Monday, May 21, 2007

The Harmony Of Christian Thought and Science

Signs like this irritate every burning atom in my body. (Took a lot of self control to not type something else there.) When I see this sign, I have wild fantasies of blowing it up with a bazooka or renting out a sign right next to it that says. "Christians with the biggest mouths are usually not the ones with the biggest brains."

Here are two quotes about our state of existence. One is a scientific perspective, and one is the Christian perspective. Both are strikingly similar and when that grey matter between my ears consisting of a complex highway ushering over 100 billion neurons, each linked to as many as 10,000 other neurons, processes the following information, it spits out three words. "Pretty stinkin' cool."

Scientific view:

Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize.

To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifiting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricte and intriguingly obliging manner to creat you. It's an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tied before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (you hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally underappreciated state known as existence.

Why atoms take this stroube is a bit of a puzzle. Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic level. For all their devoted attention, your atoms don't actually care about you-indeed, don't even know that you are there. They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themseles alive. (It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had onece been you. Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a singler overarching impulse: ot keep you you. - Billy Bryson *A Short History of Nearly Everything.*

Christian view:

"We are made of nothing into something; and since what we are made "of" does not account for us, [see Bryson's pile of atoms taken apart by tweezers.] we are forced to a more intense concetration upon the God we are made "by."

What follows is very simple but revolutionary. If a carpenter makes a chair, he can leave it and the charir will not cease to be. For the material he used in its making has a quality called rigidity, by virtue of which it will retain its nature as a chair. If the carpenter leaves the chair for a cup of coffee, the chair can still rely for continuance in existence upon the matereial he used, the wood.

Similiarly if the Maker of the Universe left it, the Universe too would have to rely for continuance in existence upon the material He used - nothing. In short, the truth that God used NO material in our making carries with it the realized truth tht God continues to hold us in being, and that unless He did so would should simply cease to be.

Material beings- the human body, for instance- are made up of atoms, and these again of electorns and protons, and these again of who knows what; but whatever may be the ultimate constituents of matter, God made them of nothing, so that they and the beings so imposingly built up of them exist only because He keeps them in existence. We are held above the surface of our native nothingness soley by God's continuing Will to hold us so. "In Him, we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) -Frank Sheed *Theology and Sanity*


The Stan said...

To continue the thought, protons and neutrons are made up of smaller particles called quarks, which are theorized to be made up of multi-dimensional vibrating strings. Don't ask me to explain this any further because I'm not a theoretical physicist.

But the point is, for those studying the fundamental make up of matter, it appears that the entire universe may just be an illusion--made up of quantum waves of energy. In other words, ultimately, nothing but energy.

(Remember Einstein proved that matter and energy are equivalent with his famous E=mc2. Or, a given mass express in kg, multiplied by the speed of light squared will yield that much energy in Joules. To put it in laymen's terms, a tiny bit of matter yields a buttload of energy. Or looking at it the other way, it takes a buttload of energy to create the tiniest speck of matter.)

I agree with you, Seth, on that Billboard. It's ignorant and it really chaps my hide!

Physicists and astronomers have made a very strong case for the Big Bang. It's only a matter of explaining how it occurred, not whether. And I don't understand what the big problem about this is with Christians, anyway.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth."

This is the thesis statement for the first chapter of Genesis. The rest is poetry.

FancyPants said...

A buttload of energy, huh?

How much is that?

euphrony said...

A buttload of energy is something more than a plethora, but less than a googleplex. Take it from an engineer.

I don't much care for the sign, either. I'm hoping their intent is to say that God is bigger than what our science can explain or replicate, and not that science is bull-hockey. I hope

Seth Ward said...

It is good to think positive Euph. But I have a hunch that what you see is what you get. I also don't think that they put the sign up believing people would choose to read between the lines.

That’s what I mean by "the Christians with the biggest mouths are usually NOT the ones with the biggest brains."

It is because of people like this that there is a growing evangelical Atheist movement today that I think has more momentum than we think.

Fundies need to get a clue and realize that they are being lumped together with the maniacs that slammed the planes into the world trade center. There is ZERO love in their rhetoric.

The thousands of dollars a month spent on that sign could have served a billion other purposes rather than to make a few fundie congregants happy and piss off the rest of the world, Christians and non-Christians alike, driving away anyone who doesn't believe in a 6 day creation as written in the KJV.

I'm tired of this I tell you and I think it is time that a few of us peace-loving moderates rise up and take care of our ridiculous, idiotic, hate-filled, fundie brethren. No telling what the SBC would be like today if the fundies wouldn't have bussed in a billion 4 graders to vote out the moderates and take over the convention. Enrollment is down 70 percent since the 80's and it has split into 4 different parts.

I could go on but I'll stop there.

Seth Ward said...

-That's enrollement in the SBC seminaries.

kddub said...

Sometimes I think Christians get wrapped up in the wrong details, and get totally out spoken about things we can't necessarily even argue about and prove.
I can't stand bill boards like that. It's so frustrating to be "represented" by those billboards.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Don't any of you people have embarrassing family members? You don't get to pick who is in your family, you're just stuck with them. It doesn't hurt to try and talk sense to them, but you just know that some of them won't listen, no matter what.

They're still family (mostly, anyway).

Rob said...

the stan's got it right on... the Big Bang is right out of Genesis, or in the words of another fundie-ish slogan, "God spoke, and BANG!" (Now, energy is not nothing, it's just not mass. God had to create energy out of nothing as well.)

Surely we need to all be looking for truth. I'm not willing to argue for anything unless I'm convinced it lines up with reality. If that turns out to be the 6-day KJV story, I'm OK with that. I'm also OK with the multi-billion year story, and the 4,000-year story. I just can't quite figure out for sure which one it is just yet. The science guys seem to have a pretty good story going at least part of the way. They're still a little fuzzy on exactly how it all works in the details.

Joey said...

My two cents: I'm outraged too, but sadly not surprised. I simply despise to call myself a Christian knowing full well that I'm immediately lumped with fear-filled people such as those who put up those signs. But I am a Christian, and we were told it would not be easy. I just never thought the burden would be on the "christian" side more than any other.

Seth Ward said...

You got that right friend.