Moral Code

The Irrationality of Reductionism

Reductionism defines life in a bottom-up manner. That is, it explains life in terms of physics and chemistry. Reductionism claims that an organism can only be explained if it is dissected into parts-or broken down into the properties that constitute it (molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, etc.) Ontological reductionism claims that nothing in the universe exists outside of physical objects. Everything can be can be explained in terms of physicochemical objects. As such each physical thing can therefore, be explained in terms of these properties.[i] Bottom-up reductionism is predicated upon the proposition that life started in the form of simpler processes which advanced in a process known as complexification. Carl Sagan, a famous scientist of the 20th century, perceived himself and other people in this manner: “I am a collection of water, calcium and organic molecules called Carl Sagan. You are a collection of almost identical molecules with a different collective label.”[ii] This is what he promulgated as an astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist.

Sagan’s mindset does nothing other than demean the intrinsic value of human life. His beliefs claim, implicitly, that the martyrdom, achievements, plight, and suffering experienced in this life all end at death. There is no life, no judgment, no reward beyond the grave – Nothing!!! Some reductionists argue that God is a mere concept that can be explained as a “mental state of active neurons desiring a father figure.” Needless to say this statement is not a scientific one. It is mere speculation that has never been empirically proven to be true. Personally, I require more faith to believe Sagan’s theory than to believe what the Bible says about the stature and dignity of human beings. On what do reductionists base the belief that life ends at death forever? None of them has come back from the dead to authenticate their claims. But we have One who was dead and is alive forevermore. His resurrection has been attested by His followers as well as secular historians. He alone can speak with authority regarding what lies beyond the grave. The Bible tells us that human beings will continue to exist in another dimension in God’s realm for eternity. Reductionism is not equipped to explain many experiences of human life at all. For example, how does it break down the experience of guilt or repentance or the expression of love between two human beings or even ethical behavior? Some of these concepts and experiences can only be understood from the vantage point of metaphysics where science and reductionism’s authority is vacuous.

After Carl Sagan’s death, his wife said “Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we know we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl.”[iii] But why would this be a tragedy for her if belief in life beyond the grave is just an illusion and her husband was nothing but a collection of calcium, atoms, molecules as they espoused? Wouldn’t his death be a mere disintegration of an animated piece of dust with organized DNA known as Carl Sagan returning to its creator, the universe? Wasn’t that the expected outcome unless, of course, deep down Mrs. Sagan felt a haunting whisper reminding her that her husband was more than matter? A tragedy is what happens when something of intrinsic value is lost not when a bunch of atoms and molecules disappear into nothingness. Human life is sacred. God composed a Moral Code that stipulates, in a language we all can understand, the sacredness of human life and all that defines it. “Thou shalt not kill” does not only forbid the taking of human life, it also affirms its greatness, dignity and goodness. The loss of a human life is a sobering and traumatic experience that changes us forever. Time and again when tragedy strikes, individuals, families and entire communities are gripped with bewilderment and sorrow. They reach out to each other and hold vigils and grieve together in an effort to find healing. Interfaith services are held in memory of the deceased. Not once has any of the speakers at these services ever turned to the crowd to tell them that what was lost were nothing but matter and chemical properties. This is time to turn to Jesus, the Author of life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending of all creation, not science, not reductionism. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3, KJV).

Sources

[i] Kaiser, M.I. (2011). The Limits of Reductionism in the Life Sciences. Available from http://philpapers.org/archive/KAITLO-2

[ii]  Sagan, C. 1980, Cosmos (New York: Random House), pp. 127.

[iii] Druyan, A. (2003). Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe . . . and Carl Sagan. Skeptical Inquirer Volume 27.6. Available from http://www.csicop.org/si/show/ann_druyan_talks_about_science_religion

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Two Types of Exodus

Moses is known to believers as the leader of that historic physical Exodus from Egypt. He was the man God used to deliver Israel from physical bondage; from the iron grip of the world’s most formidable empire then. Moses stood before Pharaoh who was regarded as a god, to demand freedom for the people of Israel with nothing in his hands but a piece of wood. But God performed unprecedented miracles with that piece of wood by the hand of Moses until Israel walked out of Egypt to their freedom in the sight of all Egypt. The exodus recorded in the Old Testament was a literal event that happened to real human beings of flesh and blood who were freed from literal slavery. This is why the authors of the New Testament exhort us to treat the record of the events in the Old Testament as our example. They are occurrences from which we can learn a lot about spirituality. But political and physical freedom do not constitute spiritual freedom. Israel struggled spiritually on their way to the Promised Land.
On Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with Israel and gave them a Moral Code, a Blueprint by which they could guard their freedom, live in prosperity, and thrive as individuals and as a nation. But Israel perpetually lapsed back into sin, even after settling down in the Promised Land. Israel was physically free, but spiritually, they lacked complete freedom. Another exodus would be necessary to accomplish spiritual freedom. Jesus came to lead this spiritual exodus. The difference between the exodus led by Moses and the one led by Jesus is that the former was limited to ancient Israelite while the latter was totally inclusive of Jew and Gentile alike. By His death and resurrection, Jesus made spiritual freedom accessible to whoever desired it. Those who believe in Him, no one else can enslave again. That is why some of the most spiritually free human beings are found in the most oppressive sociopolitical and religious environments; under despotic rule.
In actual fact, the Bible makes a startling pronouncement that no one is free (Romans 6). We are either slaves to sin or slaves unto righteousness in Christ. But those who are in Christ as slaves to righteousness are free indeed. This seems paradoxical. However, the believer has nothing to pay for deliverance from sin and by voluntarily accepting Jesus, he or she comes under His authority, not to be oppressed but to be freed from the grip of Satan. He or she enters into another kingdom, another realm where Jesus is Lord and King forever. The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets the believer free from the Law of sin and death. By being voluntarily bound to Christ, the believer becomes a free child of God and an heir to the eternal kingdom together with Jesus, our Lord.
The spectrum of the Exodus that Jesus led is characterized by unprecedented eternal benefits such as freedom from fear and eternal life. The believer passes from death unto life, and shall not come into judgment. No weapon formed against them shall prosper. They endure as trees planted by the rivers of water, in Christ Jesus.

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