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Devotional Biology

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  1. Introduction & Preface
    4 Steps
  2. Chapter 1: Biology for the Believer
    15 Steps
  3. Chapter 2: The Living God: Biological Life
    14 Steps
  4. Chapter 3: God’s Glory: Biological Beauty
    6 Steps
  5. Chapter 4: God is Distinct: Biological Discontinuity
    9 Steps
  6. Chapter 5: God is Good: Mutualism & Biological Evil
    10 Steps
  7. Chapter 6: God is Person: Animal Behavior & Personality
    17 Steps
  8. Chapter 7: The Provider God: The Anthropic Principle
    12 Steps
  9. Chapter 8: The Sustaining God: The Biomatrix
    8 Steps
  10. Chapter 9: God is One: Monomers, Biosimilarity, and Biosystems
    8 Steps
  11. Chapter 10: God is Three: Biodiversity
    11 Steps
  12. Chapter 11: God of Hierarchy: Biological Hierarchy
    13 Steps
  13. Chapter 12: The Almighty God: Metabolism
    8 Steps
  14. Chapter 13: God the Word: Animal Communication & Language of Life
    8 Steps
  15. Chapter 14: God’s Fullness: Reproduction, Diversification, and Biogeography
    10 Steps
  16. Chapter 15: The History of Life
    9 Steps
  17. Appendix
    4 Steps
Lesson Progress
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The following transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar. It is provided for assistance in note-taking and review.

One of the consequences of the claim that God designed the universe in such a way as to provide physical illustrations of his invisible nature is that we have confidence to believe certain things about the world about us.

If it’s true, if we kind of step back and say, let’s say we didn’t know anything else. We didn’t know anything but what we’re presented with here. We know that there’s a God. We know that there’s a God who desires us to know Him. And we know that this God created the physical universe so that we could know Him. What kind of things would we deduce must be true if in fact that is true? One of the things is that we would deduce that the physical universe must exist. Because if God created the physical universe so that we could know him through it, then certainly the physical universe exists. So what kind of useful information is that? Of course, everyone knows the physical universe exists. Well, not everyone necessarily believes that the physical universe exists. If people are consistent with their worldview claims, for example, in most Eastern religions, the natural world, the physical world, doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of the imagination of humans. It’s not a real phenomenon. Plato, for example, also felt that the physical world was just a shadow of the real world. That the real world is an invisible world, and the physical world is not real. So if people are consistent with their worldview, most of the people in the world actually don’t believe the physical world exists. I know that’s kind of strange from our perspective. But another question is, what if you encountered somebody who didn’t believe the physical world exists? Could you in fact prove to them that it existed? How do you know that the physical world really does exist? How do you know that, you know, And what is true? For example, are you dreaming of being a butterfly? Or are you a butterfly dreaming of being a human? Are you awake right now, and this is a real world? Or when you’re asleep, is that the real world? For example, I’ve always wondered, well, maybe this is… Here’s another perspective. Try a different way of thinking about it. This is not the real world. When I’m awake, I’m in my non-real world, but I like that. Because when I fall asleep into the real world, it’s weird. Nothing makes sense. I fall off of mountains and don’t change the size, and I blow up cities, and things are not where they’re supposed to be. And it’s just I can’t stand reality! So I can’t wait to wake up and create this unreal world where everything makes sense. Everything fits. Everything works. So which is true? Are you currently awake in the real world, or are you in a non-real world? Which is true. You say, “Pinch yourself.” Well, what does that mean? You pinch yourself in the non-real world. You wouldn’t know. How do you know for sure that the world exists? That there really is a world out there? Is it maybe perhaps the imagination? Your own imagination? I know that was weird. You didn’t want me to start hurting your brain that way. But the point is that if you believe that the physical world was created by God so that we could know him, then you would know for sure that the physical world exists.

If you didn’t have this belief, there is actually no way to demonstrate that the physical world actually exists. You sort of have to assume it. And we’ll get back to what that means in a moment. Another thing that would be true, if in fact the physical world exists because God created it so that we could know him, then we would also be able to conclude that our senses, our ability to touch, hear, and all of that must be generally reliable.

Because if God created the physical world so that we could understand him through it, then he must have created our senses capable of perceiving the physical world in an accurate way.

Otherwise, it wouldn’t fulfill its purpose. So not only do we know from this statement that God created the physical world, but our senses are reliable. And that’s very powerful. How would we know that otherwise? Let’s say you didn’t believe that God created the physical world with the intention of showing Himself to us. How would you know that your senses are reliable? Have your senses ever deceived you? Have you ever smelled something that you couldn’t find? Have you ever seen something that no one else saw? I mean, I know those are weird things, but our senses don’t seem to always be reliable. So how can you conclude that they’re generally reliable? It turns out, and that’s why this is going to be important, in science we assume that human senses are reliable. But why do we do that? Why would a scientist assume that human senses are reliable? If you believe that God created the physical world in such a way that we could know God through it, then you can conclude the senses are reliable.

But if you don’t believe that, there’s no good reason to believe that senses are reliable. Philosophy of science literature has spent hundreds of pages, thousands of pages discussing this issue, believe it or not. People do that. And they can’t settle the problem. We can’t settle the issue. If you don’t start with this kind of a starting assumption, you can’t know for sure that the senses are reliable. But also with this starting assumption, we can believe not only that the universe exists, but there’s an order to the universe. Because God didn’t just create a universe. He created a universe for the purpose of teaching us something. So he put an order to it that we can perceive and understand His nature through it. So not only do we believe, if God created the physical universe in such a way that we can see Him through it, that the universe exists, but that the universe is ordered.

If you didn’t believe this, how do you know for sure? Let’s say you assume that the universe did exist. How could you believe that the universe is ordered? You say, “Well, it looks ordered.” It looks like maybe the order is imposed by your brain. Maybe there isn’t really an order there. How do you know for sure that there’s an order? If God created the universe to show himself to us, we know there’s an actual order out there. And in fact, we can further conclude that the order we perceive is actually the order that’s out there because he created that order so that we could know him. But if you didn’t believe this, you would have no good reason to believe that the universe has an actual order. We not only believe that the universe’s order is there, but it’s simple. This is amazing. This is where it gets even more special. Amazing. Not only is the universe ordered, but it happens to be ordered in a simple enough fashion for us to understand it. which is going to say something both about the universe and about our brains. Because He wants us to understand His nature through it, so He must have condescended to create an order that’s simple enough for us to understand, and our brains complex enough to understand it. Because God is an awesomely complex being, in one sense. He certainly knows more than we do. It would be fitting for him to create a universe that is so complex we’d never be able to figure it out. That would be reflective of his nature. But he wants us to understand him. So he condescended to create a universe simple enough for us to understand, and our brains complex enough to understand it. That makes sense if God created the universe in such a way that we are supposed to understand him. What if we didn’t believe that? How do we know that we happen to have a big enough brain to understand the universe? That’s kind of presumptuous of us. Why would we think that? After all, we’re just this tiny little organism on this insignificant kind of average planet around an average Sun in an average solar– in a monstrous universe.

Why should it be that we can understand the universe? That’s more than a little presumptuous. But it makes sense if God created this awesome, big, humongous universe so that we could understand Him through it. We also believe that… So from this we can deduce that the order we observe in the universe is a real order. It’s really there. And it brings us to a famous quote by Albert Einstein, which you probably have to think about a few times before you really get its significance.

Einstein says the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is its comprehensibility. Why? Why should it be that the universe is understandable by man? What is man that thou art mindful of him? What is man that he should be? I mean, we’re this insignificant being in this magnificent universe, why could we understand the nature of the universe? It makes sense if the universe was made so that we could understand it. Outside of that worldview, it’s hard to understand that. We also deduce that there must be some rules, regularities, patterns in the universe. Things that allow the universe to be understandable. Also, this is something that would reflect the fact that if there’s consistent patterns, because he doesn’t just want me to understand the universe. He wants you, and he wants the people a thousand years ago, and a thousand years in the future. He’s going to have some consistency and a regularity to it that is part of its order that’s going to persist for long periods of time. So if God created the universe in such a way that we are supposed to understand it, then there’s probably some regularities or rules in the universe, again understandable by the humans, that the universe follows, that make sense in the universe. But if God didn’t create it, or if you didn’t believe that, how do you know for sure that there are such regularities, rules, laws in the universe? And again, on many of these things, we start getting presumptuous. Let’s say there are rules in the universe. But can you know for sure that such rules can be understood? It’s even more amazing than that. We can understand the… Because God could have created the universe in such a way that we’d understand its rules or its order, but over generations of time. You’d have to learn a little bit, and then a little bit more, and then a little bit more, that any one person just couldn’t understand enough to understand God. But God doesn’t want that. God wants a personal relationship with each individual. So He’s created the universe with a regularity or an order that can be understood by individuals. It’s an amazing thing that I can take a student into a laboratory, and we can talk about, we can play around with some equipment, and learn about something called gravity, in the course of a single afternoon, I can teach you about a regularity that operates across the entire universe!

That’s an awesome thing! Why should it be that these natural laws can be understood? Not just understood by humans over generations, but he made it simple enough so that people could understand it even in a single class, in a single course.

It’s also true that, as I said, God wants to show Himself the same way to people in the past, the future, people on one side of the earth, the other side of the earth.

What that means is He’s got to have the same rules, the same regularities operating through all the history of the universe, through all time, and through all space.

No matter where we go, if we fly out to the moon, if we fly out beyond the moon, there’s going to be the same laws and rules there because God wants us to see the same God, the same Creator. So there’s a consistency to the rules, the laws of the universe, if in fact God created the universe in such a way that we’re supposed to understand him through it. We also would conclude that maybe all these regularities, when we understand enough about them, are pointing to the same Creator. He wants us to understand that. He wants us to understand there’s one God behind this. So it might actually be that these natural laws, these rules, these regularities of the universe all make sense together. All fit together. That in fact, maybe there’s a master law that everything follows. And this is actually what modern physicists believe about the universe. There are similarities between the natural laws that they’ve observed in the universe. And they think that means that they’re all ultimately unifiable in one law. That makes sense if, in fact, God created all those laws so that we would deduce the same God out of those laws. We can also realize that studying the universe there’s some value in there. If God created the universe so that we could know Him through it, and there’s value in knowing Him, then there’s value in studying the universe. That’s pretty cool. It’s not just a… You might ask, “Why in the world am I taking biology? Why am I taking physics? Why am I taking earth science?” Or whatever the case may be. Studying these things, it turns out, is a way by which we can better know God. If that’s the case, if that’s the case, then there’s merit in studying science, in learning about science, and in studying the universe to learn more about it. And there’s… And also, we might conclude that just like the Bible that he gave to us has information that children can understand reading through it, and then as they grow up and they keep reading through the Bible, the same Bible over and over again, they can get more and more and more data, more and more information out of it.

They can learn more and more about God. The same God created the universe so that we could know him through it. Perhaps he puts levels of truth in there as well. That you can look at the universe and understand a bunch as a child. And then you can understand more as you look more deeply. And as you continue to study the universe, you can learn more and more. So that there is not only value in studying the universe, but you can accumulate more and more knowledge about God and about the universe by studying it more and more.

That there’s reason to believe that we don’t have to stop here. We can keep doing this for thousands of years. Perhaps, I kind of think, that God’s going to, when He reforms the universe, we’re going to be studying that universe a million years from now learning more about God because He created it for that purpose. Another obvious thing that comes out of this, if the invisible God created the visible world that we had had understand the invisible God, then it stands to reason that studying things we can see tells us about things we cannot see.

That’s pretty cool, because there’s a bunch of things in science where we study the things that are seen so that we can infer something about the unseen. But how do you know the unseen is there? If God, the unseen God, created the universe to teach us about God, then we know the unseen is there. We have reason to speculate about things that we cannot see from those things that are seen. We can also deduce that for every event, there’s a cause. This is a very important thing in science. When we see something happen, we can assume that something caused it to happen, and that we can study that event to figure out about what caused it.

About the cause. Because God created the universe. God was there first. He’s the cause of the universe. We study the universe to infer the nature of God. We can know from anything we study that there’s some sort of cause for it. God created it for some purpose. Thus, there’s value in looking at something and finding something weird happen. There’s value in studying that weird thing, that odd thing, that thing that you don’t understand, to figure out what caused it. Because there’s reason to believe There is a cause for those things that occur. Things don’t happen randomly. There are causes. Another really presumptuous assumption, it might seem presumptuous to another person, about the universe is that we believe that the universe can be understood by human language.

Let me explain this. If God created the physical universe so that we could understand Him through it. And He gave us the tools we need to do that. Then He created the universe in such a way that He can describe it through human language. We can understand it through human language. And remember, God created the universe by the word of His mouth. Is it possible that the universe has a structure, Its basic structure is consistent with language. It’s a consequence of language. He spoke and it came to be. It’s also held together by language. The universe is held together by the word of His power. If that’s the case, then maybe the universe itself has a structure of language. And that would be reason then for a human being to go study the universe, understand it, describe it. It means we should be able to teach about it to another person. We can pass on information about it through language because it’s got the structure of language. There’s even something more presumptuous than that. Humans have created a language called mathematics. Mathematics doesn’t exist out there. It’s not something that we trip over. We didn’t trip over multiplication signs, and division signs, and that sort of thing. Mathematics is a language. People invented mathematics. It’s not really there. The Greeks had this concept of an invisible world, a world of perfection. A world where there’s a perfect two and a perfect four, and a perfect two plus a perfect two equals a perfect four. There’s perfect circles, and there’s perfect straight lines, and there’s perfect squares, and all of these. And they loved this. valued this world of perfection. It wasn’t the world we see, because nothing is perfect in this world. There’s no perfect corners. There’s no perfect lines. There’s nothing that’s exactly true, and all of this sort of thing. But in the world of mathematics, it’s an imaginary world. You can imagine a world that’s perfect, where everything works. There’s no remainders. It’s an absolutely perfect world. And what has been amazing through time is that if we play around in this perfect world of mathematics, that world actually simulates the real world.

Even though the real world isn’t perfect, the world of mathematics simulates it. It’s pretty amazing, actually. The first time I was in a physics class and this hit me was we had this little ramp that we’re supposed to put a little ball, run it down the ramp, and we’re supposed to predict where it’s going to land. I mean the concept is really weird. Here, I’m going to take this little ball bearing, and I’m going to drop it down this ramp, and I know exactly where it’s going to land on the floor. So how do I do that? Well, I get down with some mathematical equations. I work out some math. I measure some things here, and then I sit with a piece of paper, and I write things out with mathematics. And then I measure out where my math says it’s supposed to land. put a piece of paper down there, put an X down there. Back in those days, we put a piece of carbon paper on top of it upside down. So then I test it, take that little ball, and I roll it down the ramp, and it goes, “Whoop!” And I reach down there and pick up the piece of paper, and look, and that ball landed smack dab on that X. Wait a minute. Why should these mathematical equations tell that ball where to land? What? Is the ball watching? I mean, what? How? What? Really? Mathematics could actually predict exactly where it lands? That’s amazing. Why should the world of perfection simulate so very closely the real world? And we really believe this. A great example is you can take, theoretically, a whole set of equations on a board, and bring the guy over there and say, “Now here’s the way it goes.” According to these equations, if you get in this tin can with a bomb attached to it, and I light it, it’ll launch you out into space, take you up around the earth, out to the moon, around the moon a few times, drop you onto the moon.

It’s going to launch off the moon, come back to the earth, circle the earth a couple times, land in the Pacific Ocean at this particular moment, at this particular location.

We’ll have an aircraft carrier there to pick you up. Trust me. And the person looks at the mathematics and says, “Okay.” And gets in the tin can, lets us light the thing, and take off. I mean, that’s astonishing. You realize the first people that did that, nobody had done it before. How do you know that the mathematics is going to work? How do you know that the rules are going to work on the other side of the moon? I mean, you just fly over to the side of the moon we can’t see and poof, they’re gone. I mean, you don’t know that that is going to happen. Except if the creation was made to show God’s nature, then there’s a consistency in the rules. And if the God who created the universe by the word of his mouth gave us language, gave us the ability to create language that simulates the universe because it’s the same God who created the universe as created our language. Our language does reflect the nature of the universe because both of them were created by the same being. That makes sense. But if you don’t believe this, why would you believe that mathematics works? Who are you? Who do you think you are to think that your mathematics would be able to, the thing you invented in your brain, could understand the entire universe.

That’s an awesome, awesome truth. Now, all these things, this is incredible. This universe is a really weird place. It’s a really extraordinary place. It exists. It has order. It’s got an order simple enough for us to understand. We’ve got brains complex enough to understand it. All these things we’ve been talking about make this universe a very unusual place. And it’s a place that makes sense only if you believe that God created the physical universe so that we could know him through it. It only makes sense from Romans chapter 1. It doesn’t make sense in any other worldview. It doesn’t make sense in naturalism. It doesn’t make sense in other theisms. It doesn’t make sense if you’re Muslim. It doesn’t make sense if you’re in modern Judaism. It makes sense only in a Christian God who desires to be known. And yet, these things turn out to be the foundations for something we call science. Science assumes all of these things are true. Science assumes the world is out there so that it goes and studies it. If the world wasn’t out there, science would be silly. You wouldn’t be studying anything that exists. Science assumes it’s ordered, because if the order that we see there isn’t the real order, then science is studying something that’s unreal, which would make it silly. If, in fact, science assumes that we can figure it out. We’ve got brains complex enough to figure it out. It assumes our senses are reliable. It assumes mathematics will work. It assumes all these things. But why? Why should a person believe these things? If you’re a naturalist, you have no reason to believe these things. The only reason you have to believe that modern science should work is that it works. You don’t have any reason ahead of time. Your worldview does not lead you to the conclusion that science should work. But it is Christianity that gave rise to science in the first place. Science was born in Christianity, and there’s a good reason for it. because only in a Christian worldview can we believe the things about the universe that make science make sense. So the success of science suggests that Christian theism is true. Christian theism gives us reason to believe that science should work, science does work. Therefore, Christian theism is, in fact, a justification of modern science. What that means is modern science owes its origin. to Christianity. Modern science makes sense, and the success of science makes sense only because of the Christian God. Only because God desires for us to know him, and he’s created the universe in such a way that we can know him. (laughs)