Pro-Science: Atheism or Christianity?

Atheism is not science; neither is science Atheism. Joining the two marries science with the only positive claim about that world Atheists can adopt: There is only matter and energy. But that is not Atheism, that’s materialism.

Christianity is not science; neither is science Christianity. A marriage of these two results in Christians taking the most modern snapshot of the latest scientific findings, and petrifying them inside their interpretation of the scriptures for all time. That is Fundamentalism.

Christianity is reduced to Fundamentalism. Atheism is expanded into materialism. Neither action reflects the other truly.

Atheism minus materialism cannot support science; Fundamentalism leads to no further advances in science. Christianity minus Fundamentalism can support science.

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Another “both/and” principle: Socrates

socrates_louvre

Intelligence directs the change that we see in the world around us every day. Let me illustrate with an analogy. Someone might see Socrates sitting in prison and seek to explain why he is there. One person says that he is sitting there because of the complexity of his muscles, ligaments, and joints and how they expand and contract. They have expanded and contracted in such a manner that has caused him to sit in prison and there he sits. Another, more correct, person would say that the reason Socrates is sitting in prison is that he has decided it better to accept the punishment of his government than to run away. In other words, Socrates’ intelligence has directed his joints and ligaments for the purpose of justice. But, it could have been otherwise. He could have decided to run and we would see his joints and ligaments expand and contract in just that way. It is precisely this kind of explanation that accounts for intelligence in the universe.

Why do things happen in our world in just the way they do? Why do they not happen another way? An egg turns into a chicken. But, why does not the egg turn into a goat? Why do trees produce leaves instead of budding into faeries? When I push my finger against metal it does not give. But, why does it not change color upon touch or vibrate? Why do I type here instead of doing the dishes? Why does a pumpkin go on being a pumpkin? Intelligence is the answer. For we know the universe could have been quite different. Things could have worked a totally different way. And we cannot explain these particularities without recourse to intelligence. A mind must be directing it all. To explain it all by saying, “Well, that’s just the way it all developed from the beginning of the universe”, is not an explanation. Moreover, it’s a lazy man’s explanation and completely redundant. If I ask someone why Socrates sits in prison and they tell me “because things just happened that way”, they just told me my own question. For that is the very thing I’m trying to explain: why it happened that way. Intelligence is the answer for Socrates and it is the answer for the universe.

Both/And Principles

As of late, humanity has rushed head long into a disconnectedness that separates us from almost everything. John Stuart Mill proclaimed the individual was paramount, and expounded a doctrine that de-emphasizes community, family, and fraternity. The Enlightenment separated reason and imagination. The founding fathers separated church and state. Everywhere we see distinctions between organic and inorganic; values and facts; conscious and unconscious; design and random variation; purpose and chance; mind and body; reality and fantasy. Yet, being able to discern distinctions, doesn’t necessitate a separation. Are these concepts opposite operating principles, what I call “either/or” principles; or are they principles that work together, “both/and” principles?

In the following posts, I am introducing some principles that attempt to enjoin things that have been thought to be separated. The first post will be up shortly.

-Dan O’Brian

Backwards Ignorance of Evolution

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The truth most needed today is that the end is never the right end. The beginning is the right end at which to begin. The modern man reads everything backwards. He is like a blind man exploring an elephant, and condemned to begin at the very tip of its tail. But, he is still more unlucky; for when he has a first principle, it is generally the very last principle that he ought to have. He starts, as it were, with one infallible dogma about the elephant; that its tail is its trunk. He works that wrong way round on principle, and tries to fit all the practical facts into his principle. Because the elephant has no eyes is its tail-end, he calls it a blind elephant; and lectures on its ignorance, superstition, and lack of education. Because it has no tusks at its tail-end, he says that the tusks are a fantastic flourish attributed to a fabulous fanciful creature. Because it does not as a rule pick up things with its tail, he dismisses the magical story that it can pick up things with its trunk. He probably says it is plainly a piece of anthropomorphism to suppose that an elephant can pack its trunk. He becomes a pessimist; the world to him is not only an elephant, but a white elephant. He does not know what to do with it, and cannot be persuaded of the perfectly simple explanation; which is that he has not made the smallest real attempt to make head or tail of the animal. He will not begin at the right end; because he happens to have come first on the wrong end.

Having arrived at the wrong end, we have a problem: the problem of induction. The inductive method, this superstitious belief in the unchanging repetition of the universe as we know it, continues to see its own reflection as it glances at the history of the world. Perhaps we should call this tendency to see its own reflection “Inductomorphism”. The scientist has grasped evolution by the tail because that is the only thing he can grasp; and has declared, by the power of Inductomorphism, there were no “eyes” in its beginning. He sees no purpose at the end and declares the same for life’s beginning. He has grasped his ignorance and called it intelligence. Now, only the religious man keeps the scientist in check because the religious man has always started at the beginning.  It is the religious man who sees the world rightly as being backwards. He is not afraid to give modern intelligence its rightful name: ignorance. Only when we look backward in time without our modern spectacles do we see how much younger is the Tree of Knowledge than the Tree of Life.

(Much of this is an adaptation of Chesterton and Barfield.)

Of gods and atheists

An atheist said, “Reality arbitrates…you rely on reality to justify your belief”

This just so highly demonstrates the depths of delusion that some atheists have sunk to. At some point, the rocks, the trees, and the birds in the sky must have sat us all down and taught us the steps to the scientific method. The flowers think and even speak. The keys I lost told me that they were on the table when I was looking for them. Why appeal to unseen authorities like God when we have millions of little inanimate gods among us who become animated enough to guide us to the holiest of holies where the eternal insistence upon independent verification has trapped us in circular logic. But, nevermind the circle. It came from the rocks, and is therefore right. The rocks have arbitrated, and we are their intellectually begotten sons who have only previously gone astray by trading in millions of material gods for a single immaterial one. Let us draw near to the courts of the flowers. Let us behold their beauty and enquire in their halls of justice which of us is right. Neither shall we waste time with our own cognitive abilities unless it be to receive the admonition of the rhododendrons. Sing praises, for we all dwell in the temple of the gods and have found in the shimmering mirrors of all physical phenomena eternal relations capable of joy and suffering just as we and who have graciously summed us up and summed themselves up in a single principle: the practicality of the scientific method.

I wonder if the atheists really hear themselves when they speak or if they’ve been listening to each other for so long they just don’t think about it anymore.

The god-man

An enthusiastic address given to the brightest minds of our age:

 

“My fellow atheists, If we are to dispense with the old understanding of the universe which is touted by the religious as a purposeful universe, proving that we can live a moral life without God is not a sufficient tactic, moreover it is delusional. We only need to destroy the idea of God in man. As soon as all men have denied God, a new era will emerge in which all things will be lawful. Morality will no longer be relevant; indeed, it will become incoherent. And, it will not help our cause.

This thought should not be a bother. We must face it with courage and unflinching steadfastness. Let not your heart be troubled, as has once been said. A new beginning will arise, and men will band together to consume from life all it has to give. Consideration for the past and the future will be discarded for the joy and happiness of the present. The universe will glorify the image of man and the man-god will at last appear. Moment by moment he will be driven with a sense of nobility and gratefulness being cognizant of the improbability of his existence and his privileged position. Conscious of the fleeting momentariness of life, he will not despair of his end, but will live life all the more, loving his brother without desire for accolade; a love which has heretofore been dissipated by thoughts of life beyond the grave. He will extend his conquest of nature through the sheer power of his own will utilizing the methods of science until all things are put under his feet.

But, let us not delude ourselves with the old and fallacious notions of morality. The god-man need not justify anything; indeed, who would he justify it to? There is no law for gods. Where gods stand, the place is holy. All things are lawful for the man whose very essence is the source from which the law emanates. We did not understand this before when we accused God of immorality. Can swine say unto the farmer, “what doest thou?” when the farmer does not eat the same slop in the trough nor reside in the same cage as they? Is the farmer immoral because he does not live by the rules of the swine?

Even so, men, not being used to forming laws, but only recognizing them where they find them already formed, ignorantly judge God by those laws. I repeat, there is no law for God or there would exist a being greater than He. So it is, that there is no law for the god-man, or there would be one greater than he. As it was for God, so it will be for the god-man. It is essential also to note, that neither is there any law to which the god-man can appeal that mediates between the contentions of men. If there were, clearly, there would be a God; and we would cease to be the god-man and become a slave. The very idea of God was tyrannical in nature. While we held it, we were never free. We must break free of these shackles.

Let us not think, however, that there is a new morality operating by the axiom “all things are lawful.” There is no morality. Consider, if you will, that in the absence of God, men who have realized their divinity can divinely approve their own actions. And, since no two men have ever agreed on every single issue, nor indeed has any man always agreed with himself, all actions of men are both divinely approved and disapproved. The same things, then, are holy and unholy at the same time. Do you not see, now, how the very concept of morality is incoherent? Therefore, let us leave it aside and quit trying to be “good without God”, for there can be no such thing. That thought is a product of our imagination and a delusion that indicates we are still holding on to some infinitesimal notion of God.

Brethren, may we move on into the next stage of evolution where everything is determined, and mankind can no longer be moved; an era without morality, an era without God, an era where there cannot possibly be any change, and thus no possibility of redemption. Let us accept things as they are and live in the bare nakedness of that honesty. Then, indeed, will the old conceptions of the universe fall away. And, let us accept neither delusion nor imagination to comfort us and quell our anxieties. For there is, now we know, nothing but us, and we must go on with courage.

Thank you and goodnight.”

Reverse Psychology

When the veil of human ignorance is taken away, we find out what has been happening all along: that we only seemed to be the questioners, the teachers, the testers, the judges, the knowing ones acting like scientists looking for God in a test tube. In reality we are the questioned, the tested, the students, the judged, the known ones. When God asks a question he either is the answer or the answer lies within him. That is the nature of God, which man does not have. Truth is not simply around God or known by him, truth is him. This is why when we answer his question, it does not leave us lost, but found. And not only found, but joined to the Truth himself. People who observe the world around us with the intent only to know ourselves better (our origins, our present condition, and our future), are still left with uncertainty, for who knows what new discoveries will confuse the present ones and suffer man to redefine himself once again. If men observe the world and ask the question, “Who is God?” instead of, “Who is man?”, we can obtain certainty. For this reason, belief in God is not religion, it is the discovery of the true nature of reality, for God is reality. Reality based on man is fictional, delusional, a fairy tale: as evidenced by the absence of satisfying truth in man based answers. Questions that originate in man leave us lost at sea. Questions that originate in God set us on dry land.

Choose Your Own Adventure

When we are young we have faith in our parents. We obey them (hopefully) because they love us and they show us how life is, and what it should be. As we get older we put faith in our teachers trusting that they are authorities on Mathematics, Science, English, and so on. Each time we learn, we receive by faith the things they teach us since we have no first-hand knowledge of the things they relate to us. It’s better than making each generation rediscover everything over again. However, there is a time to learn what others teach and a time to gather knowledge ourselves. We begin to have faith in ourselves that we have the capabilities to understand the right ways of life. In the process of attaining knowledge we endeavor to reject faulty knowledge. But, we cannot be 100% certain that the knowledge we acquire is free of corruption since it cannot be independently verified by an outside source. Although some people see evidence of a Creator,  no 3rd party materializes in front of us to provide confirmation or denial of our findings, and these findings are subject to further criticism from every other person looking for answers or just looking to poke holes in other people’s findings. At this point, two types of people can emerge. The first is a person who begins to find the answers of life within himself, picking himself up by his bootstraps, so to speak, creating his own meaning and purpose, reality and truth. He has faith in himself. The other man perceives that his own reason has limitations and is therefore inadequate to get the answers needed. Since he perceives that the human experience is common to all, he looks for answers outside of himself and humanity. He puts faith in a 3rd party in order to confirm or deny his findings.

What is the difference between a man who has faith in himself and his human teachers, and the man who puts his faith in God? Both of them have faith, but the object of their faith is different. What are the outcomes?

The man who puts faith in himself eventually becomes selfish. This does not mean he only thinks of himself, but rather that all of his charitable and self-serving acts come from values formed from his own authority. His self and others like him are the highest forms of life he can find. He creates his own meaning, his own reality, his own purpose, and his own morality. Essentially he is his own property. He can do with himself what he wants. The obstacles to this, however, are others and laws of society. He respects others because it is reasonable, but he may decide that it is not reasonable if he so wishes. As his self grows in value, he can reason anything he wants. He eventually does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone it was for a good reason even if society does not agree. If he commits suicide he is only hurting himself and it is just fine because he is his own property. If he hurts others it can be justified. Reasons exist to respect other’s “property”, but reasons also exist that justify the disrespect of other’s “property”. The choice is his. He is the judge and jury. He could be the most moral person or the least moral person. Most everyone will not take it this far. They adopt this philosophy in moderation. Herein lies temporary harmony with the rest of men. However, this philosophy taken to the end of itself can lead to the destruction of self and others and it’s perfectly reasonable.

The man who puts his faith in God eventually becomes selfless. This does not mean he never thinks of himself, but rather that all of this charitable and self-serving acts are derived from values given by his Maker. God is the highest form of life he can find. In understanding God’s identity, he realizes his own identity, and derives from God his meaning, reality, purpose, and morality. Essentially, he is God’s property. He can do with himself what he wants, but he gives his self away to the Self of God. In this act, a new identity emerges that naturally follows the character of God. He respects others because they are God’s property, and we are all tenants, so to speak. He does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone he goes against God’s character. If he commits suicide he is destroying God’s property. If he justifies hurting others, he must ignore God’s laws. Reasons exist to respect God’s property. Reasons not to respect God’s property are products of a corrupt mind. The choice is still the man’s choice, but God is the judge and jury. The man’s degree of morality is dependent upon his conformity to the character of God. Most everyone will not take this as far as it will go. We don’t like to give up our selves completely. We adopt this philosophy in moderation. However, herein lies contention with men, God, and self. This philosophy taken to its end can diminish the self and the lead to a new identity created by God.

Now the paths are laid out before you. Which path will you choose?

 

(Picture created by Luke.)

Dear Philosophical Atheist,

Is truth learned from the top down, or from the bottom up?

The more I hear your arguments, the more I realize that your conclusions are based upon philosophy. You will say that it is based upon facts, but the facts can be looked at in many different ways. There are legitimate arguments on various sides of the issue that you ignore, and there are legitimate arguments on your side of the issue that others ignore. Evolution and Intelligent Design are philosophies, ways of looking at facts. Even if you decide that you only know what you personally witness, you still have to interpret those facts, and who knows if you get it right? Is a man sitting on a bench talking to himself or is he talking to God? Even if we get the man’s input, that conclusion is still left up to us. Interpretations run wild in this world. Those of us who trust in God don’t give up our reason. Our reason is rather guided on a particular course. Do you really think that you have no need for a God who can instruct us in true reality, when you aren’t even sure of your own interpretations?

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Dear Atheist and Christian,

Science and religion bicker in the backseat
Image by Colin Purrington via Flickr

Let me state some things here that we all may agree on. Science cannot answer the question of why we are here, or if there is a power behind the things science observes. That is simply not the job of science. Science basically states observed facts, conducts experiments, and then states what happened at such and such a time. We know 1% of the knowledge of the universe, and that’s probably an exaggeration. The other 99% at this time is beyond our grasp. Why do I say this? I state the previous to affirm that science deals with parts of the whole only. Never at any time is science in possession of the whole. Evolution is a theory made by those who take the parts and imagine what the whole could be. Let’s not be deceived here. It’s not the job of science to point to or support the theory of evolution or religion. To state either as fact while citing scientific evidence is really stating your own bias. Even if science was in possession of the whole, it still would not answer the “why” question or prove there was a power behind it, since, if there was a power, it would not be one of the observed facts but rather the reality that created them.

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