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Examining the origins debate, part 5

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This is part 5 in a series exploring Gerald Rau's book Mapping the Origins Debate. For other posts in the series, click a number: 123, 4, 678.


The origin of species To be taken seriously, any model of origins must credibly answer the question, How did the various species of life arise? Different models, of course, answer differently. There even are differences among the evolutionary models. For example, Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species, posited the idea of the gradual development of species (gradualism)--an idea now discounted by most evolutionary scientists as a primary or single explanation.

Evidence against gradualism In positing gradualism, Darwin drew on Charles Lyell's idea of uniformitarianism, relying on evidence from body structure (morphology) and theorizing that the primary mechanisms for gradual development of species were natural selection (survival of the fittest) and mutation. Today, evolutionary scientists largely reject gradualism as a primar…

Examining the origins debate, part 4

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This is part 4 in a series exploring Gerald Rau's book Mapping the Origins Debate. For other posts in the series, click a number: 12, 3, 5678.


The origin of life A successful model of origins provides a credible explanation of the origin of life (referred to by scientists as abiogenesis). Rau offers a detailed analysis of this complex, controversial topic, including the strengths and weaknesses of each model.

Here is an example of Rau's analysis--in this case noting a weakness he sees in strictly evolutionary models that reject outright any supernaturalistic explanations for life's origin:
If cells arose gradually, as predicted by all of the evolutionary models, certain things must have preceded the first true cell, including the presence of organic molecules necessary for life. But the existence of the molecules by themselves is not sufficient, since only specific arrangements would be useful in building a cell, a problem referred to as information. And even if all…

Seek Jesus, not the church?

In this post I'm taking a short break from the series on origins to address the topic of the church (ecclesiology). I hope you find it helpful.

The rock band Fleetwood Mac performed in concert recently on NBC's The Today Show. Some people in the audience held up a banner proclaiming, "Death ends in hell--Seek Jesus, not the church." I suppose their primary goal was to "scare the hell out of people" (a topic I address elsewhere in this blog). But the banner also expressed the viewpoint that the church is unnecessary---even an obstacle to knowing Jesus. But can we have communion with Christ apart from the church? Let's look to Scripture and the teaching of the early church for answers.

First, note this statement from Jesus: "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Note how he refers to the church as his own ("my church") and takes personal responsibility for its construction ("I …

Examining the origins debate, part 3

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This is part 3 in a series exploring Gerald Rau's book Mapping the Origins Debate. For other posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 45,678.


The origin of the universe
A successful model of origins will credibly explain how the universe came into being. Because this point of beginning is now long past (and thus not directly observable), the scientific evidence related to it (largely from cosmology and astronomy) must be inferred and then interpreted through a process of inductive reasoning (see the first post in this series regarding this key issue). This inferential-inductive process is highly influenced by the interpreter's own philosophy-worldview, which, as we'll see, necessarily brings into the discussion (for theists and atheists alike) the issue of faith (belief).

The big bang Though not without its detractors, the current consensus of scientists is that the universe began with a singular event typically referred to as "the big bang." This was foll…