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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Scientists and Theists: We want an explanation for everything!

I think that it is safe to say that the majority view of both scientists and theists is to accept the "fact" that an unbridgeable gulf exists between the two communities. In fact, both communities often describe their relative positions on the "great questions of life" as being in polar opposition to each other. It is, however, apparent to me that both communities are motivated by the same desire: They want an explanation for everything.

In his 2003 article for Nova entitled "A Theory of Everything?" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/theory-of-everything.html), Brian Greene (Professor of Theoretical Physics at Columbia University) wrote: "For the first time in the history of physics we therefore have a framework with the capacity to explain every fundamental feature upon which the universe is constructed. For this reason string theory is sometimes described as possibly being the 'theory of everything' (T.O.E.) or the 'ultimate' or 'final' theory. These grandiose descriptive terms are meant to signify the deepest possible theory of physics—a theory that underlies all others, one that does not require or even allow for a deeper explanatory base."

Dr. Greene concluded his article with a broader nod to the greater scientific community. He wrote: "The universe is such a wonderfully rich and complex place that the discovery of the final theory, in the sense we are describing here, would not spell the end of science. Quite the contrary: The discovery of the T.O.E.—the ultimate explanation of the universe at its most microscopic level, a theory that does not rely on any deeper explanation—would provide the firmest foundation on which to build our understanding of the world. Its discovery would mark a beginning, not an end. The ultimate theory would provide an unshakable pillar of coherence forever assuring us that the universe is a comprehensible place."

Other physicists/cosmologists have spoken/written extensively about such a theory. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking spoke in terms of an ultimate explanation for the universe in his 2002 book entitled The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe (New Millennium Press). Likewise, in his book published in 2014 (Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality) (Alfred A. Knopf), Max Tegmark wrote: "Assuming that an external reality exists, physics theories aim to describe how it works. Our most successful theories, such as general relativity and quantum mechanics, describe only parts of this reality: gravity, for instance, or the behavior of subatomic particles. In contrast, the Holy Grail of theoretical physics is a theory of everything - a complete description of reality."

For the majority of Christian Theists, this explanation is found in two scriptures: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1, NLT) and "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and noting was created except through him." (John 1:1-3, NLT) In this view, God is the explanation for everything.

Although both sides ostensibly want the same thing (i.e. an explanation for everything), I think that both sides will continue to fall short of their expectations in this regard until they are ready to acknowledge each other. Many Christians regard science as the natural enemy of their beliefs and as being either completely unnecessary or at least secondary in explaining the world around them. What's wrong with acknowledging that Newtonian Physics, Quantum Mechanics and things like String Theory and the Theory of Evolution contribute to our understanding of God's modus operandi? Likewise, many scientists want an explanation that doesn't include God - that makes God unnecessary to understanding all of this. Why is the refusal to acknowledge the possibility of an underlying metaphysical component to these concepts hailed as superior wisdom on the scientific side? It seems to me that both sides are destined to be frustrated in their efforts to arrive at a universally recognized explanation for everything until they confront the FALSE DILEMMA which they've both created. Is it possible that folks in both camps can't see the forest for the trees? What do you think?

8 comments:

  1. Great article. Roy and Mark

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  2. "What's wrong with acknowledging that Newtonian Physics, Quantum Mechanics and things like String Theory and the Theory of Evolution contribute to our understanding of God's modus operandi?"

    A lot

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  3. OK, would you mind expanding on that answer?

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  4. It's amusing to watch you Christians flogging your stupid religion on the internet but, sorry, I'm going to require a Sign to believe it. Yeah, a story of a Hebrew god having a revolutionary change in his policies around the early 1st century would really (for me) need miracles to confirm it.

    Of course your "inspired Jesus biographers" have this Jesus saying it's wicked to demand a sign (miracle) . Well of course they'd say that because they have no miracles, just anecdotes of miracles--hmm, I suspected as much.

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  5. I agree that it can be amusing to point out when something or someone doesn't make sense, but please excuse me for being skeptical about a miracle (or miracles) changing your mind about Christianity. Something tells me that ship sailed a long time ago.

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  6. "Something tells me that ship sailed a long time ago"

    No, I'd be open to a miracle endorsing your claimed early 1st century "paradigm shift" for the Yahwism cult. But alas, all you Christians offer is narratives/anecdotes of colorful miracles to endorse your cult.

    Like the Mormons who came to my door claiming Yahweh had another paradigm shift in the 1830's by way of delivering new scripture to Joseph Smith on golden plates. But alas, they cannot produce these artifacts for potential converts to examine.

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  7. "Paradigm shift" is the term that you have employed to describe your impression of my views. I see all kinds of miracles present in the world around me - I guess it's just a matter of perspective.

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  8. The Mormons said they will come back to see me again on Friday. I'm going to demand to see the Golden Plates engraved with Reformed Hieroglyphics or no deal.

    The Mormon Jesus says "blessed are they who believe and don't need to see the Golden Plates".

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