Sunday, 24 June 2012

Wonder of the Universe

Challenged about eyewitnesses and such (usually in the gospel period, but clearly not just) I suppose I get tired of underlying assumptions or people trying to equate speculative belief as faith with whatever is the trust or faith in the scientific method. I don't care that this is into an evangelicals' forum. So I made an entry, which actually outlines my general approach to 'faith':

Let's look at evolution. The work done on what Darwin didn't know is underlining the solidity of the Darwinian scheme and indeed what we did not know a little while ago gets reinforced. For example, it was thought that there were many examples of the evolution of the eye, and the eye exists in creatures at every operating stage from light cell to as we have. But the existence of particular genetic switches have shown that the eye has evolved just once. That evolution is incredibly powerful, and it does not get more scientific than that. Because now it really is all linked down one tree to the simplest of creatures.

This does not require faith. It requires simply deduction, argument, ongoing proof. Yes, all science can be overturned by better explanations, but the test is everything (and not just observation - where old Aristotle made his mistake).

All the matter of 'God' is faith, it is all cultural and it is all transient. People who eyewitness see what they see within a context of explanation, and that explanation comes in culture.

You give it away when you refer to Abraham. There is no demonstrable evidence of any kind that an Abraham existed, so that which is written is pure myth. Or, if you take Moses, well 'someone like Moses' may have existed, but such is lost in the fog of time and story.

The issue for me is not a God that exists or acts, but about transcendence - if there is any sense in which the higher qualities of all that is have a transcendent value that implies some sort of connection. If not, then it is a good idea, but only a human reflection and aspiration. The interesting stuff is our own self-consciousness and how that 'exists', which is largely mystery even to science. For example, does consciousness have a quantum aspect to it, and if it does how does that have any 'continuance' beyond the body? I doubt that, but it must be a possibility, even if fleeting.

I do not think anything has been created with intent. Intelligence is something that comes late in evolution, not early, and it does not take intelligence to produce intelligence. But again, what is interesting is how simple numbers with virtual numbers in a repeating equation can produce the most complex of shapes, and there is beauty in equations (thus the question about transcendence).

The world as we have it is fascinating enough to evoke a religious response, but it is not one directed by some dogma but rather in the questions that the world as it is throws up, principally that of pointers to the transcendent - in what points, in the wonder. And it is amazing to be alive and self-reflect in such a vast universe and that is enough wonder for me.
Added on Tuesday 26th:

I am taking my view from the good scientists and the rest, and indeed the contrast that there is between evolution not in doubt and the comparative difficulties in astro-physics still that requires missing aspects or a rewrite - a rewrite of the explanations to fit the observations. Evolution behaves like a chaotic system because it is locally formed in every case, but in the interactions between species (in competition, in co-operation) it may well have systemic qualities. So, just as weather is chaotic and unpredictable after a short period, climate nevertheless shows stability over longer periods - but then can undergo shifts. These systems are all self-explaining. What interests me, then, is the language of interpretation and appreciation, and therefore the religious-reflective response. This is how I understand religious humanism, but my pluralist tag is about secondary, non-causal language of appreciation coming out of different religious traditions - so that, for example, if I write liturgical material I will include Krishna opening his mouth and seeing the universe inside.

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