Romans is St. Paul’s grand case for Christian theology. It’s a bulwark of logic and argument. Every great theologian has written extensively on Romans. Paul’s first chapter is fighting words:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts…
Notice the progression:
- The power of God in the world is so obvious that no one has any excuse for not believing in it
- People wish to do evil so they deny this
- They give credit for the origin of the universe to some sort of idol – they “make up stuff” and label fanciful, speculative, untested ideas as wisdom
- So God abandons them to their passions and desires – especially degrading sexual addictions
Today I want to focus on the bolded portion – where Paul says the power of God as creator of the world is obvious to all.
For a long time I wasn’t at all sure you could take that literally. Rather, I took it to mean God had perhaps inscribed some sort of knowledge on our hearts or in our conscience. But upon closer examination I had to admit that wasn’t what Paul was saying.
He was saying that people really do know.
I thought, if this is true, you ought to be able to quantify it. You should be able to demonstrate that the universe objectively has elements of design.
And I thought, if you can some how disprove design or order in the universe, then you’ve disproved Romans 1.
For atheist Richard Dawkins, Darwin’s theory of evolution was the ultimate vindication of non-belief. It made it possible for him to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Regarding the “obviousness” of a creator, he said “Evolution produces such a strong illusion of design it has fooled almost every human who ever lived.”
He countered that random mutation filtered by natural selection was all it took for the earth to be filled with millions of species of life. His colleague Daniel Dennett insisted all you need is replication, variation and selection and evolution is automatic.
Were they right?
Upon close examination, no. Neither is right.
Proof of this came from Genetic Algorithms and Dawkins’ own examples of computer generated evolution. Like his famous “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL” software program.
Every single genetic algorithm that exists requires pre-programmed goals in order to work. None operate from pure randomness and undirected selection. They ALWAYS sneak in some form of design. Always.
Have you ever noticed that the software on your computer never gets better by itself?
Have you ever noticed that no software in history has ever gotten better by itself?
Nothing evolves before being programmed to do so.
Thus evolution itself makes the strongest case yet of a Grand Design.
At the beginning of my journey I was extremely skeptical that evolution itself was even valid. I distrusted the secular establishment and I thought a lot of the Intelligent Design arguments were pretty persuasive. But as I carefully investigated, I became persuaded: Evolution is for real. And it operates through six major mechanisms:
1. Horizontal Gene Transfer – cells exchange DNA with each other to get new code they need so they can adapt to their environment.
2. Transposition – cells re-arrange their own DNA, sometimes dramatically, to respond and adjust.
3. Symbiogenesis – separate organisms merge together and reproduce in lockstep, often becoming one organism.
4. Epigenetics – organisms switch genes on and off as necessary, passing learned traits to their offspring.
5. Genome Multiplication – DNA can “double its hard drive space” by doubling itself, paving the way for huge evolutionary changes in the future
6. DNA obeys a strict mathematical matrix similar to “checksums” in computer networks and programs. (Only much more elegant and sophisticated.) This reduces errors and creates a set of rails for evolution to run on.
All of these mechanisms have been reported in scientific books and journals for 10 to 100 years. Most of them have been extensively researched. None is random or accidental.
And for that matter, the genetic code itself powerfully implies design. There’s no such thing known to science as a naturally occurring code.
All available scientific evidence indicates that all codes are designed. DNA by inference is designed.
And all available scientific evidence also indicates that evolution is an engineered process. In engineering and computer science, evolution never happens by accident. It’s always the result of a deliberate act. A program that can self-evolve is always considered an engineering marvel.
Evolution itself and the genetic code are unambiguous evidence of a profoundly orderly, pre-programmed universe.
I have been debating this topic with atheists now for 7 years and nobody is able to punch a hole in these arguments. (Believe me, they’ve tried.)
Here is what I have observed about atheists and atheism:
Atheism has become a refuge of psychological denial for those who, for the most part, are disappointed that planet earth is a painful, screwed up place. The only God they might be willing to believe in would be one that made the world the way THEY wanted it to be. Not the way it is.
I believe that the atheist’s eyes are pre-programmed to see chaos and disorder everywhere he looks. And he will defend it whenever you try to tell him otherwise.
But when an atheist tells you that biology is random and purposeless, he’s not giving you a scientific fact. In science, everything is orderly. Everything obeys laws. (Except for human beings, that is.)
In science, it’s doubtful that true randomness even exists in the first place. In science, everything happens for a reason. Randomness only describes our inability to measure and predict things.
The atheist is not making a scientific statement at all, he’s emoting. He’s telling you how the whole world seems to him. “Look dude, shit happens. End of story. Stop your silly god-talk and just accept the naked facts.”
Hard core atheists – the really angry ones – often are those who at one time desperately wanted to believe that God was real. In concluding that God was not real, they made the ultimate sacrifice: They abandoned the notion that there is any sort of supreme source of love or comfort, that there is any kind of Grand Plan in the universe.
They hate people who believe that because they themselves wanted to believe that but they also decided that such a thing is impossible. That’s why they fight so hard. That’s why the venom and vitriol.
I also suspect that many embrace lifestyles that are not compatible with belief in God – as Paul said – and are loath to give certain things up. Let’s return to Romans 1:
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Harsh words, eh?
Sure. But is Paul right?
Nobody hurls more accusations than atheists. The standard atheist jingoism is: “More people have been killed in the name of religion than anything else. Most of the wars and prejudice in history have been started by religion….” blah blah blah. You know the drill.
Is this really true?
No. Most wars are about money and power. And politics and grudges. Religion is just the catalyst.
The truth is, nobody has murdered more people than atheists. In the 20th century, atheist governments butchered more than 120 million people.
All the religious wars in all of history have killed maybe 30 million people. Atheism has four times more blood on its hands than all religions combined.
“But atheism had nothing to do Lenin, Stalin, and Mao’s agenda,” the atheist retorts.
Oh really? That’s not what Lenin thought. Lenin said, “Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism.“
Can you name even one major atheist website, blog or discussion forum that isn’t thick with insults, epithets, bigotry, prejudice, hatred and gratuitous name-calling by mostly anonymous people hiding behind screen names?
I can’t. Even the “friendly” website FriendlyAtheist.com has the word “idiot” on 732 different pages. Imagine, more than 10% of the pages on this website refer to someone as an idiot. I don’t think they’re referring to themselves. Do you?
Is it just a coincidence that the three cruelest tyrants in history – Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and Mao Tse Tung – were all flaming atheists?
21st century atheism simmers with contempt for people of faith and if it continues unimpeded it will destroy everything around it.
St. Paul makes it very clear that God gives people the freedom to pursue what they desire. If you want to live a life of debauchery, He will not stop you. If you want to murder 40 million people… He sure didn’t stop Chairman Mao. If you want a life without God, He will hide from you and you will never find Him.
Nor will God stop you from noticing that atheist countries have the worst human rights records of all.
Paul hit the nine inch nail squarely on the head. Everybody knows the score. I have given you the facts, just as they are.
The facts are plain. Only you can decide whether to accept or reject them.