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The Big Bang Theory, Galaxies, Expanding Universes, God & Theology Concepts – Part 3

© Donald Reinhardt, March 26, 2012

Science and philosophy-theology can be at peace and not war with each other, as long as each discipline of study recognizes the strengths as well as weaknesses of the other side. This means that the scholars of each discipline should apply the proper logical-critical-rational thinking that serves each well and correctly. Previous parts of this discussion and analysis are linked here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.
 

8th Anniversary Photos of Hubble Telescope Smash Hits, NASA  

Natural  Science and Philosophy-Theory-Religion, Strengths and Weakness

 

Humans are thinking and emotional living beings. A person without the ability to think well logically and rationally is not quite a complete and full person. And the same thought applies to emotion because we recognize that stable and balanced emotional responses are critical to the survival of any one person and the whole human species.

 

First, let us compare the known strengths of the natural sciences:

·         use the scientific method with logic and reason, hypotheses, experimentation and results of those experiments to reach conclusions, findings and laws based on the data

·         can accurately and precisely measure material entities and phenomena

·         can use mathematics and statistics to establish probability and anlayze data 

·         satisfy the human need to know and explain natural phenomenon and the material world 

 

The strengths of philosophy and theology relate to:

·         the use of logic and reason to understand human existence and relate this to concepts of : reality, illusion, human thought, knowledge, ideas, morality, ethics, purpose of life and living, spirit, soul, God, belief and worship issues and other similar and related topics and issues

·         the fact that science functions in the material world exclusively and that science cannot distinguish the moral and ethical issues related to issues such as abortion, euthanasia, war, capital punishment, cloning and related concepts

 

The weakness of the natural sciences include the inability, based on pure natural science alone, to arrive at moral and ethical decisions – this falls into the disciplines of philosophy and theology.

 

The weakness of philosophy and theology lie in the fact that even though these disciplines rely on reason and logic, they cannot absolutely prove certain concepts to a person who depends on physical, material, verfiable proof. In fact, when you think about the concept of faith for each discipline you see this a little clearer. The scientist has faith in his instruments, measurements and if the scientist is an atheist or agnostic the only things that exist are material. The philosopher and the theologian believe and have faith that what they do is valid and that they have sought and found the truth in their disciplines.

 

Religion – Weakness and Strengths versus Science and Philosophy-Theology

 

You can be sure that more than one person has said something like this: I guess I could  believe in a good God if there were not so many bad things and evils in the world and if I did not think, as I do now, that humans simply created a convenient God in their minds, hearts and words because they wanted something to satisfy them and their need for perfection or something better out there. There's much to think and debate in that statement. 

 

Religions are so varied and so diverse that there is great difficulty in sorting all of the contradictions and distortion and the truths and the half-truths. What is written and documented about all the known religions is a lifetime of study and pursuit and each religion has its scholars and its tenets, principles, foundations, followers and believers as well as disbelievers and skeptics

 

It is true that many humans believe there is a God or gods. Who God is, what God does and which religions or religion, if any, contains the most truth is not our purpose here. Instead, the purpose of this article is to cause everyone to thing about the Big Bang, the expanding universe and galaxies as they relate to all of these ideas of science, philosophy and truth and ultimately to God and Intelligent Design concepts.

 

A Lawyer’s Look at the Proofs for the Existence of God

 

In a court of law and before a jury of peers, all that really should matter is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But as many of you already know even the guilty are entitled to defense lawyers whose objectives are to weaken the prosecutor’s case, poke holes into the case and “prove” that you are not guilty of that offense if there  is reasonable doubt.

 

Dean Overman is a distinguished lawyer of International Affairs and a Templeton Scholar of Oxford University and he makes some important points in his very thoughtful book entitled:A Case for the Existence of God . Dean Overman believes that this debate may never end because each side – theistic or atheistic – is engaged actually in different walks of walk of faith. Theists have faith in the existence of God and atheists have faith that there is no god or any gods.
Dean Overman's Book Cover photo by Reinhardt © Rowan and Littlefield, Boston
A Case for the Existence of God – Forward and Appendix of the Book

Dr. Robert Kaita, Principal Research Physicist at the Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton University says this about Francis Collins: "…the leader of the Human Genome Project, is not being hyperbolic when he calls the genetic code the language of God.”  In the Appendix, Dean Overman explains algorithms such as the genetic code and living matter and how they each are linked in this discussion of God. These  important ideas  are presented by Overman:
  • "Information's mystery is not a proof for God's existence, but God's existence is consistent with the mystery."
  • "The existence of a genome and a genetic code divides living organisms from nonliving matter. There is nothing in the physical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence in a code."
  • "The sequence hypothesis set forth above means that the sequence is consistent with but independent of the laws of physics and chemistry. The complex sequences are not contrary to the laws of physics, but they cannot be generated by the laws of physics."

A Case for the Existence of God, Chapters and Overviews

Overman emphasizes major points in science and philosophy, highlights them in multiple and clear ways and re-introduces and expands on them. Overman presents the logic and the truth of what scientists and philosophers say and believe and he explains thoroughly how to understand this information.

This book has chapter titles with long phrases and many words. These are the lengthiest and the most descriptive headings you will ever see for any book. Here are chapter outlines for A Case for the Existence of God.

Contents. A comprehensive chapter and subchapter guide with all relevant sections neatly outlined.

Chapter 1. "Introduction"

The author indicates explains our known universe has a beginning and a predicted end but he aligns himself with those "who also believe in a more expansive worldview that offers some hope for meaning and a future that has continuity with history."

Chapter 2. "The Question of God's Existence: The Radical Contingency of the Universe Points to a Necessary Being." Both science and philosophy are ways of knowing and understanding. Overman believes, as do I, that science and religion should not be and are not contradictory. Science affirms the concepts of intelligent order in laws and mathematics. However, "the laws of physics are merely contingent components of the universe. Overman believes that the laws of physics do not  serve as the necessary sustaining source of the universe and he believes that cause of the universe appears to require a personal explanation."

Chapter 3. "Many Generations of Philosophers Have Made the Mistake of Assuming Hume and Kant's Objections Disposed of the Cosmological Argument"

Conditional and logical necessities are contrasted here by Overman. Both Hume and Kant's necessities are "logical" however, a "conditional necessity" – which is the result of valid deductions from premises and conditions – is logical and can stand. Kant assumed an infinite past which is proven wrong by the theory of relativity. Hume and Kant's concepts of the "limits on the boundaries of knowledge," are no longer valid arguments according to Overman.

Chapter 4. "A Universe with an Infinite Past Would Still Require a Necessary Being to Sustain Its Existence"

Overman says that these laws are not self-explanatory and that "Their inherent mathematical nature cries out for an explanation. Why fail to address the reason for their existence? Why stop one's thinking at the laws of physics? These laws appear to be only contingent components of the universe." In essence, the laws of physics are dependent or contingent on something else.

Chapter 5. "Because the Universe (or Multiverse) had a Beginning, It is Contingent and has a Cause for Its Coming into Existence"

Entropy, quantum fluctuation in a quantum vacuum that started the universe suggests, according to Overman, that great precision dictated the origin of our universe. No one can explain how or why this happened in any known scientific way. No law of science covers this or proposes this and we see time and time again.

Chapter 6. "The Philosophy of Nature Set Forth in this Book Emphasizes the Intelligibility of the Universe Noted in Einstein's Statement: The Most Incomprehensible Thing About the Universe is That It is Comprehensible. A Significant Issue in Examining the "Something" that Exists is Why is it Intelligible?"

There is an inherent mathematical beauty in math itself and in the mathematical expressions found in music, fine art and nature. "Rationality, order and fine-tuning" are consistent with the astonishing intelligibility of the physical world." Mathematics affirms the harmony of nature and being or existence.

Chapter 7. "Evolution is not Dispositive of the Question of Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing and Why the Universe is Rational and Intelligible"

Overman discusses the issues of Darwinism and Richard Dawkin's book "The God Delusion" which ridicules and demeans the concept of "God". Dawkins describes the delusion of God in a materialistic and degrading example. Dawkins also attacks the renowned atheist turned theist, Anthony Flew who defends theism in his book "How to Think Straight: An Introduction to Critical Reasoning."

Chapter 8. "The Mystery of Information Challenges a Strict Materialism"

This excellent analysis covers  information, quantum theory, probability, and mental processes that may well transcend the purely physical. The concept of information is presented as "irreducible seed of the universe."

Chapter 9. "The Existence of God Gives an Absolute that is Consistent with the Real Existence of Right and Wrong"

The issue of evil, free will and God are thoroughly and well-discussed here in this chapter and provide material for many discussions and writings.

Chapter 10. "Evidential Force of Religious Experience: If God is a Person God can be Known to Only a Limited Extent by Abstract Reasoning and is More Fully Known by Personal Acquaintance in an I-Thou Relationship with the Wholly Other"

 

This chapter forces us to think in terms of the chapter’s title and confronts us with the “fact” that often we know things personally, not by scientific facts and information, but by the very nature and encounter with that person.

Chapter 11. "Recorded Experiences of Encounters with the Divine Bear Witness to a Way of Knowing That Includes Kierkagaard's Kendskab, Buber's I-Thou, Otto's Wholly Other, and Marcel's Mystery"

Overman takes us directly to a person to person interaction between humans and "God." As he chooses to review important aspects of nine people of significance who encountered God and recorded their disposition and experiences: Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Leo Tolstoy, Fydor Dostoevsky, Claire Boothe Luce, Malcolm Muggeridge, Simone Weil, Basil Mitchell and Mortimer Adler. All the spiritual awakenings, encounters, new foci of thought and feeling, life-transforming changes, establishment of a rational basis for faith and mystical encounters in the I-Thou relationship.

Chapter 12. "These Nine Witness Testify to Another Way of Knowing that is Incompatible with the Empirical and the Metaphysical Rational Ways of Knowing, but is Beyond the Describable, and Requires Personal Participation, Commitment, and Personal Transformation"

Overman's book and case do not rest on these concepts of personal knowing, but they attest to a special and real way of knowing that some write off all too easily. This point seems to have great validity and merit for further discussion by all.

Chapter 13. "Concluding Reflections and Summary: Theism Requires a Leap of Faith, But it is a Leap into the Light, not into the Dark; Theism Explains More than Atheism, Which also Requires a Leap of Faith"

This is a great summary chapter for A Case for the Existence of God.

 

The important Appendix portions A, B and C are summarized by title alone following.

Appendix A. "The New Mathematics of Algorithmic Information Theory is Relevant to Theories Concerning the Formation of the First Living Matter"

Appendix B. "The Limits of Mathematics and the Limits of Reason, Why Everyone will Always Live by Faith Rather than Certainty"

Appendix C. "The Evidence from Contemporary Physics Supports the Concepts of Personal Responsibility and Free Will"

Selected Bibliography. This contains over 200 wonderful diverse and varied resources.

Index. This is a comprehensive and useful nine pages of finder for subjects and concepts.

Concluding Thoughts on A Case for the Existence of God

This book demonstrates that physics, biology, philosophy and faith in God need not be in conflict and this book illustrates those points.

Since everyone has faith in something, or has faith in the absence of something, then take time to read this book or anything else on this topic?  A Case for the Existence of God  meets our need as humans to think, imagine, question, review, seek, explore, expand, and dig deeper. This  is an essential part of our being human and thinkers. So, the question of the "Wholly Other", the "I-Thou", "Mystery", "Great Spirit", the "Presence" or God is just part of being alive and seeking true knowledge or simply truth. Each of us is on a journey seeking truth, whenever and wherever it can be found, and this book will not disappoint you as one of the paths on that journey. You probably will read, re-read and discuss A Case for the Existence of God many times because it is just such a book. And you will be a wiser person after this reading when all is said and done.

 

This is an updated and revised article that first appeared as a review by me (Donald Reinhardt) of this book which is linked here as – A Case for the Existence of God – An Insightful, Thoughtful Book.

Sources

Dierkes, C. "Stephen Hawking and the Design of a Flawed Argument". Accessed 18 September, 2010 @ BeamsAndStruts.com.
Overman, D.L. A Case for the Existence of God. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, 2010. 229 pp. ISBN 978-0-74256313-1.