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Monday, June 28, 2010

Science and religion: my principles/assumptions

I believe in four principles, relating to the interaction of science and Christianity.

1) The universe is here because of purpose, or plan, of a supernatural, loving, redeeming, omnipotent and omniscient God. See Genesis 1:1, and other scriptures, such as Colossians 1:15-20.

2) Principle 1 cannot be accepted without faith, as Hebrews 11:3 says.

3) God has revealed Himself to us in a number of ways, the most important being by the revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. One of those ways is through nature. (Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1-4) Since that is true, we must take the findings of science seriously. If there seems to be a conflict between the findings of science and what the Bible says, our understanding of what the Bible says may be in error, or we may need more findings, or our understanding of those findings may be in error, but, in principle, scientific findings and God's other forms of revelation should not conflict, and should be complementary.

4) Humans are special. God appeared, in Christ, as a human being. Humans are, in some measure, in God's image. Humans are, in some measure, responsible for the care of other living things. (See Genesis 1:26-28) Caring for other things requires that we know something about them.

There are a number of things that I did not say, on purpose. I didn't say, for one, how old the universe is. I didn't say that there are no other planets with life on them, except the earth. I didn't say how the different types of organisms came to be. I didn't say that our universe is the only one. All these matters, and more, are of interest. I have opinions on them, but they are not as important as the four principles given above. The Bible does not tell us any of these things. It does support the four principles above.

Can I prove these principles? Not to everyone's satisfaction. But I assume them to be true.

Everyone has basic assumptions, things they believe in that can't be proven. The most basic of these is the assumption that our senses are feeding us reasonably accurate information. An atheist probably assumes that miracles are impossible, or that there is no God. These things cannot be proven, any more than my four assumptions can.

Thanks for reading!

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I have previously posted on Hebrews 11:3, here, on "Science and the Bible," here, and on "Scriptural Principles that relate to Science," here.

6 comments:

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said...

Johnjoe McFadden has given a Electromagnetic Field Theory of Consciousness/Mind. We all know that Physics describes four fundamental forces in the universe. They are Gravitational Force, Electromagnetic Force, Weak Nuclear Force and Strong Nuclear Force. They are responsible for the creation of particles, subatomic structures, atomic structures, molecules,elements etc. For natural things (life etc.)to be created, natural forces (God Forces) act in natural ways. When man operates and manipulates these forces and creates some new things or old one it is said ‘artificial’. For me everything is natural. Since man is the part of nature so everything created by him, in-vivo or in-vitro, using Forces of Nature is also natural and not artificial.

I have given a theory of consciousness and mind as below:

“Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator”, I presented this paper at the 1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, held at The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), Lonavla, Pune in 2006. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

“The Universe includes everything that exists. In the Universe there are billions and billions of stars. These stars are distributed in the space in huge clusters. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of galaxy, star and planets etc. Gravitation can be considered as the cause of various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Human form is superior to all other forms. Withdrawal of gravitational wave from some plane of action is called the death of that form. It can be assumed that gravitation force is ultimate creator. Source of it is ‘God’. Gravitational Field is the supreme soul (consciousness) and its innumerable points of action may be called as individual soul (consciousness). It acts through body and mind. Body is physical entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system. Electromagnetic waves are its agents through which it works. This can be realized through the practice of meditation and yoga under qualified meditation instruction. This can remove misunderstanding between science and religion and amongst various religions. This is the gist of all religious teachings – past, present and future.”

I have also written one more paper on In Scientific Terminology, Source of Gravitational Waves is GOD and presented it at the 2nd World Vedic Science Congress in Banaras Hindu University in 2007.

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you for your comment, Mr. Satsangi.

Pete DeSanto said...

Wow Anirudh...now you see the perils of discarding rational thought Martin!

Anyway...there are a number of other things you did not say...particularly the impossibility of a global flood a few thousand years ago. The origin of human diversity in the Tower of Babel. The "stopping of the sun" in the sky for 24hr. The breeding of striped goats from copulating while looking at striped reeds. The OT reads very much like an attempt of early people to understand nature (including themselves) while having no understanding of nature, rather than the words of an omnipotent being intimate with the details of the universe.

As an atheist, I make no assumption. I have no belief in a god, because the objective evidence does not exist to justify such a belief. The assumption about our senses is not so. We know the limits of our senses and have developed instruments to extend our range of detection. The consistency of results over many orders of magnitude and the precise ways in which the devices we constructe work over that range should make it pretty clear that what we observe is reliable.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete. I do -- I think. I don't have much of an idea of what he was talking about.

No. I did not say any of those things, on purpose. Some of them may have happened, but maybe not. The Flood, for instance, may well have been local, but have involved all of humankind at that time. None of them are as fundamental as the assumptions I listed, at least to me.

If the OT had read like a science book, it wouldn't have done its first audience much good, as they wouldn't have understood it at all.

Pete DeSanto said...

Actually, I don't the first audience didn't quite understand most of what is written in the OT as it is! And now no one alive understands it very well either.

Seriously though, it didn't have to read like a science book. It could have been an accurate description in laymen's terms. Certainly not something difficult for god to relate to his people.

As to the flood being localized, I think the language is pretty explicit that it was global in scale. In any case, genetic diversity among modern humans precludes any possibility that we originated from a handful of Noah's family a few thousand years ago.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Pete.

Well, maybe the OT could have been written more accurately in laymen's terms.

There has been an on-going debate, among Bible-believing Christians who are experts in the original languages of the Bible -- I'm not one of them -- as to whether the language used to describe the flood means that it was global. Some of them are not convinced that it was.

As I indicated in my principles/assumptions, nature also is part of God's revelation to us, and, as I understand it -- I've never so much as had a geology course, so I have to rely on others -- there is no convincing geological evidence for a world-wide flood, young-earth creationists to the contrary.

The point of the story, whether it was about a world-wide flood, or a local one, seems to be that God is not happy with sin, but is willing to give humanity another chance.