Category Archives: Science

an enLightening new theory on the origin of life?

Motion of gas molecules Español: Animación mos...
Motion of gas molecules  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a new, interesting, theory on the origin of life:

“You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant,” England said….

….“This means clumps of atoms surrounded by a bath at some temperature, like the atmosphere or the ocean, should tend over time to arrange themselves to resonate better and better with the sources of mechanical, electromagnetic or chemical work in their environments,” England explained.

via Groundbreaking Idea Of Life’s Origin – Business Insider.

I do not make a habit out of examining science by what it can do for theology — yet, this new theory is very interesting given the focus on light and other external forces. I mean, theologically speaking. I’m just glad the article broke it down the way it did.

If — IF — if I am reading this correctly, then the potential for Life is found in every atom of the universe.

Every.

Atom.

of the

Universe.

Panentheism for the win!

Solution Aversion… goes with Theory of Motivated Reasoning

Fuqua School of Business
Fuqua School of Business (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine if the cure to a problem went against your political leanings… you are then more likely to admit that the problem does not exist.

“Logically, the proposed solution to a problem, such as an increase in government regulation or an extension of the free market, should not influence one’s belief in the problem. However, we find it does,” said co-author Troy Campbell, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. “The cure can be more immediately threatening than the problem.”

via Denying Problems When We Don’t Like the Solutions | Duke Today.

I can see this explaining so many things from climate change to gun control. And also why Moderates are so mistrusted by each fringe.

The worst part about people is their humanity.

 

Book Review of @Energion’s “Worshiping with Charles Darwin”

There are a few names unmentionable, at least in the positive sense, from the Christian pulpit. One of them, if not the main one of them, is Charles Darwin, the 19th century scientist many accuse of creating evolutionary science. But, there are more than a number of Christians who believe science and faith are co-habitable. This number, we hope, grows every day. And this is where the problem lies. Pastors are having a difficult time presenting science and faith together due to a lack of education on the topic or because they simply do not know how. There are plenty of books about science and faith, but only a few on how to use them together. There is one, however, incorporating them. Cornwall’s book is a book of sermons and essays.

This is a pastoral account, almost like an autobiography, of bringing forth God’s message out of the two books, Scripture and Nature. As one who has read Cornwall considerably, I am neither surprised nor let down at the amount of work in these sermons. They exist, ever etched into someone’s mind, as a real method of worshiping the Most High God by celebrating how he formed the world. The book begins with a lengthy introduction wherein Cornwall tells you of his journey from Young Earth Creationism to this robust faith presented in this volume. Many of us who have traversed the same plane will recognize the same highway pit-stops along the way. This is not a story about someone losing their faith, but one where someone finds a faith richer and fuller than he has known before.

Following this are two parts, one with sermons and the other essays. Cornwall uses these short statements to explain further the relationship between faith and science. The sermons he delivered while the essays are former blogposts, all are crafted for both the subject and the audience. What does Cornwall really do? He doesn’t destroy the Christian faith, as I imagine some of his detractors would accuse him of, but instead leads us along the way to a better, more honest faith.

English: "A Venerable Orang-outang",...
English: “A Venerable Orang-outang”, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine Deutsch: Man sieht Darwin als Affen dargestellt, was eine Anspielung auf seine Evolutionstheorie sein soll. Seiner Meinung nach entwickelten sich die Menschen aus den Affen, was damals eine völlig neue Vorstellung war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be frank, it is difficult to review sermons, although not all of the book is made up of sermons. Sermons are meant to be given rather than read. Even the poorest sermon can sound remarkable if given properly. So I will not judge them as such. Rather, when I read them I tried to see if they were accomplishing what Cornwall intended. He does the job well. The sermons are exactly what you expect from sermons — rooted in Scripture, rooted in the Christian faith, and yet applicable to the modern world. No doubt, this is going to be difficult for some to digest, but the sermons (and essays) approach the Christian as a Christian who is in need of moving forward. Yes, Cornwall declares, the Books of God are applicable, practical and compatible. I would hope, and pray, that more pastors seek to implement what Cornwall has done, else we subcumb to St. Augustine’s warning about looking like fools for following superstitions (disguised as theology). God helps us and God bless Robert Cornwall.

Ken Ham, not content on sending humans to hell, now looks to the stars for the godless

War of the Worlds
Do you know our lord and savior, Zenu-nu-nu the Bloody Conquerer? (Photo credit: jurvetson)

A few weeks ago, Ken Ham posted something decrying the United Methodist Church and our internal troubles. Several of the more conservative people on the forums ate it up as they do with most things non-Wesleyan. I suggested it would be easier to tolerate the basest of changes to “traditional marriage” than it is to swallow anything by Ken Ham.

Ham’s latest spewing is why. A few weeks ago, NASA (not a UK news site) suggested we may find proof of alien life within 2 decades. Ken Ham has, by far, the most expected response:

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.

via “We’ll find a new earth within 20 years” | Around the World with Ken Ham.

He goes on to say “Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”!  Only descendants of Adam can be saved.” Beyond this idiotic statement is the underlying misunderstanding anthropos. I can do nothing but laugh at how silly his reasoning is. But, I note it is in line with fundamentalist views of God. God is limited to our words and to our expectations. Further, our notion of atonement is limited to those with the correct knowledge. Ham’s philosophy is no more evolved than the small-pox soaked blankets given to Native Americans or the enslavement of Africans, both actions taken (in part) because those people were somehow less worthy of humanity (and salvation) than the rest of us.

So, beyond the inane stupidity this represents, let me offer you some correct approaches.

  • The end of the world as pictured in the New Testament seems to be more in line with Stoic conflagration. Regardless, it is not a physical destruction but a symbolic change of order. We find this idea in Genesis but especially in Isaiah with its talk of “new creation.” We need to learn biblical cosmology and how to apply it to soteriology and eschatology. We need to understand words like creation and universe before we make sweeping proclamations about the state of the universe beyond our blue jewel.
  • If Jesus repairs the sin of Adam, and if Jesus’s death is only for humanity, then only humanity under the curse. Then, by necessity, the xenozoic would not fall under the Fall and would not need the death of Christ. This does not mean they “go to hell.” This simply means our religious expectations as Christians do not apply to them. On the other hand, if all of “creation” is under the “curse,” then likewise all of creation is under the death of Christ.
  • If alien life is discovered, we are going to be a world of hurt theologically. I am not sure Christianity, or rather, Protestant Christianity, can survive. Judaism will. Islam may. Some of the eastern religions as well. Catholic Christianity may find it difficult, but we will see. Fundamentalism will retreat even further into intellectual darkness.

What happens if when we discover alien life? Our theology either gets really small, really big, or dies.

Also, I have a real issue in how Ken Ham describes the atonement.

It is nearly impossible for an atheist to exist… or science writers for that matter. #science

Atheism
Atheism (Photo credit: boynumber1)

So sayeth science. Well, actually, a “science writer.” I’ve scanned the article and could not find much in collaborative evidence. Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe that science says our metaphysical urges are hardwired and part of our evolutionary tract and thus suggest atheism is not tenable, or even human; however, to write as the author did with only bit quotes — no footnotes or the internet equivalent, links — is to seriously undermine his thesis:

Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.

Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke.

For instance, when I google the quotes here,

This line of thought has led to some scientists claiming that “atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think,” says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New Scientist. “They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.”

I get articles quoting the original piece. However, I suspect that the quote comes from this article. If it does, and it does, the “science writer” misquotes Lawton who is paraphrasing Boyer. The context is this:

Some scientists – notably Pascal Boyer at Washington University in St Louis – have even claimed that atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think. They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.

Atheism
Atheism (Photo credit: atheism) – because that is what you think, don’t you?

Indeed, the conclusions in Lawton’s original piece may in fact surprise the “science writer.” Basically, his assumptions go like this. Atheists can’t exist because humans are hardwired to express/desire the common elements found in religion. You should be able to see through that pretty easily.

But, I want to add another wrinkle, if I may. What if there are no believers or atheists? If free will is an illusion, then we are but what we are meant to be in some fashion. This doesn’t mean I am in favor of determinism, but if our “choices'” are shaped by external influences, then our choices are chained to that which surrounds us. Thus, if one is an atheist or a believer, then it has something to do with an outside influence and cannot be the individual’s choice. Thus, there is no conscious effort to believe in God (thus, no believers) and there is no free will analysis capable of producing an unbelief in God (thus, no atheists) because we follow the path laid out before us and can only work within those influences.

Whew.

Anyway, the article is slightly better than what Jim West writes regarding evolution.