A hard time finding God
A reader writes of his struggles while watching Attenborough and more.
Published: 22 June 2014 (GMT+10)
Steven B. wrote to say that while he was enjoying Creation magazine:
I am having a tremendously hard time finding a personal God as it is like playing tennis with the other side of the net in heavy fog. My prayers are hitting the ball and it disappears into the fog never to return; no matter how hard I try.
I believe it may have been Einstein who said that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different answer was insanity. I am beginning to wonder if my cries to the Lord may fall into this pattern?
I watched David Attenborough’s Rise of Animals today. Although I cannot accept life from zero, it seems hard to reconcile the fossils and skeletal forms that have been collected from around the world. Certainly, it makes the Adam and Eve story seem a pleasant story for simple folk. Can Christianity really adhere to a young earth when fossil records, notwithstanding C14 problems, show the earth to be many times older? Cosmology is at odds here as well.
It is a horrible feeling to be where I am, to think that God may not be as we have been taught. Perhaps this email may galvanize Him to return a serve in my long game of tennis with Him.
Kind regards, Stephen B.
Dr Carl Wieland responded:
Speaking as a former atheist, I understand where you are coming from. Nonetheless, I also know that when I say what follows, it’s not just talking about me; my colleagues include a number of Ph.D. scientists, including from relevant disciplines.
That is, they are not just ‘barely able to hang on’ in the face of a flood of contrary evidence, but the shoe is on the other foot, truly. They are excited about the way more evidence than ever keeps stacking up in favour of the Bible’s history being accurate.
When you talk about ‘all that evidence’ (not your words, but the impression your words give) it is almost as if the existence of large numbers of animals and fossil forms is an argument against Genesis history. But the question that has to be asked is, does that logically follow? Or is it (nothing derogatory intended here, we are all creatures influenced by much more than reason) an ‘impression’ reinforced by the fact that those narrating things about these facts are continually assuming the opposite framework? When one starts with the biblical framework (even if just for the sake of the argument) and looks at the same evidence, it makes the world of difference.
If it were not so, then how could the same things which one person finds a threat to biblical belief be seen by others as reinforcing them?
Consider just a handful of ‘big picture’ things that have emerged in the past few decades, even though the number of people at the coalface of creationist research is very few. Remember, nothing is an immutable argument (that is true for anything in science and philosophy) but all I am trying to point out is that the picture that some paint of creationism as some sort of a rearguard action by people desperately holding on to the vestiges of biblical reality is far from the truth.
In reality, the shoe is (or at least should be) on the other foot. Consider just a few:
- The elucidation of genetic entropy, refined with supercomputer analysis (Mendel’s Accountant) by one of the world’s most qualified geneticists in terms of background and experience (Dr John Sanford, inventor of the gene gun and still able to be referred to as a professor at the famous Cornell University). The implications seem clear: if higher organisms had been around for more than 100,000 years, they would be extinct through ‘error catastrophe’ in their DNA codes. This is based on a powerful reality from operational science. I’m talking about lots of observed mutations accumulating with each generation, which is an irrefutable fact. Some 60 new mutations at least in every newborn human baby, for example. To long-agers, it needs ‘explaining away’. The straightforward understanding of that fact, reinforced by supercomputer simulations, is that the millions of years cannot be real. It caused Sanford to become not just a Christian, but a biblical (Genesis) creationist. Now, the animals and fossils you talk about are realities, too, but it will hopefully be clear that the weaving of historical ‘just-so’ stories (by Attenborough and co) around these observed facts, no matter how beautifully presented on DVD, etc., is of a different order of scientific veracity than the ‘number-crunching’ that falls out of population genetics once this mutation rate is taken into account. And these realities are consistent with the biblical ‘big picture’. We are deteriorating, right here and now. Sanford’s talk on DVD on our store, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, is very significant, and if you have not seen it, I think you would find it most encouraging and helpful.
- The repeated, and totally unexpected, discovery of lots of fragile structures, soft tissues, and fragile molecules in e.g. dinosaur fossils, long after physical laws would indicate that they should have disintegrated from thermodynamic considerations, regardless of any preservatives or fixatives or protective casing.
- The discovery of seemingly very strong evidence that radiodecay rates are not immutable at all (look up e.g. ‘rate’ in the search engine)
- The way in which even secular geology is finding itself increasingly forced to head towards a ‘neo-catastrophism’ to explain what is really found in the field, things which the old ‘slow and gradual’ explanations cannot cope with. Of course they will be reluctant to use the interpretative framework of a global flood, consistent with humanity’s tendency to reject a sin-judging God at all costs (Romans 1, 2 Peter 3:3–5). But some of the catastrophic forces required to explain some field observations are so massive in extent as to beggar belief in anything other than a global flood cause. (E.g.: The Shinarump Conglomerate; conglomerate is a type of rock that requires moving water to have the energy to pick up, transport and deposit pebbles and boulders. The Shinarump (exposed at Grand Canyon) covers 260,000 sq km of the continental United States. In today’s world, formation of conglomerate happens only on a small scale, and only during local flooding which gives it enough energy to pick up gravel and boulders. Then there are the Olgas, (Katatjuta) in Australia, an entire mountain range made of conglomerate, extending kilometres deep underground, all made of sizeable boulders that have been transported and deposited and are now cemented together. No uniform, slow process is known that could do this. In fact there is simply no modern-day analogue; there is nothing, not even the largest floods known today, that is in the process of forming such deposits, no matter how much time were allowed. Local floods simply don’t last long enough.
- The realisation from genetics that all the ethnic groups worldwide are in fact astonishingly closely related—so much so that it has forced hasty ‘rejigging’ of theories of ‘human evolution’—as one would have to insist must be the case given biblical anthropology. Even Neandertals (once thought to be our part-ape ancestors) have been shown by DNA sequencing to be human after all. And in fact there is a real crisis developing in the whole neo-Darwinian explanation, so much so that several secularists are now pondering what will possibly arise to replace something that clearly doesn’t ‘work’ (the mechanism seems to be the only game in town, but has huge mathematical problems). See for example: A review of The Altenberg 16.
One could go on a bit more, but all I am trying to do is show you that it is worth stepping back from the picture painted by those convinced of the ruling paradigm, and considering the evidence on the basis that the Bible is true; as I said, start doing it ‘for the sake of the argument’. As someone once said, “If I hadn’t believed it, I wouldn’t have seen it.J” Consider, too, the following; are all those things I mentioned above likely to be just coincidences?
And when one also looks at the whole naturalistic worldview driving the sorts of things which Attenborough and co. extol, we find it full of incredible contradictions and improbabilities bordering on impossibilities. It effectively involves believing in a string of stupendous miracles but with no sufficient cause, such as the origin of everything from nothing in the big bang, inflation, the origin of normal matter, the origin of stars, the origin of life, the origin of sex, and the origin of mind and morality, etc. In short, the alternative to what the Bible describes is that ‘nothing times nobody produced everything and everybody’.
At the same time, I would also continue to pray for God to reveal Himself to you, not necessarily by way of some voice from the heavens. In the NT, Paul never appealed to people’s emotions (feelings) in his preaching, but rather their reason. The Bible does not call us to blind faith. The change may need to come via the way you think about the world around you, breaking free of the interpretive framework within which all that evidence (which we see as wonderfully consistent with creation, on the whole) is presented all the time. Attenborough has some marvellous photography, but is hardly a dispassionate observer. The whole tenor is one of assuming naturalism (nature is all there is), and a lot of circular reasoning.
When we read the Psalms we find some of them are prayers to God of a person crying out the sort of thing you are saying. But the solution is not to abandon reason and follow the leading of those who believe in creation without a creator (e.g. Psalm 42). We look at Job and he went through a lot before he came into a wonderful experience of the presence of God, but he never gave up on God.
A solution to doubt and depression is not to be found by immersing ourselves in the thoughts of those who think that there is absolutely no purpose or meaning to life (such as Attenborough), but by putting our thoughts to what is good, which comes from God. The commandment is to “Rejoice in the Lord always” and to think about the good things (Philippians 4:4–9). I think also of Hebrews 11, the recounting of the ‘saints’ of old who persevered, “these people were all still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” (v.13). If we feed our minds on the thoughts of those who hate God, we will only spiral down to despair. Our only hope is in God. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). When Jesus said, “The truth will set you free”, He was referring to what comes from God, not the world that is in rebellion against God.
I hope that can somehow be helpful, even if only in part….
PS. I note that I did not mention C14 dating; but this is actually the creationists’ friend. See this chapter in the Creation Answers Book, creation.com/cab4. Actually, I wonder if you were to spend the same amount of time spent watching Attenborough by searching the 9,000+ articles on our site using the search engine, whether you would not find many more answers than you realise, already there, for any questions that arise. (E.g. see the numerous Attenborough rebuttals in ‘Related Articles’ below.) For instance, I doubt whether you would have been concerned about C14. I recommend as a start a thorough digestion of The Creation Answers Book.