Philosophy

Seeing Through the Façade

Question: Has anyone provided a proof for God’s inexistence?

Answer: Not even close.

Question: Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?

Answer: Not even close.

Question: Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?

Answer: Not even close.

Question: Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?

Answer: Close enough.

Question: Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?

Answer: Not close enough.

Question: Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?

Answer: Not even close to being close.

Question: Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?

Answer: Close enough.

Question: Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?

Answer: Not even ballpark.

Question: Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?

Answer: Dead on.1

“The claim that the existence of God should be treated as a scientific question stands on a destructive dilemma: If by science one means the great theories of mathematical physics, then the demand is unreasonable. We cannot treat any claim in this way. There is no other intellectual activity in which theory and evidence have reached this stage of development.”2 The author does not vilify or dismiss the landmark achievements of science or their benefits to mankind. What he is saying is that science is not the default intellectual framework for interpreting and understanding life and the universe. There are some things scientists cannot explain.

 

Sources

1.Berlinski, D. (2008). Excerpt. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions. Crown Forum, New York. (Flaps of Book).

2.Ibid. pp. 60

Time: An Enigma

Unharnessable, uncontrollable, irreversible, unalterable, and non-negotiable is the enigma known as time. Time is a mystery that is inextricably bound up with mankind. All our experiences are determined and marked by time: past, present and future time. We know that the past exists because of fleeting events; events that are no more. Without passing events, the past does not exist. The present is marked by current events. If there were no current events, there would be no present.1 The future is a projection or anticipation of what has yet to be. Our past experiences become our memories. Although we live in the present we, at the same time, look back in the past and hope for the future. All this is a futile attempt to describe time.

Everybody operates under the auspices of time. We are all inseparably wrapped up in and with time. We perceive every activity and make every decision from the vantage point of time. Furthermore, our consciousness of time is an ever-present reminder of our own mortality. We race against time, as it were, because sooner or later, time “runs out” on us. There are no rehearsals; no encores.

To each one of us has been given a sliver of time to enter and exit this earth in a process called life, which the Apostle James describes as “a vapor” that appears for a while and then disappears. Our life, this vapor, is measured by time. It is as a flower that blossoms with the morning dew and withers with the scorching sun in the afternoon. The vapor, our life, is action-packed from birth to death. It is characterized by expectations, celebrations, sorrows, ambitions, goals, aspirations, anticipations, mourning and rejoicing. Sometimes excruciating suffering besets us. Other times joyful achievements come our way. Sometimes our hearts break because of heart-rending loss. Other times our hearts sing ecstatically because of unexpected blessings. We laugh in good times and cry and sigh in bad ones. Sometimes alone. Other times with loved ones. Still time goes on.  It is never distracted or hindered or delayed by anybody or anything. Its pace cannot be altered or modified or slowed down. Time just goes on, indifferently, unfeelingly.

Our life is a transient experience foisted on us when we are injected somewhere in the current of time as it flows on. We gain myriad experiences for an uncertain period of time. The precariousness and brevity of our existence can be an unnerving experience because it underscores the fact that the probability of our bodily death is 100%. Nevertheless, this harsh truth is also mitigated by the reality of the corporeal resurrection of Jesus Christ, which gives eternal life with God 100% probability as truth.2 As such, faith in Jesus becomes the only worthwhile choice we can make if we must enter into eternal life, which St. Augustine calls the perpetual present: “If the present were perpetually present, there would be no longer any time, but only eternity.”3  Heman Humphrey positively viewed our short life on earth as “…a threshold of eternity-the infancy of immortality; that here our characters are to be formed for the innumerable ages of future being-that our everlasting happiness or misery is suspended upon our improvement of this inch or two of time.”3 This life is a probationary period and an opportunity to prepare for eternal blessings for believers who place their faith in the Lord Jesus to the end. This timeless truth gives the breath in our nostrils an impressive new meaning with an unimaginable, intrinsic value. We are standing on the brink of eternity! This fleeting existence is enough for us to prepare for our grand entry into a greater and larger existence. The relative ratio of life on earth to eternity is immeasurable. It is incalculable. “It is not one grain of sand to the sum total of the dusty particles that make up this huge and solid earth. It is less.” The eternity that awaits the believer “has no end, for it has no progress. It is duration not in motion, but at rest…The actions of this little limited life are empowered to decide for eternity…We are acting for eternity.”4 This is more than compensation for the shortness of this rigorous life. It is amazing grace with a sweet sound to it.

Sources

1.Hausheer, H. (Sept., 1937). he Philosophical Review, Vol. 46, No. 5 (Sep., 1937), pp. 503-512. Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review. Accessed December 4, 2016 from https://grattoncourses.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/augustine-on-time.pdf

2. Gibbs, C. (2012). Logos 1 of Writing God’s Book of Life. Published by R. Crafton Gibbs via Google E-Books. Pp. 18.

3.Hausheer, H. (Sept., 1937). he Philosophical Review, Vol. 46, No. 5 (Sep., 1937), pp. 503-512. Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review. Accessed December 4, 2016 from https://grattoncourses.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/augustine-on-time.pdf

4.Humphrey, H. (1833). Sermon No. 91: Time Measured by Eternity. The American National Preacher: 1834. Original Sermons from The Living Ministers of the United States (Dickinson, A. ed.). Vol. 7 & 8. S.W. Benedict & Co. 150 Nassau Street. New York. Pp. 290- 301

  1. Ibid.

Scientism Not Science

Scientism is not a science. Rather it is a form of a worldview, a filter through which its advocates view and interpret the world. But it does not end there. Scientism actually claims to have a sole understanding of our universe; how it is made, its laws and how it operates. Scientism’s community of believers look to it for guidance in their ethical decisions and conduct. They believe that valid knowledge can only be in science and that only their worldview provides a framework for understanding and interpreting truth. In a way, it is fast developing some characteristics of a cult. Scientism believes it has the capacity to guide mankind into what to believe; understanding who human beings are and their purpose. Sadly, it claims exclusivity and monopoly of rational thinking. Its proponents insist that it is the default intellectual platform from which all truth emanates. This unfortunate position has alienated scientism from disciplines such as philosophy, history, arts, social sciences, literature, etc… Unfortunately, in their zeal to prove that they are right all the time, advocates of scientism have adopted a desperate approach of incorporating qualitative speculations, philosophical assertions, metaphysical perspectives, and presuppositions [1].

On the other hand, science relies on repeated experimentation, protracted observations as well as measurements to gain its claims about discoveries of characteristics and operations of our natural world. Science demands a certain level of faith in the correctness of the methods it adopts and applies; a faith that affirms the existence of the natural world it explores, and that this natural world operates in accordance with its inherent laws. This translates into a belief system that can be understood. It is a belief system that has also distanced itself from the miraculous. But science acquiesces to its limitations. For instance, science does not have the ability to disprove the notion that the physical world is a result of the Mind of God; a Mind that is capable of miraculous violations and interruptions of the laws governing the physical world [2]. Science can never disprove the existence of the soul which the Bible talks so unequivocally about. Ultimately the choice lies with every human being; whether to adopt an empirical, quantitative scientific view of the physical world or a faith-based view of reality. People can also choose when to believe scientific claims and when not to. Free choice is our inherent right. This is a personal choice and should not be violated or denigrated.  Commenting on scientism, Michael Shermer, the Founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society said “Scientism…is the self-annihilating view that only scientific claims are meaningful, which is not a scientific claim, and hence not meaningful….”[3].

Scientism has used pejorative language that is demeaning, mocking, scornful and even blasphemous against any form religion, particularly against the Christian faith. Christians are not anti-science. After all science has Christian roots.  Many early scientists were Christians including Louis Pasteur, Carl Linnaeus, Michael Faraday, Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Blaise Pascal, etc… “The faith of these great scientists was not a separate part of their thinking; indeed, it was integral to their thinking as they operated within a Christian framework” [4]. Christians celebrate most landmark achievements of science that have made life better for humanity. But they reject the idea of being coerced into choosing between science and God. This, as Dr. John Lennox asserts, is like asking people to choose between Henry Ford and engineering to explain the existence of Ford vehicles and their engine combustion.  How can the Agency compete with mechanism and law?

Sources

[1]. Halverson, D. (2016). The Poverty of Scientism. Accessed from http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2016/04/12/the-poverty-of-scientism/

[2]. Stephen Lehar (n,d.). Scientism: A system of ethics based on reason without recourse to supernatural belief. Accessed from http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/Scientism.pdf

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. Faith Facts (2008). Are Christians “Anti-Science?” Accessed from http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/questions-of-christians/are-christians-anti-science