Christian Faith and Modern Science by Howard Taylor. Howard Taylor - Brief CV: Chaplain to Heriot-Watt University and teaches there: Moral and Social Philosophy. Philosophy of Science and Religion. Previously: Parish Minister in West of Scotland - 17 years.
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Christian Faith and
Howard Taylor - Brief CV:
Chaplain to Heriot-Watt University and teaches there:
For millennia philosophers and theologians have attempted to address such questions as:
It is in the latter part of the 20th century that some scientists have tried to get to grips with these most fundamental of fundamental questions.
With which worldview does science fit most comfortably?
We now consider some words of Bertrand Russell in his Introduction to his History of Western Philosophy.
All definite knowledge belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, .. this No Man's Land is philosophy. Almost all the questions of most interest to speculative minds are such as science cannot answer, and the confident answers of theologians no longer seem convincing.…(The questions are:) Is the world divided into mind and matter, and, if so what is mind and what is matter?Is mind subject to matter, or is it possessed of independent powers?Has the universe any unity or purpose? Is it evolving towards some goal?Are there really laws of nature, or do we believe in them only because of our innate love of order?Is man what he seems to the astronomer, a tiny lump of impure carbon and water impotently crawling on a small unimportant planet? Or is he what he appears to Hamlet? (next slide) Is he perhaps both at once?Is there a way of living that is noble and another that is base, or are all ways of living merely futile?If there is a way of living that is noble. In what does it consist, and how shall we achieve it?Must the good be eternal in order to deserve to be valued, or is it worth seeking even if the universe is inexorably moving towards death? …To such questions no answer can be found in the laboratory. …. The studying of these questions, if not the answering of them, is the business of philosophy.
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, How infinite in faculties, in form and moving how Express and admirable, in action how like an angel, In apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the World, the paragon of animals; and yet to me, what Is this quintessence of dust?
Not only is the existence of God necessary to make sense of reality but so also is the Cross of Christ in whom He makes Himself known.
I am reminded of these words from 1 Corinthians 1:
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (NIV)
The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as of all serious endeavour in art and in science.... He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. The sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.
Albert Einstein (Speech to the German League of Human Rights (Berlin 1932).
Argument in favour of materialism.
Science has successfully answered many questions about the world.
One day it will be able to answer all questions.
Question: Are the mysteries getting less or more?
If we imagine a world of mere matter, there would be no room for falsehood in such a world, and although it would contain what may be called ‘facts’, it would not contain any truths, in the sense in which truths are things of the same kind as falsehoods. In fact, truth and falsehood are properties of beliefs and statements: hence a world of mere matter, since it would contain no beliefs or statements, would also contain no truth or falsehood.
(Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, page 70.)
Most believe that ‘goodness’, ‘morality’, ‘beauty’ and our sense of ‘ought’ are not just the result of our subjective feelings but are objective realities.
In principle the human person, including his/her appreciation of beauty, right and wrong, could, in the future, be understood entirely by physics.
World Views: Atheistic Materialism continued.
Francis Crick: “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more that the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”(The Astonishing Hypothesis page 3)
God is entirely transcendent - out there, not in here.
God is both transcendent and immanent
As well as the theism already outlined:
Secularism and the ordinary man’s scientific worldview.
The religious beliefs that were the necessary spur to the scientific enterprise.
Religious beliefs that were the necessary spur to the scientific enterprise.
Being created by God the natural world is good and therefore worth investigating.
Father of the Big Bang Theory
Georges-Henri Lemaître(Catholic priest and scientist) was born July 17, 1894 in Charleroi, Belgium. Lemaître is credited with proposing the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, although he called it his 'hypothesis of the primeval atom'. He based his theory, published between 1927 and 1933, on the work of Einstein, among others.
Einstein did not, at first, like the theory because it was too much like the teaching of the Bible.
However in 1935 Einstein, after having travelled on a long train journey with Lemaitre, applauded a lecture on the subject, given by Lemaitre himself, and said, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened".
Against much opposition from the scientific community, Lemaître’s theory finally triumphed from the sheer weight of evidence. (In the second half of the 20th Century.)
He estimated the age of the universe to be between 10 and 20 billion years, which agrees with modern opinions.
Lemaître’s view was, at first, rejected but it raised the question as to whether the universe (in one form or another) is finite (the Jewish/Christian view) or infinite (atheist and pantheist view).
Steady State or Beginning?
Evidence for beginning.
Stars still burning.
Not fallen in on one another.
Anti-Gravity?? No!, or perhaps yes!
Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding as if from an explosion.
Big Bang of ‘light’ fifteen billion years ago.
Seemingly from nothing!
Background radiation - as if from the Big Bang’s echo - confirmed the theory.
Robert Wilson, one of those who discovered the background radiation was asked by journalist Fred Heeren ifthe Big Bang indicated a Creator.
Wilson said, "Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can't think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis."
From this Big Bang hydrogen and helium eventually formed.
The hydrogen clouds contracted and heated up and stars were created.
The inside of stars created the heavier elements from which planets are made.
Did this confirm the Biblical teaching that God created the cosmos out of nothing?
However there is still opposition to the Big Bang theory because it depends on ‘inflation’, ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’.
See: www.cosmologystatement.org/ which was an open letter to the ‘New Scientist’ from many scientists who do not accept the Big Bang theory.
At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about the conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself up over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements and the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.
God and the Astronomers, Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.Romans 1:20.
Some have argued that the universe must have had a beginning otherwise we are left with the belief that there would be an infinite time before anything would happen and therefore nothing would happen!
What are the variations in the initial conditions of the universe that would have made it dark and lifeless?
Matter-Density ratio. (1 in 1060)
The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big-Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.
It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as an act of a God who intended to create beings like us.
The recent theories about ‘Dark Energy’ have strengthened this point.
In their paper "Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant" two atheist scientists from Stanford University stated that the existence of this dark energy term "Would have required a miracle...
An external agent, external to space and time, intervened in cosmic history for reasons of its own."
Bertrand Russell (famous 20th C British agnostic/atheist mathematician/philosopher greatly respected the argument from design especially as expounded by Leibniz. (He regarded Leibniz, in whom he specialised, as "one of the supreme intellects of all time")
BR writes: "This argument contends that, on a survey of the known world, we find things which cannot plausibly be explained as the product of blind natural forces, but are much more reasonably to be regarded as evidences of a beneficent purpose.”
He regards this familiar argument as having“no formal logical defect".
He rightly points out that it does not prove the infinite or good God of normal religious belief but nevertheless says, that“if valid,”(and BR does not give any argument against it) “it demonstrates that God is vastly wiser and more powerful than we are".
(See his chapter on Leibniz in his History of Western Philosophy).
God's supposed causing of the universe to exist cannot find an analogy of causes in nature because we have no experience of things beyond nature and the alleged creation would be so unique an event that there is nothing to compare it with.
However some believe that in his famous: `Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion’, Hume was really arguing with himself.
For further discussion of the Cosmological and Teleological arguments see:
Edward Miller's Questions That Matter, pages 219 - 258.
Blaise Pascal (d.o.b. 1623) and the Meaning of Life.
I owe the material in these slides to Thomas V. Morris and Peter Kreeft.
Pascal’s Illustration. Two labourers.
1. The first used to be a prince. He has lost his royalty and so feels unhappy.
2. The second was never a prince and so he has not lost anything. He is not unhappy.
Humans are like the first. We have a collective memory of something that we have lost. That is why we are seeking, but not finding, happiness and truth.
Pascal’s Ideas – continued.
God made us for glory but we lost it because of sin.
We need to be restored to God as His children (princes).
So God, who loves us all, suffered the pain of our sin for us and then lifted us up back to Him.
This is the meaning of the cross of Jesus.
The cross shows us how much God loves us – our glory.
It also shows us how bad we are now - our wretchedness.
Only the cross links our glory with our wretchedness and makes sense of our human lives.
A realisation that religion is one cause of dispute is a widespread excuse for indifference among many people.
Pascal describes such people as persons “who do not love the truth”. An object of love is not a matter of indifference. When you have it you embrace it. When you lack it, you pursue it.
People who are indifferent about ultimate questions neither embrace nor pursue truth.
There are only two classes of people who can be called reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know him and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know Him.(427)
There are only three sorts of people: those who have found God and serve Him;those who are busy seeking Him and have not found Him;those who live without either seeking or finding Him. The first are reasonable and happy, the last are foolish and unhappy, those in the middle are unhappy and reasonable. (160)
There are people who avoid religious and philosophical thinking out of fear. Often it is just fear of the unknown. Others fear what they suspect to be true and wouldn’t want to face head-on. (TVM)
(In my early years) I began to write out of vanity, self-interest and pride. I did the same thing in my writing that I did in my life. In order to acquire the fame and money I was writing for, it was necessary to conceal what was good and to flaunt what was bad. And that is what I did. Time after time I would scheme in my writings to conceal under the mask of indifference and even pleasantry those yearnings for something good which gave meaning to my life. And I succeeded in this and was praised. (Leo Tolstoy, Confession.)
That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his love and beliefs, are but the outcomes of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things if not quite beyond dispute are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation be safely built.(B. Russell, Why I am not a Christian.)
Imagine a number of men in chains, all under the sentence of death, some of whom are each day butchered in the sight of others; those remaining see their own condition is that of their fellows, and looking at each other with grief and despair await their turn. This is an image of the human condition. (434)
Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.(133)
people in Manhattan who are constantly creating these real unnecessary neurotic problems for themselves ‘cause it keeps them from dealing with more unsolvable, terrifying problems about the universe.
Pascal is not against all diversion. It is the constant use of diversion to stop us from ever thinking about ultimate issues that he warns against.
That is why men are so fond of hustle and bustle; that is why prison is such a fearful punishment; that is why pleasures of solitude are so incomprehensible. That, in fact, is the main joy of being a king, because people are continually trying to divert him and provide him with every kind of pleasure. A king is surrounded by people whose only thought is to divert him and stop him thinking about himself, because, king though he is, he becomes unhappy as soon as he thinks about himself. (136)
We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it. (166)
Why do we pay medical doctors so much? Because we want to keep death from our door. We want them to keep death and the troubling questions it raises as far away as they can. We want this badly and we are willing to pay.
But have you noticed that we pay the best entertainers even more, in fact much more – the cinema and television stars, the sports heroes? Maybe it is because we know, deep down, that the doctors will ultimately fail, and the entertainers keep us from thinking about that. This might also explain why we pay philosophers so little: they make us think about it. (TVM)
There are two striking human passions, the passion for uniqueness and the passion for union. Each of us wants to be recognised as a unique member of the human race. We want to stand apart from the crowd in some way. We want our own unique dignity and value. But at the same time we have a passion for union, for belonging, even for merging our identities into a greater unity in which we have a place, a role, a value. (TVM)
Tolstoy: Five years ago, something very strange began to happen to me. At first I began to have moments of bewilderment, when my life would come to a halt , as if I did not know how to live or what to do; I would lose my presence of mind and fall into a state of depression. But this passed, and I began to fall into a state of depression. But this passed, and I continued to live as before. Then the moments of bewilderment recurred more frequently and they always took the same form. Whenever my life would come to a halt the question would arise Why? And What next?
Tolstoy: I did not even want to discover truth anymore because I had guessed what it was. The questions seemed to be such foolish, simple, childish questions. But as soon as I laid my hands on them and tried to resolve them, I was immediately convinced, first of all, that they were not childish and foolish questions but the most vital and profound questions in life, and, secondly, that no matter how much I pondered them there was no way I could resolve them. Or in the middle of thinking about the fame that my works were bringing me I would say to myself, "Very well, you will be more famous than, Pushkin and Shakespeare - so what? And I could find absolutely no reply. My life came to a stop. The truth was that life is meaningless . . . The only thing that amazed me was how I had failed to realize this in the very beginning. All this had been common knowledge for so long. If not today, then tomorrow sickness and death will come (indeed, they were already approaching) to everyone, to me, and nothing will remain except the stench and the worms. Why, then, do anything? How can anyone fail to see this and live? That's what is amazing! It is possible to live only as long as life intoxicates us; once we are sober we cannot help seeing that it is all a delusion, a stupid delusion! Nor is there anything funny or witty about it; it is only cruel and stupid.
Then there would be no objective meaning to life.
Make up your own meaning (subjective meaning) for your own life.
Find out what you can do best and do it to the full.
John is good at curing diseases and it brings him pleasure.
Bill is good at torturing people and he enjoys it.
Fred is good at collecting match boxes and he is happy focussing his whole life on this hobby.
They devotetheir whole lives to these pursuits.
If there is no objective meaning then there is no way to distinguish, from one another, the value of these different ‘meanings’.
Only One who is Eternal and has an eternal purpose for our lives can give our lives real meaning.
Thus there is nothing more important than the search for God, and nothing more foolish than the neglect of God through indifference or diversion.
A Mystery about Time.
If time were infinite it would take an infinite time before anything happened so nothing would happen! (Stephen Hawking!)
If the world were uncreated, then time would be infinite, but infinite time cannot be traversed. Hence, the present moment could not have come about, but the present moment does exist. Hence the world had a beginning. (Saadia Gaon: Medieval Jewish philosopher)
If time is not infinite but had a beginning, was there a time before time?!
In these dimensions, things we cannot imagine in our space-time can nevertheless be real.
Some reading to do:
Study Unit 4’s sections:
Wherever we look in nature we cannot find the origin of nature’s creation or its rational structure.
12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its worth,
and it is not found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
28 And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”
A hierarchy of mysteries:
The nature of:
There was once a man who said `God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad.'
- Ronald Arbuthnott Knox (1888-1957), Limerick on Idealism.
Dear Sir, Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
Yours faithfully, God.
Strings and an alternative.
Are these wave-particles really fundamental?
An alternative theory (to strings) is ‘Loop quantum gravity’ which says all particles are an entanglement of space-time.
Nothing whatever in theoretical physics enables us to say anything about the intrinsic character of events. … All that physics gives us is certain equations, giving abstract properties of their changes. But as to what it is that changes, and what it changes from and to – as to this, physics is silent.
Bertrand Russell: My Philosophical Development, page 13.
Information and Word?
When we consider matter/energy as a wave or field we find that it is a wave understandable by Mathematics.
Galileo: “Mathematics is the language with which God wrote the universe.”
You receive a letter. Is its message explained by the chemistry of the ink and paper or the mind who wrote it?
In one of his non-religious books on Quantum theory, John Polkinghorne says it is intelligibility from which all physical existence emerges.
So information, (in the form of mathematics?) lies in and behind all physical reality.
Information and Word? (Cont.)
As some recent theorists have pointed out, the entire physical universe can be viewed as composed of vibratory wavelengths of information. The problem is that nature is broadcasting on all bands, short-wave, AM and FM, and we have small receivers tuned into only one frequency. (Thomas V. Morris: Making Sense of it All’ , page 75, 76)
Consider this from Bertrand Russell’s ‘Study of Mathematics’: Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, … is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.
And consider this from Paul Dirac (Nobel Prize: Quantum Theory):
.. fundamental physical laws are described in terms of a mathematical theory of great beauty and power … One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.
Eugene Wigner, (Nobel Prize for Maths) and Dirac’s brother-in-law, wrote of the unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics in understanding nature. He said: “It is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.” A possible example is on the next slide:
Cytoplasm for making proteins. It receives its instructions from the DNA via the RNA translation system.
Nucleus of cell made up of DNA
Professor Francis Crick, who received the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA (the famous double helix), writes: “The origin of life appears to bealmost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going” (italics added).
Professor Harold Klein, chairman of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences committee that reviewed origin-of-life research, writes: “The simplest bacterium is so damn complicated that it is almost impossible to imagine how it happened” (italics added).
American Spectator magazine (May 2005) says:
IMAGINE A NANOTECHNOLOGY MACHINE far beyond the state of the art: microminiaturized rotary motor and propeller system that drives a tiny vessel through liquid. The engine and drive mechanism are composed of 40 parts, including a rotor, stator, driveshaft, bushings, universal joint, and flexible propeller. The engine is powered by a flow of ions, can rotate at up to 100,000 rpm (ten times faster than a NASCAR racing engine), and can reverse direction in a quarter of a rotation. The system comes with an automatic feedback control mechanism. The engine itself is about 1/100,000th of an inch wide - far smaller than can be seen by the human eye.And then goes on …
Most of us would be pleasantly surprised to learn that some genius had designed such an engineering triumph. What might come as a greater surprise is that there is a dominant faction in the scientific community that is prepared to defend, at all costs, the assertion that this marvellous device could not possibly have been designed, must have been produced blindly by unintelligent material forces, and only gives the appearance of being designed.
Some say that life’s beginnings may have been much simpler than this.
However we still have the problem of the origin, not just of complexity, but of information.
Karl Popper: The Self and Its Brain. Page 28:
The probability or propensity of any atom, taken at random in the universe, to become within a chosen unit of time, part of a living organism, is indistinguishable from zero – even on the assumption that there are many planets on the universe capable of sustaining life.
He reports that Jacques Monad said, “with good reason”, that the chances of life appearing anywhere in the universe were “virtually zero”.
But how did self-replicating organisms arise in the first place? It is fair to say that at the present time (2006) we do not know.
No current hypothesis comes close to explaining how …….. the prebiotic environment that existed on planet earth gave rise to life.
(Francis Collins, head of the human Genome project)
Michael Polanyi's gave his reaction to the claim that the discovery of the DNA double helix is the final proof that living things are physically and chemically determined.
No said Polanyi it proves the opposite. No arrangement of physical units can be a code and convey information unless the order of its units is not fixed by its physical chemical make-up. His example is a railway station on the Welsh border where an arrangement of pebbles on a bank spelled the message - "Welcome to Wales by British Rail". This information content of pebbles clearly showed that their arrangement was not due to their physical chemical interaction but to a purpose on the part of the stationmaster ... The arrangement of the DNA could have come about chance, just as the pebbles on that station could have rolled down a hillside and arranged themselves in the worlds of the message, but it would be bizarre to maintain that this was so ...
An individual life is more complex than its DNA codes. (Differentiation Cont)
Paul Davies writes:
If every molecule of DNA possesses the same global plan for the whole organism, how is it that different cells implement different parts of that plan?
Is there, perhaps, a `metaplan' to tell each cell which part of the plan to implement?
If so, where is the metaplan located?
In the DNA?
But this is surely to fall into infinite regress.
An ancient belief in Evolution?
St Basil, the 4th century Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia: ‘Why do the waters give birth also to birds?’ he asked, writing about Genesis. ‘Because there is, so to say, a family link between the creatures that fly and those that swim. In the same way that fish cut the waters, using their fins to carry them forward, so we see the birds float in the air by the help of their wings.’
(Quoted in the Spectator:25th October 2003)
Barrow, Tipler and Carter have calculated the chances of bacteria changing to a human being given the alleged time allowed.
They calculate the possibility as 1: 10-24,000,000.
(See “The Anthropic Principle and Its implications for Biological Evolution” by Brandon Carter in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Astronomical Society A370 1983: 347-360; and Tipler and Barrow, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle page 510-573.)
In response to a claim in late 2001 by Eugene Scott of the (US) National Center for Science Education that“virtually every reputable scientist in the world”supports (Darwinian) evolution, a list of over 100 reputable scientists was published in an advert in the New York Times - entitled“A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” Signatories included 5-times Nobel nominee Henry F Schaefer, University of Georgia chemist, and other research scientists who are faculty members at Princeton, Berkeley, Yale, MIT etc. These are not arguing for creation in 4004 BC, but scientists who dare to doubt Darwinism on the basis of the evidence itself.
Problems for the view that natural selection alone can account for the origin of the species of life:
Perhaps a clue to the development of life could come from the underlying quantum physics in the cell - the ‘language’ at the subatomic level.
We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA … Flowers are for the same thing as everything else in the living kingdoms, for spreading ‘copy me’ programmes about, written in DNA language. This is EXACTLY what we are for. We are machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self sustaining process. It is every living objects’ sole reason for living. (Richard Dawkins: ‘The Ultraviolet Garden’, Royal Institution Christmas Lecture No. 4, 1991)
The individual organism is only the vehicle (of genes), part of an elaborate device to preserve and spread them with the least possible biochemical perturbation .. The organism is only DNA’s way of making more DNA. (E. O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Harvard University Press, 1975, p. 3.)
(I owe these quotations to Denis Alexander’s ‘Rebuilding the Matrix’ p. 274)
See handout ‘A New Religion’ by David Stove.
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
A Word from the Bible:
1 Corinthians 2:11-16
11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 16"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (NIV)
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
Fundamental to the Christian Faith is that, not only does God know us from theoutside looking in,but also - through Christ who became one with us - He knows us from theinside looking out.
He is thus the Redeemer of the whole person -body and soul.
These next ten slides I owe to Prof Howard Ducharme, Philosophy, University of Akron.The Official View, Common Sense, Ordinary Language, Moral Realism, World Religions (85-99% of the world’s population)
Dualism is the view “of the common man.”David Lewis
Ordinary language “enshrines the plain man’s metaphysics which is dualism of body and soul.” JJC Smart.
“I suppose most people in our civilization accept some kind of dualism. They think they have both a mind and a body, or a soul and a body.” John Searle
“The belief that bodies are invested with souls is not just a product of religious doctrine but embedded in people’s psychology and likely to emerge whenever they have not digested the findings of biology.” Steven Pinker, Blank Slate, p. 226
We believe ourselves to be a unique mind, the author and cause of free choices. But we are not what we believe ourselves to be, and our identity is not what matters, and we ought not have such great personal concern about our [daily or ultimate] survival. It may be “psychologically impossible to to believe the Reductionist view.” (p. 280) Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons
“‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”
Consciousness, ethics, and religion “can all eventually be explained as brain circuitry and deep, genetic history.”
William May, HCR (1973), p. 3.
"...it is a false trail to look within the human body for an immortal 'soul,' mind, or residual self which somehow survives the destruction of the flesh."
George Carey, I Believe in Man , pp. 171-172)
I = matter-energy-space-time relationships (Peacocke, Thatcher)
I = a resonance field of relationships (Moltmann)
Soul = “truly material,” a point of subjectivity and transcendence, a “soft” identity (Keith Ward)
The “person is he or she that physically stands before you [and] is not...body and soul.” Nancey Murphy et al, Whatever , p. 228
Dualism is “a canker at the heart of the Christian heritage”. Joseph Fletcher, Humanhood, p.24
“If we have abandoned dualism when we are thinking of finite beings, does it make sense to retain it on the cosmic level in thinking of God and the world? It has no more plausibility there.” John Macquarrie, Forward to God’s World, God’s Body by Jantzen, pp. ix-x.
There is no longer any basis for belief in the immortality of the soul.
W. Pannenberg, What is Man?, pp.47-48
1.Assume the Science First Paradigm (SFP) dogma is true: “I am this physical, functioning body, this psycho-somatic unity. What you see is what I am.”
2. Make a true assertion about yourself: “I went to pre-school.”
3. If 1 is true, then 2 is false. If 2 is true, then 1 is false, e.g., 42 lb. body1955 190 lb. body2004
4. I know 2 is true, thus I know 1 is false. So, the SFP axiom is false… I am a person, an embodied moral agent.
“First, brain cells are atypical in that they can last a full lifetime. Second…each person’s unique genetic program… persists intact in each generation of cells..[these facts] provide a physical basis for explaining personal identity over time.”
Owen Flanagan, The Science of the Mind, p. 17.
If I = my genome, and you = your genome, then I = you (99.9% pure you)!
If I = my genetic code, then I have absolutely no knowledge of myself until I get decoded, then I will finally know myself!??
Pre-talk publicity said (This publicity was more conservative than the actual presentation.):“Surveys show that ‘out-of-body’ experiences (OBEs) are not uncommon: between 10% and 15% of populations across the world have experienced an OBE. [These experiences may or may not be associated with a near-death experience (NDE).] Approaches to the OBE centre round the question: does the self or consciousness actually leave the body? Some recent scientific research in Switzerland indicates that the feeling of leaving the body can be stimulated experimentally. The researchers propose that the OBE is simply a distortion of the bodily image arising from stimulation of the reticular activating system (RAS). So are spontaneous OBEs also illusions due to temporal lobe activity? Possibly not. Experiments by Professor Charles Tart in the 1970s showed some success in out-of-body experiences correctly reporting five digit random numbers. And confirmed reports from near-death experiencers suggest that they can accurately recount events that occurred while they were unconscious and clinically dead. Some OBEs are even reported by patients whose hearts have stopped. And since it takes just over 10 seconds before all electrical activity in the brain ceases after the heart has stopped, these reports point to the possibility that our consciousness may not be entirely dependent on the brain. If this proves to be the case, then much of neuroscience, psychology and philosophy will need to be radically rethought.”
Interesting results of research reported at the April 2003 Edinburgh Science Festival.
NDEs are reported by 18% of resuscitated patients (a very much higher proportion for children) often involving:
Attempts have been made to explain these experiences from the consequences of the body closing down and starving the brain of oxygen. It is alleged that this lack of oxygen would produce illusions including an illusion of light.
In answer to questions afterwards we were told:
Previous culture or religious practice are not relevant to the experience/non-experience of NDE.
Two days after attending the presentation I received this message from a friend in Malawi (who did not know about the lecture I had attended). It is about a former Muslim. I quote it verbatim:
“He is a man who used to be a Moslem but is now a Christian. His testimony was unusual to say the least. He had a ‘near-death’ experience (some describe it as a ‘post-death’ experience!) and during that time, although he was a follower of Allah he heard God saying to him that ‘Jehovah is the true God and Jesus Christ is His Son’. He recovered to life, found himself clear of the disease that he had had, and became a Christian. He says that his Christian faith has brought him liberation and a joy unimaginable beforehand.”
Typically the person feels that his/her new life is
(a) embodiedAND ALSO (b) clothed.
"The only memory that I have of an experience, closely encompassing my death, is very vivid. I was confronted by a red light, exceedingly bright, and also very painful even when I turned away from it. I was aware that this light was responsible for the government of the universe .."
"My recent experiences have slightly weakened my conviction that my genuine death, which is due fairly soon, will be the end of me, though I continue to hope that it will be. They have not weakened my conviction that there is no god."
Can Christians hold to a purely materialistic view of human beings?
Christian ‘Resurrectionists’ (perhaps John Polkinghorne is one of these?) hold that we are purely material but that God will re-create a copy of each of us (DNA codes and much more of our ‘pattern’) at the last day.
But would that be ‘me’ or ‘you’ or merely a clone?
Would a copy of ‘you’ be you?
What is the self?
Denial of the reality of self.
Susan Blackmore - NDEs and Buddhism.
Can Christians hold to a purely materialistic view of human beings?
CSL: Adam created from pre-existing homo sapiens.
So also consider:2 Cor 5:1-4, 8.
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. …. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4.
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardlywe are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (NIV)
Now read Unit 7 which expands on all these points relating to the Mind and Brain.
For more reading on the Mind-Body Problem in traditional philosophy see
Edward Miller's Questions That Matter, pages 77- 138
John Polkinghorne says:
Our view may be summarised as being expressed in a complementary metaphysic where human participation in a noetic world arises from mind being the complementary pole to matter in flexible open organisation. .... it also makes coherent the possibility that God is in a relationship with his creation which goes beyond his simply being the upholder of its order. It allows for the exercise of his providential care within the unpredictable unfolding of world history.(emphases added)
Also see my article: The Nature and Origin of the Bible at:www.apologetics.fsnet.co.uk/bible.htm
He believes we must use science to find moral values.
Read handout: ‘Michael Ruse and reductionary illusions.’ by John Byle.
Note the ways in which John Byle shows that this theory refutes itself and therefore cannot be true.
God is not indifferent to suffering:
In all our affliction He too is afflicted.
The Cross brings into focus God’s suffering with and for us.
The resurrection of Christ is God’s final answer to evil, suffering and death.
Evil is temporary.
Eternity, where justice, love and truth prevail, is a reality