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Christian Faith and

Modern Science

by

Howard Taylor.

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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.
– Visiting lecturer at ICC and before that GBC and BTI.
• Two modules:
– Christian Faith and Contemporary Thought (BE305)
– Christianity and Modern Science. (This module - BE304)
– Author of several small books/booklets.
– 16 years in Malawi, Africa.
• Minister, Theology lecturer, African Language teacher.
• Maths and Physics lecturer: University of Malawi.
– Degrees from: Nottingham, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
• Married with three grown up sons and two grandsons and one
granddaughter.
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• Web: www.howardtaylor.net
What is it all about?
For millennia philosophers and theologians
have attempted to address such questions as:
a Is the universe eternal or did it begin?
b Why does nature have a rational structure?
c Is there any purpose to human existence?
c What is life?
d Can the experiences of consciousness and self-
awareness be reduced to the properties of the
brain or do they imply the existence of a soul?
It is in the latter part of the 20th century that some
scientists have tried to get to grips with these most
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fundamental of fundamental questions.
You may have thought about these topics
before or they may never have occurred to
you.
Here is something for you to do:
Using the Bible and/or the Christian Faith and/or
other religious views as your authority try to write a
few lines on each of these topics. If you are ignorant of
any or some or even all the areas then write that fact
down and don't worry!

Now repeat the exercise but this time write what you
believe modern scientists or philosophers might say.
Again if you have no idea don't worry - the purpose of
this module is to teach you these things. 4
Models for considering the relationship
between science and religion:
•.Conflict.

•.Independence.
•.Dialogue.
•.Integration.
-(I prefer to say mutual illumination).
The above are the models taken from Ian
Barbour’s writings..
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Books that are particularly relevant to
these models are:
• Ian Barbour: When Science Meets
Religion, pages 7-38

• Alister McGrath: Science and Religion,


chapter 2 entitled: Religion Ally or Enemy
of Science?

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Worldviews and Science.
Under each of these headings there are many sub sections not
mentioned here.
• The material universe is an illusion. Only the spirit or
mind is real. (Some versions of Eastern Religions and
Idealism.)
• The material universe is all that there is – the whole
story. (Materialism.)
• Theism. Both the material and the spiritual are real and
interact. (However the spiritual gives rise to the
material world. Deism says that apart from Creation
there is no interaction.)
With which worldview does science fit most comfortably? 7
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,
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if not the answering of them, is the business of philosophy.
Hamlet:
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?

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Bertrand Russell: Philosophy's Unanswerable Questions.

• According to Bertrand Russell , not only are


these questions (that are unanswerable by
science), the most interesting they are the most
important.(See also History of Western Philosophy page 789)
• Without belief in ‘theology’ (ie God who speaks
a Word), Russell says they have no answer.
• As an atheist he had to hold the paradoxical
view that:
– The most interesting and important questions
for humans have no answers.
– All that philosophy can do is to discuss them.
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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:
20 Where 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.
18 For 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)
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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).
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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?
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Leibniz’s argument against materialism.
Thoughts cannot be material.
Thoughts affect the physical world.
Therefore the physical world needs more than physical science
to understand it’s behaviour.
Why are thoughts not material?
Leibniz’s mill or mountain.
Physical processes just exist – they are not true or false.
Thoughts are true or false.
Therefore thoughts are not just material. (See Bertrand Russell
quote in next slide.)
But thoughts do affect the physical world. Therefore the behaviour
of the physical world cannot be fully understood by physical
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science.
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.)

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The mystery of existence.
• Why do matter and energy exist? - where did
they come from?
• Scientific theories about the origin of the
universe have to assume the initial existence of
some kind of energy/law of nature. (Eg: Wave
function of the Universe, Colliding membranes,
Strings, eleven dimensions and Loop quantum
gravity.)
– leading to matter/space-time/laws of physics in
the big bang.
• But scientific theories cannot explain how the
initial energy/laws of nature came to exist or 16why
The mystery of existence.
• If God exists why does He exist? Was He
created?
• Whether or not God exists we are face to face
with the mystery:Why does anything exist at all?
– Stephen Hawking:`Why does the universe go to all
the bother of existing?’
– JJC Smart (atheist philosopher): Why should
anything exist at all? - it is for me a matter of the
deepest awe.
– See Handout re Quentin Smith (atheist
philosopher)’s comments.
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The Mystery of existence - cont.
♦Some believe the questions:
♦'What is life?'
♦'What is consciousness?’ and related to
it:
♦‘What is my self that only I
experience and know?
♦ also give rise to fundamental mysteries.
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Fundamental Mysteries - cont.
♦ If science could, one day, fully examine my brain,
would the scientist know what I am thinking
about?
♦ If not, then my mind must be more than my
physical brain.
♦ My mind (including my thoughts and ideas)
affects my behaviour - therefore it is real.
♦ So we have something that it real but is not
subject to scientific investigation.
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The Mystery of Existence - cont..
Most believe that ‘goodness’, ‘morality’, ‘beauty’ and
our sense of ‘ought’ are not just the result of our
subjective feelings but are objective realities.
♦ Goodness, morality, beauty:
♦ do have a real effect on the physical world - they effect
our behaviour - what we do with our bodies and what we
make.
♦(they therefore are real.)
♦ but they are not open to scientific investigation - (science
examines the physical universe - it can’t tell you what is
good or beautiful, or morally right/wrong).
♦ Many conclude that there must be more to reality than
the mere physical existence that science examines. 20
The Mystery of Existence - Cont.
♦Some or all of these questions and
convictions have given rise to the religious
quest.
♦As science penetrates deeper into the very
nature of things many scientists are
beginning to wrestle with these questions.
♦Science is giving rise to questions it believes
are beyond its scope.
♦Thus there is scope for dialogue.
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World Views 1. Atheistic Materialism:

• There is nothing spiritual - no god,


spirit or soul.
• Impersonal matter/energy/physical
laws (in one form or another) are the
basis of all that exist - the whole story.
– They are eternal
– They have developed into the universe
• including all its life and human life and
personal human minds. 22
World Views 1. Atheistic Materialism cont:
In principle the human person, including
his/her appreciation of beauty, right and
wrong, could, in the future, be
understood entirely by physics.
• A complete understanding of the
human person could, in future, come
from a study of impersonal physical
laws/matter/energy which make up his
physical body/brain and environment.
– See quotation from Francis Crick on next
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slide:
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)

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World Views 2. Deism:
God is entirely transcendent - out there, not
in here.

– God created the universe with its physical laws


and now leaves it to run its course.
• Darwin believed that the Creator impressed laws on
matter.
– There is no continuing relation between God
and the physical universe.
– God is not relevant to our physical lives.
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World Views 3. Pantheism:
• `God’ is immanent - in here, not out there.
– There is no Creator God distinct from the
universe.
– `God’ is the spiritual dimension of the physical
universe.
– God is impersonal.
• We tune into God rather than pray to Him
in a personal way.
• We may pray to spirits but not to God.
– All things are sacred in their own right.
– The physical/spiritual universe is eternal. 26
World Views 4. Panentheism
• The physical universe is part of
God as a body is part of a
person.
– However He also is greater than
the physical universe.
– God is more likely to be personal
in panentheism.

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World Views: 4. Theism
God is both transcendent and immanent
– He is distinct from the physical world but
He is with and `in’ all things.
– He alone is eternal.
– He created matter/energy/laws of physics.
– He holds all things in being.
– He is personal Mind.
– Some believe that we may know Him
personally.
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World Views 5. Christian Theism. :
As well as the theism already outlined:
– God is love and is not distant from sin and
suffering.
– He stoops to the human level, and bears sin,
judgement, pain and death for us. (Christ’s Cross)
– He lifts us up back to where we belong, giving us
new life and forgiving us our sin. (Christ’s
resurrection.)
– Although this is seen in Jesus, it is a process that
occurs throughout history - the subject of the Bible.
– Judgement, new Creation and eternal life are real.
– Thus, Our true destiny is fulfilled and our uncertain
lives on earth find their purpose. 29
Secularism and the ordinary man’s scientific worldview.
•Why do the planets orbit the sun?
•Not God but the law of gravity.
•False assumption: gravity is an eternal independent law.
•God of the gaps - a mistake the Church made.
•A mechanistic universe.
•In the 17th C the universe was compared to the great clock in
Strasbourg.
•If the universe is just a mechanism - so humans are just
complex mechanisms too.
•Humans too are controlled by the laws of physics and have no
responsibility for their thoughts or actions.
•The powerful can ‘engineer’ other humans to suit them.
•False assumption: humans are only physical.
•Space and time have always existed.
•This too was/is a false assumption.
•Light, space-time, matter, energy are related - not by external
laws but by what they are in themselves. (Relativity). 30
Public world of facts and Private World of Values.
• Scientific facts become facts for everyone - public facts
about which there could be no debate.
• Everything that is not investigated by science (beauty,
goodness etc) would eventually become private matters
for individual opinion or preference.
• So each person should make up his own mind about
those things which lie outside bounds of science e.g.:
•The Purpose of the universe and human life,
•Religion, morality and ideals.
• The stage was set for the eventual collapse of religion,
morality and idealism.
(The situation was made worse for the Church by its disputes
with Galileo and others. For example it wanted to cling to its
belief that the stars circled the earth - a belief based only on a
superficial reading of the Bible.) 31
A paradox: If there is no real purpose to the universe
and our lives why bother to have any ideals
including the scientific ideal to explore the
universe?
• Many great scientists investigated the universe
because they believed it has a purpose given by
its Creator - God.

Now work your way through Unit 1 especially noting:


• The set of questions that arise from the
scientific quest.
• Einstein’s words quoted on page 3.
• The great scientists who were devout believers.
• The nature of scientism.
• Is the real battle between science and religion -
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or is merely disguised as if it were?
Further reading on enlightenment
science and its effect on religion:
• Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the
Greeks, chapter 4 entitled The Dialogue with
Science

• Alister E.McGrath, Science and Religion,


chapter 1 entitled: Historical Landmarks.
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Non-Christian Religious World
Views.
For Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism
see the handouts:
•Hinduism and Buddhism.
•Taoism.
For Christian World View see
handout:
•The Biblical World View. 34
Read Unit 2 which is an overview of some important
points that will be discussed in the module. Some, we
have met briefly already.
In Unit 2 we think about:
• The difference is between science and scientism
• Why many people were fascinated by the book `A
Brief History of Time’
• The amazing information, order and beauty in all of
nature.
• What is meant by `Science at the Boundaries'.
• Why relationships are essential for understanding
God, the natural world and ourselves.
• Why we should beware of `the god of the gaps'.
• Why the Universe must have purpose.
• The religious beliefs that were the necessary spur
to the scientific enterprise.
•(See next slide for more on this point) 35
The religious beliefs that were the necessary
spur to the scientific enterprise.
• God is rational and therefore the natural
world He created is orderly and open to
rational investigation
• Its rational order is open to understanding
by the human mind. (Man and woman
created in God’s image.)
• Nature's order is a contingent order.
(That is to say its rational structure did
not have to be as it is but was ‘chosen’
to be as it is. Experimentation is
therefore necessary to delve deeper36
Religious beliefs that were the necessary
spur to the scientific enterprise.
Being created by God the natural world is
good and therefore worth investigating.
•This contrasts with the belief that the
natural world is inherently evil or
unreal.
• Although there is now evil and suffering,
God’s love for the world means there is
hope for it.
• We too should love nature and want to
understand it more. 37
The Beginning and the Big Bang.
In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
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
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billion years, which agrees with modern opinions.
The Beginning and the Big Bang.
In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
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. 39
Robert Wilson, one of those who discovered
the background radiation was asked by
journalist Fred Heeren if
the 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."
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The Beginning and the Big Bang.
In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
• 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. 41
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.
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Will the Universe contract again to a Big Crunch?
•Did the Big Bang come from a Big Crunch?
•An oscillating universe? Probably No!
•See handout: Cosmos 13 Billion Years Ago.
•But even if the universe is oscillating between crunch
and bang, the series could not be infinite.
•We still have the problem of the genesis of everything.
•Could Quantum fluctuations in a vacuum have
caused the Big Bang?
•(Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle does not allow for a
vacuum where there is absolutely nothing).
•Why is there such a principle?
•Colliding membranes and eleven dimensions
creating the ‘Big Bang’? - see footnote at end of
Unit 3.
•The end of the universe - heat or cold death?
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The Biblical Teaching is that there has
been, is, and will be a New Creation.
Not a creation out of nothing again but a creation out of the
‘death’ of the old.
When evil and decay have done their worst to this world,
God intervenes in New Creation.
In Christian theology the link between Old and New is the
Death/Resurrection of Christ in whom, God and the world are
held together and humanity is forgiven and nature healed.
Too good to be true?
Perhaps, but we are faced with the reality of our universe.
Where did it come from?
Why should anything exist at all is surely amazing - but
here we are - too good to be true? 44
Cosmological Argument.
•A simple form of the argument:
• The Universe cannot just have popped into
existence from nowhere.
• Therefore there must be a God who created it.
•Another simple form:
– Which is the most likely cause of a finite
universe?
• Nothing acting on nothing -> finite universe.
• Infinite God acting on nothing -> finite universe.
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. 45
Cosmological Argument - cont.
– Another form of same argument:
• There is a universe.
• It could not cause itself.
• It could not come from nothing.
• It could not be an effect of an infinite series of
causes.
• Therefore it must be caused by something that is
uncaused and everlasting.
• Therefore God exists.
– Yet another form:
• The universe is contingent and therefore
ultimately depends on something uncaused.46
Cosmological Argument - cont.
• Does this argument depend on the
universe having a beginning?
– Thomas Aquinas (13th Century - born in
Naples)
• believed that this argument would be valid even
for an infinite universe.
• God the explanation for the existence of all things:
God
Time line
∞ --------------------------------------------------------- ∞
– However Thomas believed the case would be
even more convincing if the universe had a
beginning. 47
Cosmological Argument - cont.
• The Kalam Cosmological Argument:
– The Universe must have had a beginning and
therefore must have had a cause.
– God ------time line ------------------------
– (Kalam was a word used for a kind of Islamic
philosophy and means `speech’ in Arabic)

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! 48
Cosmological Argument - cont.
• Against these points some say:
– The Universe is just brute fact and ultimately
unintelligible.
– There is no explanation for its existence - it just is.
– It is not worth asking why it exists - it just does.
• However science looks for reasons.
– Do the above three points imply that at the last
hurdle science must give up looking for reasons?
– At the end of the quest has science itself flipped?

• Other arguments against the Cosmological argument


are considered later. 49
For a more detailed discussion of the big
bang theory and its religious implications
see:
• Unit 3.
• Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time,
chapters 2 and 8
• Paul Davies, The Mind of God, chapter 2.

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The Universe is finely tuned!
If the properties of the universe had been a tiny
bit different:
– the stars would not have formed
– or if they had they would have not lasted long.
– there would have been no sun, no planets
and no earth.
– the universe would either have been black
holes or gas.
– there would have been complete darkness.
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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)


Rate of expansion from the big bang. (1 in 1060)
Strength of gravity.
Initial conditions together 1/10 to power 10 to power
30!
Origin of materials that go to make up earth:
Elements such as carbon were made in the centre
of stars.
However the process is a very very delicate one.

The Whole Universe seems very finely tuned!52


Anthropic Principle and Fine Tuning.

• The Universe seems fixed for man.


• Its density, the rate of expansion, age and
therefore size of universe has to be as it is
for humans to exist.

• Weak Anthropic Principle - the universe had to


be as it is for us to see it!
• Strong Anthropic Principle - the universe
needs an observer for its existence.
• Participatory Universe - human observers
participate in the universe’s evolution.
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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.
(Stephen Hawking.)

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Anthropic Principle and Fine Tuning.

Two possible explanations for the fine


tuning:
1. Many worlds - there may be trillions of
universes and this happens to be the one
where things are just right.
This is not a scientific statement since other
universes, in principle, would be beyond our
scientific investigation.
Also it is not a response to the
Cosmological Argument.
2. It was Designed for a purpose by God.
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For more on Fine Tuning read:
•The first three and a half pages of Unit 4
•John Templeton (Ed), Evidence of Purpose, Chap 7
•Handout: Just Six Numbers (which is a summary of the
Astronomer Royal, Prof Sir Martin Rees’s book of same the
title). In it he says:
“I have highlighted these six because each plays a crucial and
distinctive role in our universe, and together they determine how
the universe evolves and what its internal potentialities are... These
six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the
outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be
‘untuned,’ there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a
brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign
Creator? I take the view that it is neither. An infinity of other
universes may well exist where the numbers are different. Most
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would be stillborn or sterile.” (Page 4)
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." 57
Teleological or Design Argument.
• Unlike the Cosmological Argument this is
not based on the mere existence of the
universe but the properties of the universe.
• The universe not only exists but seems very
well designed.
• It seems at least as if it must have a
purpose. (the meaning of teleology).
• Does not this mean it had/has a purposeful
Designer?
58
Teleological/Design Argument (Cont)
• Paley's Watch.
– William Paley said:
• If we find a watch with all its parts fitted
together we will not assume that it was
brought into being by the blind forces
of nature but by an intelligent designer.
• Much in nature seems extremely
complex with its parts fitting together
well, therefore it was made by an
intelligent designer - God. 59
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". 60
(See his chapter on Leibniz in his History of Western Philosophy).
Arguments against the Cosmological
and Design arguments.
• What caused God?
• There must be something without a
cause. Why not say the universe is
this thing?
• Just because individual things in the
universe need an explanation that
does not mean that the universe as a
whole needs explanation. 61
David Hume (1711-1776) against the
Cosmological and Design Arguments.
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.
– This means we cannot speak of causation or design
from the things of our experience and apply them to the
origin of the universe.
However some believe that in his famous:
`Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion’, Hume was
really arguing with himself.
– Cleanthes is for the Design argument; Philo is against it.
– Whose side was Hume really on? Was he unsure? 62
More arguments against Cosmological and
Design arguments. Immanuel Kant (18th C)
• Would we not perceive the universe to be ordered
even if it wasn't?
• Immanuel Kant believed that human minds impose
their own order on the universe.
• We cannot get beyond our minds and know that
nature really is ordered or that effects really must
have causes.
• (Few scientists take Kant’s view of their work.)
• He therefore rejected the Design and Cosmological
arguments for the existence of God.
• However he believed in God but for another reason.
63
For further discussion of the
Cosmological and Teleological
arguments see:

Edward Miller's Questions That


Matter, pages 219 - 258.

64
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.
65
His accomplishments:
He
• invented the precursor of the
calculator,
• founded Probability Theory,
• designed the first system of
public transportation in
Europe.
66
Pascal accepted the metaphysical proofs for God.
For example the argument from the objective
reality of numbers.
However he cautioned as follows:
The metaphysical proofs for the existence of God are
so remote from human reasoning and so involved
that they make little impact, and, even if they did
help some people, it would only be for the moment
during which they watched the demonstration,
because an hour later they would be afraid they had
made a mistake. (190) and in (449) he says:
Even if someone were convinced that the
propositions between numbers are immaterial,
eternal truths, depending on a First Truth in which
they subsist, called God, I should not consider that
he had made much progress towards his salvation. 67
Blaise Pascal (French Philosopher and
Mathematician 17th C.)
He wrote about the human condition. He said we are
both glorious and wretched.
• We are capable of advanced mathematics,
reasoning and science and great goodness. We are
made in the image of God.
• We are capable of evil and we are all moving
towards death.
We are all seeking but not finding happiness and
truth.
This is a sign that we have lost something. 68
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.
69
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.
70
However men hate religion because they are
afraid it may be true. (Said Pascal)
(They prefer to live lives independent of God.)
They use the following to try to avoid God:
• Indifference. They pretend they do not care.
• Diversion. They are too busy with other things.
We go on to consider:
• The Meaning of Life.
• The Human Enigma.
71
Indifference.
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.
72
Indifference (Continued)
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)

73
Indifference (continued).
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)

74
(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.) 75
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.)
76
Pascal applies the context principle.
Our behaviour is a function of its
context. People attend to every
context they find themselves in
except the ultimate context.
Since in this life there are often
more rewards for vices than for
virtues, few would prefer what is
right to what is useful if they
neither feared God nor hoped for
an after-life. (Descartes,
Meditations.) 77
Pascal wanted to shock us out of our
indifference.
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)

78
After Indifference comes Diversion.
Being unable to cure death,
wretchedness and
ignorance, men have
decided, in order to be
happy, not to think about
such things. (133)
79
Woody Allen wanted to make a
story about:

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.

80
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)
81
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) 82
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) 83
The Meaning of Life.
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? 84
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. 85
If we never died would that solve the problem of
meaning?
A few thousand years in front of a TV set would
answer that!
An infinitely long life is not necessarily endowed
with meaning.
However the reality of death does focus the
mind on the ultimate questions.
Something has meaning if and only if it is endowed
with some purpose by a purposeful agent.
Meaning is never intrinsic, it is always
derivative. 86
What about a ‘Do it yourself’ approach to meaning?
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 devote their 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’.

87
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. 88
What are Space and Time, or more accurately
what is Space-Time?
Are Space and Time merely the infinite containers
of matter, energy and events?
The Nature of Space - a mystery.
• Can we imagine something in space but
infinitely far away?
• Now try to imagine there is only one thing
‘in’ the universe.
• Would it make any sense to say it is moving in
space? No!
• So space is not a ‘thing’ in itself which could
have a place of absolute rest.
• Does matter/energy create its own space? 89
Light and Space.
• Light travels to us from stars.
• Most of space is a vacuum.
• Light emerging from two slits makes interference
patterns on a screen - implying it is a wave motion.
• Wave in what medium? Isn’t most of space a
vacuum?
• Ether - some unknown medium that pervades all
of space?
• Michelson and Morely’s famous experiment showed
that:
• there is no such thing the ether pervading space.
• the speed of light is a fundamental constant.
Is light a thing travelling in space at all?
• Perhaps light leading to matter/energy creates space?
90
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?! 91
Einstein’s Special Theory of
Relativity.
•It relates the speed of light, space
and time together:
•Since the speed of light is same for
all observers - however fast they are
travelling - time must be different for
observers travelling at high speeds
relative to one another.
•Twin paradox.
92
Light, Energy and Mass.
• We could never catch up with a beam of light.
• More and more energy needed to accelerate to
higher and higher proportions of the speed of
light.
• Energy to accelerate from 90% to 91% speed of
light would be same energy as from stationary to
same speed.
• Therefore enormous amount of energy for small
increase in velocity.
• An object would be ‘heavier’ and ‘heavier’ as it
approached the speed of light.
• The energy to accelerate it is changing into mass.
• At the speed of light the mass would be infinite -
impossible.
• Nothing can travel as fast as light. 93
Mass and energy are interchangeable.
• This is the foundation of the theory
behind atomic and nuclear power.

• Energy, mass & the speed of light are


bound together in the equation:
• E = mc2. (c is the speed of light)

• Fundamental mysteries: space/time


(velocity); mass/energy are not separate
things but related in this simple equation.
• The only constant in this equation is ‘c’
(the speed of light in a vacuum.) 94
Speed of Light a universal absolute?
• Not space and time that are absolute
but the speed of light.
• (However some scientists now say that
immediately after the ‘Big Bang’ light
had a much higher velocity which then
quickly decreased to the value we
know today.)
• Light, matter, energy, space, time, are
not separate things joined by external
laws but their relationship comes from
what they are in themselves. 95
In Christian theology:

• God did not create the physical universe putting


it in an eternally existing space-time.
• Rather space and time also are His creation.
• All of space and time are embraced by light of
God which is the source of created light.
• Our relationships with God, one another and
nature should come from what we are in
ourselves as personal beings, not from external
law - even God-given law.
• God and space-time are bound together in Christ
so that, who He is and what He did, embraces
and heals all our lives, all creation, all of space
and time - all of history from beginning to end.96
Whereas Special relativity shows us that time and
velocity are bound together, General relativity
shows us that time and gravity belong together.
If we got near to a source of enormous gravity our
measurement of time would be less than the time
measured by a distant observer watching us.
A very few scientists- using this - say that the six days
of the book of Genesis 1 and the fifteen billion years of
the universe’s existence can be reconciled.
•They say time is measured differently depending one
whether one is looking back to the Big Bang or looking
forward from the Big Bang surrounded by the enormous
gravity of the whole universe concentrated in the size of
an atom.
This theory is not well accepted!
However religious controversies about the universe’s age
often falsely assume that time is an eternal absolute.
97
• In every day life we are familiar with the
three dimensions of space and one of
time. (Four altogether).
• It is as if we are moving with and in time
and can see the three space dimensions
around us.
• Calculations, especially in String theory (to
be referred to later) about the origin of
universe imply that there were 11
dimensions, 7 of which are now ‘rolled up’.
• We cannot imagine dimensions beyond
the four we know. 98
• However in Christian theology we are
used to the concept of the greater
dimensions in which God dwells.
– We don’t think of Him, (or heaven and hell)
as located at some place in our universe of
space-time.
– The doctrine of the Trinity - God is One and
Three - cannot be grasped in the context of
the space-time of this world.
• But in the context of greater dimensions?
• Hugh Ross’s: Beyond the Cosmos, explores
these ideas and so does: Eric Middleton’s: The
New Flatlanders. 99
C. S. Lewis - The Trinity in higher dimensions.
– Two dimensional world - flat surface:
• No ups nor downs.
– Two or more squares are two separate things.
– When they are joined - no longer squares.
– Three dimensional world (with ups and downs):
• Six squares make one cube.
• Joined in ways cannot be imagined in ‘flat’ space.
– For us the 3 dimensional world is more real.
– How can God be One and yet three?
• There are ‘higher’ dimensions than we can
presently imagine.
In these dimensions, things we cannot imagine in our space-
100
time can nevertheless be real.
Some reading to do:
Study Unit 4’s sections:
• The nature of space and time.
• Stephen Hawking's attempt to
understand how the universe came to
be as it is.
Further reading:
• Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time,
chapter 2
• John Marks Templeton, Evidence of
Purpose, chapter 2
101
The ‘Laws of Nature’.
(Darwin believed that the Creator impressed laws on
matter.)

Can Science ever answer the question as to why


nature has the properties (laws of nature) that it
has?
•Reductionism.
• Methodological.
• Ontological.
•What is the reason things behave as they do?
•What is everything made of?
• Finite or infinite quest?
•‘Ghostly’ world - come back to that.
102
Wherever we look in nature we cannot find the
origin of nature’s creation or its rational structure.
Job 28.
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.’”103
A hierarchy of mysteries:
The nature of:
•Conscious life (human) that can:
•reason (think abstractly and universally),
•ponder its own life, death, and possible life after death.
•be aware of good and evil,
•know that it is responsible (partly) for its own behaviour.
• Conscious life - such as the higher animals have.
• Life - anything that is alive - such as plants.
• Matter - material or physical existence. 104
Wave Particle duality.
Since the time of the Greek philosophers, (before Christ)
there have been two theories as to the fundamental
nature of matter/energy:
1. Atomist:
•Matter is made up of tiny particles.
•In differing combinations they make up the physical
world as we experience it.
•When school science teaches us about atoms &
electrons etc., we get an ‘atomist’ picture of reality.
2. Plenum:
•The whole of space-time is filled with a ‘field’ (or is a
field) which manifests itself as matter.
•When school science teaches us about fields of
force we get the ‘plenum’ picture of reality.
105
A Mystery: What is everything
made of?

If matter is made of particles


- what are the particles made of?

If matter is a wave or force


- a wave or force in what medium?

106
Black body radiation
- fundamental constituents of nature are
particles or distinct packets of energy
(quanta).
Two slit experiment
- fundamental constituents of nature are
waves.
- are these waves that carry information as if
the universe were a great ‘thought’?
•Some think that is so.
- if one photon at a time is released - a wave
pattern is made.
- but not always! - see next slide. 107
If the ‘electron’ (say) is observed.
- If each ‘electron’ (say) is ‘watched’ as it goes
through the slit,
•the result is not a wave pattern.
•instead a bright spot is made on the
screen as if the beam of electrons were a
stream of particles.
Does the consciousness of the observer have
a unique part to play in the behaviour of the
universe?
•These highly speculative questions are still
being debated among quantum physicists.
•There is no consensus.
108
There was once a The Answer:
man who said `God
Dear Sir, Your
Must think it astonishment's odd:
exceedingly odd
I am always about in
If he finds that this the Quad.
tree
And that's why the
Continues to be tree
When there's no one Will continue to be,
about in the Quad.'
Since observed by
Yours faithfully, God.
- Ronald Arbuthnott Knox
(1888-1957), Limerick - Anon.
on Idealism. 109
The Uncertainty principle.
• If we know where an electron (say) is we
cannot know how fast it is moving.
• If we decide to try to find out its velocity we
will not know where exactly it is.
• This is unlike any other ‘thing’ in the
ordinary sense of the word ‘thing’.
• See handout: Quantum Mechanics as a
Science-Religion Bridge by Jewish
Physicist Prof Stanley Klein.

110
The physical world an Open System?
• The behaviour of each fundamental wave-
particle is unpredictable in principle.
• This seems to mean that the universe is
not a closed ‘clockwork’ deterministic
system of cause and effect.
• Within limits nature is open and free?
• If the universe is an open system it is open
to What?
• John Polkinghorne and other Christian quantum
physicists have used this as a way of seeing how
God can interact with the natural world - see slide
much later in course.
111
EPR
Two electrons emerging from the same source will remain
related even if separated by great distances and there is
no way that they can communicate with each other.
If the ‘spin’ on one is changed the other will immediately
respond.
At fundamental levels, reality is relational (or entangled).
A relation that transcends the bounds of space and time.
However separate entities (electrons) still exist.
Relationships between the ‘building blocks’ of matter/energy
are not based on external laws but rather on what they are in
themselves.

A discussion (with negative conclusions) re the relation


between Eastern Religion and Quantum Theory is given in an
article by Peter Bussey. It is available on request.
112
Strings and an alternative.
Are these wave-particles really fundamental?
– Current thinking is that all wave-particles are the result of
vibrating strings, which are unimaginably small - billions of
times smaller than a proton.
– It is thought that they are one-dimensional loops of energy
that vibrate and spin.
– It is not that wave-particles are made of the strings.
• Rather just as one string of a violin can make many
different notes in music, so different vibrations of these
strings make the differing wave-particles that we used to
regard as fundamental to material existence.

An alternative theory (to strings) is ‘Loop quantum


gravity’ which says all particles are an
entanglement of space-time.
113
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.
114
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. 115
Information and Word? (Cont.)
• The theoretical physicist Paul Davies in ‘The New Scientist’
recently wrote: "Normally we think of the world as composed
of simple, clod-like, material particles, and information as a
derived phenomenon attached to special, organised states of
matter. But maybe it is the other way around: perhaps the
Universe is really a frolic of primal information, and
material objects a complex secondary manifestation.” (New
Scientist, January 30, 1999, Pg. 3),
• (Rather than the other way round: information
emerging from mindless particles and energy.)

• If Paul Davies is right then it resonates with the Bible’s


teaching that ‘Word’ is the foundation of all things.
116
Messages, languages, and coded information ONLY come from
minds. (Minds are conscious.) - minds that have agreed on an
alphabet and a meaning of words and sentences and that
express both desire and intent.
If we analyze language with advanced mathematics and
engineering communication theory, we can say:
Messages, languages and coded information never come
from anything else besides a mind. No-one has ever
produced a single example of a message that did not come
from a mind.
Languages etc can be carried by matter or energy (eg sounds,
ink, electronic and radio signals) but they are none of these
things. Indeed they are not matter or energy at all. They are not
‘physical’.
The physical universe can create fascinating patterns -
snowflakes, crystals, stalactites, tornados, turbulence and
cloud formations etc. But non-living and non-conscious things
117
cannot create language. They cannot create codes.
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)
118
Bertrand Russell (atheist/agnostic) believed the most powerful
argument for God’s existence comes from Mathematics.
Pythagoras: Numbers: 1. have properties; 2. don’t exist in our
space-time.
Penrose:
Numbers exist in a transcendent world. (So does beauty
and goodness. All three are One.)
Human consciousness accesses this transcendent world
and can therefore make discoveries about numbers.
But Is Mathematics discovery or is it merely invention?
Russell and ‘The Principals of Mathematics.’
Godel.
(Electrons etc are not picturable as ‘things’ in space-time. Some say
119
it
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: 120
One possible recent discovery that illustrates Wigner’s ‘mystery’:

The wave pattern of an electron ‘particle’ when its path


is ‘chaotic’, follows the seemingly irregular pattern of
the list of prime numbers in number theory.
Prime numbers (such as 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, …
etc) are the elementary ‘building blocks’ of
mathematics. Each of them is a number that
cannot be divided by any other whole number
except the number 1.
Their distribution pattern seems haphazard but it corresponds
to a pattern in the physical world.
See ‘The Times’ (London) 14th July 1997, article: Pattern in the Chaos by
Marcus du Sautoy, Royal Society Research Fellow at the Department of Pure
121
Mathematics, Cambridge, and a Fellow of All Souls.
Now read Unit 5
•note the further reading from
•Paul Davies
•John Polkinghorne.
•Note too what C. S. Lewis and
F. F. Bruce had to say.

122
Now to life and evolution. However hold in your head
what we have said about information, word and mind.
At a higher level, life too, has at its heart ‘information’.
The Mystery of the Origin of Life.
(Biological evolution can only get going once life has
begun to exist).
A common theory:
In the early earth there was a ‘cosmic soup’ of
gases and liquids.
Electricity from lightening produced, in the
cosmic soup, amino acids - the building blocks
of life.
This can be replicated in the laboratory today.
123
Modern Theories
How did life originate?
(The Mystery of the Origin of Life.)
(Biological evolution can only get going once life
has begun to exist).
A common theory:
In the early earth there was a ‘cosmic soup’
of gases and liquids.
Electricity from lightening produced, in the
cosmic soup, amino acids - the building
blocks of life.
This can be replicated in the laboratory
today. 124
How did life originate? (Cont)
• However it is one thing to know how stones (say)
were formed but another to know how an intricate
stone palace was built from the stones.
• Energy and an intelligent mind are needed to
work on the stone.
• Simple proteins involve many amino acids in
correct sequence.
How are proteins actually made?
In the cells of life.
In each cell of life there is a chemical factory
(cytoplasm) for making the proteins, a computer
program (the DNA) and a translation system (the
RNA) 125
Cytoplasm for making proteins. It
receives its instructions from the DNA
via the RNA translation system.
RNA

Nucleus of cell
made up of DNA

126
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 be almost 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). 127
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.
128
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.
129
How did life originate? (Cont)
• The chemical factory receives its instructions from
the very complicated DNA code.
• The DNA is a code written in a four letter ‘alphabet’.
(Each letter is a different nucleotide.)
• The DNA code even for a simple bacteria may be a
thousands of ‘letters’ long.
• These letters have to be in a particular order to
provide the information necessary for the
manufacture of the proteins.
• The DNA sends its instructions to the cytoplasm via
the RNA which ‘translates’ the instructions so that
the cytoplasm can ‘understand’.
• The DNA, cytoplasm and the RNA are themselves
made by the very cells of which they are a part!130
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.

131
How did life originate? (Cont)

The Atheist Richard Dawkins writes:


What lies at the heart of every living thing
is not a fire, warm breath, nor a 'spark of
life'. It is information, words, instructions
. . . Think of a billion discrete digital
characters . . . If you want to understand
life, think about information technology.
132
How did life originate? (Cont)
In his award winning book ‘Consilience’
Edward Wilson the eminent non religious
science writer who has recently won many
prestigious prizes tells us that cells use
“very modern technology involving digital
logic, analogue-digital conversion and
signal integration.” He tells us that this
complexity exceeds that of “super-
computers and space vehicles.” 133
How did life originate? (Cont)

Encyclopaedia Britannica:
The origin of the code.
A critical and unsolved problem in the origin of life
is the origin of the genetic code. The molecular
apparatus supporting the operation of the code the
activating enzymes, adapter RNAs, messenger
RNAs, and so on are themselves each produced
according to instructions contained within the
code. At the time of the origin of the code such an
elaborate molecular apparatus was of course
absent. 134
How did life originate? (Cont)
Douglas Hofstadter, (a world famous and non
religious artificial intelligence expert) writes:
"A natural and fundamental question to ask, on
learning of these incredibly, intricately interlocking
pieces of software and hardware is: 'How did they
ever get started in the first place?'..... from simple
molecules to entire cells is almost beyond one's power
to imagine. There are various theories on the origin
of life. They all run aground on this most central of
central questions: "How did the Genetic Code, along
with the mechanisms for its translation originate?" For
the moment we will have to content ourselves with a
sense of wonder and awe, rather than with an answer.' 135
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”.
136
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) 137
TE verses ID
ID is proposing an extra miracle to creation.
• ID is saying that the creation of life exhibits one aspect
of creation.
Creation is ‘one seamless whole’ (DA).
• Creation was in several steps, each not reducible to the
former.
Physical effects must have physical causes.
• What about thoughts and their physical effects?

God of the gaps. (Nature does this and God does that.)
• It is the advance of knowledge that has led to ID, not
ignorance. The advance of knowledge reveals a code
138
and information, not just complexity.
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 ... 139
How did life originate? (Cont)
My comment:
We can add to the mystery of the `miracle' by noting that
the DNA, by itself, is useless; it must be translated via the
RNA so that its `message' can be put to use by the
cytoplasm `factory'.
The problem is that the RNA that links the DNA with the
factory, itself is manufactured by that very factory which
cannot function without the RNA and the DNA! Indeed
each component depends on the other for its manufacture.
Try to imagine a factory for making computers - the factory
itself being run from the beginning by the very computers it
alone can manufacture!
This is only one of the enigmas of the origin of life even in
its simple forms. 140
An individual life form is more complex than
the DNA codes in his cells.
I am more complex than even the cell of life from
which I grew.
Just consider one of a thousands of possible
examples
• the brain.
Writing about the brain Richard Dawkins in his preface
to `The Blind Watchmaker', tells us:
"The brain with which you are understanding my words is an
array of some ten million kiloneurones (ten thousand million
neurones). Many of these billions of nerve cells have each
more than a thousand `electric wires' connecting them to other
neurones."
Where does this greater complexity come from? 141
An individual life form is more complex than
the DNA codes in its cells. (Cont)

The Plot thickens - differentiation!


Research Chemist Ernest Lucas tells us:

"The single fertilised egg does not have miniature


arms and legs. These new structures appear later as
the cells multiply and divide.
• If every cell in my body contains the same DNA code,
how, at the beginning of my life, does each new cell
know whether it is to be part of a nose, my liver, etc?
•How does this mystery of differentiation happen?
142
•Who or what tells it?
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.
143
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) 144
EVOLUTION.
Random mutations (changes) in the DNA sometimes
produce improvements which make the species more
able to live in its environment.
• So it then survives better and passes on its new
characteristics to succeeding generations - and so on.
• This process is called: Natural Selection or The
Survival of the Fittest.
• However it would have to be the result of an
aggregation of very small steps:
• "…Natural selection acts only by taking
advantage of slight successive variations; she can
never take a great and sudden leap, but must
advance by short and sure, though slow steps.”
145
(OOS page 162)
A note about Mutations. (Summary of Denis Alexander’s
explanation).
‘Point Mutations’ involve the change of a single ‘base’ (the letter in
the ‘genetic alphabet’).
Other mutations may happen because of a loss or gain of a whole
sequences of DNA. If such a gain happened it would be DNA that
had been added inappropriately from some other chromosomes
in the same cell.
Such events occur quite often during the process of cell division.
The copying process is extremely accurate, but the enormous
rate at which cell division occurs in some tissues leads to
errors in replication.
Many of these are rectified by the DNA repair enzymes, which
are constantly on the look out for mistakes. However some
mutations may still be passed on to daughter cells. 146
Evolution (Cont)
Micro evolution - non controversial.
• Small changes and adaptations do occur within a
species but they do not produce new parts of the plant
or new organs for the animal - such as leaves, bark,
petals, wings, eyes, livers, lungs, blood streams,
brains, nervous systems, etc.
• Micro evolution alone cannot explain how bacteria
changed into elephants, oak trees, spiders and
humans etc. So is there macro evolution?

• Macro evolution (controversial) says that evolution


can bring entirely new organs into being and thus
explain the whole process from bacteria to tiger,
swallow, rose and human. 147
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.) 148
Darwin's Finches on the Galapogas Islands.
The finches on different islands vary by the shape of
their beaks and what they eat - some eating seeds
and others eating insects.
• Their beaks vary in accordance with their diet.
• They seem suited to the environment on their
respective islands.
• The Ground Finches eat ticks they remove with
their crushing beaks from Tortoises.
• The Sharp Beaked Ground Finch jumps on the
backs of other birds pecking at their flesh and
feeding on their blood.
• Woodpecker and Mangrove Finch use small
twigs and cactus spines as tools to dine on the larva
stored in dead tree branches. 149
Though they have adapted to allow for specialised feeding
most finches are generalised eaters.
Their different beaks come into their own in times of drought
and what is left on their respective islands during the
droughts.
Then these specialised beaks allow the birds to better
compete for food sources with other birds and animals.

Certain kinds of beaks and diet are suited to certain islands.


Those that had suitable beaks survived and those that
didn't died out. (i.e. Natural Selection.)
Therefore each island had finches suited to its
environment.

Not that God created this finch for that island.


The fittest to survive did survive and then it passed on its
characteristics to its offspring. 150
Some important questions.
1. How did the initial change in the shape of the beak come
about? - before Natural Selection could begin to work?

2. Does this relatively small change give us solid ground for


believing that creatures without nerves, brains, blood streams,
bark, petals could change into the many life forms we see
today? (It is spoken of as if the evidence is clear.)
But is it clear?

3. Isn’t the belief that these developments took place solely by


random mutation and natural selection based on the
assumption that only physical causes exist?
•But what is the evidence for that assumption?
•In principle there can be no such evidence.

151
Evolution (Cont)
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. 152
Evolution (Cont)
• Darwin did not believe that Natural
Selection could provide a full explanation
for the origin of species.
• Many modern evolutionary biologists
(such as Steven Jay Gould) agree with
Darwin that there must be more to it than
that.
• Militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins
insist that natural selection alone will one
day provide sufficient explanation.
• What is the evidence for their prophecy? 153
Evolution continued:
Irreducible complexity.
(This is one of the points made by the controversial
Intelligent Design movement.)
Challenge from Darwin:
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ exists
which could not possibly be formed by numerous
successive slight modifications, my theory would
absolutely break down.
Michael Behe’s ‘Darwin’s Black Box’ responds, claiming
there are many irreducibly complex organs in nature. He uses
the workings of a mouse trap to illustrate his point. If just one
of the eight parts of the mouse trap is missing the mouse
trap will not trap fewer mice - it will trap none at all. See
Handout: Behe Defends ID.
Others dispute this claim (see for example Forrest and Gross's
Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, (OUP) -
the debate continues. 154
Two statements from cell biologist Franklin Harold in
his 2001 book (OUP) titled The Way of the Cell.

1. “We should reject, as a matter of principle, the


substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of
chance and necessity.”
(Chance = random mutation; Necessity = Natural Selection.)
This statement (1 above) is immediately followed by:
2. “But we must concede that there are presently no
detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any
biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful
speculations.”
(I have adapted this from an article by Bill Dembski: Unintelligent Evolution.)
155
Evolution (Cont)
Problems for the view that natural selection alone
can account for the origin of the species of life:
– If the mutations were truly random then one would
expect harmful changes to be common and
improvements to occur very rarely indeed - if ever.
• A common answer is to say that there were billions of
forms of primitive life - so improvements are not all
that unlikely.
• A response says that this does not explain alleged
evolutionary changes in bigger species where their
numbers were relatively small.
– If the changes in DNA code are not random - what
or Who guides them? 156
Evolution (Cont)
Perhaps a clue to the development of life
could come from the underlying quantum
physics in the cell - the ‘language’ at the
subatomic level.
• Lothar Shäfer's quantum view of evolution.
• However that only pushes the question
about the source of life’s developing
information, one stage further back.
• See also handout: Is Evolution Atheistic?
• Denis Alexander verses Creationist opponents.
• See also handout: Intelligent Design or Neo-
Darwinism - The Case For Teaching Both.157
Evolution (Cont)
My Comment:
I do find it difficult to believe that purely accidental
processes and random changes, even given billions of years
of the `survival of the fittest', could change a single cell
(without brain, nervous system, liver, eyes, ears, blood,
lungs, leaves, feathers, bark, roots, petals, etc. etc.) into all
the wonderful forms of animal and vegetable life we see
around us.
However this process could have occurred if the process of
mutation was not random but guided by an overarching
purpose that transcends the universe.
That could happen only if the universe itself were an open
system.
158
Sociobiology.
• A fairly new theory, defined by Edward O. Wilson (one of its
main proponents) as the systematic study of the biological
basis of all social behaviour. (Sociobiology: the New Synthesis,
1975 page 3.) It states that genetics and evolution are the main
factors responsible, not only our existence, but also for our
behaviour and sense of right and wrong.
– In his book Consilience Wilson expounds this.
• See my critical review (published in the journal: Philosophia
Christi). The review is also on my web pages.
• Sometimes supporters of Sociobiology say we actually
exist for the benefit and propagation of our genes.
– (E.g.: Richard Dawkins’ book: The Selfish Gene and quotations
from Dawkins and Wilson - next slide.)
159
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. 160


Evolution. Are life and the Universe Open
Systems?

The Biblical view is that God is overflowing


love.
• His Word and Spirit creates and upholds all things
and moves them towards their purpose.
• Can this help us to understand the existence of
life in its countless and marvellous forms?
• The Judeo-Christian belief is that fundamental to
God’s purpose is the redemption of the world from
evil through His own self-giving love.

161
Evolution concluded.
Now read Unit 6 whose sections include:
♦What life is.
♦Information technology at the heart of living things.
♦The unsolved mystery of the origin of life.
♦The Human Genome project.
♦Can a recipe for a cake change into a cake?
♦Is evolution without God possible?
♦Could Chaos theory be a clue to the origin and development
of life?
Further reading:
• Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, Chapters 1, 5, 6
• Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, Pages 11-48
• Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint, Chapter 7 162
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul.
The Brain - extremely complex.

Prof. Ambrose (Emeritus Professor of Biology


in London University) in his book 'The Nature
and Origin of the Biological World' page 152 ,
describing the complexity of the brain says that
it is like 500 million telephone exchanges all
connected properly. The connections
possible are 101,300,000,000,000. (To write this
number out in the normal form l,000,000 . . .
etc. would take about one hundred thousand
years to do.) 163
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
Richard Dawkins in ‘The Blind Watchmaker’:
"The brain with which you are understanding my words
is an array of some ten million kiloneurones. Many of
these billions of nerve cells have each more than a
thousand 'electric wires' connecting them to other
neurones.”
------------------------------------------------------------------

For more on the amazing structure of the brain see the


following:
• John Eccles’ chapter: ‘The Evolution of Purpose’ in the book
Evidence of Purpose edited by John M Templeton.
• Susan Greenfield’s The Human Brain - A Guided Tour.
164
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)

But if my thinking were simply the result of


physical processes and laws in my brain
could I:
• think freely?
• reason?
• know anything?
Now to more on this ‘Mind-Body’ problem.
165
Is the mind more than the physical brain?
Is Artificial Intelligence making progress towards
manufacturing a computer like a human mind?
Roger Penrose in his ‘Shadows of the Mind’
identifies four views about computers and the
mind.
1 One day computers will be genuinely Conscious and
therefore capable of happiness, compassion, fear, etc.
2. One day computers will be able to fully imitate
consciousness without genuinely being conscious.
3. The human mind will only be understood by a completely
new physics - so far undreampt of by scientists.
4. There is something inherently non-physical and therefore
‘spiritual’ about the human mind.
Penrose claims to rule out 1 and 2 from Godel’s theorem.
He favours 3 (though he obviously can have no evidence)
He doesn’t like 4 because of its religious overtones. 166
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)

The human experience of inspiration and


intuition.

Gospel and Pluralist Society page 31b

The Emporer's New Mind p. 543 - 545

167
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
Could a brain scientist of the future know
‘you’ or ‘me’ by examining our brains?
• Our thoughts?
• What you and I see when we look at something red
(say).
• Are we seeing what is the same colour as the
same colour?
• What you experience when you taste dates (say).

• Could he know my experience of ‘me’ as ‘I’?


• Could he know what it feels like to be a cat,
snail etc?
168
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
These essentially subjective experiences are
called ‘qualia’ and almost all brain scientists
believe they can never be accessed by
science.
Yet they are real because they affect the real
physical world.
(Some materialists deny that qualia are real
describing them as mere epiphenomena,
accidental to the working of the brain and not
being relevant to the study of the mind.)
This view seems nonsense to most people.
169
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
A Word from the Bible:
1 Corinthians 2:11-16
11 For 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.
14 The 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)
170
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)

Fundamental to the Christian Faith is that, not


only does God know us from the outside
looking in, but also - through Christ who
became one with us - He knows us from the
inside looking out.

He is thus the Redeemer of the whole person -


body and soul. 171
Brain - Mind - Consciousness - Soul (Cont)
The Self - the abiding mystery.
• Would a copy of you be you?
• If so a future scientist could make an exact copy
and then shoot you - no problem to you because
you would still exist - or would you?
• Suppose a different sperm from your father
fertilised the egg in your mother.
• What if your father had married a different woman?
•Would you exist?
• Could ‘you’ have been born into a different ethnic
group?
•Would it have been ‘you’?
Was there only a one in a trillion trillion chance that
‘you’ should exist? 172
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 173
Science First Paradigm (SFP) Example:
Personal Identity (I) = Nerve Cells

“‘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.”
174
SFP Example in Sociobiology:
Consciousness, ethics and religion = genes, brain
circuitry

Consciousness, ethics, and religion


“can all eventually be explained as
brain circuitry and deep, genetic
history.”
(p. 261)
175
SFP Examples in Contemporary Academic
Theology
• “A man not only has a body, he is his body.”
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)
176
SFP Examples in Contemporary Academic Theology (2)
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
177
‘Person First Knowledge’ Argument: “I went to pre-school”
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
178
embodied moral agent.
Two Science First Paradigm (SFP) Objections to
Person First Knowledge. (PFK)

“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.
179
Reply 1: Recent Discoveries in Neuroscience

• Neurogenesis of brain cells in the neo-cortex is now


proven to occur throughout life - proliferation,
survival, migration, differentiation, and establishment
of functional connections.
• Proven in rodents, birds, tree shrews, cats, new and
old world monkeys, and humans
• Skin cells replaced every 2 weeks
• Gut cells – every 2 weeks
• Entire body cells – every 6 years
• There are bone marrow, cardiac, and brain stem cells

180
Reply 2: Recent Human Genome Discoveries

• An individual’s DNA sequence


is now known to be dynamic,
not static, throughout life
• >10% of the human genome may
be transposons
• ~100 new mutations occur
during one’s lifetime
• >130 active repair genes
• Immune system’s daily
turnover, and environmental
effects
• Identical twins, human clones
181
Reductio Ad Absurdum Problems:
If I = My Genes, then I = Many; or I = 99.9% You.

• The 35,000 genes Fallacies: I ≠ 35,000!


• Fallacy of the Corpse
• I = You Fallacy
If I = my genome, and you = your genome,
then I = you (99.9% pure you)!
• Utter Self-Ignorance Fallacy
If I = my genetic code, then I have absolutely
no knowledge of myself until I get decoded,
then I will finally know myself!??
182
Possible further evidence about the non material
foundation of consciousness.
• A significant number of people who recovered from the gates
of death - heart, breathing and brain activity having stopped
(all electrical activity finished) - claim to have looked down
on their ‘dead’ body and its surrounds, and then travelled to
another world before returning to their earthly body.
• Such a ‘Near Death Experience’ (NDE) could be shown to be
valid if the person experiencing it were able to learn
something about the state of the hospital room (say) that
he/she could not have known from the position of the body.
– This has been claimed many times especially in medical
research done in the Cardiac departments of some Dutch
hospitals.
– A very impressive report of scientific findings was given
at the 2003 Edinburgh Science Festival. 183
Participants and speakers at the ‘Out of Body’ -
‘Near Death Experience’ (NDE) lecture:
• David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network;
• Dr Olaf Blanke, Dept. of Neurosurgery, University
Hospitals of Geneva and Lausanne;
• Dr Pim van Lommel, Consultant Cardiologist, Rijnstate
Hospital, Arnhem, Netherlands;
• Dr Peter Fenwick, Institute of Psychiatry, University of
London;
• Professor Bob Morris, Koestler Chair of Parapsychology,
University of Edinburgh.
• For more on the scientific research see: ‘The
Lancet’ December 15th 2001.
184
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.” 185
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:
• Seeing the old body from above and watching the medics at work.
• One example given was of seeing way beyond the hospital to
distant places where the mind focussed.
– Many of such things seen produced verifiable knowledge.
• A review of earlier life including childhood.
• Travelling down a tunnel to a beautiful light where deceased
family members and religious figures are there to welcome.
• An awesome experience of peace, unconditional love, beauty and
freedom.
• Finally seeing a ‘border’ beyond which there will be no return.
• Not all experience all of these phases. Many return to their
186
body after the first one or two stages.
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.
•However those addressing the Science Festival said this
could not provide an explanation because:
– The experiences happened when the brain had
become completely inactive (no electrical activity at
all).
– The reported sensory experiences (visible, audible
and tangible) were clear and coherent and could not
come from a failing brain.
– What was seen of the hospital room (and beyond)
was verified as true.
– People born blind who had never seen anything
report seeing clearly as the experience progresses!
187
In answer to questions afterwards we were told:
Previous culture or religious practice are not relevant to
the experience/non-experience of NDE.
• There was no statistical difference between reports
from religious former West Germany or from non-
religious former East Germany.
– Types of illness/accident, or drugs used in treatment, are
not relevant to the experience/non-experience of NDE.
– NDEs usually (but not always) lead to:
• belief in the after life; transformed attitudes to other
people; a belief in purpose for life on earth; a loss of
fear of death.
– The religious content experienced does not always
correspond with the person’s previous religious
beliefs. 188
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.”
189
After the meeting the two of the presenters told me:
Typically the person feels that his/her new life is
(a) embodied AND ALSO (b) clothed.
• The clothes are not those worn in the hospital bed, but
clothes associated with life when he/she was in the
prime of life.
– My comments:
• The NT teaching on the nature of resurrection is that the
resurrected self is not a disembodied soul but an embodied
self - in a transformed ‘spiritual body’.
• Jesus left the grave clothes behind but did not appear
naked to Mary Magdalene.
• The day after the presentation was Easter Day
but, not surprisingly, the presenters did not
mention this. 190
• Near death experiences almost always convince
those who experience them that God exists.
• There are some known exceptions e.g.:
• A.J.Ayer, during his middle years was one of the
most famous 20th century atheist philosophers.
– But late in life, he had a `near death’ experience.
– In his article `What I saw when I was dead’, he wrote:
"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 .."
191
• What kind of response and evaluation of
his experience did A. J. Ayer make?
"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."

192
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. 193
Non Materialist Understandings of
consciousness, the mind and the self.
1. Dualism - the mind etc includes a non
material reality (soul or self) that interacts with
the material mechanistic brain. Somewhere they
are joined.
Salvation consists of setting the soul free
from the ‘flesh’ with its basic corruption.
Descartes had a theory (flawed) explaining
how the ‘spiritual’ interacts with the
physical brain.
Similarly Roger Penrose today.
Not all dualism is Cartesian dualism. 194
• 2. Emergence - consciousness and the mind emerges
from the complexity of the brain but cannot be
reduced to the physical properties of the brain.
– John Haldane says this would have to be radical
emergence - unexplainable by physical processes.
• God calls forth the soul - it emerges from the body.
• His Word from His mind calls to us.
– Salvation is resurrection of body.
• Immortality of the soul - unbiblical and out-dated?
– Has the reaction against ‘immortality of the soul’
gone too far?
CSL: Adam created from pre-existing homo sapiens.
• Relating this to God’s call to Abram and to each of195us.
3. Soul/Mind creates and acts upon the physical body.
(Remember the mystery: What is matter?)
It is now claimed (Wall Street Journal, 21st June 2002) that
‘thoughts’ can turn some genes ‘on and off’.
What about the mystery of differentiation?
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.
Michael Polanyi and ‘genetic fields’. Also Rupert Sheldrake.
For more on Mind-Body and Materialism read: Peter
Bussey’s Beyond Materialism in Science and Christian
Belief October 2004. 196
4. Duality: - mind and body belong together
from the beginning.
• The mind/soul is not just a mature aspect of the
physical.
• The physical body itself is not merely a
mechanistic system.
• The person is a unity of body and soul.
• Salvation is resurrection of body and soul.
• Both body and soul are redeemed, so that the
flesh is set free from its bondage to
corruption.
• NDE’s are newly embodied and clothed. 197
But what is the soul? Consider this:
I King 17:21-22: And Elijah stretched himself out on the child three
times, and cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray,
let this child's soul (nephesh) come back to him.” Then the LORD
heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him,
and he revived. (NKJV)

Nephesh has no exact equivalent in English.


• The real ‘inner’ person as distinguished from appearance - outside
looking in?
• From the inside looking out - consciousness? Does consciousness
need a body?

Consider also this:


Matt 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill
the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and
body in hell. (NIV)
198
To the thief on the cross, Jesus says:
Today, I tell you, you will be with me in paradise.
Newly embodied or disembodied soul in heaven?

It is a mystery revealed in the following verses:


2 Cor 12: 2-4 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago
was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the
body or out of the body I do not know-- God knows. And I
know that this man- whether in the body or apart from the
body I do not know, but God knows-- was caught up to
paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is
not permitted to tell. (NIV)

However ‘out of the body’ might mean ‘out of this


199
corruptible body’.
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)

200
Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection.
Christ’s Old body renewed or newly embodied?
Continuity - empty tomb; eats; nail marks.
In the New Creation - this world is redeemed.
Discontinuity - not confined by our space-time.
In the New Creation - ‘what no eye has seen …’
Tomb is empty.
Yet our tombs are not empty - or at least not now
In the New Heaven and New Earth (still partly continuous
with this world) - will the old graves and bones still be
there? 201
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.
10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
11 For 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.
14 because 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.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are
wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
18 So 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) 202
Animal and human consciousness - the differences?
• Higher animals are conscious but not self-
conscious?
•They don’t ponder their own existence?
• Language and signals and the image of God.
• Human personhood dependent on
interpersonal relationships - ultimately the
relationship with the Person of God.

Dark side of human self-awareness.


• Contemplating pain and death.
• Self-worship - the foundation of the Fall.
203
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

204
Prayer - a way of knowing God.
Once we are aware that there is more to reality than
a collection of atoms and physical laws that govern
its relations; and further, once we have recognised
that there is probably Personal Being above all and
yet closely related to all things, then the most
obvious thing to do is to try to communicate.
See quotation from Lord Hailsham near the
beginning of Unit 8.
It describes the kind of prayer that he thinks would
come most naturally to someone seeking to
communicate with that which may be beyond the
physical world. 205
Prayer and personal knowledge
• Once we have prayed that or a similar prayer we are
opening our lives to a knowledge that essentially
different from that which can be reached by natural
science.
• Yet this way of knowing is in a sense still science - ie if
we define scientific method as using ways of knowing
that are appropriate to the object that is before us.
• This is important for we don't want an impersonal
theology where we try to make logical deductions from
nature about what God is like, and then make images of
Him using our own reasoning skills. That would be a
modern form of idolatry. 206
Prayer and personal knowledge
• The only appropriate way of knowing persons or The
Person is by `methods' appropriate to personal knowledge
namely speaking, listening and trusting - ie by faith.
• It will lead to a personal knowledge of a Personal Being to
whom the whole natural world owes its own being.
• Although a different way of knowing from the ways of the
natural sciences, it is still a real way of knowing that which
really exists - what cannot be discovered by natural
science.
• As in the knowledge of all persons our knowledge of God
will depend on Him revealing His mind to us.
• Humans reveal their mind to us in words as we spend time
in their presence. So it is reasonable to speak of God's self-
revelation in terms of a Word heard in His presence.207
Prayer and personal knowledge
• Our words to one another reveal our own
consciousness and we can speak of our own true
self.
• Similarly with the Person of God.
• "For 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. "For who has known
the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?"
But we have the mind of Christ."
– 1Cor 2:11,16 208
• To know God we need His own way of revealing
Himself to us.
– So we do not find God by looking at nature, or seek to
find Him as part of the data of natural science.
– Nature prompts us to look away from itself to God
who is its Creator.
• We must allow the way we think to change if we
wish to advance in knowledge.
– The greatest advances of science each involved a
change in the way of thinking in which a deeper logic
(not just new data) was discovered.
– See Unit 8 pages 2 and 3 bullet points for examples of
this.
209
• It is only as scientists are open to question their
own fundamental presuppositions that science is
able to proceed to a deeper knowledge of reality.
– As they discover a more profound logic than they had
previously imagined, coming from the very reality they
are seeking to know, true understanding of reality
progresses.
• This is the reason the theologian Karl Barth so
strongly rejected natural theology.
– He believed we could only know God in the way He
reveals Himself to us in the Person of Christ as the
Scriptures testify about Him.
210
Natural Theology - knowledge of God from nature.

• Can the wonders of nature alone give


us, at least, a partial knowledge of God
independent of Christ?
• Let us think of the way we know other
human persons.
– What a person does and who he is in himself
cannot be separated.
– They are bound up together in an indivisible
whole. 211
Nature may point to a great God with certain
attributes.
But it cannot give us any personal knowledge of
God - what God is in Himself.
Thus any true natural theology must always be
integrated with our knowledge of God as He reveals
himself personally in the Bible story focussed in
Christ.
Thus doing natural theology should not be seen as a
prelude separate from engaging in revealed
theology.
212
• The universe is more than the
mere stage on which the drama
of revelation, redemption and
personal faith takes place.
• The natural world is very much
part of the act.

213
John Polkinghorne reminds us that in the
outdated Newtonian physics space and time
were considered the stage on which the drama
of physical processes took place, so that the
geometry of space "was capable of being
pursued in isolation from the mechanics of
matter."
However he continues: “In General Relativity
this is not the case. Space and matter, geometry
and physics, impinge upon each other.”

See Unit 8’s section: Science and Theology in


214
Why Should anyone struggle
against an openness to God?
• Could one among other reasons be that such
openness is bound to be deeply personal?
– See the section with the above title in Unit 8
for a discussion and examples that might
point to this as being one part of the answer.
– The section gives an illustration taken from a
telescope.
• Michael Polanyi used a similar example.

215
Creation Open To God
• Unit 9 is not appropriate for a Power Point
presentation. However it is important.
• In Unit 9 the following topics are considered:
– Creation out of Nothing
– Nature is an open system
– The Days of Creation.
– Prayer Changes Things?
– The Image of God.
– Creation and the Whole Bible Story.
216
– In Unit 1 we noted that the Bible teaches
that God's Eternal Word is not only the
origin of Creation, and not only that by
which all things are held in being, but also
the origin of the redemption of the world.
– According to John's gospel that Word
who is the Source of the order of creation
is fully made known in the coming of
Christ among us and therefore is also the
source of our salvation.
217
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and
made his dwelling among us. We have seen
his glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace
and truth.
It is reasonable to believe then that there
should be some connection between what
learn of creation with what we believe
about the renewal of the world in Christ.
218
• The very God who created this world seeks to know His
people and be known by them
• This can only be so if the mind and will of God actually act
in the physical world.
• It was argued in Unit 7 that the human mind cannot in
principle be reduced to physics and mathematics.
• Yet it too undoubtedly acts on our physical bodies and
physical world.
• We do not yet understand how that happens but it does.
• If the human mind and will act on physical reality why not
God's mind and will as well?
• Although we cannot say how this happens it can only be
possible if there is a real openness in the very nature of
219
physical existence.
God: history/answered prayer & miracle..
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)
220
• John Polkinghorne sees ‘Divine Action’ and miracle
not as God suspending laws of nature nor God
adding/subtracting new mass and/or physical
energy, but as God implanting information (Word)
into physical systems. This ‘input’ is possible
because of the open structures revealed in quantum
physics (micro level) and chaotic dynamics (macro
level).
• Keeping in mind what is said above, go on to read
Unit 10.
• It cannot be summarised easily with Power Point.
However it is important.
221
Unit 10 deals with the following subjects:
:God comes into our world - Israel and
Jesus.
:The witness of Jewish History
:Incarnation of God in Space-Time
:Divine and Human in One Person.
:Our Union With Christ.
:Christ the Cosmic Saviour.
:The Christian Hope.
Also see my article: The Nature and Origin of
the Bible at:
www.apologetics.fsnet.co.uk/bible.htm 222
Read handout: ‘The Gospel according to
science’ by physicist Paul Davies and ponder
the points below:

He believes we must use science to


find moral values.
• Does he indicate what he means by
goodness?
• As well as good he believes humans
commit much evil.

223
There is an underlying assumption that the
survival and future happiness of our species is
the final goal of goodness and morality.
If, as he says, we do evil things, why should
our survival be a `good’?
Even if it is the case that our survival and
happiness are good things, does that belief
follow from science?
If not science then what?
Our desires?
Do our desires determine what is
‘good’?
What about competing desires?
224
‘The Gospel according to science’ by
physicist Paul Davies - continued.
• He wonders how science can be used to
give us moral values.
– Does he give any indication of how this
might be possible?
– If not, why do you think he fails (and is
bound to fail) to find a solution to his
problem?
• Can we get an `ought’ from an ‘is’?

225
Read handout: ‘Michael Ruse and reductionary
illusions.’ by John Byle. .
• Michael Ruse’s theory is that there is no real ‘good’;
it is just a helpful illusion that helps preserves our
species by making us behave more co-operatively.
– He believes that morality comes from our genes that trick
us into thinking that co-operation is objectively ‘good.’
– He believes, then, that understanding morality can be
reduced to understanding our genes.
– He has a reductionist view of morality.
Note the ways in which John Byle shows that
this theory refutes itself and therefore cannot
be true. 226
The Problem of Evil
• Two kinds of evil:
– 1. Moral Evil.
• Why do people behave badly?
• Is God to blame for creating us with the
capacity for evil?
• Why does He not stop us doing evil?
– 2. Natural evil.
• Why are there natural disasters - such as
earthquakes etc which surely cannot be
blamed on us?
227
The Problem of Evil
• Intellectual problems for all world views.
– For the theist:
• If God is good and powerful why is there evil
and suffering?
– For the pantheist:
• If the natural world (which contains evil) is part of
God, does that mean that God Himself is partly evil?
• If the natural world is eternal, does not that mean
that evil is eternal and there is no salvation?
• Does it make sense to say we should try to escape the
cycle of re-incarnation when we have already had an
infinite time? 228
In response pantheism often denies
the existence of evil:
saying that the way things are is
the way `things are meant to be´,
and giving us advice on how to
cope with suffering in ourselves
and others.

229
The Problem of Evil
• Intellectual problems for all world views (cont).
– For the atheist:
• If the atheist challenges the theist saying
´Why does evil exist?, is he not
acknowledging the existence of good?
• How does he distinguish good from evil?
• If he does distinguish good from evil does not
that imply the existence of an objective
goodness?
– an objective goodness which is independent of
our private opinions and biology? 230
Christian responses to the problem of
Suffering and Evil.

• Pain is a necessary by-product of


nature.
• All things, including evil finally
contribute to the goodness of the
whole.
• Eg: Our love and courage are
strengthened..
231
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
232
Christian responses to the problem of
Suffering and Evil -cont.

• God purpose was to create and


redeem human beings so that
they would do good for the sake
of goodness rather than just for
a reward.

233
So in this world, pain and happiness exist side by side.
1 God shares all our suffering and ultimately
triumphs over it.
2 Pain exists but is defeated in the end.
3 Good people as well as bad suffer but the
good are eternally rewarded in another world
that they cannot yet see.
4. Ultimately goodness, love and mercy reach
fulfilment in the context of evil and pain.
A famous book on this subject is:
CS Lewis's `The Problem of Pain´. 234
• Unit 11 carries the discussion of evil and
suffering further, considering:
 Evolution and the Fall
 Where and when is the Golden age from which
we have fallen?
 The meaning of the Fall.
♦Alternative non-Atheist World Views.
 Deism
 Pantheism
 Panentheism
 Biblical World View. 235