Archive for the 'Science' Category

Making God a Viable Option

I like science and scientists. As a Christian, I welcome the scientific inquiry because ultimately I think science will prove the existence of God for some people who don’t think we have enough proof already.

But there are a couple things that stand in the way of that. The first is that scientists don’t always consider God to be a plausible scientific hypothesis or theory. Science works by people proposing a hypothesis or theory and then by scientists conducting experiments designed to support or reject the theory. This is good, but if the evidence starts to stack up against a given theory, scientists ultimately have to switch to a new theory. The problem is that if the ultimate question revolves around how our universe was created, there are only a few theories out there. One theory is that God created the universe, but scientists frequently don’t accept that as a valid theory to begin with. That’s why you can have so much evidence staking up against the theory of evolution without anyone saying, “Hey, we need to focus on a better theory.” So far, they don’t have a better theory in the natural world, and God is in the supernatural. So even if we have a ton of naturalistic data pointing to the existence of God (which we do), it’s like that data doesn’t exist.

The second thing that stands in the way of science proving God are certain scientists who really hate God or religion so much that they’ll do about anything not only to keep themselves from considering it, but to keep others from doing so, too.

That’s the case with a guy I heard on Science Friday on PBS recently. He wrote a book about physics, but he simply couldn’t stop from making disparaging remarks about religion and God. Even the title of his book, “The Greatest Story Ever Told So Far” is a dig at those of us who believe in Jesus Christ. He called that “other story” static – which means he has never read the Bible – and a few other things that made me think that even though he’s a scientist, there are simply certain things that he refuses to consider.  I’m just not sure what drives a person to hate God so much that he’ll publicly dis Him, and it’s sad.

But then I realized the author’s main issue, which appeared to be in the way in which he perceived “religious” people and religion in general, especially in this new American world of a so-called Christian President who lies and hates all the time (he spent a bit of time talking political). And, you know, he’s got a point. We have done a horrible job at explaining what true Christianity is, and we’ve allowed people to claim they’re Christians even as they act extremely un-Christian. Overall, we’ve allowed so-called “religion” to muck up everything Jesus taught. We’ve also allowed so-called “political Christians” to twist Jesus’s words to achieve certain political goals. And we’ve done a lot of hateful things, all while attending church and Sunday school with the kids. This author is Jewish, too, and so I suppose we’ve also done a pretty poor job at explaining God’s purpose and plan for his chosen people.

So we’ve got to start explaining God in ways that keep scientists and others from recoiling in disgust.  I’m convinced that if we did, scientists like the one on the show would begin to lighten up on trying to get everyone to stop believing, and maybe even consider God a viable theory worthy of scientific inquiry. But to do that, we may need to clean house a bit and toss out some of the “religion” and the Christian pretenders.

This country is being torn apart. Two sides exist that hate each other, and can’t see past their own biases to find solutions. Accordingly, some group has to emerge in the middle to bring them back together; a group that can show that both left and right are both right and wrong for different reasons. A group that can explain why it believes what it believes, and show people how to act in a way that is not hypocritical. That group should be Christians, but we have too many people just giving lip service to following Jesus for anyone to take us seriously.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” If we can convince people we follow the God of love, not hate – love even for those we disagree with – and the God of truth and light, and not falsehoods and darkness, I think people will be much more open to Him. So let’s start where we are. Start looking at everyone – including people who hate God and want you to hate Him too – as if they were you. You know, empathy. The Golden Rule. We believe in the God of love. Now it’s just time we started to act like it.

Yeah, I know, science throws a fit when I say it might “prove” God. Nothing is ever truly provable, science says. But we can at least get to the point where we portray the true God of the Bible through our thoughts, words, and actions. If we do that, we can at least make God a viable option.

2,000 Years Ago

In Denise’s book, 7 Spiritual Truths and the Lies That Hide Them, she says that one day science will ultimately prove the existence of God. She’s right, but until that happens, consider what I heard yesterday on the radio.

It was Science Friday, with Ira Flatow, and he was replaying a 1999 broadcast in which the scientists were talking about expansion of the universe. Throughout the twentieth century, scientists had been confident that the expanding universe, as discovered by Edwin Hubble, was nonetheless slowing down due to gravity, which Einstein’s theory predicted as a constant even on a cosmic scale. Nevertheless, in the late 1990s scientists discovered that the universe was not slowing down at all. No, in fact, it was speeding up, which was kind of a big change in our thinking, if you ask me. They seemed to take this rather massive change in thinking in stride, though, as they moved toward discussing some then-recent scientific data.

Ira then asked one particular scientist, based on the new data, how confident she was about the age of the universe. She replied that much of the recent data, including data further confirming a “flat universe” theory (which, by the way, sort of blew Ira’s mind) led to a “robust” prediction of the date the universe began. So basically, she was confident about the age of the universe. But the interesting thing, to me, was that this confidence came without any mention of the fact that until the 1990s, scientists had been completely wrong about the whole deal. I know, that’s the way science works, and Denise talks about it in the book.

But all of this reminds me of one thing. I’m not altogether certain whether science will confirm or refute the existence of God in your lifetime. For all I know, in 2092 scientists will say that they were wrong in 1999, and that the universe is slowing, but backward, and that the system is closed, but infinitely so. I can guarantee, however, that in our own lifetimes (or shortly thereafter) we will definitively find for ourselves about the existence of God.

My point is that it may take a long time for science to get its act together to explain God’s existence. We can wait for science to catch up, or we can listen to God Himself, who came to earth through the birth of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago to tell us, face to face, the real mysteries of the universe.

Stay strong and keep building your faith. And Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Multiverse Schmultiverse

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Today on PBS I heard a guy say that he was writing a science fiction book about a parallel universe — part of a so-called “multiverse” — but he was excited to find out that it might not be fiction at all. He said there was actually real science behind the idea of a multiverse. This, of course, went unquestioned by the host of the radio program.

The theory of a multiverse was created by people who don’t believe in God and who were presented with pretty strong evidence of universal fine tuning. Unlike the science showing fine tuning, the idea of a multiverse isn’t science so much as it’s just a theory that hopes one day to be science. But people float theories for a lot of reasons, including trying to hang on to flawed worldviews.

I saw a documentary recently that quoted a scientist as saying that the evidence of universal fine tuning actually led him to question everything he believed on a fundamental level. That’s because if something is fine tuned, it requires a fine tuner, who is God. And I don’t think this guy wanted to believe in God. And, as I wrote before, if you make scientists question their beliefs in fundamental ways, they are likely to come up with a theory that can bring them back to where they were before. A multiverse — which is the idea of billions of universes happening all at once — would mean that fine tuning might only look like fine tuning. In reality, according to the theory, it would really be random given the billions of universes that are going on all at once. As David Lane Craig said, it’s like the idea that if you deal the cards enough times, every hand will eventually come up sooner or later, no matter how unlikely.

The problem is that sometimes a theory can take on a life of it’s own. Kind of like Darwinian evolution, which is possibly the biggest lie still routinely taught to our children.

So I say multiverse, schmultiverse. It’s just a theory, and sort of an outlandish one at that. Don’t be conned by these subtle discussions that, perhaps even unwittingly, tend to chip away at our strong belief in God. Look it up, and you’ll see what’s behind it.

Genius?

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“Darwin Speak” Casual Quote of the Day:

“If the conditions are right, molecules can just spring out of nowhere.”

(Stephen Hawking, on Genius by Stephen Hawking, after summarizing Stanley Miller’s “remarkable discovery” ostensibly creating amino acids in an apparatus in 1952).

And On the Other Side:

“The Oparin-Miller Model is probably evolution’s most widely accepted theory of origins, but it faces a number of problems . . . [and, after listing 8 of its biggest problems and discussing the odds not only of amino acids forming by chance, but also proteins, which would also be necessary to make cells, and thus life, possible] . . . In short, chance could not produce even one protein. And a “simple” single-celled bacterium contains thousands of different proteins. What then, are the odds of assembling all the proteins necessary for life? You probably don’t want to know. Coffin noted:

‘Morowitz has determined the probability for the origin of the organic precursors for the smallest likely living entity by random processes. He based his calculations on reaction probabilities, a somewhat different and more accurate approach than most other such computations. The chances for producing the necessary molecules, amino acids, proteins, et cetera, for a cell one tenth the size of the smallest known to man (Mycoplasm hominis H.39) is less than one in 10 to the 340,000,000 or 10 with 340 million zeroes after it.'”

 (James Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard, quoting Harold G. Coffin, Origin by Design)

And This:

 “I’m an Atheist.”

 (Stephen Hawking, found at http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/im-atheist-stephen-hawking-god-space-travel-n210076)

And a Word of Caution:

One of the most despicable things we do in the natural world is to paint people who believe in God as stupid, something a show like Genius by Stephen Hawking does. By presenting only the evolutionary theory, and by titling such a portrayal as “Genius,” the show attempts (in a not-so-subtle fashion) to chip away at our faith by making us feel dumb. Don’t let them do it. The truth is that there are lots of problems with Darwinian Evolution, and knowing the truth – or the Truth with a capital “T” – is what makes you a genius.

Quotes of the Day!

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“Darwin Speak” Casual Quote of the Day:

“Life was given to us one billion years ago.”

(Lucy, played by Scarlett Johansson, from the movie Lucy)

 

And On the Other Side:

“Thus, radiocarbon is not only incapable of dating the Earth to billions of years, but shaky even for thousands.”

(James Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard.)

 

And Because They Drug Lucy Into This . . .

“Echoing the criticism make of his father’s habilis skulls, [Richard Leakey] added that Lucy’s skull was so incomplete that most of it was ‘imagination made of plaster of Paris,’ thus making it impossible to draw any firm conclusion about what species she belonged to.”

(The Weekend Australian, May 7-8 (1983) (reprinted in Ray Comfort, Evolution, A Fairy Tale for Grownups, at 97).

 And . . .  

 “It no longer matters whether there are huge gaps in the fossil record or whether the record is as continuous as that of U.S. presidents. And if there are gaps, it does not matter whether they can be explained plausibly. The fossil record has nothing to tell us about [the molecular details of life].”

 (Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box)

Quotable Quotes

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“Darwin Speak” Casual Quote of the Day

“An evolutionary change like that can take millions of years.”  

(Matthew Fox, in the movie Extinction, describing a zombie mutant).

And On The Other Side

“In one graduate class, the professor told us we didn’t have to memorize the dates of the geologic systems since they were far too uncertain and conflicting. Then in geophysics we went over all of the assumptions that go into radiometric dating. Afterwards, the professor said, “If a fundamentalist ever got hold of this stuff, he would make havoc out of the radiometric dating system. So, keep the faith.” That’s what he told us, ‘keep the faith.’”

(Biologist Gary Parker, in From Evolution to Creation, quoted in James Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard.)

Particle Physics and God

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I recently watched a fascinating documentary called “Particle Fever” that chronicles the search for the Higgs boson, which is sometimes called the “God Particle.”  The nickname is a bit controversial, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the substance of the documentary and the interesting all-or-nothing scenario that it set up.

You see, right now scientists explain the universe mostly by using a theory called the “Standard Model” of theoretical particle physics, which has been very good at predicting much of what experiments in physics have actually found. As described by the various scientists in the documentary, formulation of the Standard Model is the result of roughly 400 years of work, in which scientists have gradually found that the universe is something enormous yet simple, seemingly complex yet incredibly elegant and symmetrical. Indeed, symmetry (in the sense of how parts might integrate into a whole, might remain consistent and or unchanged despite any kind of transformation, and can exist independent of specific dynamics) is the kind of elegant order that begins to hint most strongly toward intelligent design, or God.

In addition, the Standard Model relies on what are called “fundamental constants,” which are numbers that determine the entire structure of the universe. Now these constants get pretty complicated, but for now just realize that everyone – from God-believing scientists to complete and total atheists – understand that these numbers are far too precise to be based on chance in just this universe. In the documentary, one scientist explained that his knowledge of this incredibly precise fine tuning naturally led him to question whether he was wrong about everything he had learned and believed on some fundamental level. What he meant was that it’s hard, if not impossible, to square this incredible precision with a Godless universe. It’s that exact.

Now if you make enough scientists question their worldviews, you’ll end up getting a new scientific theory so that they don’t have to question those worldviews anymore. And the theory that some scientists ultimately came up with to help them explain this incredible fine tuning is called the “multiverse theory.” That theory speculates that our universe is actually only one of multiple possible universes – so many, like millions or billions (the kinds of numbers evolutionists like to use) that those really precise numbers that make up our fundamental constants might still only be random. If you have a billion universes, so the theory goes, one might randomly end up like our universe – which looks so precise that it must have been created by some intelligent being, but which is really created by chance. This can get a bit complex, too, so if you want to see a more detailed write- up about the multiverse theory versus intelligent design, go here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/multiverse-and-the-design-argument.

But for now, just realize that the Standard Model absolutely predicted something like the Higgs boson as one of its essential particles, and so the documentary that I watched showed scientists using the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva Switzerland to try to detect it. Everyone figured it was out there, but they had different theories about what it would mean to the universe and, indeed, to the future of physics. And all of that depended on not only finding the Higgs, but also learning its mass.

The reason scientists needed to know its mass was because a “light” Higgs boson is the kind of thing that would correspond to the symmetry of the Standard Model, and even helps lend credence to what’s called “supersymmetry,” in which additional particles might likely be discovered to build a complicated but even more elegant way of describing the universe. A “heavy” Higgs, on the other hand, would tend to point to various theories using the concepts of the multiverse. But here’s the rub: if, in fact, the multiverse theory were to be confirmed, it would mean that everything in our universe might be completely random, caused not by intelligence but chaos. And if that were true, then physicists could never be sure that they’d ever find answers to anything else because the answers to any number of questions in a multiverse theory might only be found in other universes, which means that we might never find them at all. In fact, most everybody in the documentary felt like a heavy Higgs might mean the end of physics altogether. Pretty dramatic, huh?

So the movie came down to this. If the Higgs mass was about 115 times the mass of a proton, it would point to supersymmetry. If it was about 140 times the mass of a proton, it would point to multiverse. Order and elegance versus chaos, or, as some people might speculate, God versus no God.

All of this is interesting, but sometimes I think that people miss the forest for the trees, or the universe for the particles in this case. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote: “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) We have been without excuse since creation, and now we have even less of an excuse to clearly see and know the existence and glory of God. Back in the day, scientists like Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Louis Pasteur, and countless others worked within their knowledge and belief of the existence of God and with the notion that their discoveries were guided by God. The famous astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, wrote, “I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy, for ‘the heavens declare the glory of God.’” (quoting Psalm 19:1).

Why, then, do so many people miss what is so obvious to others? Why do they reject the notion of God so adamantly that they’ll create theory after theory to debunk any idea of intelligent design?  I think the reason is found in two separate scriptures. First, in 2 Peter 3:5, Peter writes that people will “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” And through this deliberate forgetfulness, since they “d[o] not know the righteousness that comes from God [and they seek] to establish their own, they [do] not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:3) In short, people forget what is obvious to the rest of the world because they simply don’t want to serve anyone. They want to be their own god. But hey, as Bob Dylan once sang, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Anyway, back to the Higgs and the documentary. Now I personally don’t need to know the mass of a particle to convince me that God exists. And I assume that if the Higgs came back light and the multiverse theory was somehow discredited, people who simply don’t want to believe in God would figure out some other theory to cast doubt. But leave it to God Himself to remind us who is in control here. Because when they ultimately found the Higgs – and they did – its mass was exactly dead center between 115 and 140, which left both sides scratching their heads. We thought we had it all figured out. We thought it was all or nothing. But God said it was neither. It was something else entirely. It’s not so much the “God Particle” as it is simply one of God’s particles. Like everything else, God created the Higgs, and its mass is what it is. Now deal with it.

And finally, why in the world would I write about this interesting natural world drama in a blog about the supernatural? Well, because in the middle of the documentary, during one of the trial runs for the Large Hadron Collider as they were counting down toward the test, something truly fascinating happened. During that countdown from five to one, at just around minute 27:51 of the documentary, the camera cut to a young scientist waiting for the test to begin. And as the countdown reached three, she closed her eyes and briefly bowed her head. I think she prayed.


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