchWithBD.htm

“In a long telephone conversation I had with Delmore in 1988, he freely admitted he used trickery to increase the probability of hits during his card demonstrations. He spoke with pride of being able to cut a deck precisely in the center. As card magicians know, this is a valuable ability because it provides the performer with knowledge of the twenty-sixth card. The “center card,” as magicians call it, serves as a valuable key card in endless tricks of the ESP type. (Gardner, 1989, p. 123)”

Provide another.

Your entropy papers are entirely theoretical and have published mathematical flaws. There is no empirical support for an entropy reset button and it is in principle not even a testable scientific theory because there is no testable hypothesis. Atheism is theoretical. Theism is empirical.

Who is Delmore and what does he have to do with Puthoff’s paper?

Puthoff’s paper had a couple of dozen references at the end. Look them all up. In particular lay your hands on Jahn’s book “Margins of Reality”
http://www.amazon.com/Margins-Reality-Consciousness-Physical-World/dp/1936033003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262732212&sr=8-1

Smurfmash says:

Oh and….

I said earlier when you referred to remote viewing and psychic abilities.

“The brain works on a quantum level meaning that our brain does use components that are able to jump backward and forward in time. (like quarks do) So yes this could be possible and have a logical explanation. But of course science has not developed far enough ahead to prove this. But again this still has never been proven. But then a test would be very difficult to create.”

So this is not relevant to god. There are alternate theories that I am open to that do not require god. So I am not actually going to dispute that.

Miracles on the other hand I define as praying for someone to be cured and that person is cured and there is absolutely no medical reason for this occurring. Cancer can be fought off by the body and medicines and treatments can kick in late so I will not accept this. What I will accept as a genuine miracle would be for god to grow back a amputees arm after he prays for it.

Please show me medical papers where a patients arm has grown back after a really good long pray. if you can’t why does god refuse to ever heal amputees or road traffic victims who have lost limbs??

I would love to be proven wrong. These are my conditions. Provide evidence for limbs growing back after prayer.

Regards,

Paul, age 31, location London, BEng.

Paul,

I don’t have an amputee for you.

I have never gone looking for one. I’m quite familiar with the atheist statements about amputees. More about that in a minute.

You moved the goalposts, by the way. You asked for a newspaper article documenting miracles and I provided that. It’s not the only one.

I do have documented cases including x-rays and medical reports of complete and sudden healings of:

1. Bone cancer
2. Chronic rheumatoid arthritis with severe disability
3. Malignant brain tumor
4. Multiple Sclerosis
5. Arteriosclerotic Heart disease
6. Cancer of the kidney
7. Massive GI Hemmhorage
8. Osteoporosis of the Entire Spine

I have good friends who have been directly healed of:

-Stage 3 rheumatoid arthritis (Heather Treadway, Oak Park IL)
-Long-term dysfunction of pelvic floor muscle (Laura Husmann, Maywood IL)
-Paralysis (Mary, the woman in India from my blog)
-Deafness (2 different people – the guy @ the Lakeland FL conference, and Lionel Bilzekian who lives in Hanover Park IL)
-Severe sexual and pornography addiction (anonymous)
-Severe gambling addiction (anonymous, one of my business customers)
-Pronounced ADHD (My friend Lionel Bilzekian could barely hold a job – suddenly and completely healed)
-Inability to smell due to multiple cleft palate surgeries (Lionel again. All three of his problems – deafness, loss of smell and ADHD, healed at once in May 2007 on the same day. I could check but the day he was healed was pretty close to the weekend of May 11. He took a 3 hour test with a psychologist to confirm he was no longer ADHD. He was healed by a woman named Kelly Huber. Some people have 100X more healing ability than others. It’s a gift just like any other gift, like being good at math – but it’s supernatural.

You are welcome to come to Chicago and I will introduce you to any and all of these people and they can personally tell you their stories. I can also arrange for you to go to India and meet the people who were healed there.

If you want people in London you can go visit, I will put you in touch with them. On the condition that you are absolutely serious and won’t waste their time or be disrespectful to them.

As for the amputees, I would not be a bit surprised if sometime in the next 1-2 years I encounter one. And you can be sure I will document it.

But I’m not necessarily holding my breath for a giant atheist conversion. Maybe you’re seriously seeking, I don’t know. I hope you know that I do take your questions seriously. But I have a lot of experience with skeptics. And my experience is this:

If “DNA is a code” means God exists (which it does – see http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/proof, or the “Origin of Life Video” link at the top of my website) then atheists will tell me, all day long, that DNA isn’t really a code. Even though nearly every biology book and paper in existence says it is.

I cannot force anyone to believe in God who doesn’t want to. If a healed amputee comes forward, I can already imagine the laughter and the jeers from the Infidels, accusations that he doctored the pictures with photoshop. Reminders that lizards can grow back their limbs so maybe humans can too; that there was an anomalous stem cell thing that happened to his amputated arm; accusations that he’s a liar because all Christians are liars and everything like that. I know the routine. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt.

Notice that I have not even said anything about the resurrection of Jesus. If you want to follow that thread, you can do so here.

All I can do is present hard scientific evidence. The evidence I have is:

-DNA contains information and you can’t derive information from the laws of physics. It’s not even a property of matter/energy. Since you’re a computer guy you will be able to track this argument completely. The very existence of the genetic code is 100% inference to design. There are no naturally occurring codes – all codes we know the origin of are designed. http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/faq.

-Entropy is a law of the universe and time begins with the big bang. Cyclic universe theories have ALWAYS been rife with problems. The universe requires a metaphysical cause.

-Godel’s incompleteness theorem directly infers a metaphysical cause

-I have dozens of documented miracles.

Oh, and I have to tell you a story:

About 6-7 years ago my younger brother was losing his faith. He was the most conservative, tow-the-line guy in the family. I always colored outside the lines, he never strayed. Suddenly he’s tossing Christianity out the window.

Now the way I grew up we didn’t believe in miracles on command. We only believed in miracles once in a blue moon for reasons known only to God. Basically anyway.

Bryan says to me, “I’ve studied the New Testament backwards and forwards, in Greek and Aramaic, and there is NOTHING in there that says we shouldn’t be seeing miracles today. SO- WHERE ARE THEY???”

I have no idea what to say. I know he’s probably right about the New Testament thing. Always wondered that myself. And he’s showing me all the people like James Randi and everything and all the arguments for why this stuff is figments of peoples imagination. Hey, I’m an engineer and I’m as skeptical as anyone. And he’s right, a lot of this stuff is either rigged or pure fantasy. BTW many Christians are just as hard to convince on this stuff as the atheists. It’s kind of symmetrical. Atheists and fundamentalist Christians are horses of pretty much the same color.

Anyway, there was about a year or two where I was pretty close to going where you’ve gone – to atheism. And I was willing to follow the evidence wherever it led. If I was going to become an atheist, then so be it. Whatever I find to be true.

I turned on my radar wide open, watching for miracles – and evaluating whatever I could find. And I am REALLY skeptical.

Several months later my friend Geri Keck in Tipp City Ohio got healed of Lupus. Suddenly one day in her Bible study, this lady stood up and said “God told me to pray for you right now”. And she did. Lupus suddenly gone, just like that.

My brother in law Alan who spent 16 years in school and has a PHD in church history did an investigation of miracles in Brazil. Uncontestable cases of people getting freaky stuff like gold fillings in their teeth.

I know a guy Darrin Wilson who shot a low budget film called “The Finger of God” (you can find it on Youtube) films blind people seeing in Mozambique – known to the entire village as ‘the blind guy’ for years and years, suddenly healed. There’s an instance in the film of someone being raised from the dead.

Well my period of doubt was about 7 years ago and since then I have seen SO MANY THINGS that there is NO DOUBT whatsoever in my mind.

This does NOT mean that everyone gets healed. I could go into that question. But what I do know is, some people DO get healed and there is no question about their healings. I’ve seen it happen too many times. Personal experience, not theory, not 2000 years ago, not halfway ’round the world. Not placebo effect, not their imagination. This has happened right here in my neighborhood, multiple times.

I don’t think the paranormal stuff proves God, nor do I classify it as miraculous. However what it does prove is that the James Randi’s of the world are not credible. In fact I think Randi is either lying or in deep denial. Because Stanford and Princeton have both done research and it is confirmed to five 9′s of statistical confidence. Read Margins of Reality by Jahn and you’ll see what I mean. There’s all kinds of stuff that modern science has no category for so they just go into denial. The universe is a much more complex and wonderful place than current scientists give it credit for.

Which is the larger point: You can either accept the universe for what it empirically shows you – whether you have a grid for what you see or not – or you can cram everything into a preconceived notion of how the world is or should be, according to some model.

I’m an empiricist. I believe in taking the world the way it IS, regardless of whether I have an explanation.

And finally I know that the universe cannot explain itself. Gödel’s theorem assures us of that. I believe in causality and logic, so there has to be an uncaused cause.

I wish you the very best in your journey.

Perry

Smurfmash says:

The reason we Atheists bring up amputees is because “miracles” are claimed all over the place and never proven. No I am not going to take your word for it due to “personal experience” I will however accept and worship god in two seconds if a man has his arm amputated the amputation recorded by a hospital and then his buddies pray for him and it grows back.

Cancer and all the other illnesses you mentioned can be cured, the body can heal naturally or the illness may never have existed in the first place. it is a bit difficult for a person to FAKE a amputated arm! Hence why we demand it as proof.

I mean you won’t accept scientific papers on a cyclic universe even when they mention how they deal with entropy! You just shrug your shoulders and say “they lie entropy has no resolution” Even though these very smart men who are experts in their field have shown how they think it could be. Smarter men than us in this area. Yet you claim to know enough to dismiss scientific papers offhand just becuase it ruins your world view if true.

Show me a amputee that has grown his arm back. If you are aware of this line of questioning and are familiar with it you should have either a dozen examples from looking this up before or perhaps god doesn’t actually answer prayers after all when it can be tested and proven. if it is a known issue you should be really good at countering it.

Show me a amputee who’s limb grew back and I will say sorry for my sinful ways and worship the one true god.

Paul

Paul,

What is the #1 thing you hate most about Christians?

Smurfmash says:

“I would love to be proven wrong. These are my conditions. Provide evidence for limbs growing back after prayer.”

No 2 argument won. I thought you had never been beaten in a debate Perry? Feel free to produce some healed amputees or a viable reason why god does not heal them when people pray for it.

Paul,

Would you prefer to discover that miracles really do happen or would you prefer to be persuaded that they don’t?

Jonathan Wagner says:

I think it is a very large fallacy to believe that God exists in everything literally. Stephen Hawking made a very interesting statement he said if the big bang is real we know that the universe is not God. If you believe in creation, you believe that the universe is separate of God, because if it wasn’t separate there would be no reason to create it. However God is in everything in a character sense, let me give an example.

When a song writer writes a song, the song is separate from him, but it is made of him, it expresses characteristics of its creator but it is not literally the creator. It has never been a mandatory criteria that God be omnipresent in our universe, infact biblically, it never says God is omnipresent, it says God is in all things, but again this similar to a song which has characteristics of its creator.

God having infinite knowledge and power does not equate to him being omnipresent. If God was truly omnipresent he would even be present during an act of evil. When you start introducing these statements about God’s interactions with our universe you’re not only making assumptions, but you’re also raising a whole bunch of questions that logically don’t make sense.

We have free-will and because of that we can commit evil, which God opposes, but God doesn’t interfere, even though he can, because he doesn’t want to interfere with our free-will. He also has all knowledge, and knows how it is going to end, but he lets it play out for us because?

I am of the firm belief that we are -seperate- from God, we are not God literally, our universe is also -seperate- from God. This is not an impossibility because God has the power and FREEDOM to allow us to be separate from him. If God is all knowing, and all powerful, he also has the ability to restrict himself, and I believe we are a product of his restriction.

As far as Microcosms go, God creates us, we become a God and create another universe and so forthe and so on, if this were the case I don’t think you would have an infinite regression because I think the final Ascension point would be “God”, and so any regression would stop at God.

A comment I would like to address directly is this one:
If God knows every outcome, every choice, even the bad ones, that we are going to make before we make it, then it was not freewill. We have all been “programmed” to make that choice.

This again assumes a lot of things, that God has made the choice to know the ending and also that God has chosen for himself to exist entirely out of the context of time. This brings me to another issue, we are constantly defining God by the standards by which we set, we say things like, “God exists outside of time” or, “God is all knowing” and we forget that God is God and doesn’t have to be restricted to any of our apparent standards for how he is supposed to act. God can choose to not know something, and God can also choose to be within the realm of time, if you say he can’t do these things you are implying he is not God. When you truly recognize how powerful God is, you also recognize God’s flexibility and you realize that you setting his characteristics is a frivolous and futile act.

So yes, he knows all the choices and endings if he has CHOSEN to know, and we don’t know if he has. God has the ability to choose too, and that is why we can have free-will, if God didn’t have the ability to make choices, we wouldn’t either. Obviously God has a good reason for letting us live out our lives, even if it is not readily apparent to us now.

kerry says:

Jon you said: “And I know you are a Christian so I can only assume you will give me a Christian answer to these problems. But since you are a big proponent of logic and reason, please try and answer these using those tools, instead of faith.” and also here: “I know you keep going back to the entire “Communication and Information” argument for the existence of God. You use real world references like DNA and computer code. But again, these are not leaps of scientific proof, these are leaps of FAITH.”

Your assumption that Perry would give you a “faith based answer” is not your only assumption. It seems to me that you want everything to conform to the rules of logic and reason, fair enough, but have you ever done work to validate the rules of logic? Where do they come from? Why do you accept them and them alone for the basis of your “knowledge”? Wouldn’t it be fair to say that your confidence in the rules of logic is faith based? How do you account for reason and logic? Whoever claims these are the only tools we must use in our deliberations ought to be prepared to offer an account for those rules. And when you do offer an account of them guess what tools you will be using? Yes you guessed it, reason and logic. No matter how you slice it, you must use logic and reason to justify logic and reason. The point I am making is that every worldview starts with assumptions. Your worldview assumes the laws of logic are the only valid assumption from which to determine and validate truth claims.

The Christian unashamedly makes assumptions too (that the word of God is true) and then uses reason and logic to make his or her claims. Both worldviews involve assumptions and circular reasoning. The Bible is true because God told me so. Where did he tell me? In the Bible. Yeah very circular. But don’t forget that first principles are basic assumptions that are also circular in that it takes reason and logic to justify reason and logic.

When you ask Perry to refrain from faith based comments why do you then violate that edict yourself? You posit other life forms of the universe as being necessary to validate the conclusions Perry makes about life on earth. That is a step of faith on your part isn’t it? This is what you said, “Now, if you have traveled the Cosmos and seen all the other ways life is made.” Say what! There is not one shred of evidence for -another way life is made- let alone “other ways” and you want Perry to stick to the facts and not make faith based assumptions!

You also appear not to appreciate that the Christian faith is not a leap in the dark but is substantiated to a much deeper degree than that which is often appreciated.

Perry has made statements regarding the nature of information; scientists who specialize in the nature of information formulate these statements. These are scientists whose affiliations may be religious or non-religious, and there is general consensus among them. There are recognized universal laws concerning information. If these laws are agreed to by scientists of all philosophical persuasions then people interested in truth are obligated to account for these laws according to their own worldview. That is Perrys point, information as agreed to by scientists of various ilk, universally recognize that intelligence is a corollary of information; that is- that intelligence is a necessary cause of information in any form. Information does not exist apart from a mind that caused it. Now you seem to have completely ignored his point that you must account for the information in the genetic code. To assume that he has not been logical or reasonable when he accounts for it by according the cause of it to God is irrational on your part. You may give other explanations for that information such as Venusian life-seed planters or whatever but you must give an account for it and you violate your own rules of reason if you do not acknowledge Perrys elucidation as being entirely logical and reasonable.

In fact your oversight in this regard causes me to question your openness to the logic of it. In fact I could even posit that your reason for objecting to this explanation is not so much based on a love for truth or good science, logic, reason, and openness; but deep in your heart, whether you are conscious of it or not you are absolutely opposed to the theistic view of reality irrespective of the truth, logic and reasoning involved because there are deep moral implications in the acceptance of it for you as an individual if Perry is correct.

kerry says:

Perry said: “Thus truth exists and an intentional super intelligence exists, because communication exists.”

To which you replied Jon: “There is a flaw in the logic because if a “super intelligence” existed that created all the codes in the language of life, then there must an even greater super intelligence to create the information in the first one. Wouldn’t it be logical that this first “God” had in him codes and information in him as well? Because the only way “information and codes” can be created is with a super intelligence, right? Then there can not be a super intelligence by itself that wasn’t created, unless it came from the mind of an even greater being….INFINITE REGRESS.”

Here Jon you make a logical error yourself. There is no logical reason why a necessary being need be subject to the laws of contingent being. The law of causality requires that everything (including codes in the language of life) that comes to be must have a cause; a being that necessarily exists does not need a cause since by definition it exists necessarily. From the proposition of necessary existence comes the property of eternal existence such as we describe with the term God. Either the universe (and all in it) is eternal and is necessary being or the universe is contingent and there exists a necessary being that caused it and sustains it. Now if you say that the universe is eternal and necessarily exists as has been stated in outdated cosmology it would appear that you fly in the face of substantial scientific evidence to the contrary via the big bang theory and logically you must substantiate why you believe it is necessarily in existence rather than contingent. You must also explain how- in the light of entropy and the heat death principle- it can be termed as necessarily existing if the Universe is destined to go out of existence, since a necessary existence entails that it never fails to exist. So we take up Perry’s position that is logical and coherent- that a necessary being has instilled the laws of causality, which universally apply to all contingent existences (including genetic code). In short there is no logical reason why God should need a creator or something that wired him up.

To add further to the reasoning behind Perry’s affirmation of God behind and responsible for the information in DNA is the Principle of Analogy. As Norman Geisler puts it in the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics: “The principle of analogy states that an effect must be similar to its cause. Like produces like. An effect cannot be totally different from its cause.” The effect we are discussing is an encoded language by which cell replication takes place. In a nutshell- cells are created through linguistic instructions. Does God work like this? Scripture says: In the beginning was the Word, … and the Word was God… All things were made by (the Word) and nothing was made without the Word. (John 1:1-3 abridged and paraphrased)

Jon you said: “How does this line of reasoning explain pain, suffering and natural disasters?
Why design a world that is constantly cooling and erupting with violent events that kill millions of innocent people?
What about our fear of pain and death? If God was real, then he has no fear of death or pain and yet he created beings that must suffer this fate. What does that say about him?
Also, the problem of evil. Where did that come from?”
C.S. Lewis wrote about pain, he said something like “Why spell pain that way?” In other words why is it that whenever people raise this issue, why is it immediately put in a moral context? Before we deal directly with the question of evil in the world in relation to an all-good God we must address your presupposition in framing the question the way you have.
If you are a strict materialist then you have no valid basis from which to ask moral questions, why are you concerned with evil and good if there is for you (the materialist) no valid reason for a moral framework upon which to hang this question? The moment you invoke a good versus evil question you are assuming a moral universe and you must answer why you believe it to be a moral universe?
So you must be clear in your own mind- if you think along the same lines as the anti-theist Dawkins who said: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” If you agree in principal with that statement then by your own definition you invalidate the question of pain and evil. You cannot have it both ways- either your worldview precludes the question of evil altogether or you must agree with the theist and conclude it is indeed a moral universe and get serious with the difficult question of evil. Now if you believe the question of evil does require an answer you must explain where morality comes from and what is the source of your standard by which to differentiate evil from good. Here you may see the irony in Dawkins worldwide campaign to eradicate “the evil religion” which is basically a fundamentalist moral crusade, which has no foundation, according to the terms of his self-defined worldview.
At this point in our discussion of evil I would like to point out that the Christian God is omnipotent and omniscient and on the basis of that and his other perfections God has given a reality which includes the possibility and actuality of evil, but we trust in his perfect goodness and benevolence that this has happened for his ultimate good purpose. Suppose a native came across a clearing in the jungle and saw his best friend with strange people obviously from an unknown country. His best friend was lying on a table and in an unconscious state; the stranger was poised over him with a knife. There was blood, strong lights, there was strange music, other people were gathered around in strange costumes, they wore masks, they were intensely occupied with the opening they had made in his stomach. There seemed to be articles of torture and strange machinery all around. I’m sure you would recognize a Vietnam style emergency operating theatre, but that would not at all be likely what was going on in the mind of the one whose friend lay on the table. What is all-important is the intention and that we do not have at our disposal the complete picture.
Consider this:
Without evil there can be no concept of Justice.
Without evil, mercy becomes an empty term, redundant.
Without evil, forgiveness is impossible.

Kate says:

Hello Mr Marshall,
I’d just like to say thanks for the email you sent concerning your poor cousin- as sad as it was, it was really inspiring and I’m going to buy Don Piper’s book and read it soon as I can. At least you know wherever he is, he’s happy.

I just wanted to ask- what are your thoughts on Dr Kent Hovind? I was listening to Hovind’s debate with Hugh Ross on youtube, and, I have to say I feel that it really enraged me. Maybe I’m out of place to say this, but I feel that he’s in denial and was acting unreasonably toward Dr Ross, who was being perfectly calm and rational and taking his accusations of heracy and cult leadership on the chin, when he shouldn’t have had to. Although I don’t agree with all of Dr Ross’s teachings, I admire the vast majority of his work which I have you to thank for leading me to. I personally just thought that to call him those things for just trying, like you are, to provide a different view on the origins of the universe and life was horribly unfair.

Kind regards,

Kate

Kate,

I don’t care for Mr. Hovind’s approach and I also don’t care for the Young Earth position at all. Actually I’m not sure which is worse about Young Earth – the science, or the theology. Mr. Hovind is not the only Young Earther to be disingenuous in these debates.

Perry

Jon says:

(Just incase anyone missed it)

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL by EPICURUS
“Is God willing to prevent evil? But not able, then he is impotent.
Is God able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil.
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Is giving people unrestricted freedom to make their own moral choices malevolent?

Jon says:

Yes, if you know they are going to do something bad but do nothing to stop it. And (if these are your beliefs) punish you for commiting such an act, forever. Yes, THAT’S malevolence.

Are you saying that God has done nothing to stop evil?

Jon says:

Well, according to you, all things must have a creation so it would seem evil must be created. And if God is the creator, then he made evil. So it should be quite easy for him to stop evil. I mean, isn’t he God?

Obviously God chooses not to stop evil.

Most major religions that I know of acknowledge that.

Jon says:

Again, I bring up the word…Malevolence.

Smurfmash says:

Does kinda leave you with no where to turn. EPICURUS was a smart guy.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

Well done Jon I believe you won that one (With some help from Epicurus :) )

Jon says:

Since this seems to have been brought up, let’s talk about morality. Where do we get right and wrong from? God? I know this isn’t scientific but it seems to be the right time to bring this up as well.

I have a challenge for you. To answer this question, and you can take a much time as you need.

Can you name me a good and moral act that a believer can do and a non-believer can’t do?

I cannot name a good and moral act that a believer can do and a non-believer can’t do. Except for the act of believing itself.

I have a question for you:

Do right and wrong objectively exist?

For example is throwing a hand grenade into a daycare center and killing children absolutely wrong?

Jon says:

The act of believing isn’t a moral act, it’s a belief.

As far as your question, no but your actions dictate what is right and wrong.

And yes, it is absolutely wrong to kill innocent people.

But there was a second question I had to follow up the first.

Can you name me a vile and evil act that a believer can do and non-believer can’t do?

Well, two right off the top are suicide bombings and gential mutulation. Both acts done in the name of God (or Allah).

Both believers and non-believers can do suicide bombings and genital mutilation. No argument there.

How do you know that it is absolutely wrong to kill innocent people? Can you prove it scientifically?

Jon says:

I know of no non-believer that would ever do a suicide bombing or genital mutilation. As for the latter, there is no medical reason to perform such an act. It is strictly religious in nature.

To take someone’s life is wrong, it’s doesn’t belong to you. My guide for this is empathy. The “do unto others”is not a Christian ideal, it predates Christianity. It’s a human thing. We learned long ago if we work together, we have a better chance of surviving.

Right and Wrong are really about points of view. Think about if you could ask Osama Bin Laden if he was evil. He would say No, that we are evil. Of course, what he did in killing thousands of innocent people was totally wrong, but his point of view, he is right. His actions are evil, not his point of view.

But no you can’t prove morality with science (just the same as you can’t prove God with science)

Tunde says:

Hello Jon,

Following what you said I have a question?

You said:
“To take someone’s life is wrong, it’s doesn’t belong to you. My guide for this is empathy. The “do unto others”is not a Christian ideal, it predates Christianity. It’s a human thing. We learned long ago if we work together, we have a better chance of surviving”

Chance evolution, by its definition, does not give room for communal survival as only the strongest must survive. How does the ‘evolution’ continue if the stronger protect the weaker? How does natural selection continue its work? Are we allowing evolution to continue when we spend so much to stop it (medicine, etc.)?

We seem to have this need to do what is right and speak out against what is wrong? But is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ a scientific question? Or a moral one?

Can you reduce every question to science? Darwinian science? Especially when it denies intent and purpose in every discovery (yet skips around right and wrong)?

Whenever questions of right and wrong are brought up, God is always brought out as the culprit, never evolution. Why are we so bothered about the questions when it’s all just chance? Why punish anyone for molesting someone for example? Without moral absolutes there is no standard to compare anything else with.

Free will? If I were to point a gun at someone and tell them to say they love me, will that make it true? If someone does not have the ability to choose to love you, then they’re either robots or afraid of repercussions.

Tunde.

Efrain says:

I read the post….and the following comments…..and there is something bugging me.

People wouldn’t even know about good or evil if Adam and Eve didn’t ate its fruit(the tree of knowledge of good and evil), right? And then, they wouldn’t have thought of eating it if it wasn’t for Satan’s lies and words, right? so the noise of lies and evil intention (kind of redundant given the above explanation about lies) got in between. As I read onward the bible, Satan clearly changes the meaning of God’s words, so to make them disobey.

So…..That’s what I came up with. Please do correct me if I am wrong or add up to my comment.

Thanks .

Efrain.

Amjad says:

I believe in god, and I am a moslem. I wanna write for you something. “IF” god doesn’t exist as you say, and “IF” universe what just like that and “IF” u say that birds were formed from an atom, then why didn’t the human being change? and god sent a passenger from human beings for about 1400 years ago. He said that one of the ancient egyptians is dead sinking in a see because of a war with god’s passenger, a scientist found this ancient king. He was Ramsis II. and also god said with his last prophet 1400 years ago that lamp will be made in glass. and as u see. and that iron will fly and talk. and planes fly and telivisions and radios talk. and all is made of iron. and there is lots of things like plants are in the shape of allah word “the name of god” in arabic. It’s even written on a baby’s ear. god said that a day will come to punish bad people for doing bad things. and good people for doing good things. the starting of this day is so hard. so good said that all good people will be dead before the starting of this day. that’s why it’s evil. and by the way, i want to say that god said that the arab and moslems will kill the israelians and the israelians will hide before trees and rocks. these trees and rocks will say that the israelians are behind it. and will ask moslems to kill them. of course u don’t believe me, but also thing in before no one wanted to believe it, but it happened. and by the way, the suicide bomb is not from our religion if it was for a friend, not an enemy.

What if atheism is the pain caused by a religion being miscommunicated? It is apparent that you are Christian, but much of Christianity is miscommunicated. For instance, Luke 10:25 clearly states how to inherit eternal life, but the “Christian Schematic” for obtaining salvation has a completely different set of rules.

I won’t disagree for a nanosecond that atheism is a pain created by religion being miscommunicated. Most evangelistic atheists I know were evangelistic Christians first.

Jonathan Wagner says:

I would also like to point out, as an addition to this article, that the root of all evil is want. There isn’t a single form of evil that exists that can’t be mapped to some form of want. In contrast, perfect love represents imparting and bestowing, and it is by this method that perfection can be achieved in the fastest way possible.

Love is want, too. Want of relationship and goodness. Goodness that is not merely for the one who is loved, but mutual goodness. Evil is corrupted want.

Venugopal says:

Buddha has told : “Desire is the cause of sorrow”. And worldly life is full of suffering, sorrows.
regards
VG

Paul McBride says:

DNA is chemistry, it is admittedly the highest level of chemistry. Chemistry is a natural process. It is governed by physical rules. What happens in a test tube also when you mix vinegar and baking soda also happens in the cell when it reproduces. The cell is just another test tube. You just may have found the thing you say doesn’t exist:: A code that comes from a natural process. There are a limited number of elements, and a limited number of conditions for life. I maintain that wherever in the universe those conditions exist DNA will exist. Mathematics did not come from a mind. It took a mind to discover the process that existed before the mind. We are the only form of matter that can know itself. The mind came from DNA, which was there before us. What once was, is, and always shall be. It exists in an infinite homogeneous universe that is limited by our ability and willingness to perceive it.
I am not an atheist.
God is the universe. Your concept of a conceptual entity limits God.
I liked your presentation. It just lacks experience. Please do not stop the search. I feel you are on the right track.
Thanks for your consideration.
Paul

Paul,

I could say that your hard drive is just chemistry and that would be true. But it would not explain the information in it. It would not explain, say, the rules of HTML which are arbitrary.

The same is true of DNA.

I cannot accept the statement that life exists in an infinite homogeneous universe because we live in a finite universe that is governed by entropy.

Which is also why I don’t believe that God is the universe. God is eternal, the universe is not.

Jim says:

Perry,

Sorry if this is a double post I meant to put it here.

In reading your posts I have found that you have a fundamental flaw in your understanding of entropy. Entropy is not a force nor can it act upon information. You are also incorrect in thinking that entropy cannot be reduced in a system. Entropy can VERY easily be reduced. The flaw in your understanding is the separation between the entropy of a system and the entropy of the universe. The entropy of the universe does correspond to most of your hypotheses. It always increases, etc.

The entropy of planetary systems however is much different. For entropy to always increase the system in question must be isolated. Not closed, or open, ISOLATED. This means that no matter or energy can ever be allowed to enter or escape the system in which your “information evolution” is occurring. Here is the crux of the matter. The Earth is NOT an isolated system. The Earth receives MASSIVE amounts of energy 365.25 days a year.

Energy of course can create order. For example you can build a house of cards and order and potential will have been created. The entropy of the system (the cards) will have been reduced. Now if we look outside the system to include the surroundings we will see that the entropy has still increased by the amount of energy you had to burn in order to make the house. In this example you would be the sun. Yes the sun has a finite lifespan but until it does burn out its massive outflow of energy can be tapped to promote potential and spawn order.

Furthermore your idea that other universes would somehow be in violation entropy is also flawed. The law states that the entropy of the universe must always increase. It does NOT make any statements about any other universes. They would be by definition outside of our Isolated system. It is also unwise to speculate that entropy would even operate as a principle in other universes since you do not know what physical laws operate in them. There is nothing which guarantees the dominance of our configuration.

On a different topic you make the assumption that the universe is not eternal. I find this interesting since you make such a big deal about the second law of thermodynamics that you would completely ignore the first law. That law states that matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Since matter and energy are infinite in nature doesn’t it also make sense that the universe comprised of them is also infinite? I make no claims of such knowledge but neither have I seen you present any evidence to counter the idea. Even if the cyclical universe theory is flawed ( which is impossible to determine by merely looking at our present configuration since previous configurations could have been different) and the heat death hypothetical future of our universe is confirmed, the universe would still be here. It would merely be a universe of cold rocks in which life could not survive. An infinite cold universe. While this is not a very romantic picture, does the truth have to be romantic?

Jim

There are two ways in which I talk about entropy on this website. The first is the entropy of the universe, which is always increasing. You can speculate about how entropy might be different in other universes but that is only speculation, there is no empirical data.

The second is information entropy. Look it up on Wikipedia. You are confusing this with thermodynamic entropy. Adding energy to a system does not create Shannon information.

Yes, you are right, the first law says m/e cannot be created or destroyed. Yet in the big bang they both come into existence at a single point in time. So the big bang itself violates the laws of physics, in some sense. To be more precise, the laws of physics do not form until after Planck time.

I must correct you, matter and energy are not infinite. There is a finite quantity of both.

Ostensibly we are not currently living in an infinitely old, cold universe. The creation event was a finite time ago. 13 billion years, so far as I can tell.

Jim says:

“There are two ways in which I talk about entropy on this website. The first is the entropy of the universe,”

Ok. So by that I take it that you see no bar to evolution from a thermodynamic standpoint since there is obviously enough energy being radiated onto our planet for it to have occurred?

Now the other type of entropy which you invoke. You say that That type of entropy must always increase but after reading the wiki pages you suggested I didn’t find that anywhere. At one point it even says it doesn’t have to increase,

” forms of signal corruption often degrade quality.” OFTEN is the key word here. Signal corruption does not always corrupt quality, it only often does. Secondly you seem to have skipped this section of the wiki page:

“Error-correcting codes (channel coding): While data compression removes as much redundancy as possible, an error correcting code adds just the right kind of redundancy (i.e., error correction) needed to transmit the data efficiently and faithfully across a noisy channel.”

This statement about information theory is in direct opposition to your statement here:

“You can’t get the information back, It’s an irreversible process of degradation.”

Biological systems CAN get information back by a variety of DNA self-repairing systems. As information theory says these repair systems need not be perfect but most only achieve a certain level of redundancy.

” Adding energy to a system does not create Shannon information.”

Shannon information is not a type of information. According to your wiki pages it is merely the incidence of noise between the observer and the source. Shannon also said:

“it doesn’t matter whether the symbol means anything. It only matters whether the symbol at the information source and the destination are the same.”

With this definition of information (Shannon’s definition) then radiometric decay is information being transmitted. IT gives us information about its source, age, .location, etc. Pulsars would also be considered a code. They tell us explicitly all about their rotational velocity, mass, time till death, all from their codes.

On the other hand thermodynamic entropy can very easily create information. As a matter of fact an organic chemist recently showed how RNA nucleotides will spontaneously form from their basic constituents.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/05/ribonucleotides/

So now we see that information in the form of nucleic acids will spontaneously form and error correction systems are viable under Shannon information.

“You can speculate about how entropy might be different in other universes”

I made no claims or speculations about other universes. You on the other hand did when you said this, “it is in principle impossible to detect those universes, and they require an exception to the law of entropy.” The idea that other universes would need an exception to entropy is obviously conjecture since as YOU say, ” but that is only speculation, there is no empirical data.”

“Yet in the big bang they both come into existence at a single point in time. So the big bang itself violates the laws of physics, in some sense.”

Here you are once again speculating about what occurred before the big bang.

“To be more precise, the laws of physics do not form until after Planck time.”

This is another fundamental misunderstanding of the theory. OUR physical laws did not come into effect until after Planck time. OTHER physical laws WERE in effect though. They were just different due to the different conditions (extreme heat and pressure for example.)

“I must correct you, matter and energy are not infinite. There is a finite quantity of both.”

I was not referring to their quantity, only their nature. They cannot be created nor destroyed and therefore they have infinite lifespans.

“Ostensibly we are not currently living in an infinitely old, cold universe.”

I never said we were. I said if the Heat death hypothesis was correct then that is the eventual fate of the universe.

Now onto something more in keeping with the name of this section. Do you believe your designer is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and omni-benevolent?

I eagerly await your reply,

Jim

Jim:

Energy is not sufficient to create evolution. The idea that feeding energy into a system is sufficient to cause Darwinian evolution is a grave mistake. There is nothing in communication theory to suggest that you can get information from anything less than intelligence. Energy is not code.

The Wiki page is not strong enough. I know of no instance where noise does not degrade the quality of a signal. Noise ALWAYS degrades quality. There are are limited instances in which noise makes it more useful but it certainly does not add content.

Yes, biological systems can get some information back but only through redundancy. If there is no redundancy the information is lost. You can estimate what it was but you can NEVER EVER get it back.

Shannon information is NOT simply noise! No siree Bob. Shannon information is any content between sender and receiver.

Shannon is not concerned with meaning. However Shannon is concerned with preservation of syntax and semantics and statistics.

Radioactive decay is not information until you add a decoder and assign meaning to it. Same with layers of sediment.

The RNA nucleotides synthesized do not contain any Shannon information because there is no encoder and no decoder.

If you have speculations about other universes, and how they may be different than our own, then go ahead and present them. I say, if our universe was birthed from a universe which like our own has entropy, there can be only a finite number of such past universes.

It is impossible to define physical laws before Planck time. Heat and pressure are not physical laws, based on what I understand to be the definition of “law.”

If matter and energy have infinite life spans then how is it possible that the universe has finite age?

I believe the designer is the first 3 O’s. I’m not so sure about the last one.

Venugopal says:

Dear Paul,
You have expressed it elegantly. Here is a link, where the American Nobel Laureate physicist argues that there is no design behind the Universe.
http://kirtimukha.com/surfings/Cogitation/Designer_Universe.htm
I have quoted this to point out the pitfall of using science to prove the existance or non-existance of God.
Regards
VG

Cristiano says:

Dear Perry,

I really think you did one of the best answers to this consuming question. Your words were filled with wisdom that I am sure you know the fountain from which it sprang. I just want to add somethings I think about it. Some days ago I watched a documentary on TV that basically said that evil, meaning the Devil, was a concept created by the Christians who couldn’t explain why their one God would permit bad things to happen, the same question you so thoroughly answered, and as they had no answers to that they created an evil being whom they should blame for the evil.I would like to say that, being acquainted with the revelations given to man from the beginning of the world, we must consider that evil did not come from God and did not existed in the beginning. As you said, it was intentionally put there, but not by the Creator.

Many scientists believe today in the existence of dimensions greater than ours with 4 and up to 11 dimensions. Isn’t that believing in things that cannot be seen? I watched Carl Sagan explain that a 4 dimensional being could easily see us and move in our dimension without being seen only by standing at a little distance from us in the 4th dimension while a shadow cast by such being would be a 3 dimensional representation of him. This shows that even science believes that we could easily be encircled by 4D beings invisible to our eyes that could move “around” us and influence our lives in many ways.

I’m not saying that I believe completely on that, but is it not what religion has called “spirit” for thousands of years? An unseen entity that functions as our conscience or “feelings”? Could not such beings of an unseen world be responsible for the first “lies” introduced into our lives? Though I fully don’t comprehend how these things work I do know that there are spirits all over us day and night, both good and bad, that are the cause of influence on the many wrongdoings of the world today.

To understand that one must go to the unknown and learn of the things in a different way, not with the eyes of the flesh, but with the eyes of the spirit. I stumbled upon one scripture that calls Christ “the light of the world” and “the light that shineth in darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not”. When I first listened about the properties of light in a physics classroom I saw the wonder of it, how everything that exists depends upon the existence of light and that its absence means the ending of existence. I then fully understood what those scriptures meant. I rather realized that so much depends upon Christ.

I say Christ, but I would to make clear that many religions believe in Christ though under different names, some called him Apolo, some Jehovah, some Alah, some Yaveh, and many other names were given to the King of gods in different cultures which I know nothing about; what I mean is that the thought of a Creator, of a link between men and God, was set upon the mind of the first man who walked upon the earth, not for fear of the unknown, but rather for seeing the face of His Redeemer and gazing upon the glories of eternity and seeing all that would pass upon this earth to the very end. I want to say that the first man did not evolve from apples, though many will believe on that, but he came from high above, having walked in immortal worlds and dwelt with God himself. Adam, or any other name that could be given him, was a direct descendant of the very Creator of worlds without number.

What many cannot comprehend is that before the beginning of this world there was a space of time spanning billions of years in which we lived as spirits in the presence of God, with conscience and agency. There lived the whole family of God, His sons and daughters, begotten of His spirit in a way incomprehensible to us in our present condition, children who would populate billions of thousands of worlds to be created. But were different from God since he had a perfect body of bones and flesh, vivified by His almighty spirit, superior and purer than all that we know today, possessing all the knowledge and might and dominion over all things. We desire to be like him more than anything else and as many cleaved unto Him for love of Him some looked for easier ways to receive power. One of these were Lucifer, he was a son of the morning, one of the most intelligent and eloquent of all Gods children and legions followed His words and example even before he fell.

During that time a plan was presented, God would prepare this earth and give tabernacles of flesh to His children, they would come and try their best to return to Him for this would be a time of proving and testing; we would have to drink of the bitter cup in order to know how to succor others, we would experience drawbacks in order to learn how to love and to trust in Him, we would forget all that we lived in His presence for a season that we could walk by faith and more completely deserve the crown of glory he had for us. We accepted the promises and difficulties, but one thing was missing: if we would fall short we would never be able to come back unless a Savior was provided to ransom the penalties of our mistakes and to recover and raise our bodies from the abyss of death and despair.

A call for a champion was made and everyone knew who would be the one to volunteer: Jehovah, the Christ. When the council was united and the matter discussed one raised his hand not in support of God, but against Him, Lucifer. His plan was: “I will go down and save all thy children insomuch that not a soul will be lost if you only give me thine power and they are left without the agency to choose”. Lucifer proposed to destroy the plan of God by taking the agency from men to follow him blindly through mortality and them become subjected to him forevermore. Christ opposed this plan and said: “I will do thy will and the glory will be thine forever”. A vote was called, Christ was chosen as the Lamb, slain from before the foundation of the world and Lucifer’s plan defeated. Lucifer called upon his followers and a war in heaven began, no soon Michael, who is Adam, was called to battle against the Dragon, and cast him out of heaven to this earth. From that day on Lucifer would be now not as Son of the Morning, but as Satan, Perdition, the Dragon, and many other epithets.

When Michael was clothed with a body of flesh and set upon this earth to live in a garden of peace, Satan came and tempted man trying to deceit him, his words were lies from the beginning, and when man fall from that state of immortal glory because of transgression, Satan became the yoke master of this world, striding up and down, deceiving men everywhere with his hosts of followers, even a third of the angels of heaven, whose sole purpose is to destroy the agency of men and bind him down to sin that he may not come to a knowledge of their Redeemer and the joy of His glory. From the first step out of Eden to the very last scene before the day comes when Christ shall descend from heaven to destroy the wicked and make peace for a thousand years Satan shall make men believe that there is no God, nor judgments after, nor ressurrection and no guilt for doing what is wrong.

To those who do not believe in this I say, thrust it not away nor trodden it under your feet, but make that a matter of prayer and pondering. If you do not believe in a Christ I ask you to do as others did that you may receive the same witness, for it is recorded that some unbelievers asked: “Behold, what do all these things mean…? [...And] what shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us? And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto [God], even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you… and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you. And … they all did begin to cry unto [God] … even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed. And … when they cast their eyes about … they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire… yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire… and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. And … there came a voice … saying: Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world. And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes … and behold, they saw the heavens open; and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them. And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.” (Helaman 5)

I testify of these things, God speaks again on the earth, there truly are things invisible to our eyes that could we see we would never be the same. I testify that the words written in Helaman are true for I have experienced of the same light which has filled my soul with such unspeakable joy that I can hardly contain tears from flooding down my cheeks. I know that Christ lives today and now, I know that independently of all creatures below the celestial world, and I can promise that anyone who will ask of God shall receive ten thousand times more than what they have ever dreamed of. He loves us. He cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit. I solemnly testify of it, God being my witness.

kasparov says:

Cristiano….that was very beautifully written.

thankyou

paula says:

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asokan says:

I have this question: The theory origin of universe and the definition for God are subjects thoroughly dealt with in Hindu religious books. The term “God” as it is understood in Semetic religions (Like Christianity or Islam) cannot be translated into the language in Hindu religion.In Sanskrit the equivalant word is “Daivam” and this is defined as the power represented by westerners as “Big Bang”. “Daivam or its quality known as “daivikam” are only the qualities of the universe as it exists. Earth is only part of this universe without beginning or end. The universe is equivalant to “Infinity”. Infinity is known as “Poornam” or “complete”. Earth is part of the complete and it is also Poornam. When “Poornam” is taken from Poornam” the remaining is also ‘Poornam” (Poornamada poornamidam Poornat Poornamuduchyate.Poornasya Poornamadaya Poornamevavasishyate). And in thi s whole universe is covered by Daivam or “Eesan” (eesavasyamidam sarvam, Yat kinch Jagatyam jagat) Creation is from the mind of this power. In fact modern theory of “mind” covers the theory that everything seen in this world is created by the mind of “Brahma” therepresenting God-head for the universe. I wonder why the western worls is not looking at the theories propounded in ancient Sanskrit literature like “Upanishads” and compare with Darwin’s theiry of Origin of species. I am a 79 years old eprson having gone through many books sitting retired at home and am not in a situation to launch a research project. I appeal to you to look in that direction.
Asokan

ron says:

If there is a God where is he?not in everything we see!!!!Why would your God write a book say he is all love and the create wars and pestilence,kill millions of people,cause intense suffering for all living things create monstrous catastrophies and if God created DNA why did he mess so many things up in the DNA ie;cancer cells,not to mention swine flu and other pestilences to cause death and suffering in the people he loves so much!!!And why does he keep himself hidden? Surely if he exists he can multiply followers by presenting himself before his people.Why does he want people to pray and beseech him for help and favors when he has already set the whole world up as he wants it to be,?

Ron,

These are all theological questions.

Theology presents answers to these questions, but in order to listen to them one must listen to theology with a serious ear.

I deleted your other comment because it was insulting. It did not give me the impression that you were willing to listen.

If you are I will be happy to continue forward with this discussion.

Perry

Gregory A. Munsick says:

Very briefly, reducing life to sophisticated assemblies of information is not a very satisfying explanation for existence, though I’m not saying it is the incorrect one. I think that most clear-thinking people reach your conclusion in one form or another – that this life is infinitely improbable. However, what I believe that you are concluding is that we are nothing more than very sophisticated algorithms, thus undeniably eliminating the distinction between life and non-life (you are saying the life is very complex non-life and nothing more). If I am nothing more than a really complex robot, driven by a really complex computer, then what is the point? You talk of faith and religion and God; but you have arguably destroyed them all by your main point that we are nothing more then information systems. Faith and religion also have concepts of free-will and the soul, which are meaningless in your information-based model. Information systems yield output from processing input and nothing more. Have you ever corrected your children, or been upset with someone’s behavior? Why? They are doing nothing more than acting out their programming and nothing more. This of course is true of Hitler and Mao as well. In your pure information model, there can be no ‘independent’ behavior (free will), which is at the core of all meaningful belief systems. In short, you are not proving my God by all of your arguments; you are killing Him.

The Bible warns against being wise in your own opinion, and trying to think your way to God. I have found that such an appoach leads to futility of thought, as in your case. The atheist reply of ‘who Designed the Designer’ is perfectly valid in your world, because you say that the only explanation for information systems that are seemingly infinitely complex in our universe is an Information System that is “infinity-squared’ as complex. You say that this explanation is beyond space and time, but why isn’t it more reasonable to presume that infinitely complex entities arose from nothingness, rather than destroying your own logic by saying that the solution is the infinity-squared being?

I would focus my energies on bridging the gap between information systems and humanity – for if you leave it that we are infinitely complex thinking and feling machines, then you are basically telling your audience that all feelings (for your spouce, your kids, and others) is nothing more than an output from a computer; which is little different than telling them to jump from a bridge because life and existence have no meaning, and in point of fact, life does not exist at all. We are nothing but biochemical machines that are doing nothing other than acting out our programming – this is truly Shakepeare’s ‘tale told by an idiot – full of sound and fury, but signifying NOTHING..

Phil Eberhard says:

Hi Perry. I recently listened to your sermon on your website about the origins of the universe and i foudn it very interesting and very informative. I want to point something out though, regarding the days in genesis. you stated that you beleive the days in genesis are vast periods of time, and not literal days. This is actaully very easy to disprove, as the Lord showed me as I was driving one day. He simply said to my mind “the age of adam”. Instantly it clicked. Adam was created on the SIXTH day. The bible also gives the AGE adam died. (Gen 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.)
The days in genesis can NOT be 1000 year periods and can NOT be even greater expanses of time, otherwise adam’s age would greatly exceed 930 years.

Please let me know your thoughts regarding this

Thanks

Phil

Phil,

You may notice that nowhere does it say, “There was evening and morning, a 7th day.” We are still in the 7th day now.

Perry

Phil Eberhard says:

Hi Perry. Sorry, maybe I didnt express the point i was trying to make clear enough. Yes, its correct that genesis doesnt close out the seventh day with a morning and evening, however this is a side issue to the fact that there is only ONE place in the bible where it gives the AGE of someone from the sixth day. Adam’s age (at his death), is 930 yrs (gensies 5:5). This has HUGE bearings on how long the sixth day was, because if the sixth day was 1000 years or if it was refering to THOUSANDS of years, then adam’s age would greatly have exceeded 930 years. This is literal proof that the days in genesis (or atleast it PROOVES that the sixth day) is less than 1000 years. This actaully is a proof text, because adam’s age cant be denied or reinterpreted. This in turn has big implications for atleast one of the claims both your and hugh ross’s website makes, so please let me know your thoughts

Cheers

Phil

Phil,

This does not logically follow.

In my view, a “day” is an indeterminate period of time. The word “yom” in Hebrew has multiple meanings depending on context. I didn’t offer any hard rule that a “day” had to be a million years or any other specific number. If day is an indeterminate period of time then day 6 could have been 24 hours or a week or ten thousand years and it also says nothing about exactly when, during that day / period of time, that adam was created. A the beginning, the middle or the end. Adam’s age doesn’t necessarily prove anything about the length of day six.

Perry

Cristiano says:

Dear Ron,

Your very question about why God let such things happen shows that we have one thing called “Agency”, that is, the right to choose. You said that God created bad things but I totally disagree with you. If I shoot at someone now was that my fault or was that God? Surely that was my fault, not His. Maybe you will ask, then why did he let that happen? And I tell you that if he stops me from doing that he would end my “Agency”, or my free will and therefore he would cease of been a Creator and would become a Dictator. If all the world would strictly follow rules and never break them what meaning life would have? We would be not human beings but rather robots. How could beauty exist if there were no ugliness? How could we know what is sweet but through tasting the bitter? Unfortunately you cannot comprehend such nuances of the perfection of God unless you really understand the importance of free agency in the plan of the Creator.
The problem with religion today is that they claim that our only purpose is to be sent to Heaven to serve and sing to God forever or to Hell to suffer eternal punishment for not serving Him. That is a very wrong and mistaken view of God. And that is why so many people actually blame Him for all the wrongs of the world.
But that is not the way things are! And there is no way to know God unless we ask Him to show us. Someone said that a man can learn more from gazing in Heavens for five minutes than by reading all the books about the subject that have ever been written. And that is true. I agree with Mr. Perry in all points there is one which I want to reinforce that science can be only one witness to God, but there are others more clear and more personal of His existence and attributes. If you really want to know more I can tell you where to find answers.

Cristiano says:

Dear Jonathan Wagner,

I agree with you saying that God is not restricted to time and space and to our own limits. I just would like to say something about His knowledge of our actions when we exercise our free will. Those who are fathers, and who really care for their children, come to a certain knowledge about their children that resembles, at least in part, the perfect foreknowledge of God, for example, a caring father always know when their children are lying or telling the truth by their gestures and voice, and he even knows what their actions will be under certain circunstances and though he can be surprised sometimes, the more he observes them the more he will be right about which choices they will make.
But could say that their knowledge of the possible outcome had determined the choice of the child? No! You can’t say that! And if the father tells his children of the dangers they will face in pursuing such paths he is not determining that they WILL suffer because he want to, but because that will be a natural consequence of their actions.
Again, his foreknowledge is not deterministic but rather based on observation of past experiences. And if our fathers can have such a foreknowledge of our actions even with all their limitations, how greater then is the knowledge of God? But some may say: How did he come to that knowledge? How can he know what will be my disposition before something which I have never faced? Again we show our limited point of view for we think of our beings as having a birth, a growth and a death, but that is not true! We were born long before even the whole universe was made, not in flesh, but as spirits beings, in the same resemblance of what we are today, but made of spiritual matter, more refined, more perfect. And then, for ages without number we lived from childhood to manhood in the presence of our Father. That is how He got His perfect knowledge of us, by having watched us closely for innumerable years. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our hopes and dreams, our fears and sorrows, and He has watched us closely ever since we left His presence.
Many in Christianity or many other religions claim a God that is distant and impersonal, but that is not truth, God is very personal, knowing our names and cherishing us eternally as children of His Spirit.
Maybe some will say, why don’t he just show himself and get many more followers? I rather say, would they believe? Would your children believe? how many generations would it take for God to be forgotten again and history become legend, and legend fade into myth? I tell you that all those who say that they would believe if they saw, will not. Why do I say that? The man Jesus came to earth and made so much miracles before the eyes of the people and was still crucified. Prophets were sent a thousand times in all the world in different ages and how much of the so called adepts of science believed on them?
If all the world today would see God and have Him minister each person I say that in no more than 4 generations all would forgot Him and become worse than ever.
Am I saying that God will not show himself to the world? Absolutely not! In the contrary, in not many years God will come upon this earth and all shall know of His existence for that is what the scriptures are all about. God will be seen and God will be known, then our duty is to prepare ourselves to know Him at that day.

Jonathan Wagner says:

I actually agree with you in a sense, knowing an outcome is possible if one is aware of all current variables, I look at it more in a mathematical sense, humans do it all the time, we predict what will happen before it happens, and if we can do it surely God can do it.

I believe the God that most of us believe in is the epitome of our ultimate aspirations. The God we choose to believe in ultimately possesses the charateristics we all want, compassion, love, wisdom, and knowledge. My primary problem with this, while this very important to each of us subjectively, it is very selfish to assume that what WE want God to be is what God is. A perfect example of this is when an atheist uses the argument, “Well there is so much death and suffering, how can God exist?” This is a very selfish statement, it assumes that A.) God is Good B.) God has to interact with us and finally C.) That when God chooses to interact with us it has to be in our benefit. This isn’t necessarily God, this is what we would LIKE or WANT God to be. However while some assumptions seem fair, i.e God is Good, they are still assumptions.

I disagree that if God revealed himself to people they would not believe. It’s pretty apparent that you have not seen God. The reason God doesn’t show himself is because human’s are not capable of -fully- comprehending, let alone viewing, God. God doesn’t reveal himself, because he doesn’t have to, he doesn’t have to do anything we would -want-. This is very important, because ultimately want is the root of all evil.

I think in regards to Jesus, what a lot of people forget is that it was his life that was important it was his actions that got him followers, it wasn’t these concepts that were later solidified by the Nicean Creed that made people believe in Jesus.

Miracles are not convincing, because they can be deceptions bydishonorable people, everyone wants to see a miracle, no one actually wants to believe in a miracle. God revealing himself directly to a person, however, is not a miracle, it is a revelation.

Wow! Thank you for serving God this way. He is glorified in my heart from reading this post! I have fallen more in love with Him in the brief time I have spent reading your blog today! I would love your permission to use the following quote on my facebook profile. I like to keep one there that makes people think…

“Any sentence you speak starts with your intent, which dictates meaning, which is expressed via the rules of language.”

I listened to half of Dr. Hugh Ross as well. I just keep thinking WOW WOW WOW! It takes my breath away!
Sincerely,
Kathy S.

You have permission, thanks-
Perry

Cristiano says:

Dear Phil Eberhard,

Remember that when you speak about the sixth day of creation and the creation of man it does not means that Adam was created in the beginning of the sixth day, or even in the middle of the day, or in the end. Pay attention also to the few verses found after God blessed the seventh day:
“(4) These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, (5) And every plant of the field BEFORE it was in the earth, and every herb of the field BEFORE it grew: for the Lord God HAD NOT caused it to rain upon the earth, and THERE WAS NOT a man to till the ground. (6) But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. (7) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (8) And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2)
See that all that trespassed in chapter one was only a prelude to the real creation of the things, or in more precise words, all things were first planned, then spiritually created BEFORE physically created. It becomes clear that even AFTER the seventh day had begun, there was no plants in the fields, neither rain nor man to till the ground. Please remember that the scripture is speaking about the specific creation of man and of the Garden of Eden. It is sure, by all that trespassed before, that the earth and everything upon it was already made, but in this case neither the Garden was prepared nor man was upon the earth.
Therefore, it was on the seventh day that God set man upon this earth. Other point that must be remembered is that death was not known to man at that time, since it would be purposeless for God to say that: “(17) of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Other point that must be stated clearly is that, at that time, Adam did not count time as we do for, as the Book of Abraham states: “it was after the Lord’s time… for as yet God had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning.”
Therefore we can draw some conclusion here: (1) man was created spiritually on the sixth day but (2) was set upon the earth only after the seventh day had began; (3) death was not known unto Adam in the beginning and (4) he did not count time for his reckoning was not yet shown him. With this in mind we can proceed and say that AFTER the fall two things happened: (1) death came into the world, (2) time begun to be reckoned as we know it today.
With this conclusions we can say that there is no point in saying that those 6 days were short periods of time, for according to Abraham they were reckoned by the pattern of God and could be 1 day, 1 thousand years, or even billions of years depending upon the pattern which is not known unto us.
When I was younger I came to a scripture in the 3rd chapter of 2 Peter where says: “(8) But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” From this I concluded that:
(1) 1 day to God = 1 thousand years to us and
(2) 1 thousand years to God = passes as 1 day to us.
Therefore if 1 thousand years have 365,250 days and each day accounts for 1 thousand years, then:
(3) 1 day = 365,250,000 years
What would make the 6 days account for a period of 2.1915 billion years. I think that is pretty much like what science say today, at least better that thinking it were 6 real days.
I just want to tell that these calculations are only speculative. Even if it came into my mind I do not endorse it or teach it as the truth, but I only say it to show that there is no way we could know exactly how much it took to create the earth unless God reveals it himself.

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