from abiogenesis to evolution

Many a debate could (and should) be cut short by a simple observation:

On one hand, evolution deals with how life has evolved and/or changed over time, while on the other hand, abiogenesis deals with how life began in the first place.

Theists (more specifically, the young-earth creationist kind) often use the mystery of abiogenesis to attempt to dis-prove, refute or otherwise argue-against evolutionary theory. The quick retort from opponents (both atheists and theists) is that evolution and abiogenesis are not the same thing. To which I would eagerly agree. They are most certainly not.

But… (there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) …are they not quite connected? Continue reading “from abiogenesis to evolution”

god, multiverses and science

multiverseThe idea that there are other universes than our own (perhaps an infinite number) is quite common today. It is often used to explain how our universe was able to produce and sustain such rich biodiversity that we see on Earth. The idea being that given an infinite number of chances, our ordered and balanced universe is simply eventual. Sometimes, even, this talk is used as evidence that ‘science’ shows (even ‘proves’!) that our universe, after all, is not the result of the action of any kind of Creator.

Continue reading “god, multiverses and science”

the ‘science’ of intelligent design

I must thrive on controversy or something. I’ve got posts on speaking in ‘tongues‘, sexual ethics and now –if those weren’t enough– I’m posting on the evolution/creation debate… Sigh… Where to begin!!??

Where I’ve come from
Since I like honesty, I’ll start with a very short (and therefore un-detailed) review of how I’ve thought in the past, and where I’m at now…
Continue reading “the ‘science’ of intelligent design”

chatting with atheists

I’ve recently been chatting with a couple of atheists, Ian and Ken.

They’re really nice guys, and I’m not just saying that to be P.C., either.

If you’re a Christian (or any kind of theist, for that matter!), I whole-heartedly recommend dialogue with atheists. We Christians are guilty of saying many things that simply don’t make sense, and dialogue with atheists can really help sharpen (and therefore strengthen) your beliefs. Here are a few things you’ll want to do when talking to them (or anyone else as well!).

Use words carefully.
When conversations get past a certain point, you quickly realize that many words mean slightly (or very!) different things to different people. Words like ‘objective’, ‘reality’, ‘supernatural’, ‘miracle’, ‘authority’, etc., can be very, very slippery. Use them carefully (or don’t use them at all!), and press their use of them as well.

Be willing to be sharpened.
There are many complaints of atheists that are very valid. Christians need to be open to learning, re-thinking, re-shaping their ideas. I dare say God would want us to do this! There are a lot of things that a lot of Christians say or teach or write in books, etc., that is really embarrassing, and quite often, one simply needs to agree with the complaint of the atheist and perhaps share the ‘better’ position that clears up the distortion that they are complaining about.

Focus on the topic of materiality.
I’ve learned that one of the most vital beliefs of atheists is that reality is only material. Press them on this, but don’t make the mistake of claiming ‘objectivity’ in this area. Logic, reason, emotion, art, etc. – these areas are difficult to explain for materialists.

Highlight the logical absurdity of the Big Bang.
The Big Bang theory posits that the universe results from a Singularity – a non-dimensional point under massive atomic pressure. This non-dimensional point existed in nowhere, because there was nowhere for it to be, and it existed at no time, because there was no time in which it could be. In short; where there is no time and no where, no thing happens, and no thing exists.

Don’t scientifically argue creation from the Bible.
Genesis (or any other place in the Bible) is not a scientific text. It is a theological one. Whatever you think you know about the age of the earth, carbon-dating or evolution (micro or macro), please don’t bring the Bible into these conversations. It’s like wiping your nose with an anvil.

Don’t argue for the existence of God using some experience you had.
You will be quickly told that your experience is subjective and therefore not valid for evidence. Don’t bother.

Press them on the word ‘science’.
The Latin root for ‘knowledge’ is ‘scienta’. Science, therefore, is a general term about ‘knowledge’. Press them to specify what KIND of knowledge they are referring to. They will want to give supremacy to physical science, but remind them that this is only one kind of ‘knowing’.

I could go on, but that should do for now.

Happy chatting!

-d-

science, faith and the process of Q&A

Science has produced some very interesting theories about reality…

I ask that those partial to the field of science hear me out before crucifying me, but I think there is a reality that we must all put up with, whether we are holders of Ph D’s in physics or at the level of simple observation – namely the reality that science (like essentially every other field) is limited by our level of observation.

For example, as is commonly known, we know of many ancient suggestions about reality that have long-since been proven to be… well… silly. The sky has been thought to be a solid ‘dome’, with the stars being seen to be holes in the dome. The earth was, of course, thought to be flat, or perhaps a square-ish thing held up by four elephants. Advanced scientific opinion suggested that the earth was the centre of the universe, with the sun and other planets revolving around it.

More perspective had led us to better suggestions of reality. This is, after all, a foundational principle of the scientific method. I’m very much a fan of science, myself, so I hardly mean to devalue the great field of science, but simply want to demonstrate the (for lack of a better term) ‘fallibility’ of science.

Telescopes and Microscopes

As our telescopes and microscopes have gotten stronger, we’ve been able to have precisely what we’ve needed to arrive at progressively better theories of reality. But it’s an interesting consideration that, for example, as our microscopes have taken us further and further into the detail of our universe, to the atomic level and beyond, more and more questions have arisen! I think it would be fair to say that perhaps some old questions have been cleared up, and new questions have arisen about such things as the nature of matter itself (see, for example, theories such as that of ‘quantum physics’)!

Also, as our telescopes have grown stronger and taken us further and further away from our seemingly small solar system, you could say that the same result has occurred; some questions answered – other ones emerge (dark matter, black holes, habitable planetary probability, etc.). Considering how off we’ve been in the past, I often wonder how off we are now, and what embarrassing dogmatic theories we may hold now that may be either confirmed, challenged or de-bunked by later observation.

Almost There, Just Begun or a Bit of Both?

I’m a bit of a skeptic at heart, you could say. I just want to know why. The way I sometimes hear people talk about different theories of reality often makes me suspicious. Theories (including both evolutionary ones and ‘intelligent design’ ones) are often defended with statements like, “…well, no theory can really be proven, but science has all but proven this one.” Is this really the case?

Now, I’m not suggesting that scientific observation doesn’t get us any closer to ‘proving’ anything, but I have a question about how close we really and truly are to proving such theories as the origin of the universe or life itself.

The “we’ve-basically-solved-it” way of speaking reflects this diagram, in which ‘science’ has thoroughly dealt with the major, large questions of reality, leaving us with only a few minor, small questions left…

In this model, theories (again both evolutionary or ‘intelligent design’ ones) are said to basically have it all explained, save (perhaps) a few minor details. I want to suggest that our pursuit of better theories of reality may not work like that at all. Again, I am not denying that scientific advancements are indeed advancements, I suggest a truer model may well be the reverse of the one shown above. I don’t think we’ve leaped the big hurdles or explained the big questions at all.

In the same way as history gets foggier the further back you look, with science, the further you look (whether through a telescope of a microscope) into things, the harder the questions get. Actually, the fogginess of history spills into science as well. The things we are perhaps the most scientifically unsure of are the things that happened at the ‘beginning’ of it all; whether that be along the lines of string theory, big-bang theory, intelligent design theory or whatever. The more foundational the question, the harder the answer. This model would look like this…

This model is able to appreciate the genuine advancements of science, while at the same time not presuming that the only questions left are ‘small’ ones.

Science has taken us a long way, and no doubt will take us many great and needed places. But as it continues to take us places, let us both appreciate the work it has done and at the same time be aware of how truly difficult the big questions are.