The Heavens Declare the Glory

Several people who follow this blog have been complaining about the recent dearth of posts.  Mea culpa!  I repent!

Here is a fascinating special case of the fine-tuning of the universe.

There are 90 naturally-occurring elements in the periodic table – elements like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and many others.  Every physical thing in the universe is made up of these elements or of combinations of these elements.

Each element has distinctive properties, and the properties of all the elements, taken together, result in our physical world –the Earth, the Earth’s atmosphere, the iron that drives the Earth’s magnetic field, the water that makes life possible, the sun, the moon, the stars, our bodies.

It makes me weep to realize the wisdom and power displayed in the Creation.

Where do these elements come from?

I learned several years ago that there have been three or four generations of stars.  The first generation, formed at about 100 million years after the Creation event, consisted only of the lightest elements, hydrogen and helium.  During the lifetime of those stars, they produced heavier elements by a process of fusion – that is, by combining lighter elements to form heavier ones under extreme heat and pressure.  When these stars reached the end of their lifespans, they collapsed, and then they exploded, spreading those heavier elements throughout the cosmos.  Then under gravitation the debris from the explosion of those stars formed a second generation of stars, which likewise produced even heavier elements, collapsed, and exploded.  (They are still exploding; they are called “super-novas.”)  Our sun is an instance of at least a third-generation star, if not a fourth.

Recently it was learned that iron is the heaviest element formed in this manner – by fusion within the first generations of stars.  Now cosmologists have discovered how the heaviest elements were formed.

Most massive stars (say, 10 times the mass of our Sun) exist in binary systems with a twin.  When they die, they explode, but their cores remain, and they collapse to a diameter of only 10 to 12 kilometers, forming the densest objects in the universe other than black holes – so dense that the protons and electrons combine, forming neutrons; and hence they are called “neutron stars.”

The twin neutron stars then circle each other for eons until at last, under their mutual gravitational attraction, they fall into each other.  When they collide, they annihilate in the most spectacular events ever observed.  But after the collapse and before the explosion, they form the heavy elements by a process called “rapid neutron capture,” or the r-process.  Then the explosions again spread these heaviest elements throughout the universe.  Some of them ended up in Earth’s soil.  We ingested the plants that drew those elements out of that soil, and those elements keep us alive by performing vital life functions, from the regulation of brain development to the formation of strong bones.

You can read more from Scientific American at

Glory to God!

Posted in Philosophy, Science, Science and faith, The Existence of God, The Fine-tuning of the Universe | 3 Comments

Water: Designed for Life

In April I published links to a wonderful 7-part essay by John Millam, Ken Klos, and Iain D. Sommerville, entitled, Water: Designed for Life (Reasons to Believe 2013).

I have to apologize to those who have tried to open Part 2, or anything after Part 1, by clicking on the links which the publisher provided at the bottom of Part 1.  They don’t work.  (They did work when I first posted the essay.)  Here’s what does work: Once you have opened Part 1, at the top of your browser window will be the URL for that web page, ending in “part-1-of-7.”  Place your cursor next to the 1 and replace it with a 2 and <press> enter.  The same for parts 3-7.  (Yes, I do have permission from RTB to tell you to do this.)

Feast on this thrilling exposition of the miraculous properties of a substance we all take for granted, water, in seven quick strokes by pasting the following URL into your browser:

Everything is fine-tuned.

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The Systemic Realities Created by Legal Abortion

Posted in Law and policy | 1 Comment

Update on the Woke Movement

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The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God is Virtually Conclusive

I cannot leave this argument alone.  Every time I sit down to write about the teleological argument for the existence of God (the argument from design), my thoughts turn to the cosmological argument instead.  Here is my latest effort to reduce the argument to its essence.

There are only four possible explanations for the existence of the universe:

  1. The universe is past-eternal;
  2. The universe had an uncaused beginning;
  3. The universe was caused by a caused cause; or
  4. The universe was caused by an uncaused cause.

We can eliminate the first three explanations.

If the universe is past-eternal, then it did not have a beginning.  If so, then it did not have a cause, but just is.  God may or may not exist, but an uncaused universe does not require it.

Empirical science has shown, however, that the universe did have a beginning.  This leads to two more possible explanations for its existence: either it had a caused beginning, or it had an uncaused beginning.  If the universe had an uncaused beginning, then God may or may not exist, but as noted above, an uncaused universe does not require it.

But an uncaused beginning is unlikely because it would violate the laws of cause and effect.  At the very least, it would seem to do so: there is no plausible basis for maintaining that the universe could have had an uncaused beginning. 

The universe, then, must have had a caused beginning.  If so, then again there are two possible explanations for its existence: either the cause itself had a beginning and hence a cause, or the cause itself did not have a cause and hence was past-eternal.

A caused cause is merely one element in an infinite series, unless the series itself has a beginning; and it can only begin with an uncaused cause.  An actual infinite series is impossible and absurd.  Therefore the series of causes must “end” (begin) with an uncaused cause, which uncaused cause must be past-eternal.

(Every caused universe is past-finite and every past-finite universe which can be actualized is caused.  Every uncaused universe which can be actualized is past-eternal and every past-eternal universe is uncaused.)

Thus three of the four possible explanations for the existence of the universe have been excluded: a past-eternal universe; an uncaused beginning; and a beginning brought about by an infinite series of caused causes.  The remaining explanation, that the universe was brought into being by an uncaused, past-infinite cause, must be true.

Posted in The Cosmological Argument for God, The Origin of the Universe | 1 Comment

2022 March for Life

The 2022 March for Life is at 2:30 p.m. January 29, 2022 at the Capitol in Salem. Be a part of the historic events about to unfold! See you there!

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Joshualetter is Now Podcasting!

Check out Joshualetter’s Inaugural Podcast on:

The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God,

Right here!

Posted in Science and faith, The Cosmological Argument for God, The Existence of God, The Origin of the Universe | 1 Comment

The Moral Argument for God Gets Some Air

[On August 21, 2021, our local newspaper, The Eugene Register-Guard, published a “Guest View” by atheist Charles H. Jones, to which I felt compelled to offer a riposte, which was published as a Guest View September 4, 2021.  Here are both essays.]

Guest View, “Whose Morality Carries More Weight?

By Charles H. Jones, Register-Guard August 21, 2021, page 6A

Saying an entire class of people is immoral, such as Blacks or Jews, is generally considered prejudicial and hateful. I would be surprised to see, and don’t recall seeing, such racist statements in The R-G. Yet, versions of “atheists are immoral” have appeared at least eight times in the past four years – including three columns within the last year. This is usually stated in less obvious, but logically equivalent, variations of “morality derives from God.” But, after all, how can atheists be moral when they deny the source of morality?

This isn’t just a philosophical issue. There are countries where atheism is a capital offense. I’ve met someone who is hiding for fear of their life because they left Islam. Complete shunning – loss of family, friends and jobs – is not unusual when people leave some religious communities.  I’ve met someone who was kicked out of their house at 16 for leaving Christianity.

The acceptance of openly stated anti-atheist prejudice epitomizes religious privilege.  But this privilege shows itself daily via “in God we trust” and “under God.”  Public promotion of faith and prayer also is an example of this privilege and prejudice.  And it is very concerning that the Supreme Court is legalizing religious discrimination based on this prejudice.

Claims of moral superiority based on God aren’t limited to denouncing atheists.  There are religions where not believing in the proper god deserves eternal torture.  Even within a single religion, God’s supposed morality has been used to claim supremacy and privilege for men, heterosexuals, the monogamous, the married, whites and castes (among others).

Another harmful result of morality from God is the promotion of the United States as a Christian nation.  Stating the mistaken belief that the Constitution is based on biblical principles reduces the roughly 30% of the U.S. that are non-Christian to second-class citizenry.  I’ve personally been told I should leave the country because I’m atheist.  This erroneous belief also played a part on Jan 6.  Most of the people in the Capitol mob weren’t just white supremacists, they were also Christian Nationalists.  Their movement is partially motivated by the belief that Christians are morally superior.  Their violent actions are even supportable by Jesus’ militant side (Matthew 10:34).  The Christian god is an authoritarian figure – a divine king, not an elected official.

I am not saying all theists are inherently immoral.  I am not claiming there is a single external source of morality and you are immoral if you deny it. I claim, and the evidence supports, that theists are simply mistaken about their source of morality. For example, most people today condemn slavery, yet slavery is doctrinally supported by the three largest religions.  Jesus never denounced slavery and implicitly condoned it, while Paul explicitly wrote, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters …” (Ephesians 6:5-6); Mohammed owned slaves; and then there’s karma. Even if some doctrinal passage appears to be anti-slavery, it demonstrates doctrinal self-contradiction rather than elimination of the doctrinal support. This is evidence that people look for doctrine to support their preexisting beliefs rather than deriving their beliefs from doctrine or God.

Religions are doctrinally in opposition.  Yahweh is not Allah is not Zeus.  Reincarnation does not lead to Valhalla.  Claiming belief in one religion is claiming that all other religions are false.  (Why claim one of thousands of religions if you don’t think it’s the one true – and thus superior – religion?) If you want to promote unity – to bring everyone together – you have to keep your religion out of the public square.  This is the reason for the establishment clause of the First Amendment.  This is why it is unconstitutional to promote religion in public schools and why it is polite to hold a moment of silence rather than a prayer at public gatherings.  I fully support people’s right to their religious beliefs, but that same right allows me to say, “Keep them to yourselves; they’re divisive.”

Where does morality come from? There are arguments based on evolution, but most people are unaware of them.  I believe most people, secular or not, derive morality from love, compassion and humanism.  Isn’t having a conscience part of the human condition?  Would you rape and murder if God didn’t tell you not to?

What’s more important, promoting morality and unity, or claiming one group of people is morally superior to all others? 

Charles H. Jones, Ph.D., is a retired mathematician. He organizes the Eugene Atheist Pub Social through Meetup.

Guest View, “Objective human values we all cherish

By Thomas Alderman, Register-Guard September 4 2021, page 6A

Charles H. Jones (Guest View, Register Guard August 21, 2021, page 6A) maintains that the expression, “‘morality derives from God’ [is the] logical equivalent [of] ‘atheists are immoral,’” and thus claims that to hold to traditional theism is in itself a claim to moral superiority.  How fortunate we are that it is not so!

Christian theists, of all people, are the least likely to consider themselves morally superior, for the faith itself entails an admission of moral failure and the need for forgiveness.  It is forgiveness that we celebrate.

Jones goes on to say that “theists are simply mistaken about their source of morality. . . .  I believe most people, secular or not, derive morality from love, compassion and humanism.  Isn’t having a conscience part of the human condition?  Would you rape and murder if God didn’t tell you not to?”

But the question is not what I would or would not do: the question is, if I do it, am I wrong, or am I merely breaking a social convention?

Jones himself expects us to acknowledge such duties as binding apart from God, and he says we can know about these duties through conscience.  Conscience is merely the perception of a moral duty, however; and in order for a duty to be objective, it must be binding irrespective of our perceptions.  If it is wrong, it is not because I think it is wrong: it is wrong whether I think it is wrong or whether I do not.  Otherwise, it is not objective, and my perception is an illusion – which is precisely what many other non-theists maintain.

But Jones joins the rest of humanity in affirming objective moral values and duties; his appeal to conscience, however, does not account for their existence.

If we have a duty to care for each other, it must be because of something inherently valuable in us.  Then there would be something real for conscience to apprehend.  But Darwinism does not help us – what is my duty to an accident of nature or a highly-organized collection of cheap chemicals?  And if I myself am an accident of nature, how can I know that my experience of conscience is not itself an illusion?

Other nontheistic accounts of morality also fall short.  Under social compact theory, I give up some of my prerogatives in exchange for your doing likewise so that we can coexist; but I am perfectly entitled not to give up my prerogatives (even if we call such people criminals and put them in jail).  Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) Categorical Imperative taught that we are obligated to act according to principles which we would wish to be universally observed.  That is surely good advice, and may seem appealing to other philosophers; but it fails to explain why we are morally wrong if we reject it.  In short, no adequate nontheistic account of objective morality has ever been proposed.

But the biblical account of creation explains it well: humans have inherent value and dignity because we were created in the image of God, as we see in the first book of the Bible:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

     Genesis 1:26-27

Jones is right about one thing: we do have an intuition of the value in ourselves and others and hence, of our duty to care for one another.  The God image in ourselves and in others, if it is real, explains, as nothing else does, our perception of ourselves and of others as having inherent dignity and value, and justifies our belief in objective moral values.  Conversely, our intuition about inherent human value, supposing it to be true, provides additional warrant for our belief in God.

God is also the best explanation for the origin of the universe, for the fine-tuning of the laws of physics, for the origin of life, for language, mathematics, and for reason itself.  God exists.  If God exists, then there is a ready explanation for the objective human values we all cherish.

Bio: Thomas Alderman is a lawyer and blogger living in Springfield.

Posted in Philosophy, The Existence of God, The Moral Argument for God | 1 Comment


It’s like all the best qualities of all the greatest heroes throughout history, all rolled into one person – Socrates and the Greeks, Maimonides and the great rabbis, Augustine and the church fathers, Aquinas, Newton, Einstein and the great scientists, Washington, Lincoln, Churchill: all in one man, only greater by far.  And here you are, being introduced to him:

Tom, this is Jesus.  Jesus, this is Tom.

Hi, Tom, good to meet you.  Can I be your friend?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.  We’ll hang out together.  All the time.  Wherever you go, I’ll go with you.  I’ll be your sidekick.

He is the Son of God, yet he loves me and wants to be my friend!  How and why can that be?  It must mean at least two things.  One, he must have an enormous capacity for love, and two, there must be something valuable in me, indeed, something loveable.  And the cross is the divine and conclusive declaration of that, demolishing my guilt and self-loathing.

We follow him haltingly, turning to him and turning away, and returning again.  Yet he is constant.

Friendship.  How many true friends does each of us have in a lifetime?  Or rather, how few?  How many are worthy of our friendship?  How worthy are we?  And we wonder why we are lonely, and why our relationships are so superficial.

Jesus not only wants to be our friend; he also wants to make us to be a friend, to be worthy, capable of friendship. 

Jesus not only reveals God to man: he also reveals man to man: this is what you will be.  A true friend among true friends.  Your loneliness is not forever.

Posted in Spirituality | 5 Comments

Human Origins Research is in Complete Disarray

I haven’t written much about evolution in these pages.  The principle reason is that I consider the debate on that question to be a distraction from the question which really ought to concern us, namely, did biological diversity arise by accident, or was it by design?  And we already know from other lines of reasoning that it was by design. 

God could have used an evolutionary process, but whether He did or not is of very little consequence to me.  What is of tremendous consequence is that living systems unmistakably reflect the activity of a mind.  They are distinctively characterized by information, and information, wherever it is found, always reflects intention.  Intentions are mental activities.  Always.

There is another reason I do not jump into the debate with both feet, and that is that I usually find that those who subscribe to evolutionary theory are entrenched in their view and are not amenable to persuasion.  Since the question is of little consequence, I prefer to spend my time in other ways.

You may ask, however, Isn’t the veracity of Genesis also at stake?  Isn’t that a matter of some consequence?

Yes, it is a matter of great consequence, but I really don’t think that evolutionary theory places the veracity of Genesis at issue.  That depends on one’s interpretation of Genesis, which is another topic I prefer to avoid, for three reasons: One, I already know from other lines of reasoning that Genesis is true (regardless of what it means); two, Genesis is very difficult to interpret; and three, many people are again entrenched.  The things that matter to me, namely, God’s existence and our redemption through the Cross of Jesus, are not in doubt.

That is why, whenever anyone tries to pull me in to a conversation about human origins, the first thing I say is, Yeah, we can talk about that, but first we need to understand what is NOT at stake: God’s existence and His love; for our knowledge of these things is established through independent lines of reasoning.  There is no reason to resist God’s free offer of forgiveness merely because you think the church has it wrong about evolution.  The interpretation of Genesis is not essential to salvation.  There is a diversity of opinion within the church about the meaning of Genesis.

Nevertheless!  Sometimes there is a development in science that has great bearing on the human origins debate, and that I think deserves to be more widely heard.

In the May 2021 issue of Evolution News and Science Today (a publication of the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think tank), Gunter Bechley brings to our attention an important research article published May 7, 2021 in the journal Science, which is the peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and one of the world’s top academic journals.

Bechley’s essay is titled, “Scientists Conclude: Human Origins Research is a Big Mess,” and it may be found at

The Science article is titled, “Fossil Apes and Human Evolution,” (Science Magazine, 07 May 2021: Vol. 372, Issue 6542, eabb4363 DOI: 10.1126/science.abb4363), and may be found at (

Here are some choice quotes from the Science article:

After 150 years of continuous discoveries, essential information about human origins remains elusive owing to debates surrounding the interpretation of fossil apes.

. . . .

The root of the conflict is the remarkable differences in subjective definition and scoring of complex morphologies.

The decades-long feud regarding arboreality [tree-dwelling] and bipedalism in A. afarensis exemplifies the complexity of inferring function from anatomy. . . .

Humans are storytellers: Theories of human evolution often resemble “anthropogenic narratives” that borrow the structure of a hero’s journey to explain essential aspects such as the origins of erect posture, the freeing of the hands, or brain enlargement. Intriguingly, such narratives have not drastically changed since Darwin. We must be aware of confirmation biases and ad hoc interpretations by researchers aiming to confer [upon] their new fossil the starring role within a preexisting narrative. Evolutionary scenarios are appealing because they provide plausible explanations based on current knowledge, but unless grounded in testable hypotheses, they are no more than “just-so stories”

Bechley says, “The press release from the American Museum of Natural History (2021) sums up the gist of this review article:”

Most human origins stories are not compatible with known fossils. . . .  [T]he number of species in the human family tree has exploded, but so has the level of dispute concerning early human evolution. . . .  However, many of these fossils show mosaic combinations of features that do not match expectations for ancient representatives of the modern ape and human lineages. As a consequence, there is no scientific consensus on the evolutionary role played by these fossil apes. . . .  Overall, the researchers found that most stories of human origins are not compatible with the fossils that we have today.

Bechley concludes:

That is a fair assessment indeed, which admittedly does not mean that these evolutionary speculations are all wrong or futile enterprises. However, it at least shows that those bold hardcore Darwinists, who think they can dismiss and rebuke Darwin critics and ID proponents with some grandiose claims of allegedly settled science, are not just vastly overstating their case but indeed are ignorant of the current state of the scientific debate. The question of human origins is far from being resolved, and non-mainstream options should be explored based exclusively on the available evidence, rather than being rejected due to world-view bias.

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