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ScienceReligion Interface


Parish Minister in West of Scotland - 17 years. ... Christian Faith and Contemporary Thought (BE305) Christianity and Modern Science. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: ScienceReligion Interface

Christian Faith and Modern Science by Howard
  • Howard Taylor - Brief CV
  • Chaplain to Heriot-Watt University and teaches
  • Moral and Social Philosophy.
  • Philosophy of Science and Religion.
  • Previously
  • Parish Minister in West of Scotland - 17 years.
  • Visiting lecturer at ICC and before that GBC and
  • Two modules
  • Christian Faith and Contemporary Thought (BE305)
  • Christianity and Modern Science. (This module -
  • Author of several small books/booklets.
  • 16 years in Malawi, Africa.
  • Minister, Theology lecturer, African Language
  • Maths and Physics lecturer University of Malawi.
  • Degrees from Nottingham, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
  • Married with three grown up sons and two
    grandsons and one granddaughter.
  • Web

What is it all about?
  • For millennia philosophers and theologians have
    attempted to address such questions as
  • Is the universe eternal or did it begin?
  • Why does nature have a rational structure?
  • Is there any purpose to human existence?
  • What is life?
  • Can the experiences of consciousness and
    self-awareness be reduced to the properties of
    the brain or do they imply the existence of a
  • It is in the latter part of the 20th century that
    some scientists have tried to get to grips with
    these most fundamental of fundamental questions.

You may have thought about these topics before or
they may never have occurred to you. Here is
something for you to do
  • Using the Bible and/or the Christian Faith and/or
    other religious views as your authority try to
    write a few lines on each of these topics. If you
    are ignorant of any or some or even all the areas
    then write that fact down and don't worry!
  • Now repeat the exercise but this time write what
    you believe modern scientists or philosophers
    might say. Again if you have no idea don't worry
    - the purpose of this module is to teach you
    these things.

  • Models for considering the relationship between
    science and religion
  • .Conflict.
  • .Independence.
  • .Dialogue.
  • .Integration.
  • (I prefer to say mutual illumination).
  • The above are the models taken from Ian Barbours

  • Books that are particularly relevant to these
    models are
  • Ian Barbour When Science Meets Religion, pages
  • Alister McGrath Science and Religion, chapter 2
    entitled Religion Ally or Enemy of Science?

Worldviews and Science. Under each of these
headings there are many sub sections not
mentioned here.
  • The material universe is an illusion. Only the
    spirit or mind is real. (Some versions of Eastern
    Religions and Idealism.)
  • The material universe is all that there is the
    whole story. (Materialism.)
  • Theism. Both the material and the spiritual are
    real and interact. (However the spiritual gives
    rise to the material world. Deism says that apart
    from Creation there is no interaction.)
  • With which worldview does science fit most

  • We now consider some words of Bertrand Russell in
    his Introduction to his History of Western
  • All definite knowledge belongs to science all
    dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge
    belongs to theology. But between theology and
    science there is a No Man's Land, .. this No
    Man's Land is philosophy. Almost all the
    questions of most interest to speculative minds
    are such as science cannot answer, and the
    confident answers of theologians no longer seem
    convincing. …(The questions are) Is the world
    divided into mind and matter, and, if so what is
    mind and what is matter? Is mind subject to
    matter, or is it possessed of independent powers?
    Has the universe any unity or purpose? Is it
    evolving towards some goal? Are there really laws
    of nature, or do we believe in them only because
    of our innate love of order? Is man what he seems
    to the astronomer, a tiny lump of impure carbon
    and water impotently crawling on a small
    unimportant planet? Or is he what he appears to
    Hamlet? (next slide) Is he perhaps both at once?
    Is there a way of living that is noble and
    another that is base, or are all ways of living
    merely futile? If there is a way of living that
    is noble. In what does it consist, and how shall
    we achieve it? Must the good be eternal in order
    to deserve to be valued, or is it worth seeking
    even if the universe is inexorably moving towards
    death? … To such questions no answer can be found
    in the laboratory. …. The studying of these
    questions, if not the answering of them, is the
    business of philosophy.

Hamlet What a piece of work is a man, how noble
in reason, How infinite in faculties, in form and
moving how Express and admirable, in action how
like an angel, In apprehension how like a god
the beauty of the World, the paragon of animals
and yet to me, what Is this quintessence of dust?
Bertrand Russell Philosophy's Unanswerable
  • According to Bertrand Russell , not only are
    these questions (that are unanswerable by
    science), the most interesting they are the most
    important.(See also History of Western Philosophy
    page 789)
  • Without belief in theology (ie God who speaks a
    Word), Russell says they have no answer.
  • As an atheist he had to hold the paradoxical view
  • The most interesting and important questions for
    humans have no answers.
  • All that philosophy can do is to discuss them.

Not only is the existence of God necessary to
make sense of reality but so also is the Cross of
Christ in whom He makes Himself known. I am
reminded of these words from 1 Corinthians
1 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the
scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world
through its wisdom did not know him, God was
pleased through the foolishness of what was
preached to save those who believe. 18 For the
message of the cross is foolishness to those who
are perishing, but to us who are being saved it
is the power of God. 19 For it is written "I
will destroy the wisdom of the wise the
intelligence of the intelligent I will
frustrate. (NIV)
The most beautiful and deepest experience a man
can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is
the underlying principle of religion as well as
of all serious endeavour in art and in
science.... He who never had this experience
seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind.
The sense that behind anything that can be
experienced there is a something that our mind
cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity
reaches us only indirectly and as feeble
reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense
I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at
these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with
my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of
all that there is. Albert Einstein (Speech to
the German League of Human Rights (Berlin 1932).
Argument in favour of materialism. Science has
successfully answered many questions about the
world. One day it will be able to answer all
questions. Question Are the mysteries getting
less or more?
Leibnizs argument against materialism. Thoughts
cannot be material. Thoughts affect the physical
world. Therefore the physical world needs more
than physical science to understand its
behaviour. Why are thoughts not
material? Leibnizs mill or mountain. Physical
processes just exist they are not true or
false. Thoughts are true or false. Therefore
thoughts are not just material. (See Bertrand
Russell quote in next slide.) But thoughts do
affect the physical world. Therefore the
behaviour of the physical world cannot be fully
understood by physical science.
If we imagine a world of mere matter, there would
be no room for falsehood in such a world, and
although it would contain what may be called
facts, it would not contain any truths, in the
sense in which truths are things of the same kind
as falsehoods. In fact, truth and falsehood are
properties of beliefs and statements hence a
world of mere matter, since it would contain no
beliefs or statements, would also contain no
truth or falsehood. (Bertrand Russell, The
Problems of Philosophy, page 70.)
The mystery of existence.
  • Why do matter and energy exist? - where did they
    come from?
  • Scientific theories about the origin of the
    universe have to assume the initial existence of
    some kind of energy/law of nature. (Eg Wave
    function of the Universe, Colliding membranes,
    Strings, eleven dimensions and Loop quantum
  • leading to matter/space-time/laws of physics in
    the big bang.
  • But scientific theories cannot explain how the
    initial energy/laws of nature came to exist or
    why they exist or did exist.

The mystery of existence.
  • If God exists why does He exist? Was He created?
  • Whether or not God exists we are face to face
    with the mysteryWhy does anything exist at all?
  • Stephen HawkingWhy does the universe go to all
    the bother of existing?
  • JJC Smart (atheist philosopher) Why should
    anything exist at all? - it is for me a matter of
    the deepest awe.
  • See Handout re Quentin Smith (atheist
    philosopher)s comments.

The Mystery of existence - cont.
  • Some believe the questions
  • 'What is life?'
  • 'What is consciousness? and related to it
  • What is my self that only I experience and know?
  • also give rise to fundamental mysteries.

Fundamental Mysteries - cont.
  • If science could, one day, fully examine my
    brain, would the scientist know what I am
    thinking about?
  • If not, then my mind must be more than my
    physical brain.
  • My mind (including my thoughts and ideas) affects
    my behaviour - therefore it is real.
  • So we have something that it real but is not
    subject to scientific investigation.

The Mystery of Existence - cont..
  • Most believe that goodness, morality,
    beauty and our sense of ought are not just
    the result of our subjective feelings but are
    objective realities.
  • Goodness, morality, beauty
  • do have a real effect on the physical world -
    they effect our behaviour - what we do with our
    bodies and what we make.
  • (they therefore are real.)
  • but they are not open to scientific investigation
    - (science examines the physical universe - it
    cant tell you what is good or beautiful, or
    morally right/wrong).
  • Many conclude that there must be more to reality
    than the mere physical existence that science

The Mystery of Existence - Cont.
  • Some or all of these questions and convictions
    have given rise to the religious quest.
  • As science penetrates deeper into the very nature
    of things many scientists are beginning to
    wrestle with these questions.
  • Science is giving rise to questions it believes
    are beyond its scope.
  • Thus there is scope for dialogue.

World Views 1. Atheistic Materialism
  • There is nothing spiritual - no god, spirit or
  • Impersonal matter/energy/physical laws (in one
    form or another) are the basis of all that exist
    - the whole story.
  • They are eternal
  • They have developed into the universe
  • including all its life and human life and
    personal human minds.

World Views 1. Atheistic Materialism cont
  • In principle the human person, including his/her
    appreciation of beauty, right and wrong, could,
    in the future, be understood entirely by physics.
  • A complete understanding of the human person
    could, in future, come from a study of impersonal
    physical laws/matter/energy which make up his
    physical body/brain and environment.
  • See quotation from Francis Crick on next slide

World Views Atheistic Materialism continued.
Francis Crick You, your joys and your sorrows,
your memories and your ambitions, your sense of
personal identity and free will, are in fact no
more that the behaviour of a vast assembly of
nerve cells and their associated molecules. (The
Astonishing Hypothesis page 3)
World Views 2. Deism
  • God is entirely transcendent - out there, not in
  • God created the universe with its physical laws
    and now leaves it to run its course.
  • Darwin believed that the Creator impressed laws
    on matter.
  • There is no continuing relation between God and
    the physical universe.
  • God is not relevant to our physical lives.

World Views 3. Pantheism
  • God is immanent - in here, not out there.
  • There is no Creator God distinct from the
  • God is the spiritual dimension of the physical
  • God is impersonal.
  • We tune into God rather than pray to Him in a
    personal way.
  • We may pray to spirits but not to God.
  • All things are sacred in their own right.
  • The physical/spiritual universe is eternal.

World Views 4. Panentheism
  • The physical universe is part of God as a body is
    part of a person.
  • However He also is greater than the physical
  • God is more likely to be personal in panentheism.

World Views 4. Theism
  • God is both transcendent and immanent
  • He is distinct from the physical world but He is
    with and in all things.
  • He alone is eternal.
  • He created matter/energy/laws of physics.
  • He holds all things in being.
  • He is personal Mind.
  • Some believe that we may know Him personally.

World Views 5. Christian Theism.
  • As well as the theism already outlined
  • God is love and is not distant from sin and
  • He stoops to the human level, and bears sin,
    judgement, pain and death for us. (Christs
  • He lifts us up back to where we belong, giving us
    new life and forgiving us our sin. (Christs
  • Although this is seen in Jesus, it is a process
    that occurs throughout history - the subject of
    the Bible.
  • Judgement, new Creation and eternal life are
  • Thus, Our true destiny is fulfilled and our
    uncertain lives on earth find their purpose.

  • Secularism and the ordinary mans scientific
  • Why do the planets orbit the sun?
  • Not God but the law of gravity.
  • False assumption gravity is an eternal
    independent law.
  • God of the gaps - a mistake the Church made.
  • A mechanistic universe.
  • In the 17th C the universe was compared to the
    great clock in Strasbourg.
  • If the universe is just a mechanism - so humans
    are just complex mechanisms too.
  • Humans too are controlled by the laws of physics
    and have no responsibility for their thoughts or
  • The powerful can engineer other humans to suit
  • False assumption humans are only physical.
  • Space and time have always existed.
  • This too was/is a false assumption.
  • Light, space-time, matter, energy are related -
    not by external laws but by what they are in
    themselves. (Relativity).

  • Public world of facts and Private World of
  • Scientific facts become facts for everyone -
    public facts about which there could be no
  • Everything that is not investigated by science
    (beauty, goodness etc) would eventually become
    private matters for individual opinion or
  • So each person should make up his own mind about
    those things which lie outside bounds of science
  • The Purpose of the universe and human life,
  • Religion, morality and ideals.
  • The stage was set for the eventual collapse of
    religion, morality and idealism.
  • (The situation was made worse for the Church by
    its disputes with Galileo and others. For example
    it wanted to cling to its belief that the stars
    circled the earth - a belief based only on a
    superficial reading of the Bible.)

  • A paradox If there is no real purpose to the
    universe and our lives why bother to have any
    ideals including the scientific ideal to explore
    the universe?
  • Many great scientists investigated the universe
    because they believed it has a purpose given by
    its Creator - God.
  • Now work your way through Unit 1 especially
  • The set of questions that arise from the
    scientific quest.
  • Einsteins words quoted on page 3.
  • The great scientists who were devout believers.
  • The nature of scientism.
  • Is the real battle between science and religion -
    or is merely disguised as if it were?

  • Further reading on enlightenment science and its
    effect on religion
  • Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks,
    chapter 4 entitled The Dialogue with Science
  • Alister E.McGrath, Science and Religion, chapter
    1 entitled Historical Landmarks.

  • Non-Christian Religious World Views.
  • For Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism see the
  • Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • Taoism.
  • For Christian World View see handout
  • The Biblical World View.

  • Read Unit 2 which is an overview of some
    important points that will be discussed in the
    module. Some, we have met briefly already.
  • In Unit 2 we think about
  • The difference is between science and scientism
  • Why many people were fascinated by the book A
    Brief History of Time
  • The amazing information, order and beauty in all
    of nature.
  • What is meant by Science at the Boundaries'.
  • Why relationships are essential for understanding
    God, the natural world and ourselves.
  • Why we should beware of the god of the gaps'.
  • Why the Universe must have purpose.
  • The religious beliefs that were the necessary
    spur to the scientific enterprise.
  • (See next slide for more on this point)

  • The religious beliefs that were the necessary
    spur to the scientific enterprise.
  • God is rational and therefore the natural world
    He created is orderly and open to rational
  • Its rational order is open to understanding by
    the human mind. (Man and woman created in Gods
  • Nature's order is a contingent order.
  • (That is to say its rational structure did not
    have to be as it is but was chosen to be as it
    is. Experimentation is therefore necessary to
    delve deeper into the laws of nature.)

  • Religious beliefs that were the necessary spur to
    the scientific enterprise.
  • Being created by God the natural world is good
    and therefore worth investigating.
  • This contrasts with the belief that the natural
    world is inherently evil or unreal.
  • Although there is now evil and suffering, Gods
    love for the world means there is hope for it.
  • We too should love nature and want to understand
    it more.
  • For further explanation see the last pages of
    Unit 2.

The Beginning and the Big Bang. In
the Beginning God created the heavens and the
earth. (Genesis 11)
  • Father of the Big Bang Theory
  • Georges-Henri Lemaître (Catholic priest and
    scientist) was born July 17, 1894 in Charleroi,
    Belgium. Lemaître is credited with proposing the
    Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe,
    although he called it his 'hypothesis of the
    primeval atom'. He based his theory, published
    between 1927 and 1933, on the work of Einstein,
    among others.
  • Einstein did not, at first, like the theory
    because it was too much like the teaching of the
  • However in 1935 Einstein, after having travelled
    on a long train journey with Lemaitre, applauded
    a lecture on the subject, given by Lemaitre
    himself, and said, "This is the most beautiful
    and satisfactory explanation of creation to which
    I have ever listened".
  • Against much opposition from the scientific
    community, Lemaîtres theory finally triumphed
    from the sheer weight of evidence. (In the second
    half of the 20th Century.)
  • He estimated the age of the universe to be
    between 10 and 20 billion years, which agrees
    with modern opinions.

The Beginning and the Big Bang. In
the Beginning God created the heavens and the
earth. (Genesis 11)
  • Lemaîtres view was, at first, rejected but it
    raised the question as to whether the universe
    (in one form or another) is finite (the
    Jewish/Christian view) or infinite (atheist and
    pantheist view).
  • Steady State or Beginning?
  • Evidence for beginning.
  • Stars still burning.
  • Not fallen in on one another.
  • Anti-Gravity?? No!, or perhaps yes!
  • Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding
    as if from an explosion.
  • Big Bang of light fifteen billion years ago.
  • Seemingly from nothing!
  • Background radiation - as if from the Big Bangs
    echo - confirmed the theory.

Robert Wilson, one of those who discovered the
background radiation was asked by journalist Fred
Heeren if the Big Bang indicated a
Creator. Wilson said, "Certainly there was
something that set it all off.  Certainly, if you
are religious, I can't think of a better theory
of the origin of the universe to match with
The Beginning and the Big Bang. In
the Beginning God created the heavens and the
earth. (Genesis 11)
  • From this Big Bang hydrogen and helium eventually
  • The hydrogen clouds contracted and heated up and
    stars were created.
  • The inside of stars created the heavier elements
    from which planets are made.
  • Did this confirm the Biblical teaching that God
    created the cosmos out of nothing?
  • However there is still opposition to the Big Bang
    theory because it depends on inflation, dark
    matter and dark energy.
  • See which was an
    open letter to the New Scientist from many
    scientists who do not accept the Big Bang theory.

At this moment it seems as though science will
never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery
of creation. For the scientist who has lived by
his faith in the power of reason, the story ends
like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of
ignorance he is about the conquer the highest
peak as he pulls himself up over the final rock,
he is greeted by a band of theologians who have
been sitting there for centuries. Now we see how
the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical
view of the origin of the world. The details
differ, but the essential elements and the
astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are
the same the chain of events leading to man
commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite
moment in time, in a flash of light and
energy. God and the Astronomers, Astrophysicist
Robert Jastrow.
  • Will the Universe contract again to a Big Crunch?
  • Did the Big Bang come from a Big Crunch?
  • An oscillating universe? Probably No!
  • See handout Cosmos 13 Billion Years Ago.
  • But even if the universe is oscillating between
    crunch and bang, the series could not be
  • We still have the problem of the genesis of
  • Could Quantum fluctuations in a vacuum have
    caused the Big Bang?
  • (Heisenbergs Uncertainty principle does not
    allow for a vacuum where there is absolutely
  • Why is there such a principle?
  • Colliding membranes and eleven dimensions
    creating the Big Bang? - see footnote at end of
    Unit 3.
  • The end of the universe - heat or cold death?

The Biblical Teaching is that there has been, is,
and will be a New Creation. Not a creation out of
nothing again but a creation out of the death
of the old. When evil and decay have done their
worst to this world, God intervenes in New
Creation. In Christian theology the link between
Old and New is the Death/Resurrection of Christ
in whom, God and the world are held together and
humanity is forgiven and nature healed. Too good
to be true? Perhaps, but we are faced with the
reality of our universe. Where did it come
from? Why should anything exist at all is surely
amazing - but here we are - too good to be true?
Cosmological Argument.
  • A simple form of the argument
  • The Universe cannot just have popped into
    existence from nowhere.
  • Therefore there must be a God who created it.
  • Another simple form
  • Which is the most likely cause of a finite
  • Nothing acting on nothing -gt finite universe.
  • Infinite God acting on nothing -gt finite
  • For since the creation of the world God's
    invisible qualities-- his eternal power and
    divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being
    understood from what has been made, so that men
    are without excuse. Romans 120.

Cosmological Argument - cont.
  • Another form of same argument
  • There is a universe.
  • It could not cause itself.
  • It could not come from nothing.
  • It could not be an effect of an infinite series
    of causes.
  • Therefore it must be caused by something that is
    uncaused and everlasting.
  • Therefore God exists.
  • Yet another form
  • The universe is contingent and therefore
    ultimately depends on something uncaused.

Cosmological Argument - cont.
  • Does this argument depend on the universe having
    a beginning?
  • Thomas Aquinas (13th Century - born in Naples)
  • believed that this argument would be valid even
    for an infinite universe.
  • God the explanation for the existence of all
  • God
  • Time line
  • ? -----------------------------------------------
    ---------- ?
  • However Thomas believed the case would be even
    more convincing if the universe had a beginning.

Cosmological Argument - cont.
  • The Kalam Cosmological Argument
  • The Universe must have had a beginning and
    therefore must have had a cause.
  • God ------time line ------------------------
  • (Kalam was a word used for a kind of Islamic
    philosophy and means speech in Arabic)
  • Some have argued that the universe must have had
    a beginning otherwise we are left with the belief
    that there would be an infinite time before
    anything would happen and therefore nothing would

Cosmological Argument - cont.
  • Against these points some say
  • The Universe is just brute fact and ultimately
  • There is no explanation for its existence - it
    just is.
  • It is not worth asking why it exists - it just
  • However science looks for reasons.
  • Do the above three points imply that at the last
    hurdle science must give up looking for reasons?
  • At the end of the quest has science itself
  • Other arguments against the Cosmological argument
    are considered later.

  • For a more detailed discussion of the big bang
    theory and its religious implications see
  • Unit 3.
  • Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time,
    chapters 2 and 8
  • Paul Davies, The Mind of God, chapter 2.

  • The Universe is finely tuned!
  • If the properties of the universe had been a tiny
    bit different
  • the stars would not have formed
  • or if they had they would have not lasted long.
  • there would have been no sun, no planets and no
  • the universe would either have been black holes
    or gas.
  • there would have been complete darkness.

  • What are the variations in the initial conditions
    of the universe that would have made it dark and
  • Matter-Density ratio. (1 in 1060)
  • Rate of expansion from the big bang. (1 in 1060)
  • Strength of gravity.
  • Initial conditions together 1/10 to power 10 to
    power 30!
  • Origin of materials that go to make up earth
  • Elements such as carbon were made in the centre
    of stars.
  • However the process is a very very delicate one.
  • The Whole Universe seems very finely tuned!

  • Anthropic Principle and Fine Tuning.
  • The Universe seems fixed for man.
  • Its density, the rate of expansion, age and
    therefore size of universe has to be as it is for
    humans to exist.
  • Weak Anthropic Principle - the universe had to be
    as it is for us to see it!
  • Strong Anthropic Principle - the universe needs
    an observer for its existence.
  • Participatory Universe - human observers
    participate in the universes evolution.

The odds against a universe like ours emerging
out of something like the Big-Bang are enormous.
I think there are clearly religious implications.
It would be very difficult to explain why the
universe should have begun in just this way,
except as an act of a God who intended to create
beings like us. (Stephen Hawking.)
Anthropic Principle and Fine Tuning. Two
possible explanations for the fine tuning 1.
Many worlds - there may be trillions of universes
and this happens to be the one where things are
just right. This is not a scientific statement
since other universes, in principle, would be
beyond our scientific investigation. Also it is
not a response to the Cosmological Argument. 2.
It was Designed for a purpose by God.
  • For more on Fine Tuning read
  • The first three and a half pages of Unit 4
  • John Templeton (Ed), Evidence of Purpose, Chap 7
  • Handout Just Six Numbers (which is a summary of
    the Astronomer Royal, Prof Sir Martin Reess book
    of same the title). In it he says
  • I have highlighted these six because each plays
    a crucial and distinctive role in our universe,
    and together they determine how the universe
    evolves and what its internal potentialities
    are... These six numbers constitute a recipe
    for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is
    sensitive to their values if any one of them
    were to be untuned, there would be no stars and
    no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a
    coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign
    Creator? I take the view that it is neither. An
    infinity of other universes may well exist where
    the numbers are different. Most would be
    stillborn or sterile. (Page 4)

The recent theories about Dark Energy have
strengthened this point. In their paper
"Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological
Constant" two atheist scientists from Stanford
University stated that the existence of this dark
energy term "Would have required a miracle... An
external agent, external to space and time,
intervened in cosmic history for reasons of its
Teleological or Design Argument.
  • Unlike the Cosmological Argument this is not
    based on the mere existence of the universe but
    the properties of the universe.
  • The universe not only exists but seems very well
  • It seems at least as if it must have a purpose.
    (the meaning of teleology).
  • Does not this mean it had/has a purposeful

Teleological/Design Argument (Cont)
  • Paley's Watch.
  • William Paley said
  • If we find a watch with all its parts fitted
    together we will not assume that it was brought
    into being by the blind forces of nature but by
    an intelligent designer.
  • Much in nature seems extremely complex with its
    parts fitting together well, therefore it was
    made by an intelligent designer - God.

Bertrand Russell (famous 20th C British
agnostic/atheist mathematician/philosopher
greatly respected the argument from design
especially as expounded by Leibniz. (He regarded
Leibniz, in whom he specialised, as "one of the
supreme intellects of all time") BR writes
"This argument contends that, on a survey of the
known world, we find things which cannot
plausibly be explained as the product of blind
natural forces, but are much more reasonably to
be regarded as evidences of a beneficent
purpose. He regards this familiar argument as
having no formal logical defect". He rightly
points out that it does not prove the infinite or
good God of normal religious belief but
nevertheless says, that if valid, (and BR does
not give any argument against it) it
demonstrates that God is vastly wiser and more
powerful than we are". (See his chapter on
Leibniz in his History of Western Philosophy).
Arguments against the Cosmological and Design
  • What caused God?
  • There must be something without a cause. Why not
    say the universe is this thing?
  • Just because individual things in the universe
    need an explanation that does not mean that the
    universe as a whole needs explanation.

David Hume (1711-1776) against the Cosmological
and Design Arguments.
  • God's supposed causing of the universe to exist
    cannot find an analogy of causes in nature
    because we have no experience of things beyond
    nature and the alleged creation would be so
    unique an event that there is nothing to compare
    it with.
  • This means we cannot speak of causation or design
    from the things of our experience and apply them
    to the origin of the universe.
  • However some believe that in his famous
    Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume was
    really arguing with himself.
  • Cleanthes is for the Design argument Philo is
    against it.
  • Whose side was Hume really on? Was he unsure?

More arguments against Cosmological and Design
arguments. Immanuel Kant (18th C)
  • Would we not perceive the universe to be ordered
    even if it wasn't?
  • Immanuel Kant believed that human minds impose
    their own order on the universe.
  • We cannot get beyond our minds and know that
    nature really is ordered or that effects really
    must have causes.
  • (Few scientists take Kants view of their work.)
  • He therefore rejected the Design and Cosmological
    arguments for the existence of God.
  • However he believed in God but for another reason.

For further discussion of the Cosmological and
Teleological arguments see Edward Miller's
Questions That Matter, pages 219 - 258.
Blaise Pascal (d.o.b. 1623) and the Meaning of
Life. I owe the material in these slides to
Thomas V. Morris and Peter Kreeft.
  • His accomplishments
  • He
  • invented the precursor of the calculator,
  • founded Probability Theory,
  • designed the first system of public
    transportation in Europe.

Pascal accepted the metaphysical proofs for God.
For example the argument from the objective
reality of numbers. However he cautioned as
follows The metaphysical proofs for the
existence of God are so remote from human
reasoning and so involved that they make little
impact, and, even if they did help some people,
it would only be for the moment during which they
watched the demonstration, because an hour later
they would be afraid they had made a mistake.
(190) and in (449) he says Even if someone were
convinced that the propositions between numbers
are immaterial, eternal truths, depending on a
First Truth in which they subsist, called God, I
should not consider that he had made much
progress towards his salvation.
  • Blaise Pascal (French Philosopher and
    Mathematician 17th C.)
  • He wrote about the human condition. He said we
    are both glorious and wretched.
  • We are capable of advanced mathematics, reasoning
    and science and great goodness. We are made in
    the image of God.
  • We are capable of evil and we are all moving
    towards death.
  • We are all seeking but not finding happiness and
  • This is a sign that we have lost something.

Pascals Illustration. Two labourers. 1. The
first used to be a prince. He has lost his
royalty and so feels unhappy. 2. The second was
never a prince and so he has not lost anything.
He is not unhappy. Hum
ans are like the first. We have a collective
memory of something that we have lost. That is
why we are seeking, but not finding, happiness
and truth.
Pascals Ideas continued. God made us for glory
but we lost it because of sin. We need to be
restored to God as His children (princes). So
God, who loves us all, suffered the pain of our
sin for us and then lifted us up back to
Him. This is the meaning of the cross of
Jesus. The cross shows us how much God loves us
our glory. It also shows us how bad we are now -
our wretchedness. Only the cross links our glory
with our wretchedness and makes sense of our
human lives.
  • However men hate religion because they are afraid
    it may be true. (Said Pascal)
  • (They prefer to live lives independent of God.)
  • They use the following to try to avoid God
  • Indifference. They pretend they do not care.
  • Diversion. They are too busy with other things.
  • We go on to consider
  • The Meaning of Life.
  • The Human Enigma.

Indifference. A realisation that religion is one
cause of dispute is a widespread excuse for
indifference among many people. Pascal describes
such people as persons who do not love the
truth. An object of love is not a matter of
indifference. When you have it you embrace it.
When you lack it, you pursue it. People who are
indifferent about ultimate questions neither
embrace nor pursue truth.
Indifference (Continued)
  • There are only two classes of people who can be
    called reasonable those who serve God with all
    their heart because they know him and those who
    seek him with all their heart because they do not
    know Him. (427)
  • There are only three sorts of people those who
    have found God and serve Him those who are busy
    seeking Him and have not found Him those who
    live without either seeking or finding Him. The
    first are reasonable and happy, the last are
    foolish and unhappy, those in the middle are
    unhappy and reasonable. (160)

Indifference (continued).
  • There are people who avoid religious and
    philosophical thinking out of fear. Often it is
    just fear of the unknown. Others fear what they
    suspect to be true and wouldnt want to face
    head-on. (TVM)

(In my early years) I began to write out of
vanity, self-interest and pride. I did the same
thing in my writing that I did in my life. In
order to acquire the fame and money I was writing
for, it was necessary to conceal what was good
and to flaunt what was bad. And that is what I
did. Time after time I would scheme in my
writings to conceal under the mask of
indifference and even pleasantry those yearnings
for something good which gave meaning to my life.
And I succeeded in this and was praised. (Leo
Tolstoy, Confession.)
That man is the product of causes that had no
prevision of the end they were achieving that
his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his
love and beliefs, are but the outcomes of
accidental collocations of atoms that no fire,
no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling
can preserve individual life beyond the grave
that all the labours of the ages, all the
devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday
brightness of human genius are destined to
extinction in the vast death of the solar system,
and that the whole temple of Mans achievement
must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a
universe in ruins all these things if not quite
beyond dispute are yet so nearly certain, that no
philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.
Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only
on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can
the souls habitation be safely built. (B.
Russell, Why I am not a Christian.)
Pascal applies the context principle. Our
behaviour is a function of its context. People
attend to every context they find themselves in
except the ultimate context. Since in this life
there are often more rewards for vices than for
virtues, few would prefer what is right to what
is useful if they neither feared God nor hoped
for an after-life. (Descartes, Meditations.)
Pascal wanted to shock us out of our indifference.
  • Imagine a number of men in chains, all under the
    sentence of death, some of whom are each day
    butchered in the sight of others those remaining
    see their own condition is that of their fellows,
    and looking at each other with grief and despair
    await their turn. This is an image of the human
    condition. (434)

After Indifference comes Diversion.
  • Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and
    ignorance, men have decided, in order to be
    happy, not to think about such things. (133)

Woody Allen wanted to make a story about
  • people in Manhattan who are constantly creating
    these real unnecessary neurotic problems for
    themselves cause it keeps them from dealing with
    more unsolvable, terrifying problems about the

Pascal is not against all diversion. It is the
constant use of diversion to stop us from ever
thinking about ultimate issues that he warns
against. That is why men are so fond of hustle
and bustle that is why prison is such a fearful
punishment that is why pleasures of solitude are
so incomprehensible. That, in fact, is the main
joy of being a king, because people are
continually trying to divert him and provide him
with every kind of pleasure. A king is surrounded
by people whose only thought is to divert him and
stop him thinking about himself, because, king
though he is, he becomes unhappy as soon as he
thinks about himself. (136) We run heedlessly
into the abyss after putting something in front
of us to stop us seeing it. (166)
Why do we pay medical doctors so much? Because we
want to keep death from our door. We want them to
keep death and the troubling questions it raises
as far away as they can. We want this badly and
we are willing to pay. But have you noticed that
we pay the best entertainers even more, in fact
much more the cinema and television stars, the
sports heroes? Maybe it is because we know, deep
down, that the doctors will ultimately fail, and
the entertainers keep us from thinking about
that. This might also explain why we pay
philosophers so little they make us think about
it. (TVM)
There are two striking human passions, the
passion for uniqueness and the passion for union.
Each of us wants to be recognised as a unique
member of the human race. We want to stand apart
from the crowd in some way. We want our own
unique dignity and value. But at the same time we
have a passion for union, for belonging, even for
merging our identities into a greater unity in
which we have a place, a role, a value. (TVM)
The Meaning of Life.
  • Tolstoy Five years ago, something very strange
    began to happen to me. At first I began to have
    moments of bewilderment, when my life would come
    to a halt , as if I did not know how to live or
    what to do I would lose my presence of mind and
    fall into a state of depression. But this passed,
    and I began to fall into a state of depression.
    But this passed, and I continued to live as
    before. Then the moments of bewilderment recurred
    more frequently and they always took the same
    form. Whenever my life would come to a halt the
    question would arise Why? And What next?

Tolstoy I did not even want to discover truth
anymore because I had guessed what it was. The
questions seemed to be such foolish, simple,
childish questions. But as soon as I laid my
hands on them and tried to resolve them, I was
immediately convinced, first of all, that they
were not childish and foolish questions but the
most vital and profound questions in life, and,
secondly, that no matter how much I pondered them
there was no way I could resolve them. Or in the
middle of thinking about the fame that my works
were bringing me I would say to myself, "Very
well, you will be more famous than, Pushkin and
Shakespeare - so what? And I could find
absolutely no reply. My life came to a stop. The
truth was that life is meaningless . . . The only
thing that amazed me was how I had failed to
realize this in the very beginning. All this had
been common knowledge for so long. If not today,
then tomorrow sickness and death will come
(indeed, they were already approaching) to
everyone, to me, and nothing will remain except
the stench and the worms. Why, then, do anything?
How can anyone fail to see this and live? That's
what is amazing! It is possible to live only as
long as life intoxicates us once we are sober we
cannot help seeing that it is all a delusion, a
stupid delusion! Nor is there anything funny or
witty about it it is only cruel and stupid.
If we never died would that solve the problem of
meaning? A few thousand years in front of a TV
set would answer that! An infinitely long life
is not necessarily endowed with meaning. However
the reality of death does focus the mind on the
ultimate questions. Something has meaning if and
only if it is endowed with some purpose by a
purposeful agent. Meaning is never intrinsic, it
is always derivative.
What about a Do it yourself approach to meaning?
  • Then there would be no objective meaning to life.
  • Make up your own meaning (subjective meaning) for
    your own life.
  • Find out what you can do best and do it to the
  • John is good at curing diseases and it brings him
  • Bill is good at torturing people and he enjoys
  • Fred is good at collecting match boxes and he is
    happy focussing his whole life on this hobby.
  • They devote their whole lives to these pursuits.
  • If there is no objective meaning then there is no
    way to distinguish, from one another, the value
    of these different meanings.

Only One who is Eternal and has an eternal
purpose for our lives can give our lives real
meaning. Thus there is nothing more important
than the search for God, and nothing more foolish
than the neglect of God through indifference or
  • What are Space and Time, or more accurately what
    is Space-Time?
  • Are Space and Time merely the infinite containers
    of matter, energy and events?
  • The Nature of Space - a mystery.
  • Can we imagine something in space but infinitely
    far away?
  • Now try to imagine there is only one thing in
    the universe.
  • Would it make any sense to say it is moving in
    space? No!
  • So space is not a thing in itself which could
    have a place of absolute rest.
  • Does matter/energy create its own space?

  • Light and Space.
  • Light travels to us from stars.
  • Most of space is a vacuum.
  • Light emerging from two slits makes interference
    patterns on a screen - implying it is a wave
  • Wave in what medium? Isnt most of space a
  • Ether - some unknown medium that pervades all of
  • Michelson and Morelys famous experiment showed
  • there is no such thing the ether pervading space.
  • the speed of light is a fundamental constant.
  • Is light a thing travelling in space at all?
  • Perhaps light leading to matter/energy creates

A Mystery about Time. If time were infinite it
would take an infinite time before anything
happened so nothing would happen! (Stephen
Hawking!) If the world were uncreated, then time
would be infinite, but infinite time cannot be
traversed. Hence, the present moment could not
have come about, but the present moment does
exist. Hence the world had a beginning. (Saadia
Gaon Medieval Jewish philosopher) If time is not
infinite but had a beginning, was there a time
before time?!
  • Einsteins Special Theory of Relativity.
  • It relates the speed of light, space and time
  • Since the speed of light is same for all
    observers - however fast they are travelling -
    time must be different for observers travelling
    at high speeds relative to one another.
  • Twin paradox.

  • Light, Energy and Mass.
  • We could never catch up with a beam of light.
  • More and more energy needed to accelerate to
    higher and higher proportions of the speed of
  • Energy to accelerate from 90 to 91 speed of
    light would be same energy as from stationary to
    same speed.
  • Therefore enormous amount of energy for small
    increase in velocity.
  • An object would be heavier and heavier as it
    approached the speed of light.
  • The energy to accelerate it is changing into
  • At the speed of light the mass would be infinite
    - impossible.
  • Nothing can travel as fast as light.

  • Mass and energy are interchangeable.
  • This is the foundation of the theory behind
    atomic and nuclear power.
  • Energy, mass the speed of light are bound
    together in the equation
  • E mc2. (c is the speed of light)
  • Fundamental mysteries space/time (velocity)
    mass/energy are not separate things but related
    in this simple equation.
  • The only constant in this equation is c (the
    speed of light in a vacuum.)

  • Speed of Light a universal absolute?
  • Not space and time that are absolute but the
    speed of light.
  • (However some scientists now say that immediately
    after the Big Bang light had a much higher
    velocity which then quickly decreased to the
    value we know today.)
  • Light, matter, energy, space, time, are not
    separate things joined by external laws but their
    relationship comes from what they are in

  • In Christian theology
  • God did not create the physical universe putting
    it in an eternally existing space-time.
  • Rather space and time also are His creation.
  • All of space and time are embraced by light of
    God which is the source of created light.
  • Our relationships with God, one another and
    nature should come from what we are in ourselves
    as personal beings, not from external law - even
    God-given law.
  • God and space-time are bound together in Christ
    so that, who He is and what He did, embraces and
    heals all our lives, all creation, all of space
    and time - all of history from beginning to end.

  • Whereas Special relativity shows us that time and
    velocity are bound together, General relativity
    shows us that time and gravity belong together.
  • If we got near to a source of enormous gravity
    our measurement of time would be less than the
    time measured by a distant observer watching us.
  • A very few scientists- using this - say that the
    six days of the book of Genesis 1 and the fifteen
    billion years of the universes existence can be
  • They say time is measured differently depending
    one whether one is looking back to the Big Bang
    or looking forward from the Big Bang surrounded
    by the enormous gravity of the whole universe
    concentrated in the size of an atom.
  • This theory is not well accepted!
  • However religious controversies about the
    universes age often falsely assume that time is
    an eternal absolute.

  • In every day life we are familiar with the three
    dimensions of space and one of time. (Four
  • It is as if we are moving with and in time and
    can see the three space dimensions around us.
  • Calculations, especially in String theory (to be
    referred to later) about the origin of universe
    imply that there were 11 dimensions, 7 of which
    are now rolled up.
  • We cannot imagine dimensions beyond the four we

  • However in Christian theology we are used to the
    concept of the greater dimensions in which God
  • We dont think of Him, (or heaven and hell) as
    located at some place in our universe of
  • The doctrine of the Trinity - God is One and
    Three - cannot be grasped in the context of the
    space-time of this world.
  • But in the context of greater dimensions?
  • Hugh Rosss Beyond the Cosmos, explores these
    ideas and so does Eric Middletons The New

C. S. Lewis - The Trinity in higher dimensions.
  • Two dimensional world - flat surface
  • No ups nor downs.
  • Two or more squares are two separate things.
  • When they are joined - no longer squares.
  • Three dimensional world (with ups and downs)
  • Six squares make one cube.
  • Joined in ways cannot be imagined in flat
  • For us the 3 dimensional world is more real.
  • How can God be One and yet three?
  • There are higher dimensions than we can
    presently imagine.
  • In these dimensions, things we cannot imagine in
    our space-time can nevertheless be real.

  • Some reading to do
  • Study Unit 4s sections
  • The nature of space and time.
  • Stephen Hawking's attempt to understand how the
    universe came to be as it is.
  • Further reading
  • Stephen Hawking A Brief History of Time, chapter
  • John Marks Templeton, Evidence of Purpose,
    chapter 2

  • The Laws of Nature.
  • (Darwin believed that the Creator impressed laws
    on matter.)
  • Can Science ever answer the question as to why
    nature has the properties (laws of nature) that
    it has?
  • Reductionism.
  • Methodological.
  • Ontological.
  • What is the reason things behave as they do?
  • What is everything made of?
  • Finite or infinite quest?
  • Ghostly world - come back to that.

Wherever we look in nature we cannot find the
origin of natures creation or its rational
structure. Job 28. 12 But where shall wisdom be
found? And where is the place of
understanding? 13 Man does not know its
worth, and it is not found in the land of the
living. 14 The deep says, It is not in me, and
the sea says, It is not with me. 28 And he
said to man, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that
is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is
A hierarchy of mysteries The nature of
  • Conscious life (human) that can
  • reason (think abstractly and universally),
  • ponder its own life, death, and possible life
    after death.
  • be aware of good and evil,
  • know that it is responsible (partly) for its own
  • Conscious life - such as the higher animals have.
  • Life - anything that is alive - such as plants.
  • Matter - material or physical existence.

  • Wave Particle duality.
  • Since the ti