Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Good Conversation

I repeated a post which pointed out how few Americans believe in basic science theories which have been proven.  The post was headed with a comment indicating that conservatives voted in the way they vote because they are kept ignorant of the functions and proven realities of science.

Later I added as a comment:

I'm not sure about the Big Bang theory either. I prefer Ekpyrosis, which started as a  belief of the Stoics in ancient Greece that the universe would end in a conflagration at the end of one cycle and the start of a new one.  It is now a theory that our universe began when two universes bumped into each other… Oh, just Google it.   I don't think I understand it well enough to explain it. But I do like it.

My friend C responded: 

Jim, most Conservatives believe in a "theory" (for lack of a better term) of a God, all-knowing and all-powerful, that created all of Creation in much the same appearance as it is seen today; this is rejected by those who don't believe this theory, because it involves a singularity, an unexplainable event that happened once in all history and won't happen again. Most Evolution believers have a problem greater than this to justify their faith in evolution; evolution relies on at least two (Yes, 2) singularities, unexplainable events that happened once and won't happen again- 1) a Big Bang that spewed out all known matter that later generated stars and dust, and 2) spontaneous life, the generation of a self replicating cell of life that later decided to generate differing kinds of cells. SO... Who really believes a more extravagant and improbable theory?

I responded:
You forget that I am also a believer. Many who believe in science also believe in God. The two are not contradictory. Only absolutists insist you must believe in only one or the other. Most people believe in both.

As for the Big Bang theory, that is only one of the current well supported by facts theories that could be true. It is the most commonly accepted, but science is in such a state now that this particular theory has not been confirmed or unconfirmed by irrefutable evidence.

Remember that science is always ready to change its opinion. All it takes is clear proof that a theory wrong. The state of falsifiability then requires that that theory be discarded.  An excellent example is the luminiferous ether.  Once accepted as  an unavoidable necessity, experiments by Michelson and Morley proved it could not exist. This once critical theory was therefore discarded.  It was replaced with Einstein's concept of the space time continuum.

Scientists freely acknowledge that the very term "singularity" really translates as, "We don't know what we're talking about." The singularity is a point at which current knowledge of physics breaks down. No one knows what the term "singularity" means. Science is trying to determine that now. They do not claim to have done so.

Six or seven years ago a computer experiment was run on a universe which existed in Meisner space. Don't ask me what Meisner space is.  I don't understand any of the various kinds of space. Frankly, the mathematical concepts exceed my mathematical capacity. The point is, however, that after they had run the experiment for a while, they were surprised that a bit of that universe was pinched off in what they referred to as a "closed time like loop", went back in time, and became the singularity which seeded the existence of the universe. Is that actually what happened in the real world? Maybe. No one knows at this point in time. Science is not able to answer that question yet.

There is no contradiction in assuming that God began the universe and that science is an accurate description of the real world. If you don't believe in science you better not get on an airplane. Don't living a modern house. Or use electricity. We can go on and on. All of those things are a direct result of science applied to our real lives. One thing you can say about science, it works.   But what science cannot do is say anything about God. By definition God is above and beyond the capacity of science. If God exists, then science cannot measure or test Him.

As for spontaneous life. At this time science also does not know how life formed. They are working on that. They have created what many refer to as the first artificial life form. If only God can give life, how is it possible that scientists took chemicals and used those to build a genome which, when placed in a cell stripped of its existing genome, lives?  Yes, they did put the genes into a living cell, but it was not a natural genome. It was a man created genome.

Science once couldn't explain how electromagnetic waves propagated. They didn't even know there were electromagnetic waves. That doesn't mean that electromagnetic waves didn't exist. It meant that science haven't found them yet. It is a perfectly acceptable position to believe that science is not going to be able to find an answer it does not yet possess. That is a possibility. But so far, every time science hasn't been able to explain something, eventually it could.

In other words, if you wish to believe that God created life which then evolved, that is a possible explanation. At the present time, science cannot prove or disprove that proposition. Perhaps it will be able to prove it or disprove it sometime in the future. But at this point in time science cannot do so.  

That is simply a fact.

Regarding singularities. In fact, one of the more popular theories, not yet proven or disproven, is that singularities occur with great regularity and frequency. This is the multiple universes theory. Well, it's one variation on the multiple universes theory. In this variation, the singularity which created our universe via the Big Bang, continues to occur in the greater universe. And in that greater universe, many universes like the one in which we exist are being created constantly. In fact  there are innumerable  universes.   It is an unproven theory this time. Again, it may be proven in the future or disproven in the future or, conceivably, maybe be beyond the human mind's capacity to understand it.  We don't know yet.

What I, and so many others, believe is that when the facts prove something they have proven it. The facts prove that the universe, the observable universe, is billions of years old. The facts prove that our earth is a little over 4 billion years old. The facts prove the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years before the first man walked the earth. These are proven facts. They are not simply beliefs.  They have been proven to be empirically correct by testable, replicatable, falsifiable facts.

As long as there are areas of science which cannot at this time answer a question, it is entirely possible to explain the answer as the actions of God independent of working in the framework of science.  Still there are things that have been proven to be true which, if God was involved in creating them, show He  did it through scientific means and methodologies. Perhaps He did so. There's no reason He couldn't have done so had He so chosen. Nevertheless, the fact remains at some things have been shown to be true. To ignore them is to say that facts and reality don't matter.

It comes down to a matter of what philosophers call epistemology. How do we know what we know? And how much can we know? I believe that reality is real. Therefore I must believe that which reality compels me to believe. 

I also believe that I have a personal and distinct relationship with God. He and I are friends. We have spent considerable amount of time together -- in each other's company. That is not a scientifically testable belief. It is based upon experiences which I have had and have not shared with others, simply because they can't be shared. The relationship is a direct communion with God, one on one. It is by definition a supernatural experience. That's not supernatural in the silly way have come to misuse the word today, but in the original sense, meaning above or beyond nature. Nature in this case being epistemological reality.

In other words, I have a foot in both camps.  I assure you that some of my atheist friends are as rejecting of my religious  positions as you are of my scientific positions. I made peace with myself along time ago, but it wasn't an easy peace to attain.

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