The Nature of God – Part 6
[If you are just now stumbling onto this post without having read the various parts in this series from the beginning, I strongly urge you to go back to the start and continue on from there through each successive post. None of these individual entries stand on their own, and you may wind up with little but confusion and unanswered questions by starting here. That is easily done by entering “The Nature of God” in the search box on the home page, which will list links to all available parts.]
By the time I was entering my late-twenties, life began to resemble some kind of grim endurance contest. By cultural standards, I was doing just fine, thank you very much. Internally, something big was missing. Since my 52 Religions paperback came up dry, I thought that perhaps I could look for some significance in Science, since it had earlier seemed competent in explaining things. I more deeply researched the theories and evidence behind evolution, and the deeper I looked past the confident and reassuring patter, the more disappointed I became with it. It felt kind of like a betrayal, after my former fandom. The series of complete human skulls fabricated from a few random shards had clearly been forced to show things that were imagined rather than indicated or justifiable. The defining shards did not support the speculated whole, yet I was being assured that they did.
They were presented as scientific fact instead of what they really were: more religious icons forcefully hammered into a new dogma of belief. Even the basic tenets of how biological creation and evolution worked began to present a long train of required logic miracles that wound up needing a lot more faith than I had available. I felt like Dorothy looking behind the curtain in Oz. The only thing that seemed to evolve over time was the direction its dogma took. Theories changed, and when they became referred to as facts, the facts changed. Truth was merely Truth du Jour, which is handy for scientific inquiry, but hardly something to lean your life’s weight on. The Science I was familiar with, the one of logic, observability, measurability, and repeatability was clearly missing in this area. It was rife with speculation parading as something else. It became apparent to me that cooly logical, impartial and reasoned Science and its proofs were being controlled by pre-existing beliefs – by biases, and by emotion. It was supposed to be “examine all of the evidence with an open mind, and look for a theory that might explain it.” Instead, it was more like, “take a personal belief, and then manipulate the evidence to back it up.” The claimed disengaged objectivity simply wasn’t there. Whatever was powering the incessant squabbles and turf battles based on the same shared evidence was not untainted reasoning, nor cool intellect. I had the feeling that someone was trying to string me along for their own ends, and I eventually abandoned that tack.
Then as today, scientific “thought” is openly hostile to all other faiths, dismissing all matters of the supernatural as ape-man superstitions, myths and legends that must be actively driven out of the thought and practice of any decent, thinking society. In the era I grew up in, if you asked where life came from, the answer you got was that it was the result of the combination of the energy and the chemicals needed, an inevitable event which could almost certainly be duplicated in the laboratory. They even gave it a few shots. More than a few, truth be told.
As they began to dissect the string of failures in order to fix the problem, still touting life as inevitable, Science found over the few next decades that the very long train of required event sequences in the specific order required to create life by chance was so impossibly unlikely that they went silent on the state of progress, though not the insistence of inevitability as fact. In current times, one building block is mimicked and the whole process is still pronounced as inevitable, since only by usurping God’s power to create life can Science have the full legitimacy to take His place in the hearts and minds of all, they feel. To them, there can no other origin for life other than random chance, rendering life’s significance meaningless. If we exist, then it was inevitable that we would exist, eventually. The “superstitious myth” of an intelligent or guided creation was and still remains completely unacceptable of course, but the impossible odds of the scientific answer were too ridiculously embarrassing to continue on with as a highly public effort.
Not to mention the absurdly remote mathematical odds of any ball of rock forming with the unique and incredibly narrow combination of traits needed to support life as we know it. These odds, once touted in order to impress the unwashed with Science’s prowess at explaining how our planet defied the incredible odds and came to be, were eventually downplayed because it became a weapon in the hands of the accursed creationist primitives hoping to regain legitimacy in the public arena. The numerical probabilities are now largely ignored, since it works against the funding needed to search for evidence of life on other planets. Adapt and prosper. Like the creation of life, other intelligent civilizations in other solar systems are simply painted with a coat or two of inevitability. If we exist, then others must. Seems sensible. All we lack is the confirmation in scientific evidence…so far. Sounds good.
So, the public question of “How did life begin?” has long ago been replaced with “How did life on Earth begin?” Despite the statistical impossibility of chance life, Science has now shifted to the assumption that since it did undeniably begin once, the universe must therefore be rife with it. The current speculation that scientific thinkers promote seems to be that life on Earth may possibly be the result of either benevolent alien visitation, or bacteria riding from planet to planet on meteorites, which evolved over time into every species present today. How that life got started is ignored, since Science is hard-pressed to repeat it or to explain it. The only real assurance is that the scientific, provable answer to the Big Questions will come in the future, given suitable funding.
And in the meantime, our Best Hope is to evolve into creatures better suited to our new surroundings, allowing the DNA of our descendants to eventually, randomly reprogram itself toward our new man-made environmental situations as the eons pass – or perhaps we can steer that reprogramming along ourselves via a combination of genetic engineering and, once again, eugenics. The problem for humanity’s course is that natural selection hardly applies any more, as scientific advancements steer both ends. Medical Science saves millions that would otherwise perish, while at the same time we bathe ourselves in chemicals and radio waves, and wage wars for control that exterminate millions. There’s a little random chance left in there, but not much natural selection to genetically trim off unsuited branches. In the short term, that Best Hope time frame poses some issues for me personally, regardless.
While scientific minds love to poke fun at the ridiculous “pie in the sky, bye and bye” hope of life after death, their hope in Science to turn Earth into a Utopia seems to me to require no less faith, all evidence being to the contrary. After all, radioactive substances and DDT were once promoted as life-enhancing products of the “Miracle of Science” despite being little understood, and the consequences eventually proved disastrous. Today in the United States at least, we’re eating Genetically Modified Organisms without any prior notification and without full knowledge of the consequences of doing so. Exactly how genes work is not fully understood, and neither are the full consequences of transferring them from one form of life to another. The simple “one gene, one protein” Central Dogma that prompted the beginnings of genetic engineering has proven to be a falsity. Since scientists work at the behest of their benefactors (follow the money) who continually seek new ways to increase profits and control over markets, we’re eating GMO foods en masse. Utopia for who?
The foundational issue is that, to Modern Science, the “miracle of life” cannot exist because of the presupposition that God cannot exist – and in fact must not be permitted to exist – so they aggressively look for “rational” ways to explain away how such events might have occurred by a coincidence of chance natural events which primitives have afterward repainted as God-events. Since miracles tend to violate the laws of nature, the practitioners of Science limit themselves to two choices: either find an explanation which redefines the event as natural and repeatable, or denounce the event as a delusion, perhaps being based on legends, primitive superstitions, or deceptive intent. After all, some people are more prone to delusion, hysteria, mental disorders or lying than others. Fear and a sense of helplessness can alter our perceptions, too. When it comes to the beginnings of life itself, science obligates itself to play up the “wonder” aspect and drop the “miracle” part. Though done in the name of objectivity, it really isn’t. The possibility of a supernatural intelligent being is deeply offensive to Science, and there is a compulsion to counter that possibility wherever it may exist.
Everyone has to believe in something. Even today, evolutionists believe that new genetic information can arise from disorder by chance, which is a belief not convincingly backed by real science. Scientists agree that all living things exhibit evidence of design, but abhor the concept of a Creator in any way, shape or form. Dr. Richard Dawkins, a leading evolutionist, has admitted, “We have seen that living things are too improbable and too beautifully ‘designed’ to have come into existence by chance.” Design implies a Designer, but Dawkins instead says, “All appearance to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.”
While recently reading through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I was surprised to find science referred to as “The Philosophy of Science”, “The Philosophy of Biology”, “Natural Philosophy” and so on. Originally thinking of it as obsolete terminology, on reflection, I no longer consider it to be so.
While Dawkins concedes that, “the more statistically improbable a thing is, the less can we believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an Intelligent Designer.” To refute his own logic, he recites his dogma of faith, “The answer, Darwin’s answer, is by gradual, step-by-step transformations from simple beginnings, from primordial entities sufficiently simple to have come into existence by chance. Each successive change in the gradual evolutionary process was simple enough, relative to its predecessor, to have arisen by chance. But the whole sequence of cumulative steps constitutes anything but a chance process, when you consider the complexity of the final end product relative to the original starting point. The cumulative process is directed by nonrandom survival.” He credits evolution in the form of natural selection and gene mutations as the nonrandom designer.
There’s a problem with voicing this as The Scientific Approach, mainly because natural selection and mutation are observably limited to what is already in the DNA. You can sort, separate and rearrange, but are limited to working with what is already present. The imagined “hop” to a new species based on new genetic information has never been observed. If anything, mutations are the result of less genetic information, not new forms of it. That’s a problem that the faithful are diligently working to counter.
Dr. Lee Spetner cites, “All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not to increase it. The NDT [neo-Darwinian theory] is supposed to explain how information of life has been built up by evolution. The essential biological difference between a human and a bacterium is in the information they contain. All other biological differences follow from that. The human genome has much more information than does the bacterial genome. Information cannot be built up by mutations that lose it. A business can’t make money by losing it a little at a time.” He goes on to say, “The neo-Darwinians would like us to believe that large evolutionary changes can result from a series of small events if there are enough of them. But if these events all lose information they can’t be the steps in the kind of evolution the NDT is supposed to explain, no matter how many mutations there are. Whoever thinks macroevolution can be made by mutations that lose information is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up in volume … . Not even one mutation has been observed that adds a little information to the genome. That surely shows that there are not the millions upon millions of potential mutations the theory demands. There may well not be any. The failure to observe even one mutation that adds information is more than just a failure to find support for the theory. It is evidence against the theory. We have here a serious challenge to neo-Darwinian theory.”
But hasn’t evolution been confidently pushed as a fact for many decades? Yes, but in the face of further scientific research, it takes more faith than objective reasoning to believe. You have to be willing to assert something as scientifically proven despite scientific evidence invalidating it. That may be why any evidence of fossil “linkage”, an intermediate between two genetically distinct species, has never been found. Yet the progression is claimed as fact in spite of the contraindications and lack of evidence. That’s not Science. That’s a religion, one with its own tenets of faith and a belief in the supreme power of the human intellect. I’m fine with evolution as a scientific theory, but that isn’t how it’s being promoted. Cloaked as an immutable, evidence-based intellectual exercise, it’s now the religion of the State hiding its philosophical undergarments as best it can.
To the question “Can new information originate through mutations?” Dr. Werner Gitts, writes, “This idea is central in representations of evolution, but mutations can only cause changes in existing information. There can be no increase in information, and in general the results are injurious. New blueprints for new functions or new organs cannot arise; mutations cannot be the source of new (creative) information.”
Likewise, the assumptions needed to create a lowly single-cell organism from the primordial ooze made the process a seeming cakewalk. Easy! Inevitable! Problem is, even the crappiest single-cell organism going has been found to be surprisingly complex, with the simplest functional abilities requiring complex internal systems requiring numerous compounds to be present, located in the right places at the right time and in the right concentrations, or the process can’t possibly work. Certainly no friend of Creationists, Dr. Michael Behe, an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania who proposes intelligent design, writes of himself, “I am interested in the evolution of complex biochemical systems. Many molecular systems in the cell require multiple components in order to function. I have dubbed such systems “irreducibly complex.” Irreducibly complex systems appear to me to be very difficult to explain within a traditional gradualistic Darwinian framework, because the function of the system only appears when the system is essentially complete.”
Lehigh University and indeed his own biology department toes the Politically Correct line, and has declared him a blasphemer: “While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.” Carefully worded, this. In practice, without these markers, nothing can be acknowledged to exist in the world of Science. Used to be, the goal of scientific research was to explore and define the laws of the universe. These days, the goal is to define both what the universe and reality itself are, to restrict all efforts within that framework, and to defend the faith. Very church-medieval. Ultimate Truth is defined and assigned value according to its conformity to current scientific thought. Fortunately for Behe, Science can’t excommunicate someone who doesn’t believe in every one of its tenets. All he can be as a professor is disowned.
But back to observed science, Behe considers these internal “biochemical machines” as examples of “irreducible complexity”. In his 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box, he wrote, “Now it’s the turn of the fundamental science of life, modern biochemistry, to disturb. The simplicity that was once expected to be the foundation of life has proven to be a phantom; instead, systems of horrendous, irreducible complexity inhabit the cell. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as the result of simple natural laws. But other centuries have had their shocks, and there is no reason to suppose that we should escape them.” Of course, everybody’s refuting everybody else in the community, which boils down to what you care to believe and what you insist on pushing out of the equation. That’s most often a Creator.
Thus the defying-the-odds account of David and Goliath is explained away with possible medical conditions that Goliath may have had which would make a skinny young shepherd’s victory over an armored, confident, battle-hardened giant a predictable outcome. Thus the need to take the trouble to figure out how the parting of the Red Sea and loss of Pharaoh’s army by drowning might have occurred entirely by coincidence…if it occurred at all. The surface goal is to advance explainable coincidence (random chance) as the author of such events, and to dismiss the authenticity of those remaining events which cannot be so explained. The deeper goal is to destroy spiritual faith and the worldview which it fits into. Science is a jealous religion.
So, Science is another one of the tangents I explored, since I was already a fan. What kept nagging at the back of my mind was the considerable disparity between human beings and all other animals. It was a sizable gulf, made stark by humanity’s unique mix of physical frailty with a profoundly greater sense of consciousness and thought. This difference meant that something in me could not just quietly resign itself to an accidental and pointless existence in the cosmos, breathing air for a season just for the sake of biologically existing, and then extinguishing into oblivion. My world and the universe it populated somehow had more going for it than was observable, measurable and explainable. I have the feeling that today, this is a minority view in our culture. We work hard to convince each other that humankind is merely another species with nothing in particular going for it except its ability to understand and appreciate the Wonders of Science.
I am convinced that, try as he might, Man can never restrict the whole of reality to a framework that can be fully understood and explained. Like it or not, reality exists on its own, intact, whether we perceive or understand it or not. So-called primitive man, like us, sought to comprehend as much of the unfathomable whole as possible. This search continues today, but our greater reliance on pure intellect assumes that ours is a pristine, impartial intellect capable of both detecting and making sense of all that exists. Unfortunately, we are not beings of untainted intellect. There is more to us than that, just as there is more to all of existence than what we can observe and calculate. What we do today is to discard whatever does not fit within the box we use to build our understanding of reality, as if reality is somehow constrained by our ability to grasp it. How we as individuals approach the unknown void defines our philosophy or theology, or our lack of them. Denying the void might aid our philosophy or theology, but not our understanding. It merely hardens our biases.
But, trying to neatly fit reality into a box is a human trait, not just a scientific one. Once the faith of Christianity, the following of Christ, became co-opted into an increasingly powerful administrative bureaucracy, that bureaucracy sought to insert itself as a necessary intermediary between God and Man, giving itself the sole power to interpret the Scriptures (which were secreted away), save, forgive, condemn, expel and execute. Once the organized Church itself moved from tenets of faith among a few to the control of the thought and conduct of entire regions (largely due to the violent instability resulting from the collapse of the Roman Empire), it seemed to them a logical extension to also use the Scriptures to dictate the acceptable considerations about what we can observe around us in the physical world as well.
Now, Science today lacks the same depth of cudgel-based political clout that the old organized Church once had, but it has taken upon itself the same adversarial mantle to extend its own realm of control to law, education, morality/ethics, and thought. “This is where we came from, this is who we are, this is why we’re here, this is your level of personal significance to the world at each stage of your existence, and these are the beliefs and ethics that you should hold.” Not that much has really changed, including the degree of physical punishment for those deemed unworthy of life. The lab coat is the new vestment. Same game, different players. It’s human nature.
As I have mentioned, in the distant past Science’s goal was to research and explore the immutable laws of the universe which God had created. In time, the last phrase was left out as scientific research came to be an end in itself that anyone could participate in, including those who resented the censorship of religious authorities. While today, Science presents itself as a friendly evidence-based effort to expand our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe, it has long since veered toward the ultimate goal of destroying any vestiges of faith in a Creator. In an approach varying between condescension, sneering and outright hostility, it feels that it can no longer tolerate the existence of faith in any form, and must make every effort to expunge it in order to replace it with faith in itself, Science. It is this artificial and intolerant boxing in of reality which made me doubt its sincerity and ultimately, its legitimacy. It’s as though they are no longer trying to talk you into anything, so much as to talk you out of something. Look underneath the veneer of intellect, and you will find that we are beings driven by emotions that are powered by cravings. An objective intellect is a thing much claimed but seldom seen. It’s more often used to rationalize or justify our biases.
Anyway, it seemed apparent to me that something else was going on in the world, something not observable and repeatable to the five senses, nor to more sensitive instruments based upon them. It had something to do with this undetectable, unobservable and unexplainable force of healing that I had encountered long before. This life force appeared to be entirely uninvolved with its creation, yet I knew from my past encounter as a child that this wasn’t entirely true either. Leaving the tenets of Science behind, I also more or less gave up my hunt for the God that I had encountered in my garage, and just floated along, not certain of what to do anymore. So I did what I could: wait. Not like the wait at a train station, but more like the shuffling around at the farthest edges of its parking lot. But after a considerable time, the train did indeed roll in.