Friday, February 23, 2007

Blind and Backward Science in High Definition

Determined not to pay for television programs as long as there are free ones that can be tuned in with “rabbit ears”, my family recently discovered that there are TV signals that we have never been able to receive until we acquired a high-definition TV.

Among the “new” programs now available to us are nature shows on PBS. In viewing these programs, it didn’t take long to discover that they are permeated with the views of those scientists who insist on ruling out certain scientific facts that seem to point to intelligent design and a Designer.

Blind to how they jeopardize their own claims to be scientific, these biased programs trot out the same old obsolete, incomplete data, and Darwinist mythology, but presented with more impressive computer-generated graphics and animation.

In one documentary, the presenter sat at his computer designing make-believe alien life as it might exist on other planets, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge the designer of the life forms that actually do live on our own planet. What a sad abuse of human creativity! In another TV nature show, the only time “religion” was mentioned was when the church of Galileo’s time was criticized for hindering his scientific work.

The Christian Church has “grown up” a lot since Galileo’s time, and our witness should reflect that fact. Thanks to recent scientific discoveries (that the current proprietors of certain television stations won’t show their viewers), Christians can refer people today to many convincing proofs that the universe has been designed – even if that design has been marred by sin and evil since it was originally created.

So, please, as you and I witness, let’s bear these thoughts in mind:

Christians DO NOT accept the argument that “science” has shown life to be nothing more than the result of matter attracted to matter, with energy added to it. We should know that real science has discovered genetics essential to life, based on code that is full of precise information, pointing to intelligent design. Life = matter + energy + information.

Most people accept the reality of this last discovery. So while we are witnessing, we can ask people to consider the question: where did that information came from? Ask too if it is possible that the designer -- who gave such detailed information to proteins that they could form every cell in our bodies -- couldn’t also give information to you and me, describing Himself and how He loves us and has a plan for our lives.

Christians DO NOT accept the argument that the process of “natural selection” explains all animal life. That process may explain some features in an organism, but not the organism itself. Darwin admitted that his theory would break down if an irreducibly complex creature could be found. Since his time, scientists have acknowledged that all creatures are irreducibly complex at many levels. By definition they would not exist at all unless they were fully functional as they are.

Christians CAN be bold in stating that some who claim to be experts in scientific knowledge are not correct about their scientific conclusions. Many times scientists themselves have been misled, especially in institutions of higher education, and have been kept from the truth by those who promote a “god-free” universe.


Marcus said...

I just stumbled across this post, but am surprised by the reference to PBS, as well as "scientists who rule out certain scientific facts."

I am sure you would agree if that if something is not real, it can't be sacred. The reason for this is that the realm of the sacred is the realm of ultimate value. Something that is real has more value than something that is not real. So if something is not real, it can't be sacred.

For me, this is a reminder that faith and reason must both be oriented toward reality, not away from it. We can argue with science, and we must, when we think it is not oriented toward reality. But it is not wise to base those arguments on either personal experience (which can be incomplete) or authority (which can be presumptuous).

What is wonderful about reality is that it is something we know and experience together. Off on our own, in isolated groups or in our own isolated thoughts, we are easily subject to error, fantasies, false assumptions, erroneous beliefs, and the like. Even if we imagine that we are alone with God and God guides our thoughts and understanding. Madmen can think the same thing.

There is safety in numbers when it comes to our knowledge and understanding of reality. This is why the scientific method is so valuable. It insures that scientists everywhere can test themselves to make sure they are all oriented toward reality in their understanding and knowledge.

But this is also why the Church is so valuable. It provides similar ways for each of us as individuals to test ourselves to make sure we are all oriented toward the same sacred reality in our understanding and knowledge.

To my mind, one of the best human arguments for the Gospel is that it helps us keep our relationships with each other pure and open, so that there is less chance that we only think we love each other or share the same mind, when in reality we don't. If I am all pious and righteous, but in fact, my understanding is blind, then I have no way of knowing whether I really do love and know other people or only imagine that I do.

Wouldn't you agree?

For this reason, I love and embrace science whenever it exposes something that is not real, like the belief that the sun physically moves around the earth. It is clear that everyone, including the sacred authors and Jesus himself, must have believed that, since they had no reason to believe otherwise.

I have yet to find a single scientific fact that contradicts faith or religious experience or even divine revelation. What I do find are scientific facts that make me realize my own understanding of the cosmos or biology or creation was incomplete. I imagined something silly when I thought of "intelligent design" for example. I was idolatrous, and imagined God was like an old human watchmaker, or an architect, or that the causality involved in the cosmos or life was simple and linear, almost mechanical.

An idea like "string theory" in physics for me does not at all come into conflict with faith. I know that as a human being I must be oriented toward reality, whether by faith or reason. The only people who can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy are the insane, the immature, or the imbecilic. So as a mature man, I want to be as completely oriented toward reality as possible, since I know that there, in its heart, at its core, I meet God. Not my own ideas about God, nor my feelings, nor my faith, hope or even my love of God only. Instead, I meet the reality that this holy word 'God' refers to.

Science gives me a better sense of how dazzlingly complex "creation" is, or even the concept of "design" when we look at everything that exists. But it never shakes my faith. I know that scientists and saints must be oriented ultimately toward the same reality, and that is exactly the same reality Christ reveals.

Best of luck to you in this blog, and in your ministry. But please do not create enemies of faith at PBS or in science if in fact they are oriented toward the same reality that you and I are as Christians, only describing it differently, or understanding it using different metaphors. Let us be oriented like them toward reality, and generous in how we understand our differences. And humble in the claims we make about understanding a reality that is ultimately so huge and mysterious that sometimes even the word "God" and all of the human baggage it carries through metaphor and concepts, pales in comparison to the sacred reality it points us toward, a reality that continually reveals itself to us in the most indescribable and incomprehensible beauty.

And let us also remember Einstein's own experience of God in what he saw revealed!

Pr. Jonathan Naumann, Ph.D. said...

I agree with much of what you say, but you are not using the word "Gospel" in the same sense that Christians of the Reformation tradition would. For me "Gospel", literally "Good News" refers to what God has done for sinners by redeeming humanity by his work - not ours. The Gospel is not about human love, but God's love. Human love is not Gospel, but "Law" (the Law of love).

As for talk about "reason" and reality - Sometimes we hear people say to us Christians, “you have faith - I have reason” as though “faith”, by definition, was either unreasonable or based on that which is unreal. Christians simply cannot let that judgment go unchallenged, especially at Easter time. Do not let people put your faith in a different category from reason, as though faith belongs in the realm of fairy tales or something. What next? Should we let people classify faith as a mental disorder?

Faith – at least Christian faith – is as oriented toward reality as “reason” is. For the Christian faith is based on historical fact. Christ Himself is part of recorded human history, not mythology, and the faith based on His redeeming work of atonement and resurrection from the dead is likewise grounded in historical events. As we say in the creed, Christ suffered and “was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate”.

Religion and reality are only incompatible when religion is myth-based and not like Christianity. Ever the realist, St. Peter wrote, “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

Nothing short of a miracle would make Simon Peter risk making a fool of himself or worse because of a dead Jesus of Nazareth. If is for that reason that the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Jesus Christ must have happened. Only after personally witnessing a risen Jesus could that same man have later written the following glowing words:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, :and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you” ( 1 Peter 1.3-4).

Eye-witness testimony within a historic context places Christianity in an entirely different category from myth-based religion. Those who fail to see that are making a serious mistake in their reasoning. Some, who distinguish sharply between faith and reason simply don’t know Christianity.

Then there are those who insist on separating faith from reason define “reason” as incompatible with miracles or even the existence of God. Old “Modernism” took that position and dragged the whole twentieth century into a dark-age of spiritual blindness from which our civilization is only just beginning to emerge.

Ironically for such rationalists, the old argument that atheism is the supreme conclusion drawn by “reason” is being shown to be supremely unreasonable as more and more scientific facts point to the existence of God and His intelligent design!

Far from being reasonable, Atheism is symptomatic of a stubborn bias against God, held for a variety of unworthy human excuses. (Maybe there is a double meaning behind the word “reason” for the biased Modernist. When they write “reason” read “excuse”. For they are hiding behind “reason” to rationalize disregarding God and His claims on their lives).

That goes for those "scientists" or people in entertainment and media who are doing the same thing.