Thursday, October 31, 2013

Can the Ultimate Question be Answered?


This whole thing we call SCIENCE is based on the concept of "knowing." And knowing something has its foundation in the asking of questions... and seeking the answers with an open and inquisitive mind is standard and acceptable protocol.

When serious scientific endeavor is undertaken in any area, the people involved often reach conclusions about the initial question, but are left when one more question to pursue.

The origin and/or design of life is an ongoing pursuit that has resulted in an increasingly dichotomous philosophical approach to determining the answers to questions like, "how did life begin?" and "how do living things develop?"

The pursuit of those questions ultimately focus on the concept of God either exists or does not exist.

Very intelligent scientists and other thinkers reside on either side of that argument. On one side we have the following.
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Charles Darwin
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Richard Feynman
  • Carl Sagan
 Pursuing the alternate approach are those listed below.
  • Francis Schaeffer
  • Charles Colson
  • Kent Hovind
  • Michael Behe
  • William Dembski
  • C. S. Lewis
  Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to choose at least one person from each list and research their fundamental beliefs about the origin, development and purpose of life. Then you are to compare their beliefs to the opposing view, finally assessing the strength and weaknesses inherent in each approach. 

Some rhetorical questions might arise.
  • Do any of the arguments presented support or enhance your own philosophical viewpoints?
  • Are your viewpoints placed in doubt by any of the ideas you read?
  • What questions would you like to ask any of the above people if possible?
As you read and research this assignment, feel free (obligated?) to respond or post in the spaces below.

28 comments:

  1. Stephen Hawking
    Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous physicists that is still alive. He was born in Oxford, England, on January 8, 1942 and he is best known for his work regarding black holes and for authoring several popular books on science. At the age of 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. (McGrath)
    However, Stephen Hawking is one of many scientists that does not believe in that God is the reason for creation. Hawking says in front of many people in Pasadena, California, in April 2013 that the Big Bang did not need God in order to happen. Moreover he asked the crowd questions about what God did before His creation. The most absurd question he is throwing out to the crowd includes if God prepared hell for people before he created human beings. (Pyle, 2013)

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    1. I think that the question as to what God did before he began his creation. I have never thought about that before and I am not sure what I would answer. Although, I think it is sad that such intelligent minds put so much effort into denouncing Christianity.

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  2. Someone that I had no idea was even a believer in God let along an advocate was Charles Colson, who was one of the Watergate Seven was very surprising to me but I didn't find it to shocking that while in prison he found God and became a born again Christian. When reading his Book "How Now Shall we Live?' he makes some very valid and important points the first being that no matter what or who we believe in we all have an need programmed in use to believe in something or someone because that is the image in which God made us. He also points out that all it takes to believe in the intelligent design theory is to look around us and see that the world was designed and must of had a designer.

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    1. I agree that some of the strongest and most accessible proof of a living God is that our world makes so much more sense with a designer. I always found it confusing that so many scientists consider the big bang a rational theory for the creation of the universe, when it seems to go against many of the things that science has proven. To me, God is an infinitely better reason for explaining the universe than the big bang.

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  3. Check this video out guys!
    http://youtu.be/U0u3-2CGOMQ

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    1. Scott, awesome video! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Evidence of a worldwide flood!!

    Evidence 1 - Fossils of sea creatures high above sea level due to the ocean waters having flooded over the continents
    Evidence 2 Rapid burial of plants and animals
    Evidence 3 Rapidly deposited sediment layers spread across vast areas
    Evidence 4 Sediment transported long distances
    Evidence 5 Rapid or no erosion between strata
    Evidence 6 Many strata laid down in rapid succession

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/features/worldwide-flood-evidence

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    1. Sarah,

      Really interesting reading through this evidences allows me to think very logically and realistically about the flood! So cool! Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Sarah, I often found little proof scientifically for God, but you found some! How powerful, thank you for posting. It really allows for more proof of our intricate creator. I am glad you were able to find these 6 things.

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  5. This is a link to some of the Kent Hovind Creation Science Videos:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_Z06E9qcEc


    This is a link to the movie that we watched hosted by Ben Stein. About 1 hour 25 minutes into the movie he interviews Richard Dawkins. Movie title – Does God exist? The Intelligent Design.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-f2T6c6PK4

    This is an audio of Richard Dawkins on BBC Radio debating with creationists:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKF22xtIhc8

    Kent Hovind Debate 20 – How to debate a creationists:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gcx2LZ2Zj9E

    Carl Sagan debates with a creationists – audio:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQiLgksz6T0

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    1. Great videos, it really makes you think. This whole paper has really opened my eyes to all the different views there are.

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  6. As I am typing this paper, I am realizing how great C.S. Lewis' words are. In a recent article I read C.S. Lewis was brought up and this is what was wrote about him:

    "CS Lewis artfully makes the point in the "Magician's Nephew" that there can be several people confronted with the evidence for God yet they can interpret that evidence quite differently. Lewis describes Uncle Andrew's direct encounter with Aslan where he vehemently denied what he was seeing and hearing as making himself look stupid. And Lewis, the former atheist himself, continues, "Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did." When it comes to proof for God, the evidence is cumulative and therefore acceptable proof."

    Even in fictional literature, C.S. Lewis is still able to articulate that there is a God. Although I am still in the early stages of developing an argument, I am able to see that there is evidence for design, everything has a purpose, and the claims in the Bible about Christ can be supported. Even though C.S. Lewis is a fictional writer, I am starting to see the purpose in all of his words regardless of what book I am referencing.

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    1. I too think it is amazing how Lewis integrated his faith into fictional writings. It is awesome reading his books as a child, only to discover the spiritual messages as we mature.

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    2. Molly, I agree with you whole heartedly. I also really appreciate that C.S. Lewis found God through his writing. He started out as an atheist and throughout his time as an author and thinker Christ become something that he just couldn't think past. So the only logical thing to do next was to become a Christian. Pretty cool.

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  7. One thing that I found fascinating about C.S. Lewis is that for much of his life, he was not a Christian. Although baptized in the Church of Ireland as a child, by age 15 he was a self-proclaimed atheist. Lewis even went as far as researching the occult. At age 32, Lewis returned to the faith partly thanks to his Christian colleagues, including J.R.R. Tolkien. This is intriguing to me because all of Lewis works contain central Christian themes. Even The Chronicles of Narnia, which is a successful book series enjoyed even by non-believers, are filled with references to Christ and His actions. It is surprising to me that a man of such great faith and devotion was at one point dabbling in the occult. I think the story of C.S. Lewis proves that no matter how far we stray from God's path, He will always welcome us back with open arms.

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    1. I did not know C.S. Lewis was not a Christian for most of his life. I have seen so many books where atheists turn Christian and write about it. Which end up being some of the most powerful books. Now I know that C.S. Lewis is no different! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. One thing that I would say that hit me the most, and is somewhat simple, is that through my research thus far, many of these men are extremely intelligent and changed the way the world thought about many things within their field. Carl Sagan, specifically, was a man that changed a lot about what it looked like to research and consult; basically be a modern day scientist. Dr. Sagan is most well known in his studies of the planets. He served as the department head at Cornell University for planetary studies for many years as well as consulting one of the largest space travel organization in the world, NASA. Dr. Sagan was so highly regarded for his contributions at NASA that they gave him three honorary and distinguished medals in three separate areas. One thing that stuck out most to me about Dr. Sagan was his unwavering belief in what his believed in. I have much respect for someone who can endure such harsh and consistent criticism for much of his professional career and still stick the principles of what he believes. Very interesting man and I look forward to researching him more.

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    1. That's a really good point Kyle. It seems like the more and more renowned you become in this world, the less you are allowed to stand by what you actually believe in. I wonder how many Presidents of our United States have had to deal with this issue. My guess would be all of them. It's really cool to see Dr. Sagan stand firm in his beliefs. I hope I am able to do the same!

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  9. I am doing my paper on Christopher Hitchens, and I think this is a valuable source for his opinion on Creation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi-VuokinFc

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  10. Something I find interesting about Christopher Hitchens and Christians is this debate on Creation and Evolution.
    I am a Biblical Studies major, and I am convinced evolution played a part in who we are today. I also believe that God is the Creator of all living things on this earth. I don't understand why we have to divorce the topics. Why couldn't God be creating through evolution?

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    1. Loved your insight because you are a Biblical Studies major, just like our professor says, you are a great mind and very smart! Keep learning and asking great questions! Thanks for sharing

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    2. Perhaps you are confusing evolution with adaption? Take a look at the video I posted further up. It makes some very good points I hadn't heard before. Obviously keeping in mind the fact that editor is in control here, but still.

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  11. Would atheists think that the conscious is the voice we hear from God? How should we explain to a non-believer the difference between the two?
    I think that a mature Christian is one who is able to ask questions instead of having all of the answers, and this is a question I am not sure how to answer, but find interesting to think about.
    I got the idea from this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx1yXvcT2kw

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  12. Richard Dawkins vs. C.S. Lewis

    After some initial research on the two respective thinkers I chose to compare and contrast, I found a stark difference between them in one key personality trait: Pride. The writings and videos from Richard Dawkins almost always involved some hint of prideful condescension towards proponents of intelligent design or creationism. He seemed to take joy in the fact that others were not as "smart" as he was that he had the answers to life's most difficult questions "figured out." C.S. Lewis on the other hand seemed to have a humble confidence about what he was saying and presented his ideas for the purpose of enlightening his readers on a given subject, rather than pointing out their stupidity. I believe that it is this difference that sets each thinker apart and is the reason why they hold onto the belief that they have/had.

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    1. A quote from C.S. Lewis
      "As long as you are proud you cannot know God"
      - from the chapter the Great Sin in "Mere Christianity".

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  13. In an interview with Ben Stein in the film, Expelled, Richard Dawkins explains that he does not know 100 percent that God does not exist and even says that there is some evidence in our DNA that suggests some intelligent design. The thoughtful documentary is quick to point out that Dawkins is not reluctant to think of Intelligent Design as a possibility but only reluctant to believe or give credence to “God” or “a God.” Therefore it is not the idea of a world created that he has a problem coming to terms with, but rather a world that is created by a God that wishes only for him to humble himself and enter into a relationship where he no longer has the power.

    This video can be found at Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOCiAm-AD10

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  14. As I'm reading through Dinesh D'Souza's book "What's so Great About Christianity," I came across a very interesting quote that got me thinking. At this point in the book, D'Souza is arguing for the expansion of the universe, meaning that at some point, the universe had a definite beginning. He says, "Hubble noticed that planets and galaxies were hurtling away from one another at fantastic speeds. Moreover, space itself seemed to be getting bigger. The universe wasn't expanding into background space, because the universe already contains all the space there is. Incredibly, space itself was expanding along with the universe."
    I just found this incredibly thought provoking and incredible. D'Souza's book is full of amazing scientific explanations like this and I would highly recommend reading it.

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    1. Emily, I have recently been thinking more than usual about the debate between science and religion, or moreover how people have been able to combine the two. I think that book would be no doubt informative and hopefully answer some of my questions; I will try to read it. In the meantime, I have looked up a review of it with summaries on some of the topics it includes. D'Souza also discusses creation, the big bang, miracles, faith, corruption, and more. One thing I found thought provoking was his defense on miracles. They violate the laws of nature, and are seemingly impossible. Because we can never be sure of the connection of cause and event, there are room for miracles, something we would not normally expect, to happen. C.S. Lewis even calls miracles additions to natural laws. Regardless if they are real or not, and whether they can be scientifically proved, does not really matter to me at this point. While I question certain aspects of religion and faith, I certainly believe that miracles do happen.

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