Friday, October 31, 2014

What is the Relation between Science and Religion | Reasonable Faith

What is the Relation between Science and Religion | Reasonable Faith

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is the Universe Designed? Evolution and God's Existence.

Homo Sapiens and Evolution

It was pointed out  that there is a fundamental difference between  the human animal and the other  animals, or pre-human forms living and developing . Homo sapiens simply means   thinking  man because learning , remembering, knowing,  thinking , imagining and creating new  ideas,  transmitting knowledge over long distances of space-time  makes us human. The basic distinction therefore  marking  the human animal  is the power to think,  to invent, to create new ways of living  and developing  all kinds  of gadgets and machinery  helping humans  in their gradual conquest of nature. Only humans  developed conceptual thought, articulated  and propositional speech,  and also  develop  a whole  new universe of symbols, which help to interpret and deliver meaning  to  human thought and mutual communication between people. Man is not only a thinking animal , he/she is also  a symbolic animal . Human beings   live  with awareness of death and the passage of time,  and use their minds  to unravel and make intelligible  their existence: it’s origin, it’s value and it’s possible destiny. Only human beings  develop   moral values  as guidelines     of their behavior and only humans develop  some kind of religion. They pray, perform religious rituals and  expect some existence beyond the grave. The human mind  reaches  toward the Absolute . All those above characteristics make  human beings  unique among all other  terrestrial   living forms.

     However  man is an animal  and  in many fundamental ways  he/she shares  the  needs  similar to the other  animals. He/she  is a body, a living organism  subject to all the conditions  and circumstances  of his material and biological existence . Those needs are  imperative  and must be satisfied if  he/she is to survive in quite often hostile environment . That’s  why man must fight for food, a place for development,  create some form of  family life  to prolong his/her existence in children and  transmit  life from generation to generation . Most of those needs are  simply biological and physiological in nature  and  the individual  goes through the stages    of  life from  birth through childhood , mature development , aging  and  dying  like any other form of life on earth.

            After Darwin’s book  “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”  published in 1859  most biologists gradually accepted  the theory of evolution as the explanation  of the phenomenon of man  as one  among so many other  living forms  on the ladder of evolution from the most  primitive forms of life  like the bacteria, through  gradual increase of complexity,  and  almost   invisible  changes  of different organisms to the appearance of some  highly developed  one like the pre-human  primates,  to  the appearance of man. The theory of evolution  is  generally accepted  and most biologists  are  dedicated  evolutionists .

            The universe is also  a  process in development   from  the big-bang, that is it’s beginning  through gradual formation of subatomic particles , atoms , molecules and finally galaxies  and  constellations of stars . The physicists tell us   that the process  of development  began about  14 and ½ billion years  and is still going on . The universe is in the process of becoming  and in constant expanding . The galaxies move  away from each other with tremendous speed approaching the speed of light . Some galaxies  come  into existence  and  some  may  end up  vanishing  into what astronomers call black holes . Our galaxy that is the  heliocentric  system  is  very insignificant  and by no means extraordinary in any way. Our earth  one of the satellites of the sun is a small insignificant speck compared to the unimaginable dimensions of the known universe. The distances  between  different stars and galaxies are so immense  that  our minds seem to be unable even to imagine  the  space time immensity . For example  the speed of light  which is the  fastest phenomenon   in nature is three hundred  thousand  kilometers per second or hundred  eighty six thousand   miles per second. For example  when I look at the sky at night and see  a star in some place among other stars,  the star I am seeing  may not exist in reality because what I see really is the light which  is hitting my  retina  and it’s source  that is the “star” may  already a long time not exist.    It shows how limited  is the power of our senses and their perceptions  although  we have electronic telescopes  to look far into the distance in space and also  microscopes  to look into the  infinitely small structure of matter. With all this  our knowledge  is  and remains limited  and the prospective of growths of knowledge is practically infinite. How would we  see the universe  if instead of  our five senses  we would have ten or fifteen ? Would we perceive  different  aspects of reality?
            But   what about the evolution of man?

Biologists  belong to two  groups: those who admit evolution  and  also  the  qualitative difference  of man  from other  highly developed animals. This group of biologists belong to defenders  of some kind of design intrinsic to the living biological organism and therefore demand  some information at the basis of development  of different   kinds of living organism . For those thinkers there is a  fundamental difference  between man  and other  forms of life because there exists  an intrinsic principle in man   spiritual  and immaterial. It is  the  personality  of man , his  awareness   and self-awareness and  his intellectual powers  with which   he is not only able to create concepts , articulated in propositional speech, but also to acquire analogical knowledge  of  the absolute  source of all finite reality. This last ability  creates the underpinning of religious beliefs . In all other respects man  is subject to the laws of  biological evolution.

          The second group of biologists  explains evolution of humans  as  just another form of life , not different  in any significant way  from other living organisms .  They maintain that  human intelligence  differs from the intelligence  of men- like- primates  only in degree  but not otherwise . They draw the conclusion that all activities  and accomplishments of man  can be explained without the rest   by  the size  and complexity of the brain  and it’s  physiological and neurological functioning . The bigger the  brain , the more  complex the neural  interconnectedness  of  the different centers in the brain , the more  intelligent behavior is  developing in the human  being. The important thing  is  that they do not deny  the difference  between man and higher primates  but they  admit only  the difference in degree and not in kind .  This  explanation  ultimately is based on scientific reductionism and  the assumption that all reality including  man  must be   explained  as matter  in the process of change.

            It is crucial  to see  the consequences of such interpretation of  evolution  of man. If man is nothing else  but matter  in movement , anything spiritual or immaterial  is simply automatically  rejected as unreal. The consequences of this view again, although seemingly  concerning man and his nature only, have  very radical impact on  the question of the existence of God. The radical evolutionists  admit only  what the scientific methods  show . That is  the conviction  that only scientific knowledge  is true knowledge  and  consequently no other forms of knowing are accepted  as  valid and sound  means to reach reality . This is  radical naturalism and materialism  which to the radical evolutionist is the basic fundamental outlook on reality . Therefore  the evolution of man is presented as only one among many  forms  of matter in movement although living matter .  The consequences of  such interpretation of evolution  lead of course to  radical atheism . In the monotheistic religions  God is  considered an immaterial , supernatural ,  creator of all reality  through His Omnipotent power   to  makes something non-existent to become a being . Creation  is absolutely unique  and proper exclusively to the infinite power of God . All finite beings material or not  are  creatures  that is dependent entities  maintained  in existence by  the continues act of creation. Creation did not begin  some  fourteen and ½ billion years ago as physicist believe but it is  a continues maintenance of each  even the smallest being in  existence and in it’s action . God  is  Infinite Spirit , Immaterial  and  not  discoverable  directly by human senses  or even  by direct intellectual insight . As  such God cannot be  the object of any scientific investigation because science  requires  some form  of sense experience  ,  measurability and  repetition of  the experiments . God therefore  although eternally present  is beyond the reach of  any scientific method of investigation.  The only way to know  something about God  is the philosophical analysis  of the nature of being as such and even then  human knowledge about God always remains  on philosophical level only analogical in it’s very essence. It is obvious therefore  that  if man is  nothing else but a little in degree only  not  in kind  higher  primate animal,  religion , knowledge of God, and any talk about supernatural  spirit  or  soul is  already from the beginning radically rejected  .
       The central question here is  whether science  explains  or is able to explain reality. There are those who believe that science would help towards complete understanding of all that is. All problems ,  sooner or later will  be solved completely by science. The word “science” became very  ill defined   in meaning  and extremely charged with emotions. It is applied to all fields of human knowledge and all kinds of all unsuitable subjects as the new idol of contemporary man.  This attitude is the reason  also of  interpreting the nature of man within the context of evolution of life  as  homo sapiens  the  higher  thinking animal. The word higher used here  indicates that in comparing  the “ intelligence” of animals  and  the mental accomplishments of man,  there is no  fundamental difference between the two. In most activities we share  our way of living with other forms on the planet. Animals, birds, reptiles, fish and even insects also struggle for power the way humans do. They organize themselves in social groups, many build shelters, nests,  and some control their environment by  ingenious inventions . Not only that, but some of them collect wealth . They fight , they procreate,  and their sense perceptions in many cases are far sharper and better than human sense perceptions . Nevertheless  neither the individuals or the group of the animals make any substantial progress , discover new ways of acting, and basically remain on the same fundamental instinctual level of living .

            Man however possesses a new way of life,  the  power  of inventiveness , symbolic  communication and thinking , articulated  and propositional speech ,  logic  , mathematics and technological  production of all kinds  of machinery . All of this creates the universe of man .  Man is also aware of his  limitations , his transition  of life , the presence of  suffering, aging,  all kinds of sickness and  the inevitable death . Man  is  a  searcher  for meaning and  the only known  living being praying,  and adoring some  kind of divinity or God.  The basic difference  between other animals  and humans  is   man’s concern  for the meaning of his/ her life.  All the above characteristics point directly to the  immaterial spiritual  principle in man which does not exist in other animals .

The conclusion therefore is obvious. The difference  between man and other forms of life, even those highly developed forms is the difference in kind, in essence ,  not only in some small degree. 

Evolution  seems to be  a well-founded   scientific theory although it has  many weak points, for example the Cambrian explosion  which remains unexplained until now. The most fundamental  question discussed here  is  the   gap  between  the concept of man in  the philosophy of being and  the Christian  idea of man .  For example : in Christianity  there is the dogma  of  man’s personality:

1.      Man  alone is made in the image of God and  having a spiritual aspect  he/her has  the dignity of  special creature of God.
2.       The dogma of man’s special creation , the origin of a human race  cannot be explained on purely natural basis in  the  process of reproduction  but requires an intervention of the Divine  causality.
3.     The dogma of individual immortality  of each human person that means that the human soul is capable  of subsisting  after the decomposition of the human body and  needs reunification with the body  in God’s resurrecting action and,
4.      Finally  man possess free will  and is  responsible for his/her  relationship to God’s will and he/she has the power of free choice between good and evil, between loving his/her  Creator or  turning against Him.

            Evolution seems to be a well established  scientific theory and as such  it is  like any other phenomenon  the effect of God’s action. The existence of God is proved      by metaphysical arguments  :  The Prime Mover, the First Cause and the Cosmic Intelligence.  The  Judeo Christian God  has all those attributes  plus personality. There is one God  and three Persons in One God. The crucial point however is that God, the Creator revealed Himself to humans as a Person  to created persons. Only a Personal God  established  the covenantal relationship  with the Patriarchs of the Old Testament  (Abraham and his descendants) and  the choice of Moses and God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai) . The liberation of the  Jews from the oppression of Egyptian  slavery  was  the first phase of the liberation   from the power of sin and death accomplished by God the Second Person of Trinity,  Jesus Christ, who became incarnate  God in flesh . Christ , the God-man  was  in everything  human except sin . The redemption accomplished by Christ is  far  greater than  the  exodus of the Jews from  Egypt because Christ’s redemptive action  on the Cross embraced all mankind  and gave  the possibility  of anyone who believes in Him of Eternal life in a resurrected  body.  In Christianity  man is created as an image of   God.  This image  does not relate to the bodily form but  to the inner  spirit . Man is a person  and as a person  he/she can relate freely and  meaningfully to the Personal God.
            The observational data which we mentioned above concerning the nature and activities of homo sapiens clearly show  that the human soul  is qualitatively   different from the  other animals,   even the highest primates.

  1. Abstract thinking
  2. Articulated speech
  3. Propositional language
  4. Self-consciousness and self-knowledge
   5. Search for the meaning of existence
  6. Freedom of choice and judgment
  7. Awareness of eternity and death

All the above  show that man is a  person endowed with intelligent  knowledge, conscious  of moral obligation and values and also able of self-control  and  evaluation of himself  as  moral agent. Objective moral values and  human conscience  make of human beings responsible  agents.  None of the above is found among other animals . That is why  the human  soul or form  is different in kind  from those of the souls of lower animals
            It is important to remember that evolution  although it is the well-founded scientific theory is nothing more  but scientific theory,  and consequently subject to modification , change or even replacement with the progress of science.  Homo sapiens  as  a partner with God  in the adventure of existence  is  called  to eternal life  granted to him/her  through the grace of  God . Being however  free  human beings  have the ability to turn hostile to God . Lying to themselves  and not willing to acknowledge their  hostility to God and their own depravity they will try  to  create their own  theories  and pseudo-explanations  of  the meaning of life. All atheistic attitudes ultimately are based on unproven  assumptions  that  the only reality is somehow material and no other can be admitted. However  one must always remember that this materialistic dogma  has never been convincingly proven by anyone  although it in many points violates  the fundamental principles  of sound thinking.

 Leszek Figurski

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What Evolution Can't Explain Part II

What Evolution Can't Explain Part II

What Evolution Can't Explain Part I

What Evolution Can't Explain

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pope Francis:The Big Bang Theory and Evolution do not eliminate the existence of God.

God set them in motion

Horsehead Nebula - Photo courtesy of NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The Big Bang theory and evolution do not eliminate the existence of God, who remains the one who set all of creation into motion, Pope Francis told his own science academy.
And God's existence does not contradict the discoveries of science, he told members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Oct. 27.
"When we read the account of creation in Genesis, we risk thinking that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand, able to do everything. But it is not like that," he said. "He created living beings and he let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave each one, so that they would develop and reach their full potential."
God gave creation full autonomy while also guaranteeing his constant presence in nature and people's lives, he said.
The beginning of the world is not a result of "chaos," he said, but comes directly from "a supreme principle that creates out of love."
"The Big Bang, which today is held as the beginning of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator, but requires it," he said. "Evolution in nature is not at odds with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve."
Members of the academy, many of them renowned scientists and philosophers, were meeting at the Vatican Oct. 24-28 to discuss "Evolving Concepts of Nature."
Science, philosophy and religion have all contributed to how people see the world, how it began and what it all means, said the introduction to the academy's program.
Despite many scientific advances, many mysteries remain, said Rafael Vicuna, professor of molecular genetics and molecular biology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. While Charles Darwin shed light on the origin of species, one of the most perplexing questions is the actual origin of life, Vicuna said.
How is it that inert, inanimate matter turned into something living, and how is it that the first living single-celled organisms were still so amazingly complex, he asked in his talk Oct. 27.
Chemistry, biology and genetics have been able to identify the tiniest components and basic building blocks of living organisms, but there is something more than just what they are made out of that makes them "living," he said in an interview with the Catholic newspaper, Avvenire.
"I can know perfectly what a cell is made up of, but how it works deep down, what really is the dynamism that makes it move -- that is, life -- I don't know," Vicuna said. "A refrigerator and a car are complex structures that move, but only with an immense amount of energy from the outside. Life, in its deepest essence, remains something that escapes us."
In his talk to academy members, Vicuna said the laws of chemistry and physics "do not suffice to grasp the whole of life ... that life is more than molecules."
Another mystery is how everything in the universe, from the smallest atomic particles to every galaxy, is spinning and orbiting, another academy member said.
Rudolf Muradyan, a quantum and mathematical physicist who also works in cosmology, said in his talk that spin "is the most important problem in our universe. It is the only thing that prevents the universe from totally collapsing."
Without bodies rotating on an axis or orbiting each other, everything would fall: all the stars would become one giant black hole, the earth would crash into the sun and the moon would collide into the earth, he said.
He said the problem with the Big Bang theory is it explains linear motion, with everything moving outward and expanding from one common point as a result of the "bang," but it does not account for the rotation of celestial objects, and theories that the universe was "born spinning."

Philosophy and religion have to be careful to not make the mistake of trying to solve the mysteries in nature by making God "responsible for a natural process that escapes scientific explanation," Vicuna said.
An example of this, he said, can be found in the intelligent design movement, which accepts that life has evolved over eons but asserts that it is so complex that its development must have been guided by a supreme being or intelligent agent.
Not only are intelligent-design proponents "denying nature's autonomy, but they are also revealing some degree of ingenuousness, because science has already provided explanations for the development" of structures they had considered to be too complex to occur naturally, he said.
However, there is an argument for the "apparent design, order and purpose observed in nature," he said, which is not to be confused with intelligent design and the "God of the gaps."
Pierre Lena, a French Catholic astrophysicist, told the assembly that there are laws at work in the entire universe that are "eternal, creative, uniform in space and time and stable" enough to be fairly predictable.
"But these laws have a mystery. Why are they there? We can't touch them, but they act. They are not God," he said, but they are a sign of the "supranatural existence of something."
He told Catholic News Service that scientists can observe laws working exactly the same way over time and space. This "strange property" means scientists can figure out what most likely happened one billion years ago, as well as "in a remote galaxy and here in this room with the same accuracy."
"If the laws were changing, science would not be possible," Lena said.
Early philosophers like Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine all felt nature's wonder and beauty reflected the beauty and perfection of their maker, Vicuna said.
However, "the existence of a divine creator of life and the universe" comes from personal belief and conviction, not scientific proof; science cannot empirically prove or disprove a God that transcends the natural sciences, he said.
America Media

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