Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Science Vs Religion: Banging Heads.

Some folk come into the Tavern determined to find fault with the ale. And the wine. Considering that it all comes from the Biggest Supplier anywhere and anywhen, it is rather presumtuous of them, but I will serve them anyway. 

They will stand at the bar and denounce 'Religion' claiming that they are all (all the many) the same,  and that they have no place in our 'modern' world.  This new world we have is dominated by 'Science', from which we all benefit and which they, of course, understand. 

(Personally, I contend that Religion has always been at the centre of Science, but then, I am a Warrior, a Tavern Keeper, so what do I know? I could point you to more learned men who could argue the case. But you are grown ups and can find them yourselves.) 

Customers hear them out, politely listening to the same old arguments being trotted out. Not that they are all that old, of course, as many are firmly rooted in modern 'progressive' cant with its short memory and choice of 'data' to include.  I often pop a cherry in their drinks for them to deftly pick out.

Oddly enough, many of these anti-religious folk are quick to use dismissive words like 'Islamophobe' while a moment later denouncing Christianity !  But that's by the way.

The atheists at least do not drip on the carpets. Well, generally. The occasional one does, and gets removed. And I quite like atheists coming in as some are interesting and can be persuaded by reason. But that seems to be diminishing as the atheists are not even trying hard any more.  They wither under an 'opposing' view which increasingly they are avoiding. And opposing views are becoming more 'scientific'.

Last night we had a 'conference' of scientific sorts that made a few atheists-eyes pop. But not before Jonathon van Maren pointed to the atheist retreat.
Atheists aren’t even trying any more…and why that’s terrifying
Christian scholars, speakers, authors and apologists are beginning to notice a trend: Atheists no longer even try to understand Christianity. They don’t take Christian beliefs seriously, and they don’t find them relevant. 
Worse: They find Christians ridiculous, unintelligent idiots who believe in all sorts of ludicrous notions. Gone are atheists like George Bernard Shaw, eager to take on apologists like G.K. Chesterton in battle. Gone, it seems, are even atheists like Christopher Hitchens, willing to spar with philosophers like William Lane Craig. Instead, we have snarky, mocking snipes like Bill Maher, men who do not seek to engage or understand.
Simply put, secularists cannot understand why Christians act the way that they do, because their perception of reality is fundamentally different. 
For the secularist, there is only the physical.
For the benefit of those who come in to drink and denounce and who have a firm view of 'Reality' and the 'Physical', I have from time to time pointed them to David Bohm. He worked on the atom bomb and you can't get much more 'physical' than that.  The 'Materialists', as philosophers call them, seem bound hand and foot by 'matter'. Bohm devised and developed equations (wonderful language, mathematics) which 'indicated' (as almost any particle physics equation will do rather than 'prove') that there are TWO  Orders of Reality: The Explicate, which is everything in the material Universe, and the Implicate, which is not only non-physical  and unbounded by time but neccesary for the existence of the Explicate.

A chap like me would see 'Supernatural' in the Implicate.  Others, scientists, would have it that we live in a space-time bound by four dimensions of a possible 11. !  Bohm saw God as being at the most Fundamental depth of the Implicate from which 'all things were made, visible and invisible'

Jon continued.
Things are what they are. For the Christian, the metaphysical is as real as the physical, and these realms interact on every level. A miracle may strike a Christian with awe, but the Christian possesses a worldview that allows him to understand what a miracle is—the Creator intervening directly in the created order in a visible way. 
A secularist insists that the miracle could not have happened, pointing out that the natural order does not function that way—in essence, accusing a miracle of being…a miracle.
Secularists claim to have placed their faith in “reason,” when in reality this is simply another way of saying that they have placed their faith in themselves. 
They will only believe in what they can understand. The problem is that the Religion of Reason is a circular feedback loop: 
Reason cannot in and of itself prove that reason is rational. 
One must have faith that it is. The secularist must believe that his brain, supposedly created by chance and programmed over millions of years of natural selection to react instinctively in certain ways, is capable of independent thought. 
A rather ludicrous notion, when you think about it.
Questionable, at least. 
As I said to one university student in debate: “Any god that can fit within the confines of your skull is a god too small for anyone to worship.” 
He was offended by this statement—a true secularist. 
As Chesterton wrote: “The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” 
Jon had more to say and you can see that here >>>> 

Meanwhile a Professor on the 'front line' of Science  stepped up. Ian Hutchinson from MIT. Heck, that is a prestigious mob.
Can a scientist believe in the resurrection? 
Three hypotheses.
I’m a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, and today, I am celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. 
So are dozens of my colleagues. 
How can this be?
Hypothesis one: We’re not talking about a literal resurrection. Perhaps it is just an inspiring myth that served to justify the propagation of Jesus’ exalted ethical teachings. A literal resurrection contradicts the known laws of nature. Maybe scientists can celebrate the idea of Jesus’s spirit living on, while his body remained in the grave.
But the first disciples attested to a physical resurrection. How could an untruth logically support high moral character? 
How could it have sustained the apostles through the extremes of persecution they experienced founding Christianity? And is celebrating a myth consistent with scientific integrity?
Hypothesis two: We really believe in the bodily resurrection of the first century Jew known as Jesus of Nazareth. My Christian colleagues at MIT – and millions of other scientists worldwide – somehow think that a literal miracle like the resurrection of Jesus is possible. 
And we are following a long tradition. 
The founders of the scientific revolution and many of the greatest scientists of the intervening centuries were serious Christian believers. 
For Robert Boyle (of the ideal gas law, co-founder in 1660 of the Royal Society) the resurrection was a fact. For James Clerk Maxwell (whose Maxwell equations of 1862 govern electromagnetism) a deep philosophical analysis undergirded his belief in the resurrection. And for William Phillips (Nobel prize-winner in 1997 for methods to trap atoms with laser light) the resurrection is not discredited by science.
To explain how a scientist can be a Christian is actually quite simple. 
Science cannot and does not disprove the resurrection. 
Natural science describes the normal reproducible working of the world of nature. Indeed, the key meaning of “nature”, as Boyle emphasized, is “the normal course of events”. 
Miracles like the resurrection are inherently abnormal. 
It does not take modern science to tell us that humans don’t rise from the dead. People knew that perfectly well in the first century; just as they knew that the blind from birth don’t as adults regain their sight, or water doesn’t instantly turn into wine.

Maybe science has made the world seem more comprehensible – although in some respects it seems more wonderful and mysterious. Maybe superstition was more widespread in the first century than it is today – although the dreams of today’s sports fans and the widespread interest in the astrology pages sometimes makes me wonder. Maybe people were more open then to the possibility of miracles than we are today. Still, the fact that the resurrection was impossible in the normal course of events was as obvious in the first century as it is for us. 
Indeed that is why it was seen as a great demonstration of God’s power.
To be sure, while science can’t logically rule miracles in or out of consideration, it can be a helpful tool for investigating contemporary miraculous claims. It may be able to reveal self-deception, trickery, or misperception. If someone has been seen levitating on a supposed flying carpet in their living room, then the discovery of powerful electromagnets in their basement might well render such claims implausible. But if science fails to find defeating evidence then it is unable to say one way or the other whether some reported inexplicable event happened, or to prove that it is miraculous. Science functions by reproducible experiments and observations. Miracles are, by definition, abnormal and non-reproducible, so they cannot be proved by science’s methods.
Today’s widespread materialist view that events contrary to the laws of science just can’t happen is a metaphysical doctrine, not a scientific fact. 
What’s more, the doctrine that the laws of nature are “inviolable” is not necessary for science to function. Science offers natural explanations of natural events. It has no power or need to assert that only natural events happen.
So if science is not able to adjudicate whether Jesus’ resurrection happened or not, are we completely unable to assess the plausibility of the claim? 
No. Contrary to increasingly popular opinion, science is not our only means for accessing truth. In the case of Jesus’ resurrection, we must consider the historical evidence, and the historical evidence for the resurrection is as good as for almost any event of ancient history. The extraordinary character of the event, and its significance, provide a unique context, and ancient history is necessarily hard to establish. 
But a bare presumption that science has shown the resurrection to be impossible is an intellectual cop-out. Science shows no such thing.
Hypothesis 3: I was brainwashed as a child. If you’ve read this far and you are still wondering how an MIT professor could seriously believe in the resurrection, you might guess I was brainwashed to believe it as a child. 
But no, I did not grow up in a home where I was taught to believe in the resurrection. I came to faith in Jesus when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge University and was baptized in the chapel of Kings College on my 20th birthday. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are as compelling to me now as then.
That is a very personal attestation. A declaration.

So let us look at one of his claims : that Christian believers have been amongst the Greatest Scientists.

We don't have to go right back to the Big Bang, but heck, why not. We have had a scientist stand up, so now a Priest: Fr. James Kurzynski.
Georges Lemaitre – Father of the “Big Bang
One of the basic questions of science has a rather surprising answer: Who was the first scientist to put forward the Big Bang Theory?  Most would presume that it was either Albert Einstein or Edwin Hubble.  Instead, the correct answer is a Diocesan Priest from Belgium by the name of Monsignor Georges Lemaitre.   
The "popular" narrative of the day is that faith and science are irreconcilable foes that are locked in a constant battle with one another.  Ignored are examples like Monsignor Lemaitre who, in his very person, represents a living example of why the popular narrative is in error.
Lemaitre began his academic career at Louvain's College of Engineering in 1913.  Due to World War I, Lemaitre was forced to leave his studies to serve in the Belgium artillery.  After his military service was done, he entered the seminary, studying to be a Priest for the Archdiocese of Malines.   
In his spare time as a seminarian, Lemaitre would pursue his interests in math and science.  After his ordination in 1923, Lemaitre was sent to study math and science at Cambridge where Arthur Eddington was the director of the campus observatory.   
Lemaitre's studies focused upon Einstein's Theory of Relativity.   
Lemaitre argued that the Theory of Relativity supported the idea that the universe was expanding.  Einstein, on the other hand, argued for a static universe, balanced by something called the "Cosmological Constant." Lemaitre disagreed, arguing against the static universe.  The importance of this insight is that if the universe is expanding, then, in the past, it must have been much smaller.  In fact, the universe would have been extremely small and extremely dense.
At first, as referenced in the video, the theory was laughed off and joking called Lemaitre's "Big Bang Theory."  In fact, Einstein's initial assessment of Laemaitre's theory was that the math was quite good, but Laematire's grasp of physical was abominable.   
Over time, the negative opinion of Lemaitre's theory changed as Edwin Hubble began to observe the shift in the light spectrum of celestial objects, confirming that the universe is in a state of expansion. 
 Due to these and other insights, Einstein reversed his opinion on Lemaitre's theory, calling it 
"the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I (Einstein) have ever listened."  
In light of this, Lemaitre's theory was vindicated and is foundational to our understanding of the Big Bang Theory to this day. 
Lemaitre's brilliance was not only affirmed by the scientific community, but was also celebrated by Pope Pius XII.  In an age in which the cultural presumption is that Popes are looking to condemn scientists and reject their theories, the relationship between Lemaitre and Pius XII was quite different, showing this narrative of divisiveness to be in error.  In fact, it wasn't the Pope who questioned Lemaitre's theory of the expansion of the universe, but it was Lematire that warned the Pope not to use the theory as a "proof" of Biblical creation. 
 Lemaitre, as a good scientist, knew that, with time, his theory would be improved upon, shown to have errors, and/or be disproven all together.   
Nevertheless, Pope Pius XII still embraced the work of Lemaitre and reflected the science of the day in his Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 22, 1951.  In regard to the expansion of the universe, Pius XII said the following:
The examination of various spiral nebulae, especially as carried out by Edwin W. Hubble at the Mount Wilson Observatory, has led to the significant conclusion, presented with all due reservations, that these distant systems of galaxies tend to move away from one another with such velocity that, in the space of 1,300 million years, the distance between such spiral nebulae is doubled. If we look back into the past at the time required for this process of the "expanding universe," it follows that, from one to ten billion years ago, the matter of the spiral nebulae was compressed into a relatively restricted space, at the time the cosmic processes had their beginning. (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 22, 1951, paragraph 36.)
Even in this statement, we can see Lemaitre's warning proven to be correct as science now thinks the initial "Big Bang" occurred some 13.7 billion years ago instead of the one to ten billion years cited by Pope Pius XII.   
Thank goodness that Papal Infallibility only applies to faith and morals and not the natural science.   
Nevertheless, the mere fact the Pius XII was willing, as Pope, to affirm the best science of his time does set a clear precedence for today that Catholics and all people of good will can trust scientific investigation, presuming, of course, it is done in a truly scientific manner.
The importance, as I mentioned earlier, of people like Lemaitre is to remind both the scientific world and the Christian world that the Church supports true science. 
 This does not mean that we must accept every scientific finding with the doctrinal weight of Church teaching.  However, it does mean that Christians should avoid the petty wars that break out between faith and science, affirming that both are partners of dialogue in the exploration of truth, not treating each other like ideological punching bags.   

So, where are we? One scientist talks of the Resurrection and one priest talks of the Big Bang.  Both rather big events.

Much of 'modern' science was underpinned, started off and developed by men (and women) who had a firm belief in God. Faith holding up Reason. The predominant 'philosophy' behind modern science was to get a better understanding of God's creation and so get a glimpse of God Himself.

What has tended to happen is the fascination with the creation has diverted us a little from the Creator. The means have become more important to some than the ends.

One needs to drink deep and think deep.



  1. Phew... That was a long read and a lot of thoughts...

    Modern day science (physics in particular) affirms the teachings of Jesus and other teachings from ancient scripts. Understanding the teachings leads us closer to God.

    We do not come to that understanding (and closeness) without effort on our own part.

  2. There is an enormous hubris in science, particularly cosmology. It is the 'darling' of the public but far too 'fashionable'. Until quite recently (100 years or less) we were unaware that all the stars in the sky were in our own galaxy. It was a bit of a surprise to discover other galaxies. Quickly the scientists decided they could 'weigh' the universe and then found it weighed far more than they could see. In fact 95% more. I feel a joke coming on. It seems their is light matter, dark matter and doesn't matter.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..