Scientific Discovery and God: Planet Earth, Part 3

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – FEBRUARY 5, 2019

In the first two parts of this series (see here and here) I discussed how secular scientists, given their naturalistic worldview, expected to discover that we live in an eternal—and therefore uncaused—universe, as well as in an ordinary solar system. Yet on both scores scientists were surprised by what scientific advances revealed. In both cases, the great contrast for scientists who hold a purely secular worldview is that the universe’s and solar system’s features seem to best comport with the expectations of theism over atheistic naturalism.

In this article I will briefly discuss how the specific expectations of secular scientists concerning Earth’s characteristics were also very different from what science has shown. Again, the results follow a similar pattern of favoring the expectations of one worldview over another.

The Rare Earth Hypothesis

The consensus of secular scientists a half-century ago was that the earth is not a special planet, but rather a mediocre one, with no rare or unique significance. Many scientists thought that since Earth is not at the center of the universe, then it is merely ordinary. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s scientists like Carl Sagan and Frank Drake described the Earth as a typical rocky planet in a nonexceptional place in an ordinary galaxy.

However, this initial expectation has been challenged. The rare Earth hypothesis holds that the earth is distinct as a planet and may even be special. University of Washington scientists Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee have led the way in representing this perspective in their book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe.

They argue that the universe is fundamentally hostile to complex life and that microbial life may be common. However, the evolution of biological complexity from simple life on Earth requires an exceptionally unlikely set of circumstances; therefore, complex life is probably extremely rare.

“[A]mong the essential criteria for life are a terrestrial planet with plate tectonics and oxygen, a large moon, magnetic field, a gas giant like Jupiter for protection and an orbit in the habitable zone of the right kind of star.”1

Not all scientists accept this rare Earth view, and some have criticized the hypothesis (seehere). Yet scientists who embrace a purely naturalistic worldview expected Earth to prove to be commonplace, but instead they discovered viable reasons to think otherwise.

The rare Earth hypothesis seems to comport well with a theistic, even biblical, worldview, but appears unexpected and out of place from an atheistic, naturalistic perspective. So what would Earth look like if biblical theism were true? Evidently much like it appears right now.

In part four I’ll discuss the topic of human exceptionalism and what scientists anticipated and have discovered about it.

Reflections: Your Turn

For Christians, what does living on a planet that seems specially designed to allow for human life invoke? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

  • For more on Earth’s unique features, see Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018), 199–222.
  • For more on the argument to God from fine-tuning, see Kenneth Richard Samples, 7 Truths That Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), 113–15.
Endnotes
  1. Wikipedia, s.v. “Rare Earth (book),” last modified December 8, 2018, 12:34 (UTC), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_(book).

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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God’s Existence Best Explains Life’s Most Profound Realities

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – DECEMBER 25, 2018

Can we justify concepts like logic, moral values, and universals from a naturalistic, atheistic perspective? Or do we need a transcendent grounding like historic Christianity’s explanation for these meaningful realities?

Using a type of abductive logical reasoning (referred to as an inference to the best explanation), I’ll illustrate how five profound realities are plausibly explained by Christian theism.

Accounting for Five Meaningful Realities

1. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of abstract, nonphysical entities.

Some of the most wondrous realities of life are things that cannot be observed by the human senses. These abstract, intangible realities are conceptual in nature and include such entities as numbers, propositions, sets, properties, the laws of logic, moral values, and universals. Many people consider these conceptual realities to be objective, universal, and, of course, invisible.

On atheism, it is difficult to ground these conceptual realities. However, the Christian theistic worldview grounds them in the mind of an infinite, eternal, and personal spiritual being. God is the Creator of both the visible and the invisible, the source of both the sensible and the intelligible.

2. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of objective moral values.

Moral values are a fundamental part of human life, every bit as real as the law of gravity. And people are generally intuitively cognizant of their moral obligations. In their hearts, people experience the pull of moral duty. This sense of moral oughtness is prescriptive (how things should be) not descriptive (how things are) in nature, and it transcends mere subjective feelings.

Unlike secular attempts to account for morality, the ethics of Christian theism are grounded in the morally perfect nature of God who has revealed his will to humankind in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. God’s existence and nature provide a source and foundation for objective moral values.

3. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the purpose and significance that human beings yearn for in their lives.

If God doesn’t exist and the universe is merely the product of blind, purposeless, natural processes, then from a logical standpoint there can be no objective meaning to life. Given a nontheistic perspective, the fact that people exist becomes simply an improbable accident of evolution.

Humanity’s deep sense of, and need for, meaning comports well with the Christian truth claim that God created human beings in his image (Genesis 1:26–27) and that humanity’s greatest needs are to be reconciled to God and to enjoy fellowship with him forever. The Christian theistic worldview, with its unique gospel of gracious redemption in Christ, offers genuine meaning, purpose, and significance to sinners estranged from God and from their destiny.

4. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the enigma of human nature.

One of the chief realities a belief system must explain before gaining acceptance involves the enigmatic nature of human beings. Human nature poses a paradox. Humans are capable of greatness in mathematics, science, technology, philosophy, the arts, compassion, and generosity. Yet humans are equally capable of such shameful and evil acts as racism, robbery, rape, slavery, murder, and genocide. Explaining human nature apart from the reality of God represents an extraordinary philosophical, psychological, and spiritual feat.

The Bible seems to hold the secret to unraveling the enigma of human nature. The Christian theistic worldview asserts that humans’ greatness is a direct result of the imago Dei. As creatures made in the image and likeness of God, humans reflect the glory of their Maker. Human wretchedness, on the other hand, can be traced to the first human beings’ fall into sin. Thus humans are simultaneously great and wretched.

5. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the extraordinary life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

According to the historically reliable documents of the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth made unparalleled claims to divine authority during his public ministry. Jesus fulfilled dozens of very specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the identity, mission, and message of the coming Messiah. These prophecies, which give precise details about the birth, heritage, life, and death of the long-awaited Messiah, were amazingly fulfilled by Jesus.

Jesus was a prolific miracle worker. He healed incurable diseases, restored sight to the blind, multiplied small amounts of food to feed thousands of people, calmed a storm, walked on water, and even raised the dead.

Jesus exhibited a matchless moral character during his three-year public ministry that changed the world. Not only did his teachings contain incredible ethical insight, but he also perfectly fulfilled his lofty moral ideals.

Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is supported by at least seven lines of evidence. These include: (1) his empty tomb, (2) his many postcrucifixion appearances, (3) the transformation of the disciples from cowards to apostles and martyrs, (4) the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus into the apostle Paul, (5) the historical emergence of the Christian church, (6) the change in the official day of worship to Sunday to commemorate the day of Jesus’s resurrection, and (7) the fact that all alternative naturalistic explanations for the resurrection fail miserably.

Historical Christianity has both profound explanatory power and a considerable depth of explanatory scope when it comes to life’s most meaningful realities. Christians can use this explanation with confidence when engaging skeptics about the realities of life.

Resources:

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Scientific Discovery and God: The Solar System, Part 2

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – JANUARY 22, 2019

In part 1 of this series, I discussed how scientific evidence demonstrates that the universe had a beginning and that such a notion best comports with the expectations of theism over atheistic naturalism. Yet that conspicuous beginning took secular scientists by complete surprise. In this article I will briefly discuss what the expectations of secular scientists concerning our solar system were, and what science has revealed. The results will also show which worldview— naturalism or theism—is preferred.1

Our Solar System

The consensus of secular scientists a quarter century ago when it came to our part of the galaxy was that the solar system was garden-variety typical. The thought was that our solar system was no different from any number of other systems throughout our galaxy or even throughout the expansive universe. Scientists viewed the Sun, Earth, and Moon in our system as being in no particular way uncommon or special. This was a broader implication of the Copernican principle (the idea that the earth does not rest in a privileged or special physical position in the universe).

However, this initial expectation has proved to be untrue. Astrophysicists now know that our solar system exhibits an exquisite fine-tuning that allows for the emergence of complex, intelligent life. Specifically, the relationship of the Sun, Earth, and Moon provide a rare, if not unique, habitable zone for life to thrive on planet Earth. These “just right” conditions of the bodies in our part of the galaxy seem to be unmatched from what scientists know about other systems. In fact, the number and exquisite combination of factors (at least 150) that require fine-tuning to allow for life are so exceedingly improbable, through purely natural means, that the intuition of cosmic design is utterly probative.2

While scientists who embrace a purely naturalistic worldview expected the solar system to prove to be commonplace, instead they discovered a seemingly unique system. Along with the universe overall, the solar system exhibits all the narrowly drawn parameters, characteristics, and content to allow for intelligent life to emerge and thrive. This discovery has led some members of the scientific community to conclude that divine design seems intuitively obvious.

This extraordinary fine-tuning comports well with a theistic worldview, but seems out of place and unexpected from an atheistic, naturalistic perspective.3 So what would our solar system look like if theism were true? Apparently, very much like it appears right now.

In part three I’ll discuss some of Earth’s features and what scientists both anticipated and have discovered about it.

Reflections: Your Turn

For Christians, what does living in an exquisitely fine-tuned world that allows human life to flourish invoke? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Endnotes
  1. For a discussion of naturalism and theism as worldviews, see Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), chapters 12 and 16 respectively.
  2. For more on the fine-tuning of the universe and the solar system, see Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018), 243–66.
  3. For more on the argument for God from fine-tuning, see Kenneth Richard Samples, 7 Truths That Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), 113–15.

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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YOU AND THE GOD EQUATION

By Will Myers
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Each person that ever existed has observed part of the world through their eyes and the images have affected their mind. We can see the changes in the observed images. Our ancestors sensed consistencies where they discovered laws in nature. We have a sense that there is a unity in life; many scientists have searched for this unity such as Albert Einstein (Unified Field Theory).
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The caveman as his language became more advanced and the civil settings became larger and more permanent, spiritual laws, civil laws, and criminal laws began their development. Mankind continued to see or sense consistencies in all that was observed over time; in nature and our minds as humans interact. These disciplines attracted group-followings who became known as scientists.  Many scientists have concluded that the book of nature is perfect and that the book of life (bible) is perfect (RTB, apologetics). What this meant to me is that we are exposed to God’s perfect righteousness (Uspace) continually. The things that we see changing is obeying God’s eternal righteousness. We can note or codify temporary laws about any change of a thing such as it grows into being in the springtime and dies four months later, but a more fundamental law would describe the molecular development; the eternal law would be God created it.
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A law describing or codifying creation could be the God Equation, UspaceVspace=Q because Uspace is God’s perfect righteousness in all things that have ever existed; Vspace represents the change of all things (Nexus), and Q is the thing that “IS” or the results. This form holds true for nature and works of the mind, and things of the spirit because of all that God does or create is perfect.
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All of God’s creation is molding us to be like His Son, Jesus Who is the Mediator of all forms. God created all things by His Son, Jesus Christ; His Potentiality is revealed in all things:
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And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
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Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
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But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
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Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
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Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
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The scripture below is the founding metaphysical message on which  I base the God Equation:
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
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And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in RIGHTEOUSNESS and true holiness.
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The arguments concerning our faith tend to become moot because the scientific discoveries of this past 50 years (The Big Bang Theory plus more) have become tangible enough for the layman to be moved toward belief in God. With further investigation, one can easily see or understand the impact of Christ Jesus on mankind; His presence is an active force impressing on our spirit the presence of God, our Creator.
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Anyone with the knowledge that the Son of God, Jesus (Uspace Mediator, Savior), guides us up the road unto eternal life. The Disciple James, brother of Jesus, says “I am looking into the perfect law of liberty.” You don’t have to ignore God because of your fear that God has condemned you. The shedding of Jesus’s blood has paid the ransom price to bring you into the fellowship with God, our Heavenly Father. By His straps we are healed; by His blood, we are saved.
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Scientific Discovery and God: The Universe, Part 1

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – JANUARY 15, 2019

How did the universe come into being? The last century has revealed a stark contrast between what secular scientists expected to find regarding the big “origins” questions and what scientific research actually uncovered. In part 1 of this series, I’ll discuss how this contrast played out concerning the origin of the universe. In future installments I’ll consider, in turn, the origins of the solar system, Earth, and the human species.

Origin of the Universe

Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) speculated that the cosmos was eternal. In the eighteenth century, secular Enlightenment thinkers picked up Aristotle’s line of thought, often arguing that the physical universe was eternal in age and possibly infinite in extent. The universe was viewed as a brute reality without beginning and, therefore, without the need for a cause. Skeptic Bertrand Russell insisted, in his famous BBC debate on the existence of God with Catholic philosopher Frederick Copleston, that the universe is “just there.”

In the first half of the twentieth century, the view of cosmology known as the steady-state theory was popular among secular scientists. This view reflected the belief that the universe contained a continual energy source that allowed the cosmos to remain in a constant state of existence. Philosophically speaking, an eternal universe would seem more consistent with an atheistic, naturalistic view of reality. For if the universe is eternal, then it needs no causal explanation, thus no need to postulate God as a necessary causal agent. (Though, ironically, atheists often fail to appreciate that if God exists as an eternal and necessary being then he, too, would need no causal explanation.)

Big Bang Cosmology

Over the last twenty-five years, however, big bang cosmology has undergone extensive testing and has emerged as the prevailing scientific model for the origin of the universe. According to this well-established theory, the universe (including all matter, energy, time, and space) emerged about 14 billion years ago from a singular beginning. Thus, scientists conclude that the universe is not eternal. The basic big bang cosmological model has now replaced the steady-state theory as the prevailing origin of the universe. And while the big bang continues to be refined as a theory, most leading astrophysicists argue that it is here to stay. Multiverse theories may challenge the idea of our universe having had a singular beginning, but the multiverse remains speculative and lacks direct scientific confirmation.

A universe with a singular beginning from nothing was the last thing secular scientists thought would be discovered. The problem for the atheistic naturalist is how much big bang cosmology resembles the biblical doctrine of creation ex nihilo (God created the universe from or out of nothing [no preexisting materials]: Genesis 1:1; Proverbs 3:19; Romans 4:17; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 11:3).

Herein lies the contrast between expectation and scientific advance. Secular scientists thought they would discover an eternal, self-sufficient universe, but what they actually discovered is a universe that had a singular beginning. And now they have a contingent reality—the cosmos—in need of a necessary causal explanation. While many scientists were no doubt surprised by this discovery, Christian theologians expected it. Thus, the cutting-edge scientific discovery concerning the universe’s origin (a singular beginning of all things) seems to comport best with theism.

Reflections: Your Turn

How does big bang cosmology affect the secular claim that science backs atheism? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

  • For more on the big bang and other competing cosmological theories, see Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018).
  • For more on the biblical doctrine of creation ex nihilo, see Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 156–64.

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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5 Important Philosophical-Apologetics Terms in the New Testament

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – JUNE 5, 2018

There are five very important philosophical-apologetics terms in the New Testament that every Christian should have some familiarity with. Learning and appreciating these key terms will aid believers in both their theological and apologetics understanding. And being so armed, the Christian is helped in their evangelistic and apologetics ventures in the service of Christ.

Let’s explore these key New Testament terms by defining them and then briefly examining their philosophical-apologetics significance:

1. Logos (Greek: λόγος), translated as “word, discourse, or reason”

The Greek word logos is the root for the English term “logic.” In John 1:1, the preincarnate Jesus is called the “logos” (or “Word”), who subsequently becomes enfleshed (John 1:14). Early Christian scholars therefore referred to Jesus Christ as “the logic of God” or “the speech of God.” What came to be known in Christian history as the “Logos doctrine” affirmed that God created the world through the use of his Word (the logic or wisdom of the Second Person of the Trinity). Being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), human beings are equipped with the necessary rational endowments to trace the world’s intelligibility, thus making the logical and scientific enterprises possible. The Logos doctrine also implied that the gift of faith is compatible with the rational elements found in the world and within the human mind (according to historic Christianity, faith and reason are therefore compatible). Thus, when believers employ their minds in such enterprises as logic, rhetoric, and science, they use their God-given gifts to bring glory to him.

2. Apologia (Greek: ἀπολογία), translated as “a reasoned defense”

The Greek word apologia is the root for the English term “apologetics.” Apologia and its root forms are found in the New Testament (Acts 26:2Romans 1:20Philippians 1:7, 16), with 1 Peter 3:15 revealing the mandate imploring Christians to be ready to give an answer in explaining and defending their faith. Through Christian history, apologetics became known as the enterprise by which apologists sought to give a reasoned defense of the truth of Christianity. Today, Christian apologetics involves the use of various disciplines to defend the faith, including the philosophical, historical, literary, and scientific.

3. Pisteuo (Greek: πιστεύω [pisteuō, verb] and πίστις [pistis, noun]), translated as “believe” or “faith, trust”

The Greek word pisteuo is the root for the English term “believe” or to have “faith.” To have biblical faith in Jesus Christ for salvation includes (1) a genuine (factual and historical) knowledge of the gospel events—namely, Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection; (2) a personal assent to the truth and importance of those events; and (3) a confident trust in the object of that faith (the risen Lord, Jesus Christ). Faith, in a biblical context, is therefore not separated from authentic human knowledge of truth and reality. Historic Christianity has, for the most part, affirmed that faith and reason are compatible. Thus, faith can be defined in an apologetics context as trust in a reasonable and reliable source.

4. Christos (Greek: Χριστός), translated as “Christ” or “Messiah”

The Greek word christos is the root for the English term “Christ” or “Messiah.” In the New Testament, Jesus is called the “Christ” (Matthew 16:16), a title meaning “Messiah” or “anointed one.” In the Old Testament, the Messiah was expected to be God’s special agent who would possess a unique anointing by God’s Spirit. Drawing upon Scripture, historic Christianity affirms Jesus Christ as the divine-human Messiah (John 1:1, 14Philippians 2:6–7). Because Jesus Christ is a single person who possesses both a divine and a human nature, he is able to reconcile God with human beings in his atoning death on the cross. In his messianic ministry, Jesus Christ reveals himself to be both Lord and Savior.

5. Philosophia (Greek: φιλοσοφία), translated as “philosophy” or the “love of wisdom”

The Greek word philosophia is the root for the English term “philosophy.” Coming from two words meaning the “love of wisdom,” philosophy, in the ancient world, was viewed broadly as the attempt to think rationally and critically about life’s most important questions. Christian philosophy developed as a handmaid to theology, with philosophy used to explain and to defend the faith. In a biblical context, the word “philosophy” (1 Corinthians 1:20Colossians 2:8) largely means “worldview” (a big-picture view of the nature of reality). The disciplines today known as the “philosophy of science” and the “philosophy of religion” attempt to explore the foundations, presumptions, and implications of the scientific and religious enterprises, respectively.

I hope this brief introduction to these key philosophical-apologetics terms of the New Testament will motivate you to explore the Christian world-and-life view in more detail.1Thinking cogently in a philosophical and apologetic manner can provide many benefits for today’s Christian.

Resources

Endnotes
  1. In thinking about the Christian worldview, see Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007).

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

Support Reasons to Believe

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Approaching End Times Prophecy with Care

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – DECEMBER 4, 201

One of the most controversial topics that the Bible addresses is eschatology. This theological term literally means the study of last things—popularly known as end times. Scripture speaks of both humankind’s past origin in creation as well as our future destiny in consummation. Yet rightly interpreting and properly understanding what the Bible teaches about the end of the world has proved difficult and controversial in church history.

A few years ago I wrote a short book on the topic of eschatology titled Christian Endgame: Careful Thinking about the End Times. One of the central themes of the book is that when Christian leaders engage in excessive speculation about the timing of Christ’s return and actually set dates (which are inevitably wrong), they damage Christianity’s credibility in the eyes of nonbelievers. So when eschatology is handled irresponsibly by Christ’s followers, it becomes an apologetics issue (an apparent challenge to the faith).

Some time ago, a person read my book and made several respectful but somewhat challenging comments about some of my conclusions concerning Christian eschatology. Since these comments likely reflect the thought of many evangelical Christians today about the end times, I decided to share both the comments and my responses to them.

I appreciate that the person read my book and was willing to express their thoughts and reactions to it. To respect the person’s privacy, I have reworded the comments to reflect more general statements.

Comment #1: “I am convicted on the basis of God’s Word that we’re definitely living in the end times. There’s no doubt about it. Scripture seems very clear to me—I can read the signs of the times.”

Response: Your strong convictions might prove true. The Lord’s people rightly look forward to the Parousia (Second Coming). But I would suggest greater caution because the same sort of comments have been made by prophecy enthusiasts throughout church history. Many, unfortunately, went further and set dates that were wrong—causing nonbelievers to doubt the truth of the Christian faith. Just in the last 50 years alone, several prominent Bible teachers have set dates and acted, in my opinion, eschatologically irresponsible, and evangelical Christianity’s credibility suffered because of it.

By the way, according to various biblical scholars, the terms last days or end times can describe the entire period between Christ’s two advents. And as I’m sure you know, having strong eschatological convictions isn’t a guarantee that one is correct.

Comment #2: “Israel has become a nation and is presently surrounded by enemies that want to destroy it, which is clear evidence that the very last days are upon us.”

Response: Possibly, but again, prophecy teachers said the same thing in every decade since Israel became a nation in 1948 and have been wrong thus far. Also, what you call “clear evidence” is only true if a popular form of premillennialism is the correct eschatological perspective. But many of Christianity’s classical theologians (AthanasiusAugustineAquinasLutherCalvinWesley) held different eschatological views. Of course we’re free to disagree with these scholars, but I think historical theology plays a very helpful role in testing present-day theological-biblical interpretations.

Comment: #3: “There are currently a number of nations that have the nuclear weaponry to wipe humankind off the earth, and there are other hostile nations presently seeking such weapons.”

Response: You might find it interesting to know that RTB astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink has doubts about whether present-day nuclear weapons could unquestionably wipe all of humanity from the earth. Also, one could reasonably argue that the atomic and nuclear threats were more distressing during the Cold War (from the late 1940s through the late 1980s) than now. But you are correct in stating that the nuclear threat, especially among rogue nations today, is very concerning to Israel specifically, and to world peace, generally.

Comment #4: “I don’t see end times prophecy as a matter of interpretation. Much of what the Bible describes prophetically is happening right before our eyes.”

Response: All of the propositional content of Scripture must be interpreted. Only the Holy Spirit knows all the truth of Scripture intuitively. And as the apostle Peter notes, some people’s interpretations of Scripture are in fact wrong (2 Peter 3:16). So all of us must be careful. Moreover, if a person hasn’t studied all the major eschatological positions carefully, then that person should be even more cautious.

Mere Christian Eschatology

The Bible has a lot to say about end times prophecy, but interpreting what it says is not always easy. It is unfortunately true that eschatology is one of the most divisive areas in Christian theology. That is why my little primer on eschatology spends so much time emphasizing what we can all agree on. In my book, I call it “Mere Christian Eschatology” (see chapter 3), and I hope it helps Christians avoid unnecessary obstacles as we seek to bring nonbelievers to faith in Christ.

Resources

Kenneth Richard Samples, Christian Endgame: Careful Thinking about the End Times (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2013).

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