Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This and That, Romania-Style

Much to report from our trip to Romania, and too full a schedule to find time to report it all... In addition, my schedule separates me from the rest of the team at times, so what I have to share is biased towards my own doings.

Tuesday, I had opportunity to speak to the department heads at the University in Arad. This was conducted entirely in English (that is, without translation), as these professors were all proficient in it (despite this talk being the most technical of all those that I will share on this trip). The topic was a critique of naturalism within science. In it, I made several points...

1) The university system and nearly all universities were established by Christians. The term itself means "from many, one." The diversity refers to the various areas of human endeavor, from poetry and music, to economics and politics, to chemistry and philosophy. And the unifying principle that held all these diverse disciplines together was the lordship of Jesus Christ. On this understanding of the history of the university system, it is a contradiction in terms (an oxymoron) to talk about a 'secular university,' though that is what we now have all around us.

2) The reason the university has come to teach without reference to God or to Jesus is the mistaken belief that modern science has somehow disproved His existence.

3) Like the university system, modern science uniquely arose within a Christian worldview. It was Christian men and women, studying the pages of Scripture, that came to believe that the study of the universe in which we live was a worthwhile endeavor. Thus there is no historical justification for approaching science from a naturalist worldview (which says that the universe is the whole show and that there is no God behind it).

4) That science was uniquely birthed by Christians is because the many assumptions that make science feasible come from a Christian worldview. Though there are some twenty such assumptions that could be discussed (such as that the laws of logic and mathematics really apply to the universe in which we live), a couple of the most important ones are these...
Since the universe is created (as opposed to illusory or eternal), we expect to find design and order in it, as it is a reflection of the rational mind of God.

Since we are created in the image of God, our reasoning and senses are reliable for discerning that order and design.
These and others of the necessary assumptions of science remain either contrary to a naturalist metaphysic or at the least unexplained by naturalism. The naturalist scientist depends upon the order in the universe (reflected in predictable, law-like processes) but cannot account for where that order comes from. Thus, there is no logical justification for--and a whole lot of logical justification against--taking a naturalistic approach to science.

5) If we do not artificially constrain ourselves to strictly natural explanations, then all of the latest scientific discoveries are rightly seen as supporting a theistic--not a naturalistic--understanding of the world in which we live. For example, the discovery that the universe had a beginning a finite time ago provides powerful scientific confirmation of the cosmological argument for God's existence (as well as for the Biblical statements--many of them made 5,000 years ago--that the eternal God created the universe transcendentally). Likewise, the teleological (design) argument for God's existence (and care) has received stunning scientific confirmation from astrophysics (the discoveries that led to the 'anthropic principle,' the recognition that the universe, galaxy, solar system, and earth exhibit incredibly fine tuning that has as its goal intelligent life in this one place in the universe), biochemistry (the discovery of the awesome complexity of living cells and the consequent recognition of the vastness of the gap between non-living chemicals and the simplest life), and genetics (the discovery of the universal genetic code, the information contained therein and the incredible efficiency of it), to name just a few.

To put it another way, although Darwin provided a hypothetical naturalistic explanation for one thing--the diversity of life on earth (an explanation which itself fails the test of evidential support, but that's an entirely different series of posts)--all of the other big things that science ought to be able to explain--the origin of the universe, the order in the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life on Earth, the origin of the first life, the Cambrian explosion (the 'big bang of biology'), the information in the genetic code, the origin of consciousness) are amenable to explanation within a theistic, but not within a naturalistic, worldview.

6) Thus, it's high time we abandon the naturalistic approach by which science is currently operating and return to the more powerful and objective approach that characterized the first several centuries of scientific progress.

My new friend, Vlad Criznic, who is the Eastern European staff for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, was so impressed by the argument I shared with this faculty that yesterday morning he interviewed me about this topic for his weekly half-hour apologetics-oriented radio program.

The team and I spent most of the day yesterday sight-seeing; we visited Timisoara, a city of 400,000 about 30 miles from here, where the 1989 revolution against communism began. We were guided by Doru Popa, Emi's father and one who was involved in the events of that historic week when the revolution spilled over into Arad. It was thrilling to me to hear the accounts of these events while standing where they took place. It reached a humid 100 degrees there yesterday.

We ended the day with two hours of indoor soccer, our American team playing short games (10 minutes or to two goals) against (alternately) a team of Romanian pastors and leaders (Emi's team) and another team of local fellows. Suffice it to say for this report that we easily held our own, and shattered any local idea that Americans are inferior at the 'world's game.'


Brian said...
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Brian said...
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Bryan & Melinda said...

Hey Rick,
It's great reading about the adventures of the Romanian team. Congrats on your radio gig. It's good to know Antioch can represent on the soccer field.

Ken Wytsma said...

Rick... thanks for the updates. Of course, Kip is silent so this has been my only source of information!!

Hope you guys are having a wonderful time and can't wait to hear about everything when you get back!

Rick Gerhardt said...

Bryan and Melinda: Glad you're reading! Greetings from Alex, Emma, Nate, Jazz, and all!

Ken: Check out Megan's blog at