Working Toward a Mature Faith

In undergraduate school, I remember one professor marveling at various features of brain functioning and talking about the reasons that a particular function evolved.  It was just as easy, or easier, for me to think of reasons that these features were designed into the system.  In my first class on physiological psychology, the professor did not have an evolutionary bent that I could tell, and merely marveled at the function and complexity of the brain.  I think many students are unprepared for the naturalistic worldview, and that this often can trigger a crisis of faith.  In their book, God Attachment, Clinton and Straub (2010)1 note that people often enter adulthood with the same views they had with their faith that they learned in early childhood.  In other words, they have not developed a more mature faith that allows them to have an understanding of the problem of evil, the existence of many different religions, and the evolutionary viewpoint (a view espousing the all-powerfulness of useful accidents).  Thus, they are setting themselves up for a crisis of faith that will inevitably come with real-world life experiences and the hard knocks that life delivers.  I frequently encounter people who become sort of paralyzed in that crisis of faith without attempting to find answers to their questions.  They will often just resign themselves to somewhat of a wishy-washy stance like, “I’m not sure I believe everything in the Bible.  I believe, but I’m just not sure about X.”  When asked, they’ll admit they’ve never tried to resolve the issue with learning more about the subject.  So, they end up assuming a distant stance with God on the basis of a particular issue that they have not taken the time to resolve.

I don’t think people have to believe that Genesis is literally true to be saved.  I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that would suggest that.  But I do think it is possible to be logically consistent and hold an intelligent worldview encompassing a literal account of Genesis.  Frankly, I think a literal account of Genesis leads to the most logically consistent stance in explaining the problem of evil in the world (i.e., the fall).  Also, one only needs a vaguely possible scenario to explain certain observations (apparent age of the Earth and Universe) to make this tenable.  If God is all-powerful, then He could have done it.  I’m not advocating a kind of “God did it” approach to science, but I am rather asking believers to explore the issue in more depth and to develop a more mature way of viewing their faith.  This can help believers have a more mature relationship with God.

I would also caution creationists against the view of saying that people who advocate for evolution are liars.  Evolution contains many lies, but to lie involves intent to deceive.  There are times when they do likely lie, but it’s better to be careful about this.  I’d rather look at it as a worldview, which I think contains many untruths.  It’s understandable, just false.

I urge fellow believers, and those with doubts, to more fully explore these issues in order to develop a more mature faith—a faith which can stand up to the complexities of the world and the problem of evil in the world.  More personally, it will help with the very difficult things that you face in your own life and promote a deeper connection with God.

1). God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God

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A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part XXX

And because we know that you may be less than appropriately scared about global warming we do now turn to what we have discovered from history. We ask that you not be distracted by Climategate, and listen carefully to what we have to tell you about the past.

We did discover a fossil in Antarctica of an animal that lived 252 million years ago.1 It was during the time when Pangea was whole, and the volcanoes did emit high amounts of greenhouse gasses. This gasification of the Earth did produce catastrophic global warming resulting in the death of 80-95 percent of life in the oceans and on land (Praise Science).

So, we do imagine that this fossil is of an animal that had no fur and “probably laid eggs.” We imagine it on the line between reptiles and mammals. We did find some related fossils in Africa, and therefore pieced together that these animals migrated south and lived with other animals that were probably the ancestors of mammals.

The team’s findings, published in the journal Naturwissenschaften, may offer insights into potential survival techniques for modern day animals threatened by climate change .

“Countless species are threatened by global warming today,” said Frobisch. “A prime example of a threatened species is the polar bear, whose habitat becomes increasingly smaller as a result of melting sea ice in the Arctic Circle.”

“However,” he added, “it is questionable whether the polar bear or other threatened animals can respond in the same way as Kombuisia did in the Permian, simply because human activities severely limit the animals’ possibilities.”

He concluded: “The primary lesson we should learn from the studies of extinction due to climate change in the past is that it is of utmost importance today to control and reverse human induced global warming by taking counteractive measures, such as greatly reducinggreenhouse gas emissions.”

Anyway, the animals and fossils are irrelevant, because the point is, if we don’t act soon, we’ll all be dead in a couple hundred years (Praise Science). Please don’t give up on being terrified of the environment, because Mother Earth is very angry at what you are doing to her. She will punish and probably kill you if you don’t straighten up and curtail your gaseous emissions.

1) Ancient animals escaped warming in Antarctica

Whence Scientific Hypotheses?

Scientific hypotheses can come from anywhere at all (well actually just from an intelligent mind).  One important thing I learned about science in graduate school was, it did not matter where your hypothesis originated, it only mattered that it could be tested and falsified in a rigorous, repeatable, and measurable way.  Scientific notions can arise from any metaphysical framework or lack of a framework.  At the basis of creationism and naturalistic evolution are presumed metaphysical truths.  Quite possibly, neither of which can be falsified, leaving the resolution to be a matter of faith.  However, that does not prevent scientists from developing testable hypotheses that spring from those underlying beliefs.  One could argue that intelligent design has fewer metaphysical entanglements than either creationism or naturalistic evolution.  The point is that testable hypotheses may come from almost any underlying belief or idea, whereas the actual underlying belief or idea itself may not be a scientific hypothesis.

Paganism in Science

British biologist, James Lovelock, seems to view humanity as an infection of mommy Earth.  While many Darwinists may wish to crawl back into the womb of mommy nature, as mynym has noted, some want to eradicate the infection of humanity within their deified mother.

“Individuals occasionally suffer a disease called polycythaemia, an overpopulation of red blood cells. By analogy, Gaia’s illness could be called polyanthroponemia, where humans overpopulate until they do more harm than good,” Lovelock writes. He says the cure won’t come until the human tribe is trimmed back from its current 6.8 billion to, say, 1 billion people.

Others see mother nature as a mean woman who will take care of herself by killing us off when we get out of hand. Paleontologist Peter Ward seems to find this view of mommy more compelling.

“I hypothesize that life and its processes, together often referred to as ‘Mother Nature,’ was, is, and will be anything but a good mother to her many evolved and evolving species,” Ward contends in his new book, “The Medea Hypothesis.”

Gaia vs. Medea … that sounds like the start of a philosophical catfight.

Ward, however, says he’s not just trying to pick a fight with the 90-year-old Lovelock. “Most every scientist is trying to ‘pick a fight’ with another scientist,” he told me today. “We try to do it in a collegial fashion. … I’m trying to do science, but I’m also trying to point out that there has never been opposition in a formal sense – it’s been Gaia, Gaia, nothing but Gaia.”

So the scientific debate here seems to be whether mommy E is kindly, but infected, versus potty training conflicts projected onto the environment.

While Lovelock uses “Gaia” to refer to Earth’s biosphere as a kindly mother goddess, Ward uses “Medea” as a reference to the mother in Greek myth who killed her own children. Ward says life, like Medea, eventually sows the seeds of its own near-destruction – over and over again. “Life boils up and bubbles up, and through its own waste products and activities makes the planet no longer inhabitable,” he said.

So, the important question seems to be, shall mommy kill us with her flatus?

Ward’s “rotten-eggstinction” scenario begins with a shift in climate that sparks blooms of sulfur-loving microbes in the world’s oceans. Their belches of hydrogen sulfide – the gas commonly associated with rotten eggs – triggers a sequence of events that end with a global poisoning of marine and land species. (This scenario is detailed in Ward’s previous book, “Under a Green Sky.”)

In “The Medea Hypothesis,” Ward sketches out similar biocidal scenarios for other extinction events. He goes with the conventional wisdom that a huge asteroid touched off the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction that killed off the dinosaurs, but says continent-spanning forest fires most likely sparked a global winter that finished the job. Thus, he writes, “it could be argued that the effects of life magnified the extent of the extinction.”

One certainly hopes not! However, we must await the outcomes of future science to know for certain.

Source:
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/05/06/1924384.aspx

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale – Part XXIX

The Multiverse

The Multiverse

Then did we, the Most High Scientist, through the use of calculations and formulas, imagine that there exists a great many more universes in the multiverse than we had previously imagined.  We did previously imagine through string theory that there are 10500 universes in the multiverse.  One of our Most High, Andrei Linde, did recently imagine through calculations that there are many more than 10500 universes in the multiverse (Praise Science).1 And let us first tell you why we do feel this is important.

“The idea that there is more than one universe, each with its own laws of physics, arises out of several different theories, including string theory and cosmic inflation. This concept of a “multiverse” could explain a puzzling mystery – why dark energy, the furtive force that is accelerating the expansion of space, appears improbably fine-tuned for life. With a large number of universes, there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.”

That pesky fine tuning might suggest to the less evolved of our species that universe may have been created or evidence hallmarks of design.  Of course we know that is ridiculous, as is attested to by our vivid imaginations.  And so, we endeavor to explain one “furtive” unmeasurable thing (dark energy) by invoking a larger quantity of unmeasurable things (even more universes).  Because if we do know anything at all, that is there is no design in the universe(s).  And we know you would have to agree, that with a great number of universes, “there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.”

So, we do now appeal to the god of chance, and evoke randomness in all its power and glory as is provided by quantum mechanics.  We do now calculate the existence of 1010^10,000,000 universes (Praise Science)!  We know how much you like large numbers, and have no doubt you are in awe of the large number we have invoked here.  We’ll also speculate a bit that an hypothetical observer determines how many universes can effectively exist because of quantum mechanical effects, but don’t be concerned, because that’s a really large number as well. We do hope you’ve been pleased by our Science and that you continue to be impressed by the power of randomness and imagination.  Rest assured, all of the appearance of design and fine tuning can, and will continue to be, explained away by chance and imagination.

1 Multiplying universes: How many is the multiverse? NewScientist, October 28, 2009.

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale – Part XXVIII

From time to time, we do like to use computers to look into the distant past. We know how impressed you are by computers. This time, we looked back 4.4 billion years in Earth’s history.(1) We do discover through the use A Tale of an Early Earthof our simulations that life may have survived the massive asteroid bombardment of the Hadean Eon (4.5 billion to 3.9 billion years ago). Although all traces of any such bombardment have been completely wiped away, we do know it happened by looking at the moon and Mars (Praise Science).

Although many of us did previously think that the bombardment would have sterilized the Earth, we now think that microbes could have arisen as early as 500 million years after the formation of the Earth and survived in subterranean environments.

We do now say:

“Even under the most extreme conditions we imposed, Earth would not have been completely sterilized by the bombardment,” Abramov said.

Given the context of this story that we have imagined, we again like the idea of hydrothermal vents giving rise to life. We hope that you will now be convinced that life arose from non-life, because we have given the process even more time to take place (Praise Science).

(1). How life may have outlasted early blasts

Religious Artifact or Scientific Discovery?

The latest in the saga of nature worship is the discovery of a ’47 million year old’ fossil given the name Ida.  Hailed in the popular press as the long-sought-after ‘missing link,’ Darwinius masillae is being held up in some circles as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Perhaps my impression that this is being held up with a religious artifact for naturalism is hyperbole, but perhaps not. You decide. Here is a quote:

“This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists,” lead scientist Jorn Hurum said at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.

“It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.”(1)

Lost Ark? Holy Grail? All that in one? It certainly seems like the whole question of human evolution is solved. However, things are not so wonderful. You know there’s a problem when someone from Scienceblogs (atheistblogs?) criticizes the findings.(2)

This shoddy scholarship is matched by a weak attempt to show that Darwinius has more anthropoid-like traits than tarsiers or omomyids do. In order for the authors of the paper to make a convincing case they would have to undertake a careful, systematic analysis of the anatomy of Darwinius in comparison to other primates, yet they did not do this. Instead they combed the literature for 30 traits that might help ascertain the placement of Darwinius in the primate family tree and filled in whether each trait was present or absent in Ida’s skeleton.

This find may be interesting and have some scientific value, but the primary value at this time appears to be as a religious symbol for naturalism.

(1). “Missing link found? Scientists unveil fossil of 47 million-year-old primate, Darwinius masillae”
(2). Poor, poor Ida, Or: “Overselling an Adapid”


Update: Others have weighed in on the issue.

ID: Darwinius masillae: The Religion in Evolution

IDA: THE HOLY GRAIL OF MISSING LINKS?

Creationism: Ida: the Missing Link at Last?


Update 2: It seems the Darwnists are running for cover after their bluff was called. New Scientist has posted an article today entitled, Why Ida fossil is not the missing link. Regardless, we can look for this to show up in textbooks as ‘proof’ of evolution.

What does Ida’s anatomy tell us about her place on the family tree of humans and other primates? The fact that she retains primitive features that commonly occurred among all early primates, such as simple incisors rather than a full-fledged toothcomb, indicates that Ida belongs somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do.

But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of anthropoids – the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes – and humans. In order to establish that connection, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably.

So, Ida is not a “missing link” – at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates. Further study may reveal her to be a missing link between other species of Eocene adapiforms, but this hardly solidifies her status as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

Instead, Ida is a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of all known primates, the Eocene adapiforms. For this, we can all celebrate her discovery as a real advance for science.