Living with Mystery
Written By: Wendell Krossa
Trust simple and common human experience. There is no higher means of discovering truth about reality and life than by common human experience and understanding over the millennia. Our conscious experience and intuition and understanding lead to the most credible of all truth. Most common people have gained their understanding about reality and life as the Neanderthals did from burying their dead with items for the afterlife, down through the rest of human history. We have refined those common insights over time, recognizing that the ultimate reality is love, generosity, goodness, mercy and justice, and letting these values shape our own existence. Science has not produced any better insight into the ultimate questions that all of us have wondered about. It has done wonders with the natural realm and we honor it for that, but it cannot help us with the most fundamental and ultimate issues and questions. To resolve these questions, we trust our own experience and that of our ancestors.
After noting the logic of mathematical physics and the circular reasoning employed to support theories of origins (which elsewhere he refers to as magic- natural laws just create. But what created natural laws…DNA creates…but how… by magic), Berlinski then says, “This is very elegant. It is also entirely unpersuasive….All this leaves us where we so often find ourselves. We are confronted with certain open questions. We do not know the answers, but what is worse, we have no clear idea- no idea whatsoever- of how they might be answered. But perhaps that is where we should be left; in the dark, tortured by confusing hints, intimations of immortality, and a sense that, dear God, we really do not yet understand”.
Berlinski inspires thinking in many directions. Scientists of the modern era, in a materialist environment that refuses to countenance any reference to the metaphysical (design, God, divine intervention in reality and life, etc.) found themselves trapped in a materialist viewpoint that simply leads to absurdity, incoherence and irrationality. Nothing, cannot produce anything. So they had to resort to bringing design (divinity) back in through the back door. This is notable in cosmology where something had to produce (create) this universe (hence the wild speculations about infinite universes, bubbles, and so on, all without evidence, but as Berlinski says, whatever popped into their minds is all very metaphysical things.
Berlinski then notes the endeavor to assign a causative role to the laws of physics themselves…”It is hard to resist the impression…of something capable of transcending space-time and the confinements of relativistic causality- possessing an overview of the entire cosmos at the instant of its creation, and manipulating all the causally disconnected parts to go bang with almost exactly the same vigor at the same time”. He then adds, in this regard, that the fundamental laws of physics enjoy attributes traditionally assigned to a deity”.
There you have it. Scientists, reacting to religion for whatever reason, resorted first to meaningless randomness (chance, nothingness) to explain things. Recognizing then the absurdity of such explanation, they then turned to creating new gods with similar powers to past deity, to explain and make sense of reality and life. But the arrogance here was in claiming their new gods were the product of rationality, empiricism, myth-free reason, and good science. They claimed the rational high ground and derided the simple believer in the metaphysical and divinity. Yet in essence what is the fundamental difference between their new gods and God?.
Human experience is the ultimate treasure on earth. Conscious existence, curiosity, understanding and enjoyment, and all that is related to being commonly human, make it good to exist and be alive.
Let me add that Berlinski deals with the philosophy of science in general. He is good at revealing the mystery that permeates all reality and exposing our mythmaking without evidence. He even goes after the Big Bang theory and pokes numerous holes in that one, showing the mythmaking and patching over scarce evidence to create some story. From the quantum to the cosmos and all the biology in between, he is well studied and coherent and reasonable.
I find the real strength of these IDers in their bringing us back to an appreciation of the profound mystery that is reality and life. In this they do better science than the materialists they oppose. We know so little about what is going on all through life and the material realm.
His sections on natural selection and Dawkins are as good as any of the other IDers. Here he holds the Darwinist’s feet to their fire. Darwin advocated life developing or evolving by gradual accretions of mutations to build some feature and then a new species. Darwin himself did not know biochemistry as we do today but he definitely pointed to what became neo-Darwinism and its gradualist core. Discoveries in the 90s about mutations revealed that they do not build anything. Margulis was clear on this as was Behe and others.
Berlinski exposes this fraud completely with his penetrating insights and holding the Darwinists to their own dogma. How can natural selection conserve mutations toward something beneficial? How can it purposely see a goal and work toward it? In the intermediate steps what if a series mutations are not beneficial but detrimental and don’t function? Irreducible complexity is the devastating fact here, so the natural selection of Dawkins is just another attempt to bring in design through the back door, all the while proclaiming that you deny design. Dawkins, yielding to common sense on such issues, now denies random chance as the driving force of his view of evolution and attempts to create his own designing god (all sorts of powers attributed to natural selection), while at the same time damning believers in creation and design as irrational and unscientific.
As others have noted, we now have a fairly complete fossil record that shows no intermediate species. There appear to be some, and even Berlinski admits this (e.g. the horses), but there are no intermediate ones in between those apparently similar ones (another noted that some of the horses in that example were from the same time period). In the fossil record there is a huge evidential void. As even Margulis states, there is no evidence for Darwinian evolution. So now what?
Well, Harold Franklin and others have said- we don’t know what life is, how it emerged or how it developed. It is still all mystery. Berlinski brings us right back to this.
Why then the dogmatism around Darwin? This is more about politics and ideology and control. It’s like that thing where the scientists crawled up the mountain and found at the peak the theologians, or better the simple human trusting his own gut on things. Too bad we go from extreme to extreme in our reaction to things. Many materialists were reacting to what they felt was extremism and distortion in religious belief and practice.
Somewhere in Berlinski, he quotes someone who notes that perhaps even sometime in this century we will look back on this Darwinian thing as just another ideological excursions that led to a dead-end. We build all these edifices and they keep collapsing on us. This is not to deny that we appear to make some headway in some areas. Life has developed or emerged over a long time frame; that appears to be unquestionable.
On this design thing, Paley got it right long ago as did many before him. It is hard common sense that something ordered and complex does not just appear, it does not assemble itself out of the soup (e.g. DNA). We trust our gut on this and we are right. Chaotic winds don’t assemble 747’s out of junk. A lump of clay does not possess the potential and capabilities to produce conceptual thought. The Neanderthals responded intuitively and as Lund says, “they along with all our ancestors got the basics right.”
Even the early promise of DNA is now fading as we discover the overwhelming complexity there. No one knows how it creates a human person. As Berlinski says, it just does as if by magic. Others have said there just is not enough information in DNA to assemble a human body. Some magical and mysterious other thing is at work: What about the mystery that runs each cell, co-ordinating and directing all that amazing complexity.
So yeah, living with mystery is part of the human condition.
Human experience is the ultimate treasure on earth. Conscious existence, curiosity, understanding, enjoyment, and all that is related to being commonly human. Its good to exist and be alive, eh.