Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Arthur Lewin; Did God Make The World, and all that it contains?

May 2, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) In the past many advanced “creationism,” a strict interpretation of the Bible’s account of creation, in opposition to evolution. Today “intelligent design” is in the forefront against Charles Darwin’s theory that life arose spontaneously and slowly changed (evolved) in response to the environment into millions of different kinds (species) of life inculding us.

In 1925, a teacher in Tennessee was brought up on charges for teaching the theory of evolution. He was ultimately exonerated by the courts. Today  many are advocating that intelligent design be permitted to be taught  alongside evolution. Many scientists, educators and others are claiming that the notion of “intelligent desgin” is just a clever reworking of the long repudiated notion of Creationism. It may well be. However, it does coincide with what what most believe, namely that God (or some other notion of a Creator) is ultimately behind all things.

Furthermore, scientists, even in their theories, have only been able to trace things but so far back. They postulate that 13 billion years ago all the matter in the universe was compacted into a ball about one inch square. And then there was a stupendous expolosion, a “Big Bang,” and its debris became all the stars and planets and floating rocks and gases that the universe contains.

But what happened before the Big Bang? That science cannot say. And so could that not have been the Time of God? Where did the initial lump of matter come from? Could not God have created it? And couldn’t the Creator have so engineered the initial explosion that it ultimately produced an earth that would ultimately produce humanity? 

In fact, Rene Descartes, one of the Fathers of Western Science, long ago declared that God created the world and then left it entirely alone. And this declaration of Descartes, referred to as “Cartesian Dualism” laid the groundwork for scientific research and discovery safe from the demands of the Church authorities of his day who required, oftentimes under pain of death, that all profess belief in God. Did Descartes really believe what he said or did he propose it to save his neck?

In any case, his declaration was never formally repudiated by the scientific community. In the debate about intelligent design, ultimately this is what is on the table. If intelligent design is defeated it will mean that Descartes’, and by extension science’s, compact or compromise with religion has been revoked. But should it be?

In the early 20th century a mathematician with the curious name of Godel, proved that any system of logic has things about it which are true that cannot be proved using the axioms, the logical building blocks, of the system itself. And so being that humans are a part of the material world, how could we ever know what happened before there was a material world. Again, could that not have been the Time of God? And so we see that, ultimately, Evolution and Intelligent Design do not really contradict.

Staff Writer; Arthur Lewin

This talented writer has also self published a book which is entitled; Read Like Your Life Depends On It.


7 Responses to “Arthur Lewin; Did God Make The World, and all that it contains?”
  1. PS: Take some time to read NASA’s “Universe 101: The Big Bang Theory”


  2. Two books I can recommend on theistic evolution are;

    Frye, Roland Mushat (editor)
    1983 “Is God a Creationist? The Religious Case Against Creation-Science” New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons

    Miller, Keith B. (editor)
    2003 “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company

    They are a bit heavy theologically, but mostly readable.

    Regarding the “fine tuning,” or “strong anthropic principle,” here is one in favor and one opposed;

    McGrath, Alister E.
    2009 “A Fine-Tuned Universe” Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press

    Susskind, Leonard
    2005 “The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design” New York: Little and Brown Publishers

    Obviously McGrath is in favor of the idea that the “fact” the universe is “built” for us humans “proves” there must be a god. Actually he sidesteps the arguments made by Susskind (in fact he does not even mention Susskind, or the equally strong counter arguments of of my colleague Victor J. Stenger (2004, “Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Us?” in “Why Intelligent Design Fails,” 172-84). The best short refutation of the fine tuning case I have seen was by the science fiction author, Douglas Adams. In late 2000, he gave a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He compared us to a mud puddle that looks around and says, “What a nice hole in the ground – it’s made just for me! Look at how nicely it’s indentations fit my beautiful curves, and the depth and the radius are just right…”

  3. Thank you, I stand corrected “Cartesian dualism” refers to Descartes notion of the separation of mind and body and not to his idea that God created the world and left it alone after that. I would ask the editor to please remove that reference in the piece. However, I did not advocate the teaching of intelligent design, creationism or evolution. I was only comparing theories. If theistic design is a better label than intelligent design for what I am referring to than let’s use that. And I am happy to learn that there is no particular scientific objection to that concept

  4. Arthur Lewin wrote: “And so could that not have been the Time of God? Where did the initial lump of matter come from? Could not God have created it?”

    What’s wrong with “I don’t know?” This seems to be the crux of the matter; some people need a God of some kind and so, when presented with a gap in our knowledge, fill it with God. “We don’t know” why such-and-such happens, therefore God Did It, seems to me to be a very weak place to rest one’s faith. If science closes that gap, wherefore then do you have room for God?

    If you rest your faith on God in places where empiricism has not yet provided an answer, then when empiricism does provide an answer God is diminished.

  5. I want make a last observation to Dr. Lewin regarding his concluding statement, “And so we see that, ultimately, Evolution and Intelligent Design do not really contradict.”

    They do most certainly conflict, if Dr. Lewin is using “intelligent design” in the same sense as its proponents, and in the sense it has in the various recent or impending legal cases (see Kitzmiller v Dover, or example). The scientific failure of Intelligent Design creationism has been explored by many scientists and philosophers. For two recommendations, see;

    Mark Perakh
    2003 “Unintelligent Design” New York: Prometheus Press

    Matt Young, Taner Edis (Editors),
    2004 “Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism” Rutgers University Press

    I was one of the contributers to the latter book.

    The suggestion made by Dr. Lewin that following the “big bang,” life emerged and evolved according to natural laws is roughly the same as “theistic evolution.” I don’t find it personally persuasive, but there is no particular scientific objection to this. It is often called the “strong anthropic principle” by cosmologists. It is worth noting that it is rejected by most ID proponents at the Discovery Institute, and is strongly opposed by the common Young Earth creationists.

  6. Mr. Lewin, in the day of Google, and Wikipedia your multiple errors are just not acceptable. First, Charles Darwin hardly addressed the origin of life at all, and at least in his published works accepted the possibility of a creator. Second, evolutionary biology has advanced a great deal in the last 150 years and Darwin’s books are of more historical than scientific interest.

    You also suggest that creationism be taught merely because it is popular. Darwin wrote against slavery, and about the biological unity of mankind when most here insisted that slave ownership was a “god given right” of the White man, and even that the African slaves were soulless sub-humans. Facts are not altered by popularity, and at least in the sciences we try to stick to facts to build our theories.

    As for some additional facts, John Scopes was never “exonerated.” The Tennessee Supreme Court found the Butler Act against teaching evolution constitutional. The court set aside the conviction because the Judge made a technical error by fining Scopes $100, when he was not permitted to go above $50, and the lower court decided not to retry the case. Cartesian Duality is the notion that there is a non-material mind that is detached from the physical brain. Given the advances of neurochemistry, and application of new technologies such as functional MRI, we know that this was a false idea. (And it had little to do with any “science versus religious” conflicts).

    Godel’s ideas about incompleteness apply to formal logic systems such as mathematics without any material constraints. The sciences rejected by creationists, especially biology, and geology, are already constrained by the physical realities we study, and so Godel’s theorem has no application. You had best try reading the original.

  7. “In fact, Rene Descartes, one of the Fathers of Western Science, long ago declared that God created the world and then left it entirely alone. And this declaration of Descartes, referred to as “Cartesian Dualism” …”

    Cartesian Dualism refers to Descartes assertion that the mind and the body are different substances. So far as I know it has nothing to do with Descartes beliefs about creation.