This past Sunday (July 17, 2016) I taught from Romans 1:18-23 for the third time, and said that God calls two witnesses to confirm that there are things that we can't not know--such as Who God is. Those two witnesses are Creation (whether viewed through the telescope or through the microscope) and Conscience (our embedded sense of right & wrong, that it should be universalized, and that justice "should" ultimately triumph). Yet human beings, created in God's image, suppress the truth of who God is. ln response, "God gave them over" (repeated 3 times) by removing restraints. God's intention is that by wallowing in the consequences of our choices, we will eventually "come to our senses" (like the prodigal son) and turn to Him.
In speaking about the wonders of creation viewed through the microscope, I mentioned the illustration of photosynthesis, and told you that I'd post more information on this blog. This is an excerpt from an email last month written by my former colleague, Kurt Wise, who has his Ph.D. from Harvard in evolutionary theory (paleontology, the fossil record):
“We do not know exactly how many steps there are in photosynthesis, but it is estimated at about 500. When I started grad school (1981) a fellow graduate student who was working on his Ph.D. on one of those 500 steps said that only about 50 steps (10%) had been worked out at that time and he was hoping to master another one of those steps for his doctorate. He also said there were about 60 scientists around the world who devote their entire careers to studying photosynthesis. I don't know how many steps they have figured out [by now], but I would guess another 10%. In any case that information very much impressed me with the extreme complexity of photosynthesis…. It's so complex that we aren't even sure how many steps there are and still understand a small percentage of the steps. There is no conceivable way that such a process could come to be by natural process: 1) nothing that complex occurs spontaneously; 2) there is a huge irreducible complexity (too many steps have to be in place for it to be built in a step-by-step process like evolution); 3) if its complexity is not even understood by humans, it is likely it requires an intelligent designer many times more capable than humans; 4) the efficiency of photosynthesis exceeds the efficiency of human designs (including attempts to emulate photosynthesis); and 5) the entire process of photosynthesis occurs in chloroplasts which [are] about 1 micron in size (1 one millionth of a meter!)—a microsizing phenomenon unmatched by modern human technology.”
I appreciate Kurt's thorough answer to my question. The truth is, sometimes the more information we gather, the more evidence we have supporting the idea of an intelligent Creator--not the opposite. And although this fits well with Romans 1, it does not "confirm" Romans 1--because God's Word stands true regardless of current scientific confirmations.
On a different topic, I also addressed briefly the objection that many raise about the fate of those who have not heard the Gospel. There are four "bottom line" issues for me on this question, that I'll summarize here:
First, God has not explicitly informed us about the destiny of the "untold." So, apparently we are not on God’s “need-to-know” short list (actually we are the “untold” about this particular issue). If you don’t know the answer to this (or any other) question, then “I don’t know” is a pretty good answer. Which leads me directly to my next point...
Second, as an objection to Christianity, “not knowing” the answer does not falsify the biblical worldview (because this question is not deeply embedded in the core of our faith). It would be a valid objection if somehow God were required to satisfy our curiosity about all subjects, including those that do not apply to us. But this objection does not rise to that level. In one sense, this question is like asking “what’s God’s favorite time of day?” in that our uncertainty of the final answer does not subvert Christianity—it’s not an objection to either the truth or the coherence of our faith. And we always need to keep in mind that a biblical world view commits us to a view of reality that is larger (infinite) than our (finite) ability to explain everything that it contains.
Third, 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us of God's intention: He "does not want any to perish, but for all to come to repentance." Add to that the truth that "the judge of all the world will do what is just" (Genesis 18:25). Either we trust Him in this or we do not.
Finally, the answer to the question, “What about those who have never heard?” will never apply to the person who asks the question—because they have heard. Sometimes people raise questions because they are genuinely concerned about an objection, but sometimes people raise questions as smokescreens, for the purpose of avoiding the Gospel. There’s a difference between genuine intellectual objections and intellectual excuses!
P.S. This topic has long been an interest of mine for reasons of apologetics--defending the faith. For those who are interested in more information, years ago I wrote a few articles and chapters about religious pluralism in various journals and books, and I'm attaching the address to one of those articles below, published in a British journal. Hopefully the article is not too tedious--you should see it's brothers! (If interested, copy this URL address and put it in your browser; that should get you there. biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/1992-3_229.pdf )