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Friday, June 22, 2007

An intelligently designed universe?

A previous post, on Henrietta Swan Leavitt, mentioned the size of galaxies and the universe. I'd like to (excuse me!) expand on that a little bit.

I have already indicated that I believe that the universe had an Intelligent Designer behind its construction, and that that Designer is the Christian God. I have also indicated that I believe this by faith (Hebrews 11:3) not for scientific reasons. I am not persuaded that it is possible to find irrefutable scientific proof of God's existence, where science is defined as the so-called hard sciences, namely chemistry, physics, astronomy, biology, geology and the like*. I don't believe that it is possible to prove that Intelligent Design occurred. (see here for discussion) I am also not persuaded that it is appropriate to teach about God's design in the science classes of the public schools. However, it is certainly also not appropriate to teach that science proves that there is no God, or that there is no purpose in the universe, or that humans are only animals. Science has proved no such things, and can't, as they are outside the scope of science. The fact that such false teaching has been done in school is one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, for the recent movements toward teaching Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution in schools.

I don't want to give anyone any ideas, but why aren't there school boards, etc., trying to change the way astronomy is taught? Some Christians disbelieve in the Big Bang theory, in part because they don't believe that the universe is more than a few thousand years old. Others might say that scientific findings contradict the Bible, which seems to say that the earth, not the sun, is the center of the solar system, and, by implication, the center of the universe. I haven't heard of any push to teach 6,000 year geocentric astronomy in public schools.

I speculate that there are two reasons. First, astronomy doesn't directly bear on the place of human beings. Second, this battle has mostly been fought, and lost. Galileo won -- as he is said to have said** "but it moves" (referring to the earth). The Roman Catholic church (which pretty much was the church, in Galileo's time) took a long time to approve of Galileo's theories (partly because Galileo wasn't very diplomatic, and also partly because he didn't have irrefutable scientific evidence for his theory) but it has finally done so.

*C. S. Lewis claimed to have found proof in what might be called the social sciences. I don't know if he considered his proofs irrefutable or not. No doubt others have also found such proof there.

**I know that this link refers to a web site produced by atheists. I'm trying not to have a Christian bias, although I'm probably not succeeding. I believe most or all of what this web page says is correct, regardless of the source.

Thanks for reading.


Rob Rumfelt said...

This post and your previous one are very important. My brain is crammed with thoughts and I don't have time right now to get into everything I'd like, but let's start with this: Our schools are letting our kids down by not teaching them about the history of ideas and their consequences. Yes, I guess you could call this philosophy, but if the schools called it that, no one would pay attention.

No, don't teach Intelligent Design as science. Don't teach creationism either. But teach about the ideas and what they mean for the way we live. Also teach about the implications of a purely materialistic Darwinism.

Schools say they want to teach our children how to think, but really all they're doing is teaching them how to express often ill-formed opinions.

I guess that's good enough for starters, eh?

Martin LaBar said...

It works for me.


Elliot said...

I wonder what Catholics like Galileo and Copernicus, or their Lutheran supporters for that matter, would have thought about becoming heroes to militant atheists.

It's funny how people, atheists included, are so quick to create an idealized mythology to suit their beliefs.

Martin LaBar said...

Isn't it? I'm sure I've done it myself.

Thanks for reading and commenting.