Sunday, December 13, 2015

Doubtful about Creation versus Atheism?

Have you heard the joke about the Quaker philosopher, Atheistic biologist, and Theistic scientist who met and all disagreed at the same time;-)?

From a life-time of studying the issues of science and cosmology versus religion and philosophy, here’s my short list of some of the best books to study in our search for what is true:

#1: The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins

Dawkins’ mastery of biology and evolutionary history
is amazing. This is one of the very best 10 books
published in science. It’s sad, however, that such
a brilliant thinker has a limited and skewed
understanding of philosophy, cosmology, and religion.

Most tragic is that Dawkins thinks ethics are
relative and subjective. In an interview,
he even stated that rape is only
a subjective preference!

#2: Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common
Ground Between God and Evolution
by Kenneth R. Miller

Miller is an award-winning evolutionary cell biologist
and professor at Brown University who has defended
the science of evolution against creationism in
U.S. courts.

In this lucidly written book on evolution,
Miller disproves creationism. But then contrary to
the views of Dawkins, Dennett, and other scientists
who are Atheists, Miller goes onto
to argue for Theism!

#3 Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings
of Life
by Daniel C. Dennett

This magisterial work would probably have been better
titled how Darwinian evolution shows that Life has no
meaning. Don't miss reading this tome.

No matter what your philosophical view, you will never
be the same upon finishing and reflecting on its key
ideas and evidence.

#4: Rock of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould
(Or any of his other many books)

Read any of Stephen Jay Gould's pity studies in science
and the history of science. His infamous view of the
relationship of science and religion called NOMA
(Non-overlapping magistereria) emphasizes that there
is no conflict between the two contrary fields.

According to this brilliant evolutionist, this is
because science and religion deal with very different
issues--biology with the natural world,
but religion with the world of values and ethics.

NOMA has led to all sorts of strong reactions by thinkers
on all sides of the whole controversy. Gould's important
thinking is not to be missed even if you disagree. See
especially "Non-Overlapping Magisteria" in
Natural History Magazine, beside his book,
(with its a play on words of religion, science
and history), Rock of Ages.

#5: Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism
by Robert T. Pennock

In this case, we hear from Pennock who is a philosopher
of science at Michigan State University rather than from

Pennock is a Quaker and a theist, but one who
strongly supports evolutionary views against both young
earth creationism and Intelligent Design scientists. A vey
intriguing book, which surely will get your hackles up no
matter what you think:-)

What books, articles, or documentaries do you think ought to be added to the list?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


Anonymous said...

I suppose there must be a difference between a theory named Intelligent Design and a notion or observation of the natural world by which one concludes that it has been designed intelligently. If one is a theist, what is the alternative, unintelligent design? That would be quite the contradiction, wouldn't it?

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hello Anonymous,

:-) U.D.? Uh, no.

Theists such as cell biologist Kenneth Miller and other scientists who are theists aren't rejecting "intelligent design" in the sense of cosmology, but those who use that term to deny the fact of evolution.

What they reject is the specific term "Intelligent Design" of Seattle, Washington, an organization which tries to deny evolution. But as scientist Francis Collins has emphasized evolution is a fact, especially since his team completed the Human Genome Project. The latter shows we humans are related to other primates.

Here's a series of possible cosmological views of existence, some of them theistic, some not:
#1 All reality came about by cosmic chance.

#2 All reality came about by a cosmic determinism of meaningless matter and energy which is eternal.

#3 All reality came about by emergent possibilities in a quantum singularity vacuum or some unknown ultimate reality. But where did the quantum singularity vacuum come from? Here goes "turtles all the way down."

#4 All reality came about by an impersonal ultimate reality of cosmic beauty. Scientists such as Albert Einstein stated this was his view, that he thought the impersonal god of Spinoza was true. But this seems similar to #3. Unlike #2, the emergent possibility cosmos isn't meaningless and purposeless, but filled with meaning.

#5 All reality is coming about by the everlasting but limited Process God of thinkers such as philosopher and mathematician Alfred Lord Whitehead, philosopher Charles Hartshorne, theologian John Cobb, etc. This cosmic but limited God who is far beyond human understanding "woos" matter and energy and conscious life such as homo sapiens into increasing patterns and forms of beauty, meaning, and purpose. This is also the view of some Reform Jews.

But where is the evidence for this? Process thinkers explain that consciousness, reason, mathematics, natural law, creativity, aesthetics, etc. are the evidence.

#6 All reality came about as just one of an infinite number of universes of an infinite multi-verse, the view of some modern cosmologists. What is the ultimate of the multi-verse is unknown or maybe the multiverse itself is ultimate.

#7 All reality came about by the Omni-God of absolute sovereignty and meticulous control who does and plans and ordains everything only for his own glory, including all natural and all human evil. This is the view of Augustinians, Calvinists, some Lutherans, most Muslims, etc.

#8 All reality came about by the ultimately essentially all-loving God of Open Theism, Arminianisn, Quakerism, Universalism, and other forms of mystical, ethical religion, and so forth.

#9 All reality came about somehow by a temporary, finite, imperfect, even distorted, expression of the perfect eternal Ideal Forms of Platonism.

#10 All reality came about by the impersonal Brahma God of Hinduism and some modern New Age leaders such as Ken Wilber with his Integral Theory, and Deepak Chopra, etc. . The impersonal God Brahma is conducting a cosmic dance in which it forgets its self and dreams into billions of separated forms including in one minor edge of the universes, thinking humans.

But all is illusion. And all events both good and evil are produced by Brahman. That is why Ken Wilber and other such leaders claim that Brahman caused 9//11.

#11 All reality came about by unknowable factors. Everything beyond and before the Big Bang is such a complete unfathomable mystery that it will probably not ever be solved by finite humans.

Could a flea figure out the Theory of Relativity?

#12 All reality continually comes about by infinite impersonal reality which never had a beginning. No creator god exists. Some forms of Buddhism (though other forms are theistic).

Think deeply on all of this. Take your pick:-)