“Both Stories Can’t Be True”

2423935231_3242efd580_oIf you pay attention to the political media, you constantly hear competing narratives, or ways of explaining the facts. Sometimes the various explanations of, for example, why a presidential candidate lost, are so radically different that we wonder whether all of the experts are even trying to explain the same phenomena. We may respond by saying something like, “Both of these stories can’t be true.”

Actually, we should say things like this in many instances. For example, those who ask “How did this Universe get here?” get a number of different stories. On the one hand, there is the theory that the world and everything in it are the result of mere chance. Non-intelligence has given rise to intelligence, disorganization to organization, and amorality to morality.

On the other hand, there is the biblical account, in which God spoke the Universe into existence, and in six days populated it completely and perfectly (Genesis 1). In only six days, the Bible says, God created all of the kinds of things we see around us today. And, he gave intelligence and morality to human beings.

Notice that it cannot be the case that both stories are correct. Some have attempted to weave the two stories together by proposing that God used purely natural forces to bring about the various forms of life. This approach is called theistic (or God-centered) evolution. But it simply is incompatible with what the Bible says. The question is, which story better explains the facts? Or, which story has the best supporting evidence? The biblical narrative clearly wins (see www.ApologeticsPress.org for more information).

One more example: Those who ask about the destiny of human beings encounter competing stories. One may be called physicalism, or the view that human beings are purely physical and have no immortal souls. Since all that exists is purely physical, the death of the physical body is also the end of the person who was associated with that body.

On the other hand, the biblical account of things is that the human being is composite (I will call it biblical hylomorphism). We are physical beings, but we have a component that need not remain attached to the body. In fact, this spiritual component may be separated from the corporeal body and receive a modified body from God! Paul explains this view by comparing the body to a tent, or tabernacle:

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life (2 Corinthians 5:1-4, KJV).

Notice that it cannot be the case that both stories are correct. There is no middle ground between physicalism and biblical hylomorphism. Either we have a non-physical component or we do not. If the Bible is reliable (and it is), then we must take account of the human soul and its destiny. Jesus makes this very clear: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).


- 2017