Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm starting another blog.


I have started another blog, ncu9np, in which I will post links to articles, videos, and podcasts that I find interesting. It will include, but not be limited to, the subjects I write on in this blog. Posts on the new blog will not have much commentary, I will continue posting to this blog when I want to express my views on something.


Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Video: Privileged Species: How the Cosmos is Designed for Human Life


Privileged Species with Geneticist Michael Denton Gets Its Online Premiere (Evolutionnews.org)

The documentary with geneticist Michael Denton, Privileged Species, is available to see now, free on-line.

Dr. Denton extends the argument for intelligent design to the ultra-, ultra-fine-tuning of the cosmos for carbon-based life forms like ourselves. You cannot watch these 33 minutes without coming away with the very powerful conclusion that the universe was designed with us very specifically in mind.

The documentary investigates the special properties of carbon, water, and oxygen that make human life and the life of other organisms possible, and it explores some of the unique features of humans that make us a truly privileged species.


(The article The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis by Michael J. Denton published on bio-complexity.org is on the same subject as the video.)

This video is about Dr. Michael Denton's views on the ways the universe is designed to support complex organisms like humans and why humans are unique among the species on earth. Dr. Denton is a highly respected scientist who's research focuses on locating genes responsible for inherited retinal disease in humans. His research has led to the identification of the gene used in the first successful gene therapy for inherited blindness.

The video opens with a clip of a materialist saying that man is an insignificant speck on an insignificant planet orbiting an insignificant star in an insignificant galaxy. The remainder of the video contradicts this view. The video explains how special humankind is and that we live on a special planet in a universe that was designed for life. At the close of the video Michael Denton explains that the fitness for the universe to support human life is one of the major discoveries in science and religion. The video demonstrates the difference in the worldviews of materialists and non-materialist. Materialism is nihilistic, negative, and depressing, while non-materialism is inspiring and uplifting. It is entirely consistent with the evidence John Lennox has discussed, that atheism is harmful and belief in God is enormously beneficial. (My post Skepticism, The Big Lie. Activist Skeptics and Atheists are a Danger to the Health and Well Being of Believers also discusses the evidence showing that spirituality and belief in religion are beneficial.)

When you consider the number of "coincidences" that allow life to exist, it is absolutely astonishing. This video focuses on carbon, water, and oxygen, and that alone is amazing. But when you add the equally amazing cosmological fine tuning, and the factors that make earth an ideal place for intelligent life to exist, it is mind boggling. Coincidence or the anthropic principle lose any force they might have had as explanations, and the multiverse theory (for which even mainstream scientists admit there is no evidence) doesn't explain it either.

In this video:

What is man's place in nature and what is his relationship to the rest of the universe?

  • T. H. Huxley:
    The question of questions for mankind—the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any other—is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in nature and of his relations to the universe of things.

The materialist world view.

  • Bill Nye "The Science Guy", "I am just another speck of sand."
  • For most of human history man regarded himself as unique.
  • By the 19th century a growing number of people were questioning man's special status.
  • According to Darwin and his followers there was no fundamental difference between humans and other animals. After Darwin, many scientists believed humans arose naturally.
  • George Gaylord Simpson:
    Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.

    George Gaylord Simpson
  • Part of this quote by Carl Sagan is in the video. I have included the fuller quote for context:
    “There is something stunningly narrow about how the Anthropic Principle is phrased. Yes, only certain laws and constants of nature are consistent with our kind of life. But essentially the same laws and constants are required to make a rock. So why not talk about a Universe designed so rocks could one day come to be, and strong and weak Lithic Principles? If stones could philosophize, I imagine Lithic Principles would be at the intellectual frontiers.”

    Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Science indicates the universe is designed to support complex life such as human beings.

  • The discoveries of science over the past century have indicated that many features of our universe seem to be specially prepared to allow life to flourish. If these features were even the slightest bit different, life as we know it could not exist.

The forces of nature are fine-tuned to allow the universe to support complex life.

  • There are four forces of nature: the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. If any of these were slightly different from what they are, life would be impossible.
  • Gravitational force: If the gravitational force was weaker, stars and galaxies would not form. If it was stronger the universe would collapse.
  • Strong nuclear force: If the strong nuclear force was smaller the only stable element would be hydrogen. If stronger, there would be no hydrogen and therefore no water and no life.
  • Supernovae: The chemical elements are produced in stars and distributed by supernovae. Too many supernovae and they would destroy life, too few and there would not be enough elements for life to exist.
  • Fred Hoyle:
    A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology

    More information on the fine-tuning of the universe to support life can be found in my post
    The Fine-Tuning of the Universe to one part in 1010123is best explained by an intelligent designer and creator, aka. God.

Carbon

  • Carbon is the basic building block of living things. It is only the element that could be used to build complex self-replicating systems.
  • Carbon is capable of forming an almost limitless number of compounds.
  • Carbon compounds are only stable within a narrow range of temperatures.
  • Carbon makes technological civilization possible: natural gas, petroleum, clothing, sugar, plastics, anesthetics are carbon compounds.

Water

  • Water is one of the best solvents. A large number of substances are soluble in water.
  • Water is less chemically reactive than other solvents so water does not limit the chemical reactions that substances in water can undergo.
  • It has just the right viscosity for life. If water's viscosity was lower, structures in cells would not survive when subjected to outside forces. If it was higher, circulation of blood in our bodies would be impossible.
  • Water has a high heat capacity which maintains stable temperatures on the planet and in living things.
  • Evaporative cooling of water is greater than most other fluids. When the temperature outside an organism is higher than its body temperature, evaporative cooling is the only way to dissipate heat. This benefits humans more than other animals because we are hairless and it allows us to be active longer during the heat of the day in warm climates.
  • Unlike most liquids water expands when it freezes allowing ice to form on the top of bodies of water. This provides insulation and prevents them from freezing solid which would make life impossible.
  • Water works with the tectonic cycle to recycle the elements and minerals needed for life. Tectonic action brings new materials to the surface and water dissolves and erodes rocks making elements and minerals available for life. Eventually materials are washed to the sea floor where they are recycled by tectonic activity.

Oxygen

  • Animals get energy by using oxygen in slow combustion of hydrocarbons.
  • Oxygen is necessary to for complex organisms to exist.
  • Earth is just the right size to have an oxygen atmosphere. A planet larger than earth would retain primeval gasses like hydrogen and helium, a smaller planet would lose all its atmosphere.
  • Plants use sunlight in photosynthesis to obtain energy. Oxygen is a waste product of photosynthesis.
  • Photosynthesis needs visible light to work but visible light is just a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • However most of the sun's output is visible light.
  • The earth's atmosphere is just the right composition to allow visible light to reach the surface where plants can utilize it and produce oxygen.
  • Human life requires at least 20% oxygen in the atmosphere.
  • If there was too much oxygen, there would be spontaneous combustion.
  • O2 which is prevalent in the lower atmosphere is much less reactive below 50ºC. but if the concentration of O2 was over 30% spontaneous combustion would occur.
  • O2 does not absorb heat. The huge increase in O2 in the atmosphere in the last billion years had no effect on the heat balance of the earth.

A Privileged Species

  • The elements and compounds needed to make a self replicating system are also fit to maintain a complex creature like ourselves.
  • The human brain has powers including mathematical reasoning that far surpass the abilities of other animals.
  • The physical design of the human larynx enables us to utilize a much broader range of sounds than any other mammal, facilitating sophisticated verbal communication of complex ideas.
  • The human hand is better adapted than any other known appendage for the intelligent manipulation of the physical environment.
  • The human body and mind seem to be optimized in a variety of ways to make us the only animal who can harness the use of fire, which opened the doors to technology.
  • Earth seems optimized for scientific discovery. A clear atmosphere and its location in the galaxy enabled observations that have fueled science. Humans have the potential to do science and are on a planet that allows science to be done. (More at my post on The Privileged Planet)
  • Michael Denton: "In my opinion discovering the unique fitness of the universe for carbon based life and beings like ourselves is one of the major discoveries of 20th century science and one of the major discoveries of all time in the area of design, religion, [and] science ..."

Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Video Lecture by John Lennox Explains Some of the Scientific Evidence for God.



In this post:

  • Science is limited, it cannot answer questions about the meaning of life and ethics.
  • Naturalism claims everything can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics but that is not true, information, semiotics (signs with meaning such as letters and words), mathematics, and scientific laws cannot be explained by chemistry and physics.
  • The DNA in living organisms is semiotic, it must have been produced by a mind.

This video covers some of the same material as the video in my previous post. I recommend reading that post because this post will be mostly on the subjects not covered there.

In this video, John Lennox Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford lectures on the theme: "Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational?" In the lecture, Lennox explains how science provides evidence for the existence of God and for the supernatural. He also explains why miracles can occur and he discusses the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus as an example of a miracle that occurred.

Science provides evidence for the existence of God

The limits of science.

Lennox explains that all the early scientists believed in God. They expected nature to be intelligible because they believed it was created by God. Unfortunately, over time some scientists have come to believe in Scientism, that science is the only way to arrive at truth. But in reality science is limited. Science cannot answer questions like, "What is the meaning of life". Science cannot answer questions of ethics. Rationality is bigger than science. Lennox also explains that God is not a god of the gaps who's role is diminished with every scientific discovery. God is the creator of the natural laws scientists are trying to understand. He says that science can provide one kind of explanation but there are other kinds of explanations and if you want a complete understanding you have to consider things beyond scientific explanations. He uses the example of a car. You can understand a car in terms of mechanical engineering that explain how it works, and you can also understand a car in terms of person, Henry Ford, who founded the corporation that produced the car.

Materialism is Incoherent

Lennox says that the fact that we can do science is evidence that naturalism is false and that the supernatural is real. He explains that belief in naturalism undermines itself because a natural origin would not produce a human mind able to reason reliably. This is covered in my previous post (linked above), and I also provide more information on this subject on my web site. In contrast to materialism which is incoherent, theism is coherent and does not conflict with science as was explained in the previous section above.

Evidence for the supernatural

In addition, according to naturalism, everything can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics, but in reality there are some things that cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics. These include: information, semiotics (signs that have meaning such as letters and words), mathematical equations, and scientific theories. None of these can be reduced to chemistry and physics and therefore naturalism must be false. The information in the human genome is semiotic and while it is represented in molecules of DNA the way written information is written in molecules of ink, the information and meaning in DNA cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics any more than the meaning of a written document can be explained by chemistry and physics. Only a mind can produce information and meaning. The fact that the information needed to produce life is not reducible to chemistry and physics is strong evidence that materialism is false and that life was created by God (the creator of life).

More information on why natural processes could not produce the information in DNA can be found at: Cellular mechanisms for non-random mutations do not explain how the vast amounts of genetic information in cells could arise naturally. and Materialism Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code. Intelligent Design is a More Reasonable Explanation.

Miracles

In the next part of the lecture, Lennox turns to the subject of Miracles. He explains why miracles are possible and refutes some objections to the possibility of Miracles. He explains that the universe is not necessarily causally closed and there is no reason why God could not intervene. He chooses the resurrection of Jesus as an example of a Miracle that actually happened. He cites the witnesses who say Jesus died, was buried, and was then seen alive. For the details he refers to his book, Gunning for God in which he applied the criterion for evidence and witnesses proposed by Hume (a philosopher who rejected miracles) and shows that by those criteria the evidence shows that the resurrection occurred.

Outline of the Lecture

Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational?

  • Definition of the Problem
  • The Supernatural
    • Is there a supernature?
    • The atheist view.
    • There is no conflict between science an theology.
    • But atheists say there is.
    • The conflict is actually between naturalism and theism.
    • Blind faith vs faith based on evidence.
    • Christian faith is based on evidence.
    • Science provides evidence for God
      • Early Scientists believed in God.
      • Why scientists stopped believing in God.
      • Scientism: science is the only path to truth.
      • But actually, science is limited.
      • There are other ways to know truth.
      • Different kinds of explanations.
      • God is not a god of the gaps.
      • Scientists have faith that the universe is intelligible.
      • The fact that we can do science is evidence that naturalism is false.
      • Darwin's doubt: naturalism is incompatible with science.
      • Darwin, Haldane, Plantinga, Nietzsche
      • Scientific evidence for the supernatural
        • Naturalism undermines rationality, theism is coherent.
        • Naturalism says everything can be explained in terms of chemistry and physics
        • Certain things cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics
        • Scientific theories and mathematical equations cannot be explained in terms of chemistry and physics - they are not physical, they are immaterial
        • Information is not reducible to physics and chemistry.
        • Semiotics cannot be reduced to chemistry and physics.
        • The human genome is semiotic.
  • Miracles
    • The possibility of miracles and the actuality of miracles.
    • Refuting objections to miracles
    • First objection: people didn't know the laws of nature
    • Second objection: now that we know the laws of nature miracles are impossible.
    • The actuality of miracles.
    • The resurrection of Jesus.
  • Questions from the Moderator
  • Questions from the Audience

Quotes from the lecture.

Albert Einstein
“You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn around and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”
J. B. S. Haldane
It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.
Nietzsche
Indeed, only if we assume a God who is morally our like can “truth” and the search for truth be at all something meaningful and promising of success. This God left aside, the question is permitted whether being deceived is not one of the conditions of life.
Antony Flew
“I now believe there is a God...I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.”
...continued...
It's the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence' ... 'Can the origins of a system of coded chemistry be explained in a way that makes no appeal whatever to the kinds of facts that we otherwise invoke to explain codes and languages, systems of communication, the impress of ordinary words on the world of matter?’

Additional quotes from this video can be found at Video Lecture by John Lennox Explains why Atheism is a Delusion Incompatible with Science.


Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Video Lecture by John Lennox Explains why Atheism is a Delusion Incompatible with Science.


"Is God a Delusion?" Lecture by John Lennox


In this post:

  • Belief in God, the creator of natural laws, does not conflict with belief in science, the study of natural laws.
  • Belief in religion and spirituality is enormously beneficial to the individual.
  • Atheism is incompatible with science because a brain that was produced by natural selection would have evolved to enhance survival not apprehend truth and it would not be a reliable tool for understanding anything.

Atheism is a delusion

In this video of a lecture given by John Lennox Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Lennox refutes the assertion that belief in God is a harmful delusion, and he makes the case that it is atheism that is a harmful delusion. Lennox reviews the evidence that belief in religion and spirituality is beneficial to the individual, that Christianity has made an enormous positive contribution to civilization, and that atheism has been responsible for enormous harm. (A post on the benefits of spirituality and religion can be found here and links to several posts on the harm caused by pseudo-skepticism (atheism) can be found here.)

Lennox also makes the case that science and theology are not in conflict. Science and theology provide different kinds of explanations. You can explain a car by describing an internal combustion engine, and you can explain a car as a product of the company founded by Henry Ford. Both explanations are true, but they are different kinds of explanations. Many Nobel Prize winning scientists believe in God. Lennox says, "We owe modern science to Christianity directly. All the early pioneers Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Clerk Maxwell were all Christians." He says Christian faith is based on evidence and the faith modern scientists have that nature is orderly and subject to natural laws originated from religious beliefs about God. Science is man's attempt to understand the universe created by God. God is not a god of the gaps who's role is diminished with every scientific discovery. That misconception arises when you believe there is only one kind of explanation. God is the creator of the natural laws scientists are trying to discover.

The conflict is between atheism and theism. Lennox sides with the theists and concludes that it is atheism that is incompatible with science. A brain that arose through natural evolution, that was selected for survival not truth, would not be a reliable tool for understanding nature. [More here.] Atheism undermines the belief that we can understand the natural world, it undermines the foundations of science. [In Promissory materialism isn't even plausible, it is contradicted by the history of science I also point out that the multiverse theory, which atheists cling to as a non-theistic explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe to support life, also undermines science because the theory is unfalsifiable and when there are an infinite number of universes, anything can be explained by chance rather than by natural law. A third way materialism undermines science is that it makes a priori metaphysical assumptions in favor of naturalism that artificially limit the scope of science.]

Outline of the Lecture

  • Lennox explains what atheists are saying about belief in God.
  • During the lecture he provides evidence that belief in religion and spirituality is beneficial to the individual. He also discusses:
    • Atheists say belief in God is wishful thinking but if there is a God, then it is atheism that is wishful thinking.
    • Religious conflicts exist but Jesus repudiated the use of violence to defend himself or his message.
    • Religion is not the same as Christianity.
    • The Romans found Jesus innocent of inciting violence.
  • The positive contribution to civilization by Christianity has been enormous.
  • Atheism has been responsible for enormous harm.
  • Atheists have spread the false notion that Christian faith is blind faith.
  • Christian faith is based on evidence.
  • Atheists have faith that the universe is intelligible.
  • Atheism undermines itself: a brain produced by natural evolution is not a reliable instrument for discerning truth.
    • Science and belief in God do not conflict it is science and atheism that conflict.
    • We owe modern science to Christianity
    • More on how atheism undermines itself
  • Scientific explanations do not rule out explanations at other levels.
  • The Christian God is not a "God of the gaps" used to explain anything science cannot explain. The Christian God created the natural laws that scientists are attempting to understand.
  • Lennox concludes that atheism is a delusion.

Quotes from the Lecture

Atheists say belief in God is a harmful delusion.

Steven Weinberg

I think the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief; and anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization.

Richard Dawkins author of The God delusion writes that a delusion is

a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence

Belief in religion and spirituality is beneficial.

Andrew Sims

Andrew Sims, past president of Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said: "The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land (from Is Faith Delusion)."
more
In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.

The positive contribution to civilization by Christianity has been enormous.

Jürgen Habermas
For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk.[37][38][39][40]
From the video:
Behind the European Declaration of Human Rights lies Christianity, behind universities, hospices, hospitals, lies Christianity, behind the abolition of slavery lies Christianity. It is a delusion that Christianity has done no good what so ever.

Atheism has been responsible for enormous harm.

John Gray
The totalitarian regimes of the last century embodied some of the Enlightenment's boldest dreams. Some of their worst crimes were done in the service of progressive ideals, while even regimes that viewed themselves as enemies of Enlightenment values attempted a project of transforming humanity by using the powers of science, whose origins are in Enlightenment thinking.

This full quote not in the lecture but it is referenced:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”

This quote is not from the video. I am including it here because it is on the same subject: Layman’s Reflections on Evolution and Creation. An Insider’s View of the Academy

Viktor Frankl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl), a former Auschwitz inmate wrote in The Doctor and the Soul, that the source for much of the 20th Century’s inhumanity has come from the very origins being discussed here.
“If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.

“I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment; or as the Nazi liked to say, ‘of Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers [emphasis added].”

If Frankl is correct, God help us.

Atheists have spread the false notion that Christian faith is blind faith.

Chistian faith is not blind faith, it is belief based on evidence.

biblegateway.com
Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The Purpose of John's Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Atheists have faith that the universe is intelligible.

Paul Davies
"the right scientific attitude is essentially theological, science can only proceed if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a law-like order in nature that is, at least in part, comprehensible to us."

Albert Einstein

Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot imagine a scientist without that profound faith.

Atheism undermines itself: a brain produced by natural evolution is not a reliable instrument for discerning truth.

Charles Darwin

...with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?

Science and belief in God do not conflict it is science and atheism that conflict.

We owe modern science to Christianity

C. S. Lewis

‘Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator.

More ways atheism undermines itself

John Gray

Modern humanism is the faith that through science humankind can know the truth - and so be free. But if Darwin's theory of natural selection is true this is impossible. The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth. To think otherwise is to resurrect the pre-Darwinian error that humans are different from all other animals.

Francis Crick

You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.

John Polkinghorne

If Crick's thesis is true we could never know it. For, not only does it relegate our experiences of beauty, moral obligation, and religious encounter to the epiphenomenal scrap-heap. It also destroys rationality. Thought is replaced by electro-chemical neural events. Two such events cannot confront each other in rational discourse. They are neither right nor wrong. The simply happen ... The very assertions of the reductionist himself are nothing but blips in the neural network of his brain. The world of rational discourse dissolves into the absurd chatter of firing synapses. Quite frankly, that cannot be right and none of us believes it to be so. "

Alvin Plantinga

If Dawkins is right, and we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce—including Dawkins’ own science and his atheism.

Thomas Nagel from Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False

“If the mental is not itself merely physical, it cannot be fully explained by physical science.”

Scientific explanations do not rule out explanations at other levels

Ludwig Wittgenstein

... at the basis of the whole modern view of the world lies the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena.

Atheism is a delusion

From the video:

To sum up ... there are two world views that collide. When it comes to ultimate reality the naturalistic world view thinks the ultimate reality is either the multiverse or mass/energy or something like that. And everything else is derivative including life, consciousness, mind, and the idea of God because there isn't a God he's a delusion. The other world view starts:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him. And without him nothing came to be that came to be.
Do you see the difference? One starts with mass/energy, the particles and ends up with mind the other starts with mind ends up with mass energy. And every scientific instinct I've got parallells the insights of scripture.

Is God a delusion? No. I'm afraid ladies and gentlemen that if you define a delusion to be a persistent false belief held in the face of strong countervailing evidence I would want to suggest to my many atheist friends that their atheism qualifies for that definition.


Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Promissory materialism isn't even plausible, it is contradicted by the history of science.


Summary: Promissory materialism is the belief that anything that cannot be explained by materialist science, such as consciousness and the origin of life, will be explained by materialist science someday in the future. It is based on the belief that in the past, scientific discoveries have always added greater and greater support to the materialist point of view. But this belief is not supported by the history of science. In the cases of the origin of life, cosmology, the evolution of the human brain, junk DNA, catastrophic floods, photoreceptors in the vertebrate retina, the human appendix, and hips bones in whales, scientific progress has contradicted the materialist point of view. And in the case of cosmology and the evolution of the brain, scientific understanding has come to undermine scientific materialism. Developments in cosmology have led to the multiverse theory that overthrows the basic foundations of materialist science: that nature follows intelligible natural laws. The belief that the natural evolution of the brain produced a human brain flawed by susceptibility to superstitions undermines belief in anything including science and materialism.

Promissory materialism isn't even plausible, it is contradicted by the history of science.

The Icon of Materialism: Why Scientism's Cherished Progress Narrative Fails by Jonathan Witt at Touchstone magazine debunks the myth of promissory materialism. When confronted with scientific evidence that seems to contradict atheist materialist beliefs, a materialist often says that that although science might not have a good explanation now, science will eventually find a materialist explanation in the future. For example, current scientific knowledge cannot explain consciousness or the origin of life and these are two areas where materialists frequently reject non-materialist explanations by promising to provide materialist explanations in the future. This is sometimes called "promissory materialism" This faith is science (scientism) is said to be reasonable by materialists because it is supported by the history of science. Phenomenon that were once thought to contradict materialism were eventually explained by materialist science. But if you look at the actual data you see that this faith in scientism is misplaced. The history of science contains numerous examples when the atheist materialist position was wrong.

Jonathan Witt's article makes the following points:

At one time scientists thought life was very simple and could easily arise spontaneously and therefore the origin of life on earth was not mysterious. However later developments have shown that life is very complex and life does not normally arise spontaneously. The progress of science did not solve the mystery of the origin of life, it resulted in the origin of life becoming much harder for science to explain.

In cosmology, it was initially thought that the universe always existed and therefore the origin of the universe needed no explanation. However later developments showed that the universe did have a beginning, the big bang, and it appears to be fine-tuned to support life. The progress of science did not solve the mystery of the origin of the universe, it made the origin of the universe more of a mystery and more compatible with religious accounts of creation.

At the birth of modern science, most scientists believed natural laws were orderly because they were designed. But eventually most scientists came to adopt methodological naturalism and reject supernatural explanations for natural phenomenon. The result of this is that modern scientists, in order to explain the fine tuning of the universe to support life, have had to propose an unfalsifiable multiverse containing an infinite number of universes where anything is possible and natural laws lose all explanatory power. In this case, the progress of science has not provided more reasons to have faith in science, it has led to the undermining of the foundations of science. Promissory materialism promises a scientific explanation for all phenomenon but the multiverse theory makes all phenomenon explainable by mere chance.

In addition to the above points made in Jonathan Witt's article there are other examples from the history of science were the progress of science failed to support the atheist materialist point of view. (See references below.)

Natural Evolution Undermines Materialism (See reference Nancy Pearcey below.)

Scientists who believe in natural evolution believe that the human brain evolved to help the individual survive and it did not necessarily evolve to help him determine what is true and what is false. They say this caused the brain to evolve to be susceptible to superstitions and they offer that as a materialist explanation of religious beliefs. Materialists also say consciousness is an illusion and free will is an illusion. According to their beliefs, any sense you have of what is true and what is false is an illusion. But materialists seem to have a blind spot when it comes to applying these beliefs uniformly. If you accept the materialist scientific point of view, that the human brain is not reliable, then belief in anything is not rational. Applied uniformly, this would include belief in materialism ... materialist science undermines itself. The progress of science didn't support belief that the human brain is rational as materialist atheists believed themselves to be. The progress of science led to the belief that the human brain evolved for survival not truth and is not reliable.

Junk DNA did not stay junk for long.

When biologists first started to examine the genetic material (DNA) in organisms, they could not explain the function of most of it. They called this unexplained genetic material "junk DNA". In this case materialists didn't promise to have an explanation in the future. Materialists were too enthusiastic about using junk DNA as a proof that God does not exist. Materialists made the theological argument that life could not have been created by God because they believe God is perfect (21% of atheists believe in God) and would not produce junk DNA. But if scientists had promised that in the future they would have an explanation for junk DNA, they would have been right. The materialist theory of junk DNA was not supported by later findings. It has been shown that junk DNA is not junk it has functions. The progress of science doesn't show that DNA is full of junk left over by blind, undirected, evolution as materialists promised, the progress of science showed that DNA has many functions beyond simply coding for proteins. Materialist predictions failed again.

Catastrophic Floods of Biblical Proportions

When geological evidence of ancient catastrophic floods reminiscent of the biblical flood story was first described, it faced fierce resistance. Geologists tried to explain its cause as gradual erosion from glaciers. But eventually these catastrophic floods were confirmed by science. This evidence of ancient catastrophic floods which seemed to support the flood myths found in many religious traditions was never proved by science to be anything other than evidence of ancient catastrophic floods. Despite fierce resistance and unfair tactics, the progress of science did not support the materialist view, it supported the view that was more consistent with religious beliefs.

Photoreceptors in the Vertebrate Retina

(Reference: Phys.org: Specialized Retinal Cells Are a "Design Feature," Showing that the Argument for Suboptimal Design of the Eye "Is Folly" by Casey Luskin)

It used to be thought that "the vertebrate eye is 'poorly designed' because the optic nerve extends over the retina instead of going out the back of the eye." Materialists argued, as they did with junk DNA, that this 'poor design' is evidence against intelligent design. However, later research has found that the structure of the retina improves visual acuity:

"Having the photoreceptors at the back of the retina is not a design constraint, it is a design feature. The idea that the vertebrate eye, like a traditional front-illuminated camera, might have been improved somehow if it had only been able to orient its wiring behind the photoreceptor layer, like a cephalopod, is folly."

Fiber optic light pipes in the retina do much more than simple image transfer by John Hewitt

The progress of science didn't add support to the materialist's view that the structure of the retina is a poor design better explained by natural evolution than intelligent design. The progress of science showed that the structure of the retina is actually an excellent design.

The Appendix

(Reference: The Useless Appendix and Other Darwinian Myths by Casey Luskin)

Materialists argued that because the appendix in humans had no known function and was subject to infection causing appendicitis, the appendix was better explained as a product of natural evolution than of intelligent design. However, later research showed that the appendix has important functions as part of the human immune system. The progress of science didn't add support to the materialist's view that the human appendix is better explained by natural evolution than intelligent design. The progress of science contradicted the materialist's belief.

Hips Bones in Whales

(Reference: Now It's Whale Hips: Another Icon of Darwinian Evolution, Vestigial Structures, Takes a Hit by David Klinghoffer)

Hip bones in whales were also thought by materialists to be vestigial organs for which natural evolution was a better explanation than intelligent design. However later research has shown that hip bones in whales have a function in reproduction. Once again the progress of science contradicted the materialist point of view.

Promissory materialism is not plausible: the materialist view is often contradicted by the progress of science.

Promissory materialism is based on the belief that anything that cannot currently be explained by materialist science will be explained by it someday in the future. But this belief is not supported by the facts of history. In the cases of origin of life, cosmology, human brain, junk DNA, catastrophic floods, photoreceptors in the vertebrate retina, the human appendix, and hip bones in whales, the progress of science has shown the atheist materialist point of view was wrong. And in the case of cosmology and evolution of the brain, scientific understanding undermines materialism. In order to maintain belief in materialism, cosmologists have had to construct a multiverse theory that overthrows the basic foundations of science: that nature follows intelligible natural laws. The belief in the natural evolution of the human brain undermines belief in anything including science and materialism.

References

The Icon of Materialism
Why Scientism's Cherished Progress Narrative Fails

by Jonathan Witt

For instance, through much of the nineteenth century, the scientific consensus was that microscopic life was relatively simple, little more than microscopic sacks of Jell-O. The scientific community also accepted the idea of spontaneous generation—that creatures sprang to life spontaneously out of things like dew and rotting meat. Taken together, these pieces of conventional scientific wisdom suggested that the origin of the first living cell deep in the past was hardly worthy of the term mystery—a material explanation seemed obvious.

But in 1861 Louis Pasteur conducted a series of experiments that discredited the notion of spontaneous generation. And in the next century, scientists began amassing evidence of just how complex even the simplest cell is. Today we know that cells are microminiaturized factories of astonishing sophistication and that, even more to the point, such sophistication is essential for them to be able to survive and reproduce. Matheson himself conceded in his debate with Meyer that no adequate material explanation has been found for the origin of the cell.

In sum: We have come to learn that spontaneous generation was a fantasy. We have discovered that even the simplest cells are highly sophisticated and information-rich organisms. And the only cause we have ever witnessed actually producing novel information is intelligent design.

...

Cosmology and physics provide another counter-example to the grand narrative. In Darwin's time, conventional scientific wisdom held that the universe was eternal.

...

Near the same time that scientists were realizing this, there was a growing awareness of what is now widely known in cosmology as the fine-tuning problem. This is the curious fact that the various laws and constants of nature appear finely calibrated to allow for life in the universe—calibrated to such a precise degree that even committed materialists have abandoned blunt appeals to chance.

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Satanism's grand progress narrative holds that as we learn more and more about the world, purely natural or material explanations will inevitably arise and grow stronger, while design arguments will inevitably collapse under the weight of new discoveries. But the opposite has happened in cosmology and origin-of-life studies.

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the insight that we live in a world with various underlying laws and constants that we can profitably investigate has long been non-controversial. Moreover, the idea was encouraged by the belief that nature is the rational and orderly work of a divine mind

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The theological, and specifically theistic, commitments of the early men of science were crucial to the birth of modern science.

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Many later scientists abandoned science's fertile theological heritage, opting to restrict themselves to purely material explanations and insisting that science should trade only in hypotheses consistent with materialism.

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The cosmic-sized case in point is their invoking untold billions of unseen, undetectable universes to argue that ours is just a rare lucky one among all these untold universes, one with a life-sustaining combination of physical laws and constants. Never mind that the idea is un-falsifiable, and never mind that such a multiverse would itself require exquisite fine-tuning in order to generate even one life-sustaining universe.

...

The same dogmatic thinking may help explain how some nakedly misleading arguments against intelligent design continue to circulate among the proponents of scientism. So, for instance, intelligent design is dismissed as an argument from ignorance when it's actually based on people's uniform experience of designed systems and the cause-and-effect structure of the universe.

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At other times, opponents of intelligent design attack almost the opposite straw man, warning that design proponents view the cosmic designer as wholly removed from nature except when he comes down to tinker with an imperfect creation.

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None of these straw-man attacks hold together under close inspection, and none of them alter the reality that scientism's grand narrative of a manifest destiny is a manifest charade. Its failure presents a golden opportunity to beckon both science and the broader culture out of the flatland of materialism and back toward a richer, and more reasonable, understanding of reality.

Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself by Nancy Pearcey

An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth -- which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

...

To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion -- and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

...

Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, "If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones." Thus "to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals ...undermines confidence in the scientific method."

...

The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.

RIDICULED DISCOVERERS,
VINDICATED MAVERICKS
at amasci.com

J Harlen Bretz

Endured decades of scorn as the laughingstock of the geology world. His crime was to insist that enormous amounts of evidence showed that, in Eastern Washington state, the "scabland" desert landscape had endured an ancient catastrophy: a flood of staggering proportions. This was outright heresy, since the geology community of the time had dogmatic belief in a "uniformitarian" position, where all changes must take place slowly and incrementally over vast time scales. Bretz' ideas were entirely vindicated by the 1950s. Quote: "All my enemies are dead, so I have no one to gloat over."

“crackpots” who were right 17: J Harlen Bretz at blog.vixra.org

Bretz was originally trained as a biologist and worked as a highschool teacher. Later he moved to geology in which he earned his PhD. When he first published his theory in 1923 he was pitting himself against the established works of geologists supported by the authority of respected Ivy-League professors. The idea was quickly labelled as outrageously wrong and his opponents set to work to discredit it.

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Pardee was dissuaded from supporting Bretz. Under threats to his own livelihood from his employers he had no choice but to be quiet.

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The most thought-provoking aspect of the case of J Harlen Bretz is the extent to which geologists ganged up against him and tried to publically humiliate him. They used heavy tactics to ensure that anyone who might have supported him was silenced. When we look back today we see this as shameful behaviour.


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Monday, March 2, 2015

Realizing the Ultimate


You might have heard it said that "we are all one". What does that mean?

According to Wikipedia:

"In Hinduism, Brahman is "the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world", which "cannot be exactly defined". It has been described in Sanskrit as Sat-cit-ananda and as the highest reality... According to Advaita, a liberated human being ... has realised Brahman as his or her own true self."

J. J. van Der Leeuw, an advanced meditator, wrote in The Conquest of Illusion:

"In that experience [of the Absolute] we are no longer the separate self, we are no longer what we call 'we' in our daily life. Not only are we our entire being, past and future, in that sublime experience of eternity, but we are the reality of all that is, was, or shall be, we are That."

Linda Stewart wrote about her near-death experience:

The metaphor represented by the image I saw and perceived was absolutely clear and I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that WE ARE ALL ONE. I comprehended that our oneness is interconnected by love and is an available, much higher level and means of communication than we normally use but to which we have access. This love is available to anyone who is willing to do the hard spiritual work that will allow us to open our hearts and minds and eyes to Spirit. I remembered the love I had felt in the presence of God and experienced a total sense of love for all existence as an interconnected oneness and a manifestation of God.

The spirit of Charles Marshall communicating through direct voice medium Leslie Flint said:

It is the development and it is the tremendous realisation that one must have eventually of how we are all linked and bound together and how actually the very fundamental thing that flows through us all, is the very essence which is of God. And so we gradually evolve more and more to God or become like him.

I do not refer to shape or form, I refer now to the infinite spirit which is the very life blood you might say of all humanity; where we lose in each other ourselves and discover that we are all in a oneness and in accord. And when we have this oneness and accord we reach a stage of spiritual development where we can be considered to be living in a form if you like of paradise because we are conscious of everything around and about us as being not only "us" but "all".

Lester Levenson who developed psychological techniques that led to his realization wrote:

"This peace was eternal and forever, and it was the essence of every living thing. There was only one Beingness and everything was It; every person was It, but they were without awareness of the fact, blinded by the uncorrected past they hold on to."

He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.
...
"It was obvious to me that I wasn't that body and mind as I had thought I was. I just saw it—that's all. It's simple when you see it.

So I let go of identifying with that body. And when I did, I saw that my Beingness was all Beingness, that Beingness is like one grand ocean. It's not chopped up into parts called "drops of bodies." It's all one ocean.

That caused me to identity with every being, every person, and even every atom in this universe. And that's an experience so tremendous, it's indescribable. First you see that the universe is in you, then you see the universe as you. Then you know the Oneness of this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that's caused only by separation."

There are various techniques that have been known to produce this type of experience. One path to it may involve a progression of states produced by meditation. This progression begins with relaxing concentration which produces serenity, which releases happiness, which allows love (Metta) to flow, which generates a feeling of connectedness to all things, from which a non-dual experience may arise.

Resources


Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Consciousness Beyond the Hypnogogic State


If you watch the activity of your mind as you drift off to sleep, you might notice going into a state where you experience vivid imagery and the mind wanders wildly from one thing to another. This is the hypnogogic state. I have a page on my web site that discusses how to recognize this state, how to enter it using relaxation exercises, and how to use it to experience psychic phenomena.

If you learn to recognize the hypnogogic state and practice being in it, you many find that it leads to another deeper state. I call this deeper state the "beyond-the-hypnogogic" state. The vivid imagery stops and one feels more alert but it is not normal consciousness. The body is deeply relaxed as in sleep and the mind does not wander wildly. One may feel like he is floating and/or in a vast expanse of space with little or no sense of having a body. Any emotional turbulence or upset that might have existed previously is absent, and this tends to carry forward even after you return to normal consciousness. It is also easy to enter the joyful meditative state from the beyond-the-hypnogogic state.

There is a simple method you can use while in the hypnogogic state to help bring on this deeper state. First enter the hypnogogic state. An easy way to do this is to meditate as you are lying in bed when you go to sleep for the night. Meditate by noticing your breathing. Say to yourself, "in" as you inhale and "out" as you exhale. Most likely you will become drowsy in a few minutes and experience vivid mental imagery and your mind will wander wildly. This is the hypnogogic state. Each time you become distracted from observing your breathing, when you experience mental imagery or your mind wanders, try to describe as best you can in a few words what you experienced. For example, if you experienced imagery of a grocery store you could describe it as "seeing a grocery store", or just "grocery store". Sometimes you might not be able to remember what you experienced. In that case just describe it as "imagery" or "distraction". Then continue meditating. The mental activity in the hypnogogic state arises from the unconscious. By describing that mental activity as best you can, you practice bringing the conscious awareness into the level of the unconscious. As you do this, it becomes easier to move consciousness beyond the hypnogogic state. This practice is similar to the practice of "noting" in Buddhist insight meditation and to the practice of "witnessing" in Himalayan yoga.

If you have trouble entering the hypnogogic state, the article Why is it so hard to concentrate? Sources of distraction and obstacles to concentration during meditation. might help you identify and deal with the problem.

The beyond-the-hypnogogic state is similar to other states you may have read about. Robert Monroe wrote about a state he called "mind awake, body asleep" that is favorable to inducing out-of-body experiences. In the Buddhist tradition, there is a state called "boundless space" or The Base of Infinite Space. In Himalayan Yoga, there is a recognized state between dreaming and sleep called Aladani, that also seems similar to this state. If you are interested in out-of-body experiences, Buddhist meditation, or Himalayan Yoga, you might find that practicing being in the hypnogogic state is a short cut to attaining these states. Since the hypnogogic state is something most people enter naturally as they fall asleep, it is relatively easy to learn to enter. The page on my web site that discusses this state explains how to recognize it and how to learn to enter it by doing relaxation exercises.


Copyright © 2015 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.