Category Archives: Science
Though I am not a scientist, I have entertained a deep interest in the subject of evolution, of origins, for quite a long time. I have read quite a bit on the subject and I have some thoughts regarding Darwinism. First, I have, to the best of my ability, followed the truth to where ever it might lead, even if the trajectory is counter to the status quo. Here, in a thumb-nail, is where, a number of years ago, I landed . That life could have risen by natural processes and, by descent with modification, grow in complexity, in speciation, is absurd. If honestly examined, the hypothesis of macro-evolution is ultimately believed not because it is observed to occur – which it is not - but because the alternative, creation by Divine fiat, invalidates the preferred worldviews of western humanism and neo-pagan new-age mysticism.
Here is what I find profoundly revealing: that humanity may have been created, that life may be the supernatural work of a divine Creator Who breathed life into humanity is seen to be a far less attractive alternative to the affirmation that life arose by meaningless and random natural processes. One may have thought the world would, at very least, have let a collective sad sigh, would have mourned a bit, if it found that humanity was no longer was the work of divine breath and hands. Instead, the world, for the most part, seems to rejoice in the fact that we arrived on the scene by unconscious natural forces. What does that say about us?
Ultimately, I think the evolutionary hypotheses is accepted not because of unquestioned empirical evidence, but because it is an unquestioned a priori. There are no other alternatives if you start with an unquestioned acceptance that there is nothing beyond matter that acts on matter. You find yourself with such a pliable hypotheses that it fits any observation. It cannot be invalidated; it cannot be falsified. Given such, the question of origins is perhaps not a matter of science, but of metaphysics. It has been stated that evolution is the foundation of science, especially the life sciences. I would say that the discoveries of science are blind to evolutionary presuppositions. Such is parasitically laid on top of that which is discovered. When all is said and done, we will find that macroevolution is a vestigial organ, a broken, obsolete, and failed leftover of the metaphysics of materialism. Wring your hands over the flawed science behind anthropocentric global warming, if you wish, but stand in fearful awe at how quickly we, by blind acceptance of evolutionary philosophy, embrace the created over the Creator.
Over the years, I have done a bit of thinking about evolution, on the issue of the origins of life. I have also followed the issue of anthropogenic global warming, albeit not nearly so closely. I find some interesting parallels between the two issues.
First, there is an amazing plasticity to both. It seems that evolution explains everything. Ultimately, and painting with broad strokes, the declarations of evolutions veracity do not ultimately rest on observed phenomena. The theory is so plastic in its ability to predict that any observation can be made to fit the theory; ultimately, it is not falsifiable. If “A” is observed to occur, a reasonable evolutionary explanation can be made to fit the observation. However, if the inverse of “A” is observed, or “A” is not observed, another reasonable evolutionary explanation for such can be made. It is a malleable template that can conform to whatever it is laid upon. If we had found in the fossil record a gradual progression of speciation, such would dovetail nicely into an evolutionary theory. If the fossil record does not reveal a gradual progression of speciation ( and it does not…think about the Cambrian explosion), then we can formulate a hypothesis to explain that, also. In fact, we a have the theory of punctuated equilibria to explain the fossil records paucity of transitional forms.
The same seems true, albeit to a lesser degree, for global warming enthusiasts. I read an article this morning wherein, ironically, the record cold temperatures observed in many areas is an indication, an effect, of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). AGW theory is still a youngster on the scene compared with evolutionary theory, but it too is developing a dogma that fits any observation, no matter how contradictory to its overarching premise. I remember hearing reports of global warming induced localized increases in sea level that has forced thousands to flee their homes.
Second, both are, in essence, a potential breeding ground for hubris. By way of impersonal natural processes, we arrived on the scene and are now the dominate species because of our fitness, our ability as a species, as essentially apex predators, to survive and surmount. Because of our ability to compete for natural resources, we have apparently developed the ability to outstrip the sun’s influence on the global climate system.
Third, both evolutionary theory and AGW theory are beyond question by their academic and political high priests and adherents. Both resort to ad hominem attacks on those who question the prevailing dogma. Both have vested interests in perpetrating their dogma because so many for so long have based careers and reputations on sustaining dogma. They cannot turn back. Countervailing data, not matter how inditing, is reduced to anomaly.
Finally, both are, to some degree, wrapped around the specter of extinction. What we end up with in the end, when it is all said and done, is essentially the deification of nature.
I have had the pleasure of engaging dialog on things of faith and science with atheist friends and family on more than one occasion. Either the conversation has centered around the evidence for a Creator, or it has centered on the foundation of morality. I am, in this post, more interested about atheism and inferred foundations of ethics and morality.
A while back, there was an advertising campaign in London, if I recall correctly, that questioned the need to believe in God to be ‘good.’
The question that should follow is this: why be good for goodness’ sake? For the sake of argument, let us assume a materialistic world-view: suppose there is no God. All that exists is matter that has collected itself into different forms by natural processes without any intervention outside of nature. This matter either created itself ex nihilo, from nothing, or has existed for eternity. Those options are all that is reasonably available to the materialist without regard to the cosmological flavor to the day.
Following that matter is all there is, then life must be a product of natural forces and processes, some inferred to be random, and is imbued with no special significance other than that found in the unimaginable enormity of the odds stacked against life rising from said undirected natural processes. We are here, to reiterate, due only to natural selection driven by random mutation and environmental pressures.
The bottom line is this: all there is…is matter. Following inexorably is death. All life ends in death and the annihilation of self, of consciousness, for the self-aware. All that remains is the decayed flesh and the memories of self carried by those who briefly remain after one departs, dies. Those memories, too, will be eventually be erased by time as will every edifice, every proud monument, constructed by the defiant, hairless ape. To assert otherwise is shear irrational romanticism, perhaps itself a survival mechanism born in light of consciousness, of self-awareness aware of death, before a vast, uncaring universe.
So then, we courageously exhort one another, given what ultimately lies before us, to be good for goodness sake. Again, why? How can anything be called evil, or good, in light of mere insensate matter being the ultimate arbiter? Do we call the actions, the effects, of tornadoes, chipmunks, and supernova good or evil? No, we do not. In a materialistic context, we can only say we prefer one action over another. We can only say some things are better for the functioning of society than others. Common good of society becomes the arbiter of good and evil. Again, why? Why should I care about the common good of society? Pragmatism, utilitarianism fail here. Who decides what is the common good? Society, a majority? What about societies with differing standards? Why should I, as an individual, even care about the common good? Is survival of the species the most important moral imperative? The earth, the universe, does not care on whit if humanity lives another moment or a thousand millennia. To state otherwise is, again, unabashed, irrational romanticism. Ultimately, there are no consequences for behavior if one can get away with it. Death is the common leveler and materialism is the ultimate reducing agent of morality.
The bottom line is this: humanity has no intrinsic value if we are only products of blind natural forces and process; there is no firm foundation for morality. Atheism, in its reductionism and when honestly examined, places a value on humanity that is tenuous and at very best utilitarian. The question that follow is this, who, or what, imbues us with this utilitarian value? Progressive, secular, egalitarian, compassionate societies in the west engage abortion on demand, infanticide, and euthanasia. Do you remember the circumstances that bought about the death of Terri Schiavo?
I can’t let others off the hook. Just any theism won’t do. Pantheism -belief in a impersonal ‘all is god, god is all’ – , foundational to much of New Age spiritualism, and deism – belief in an uninvolved, impersonal ‘watchmaker god’-, what many embrace, acknowledged or not, in actual function, are really in little better, if any, condition to provide intrinsic value to humanity. Too, what of that errant offspring of orthodox Christianity, the progressive Universalist, those who assert that eventually all go to heaven? Essentially, this is just a weak-kneed flip-side to atheism. In some respects, I would love for Univeralism to be true, but if so, there would be no accountability for moral actions if there is no punishment, no retribution for evil, no justice. Here is an undemanding god of love, but without the absolute holiness of the triune God. Is Stalin in heaven with the god of Univeralism?
Also, I absolutely do not infer that atheists are better or worse than theists in their ethics and behaviors. All I am saying is that their moral foundation is, consciously or not, second-hand, pirated, derived from that which they have rejected. Also, I do not infer that belief in God equals high morality in practice. People obviously act in opposition to what they profess to believe all the time. That many have done evil in the name of religion does not invalidate the assertion that a personal, transcendental God is foundational for morality.
It is only the fact that mankind, even in our fallen state, is created in the image of the personal, holy Triune God of the Old and New Testament that we find any intrinsic value and worth.
I want to end on the following, on the day before Christmas, with these words from an earlier post:
As profound and foundational are the doctrines of the trinity and the physical resurrection of the Messiah, and absolutely in no means do I intend to diminish their import, it is the incarnation of our Savior that leaves me most breathtakingly at a loss for words. That Christ, fully almighty God, immutable and fully in transcendence over creation, Who spoke into existence, ex nihilo, the natural order, should step out of eternity and condescend to take on flesh, a sinless human nature, and, out of love, subject Himself to a fallen creation, leaves me wanting for words. Christ, God almighty, His incarnation realized by His conception and virgin birth to Mary, was obedient to Father God to the point of death on the cross to provide propitiation for sin and, after defeating death, will for eternity forward, walk with us as we behold His cross-scarred body. Here we find incomprehensible truths that followers of the Messiah will feast on for eons.
How unbelievable is this grace to the ears of those who think that God grades us on a curve. How odd to the ears is this grace to those we engage some sort of concept of karma. How unbelievable is the transcendent God is to those who engage a the fuzzy self-deification of new-age, neo-pagan pantheism. How daunting and unbelievable is the true, utterly independent and omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God of the Bible to those who engage those strains of liberal protestantism who travel with the impotent, dependent god of panentheism. How simply unbelievable it is to so many that we simply cannot approach and commune with the absolute holy God of creation on our own devices, on our own righteousness, but only through the cross of Christ.
Here is hope for a broken, sin ravaged world: Repent, acknowledge and turn away from your sin, your rebellion and disobedience to God, and believe, trust, in Christ, fully sinless man and fully God, who physically rose from the grave defeating death, for the forgiveness of sin so that God counts to you the righteousness of Christ when He looks upon you that you may spend eternity with Him. That is the Good News.
Wishing all a Merry Christmas!
Stephen Snobelen Assistant Professor of History of Science and Technology,
University of King’s College,
Here is a final paradox. Recent work on early modern science has demonstrated a direct (and positive) relationship between the resurgence of the Hebraic, literal exegesis of the Bible in the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of the empirical method in modern science. I’m not referring to wooden literalism, but the sophisticated literal-historical hermeneutics that Martin Luther and others (including Newton) championed. It was, in part, when this method was transferred to science, when students of nature moved on from studying nature as symbols, allegories and metaphors to observing nature directly in an inductive and empirical way, that modern science was born. In this, Newton also played a pivotal role. As strange as it may sound, science will forever be in the debt of millenarians and biblical literalists.
Some brief thoughts, skeletal in scope, on the above quote:
I have participated in more than one conversation wherein the assertion is made that Intelligent Design (ID) is no more than a sophisticated ‘God of the gaps’ argument. Further, I have been told that ID has no practical application; it predicts nothing, and, in fact, science could not have arisen from a milieu where religion, inferred to be synonymous with superstition, predominates.
In counterpoint, I find it interesting that many of the fathers of modern science were Christian. They inferred that natural laws pointed towards a Law Giver. They understood on a fundamental level that the universe was coherent and, given time and application of proper methodology, understandable because there was a Divine origin to the material world. Indeed, could science, dependent on, among other things, repeatability of phenomena, have risen in a milieu where the universe was understood to be random and driven by chaos? Quite frankly, much of modern physics seems so counter-intuitive and bizarre (to me), but, and again, I do not think we could not have gotten to where we are in our understanding of the created order without a foundational inference of a Creator. Could ramble for hours and flesh these thoughts out more (and, given I will have some time off for the holidays, perhaps I will), but it is 4:00AM, I am sick, and the cold and sinus meds are kicking in. Becoming soooo sleepy……..
Psalm 19:1 (English Standard Version)
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Orthodox Christians affirm the omniscience of God. We are told in New Testament canon that the hairs on our head are numbered. In our finiteness, we can we only begin to barely apprehend the periphery of God’s omniscience. In thinking recently about this attribute of our Father God, His ‘all-knowingness’, I dwell on the following observations of the created order that reflect His glory and majesty:
- The universe is at least 156 billion light-years wide. As a reference point, a light-year is, well, the distance light travels in one year; light travels at over 186,000 miles per second which translates to 5,876,000,000,000 miles per year.
- There are approximately 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, our galaxy.
- There are approximately 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe.
- The number of subatomic particles of electron size in the universe is approximately:
……..—.30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, ——–.--000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 – or 3 followed by 79 digits.
- The age of the universe is somewhere between 11.2 and 20 billion years old (with all respect to my YEC brothers and sisters).
- The universe had a discreet starting point and is winding down.
God, who created the universe ex nihilo, from nothing, knows both the position and momentum of all sub-atomic particles. He knows immediately all there is to possibly know about every subatomic particle in the universe at any point in time of the age of the universe. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle does not apply to our Creator God.
Not only does He immediately know all there is to know about each sub-atomic particle in each discreet moment over the age of the universe, He also knows all contingencies about all of His creation. He knows that if He had created the universe such that if any one factor was different, He knows immediately all that can be know about any alternative universe of any number of altered factors.
God is not contingent, is not dependent, upon the universe. The universe is contingent, is dependent, upon Him. Indeed, it is in Christ Jesus, who spoke the worlds into existence from nothing, through whom all things hold together. In reflecting on creation, I affirm the following:
The true God is not a false pagan god of polytheism or henotheism, gods of idolatry who are only reflections and projections in large of flawed and limited humanity.
The true God is not the false god of pantheism where god is all and all is god. At it’s essence, this theology deifies mankind, hardly an object, given our nature and history, of worship. We need no further impetus for self-indulgence.
The true God is not the impotent, false god of panentheism, the dipolar god of process theology, wherein that which is material may be considered the ‘body’ of god and the non-material spirit of god is the ‘soul’ of the universe, as it were. The god of panentheism is not the immutable sovereign God of all creation.
Father God is not the false god of open theism, a deity not privy to or in complete control of future events though he, according to this errant theology, may forecast them with a measure of accuracy. Again, the true God is absolutely sovereign over creation. He knew all our thoughts before the beginning of time. There is nothing hidden from Him. Further, God is not a risk taker, as some open theists would affirm, for He is sovereign over creation. He is not a needy God. He is utterly and completely sufficient unto Himself. He is not a lonely God in a desperate search for someone to love Him. He is utterly fulfilled in His trinitarian nature. He simply loves us, His adopted children, His redeemed ones, because He loves us
Abba God is not the false impersonal God of deism. He is a personal, knowable God. He condescended to reveal Himself to humanity, to a world in rebellion, through the Bible and ultimately through the incarnation of Christ Jesus.
Anything less than the absolutely righteous, absolutely holy, absolutely just, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, merciful, immutable, and personal triune sovereign God of the inspired, infallible, and authoritative canon of the Old and New Testament is less than worthy of worship, less than worthy of complete confidence and trust, less than worthy of adoration.
What follows is an excerpt from a post I authored a few weeks ago on the incarnation of Christ that seem to be an appropriate conclusion to this post:
- As profound and foundational are the doctrines of the trinity and the physical resurrection of the Messiah, and absolutely in no means do I intend to diminish their import, it is the incarnation of our Savior that leaves me most breathtakingly at a loss for words. That Christ, fully almighty God, immutable and fully in transcendence over creation, Who spoke into existence, ex nihilo, the natural order, should step out of eternity and condescend to take on flesh, a sinless human nature, and, out of love, subject Himself to a fallen creation, leaves me wanting for words. Christ, God almighty, His incarnation realized by His conception and virgin birth to Mary, was obedient to Father God to the point of death on the cross to provide propitiation for sin and, after defeating death, will for eternity forward, walk with us as we behold His cross-scarred body. Here we find incomprehensible truths that followers of the Messiah will feast on for eons.
He offered up His Son as a perfect sacrifice for our sin so that through our repentance and faith in the redeeming work of sovereign grace in Christ’s death on the cross and physical resurrection, we have forgiveness and eternal life. How can we neglect so great a salvation.
I make a concerted effort to remain on a certain trajectory with this blog, but I make an exception today. That being said……
- Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile — the list goes on and on.
- No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
- A compiled list of all the sources can be seen here. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year’s time. For all four sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
I have pretty much sat, somewhat agnostically, on the sidelines whenever there is a conversation over global warming because I have nothing much to add to the discourse. However, I feel the urge to chime in here and now with some completely unoriginal thoughts.
- One, I am of an age where I remember the global cooling scare of a few decades ago. It seems we are always ten years from a climatic apocalypse.
- Two, perhaps I am a bit cynical, but I believe “science” is sometimes driven by political agendas.
- Three, I think it is the height of hubris, given a system so massively complex as the climate and given current limitations in our understanding of climate, to make dogmatic assertions regarding mankind’s impact on global weather systems.
- Four, in my gift for stating things obvious, I think that, in a culture where our window to the world is most often the monolithic media of television, a greater level of skepticism and critical thinking needs to be arrayed against what we are being fed by those with sometimes a less than transparent agendas.
- Five, (perhaps also a reiteration of ‘two’) while I cannot claim credit for the following analogy, I think that many on the leading edge of the climate debate are watermelons. They are green on the outside and red on the inside.
- Six, I think there is a presupposition by many that climatic conditions are persistent and we have recently been experiencing the ‘best’ climate. If nothing else, history illustrates the volatile nature of the climatic system.
- Seven, it concerns me when voices of dissent in the global warming dialog are sometimes compared to Holocaust deniers. I have heard this charge from people who should know better.
All that being said, what I am absolutely not advocating is environmental apathy. I do, however question the legitimacy of the philosophical foundation of some who issue environmental mandates. I addressed the issue of environment stewardship in a somewhat unfocused essay here.