My beliefs are like a species of animal: over time they can adapt to new influences, sometimes in significant ways, but they always remain the same basic organism. That is, I am certain about my foundations, but flexible with regards to the arrangement and content of their superstructure. Since much of this blog consists of my thoughts about politics and religion, I will disclose my general political, religious, and scientific beliefs without boring you with my beliefs about the shape of the earth or the possibility of light-speed engines.
Religion: I am a protestant evangelical Christian of the Baptist variety. Many Christians with whom I do not agree on every matter of biblical teaching are nonetheless my spiritual brothers and sisters, saved and adopted into the same family of God as I have been, indwelt and empowered by the same Spirit. Religion has to do with the right worship of God and the way of reconciliation between God and mankind. Everyone owes God obedience and worship but has instead been hostile to God, broken his law, and rightfully incurred his anger. As a result, everyone is deserving of punishment at God’s hand. But God has fully forgiven, acquitted, and lovingly embraced all real Christians, who find peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. This is possible because Jesus Christ, the Son of God who lived in perfect obedience to God, took upon himself the sins of all Christians of all time and bore the penalty due for those sins in his own body while being crucified. Thus their personal record of lawbreaking is graciously expunged, having been set aside, figuratively nailed to Jesus’s cross. However, not all those who claim to come to God through Jesus Christ are God’s children, as many people believe in a false Christ. Furthermore—because the atoning sacrifice of Christ in place of sinners is the only means by which God can remain just while pardoning guilty human beings, and explicit faith in Christ and his work of atonement the ordinary means by which someone is united with Christ—God is not pleased with anyone who is not a Christian. My religious beliefs have been sublimely expressed over the course of church history, so I defer you to those expressions for further clarification. I am in total or nearly total agreement with the following statements:
- The Apostle’s Creed (Fourth century at the latest. A summary statement of true apostolic Christian dogma.)
- The Nicene Creed (Fourth century. A slightly fuller summary statement of true Christian dogma.)
- The Definition of Chalcedon (Fifth century. Regarding the person of Christ, the God-man.)
- The Athanasian Creed (Sixth century. Regarding the triune nature of God.)
- Confessional Statement of The Gospel Coalition
- The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1646. A wonderful and more comprehensive expression of biblical teaching. I recommend the “modern version” edited by David Wenkel, but that is not available online for free.)
All these statements merely express in an unequivocal and organized fashion what the Bible teaches. The Bible itself is the only authoritative rule of doctrine and religious practice, and everything it affirms is true. Yet because the Bible is subject to misinterpretation, it is often necessary or helpful to express biblical teaching in language other than that used in the Bible, for clarification.
Politics: I am a capitalist and a classically liberal conservative. Overall, I believe in free people and free markets (which are really the same thing). I believe fiercely in freedom of speech. I believe in religious liberty and the separation of church and state. I believe that real human rights are absolute, inherent in our humanity, equally belonging to all people in all ages of history, and that these rights are rights to action, not rights to goods or services. I believe in freedom of association, which implies a right to discriminate. Real human rights protect you; they do not make each person everyone else’s debtor by birth. I have a two-kingdoms view of the relationship between church and civil society, and a Jeremiah 29:4-7 view of the relationship between Christians and culture.
Science: I believe that science is one of the motors of the world to which we owe what we call “culture,” and I trust in the ability of scientific study to reveal specific truths about the world around us as well as general truth about the wisdom, power, and divinity of God, who made both the visible material world and the invisible fundamental forces of nature that hold it together. In a real way, science is a kind of theology, for the universe is the dig site of the artifacts of God. I believe Genesis 1–11 are to be taken at face value and in their literal sense. I hold to an old-earth creationist model of origins. According to this model, God instantaneously and ex nihilo brought time, matter, space, and energy into existence about 13 to 15 billion years ago in a near-infinitely compressed state, and stretched them out in a precisely controlled rapid expansion. From that point of cosmic creation on, there has existed a uniformity of the physical laws and forces he decreed to govern the universe.
About 4 or 5 billion years ago, God gave form to the planet earth. Upon the initially waste and empty, dark, and water-covered terrestrial surface, God, in six days spanning a few billion years, introduced sunlight and day and night, raised land masses, and specially and immediately created living things which procreated naturally after their own kinds. God’s final creative act was of humankind in his own image on Day Six, when God created the real individuals of Adam and Eve. Now, on Day Seven, God is resting from the work he did in creation, though he continues his work of sustaining his physical creation and of saving his chosen people from sin.
It is possible for created kinds of organisms to become more diverse and specialized as groups of living things branch off and adapt within their genetic range to various environments, conditions, and selective pressures. Some species that descended from the same created kind have diverged to the point where interbreeding is no longer possible or does not happen in the wild, resulting in a new species. I do not believe that any amount of natural and sexual selective pressures guiding the retaining and discarding of random mutations over any amount of time or number of generations could result in the variety of highly specialized, adaptable, interdependent, and highly complex life that exists. (And even if it could have, the Bible says it didn’t.) I believe relativity and quantum theory are perfectly compatible—I just don’t know how. I believe that both time travel into the past and the construction of an ansible are sadly but truly impossible. And I believe that once we move past natural history and into observational science, creationists and evolutionists disagree with one another no more than they disagree among themselves.