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Astronomical odds face defenders of naturalistic origins, apologist says

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Could life have developed in the universe by accident, without divine intervention? That’s the prevailing viewpoint set forth in our culture, but Southern Baptist apologist and educator Theodore Cabal said science itself indicates otherwise.
According to the broadly accepted Anthropic Cosmological Principle, he said, there are currently 46 physical constants that have been discovered which, if any were only slightly different, would have made life anywhere in the universe impossible.
“The universe has obviously been designed with human beings in mind,” said Cabal, dean of the James P. Boyce College of the Bible at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. “It is so incredibly fine-tuned that if it were any different nobody would be here to talk about it.”
Cabal was one of the principal speakers during a June 13-17 session of Student Leadership University 101, the first course in a program founded by evangelist Jay Strack to empower and equip Christian leaders of the future. Cabal gave a broad look at evidence supporting the Christian faith from a philosophical and scientific perspective, as well as an outline of direct evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ and thus the truth of the gospel.
His assault on naturalism, the prevailing notion that the universe somehow evolved on its own, came during a discussion of major philosophical worldviews challenging Christianity today. This view of life’s origins has become accepted as mainstream, although only about 8 percent of the world’s population actually holds the atheistic position that it requires, Cabal said.
“People think that if you’re smart you’re an atheist, even though most atheists are not philosophers and scientists,” said Cabal, an atheist himself before his conversion. “So this view sort of wins by default.”
In explaining the Anthropic Cosmological Principle (ACP), Cabal said just one of those constants — the mass ratio of the electron to the proton throughout the universe — must be accurate to one part in 10 to the 37th power for life to exist.
He asked students to imagine a stack of dimes covering the North American continent as high as the moon, 237,000 miles. Then multiply that pile by about a billion. And one of those dimes is painted red.
“You get one try to take the dime that’s marked or we don’t get to be here,” Cabal said. “This is only one of these nearly four dozen ACP parameters. … The number is so staggering most people using just a tiny bit of common sense … when they hear that think there must be a God.”
The atheistic conclusion to the data, Cabal said, is simply “Well, so what, we lucked out. … The fact that we’re here talking about it is proof that it happened.”
Such a response, however, rests solely on a philosophical presupposition that supernatural forces do not exist, he said. It ignores the overwhelming evidence of what scientists now call “intelligent design.”
A related argument for a created universe is the notion of irreducible complexity, he said. Modern microbiology has revealed processes so incredibly complex they could not possibly have arisen by chance. Any chance mutation would have resulted not in gradual improvement through natural selection, as evolutionists claim, but only in the process ceasing to function.
One noted scientist, Cabal said, has compared the odds of chance development of such complex processes as sight “to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and ending up with a 747 (jetliner).”
The other predominant worldview confronting Christianity today is that of postmodernism and related New Age beliefs, Cabal said.
“Postmodernism is the view that says there isn’t any one worldview that can be known to be true,” he said. “Every worldview is equal, therefore every religion is equal, and you would never say that any religion is more true than another. … And if you don’t (believe that) you are a bigot and intolerant.”
The problem with this view lies in its inconsistencies, he said. “If you say, ‘There really isn’t any truth,’ what have you just done? You’ve said, ‘There isn’t any truth. But here’s what the truth is.’ Now isn’t that just dumb?”
When all views of mankind’s origins are examined carefully, he said, the Christian perspective clearly stands out as the most logical.
“The atheist says I came from a big bang and the universe came from nothing. … The New Ager believes something like that’s true; it’s just that there was an impersonal ‘it’ that guided this whole process. Or if you are a Christian you say God created the heavens and the earth,” Cabal said. “Which takes more faith to believe?”
Even armed with all the scientific and philosophical arguments, however, Cabal encouraged students not to be ashamed of defending their beliefs on the basis of personal experience. The Christian worldview should at least be allowed equal standing with others in the ideological spectrum.
“To people who say, ‘You believe what you believe because you were raised in church,’ I would say, ‘Yeah, so what?’ … You let them squirm a little bit, and then you say, ‘Well, why are you an atheist? Is it because you’re so smart and advanced and just figured it all out? Or is it because you’ve been in a culture that is atheist?'” Cabal said. “‘If you want to make the point that most people follow the leader … then I’m going to agree with you. … The question is, ‘What does the evidence show to be true?'”

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  • James Dotson