Common Thoughts 9

 

The first time I visited the Mesa Verde in Colorado and witnessed the incredible building prowess of those ancient Anasazi Indians who built their homes high in the alcoves of the Mesa Verde mountains, I understood that the intelligence we have today as people does not eclipse the intelligence of those from the past. From the beginning of time the capability of the human brain to know and understand has only been limited by the lack of our understanding its capacity.

Most of us have grown up with images of prehistoric man, generally known as cave dwellers, as hairy apelike creatures that grunted, carried big sticks for which they hit women over the head, drug them by their long hair into their caves and ravished them. Truth is, the images we are given are fictions created in our minds to depict creatures that are “pre-humanoid” and not at all smart to distinguish an evolutionary climb to homo sapiens having nothing to do with a God creating them.

A funny thing happened along the road of time, and we find this story from CNN: “Modern humans’ ancient relatives were probably not Mensa material, but an exciting new discovery by paleoanthropologists suggests they were much more sophisticated than scientists had thought.”

According to science there have been five ice ages in the 4.6 billion years when the earth was formed. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. . . The Pleistocene Epoch is the first in which Homo sapiens evolved, and by the end of the epoch humans could be found in nearly every part of the planet.”

Brett King in his popular book, Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane, writes this: “About 750 million years ago, driven by the twin engines of evolution, random mutation and natural selection, life tried millions, possibly tens of millions, of combinations, resulting in a big bang of different body plans.” This is the popular idealism much of science works off of.

I’m a member of the American Scientific Affiliation [not as a scientist which I’m obviously not but as a philosopher interested in the philosophy of science], a group of scientists who are Christian, who while most are not young earth aficionados they believe that God is behind all things. I bring this up because shortly I’m going to say something about a presumed and real conflict between “professional” science and religion.

Sometime after the Age of Enlightenment, the humanism that was part of Ancient Greek philosophy that found its way into the Renaissance bringing to an end the Middle Ages, shifted into a secular humanism that denied God and religion as having any meaning and reality. Humanism—and one of its chief proponents at the time of the Renaissance and Enlightenment was Erasmus—was a strong Catholic, though most of his popular writings were not religious. And that was the point, the humanism of the day didn’t deny God in the universe, it just recognized that man played a greater role in life than had been given him and should be credited for his works, though not worshiped.

As part of the Enlightenment, men began peering so hard into the natural world they began to see less of God in it finally dismissing God completely. What they saw didn’t give them that permission to dismiss God, scientists and philosophers decided on their own to deny God. Think of it this way: It’s like the old saying goes: You cannot see the forest for the trees. We began looking at individual trees interpreting the forest from those individual trees and we stopped looking at the forest that told us a different story.

Some would call me an old school philosopher. While I cut my teeth on so-called more modern philosophy, when I got into academic study I found myself drawn to the traditional school of ontology. Ontology began really as a study in metaphysics, the study of “first things.” Along the timeline metaphysics became too much of a catch-all and so the term ontology became more popular, both still about the study of “being”. Through this study of “being” one could learn what “is” and its meaning to other things. Sartre, no otologist, liked to call “being” as “things-in-themselves.” Let’s not forget, philosophy can take you right up to the reality that there is a God, it just doesn’t go beyond that.

My Master’s thesis was titled: “An Inquiry into The Nature of Being to Determine an Ethic”. The question it posed began with the question: Are there ethics, and if so, where is the basis for ethical behavior? Can it be found in “being” itself? I was looking for the root structure that gave ethics meaning, not a religious structure placed into our hearts by God. This was ontological philosophy doing what it does. If you take ontology and religion away all you have left is psychology and that’s a bad place to rest ethics.

Backing up just a bit, let me relay this personal story: I wanted to go to a major university to earn my Masters in Philosophy (which I earned but at the university where I received my BA) but ran into a barrier I hadn’t thought of. I’ve said many times I’m not good at math, and my SAT scores in math didn’t rise to the level this university thought it should have to participate in their program. When I questioned what math had to do with philosophy, it’s then I learned that the study of philosophy had completely changed. Ontology was out, logical positivism, scientism, mathematical formulations were in. There was a popular television show where an FBI agent found help in solving cases from a university math professor. He would break the problem down into mathematical equations and they would from those equations find the answer to who did the crime. The premise: find the right mathematical equation and truth would be found.

The study of “being” no longer has meaning. The ontological study of “being” is premised on there being some kind of intelligence behind it. Do away with that intelligence and all you are left with is the material world with no meaning. To find “what is” requires nothing more than finding the right equation that will supposedly give you the answer.

Here are the two presuppositions for inquiry: God or not-God. Intelligence (logos) or blind dumb luck operating over time where between trial and error and survival of the fittest things come into being as we find them. A Christian and a non-Christian are each holding a tape measure and both measure a 2×4 and both find that it really measures 2×3.75. Their religious or non-religious beliefs did not determine that measurement. The Christian didn’t find it to be 2×4 based on his religious beliefs. 2×3.75 was what they both found. When we’re looking at the individual trees whether we are a scientist who doesn’t believe in God or a scientist who does believe in God, both come up with the same answers, assuming the questions are right. It’s when we look at the forest as a whole beyond the individual tree that interpretations based upon our presuppositions (God or not-God) begin to play a role in what we think we see.

Trust me, scientists who want to make the cosmos a material cosmos have concluded they are absolutely right and anyone with a different opinion, or a question is absolutely wrong. Anything outside their conclusion is junk science. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that now if you believe anything other than what modern science teaches you should be placed in jail. Their conclusion: God is nowhere to be seen therefore doesn’t exist except in the demented minds of those who refuse to accept so-called hard science. They don’t accept that this comes out of their presupposition of not-God, which is a bias.

Some are now using a new term, “professional scientist”, a new group of scientists who are a very exclusive group whose members must abide by a secularized science denying anyone with a different perspective as being true scientists. This reminds me of an article in the magazine, The Atlantic, with the article title: “Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers: It undermines a long tradition of designing and building infrastructure in the public interest.” The idea was that engineers are people who build bridges and such and who follow pretty rigid processes. Outside this you cannot call yourself an engineer. So, unless you profess the same principles of a secularized science you are not a true scientist, should not call yourself one, certainly not be listened to.

This group is trying to sell to us the narrative that there has always been a war between science and religion and that science has steadily pushed religion into retreat. As Pablo de Felipe and Malcolm A. Jeeves write in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith: Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation in their article, “Science and Christianity Conflicts: Real and Contrived”: “In this battle, ‘religion’ is in an inevitable retreat, losing ground in the face of the victorious advance of ‘science’.” No, this isn’t what is happening, it’s the perspective of the so-called professional scientists.

Anthony Wallace writing in Religion: An Anthropological View: “The evolutionary future of religion is extinction. Belief in supernatural beings and supernatural forces that affect nature without obeying nature’s laws will erode and become only an interesting historical memory . . . belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as the result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge.”

Those of you, like me, who believe in God, the “I AM” who is before and behind all things might just as well cry DUTCH UNCLE! And die and save the world from our misleading them.

I’m going to continue this in my next Common Thoughts.