Cosmology or Biology? Did we miss something in the “Origins” Debate?

Miraikan: "Geo-Cosmos"

Miraikan: “Geo-Cosmos” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you and I start with this post, read this one.

My favorite academic dean has written a post to which I left a comment and so forth:

Church Coffee: My Super-Strong Opinion About the Creation Debate.

He has raised an issue regarding the nature of the debate. The debate was about biological origins and not cosmological origins. In perfect timing, just a few days before the debate, Brian Greene spoke with Krista Tippett about cosmological origins. Neither Bill Nye nor Ken Ham (only one of these is actually a scientist) are physicists. Greene is actually one.

If you listen to Greene in this interview you will detect something uniquely spiritual, even if it is deism, in Greene’s words. But, in the end, he is a cosmologist. Ham thinks he is, by the way, because he is confusing biological origins on planet Earth with the creation of the cosmos. No doubt, without the cosmos, we couldn’t have biological origins; however, you can have the cosmos without the planet earth.

The cosmos, or rather, the deep mysteries of the creation of the cosmos was not discussed in Nye v. Ham 2014. Should it have been? Maybe, but at that point, the debate would have gotten far, far behind what either side could speak to.

Ham would simply point, again, to a man-made book (the bible).1 Nye could equally point to human-made computations. Both would have to start with a small view and it would get only worse.

But, the discussion of the cosmos is what fascinates me. This is why I like Brian Greene and Lee Smolin. When you read them, God (although they may object to that) becomes manifest. They cross the lines from cold science into warm philosophy. I would argue that the only reason either of them may claim atheism (Greene, I believe, claims to be agnostic) is that the definition of God presented to them is a rather small one. But listen to him and really listen to him.

Cosmological origins are the more interesting aspect because there we find God. Yet, we are stuck in the discussion of biological origins because there we think we find the Gospel. I believe the Gospel is not dependent upon what course life took to bring us to where we are now. Of course, this is theology, rather than science. The discussion of biological origins can only take us to a fixed point in time, some 4.5 billion years ago. It can draw a line from that time to this one. However, it does not answer what else God has been up to, even before the creation of this present universe.

Anyway, some continuing thoughts.

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  1. For those of you aghast at this phrase, I used the term “the bible” pointedly rather than calling it Scripture.

Post By Joel Watts (10,115 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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One thought on “Cosmology or Biology? Did we miss something in the “Origins” Debate?

  1. It’s hard to imagine, but the limits of our imagination should not also be the limits of our belief. If I cannot imagine a dark light shining or every possibility of everything playing out while I can only perceive one at a time, that certainly does not stop either of those things from being real. Also, our ideas of how we move about in this reality are really only those – ideas. But, as we’ve heard, perception is reality – and that’s the case whether it’s a false perception or not. My difficulty with the concept of predetermination is that it seems (and maybe it only seems) that we have the ability to affect and manipulate reality, ultimately, maybe that’s just a convenience brought about by my biology. But, it’s certainly possibly that we’re only along for the ride and watching everything collide while we experience the joy and pain of our perception. It confuses me. The joy and pain of it confuses me, but maybe that’s the adaptation of the super-organism’s interelations – ADHD helps the conglomerate biological system (me) cope with the rush of interference (I get distracted from the immensity of reality by my emotions). This might be a lot to work out, but perhaps that’s all part of the magic trick of existence.

    “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
    ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    It’s just too much to work out (but that doesn’t mean it’s not there) and that’s because we may be temporally (and temporarily) live in an isolated biomass in which we are destined to “go with the flow”. It would seem then, that quantum physics is serving up The Three Fates.

    Of course, the opposite may also very well be the case, our imagination should not be limited to only what the ancient Greeks and modern physicists have to say about the limits of our imaginations – and the nature of the cosmos.

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