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Jeremiah 9:6

"'You live in the midst of deception; in thier deceit they refuse to acknowledge me', Declares the Lord."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is God Scientific?

Beyond Nature
“It is obvious we cannot examine God in a test tube or test him by the usual scientific methodology. Furthermore, we can say with equal emphasis that it is not possible to prove napoleon by the scientific method. The reason lies in the nature of history itself, and the limitations of the scientific method. In order for something to be proved by the scientific method, it must be repeatable…” (Know Why You Believe by Paul E. Little) You know, so many people today classify God as something totally separate from science. In a way, his supernatural nature defies science. But is this really a reason to question his existence? Science has limitations, it can only relate to measurable, repeatable, material things. God is none of these things. But if God really does exist, why wouldn’t we put science into perspective with God? Perhaps God himself isn’t provable by science, (He isn’t exactly from our universe, or confined by it’s laws) but since he created our universe, he would have drastic effects on all branches of science.

Cause and Effect
A good example of this comes from the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect basically says that nothing ever (EVER) happens without a cause. This applies to everything in our universe, and even our universe itself. Ok, so let’s say you fall off a cliff. (This seams to be my favorite illustration… ok, I’m not very creative) let’s say the cause of this effect was a brake failure. The brake failure is a cause, but also an effect of a clumsy mechanic. The mechanics clumsiness is the effect of staying awake till 4:00 in the morning three nights in a row. And the Cause of this… Let’s just say that this could go on for days! Eventually you would have to arrive at something called an “Uncaused Cause”. Now, In our universe, an uncaused cause is a scientific impossibility. Never the less, we know that there was one somewhere down the line. So how do scientists explain this uncaused cause? There are only three ways to explain this. (1) The uncaused cause was not from our universe, or confined by its laws. This is the general definition of “God” don’t you think? (2) the law of cause and effect is false, (this goes against reasoning, and hundreds of years of science). (3) Time has existed forever, thus eliminating the need for an uncaused cause. But there are several problems with explanation #3, which point to an uncaused cause.

Time
Imagine a timeline pointing in two directions
< --------O------- >
the present time is marked by the “O”. Time spans in each direction infinitely. Here’s the problem, If time has existed infinitely, how did we ever arrive at the present time? Let me explain. Lets say you went back in time to the beginning of eternity. When would you arrive? The answer of course is never. But what if you started an eternity ago and headed toward our present time. When would you get there? Never. This strongly suggests that it is impossible for time to exist infinitely. Even Stephen Hawking said, "Time itself must have had a beginning". So this disproves the idea that no un-caused cause was needed due to infinite time. In fact, Time in itself is evidence for a God. We cannot create, reverse, stop, or destroy time in any way. Only an infinite power could have set in motion such a unique and almost unexplainable dimension.

Fibonacci Numbers
Another evidence for God is found in every corner of the universe. Fibonacci numbers are found in spiraling galaxies, flowers, the human hand, musical notes, tree trunks, sea shells, and thousands of other natural designs. Fibonacci numbers are a sequence of numbers starting at zero, and then one, and adding the last two numbers of the sequence to get the next. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144… So what is so special about these numbers? They happen to be very beautiful when incorporated into design. In fact, artists use them in a variety of ways to create stunningly beautiful masterpieces like the Mona Lisa. So are Fibonacci numbers just chance? And why do we have such a strange attraction to them? The best explanation would be that the ultimate artist who created our universe liked the way they looked, and used them multiple times throughout his creation. This isn’t rocket science, but it makes sense.

Personal Challenge
Although we cannot prove scientifically that God exists, or prove that he created our universe, God fills in an empty hole in science that makes everything make sense. To anyone who scoffs at people who believe in God, and think we need to directly prove that there is a God before our schools can teach intelligent design, I want to challenge you to commit to your own expectations and prove scientifically that there is not a God. Just because something can’t be seen, repeated, or tested in a laboratory, does not mean it doesn’t exist.

5 comments:

Sean said...

I absolutely loved the challenge you had at the end of this post. Proving that God does not exist. It sounded a lot like us telling Saddam Hussein to prove he didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Scientifically, and I'm sure you were aware of this when you asked the question, you cannot prove that something doesn't exist. In any post I have made here, I have never said that God does not exist and have made a couple of attempts to say that God and evolution don't need to be separated, however I know you reject this line of thinking. The point I have made is that Intelligent Design does not belong in the public science classroom because it perverts the scientific method and completely eliminates other sections of science. (i.e. restestability, independent validation)

You seem to be confused to the purpose of the scientific method. The scientific method has NEVER to my knowledge been used to prove that a person existed, be it Napoleon, Cesar, or Jesus. The scientific method is used as a process in experimental sciences, such as physics, biology, and chemistry, not in something like geneology. I did like the last seven lines of the first section, and wonder why you can't use that rational to evolution. Ultimately, you're right. Science answers HOW and religion answers WHY.

Time, now is a very interesting subject and can be a very confusing one. There is indeed a beginning to time, in fact we know when this beginning has to be. We know from Einstein that time and space are so connected that they actually become one in the fabric of space. His concept of space-time. Without space there is no time. So the beginning of the universe was also the beginning of time. Now this is much more philosophical discussion than other topics so I'll ask this. Since the idea of cause and effect implies a passage of time can we really expect there to be a cause to the beginning of time and space? With the three options you gave, I would have to choose #2 that the idea of cause and effect is false with respect to the beginning of time. I don't know this for sure, but it would seem like the laws of cause-effect break down at this level, much like the laws of gravity break down at a certain level.

Lastly, just an interesting note. Time is not as untouchable as you make it out to be. In fact, if I want to slow down time, all I need to do is move faster. The closer one comes to the speed of light the slower time goes for the participant. If you have a set of twins and one goes for a space ride (close to the speed of light) for twenty years. When he returns, twenty years older, everyone else on Earth would have aged forty years. (These are estimates) This concept is best portrayed in the movie "Planet of the Apes. Another way to think about it is with the Large Hadron Colliders we have over in France and Switzerland. When we experiment with with atoms and move them close to the speed of light. Say the experiment last an hour. At the end of the experiment you are an hour older, but the atom has not aged an hour. Very weird stuff, but true.

Now if you want to alter time, you need a large amount of weight in a small amount of area. Like a black hole, which by the way we have created a few very tiny ones. Since this weight affects the fabric of space it affects the fabric of time, because the two are essentially one thing. No one yet knows how these massive objects affect time definitively but some of the theories are interesting if not very weird.

Elijah said...

Point taken on the “un-touchability” of time. I guess what I was getting at was how unique, and different time is. We are so used to it, we can’t imagine what it would be like without it. I overstated my case when I failed to remember all that weird Time/Space stuff. So I adjusted my post in light of your correction.

You are absolutely right to say that The scientific method has never been used to prove that a person existed. That was kind of my point, since we cannot use the scientific method to prove that God exists, you cannot expect Christians to do so. Make sense?

You have caught on the fact that I reject the idea that God used evolution to create the earth. I think it’s only fair to explain why. First, the bible, which is the word of God, clearly says that God created the earth in six literal days. Second, it seems unreasonable to think that an infinite power would use a process that would take millions of years to accomplish what he could do with one breath. Third, there is not enough evidence in favor of evolution to reasonably conclude that God must have used it to create the universe. It’s like saying, “I think there is an invisible planet that orbits around the sun and passes close to the earth.” Since there is no reason to believe that there is such a planet, it makes the theory no more viable to say that God made the planet invisible.

You asked the question, “Since the idea of cause and effect implies a passage of time can we really expect there to be a cause to the beginning of time and space?” Ok, let me first say that it took me like 10 minutes to get a hold of this concept before I understood what you were saying, and it was deep! Correct me if I’m wrong, but what your saying is that before time, cause and effect was non-existent. And thus, cause and effect was only set in motion after time and space had already been created. The problem with this is that I do not think all of cause and effect requires a passage of time. This is because it requires no time at all for there to be a cause, the effect is the part that requires time to happen, since it must follow after the cause. Thus, the effect of time causes the time needed to accomplish an effect, (itself). I don’t know if I explained that well enough, but it’s hard to find the right words. In the end, it makes no sense philosophically to say that anything could happen without a cause, though I do get your point. I found it intriguing that you would go against a scientific law, and philosophic reasoning, just to deny the fact that there is a God. This makes me wonder what would it would take for you to believe in God. Ask yourself if you are really open anymore to believe in God, because if you are not, you most definitely have an unscientific agenda.

What I mean by “unscientific agenda” is an agenda that interferes with the pursuit of knowledge. I believe that a scientist can have an agenda that does not interfere with his/her work, (and I think all do). A correct agenda does not decide what parts of science you believe, and what parts you are forced to reject, but it governs what you try to accomplish through science. For instance, through science I am trying to show that it is rational to believe in the God of the Bible. This “agenda” does not force me to abandon reasoning, or facts, but rather is the reason I feel I should explain how these facts fit into the creation/flood hypothesis. It’s exactly like what you said, “Science answers HOW and religion answers WHY”.

In closing, let me ask you a personal question. What would it take for you to believe in God?

Sean said...

What would it take for me to believe in God? More than likely it would be a personal intervention by God into my life in some fashion. Really, how you could describe my belief is that I believe in the idea of God. To me, God is a psychological pursuit alive in minds only because someone believes in Him. To put it in the simplest terms, without believers God does not exist. The biggest hurdle I have ever had to religion are the number of different religions that have existed during humanity's time and every single one of those religions was just as real and true to their believers as Christianity is to you. Most of those religions are now completely gone and their gods have vanished. Ultimately, I believe that this will be the ultimate fate of Christianity and new religions, just as real and true to it's followers, will supplant it.

In other areas, I think you did a fairly good job explaining the idea of time and cause and effect. The reason I stated that the idea of cause and effect implies a passage of time is because of the relationship between "cause" and "effect." A cause can happen instantaneously but the effect happens AFTER the cause, implying a passage of time. I will say, however, that even this idea is being eroded by the weird world of quantum mechanics where apparent effects happen BEFORE their cause. I don't remember exact instances of this, but I remember reading something to this effect. Now with regards to the beginning of space and time (one event), however it occurred, this becomes the ultimate cause. However, to go back to your original post this cause must also have a cause underlying itself, like the mechanic and bike example. At this point we see the the idea of cause and effect break down because to ask for a cause of the beginning of space and time implies that there was something before this beginning. But without time in existence, how could this be. I can only assume then that the law of cause and effect breaks down past the point where time was created. I would point out that this is not the only scientific idea to break down at certain points, as the idea of gravity also breaks down once you get to certain levels. And again this is all contingent upon the laws of quantum mechanics not showing us that effects can come before causes.

Lastly, at no point in any of my posts have I been out to show that God does not exist. Although I don't personally believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing creator, that doesn't mean that I don't understand why others would believe. The only problem I have ever had would be teaching faith-based ideas to children, in public schools, who don't necessarily believe in your God or any god at all for that matter.

Elijah said...

I guess the primary difference between you and me Sean, is you believe God is more like an Imaginary friend, and I believe God is just as real as you and me. I have considered the possibility that God is just something I have made up in my head, however my experience with him has been so real that If God is not real I must be hallucinating. The fact that so many other people have had the same experience seems to indicate that either human brains hallucinate in very similar fashions regardless of an individual’s background, or that God is not a hallucination. And since natural laws cannot explain the universe, It seems much more reasonable to believe that God is not a hallucination. I guess I can’t prove the reality of my relationship with God to you, and you will no doubt think I’m making this all up. However I am glad you can understand why we believe what we do.

In regard to your biggest “hurdle”, I think there are a few facts about Christianity that you might find interesting and helpful. It does seem strange that there are so many religions out there, and that they seem so similar, and that they eventually die out. But before you put Christianity into the same category, I would like to point out a few things that make Christianity unique. First, it is probably the world’s oldest religion. Of course, the Jews were not exactly Christians before Jesus was born, but we worship the same God, and Christianity is really the completed form of Judaism, which is like I said, “probably the world’s oldest religion”. Most religions eventually died out with their culture, but Christianity has spread to every culture on earth, making it a very widely known religion, (it’s not likely to be forgotten very soon). Also, our primary teaching, (the Bible) is the most historically accurate document of its time. The Bible also contains prophesies which have been fulfilled to the last letter. The odds of this happening are like covering the entire state of Texas in three feet of silver dollars, then randomly walking around, digging a hole, and pulling up one silver dollar that has been marked.

But the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions is our teaching on salvation. Christians believe that mankind is sinful by nature. In fact, we believe that we have lost the ability not to sin to some degree. Most religions teach that through proper meditation, fasting, rules, etcetera, we can be good enough to achieve happiness and salvation. The bible teaches that Jesus paid the debt for our sin by dying on the cross. We are covered in his righteousness instead of our sin. All we need to do is surrender control of our lives to God. This is what separates Christianity from all other religions, no other religion has a teaching like this. It is true that every other religion has been just as true to it’s followers, but neither you nor I am concerned about what other people think is true, I think we are concerned about what really is true. Just like a math equation, there is only one true answer, and billions of wrong answers, although some closer to the truth than others.

Back to cause and effect, you are now saying that the law of cause and effect “breaks down because to ask for a cause of the beginning of space and time implies that there was something before this beginning.” You gave gravity as an example of a scientific law that breaks down at some point, but quite honestly, you are comparing apples to oranges. We have no reason to believe that cause and effect ever breaks down, or ever could. The reason you think cause and effect must break down is because you don’t think anything could have existed before time. From a materialistic standpoint you are correct. But the Bible says in genesis 1:1 “in the beginning god created the heavens and the earth.” This implies that God was there before matter and time, and that he was the cause of the universe. He himself existed before time, and thus had no beginning, meaning he is an uncaused cause. Hopefully you can look past your presupposition that God couldn’t exist, and see how much better this Idea fits with reasoning.

I also have problems with teaching faith based ideas in public schools. But intelligent design is no more faith based than macro evolution. I’m not saying we need to teach about the God that created the universe in science class, (that is what religion classes are for) but it is not faith heavy as you seem to think, to teach about the evidence for an intelligent creator. And the lack of evidence that this universe came about by itself.

I know that you are not out to prove that God does not exist. I am not complaining about that. But whether you know it or not, you are out to prove that the universe could happen without God. You have already cemented your presupposition (that a all powerful personal God could not exist), in to place, and you are now trying to justify it. What I am trying to convey to you is that your presupposition does not fit the facts and has all appearances of being false. You can believe whatever makes you the most comfortable Sean, but that does not change the truth, and if you are interested in the truth you must keep an open mind to the Idea that a God who is just as real as you and me could exist.

Sean said...

First of all there is a great book you should read called "Ishmael" It's by Daniel Quinn. In that book you will see a large number of actual cultural deceptions, among them why this culture believes in original sin. It's a very interesting breed.

Secondly, my personal belief in God has nothing to do with my scientific thinking because, as I've pointed out before, they answer two different questions. All of this scientific data I've reported only answer the HOW, whereas belief in God answers WHY. Now my presupposition of no God only dictates that I believe the universe takes care of it self because all the HOWs work so well. You believe God exists because all the HOWs work so well. Regardless, the HOWs work independently and the HOWs are the only thing I've been trying to debate with you. Intelligent design is extremely faith based because without a creator it doesn't exist. All of the evidence is secondary to a belief in a creator. This supposition of faith before the evidence becomes my main scientific gripe. The evidence should be independent of individual faith.

 

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