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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Patrick Glynn: 'God the Evidence'

Are you really so sure that all of this is random chance ?

by StFerdIII

Glynn is the rare academic bird. Flying outside the pack, Glynn left atheism and unbelief, to find purpose and self-realization through his Christian religion. A Harvard graduate, and a professor at George Washington University, Glynn is a high profile writer for publications ranging from the National Review to the Washington Post. He also worked in the Reagan administration. The reason why this book should be read [it was written in the late 90s], is that Glynn converted to his Christian religion and to a belief in God, due to the overwhelming scientific information he came across in his work, writings and post-graduate research. Along with the plethora of scientific discoveries which are proving that the universe is not random, there is the moral-psychological dimension: “The decision that I made was to reject nihilism as a basis for moral decision making.” Why was this? He quotes Churchill on morality;

The only guide to a man is his conscience, the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations, but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor.”

Belief in a true religion one that frees your mind, your soul, your spirit, and which promotes rationality and the Golden Rule, does reward the believer with a healthier life and mind. Any serious study comparing religious people who subscribe to to a true religion [and not a cult], with agnostics or atheists has always revealed the above to be true. Nihilism and irreligious behaviour in other words, do not provide the spiritual-psychological benefits or patterns that humans need to thrive.

Glynn graduated from Harvard during the early 70s in the age of 'aquarius' when sexual, social and cultural taboos and mores were utterly effaced and changed – and not for the better as he relates. Between Copernicus, Darwin and Freud, 'science' had 'proven' that religion was intellectual 'rubbish' and imaginative musings of 'adolescent minds'. But is it?

Modern thinkers assumed that science would reveal the universe to be ever more random and mechanical; instead it has discovered unexpected new layers of intricate order the bespeak an almost unimaginably vast master design.”

Intelligent design is constantly attacked by the media and the academic community, but the shrillness of the broadsides seems to highlight the poverty of their counter-arguments. Glynn tells of the counter-hypotheses in which 'scientists' such as Hawking theorize that there are countless billions of universes without offering a shred of proof, or pace Hawking and others, that Black Holes 'are pregnant' with new 'baby universes' which then develop 'randomly' into adult universes. The idea that there are billions of universes, or that Black Holes are really the purpose of creation [to generate more baby universes] is a theory looking for empirical proof. These are stories which 'science' offers as 'probable' but without a shred of intelligence to back them up.

My feeling is that science knows a lot less than we think. Consider this; the earth is 90 billion miles from the Sun. Mars is in the same band from the Sun as the earth, yet it is a lifeless cold desert with an atmosphere completely different from ours. The same is true for Venus, the morning star, a planet which has a 600 F surface temperature. If everything was 'random', why would the earth be teeming with life with perfectly balanced chemical combinations of water, carbon, nitrogen and helium amongst many other life giving combinations? As Glynn says the insipid saying, 'if you put a monkey on a typewriter he would eventually produce Shakespeare', is simply ridiculous. A monkey will produce gibberish every day for infinity if he sat at a typewriter until the end of time and hammered letters onto a page. A new day would change nothing for the monkey. Neither would 100.000 or 1 billion million years. He would simply produce random garbage.

Worse, science might indeed support the idea of a creation as Glynn recounts:

-Gravity is roughly 10 to the 39 times weaker than electromagnetism. If gravity had been 10 to the 33 times weaker than electromagnetism, 'stars would be a billion times less massive and would burn a million times faster.'

-The nuclear weak force is 10 to the 28 times the strength of gravity. Had the weak force been slightly weaker, all the hydrogen in the universe would have been turned to helium (making water impossible for example).

-A stronger nuclear strong force (by as little as 2 per cent) would have prevented the formation of protons – yielding a universe without atoms. Decreasing it by 5 percent would have given us a universe without stars.

-If the difference in mass between a proton and a neutron were not exactly as it is – roughly twice the mass of an electron – then all neutrons would have become protons or vice versa.

...and the list goes on for quite a while. [See John Leslie's 'Universes' for a complete list].

Mechanistic science which arose with Copernican astrology and Newtonian physics, cannot explain all of the 'coincidences' around the creation of life, or even the beginning of the universe. Mechanistic rationality destroyed in many people a religious system of belief.

As the mechanistic explanation expanded, it left increasingly little room for God. By the eighteenth century, theism – or the belief in a personal God – had given way to deism – or the view of God as simply the 'first cause' and undelying principle of rationality in the universe.”

Atheism followed from Deism when geology proved that the earth was 4 billion years old and Darwin published his Origins in 1859, outlining the 'random' but explainable nature of evolutionary survival of the fittest. From these 19th century discoveries flowed the idea that all of life was one gigantic mistake, or to paraphrase the atheist Betrand Russell, a set of coincidences in a backwater in a small part of the universe.

Evolution is unproven and large gaps remain in it. Huge numbers of species have come and gone and some have evolved outside of the evolutionary norm or in contradiction to evolutionary theory. Even worse it is rather mystical to suppose that somehow through magical chance, all of the elements of life had combined to form organisms in a soupy hot mixture billions of years ago. Equally magically these life forms evolved to the present forms we see today. The origins of life and thus of evolution have never been proven. Take a hot soupy mixture. Pour in chemical elements. And wait 100 million years. What will you have ? Nothing more than a hot soupy mixture, or perhaps after some time a cold admixture, full of different elements. The beginning of life and therefore of evolution is little more than a theory looking for proof. Is it not fantastic to 'assume' that meteors crashing into the earth brought carbon, nitrogen and other elements which then combined with the hot material on the earth's surface to form water and life? This is more of a leap of faith than a belief in a divine spark.

Scientists are clever people. But as GlobaloneyWarming or any of the new-age cults will attest to, scientists including the famous like Hawking, are oftentimes peddling their own view of the world, not the scientific. None of us would accept Aristotle's theories which are largely devoid of empricial evidence as 'fact' just because they come from Aristotle. Aristotle was a teleogical thinker, meaning that a tree grew because the acorn was the 'first cause' of the tree's growth and its outcome was the inevitability of the tree growing and forming 'as it should'. Thus the first cause is the reason why the tree grew. There is a lot of science lacking in such a presentation though the end observation is correct. Likewise though evolution is undoubtedly true, it does not explain everything. Neither does the 'big bang' theory, nor the 'steady state' theory. Science is limited by our own intellects and world-view. It is not independent or objective. Science throughout the ages has been very subjective. It still is today.

All of us intellectuals had been proceeding on the assmption that our appearance in the universe had been entirely accidental, a random outcome of collisons of matter and of the eons-long process of evolution. It turned out that the picture was not so simple.....In order to get life to appear in the universe billions of years after the universe began, you had to start planning very early – from the first nanosecond of the universe's coming into being. The possibility of producing life depended on everything's being 'just right' from the very start...”

Science can't explain how all the variables, constants, and motions of planets, and the interplay of atomic particles are 'just right' for life. I don't think it can, or ever will explain these 'coincidences'. Like climate theory, the human mind is too febrile to account for life, and the non-random nature of our world.

One enjoyable aspect of the book is Glynn's demolition of Freudian mysticism. Much of what Freud wrote and discussed was utter nonsense. Freud gave the general culture a set of excuses, much like politicians who are caught in sexual imbroglios using the term 'sexual addiction'. Sex is not addictive. Patterns, behaviors and compulsions can cause chemical flows and impair judgement. But sex is no more a medical addiction, than playing backgammon. It is however a convenient excuse. Freud focused on sexuality, repressions, urges and 'barbaric instincts', to explain adult behavior. Whilst psychoanalysis might have some relevancy to help us better understand the impacts on children from various phenomena, and the related development into adulthood, like much of quack-science, the Freudian cult is as much a mystical theology, as it is something firmly rooted in empiricism and common-sense. The main legacy of Freud is his destruction of boundaries and his perversion of roles and responsibilities within families and society at large. Freudian theory is in the main, one of negative and regressive, not progression and science.

Glynn's book raises some interesting problems for atheists and scientists. Is this all randomness? How could such random forces create life and order? Why are all the scientific constants so perfectly balanced? How can one explain the random creation of water and carbon? Are near-death experiencesjust fantasies or do they hint at an after-life? What about morality and good deeds, can these be done outside of a Golden-Rule dominated religion? Why are nihilists and liberals so angry, so sad, so displaced and according to many studies so unhappy?

I remember reading a book by Dr Amen of San Diego on the brain's construction and functioning. He has taken some 50.000 computer aided tomography scans of the brain. One of his many conclusions is that he believes there is an area in the brain hard-wired for 'god' belief linked to emotional and sexual satisfaction. Could a god-center in our brains exist? Why not. I would not argue against his evidence. Is there an intelligent design to the world? One day we might find out. But to dismiss the idea out of hand in the name of 'science' would be foolhardy and rather unscientific. Science is not god and scientists are not mini-gods, though many of them undoubtedly think otherwise.

Glynn's book is well researched and interesting. It makes you think and that is all you can ask from a writer.