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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Science of God - II

So, again, writing about the convergence of science and God and have no intention of proselytizing. Really trying to engage my own mind on these topics by writing them down, and if someone happens to read them, well that makes me happy too…

According to Schroeder, perhaps the longest held belief which has historically driven a wedge b/w both sides was the debate between the universe being eternal – is it w/out beginning and end? Though now the concept of the big bang is pretty well established in the minds of scientists everywhere, apparently it wasn’t resolved until the mid 20th century. From Aristotle until Einstein – the large majority of scientists and thinkers strongly argued that belief in a beginning point to the universe was silly. However, it has never been a secret that the Bible claimed this all along. Schroeder notes that Einstein in fact said this misunderstanding in the face of so much evidence that the universe was expanding was the “biggest blunder of his life.” This demonstrates a major shift in thinking within scientific history toward Biblical philosophy - unintentionally to be sure.

Does this shift prove the existence of a Creator? Absolutely not – but it at least gives credence to the possibility.

Dr. Schroeder then begins to go into the mathematics of certain known scientific realities – yes, a bit abstract but useful nonetheless. He discusses the unlikelihood that carbon, the 4th most abundant atom in the universe, would form in such abundant quantities as it requires some pretty unlikely conditions for formation. Apparently it does not exist naturally, it requires the combination of Berrilyium and Helium both at the exactly correct energy level and exactly right distance from each other and a few other unlikelys which get lost in numbers – again, not proving anything, just lending some credence to the possibility of some time of guidance.

Ah, and then Dr. Schroeder goes on to discuss a more familiar topic – the popular understanding of Darwinian evolution and its relation to the fossil record. I hear people throw around the phrases/terms “according to Darwin” and “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” all the time, yet I bet few of those folks have read or really understand his theory? Sure, on the surface “survival of the fittest” seems simple and logical, yet reading the mathematical probability associated with this reasoning (at least as presented by Dr. Schroeder) are troubling. For example, the Burgess shale fossil collection is apparently the best known collection of fossils ever found because it demonstrates all five different phyla (or body plans) of current animal life. However, it also apparently demonstrates that all five phyla appeared on the scene w/in a 70 million years span – stark contrast to the proposed two-hundred million years of gradual change described by Darwin. The difference may not seem like much (70 million vs 200 million), but according to Dr. Schroeder, 70 million years is not enough time for random genetic events to have produced such vastly different phyla – random genetic events or mutations being the foundation of Darwinian evolution.

The period of time demonstrated in the Burgess shale is better known as the Cambrian explosion, and again the question is whether or not there was sufficient time for such random evolution to occur. Apparently Dr. Schroeder is not alone in his assumption that there was not, as he states the scientific community now believes one of two things: either life was planted here from outer space or there were exotic properties of self-organization AND self-replication present on Earth in order to bring forth the capacity for life. It’s no secret that many scientists disregard the book of Genesis for one reason or another, but it is worth noting that written millennia prior to any understanding of evolution or modern science – Genesis says that “the earth brought forth life” – cryptically indicating that second possibility from before. Not only that, but in the same book of the Bible, again written millennia prior to our current understanding, there is a correctly described order in which the aspects of life appear - water and then life.

Dr. Schroeder does concede the physical reality which many physicists believe, that given enough time, even apparently miraculous events become possible – such as the spontaneous emergence of a single cell organism from random couplings of chemicals. Yet as a mathematical expert, he knows that it is just very very unlikely. For a better understanding of the sheer odds of such random events leading to the formation of humans, Schroeder quotes a British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle (and I’ll do the same): “Such an occurrence is about as statistically likely as the assemblage of a 747 by a tornado whirly through a junkyard.”

God proven? Nope, not by a long shot. However, it’s worth contemplating that even the simplest forms of life are far too complex w/out some inherent chemical property of molecular self-organization and/or reaction enhancing catalysts at every step of their development – a concept the Bible has no problem with.

Before concluding this section, seems like a quote from before may be appropriate: “Render unto science that which is science’s: a proven method for investigating our universe. But render unto the Bible the search for purpose and the poetry that describes the purpose.”

As always, thanks for reading. :-)


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