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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

I came across an interview with Rupert Sheldrake on Enlighten Next Magazine website. This guy seems quite remarkable – does a lot of work on consciousness. Among other things he comes with a refreshing perspective on ‘God’ that challenges the mechanistic view of the Enlightenment. He also suggests (with some justification, I may say) that science is based “on all sorts of assumptions about nature that are essentially theological or metaphysical”

I share here a fragment in which he argues for the necessity of evil in a non-static (or should I say evolving or creative) universe. Not a new formulation but I like the way he puts is. In another part of the interview he blasts Dawkins and his clan of ‘deterministic’ materialists. You can read the full interview here

“Well, I think if there’s a universe of diversity and of becoming, which is what our universe is, then all things are mortal. Nothing lasts forever in a universe of becoming. If we lived in a frozen, crystalline universe where nothing ever changed, I daresay there’d be no claws and no blood. But the nature of existence, as we see it in the universe, is that all things come to an end and are recycled. Even the most long-lasting things we know of, like stars, come to an end. The forms in which things come into being have a limited life span, so all organisms are going to die sooner or later. And it’s the very nature of animal life that animals make their living by eating plants or other animals. So, if you are going to have animals that by their very nature have to eat other organisms, you’re going to have red claws and teeth somewhere or other. Decay, disease, death, and suffering are built into the very nature of an evolutionary universe of this kind. So, if we have an evolutionary universe in which change and development are built-in, in which there is a constant becoming of forms and dissolution of forms, these are inevitable features. The God of such a universe, the consciousness of such a universe, has to encompass these kinds of processes. You could, perhaps, have a different kind of universe, as I said, where everything is frozen in crystalline unity forever. But that would be a different sort of universe, a universe without becoming, without development, and also without creativity. It seems to be an inevitable consequence of the kind of universe we have that there’s going to be red teeth and claws around, and suffering, decay, disease, and death”.

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Dogmatist scientists need to be reminded, now and again, that the discipline of science is not about absolute truth. So says Robert Winston.
As I was getting ready to go to bed last night I was flickering through the channels on my new TV (well you know when you have a new toy you need to get used to it) I noticed that Robert Winston was the guest on BBC 24 hard talk programme. Winston was answering the question “can we trust the science” (you can still watch the full programme on the BBC iPlayer).
Winston pointed out that in the wake of the recent scandals (i.e. climate gate) there is some unhealthy arrogance among some scientists which is rather damaging to science.
The following words struck me “there is a degree of scientific dogma, when, for example, very strong committed atheist, for example, talk about science being the absolute truth, I don’t think that really helps science, it is rather undermining because science is not just about truth it is about probabilities, it’s about likelihood to some extent, and of course what we know from the science and what I say in this book, of course, is the more we explore the more half truths or part truths we find that the more we find that we actually can’t explain”!
One might also say that the religious dogmatist need to also be reminded that religious dogmas are human constructs that reflect cultural, historic and social context that gave birth to them. Therefore these dogmas need to be re-evaluated all the time, and as such might not be ‘absolute truth’. What do people think?

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Keith Ward presenting a possible eschatological future for the universe from a Christian theistic perspective:

” This means that what we do in and to this universe has lasting consequence for the world to come. What we create and shape will be present, though transfigured by glory. What we destroy and frustrate will fail to be present as it could and should have been. In that sense, the future world will perhaps always bear the marks of the tragic, of the failure to be what should have been, of absence where there should have been presence, of pain never quite forgotten, even though transfigured by present joy. Nevertheless the goodness of that world will be overwhelming, and it will be the result of what took place in the ontogenesis of this world”.

Keith Ward, The Big Questions in Science and Religion, Templeton Foundation 2008, p. 52.

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Today’s Sunday Times reports on a study on children’s brains, which not only suggests that humans are born with the inner ability to believe in God, but it also suggests that religious belief has played a significant role in the ‘survival’ and development of human society. Mr Dawkins might have to sharpen his pencil for a little while longer! But then again he might say, I told you so, faith is a childish experience. But one thing I can be sure of: the debate will go on and on for much longer.

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“There’s a focus on competition in Darwinism because of the notions of progress and struggle. Now we get into theology and how it influences Darwinism, through the Calvinist view that people who have the greater accumulation of goods have proved themselves superior in the race of life. That for me is a whole lot of garbage that can be chucked. Once you get rid of it, you’re into a different set of metaphors, related to creativity, novelty for its own sake, doing what comes naturally. Instead of the image of organisms struggling up peaks in a fitness landscape, doing “better than” — which is a very Calvinist work ethic — there is the image of a creative dance”.

Brian Goodwin, “Biology Is Just a Dance” from The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution by John Brockman (Simon & Schuster, 1995)

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Colin Blakemor argues in an article in the Guardian that science is just ‘one gene away’ from making religion redundant. I also managed to watch the last half of his TV programme ‘God and the Scientists’ the other day. I also managed to catch the last part of his ‘God and the Scientists’ on Chanel 4 the other evening.

Reading and watching the two pieces it is apparent to me that Blakemor, (together with Archbishop Richard Dawkins – the Archbishop of radical atheists – with his flock)  have their reasoning based on the same principles as the radical Creationists.

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In Search for God Particle

Well finally earlier this morning the most ambitious experiment ever in particle physics was launched in Switzerland. This moment was anticipated by many, but feared by others.

The so much anticipated moment was at 8.30 am (British time, GM+1), and after one or two glitches the first ‘proton beam’ was injected into the Large Hadron Collider. At that time in the morning I am usually in the kitchen (doing some of the domestic stuff, you know) listening to Radio 4. This morning Andrew Marr reported live from the LHC control room, and it was really exciting to hear the counting down to the start.

Brian Cox one of the leading physicists in this projects takes a stub at scaremongers and intelligent design theorist, in in interview with BBC. Here is a fragment from his interview which you can find on BBC website:

“I am in fact immensely irritated by the conspiracy theorists who spread this nonsense around and try to scare people. This non-story is symptomatic of a larger mistrust in science, particularly in the US, which includes intelligent design amongst other things.

The only serious issue is why so many people who don’t have the time or inclination to discover for themselves why this stuff is total crap have to be exposed to the opinions of these half-wits”.

Well I am looking forward for the findigs of these experiments. Will we get an insight into what is (or even the evidence for) “the Missing Particle” (the Higgs boson or, the God Particle)? And if so what would be the implications for our theological discourse?

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