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Philosophy of Science and Religion.


Philosophy of Science and Religion. Tutor: Howard Taylor Introduction to Module What the module is all about. Whether science and religion are necessarily opposed. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Philosophy of Science and Religion.

Philosophy of Science and Religion.
Tutor Howard Taylor
Introduction to Module
  • What the module is all about.
  • Whether science and religion are necessarily
  • Various World Views.
  • What topics this module will discuss.
  • How the module will be assessed.

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?
  • Where did the laws of nature come from?
  • 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.

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

  • 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?

  • The main religious belief considered in this
    module will be Christianity.
  • However there will be handouts and discussions
    giving sympathetic treatment of other religions.
    The atheist arguments also will be fairly
  • The tutor does his best to be fair to all views.
  • However in the interests of honesty he will
    explain what he believes.
  • Although the tutor has his own religious
    convictions, the assessment of essays and
    tutorials will not be affected by a student's own
    different convictions. Knowledge of the subject
    and good argument are all important for
    assessment and not agreement or disagreement with
    the tutor.

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 Atheistic Materialism
  • 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 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 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 exited.
  • 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 on the ancient
    Greeks such as Aristotle not 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
  • Einsteins words quoted near the end.
  • The two sets of questions that arise from the
    scientific quest.
  • 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.

  • Religious World Views.
  • For the Judeo-Christian world view see the
  • The Biblical World View.
  • For Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam see the
  • Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • Hinduism and Buddhism texts
  • Taoism.
  • Islam.

  • 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 (cont).
  • 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 ifthe 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?
  • What are and why are there quantum fluctuations?
  • Colliding membranes and eleven dimensions
    creating the Big Bang? - see footnote at end of
    Unit 3.
  • The Wave Function of the Universe?
  • If that exists why does it exist? Where did it
    come from?
  • 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!
  • See The Privileged Planet and Back to

  • 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.

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
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.)
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.
  • Willaim 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.
  • The eye is extremely complex therefore it was
    made by an intelligent designer - God.

  • Darwins theory of evolution weakened Paleys
    argument with respect to the development of
    living things
  • It claimed to explain how natural processes alone
    gradually transform the simple to the complex by
    random mutation through the sieve of natural
    selection or survival of fittest.
  • However many now doubt whether living things can
    be reduced to a combination of simple things.
    They say that all living things are irreducibly
    complex. They side with Paley. The argument
    continues - eg Dawkins and Behe.
  • --------------------------------------------------

Even if the theory of evolution is true it is not
relevant to A. The origin of the universe B.
the development of the universe enabling it to
produce stars and planets C. the origin of
life. It is only relevant to the development of
life, once A B and C are already in place.
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.

Richard Dawkins The cause of the universe must
be more complex than the universe itself. So,
God must be more complex. How do we explain His
complexity? Therefore we cannot postulated God as
the cause of the universe. Keith Ward But there
are many things in life that we attribute to a
personal cause not a complex cause. ..
scientific explanation, in terms of general laws
and initial states, is not the only sort of
explanation. There is also personal
explanation, in terms of purposes and values.
This is the sort of explanation used by
historians, novelists, anthropologists, critics
of the arts and ethicists. It is a perfectly
familiar form of explanation. The question Could
there be a personal explanation for the
universe? is one on which there is rational
discussion, and on which different views are
held. (The Tablet Jan 2006)
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.
  • 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)

  • 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 differ from 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

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.

  • The Laws of Nature.
  • (Remember 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.

  • Wave Particle duality.
  • Since the time of the Greek philosophers, (before
    Christ) there have been two theories as to the
    fundamental nature of matter/energy
  • 1. Atomist
  • Matter is made up of tiny particles.
  • In differing combinations they make up the
    physical world as we experience it.
  • When school science teaches us about atoms
    electrons etc., we get an atomist picture of
  • 2. Plenum
  • The whole of space-time is filled with a field
    (or is a field) which manifests itself as matter.
  • When school science teaches us about fields of
    force we get the plenum picture of reality.

A Mystery What is everything made of? If matter
is made of particles - what are the particles
made of? If matter is a wave or force - a wave
or force in what medium?
  • Black body radiation
  • - fundamental constituents of nature are
    particles or distinct packets of energy (quanta).
  • Two slit experiment
  • - fundamental constituents of nature are waves.
  • - are these waves that carry information as if
    the universe were a great thought?
  • Some think that is so.
  • - if one photon at a time is released - a wave
    pattern is made.
  • - but not always! - see next slide.

  • If the electron (say) is observed.
  • - If each electron (say) is watched as it
    goes through the slit,
  • the result is not a wave pattern.
  • instead a bright spot is made on the screen as
    if the beam of electrons were a stream of
  • Does the consciousness of the observer have a
    unique part to play in the behaviour of the
  • These highly speculative questions are still
    being debated among quantum physicists.
  • There is no consensus.

  • There was once a man who said God
  • Must think it exceedingly odd
  • If he finds that this tree
  • Continues to be
  • When there's no one about in the Quad.'
  • - Ronald Arbuthnott Knox (1888-1957), Limerick on
  • The Answer
  • Dear Sir, Your astonishment's odd
  • I am always about in the Quad.
  • And that's why the tree
  • Will continue to be,
  • Since observed by
  • Yours faithfully, God.
  • - Anon.

  • The Uncertainty principle.
  • If we know where an electron (say) is we cannot
    know how fast it is moving.
  • If we decide to try to find out its velocity we
    will not know where exactly it is.
  • This is unlike any other thing in the ordinary
    sense of the word thing.
  • See handout Quantum Mechanics as a
    Science-Religion Bridge by Jewish Physicist Prof
    Stanley Klein.

  • The physical world an Open System?
  • The behaviour of each fundamental wave-particle
    is unpredictable in principle.
  • This seems to mean that the universe is not a
    closed clockwork deterministic system of cause
    and effect.
  • Within limits nature is open and free?
  • If the universe is an open system it is open to
  • John Polkinghorne and other Christian quantum
    physicists have used this as a way of seeing how
    God can interact with the natural world - see
    slide much later in course.

EPR Two electrons emerging from the same source
will remain related even if separated by great
distances and there is no way that they can
communicate with each other. If the spin on one
is changed the other will immediately respond. At
fundamental levels, reality is relational. A
relation that transcends the bounds of space and
time. Relationships between the building blocks
of matter/energy are not based on external laws
but rather on what they are in themselves.
  • Strings and an alternative.
  • Are these wave-particles really fundamental?
  • Current thinking is that all wave-particles are
    the result of vibrating strings, which are
    unimaginably small - billions of times smaller
    than a proton.
  • It is thought that they are one-dimensional loops
    of energy that vibrate and spin.
  • It is not that wave-particles are made of the
  • Rather just as one string of a violin can make
    many different notes in music, so different
    vibrations of these strings make the differing
    wave-particles that we used to regard as
    fundamental to material existence.
  • An alternative theory (to strings) is Loop
    quantum gravity which says all particles are an
    entanglement of space-time.

Nothing whatever in theoretical physics enables
us to say anything about the intrinsic character
of events. All that physics gives us is certain
equations, giving abstract properties of their
changes. But as to what it is that changes, and
what it changes from and to as to this, physics
is silent. Bertrand Russell My Philosophical
Development, page 13.
Information and Word? When we consider
matter/energy as a wave or field we find that it
is a wave understandable by Mathematics. Galileo
Mathematics is the language with which God wrote
the universe. You receive a letter. Is its
message explained by the chemistry of the ink and
paper or the mind who wrote it? In one of his
non-religious books on Quantum theory, John
Polkinghorne says it is intelligibility from
which all physical existence emerges. So
information, (in the form of mathematics?) lies
in and behind all physical reality.
Information and Word? (Cont)
  • The theoretical physicist Paul Davies in The New
    Scientist recently wrote "Normally we think of
    the world as composed of simple, clod-like,
    material particles, and information as a derived
    phenomenon attached to special, organised states
    of matter. But maybe it is the other way around
    perhaps the Universe is really a frolic of primal
    information, and material objects a complex
    secondary manifestation. (New Scientist, January
    30, 1999, Pg. 3),
  • (Rather than the other way round information
    emerging from mindless particles and energy.)
  • If Paul Davies is right then it resonates with
    the Bibles teaching that Word is the
    foundation of all things.

Messages, languages, and coded information ONLY
come from minds. (Minds are conscious.) - minds
that have agreed on an alphabet and a meaning of
words and sentences and that express both desire
and intent. If we analyze language with advanced
mathematics and engineering communication theory,
we can say Messages, languages and coded
information never come from anything else besides
a mind. No-one has ever produced a single
example of a message that did not come from a
mind. Languages etc can be carried by matter or
energy (eg sounds, ink, electronic and radio
signals) but they are none of these things.
Indeed they are not matter or energy at all. They
are not physical. The physical universe can
create fascinating patterns - snowflakes,
crystals, stalactites, tornados, turbulence and
cloud formations etc. But non-living and
non-conscious things cannot create language. They
cannot create codes.
Information and Word? (Cont.) As some recent
theorists have pointed out, the entire physical
universe can be viewed as composed of vibratory
wavelengths of information. The problem is that
nature is broadcasting on all bands, short-wave,
AM and FM, and we have small receivers tuned into
only one frequency. (Thomas V. Morris Making
Sense of it All , page 75, 76)
Bertrand Russell believed the most powerful
argument for Gods existence comes from the
nature of Mathematics. Pythagoras. Numbers 1.
have properties 2. dont exist in our
space-time. Penrose Numbers exist in a
transcendent world. Human consciousness accesses
this transcendent world and can therefore make
discoveries about numbers. But Is Mathematics
discovery or is it merely invention? Russell and
The Principals of Mathematics.
Godel. (Electrons etc are not picturable as
things in space-time. Some say it is
consciousness that gives them the property of
particles in space-time.)
Consider this from Bertrand Russells Study of
Mathematics Mathematics, rightly viewed,
possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a
beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture,
without appeal to any part of our weaker nature,
without the gorgeous trappings of painting or
music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern
perfection such as only the greatest art can
show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation,
the sense of being more than Man, is to be
found in mathematics as surely as in poetry. And
consider this from Paul Dirac (Nobel Prize
Quantum Theory) .. fundamental physical laws are
described in terms of a mathematical theory of
great beauty and power One could perhaps
describe the situation by saying that God is a
mathematician of a very high order and He used
very advanced mathematics in constructing the
universe. Eugene Wigner, (Nobel Prize for Maths)
and Diracs brother-in-law, wrote of the
unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics in
understanding nature. He said It is a wonderful
gift which we neither understand nor deserve. A
possible example is on the next slide
One possible recent discovery that illustrates
Wigners mystery The wave pattern of an
electron particle when its path is chaotic,
follows the seemingly irregular pattern of the
list of prime numbers in number theory. Prime
numbers (such as 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, etc) are
the elementary building blocks of mathematics.
Each of them is a number that cannot be divided
by any other whole number except the number 1.
Their distribution pattern seems haphazard but
it corresponds to a pattern in the physical
world. See The Times (London) 14th July 1997,
article Pattern in the Chaos by Marcus du
Sautoy, Royal Society Research Fellow at the
Department of Pure Mathematics, Cambridge, and a
Fellow of All Souls.
  • Now read Unit 5
  • note the further reading from
  • Paul Davies
  • John Polkinghorne.
  • Note too what C. S. Lewis and F. F. Bruce had to

Now to life and evolution. However hold in your
head what we have said about information, word
and mind. At a higher level, life too, has at its
heart information. The Mystery of the Origin
of Life. (Biological evolution can only get
going once life has begun to exist). A common
theory In the early earth there was a cosmic
soup of gases and liquids. Electricity from
lightening produced, in the cosmic soup, amino
acids - the building blocks of life. This can be
replicated in the laboratory today.
  • How did life originate? (Cont)
  • However it is one thing to know how stones (say)
    were formed but another to know how an intricate
    stone palace was built from the stones.
  • Energy and an intelligent mind are needed to work
    on the stone.
  • Simple proteins involve many amino acids in
    correct sequence.
  • How are proteins actually made?
  • In the cells of life.
  • In each cell of life there is a chemical factory
    (cytoplasm) for making the proteins, a computer
    program (the DNA) and a translation system (the

(No Transcript)
Professor Francis Crick, who received the Nobel
Prize for discovering the structure of DNA (the
famous double helix), writes The origin of
life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are
the conditions which would have had to be
satisfied to get it going (italics
added). Professor Harold Klein, chairman of the
U. S. National Academy of Sciences committee that
reviewed origin-of-life research, writes The
simplest bacterium is so damn complicated that it
is almost impossible to imagine how it happened
(italics added).
American Spectator magazine (May 2005)
the state of the art microminiaturized rotary
motor and propeller system that drives a tiny
vessel through liquid. The engine and drive
mechanism are composed of 40 parts, including a
rotor, stator, driveshaft, bushings, universal
joint, and flexible propeller. The engine is
powered by a flow of ions, can rotate at up to
100,000 rpm (ten times faster than a NASCAR
racing engine), and can reverse direction in a
quarter of a rotation. The system comes with an
automatic feedback control mechanism. The engine
itself is about 1/100,000th of an inch wide - far
smaller than can be seen by the human eye.And
then goes on
Most of us would be pleasantly surprised to learn
that some genius had designed such an engineering
triumph. What might come as a greater surprise is
that there is a dominant faction in the
scientific community that is prepared to defend,
at all costs, the assertion that this marvellous
device could not possibly have been designed,
must have been produced blindly by unintelligent
material forces, and only gives the appearance of
being designed.
  • How did life originate? (Cont)
  • The chemical factory receives its instructions
    from the very complicated DNA code.
  • The DNA is a code written in a four letter
    alphabet. (Each letter is a different
  • The DNA code even for a simple bacteria may be a
    thousands of letters long.
  • These letters have to be in a particular order to
    provide the information necessary for the
    manufacture of the proteins.
  • The DNA sends its instructions to the cytoplasm
    via the RNA which translates the instructions
    so that the cytoplasm can understand.
  • The DNA, cytoplasm and the RNA are themselves
    made by the very cells of which they are a part!

Some say that lifes beginnings may have been
much simpler than this. However we still have the
problem of the origin, not just of complexity,
but of information.
How did life originate? (Cont) The Atheist
Richard Dawkins writes What lies at the heart
of every living thing is not a fire, warm breath,
nor a 'spark of life'. It is information,
words, instructions . . . Think of a billion
discrete digital characters . . . If you want
to understand life, think about information
How did life originate? (Cont) In his award
winning book Consilience Edward Wilson the
eminent non religious science writer who has
recently won many prestigious prizes tells us
that cells use very modern technology involving
digital logic, analogue-digital conversion and
signal integration. He tells us that this
complexity exceeds that of super-computers and
space vehicles.
How did life originate? (Cont) Encyclopaedia
Britannica The origin of the code. A critical
and unsolved problem in the origin of life is
the origin of the genetic code. The molecular
apparatus supporting the operation of the code
the activating enzymes, adapter RNAs, messenger
RNAs, and so on are themselves each produced
according to
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