The Need to Explain Origins
Exchanges Between Friends
Writtey By: Wendell Krossa and Bill Ferguson and Robert Brinsmead
I was just reading something on the Net re the debate Richard Dawkins had with Francis Collins (head of the human genome project). This debate was in TIME magazine back in 2007 I believe. Collins had said that he would explain the origin of things in terms of God, and when pressed, he said he saw no need to explain God. There was no need of a creation story for God himself. This response was made to counter these materialist arguments that if you refer to ultimate origins in terms of God then how do you explain God? What created God? This is a recent challenge from materialists.
Dawkins responded to this answer from Collins by saying, “What an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain”. His point was that there must be some ultimate materialist answer to all things and we need to find such. And he is partially right. There will be more naturalist or materialist explanation. We hope.
But we get to this impasse of today. Many branches of science appear to have hit walls. Physics with string theory. Biology with explaining origins and development of life and explaining the sudden emergence of basic forms along the way. And what about the fact that over recent centuries no essential progress has been made in explaining light, electricity, gravity, basic matter, the universe itself, and on and on. But we have learned to just live with our state of incomplete knowledge and we do just fine. It appears.
Now materialists argue from promissory materialism- that a materialist answer will come somewhere in the future, given enough time. But this appears to deny that science has been on two tracks- continuing to provide naturalist answers for many things but always uncovering ever more fundamental mystery about all things.
So spiritual types express their impulse to explain in terms of some mysterious spiritual reality as ultimate reality. Both sides are cognizant of this impulse to explain things in some ultimate terms. Hence Easterbrook in Wired noted that both do basically the same in appealing to invisible realities to explain things (God or force fields or vacuums or self organization or Organizing Principle, or whatever). As Kellor noted in The Century of the Gene, even materialist biologists must appeal to purpose to explain, much as they hate to be seen with this mistress. Again, they felt need to explain.
Varghese noted this need to explain also as did Hasker in his book on suffering (The Triumph of God over Evil). This logical end to reason- to explain things to ourselves and others. We cannot just leave things alone at some naturalist level. We have this deep impulse to meaning and must explain all things ultimately. This, it appears, is what our consciousness has made us aware of.
Dawkins revealed his own sense of this deeply felt need to explain in reacting with apparent surprise to what he termed Collins’ evasion of responsibility. And so the arguments, discussion, reasoning and debates continue. A waste of time or something fundamental to our consciousness? Something healthy?
1 Corinthians 6:12
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
The negation thing is an odd phenomenon of human psychology. Its kind of like the .99 cent thing in merchandising, logically you wouldn’t think it matters, but in practice it has quite the opposite effect of what is intended. I don’t have a complete hypothesis of this but it’s something I am working on.
“NOT” logical operations are exclusive by nature. They carve out little domains in logic. When NOT is combined with logical “OR”s it constructs the IF-THEN-ELSE logical construct (if my binary logic memory is correct – it’s been a while since I coded in machine language).
As much as we want to think so, brains don’t operate on logical operators. Brains use neural adaptive feedback networks to solve problems and make choices. The math involved in brain cells is the sigmoid function – it’s kind of like a gain control on an analog data input. It’s the nerve connections that give the brain its power.
Yes, Bill, but the negative gives more freedom. If I say, you shall not wear a blue garment, then it means that you can wear anything else, and has more freedom than saying, You shall war a blue garment, which gives no such wide freedom. Of course Eve just had to try the forbidden tree even though all the rest had no such restrictions placed upon them.
The concept that things that exist independently and separate of one another. This is especially true of the atheist argument. This binary logic leads to either/or, black/white, true/false reasoning and paradoxes. As long as people argue with this mindset (and it is often a judgmental mindset – the goal is to conquer not inform). Not to keep harping on the shortcomings of binary logic, but it is true that it’s an incomplete logic system. Program a computer with this logic (and we do) you do not get an intelligent machine, just a very fast calculator and mimic. Yet the mind that programs the machine is not using two valued logic, and sometimes it’s just flashes of intuition that shape the program.
Asian/Buddhist/Taoist logic is multi-valued and sees things as being ultimately united, and often co-arising (see the writings of Siddhartha disciple Nagarjuna). Co-arising is especially common in complex systems, technology, biomes, and human culture. Oppress a people, and you eventually have an uprising is a simple co-arising system. Others are more complex and not so easily discerned like co-evolution animals and plants and pollinating insects. The more complex the system the more you see the principle of co-arising. Disease is a co-arising system, a number of factors can lead to disease. Stress, diet, excercise, clean air, pollutants are all factors in disease.
We especially see the separation argument at work in the politics over the economy. Nobody wants to help the poor because they view it all as a zero sum game – someone has to lose in order for the others to prosper. To argue against this mentality is called “class warfare” because the upper class sees it as a threat to their status. But nation is more than the sum of the human parts. When this is taken to the extreme you get serfdom or slavery. You see this in banking – jobs are wage arbitraged out to cheaper countries by commercial banks – investment banks push this and finance it in the name of cost cutting, people lose their job, people can no pay their mortgage, the commercial bank collapses. Everybody seems to forget we live in an ecology of relationships. You can kill the entire forest for the lumber, but you won’t be able harvest trees in the future.
When you get to the subject of God however, you can’t argue separateness – as in “who created God” – because implicit in that question is a beginning and an end – and God is timeless. Humans have a tough time with creation that doesn’t have a beginning or an end. One book I read said the universe is like a grand breath of God, its is breathed out (the big bang), and it eventually all returns back to source in the inward breath of God. This happens on a time scale we can’t comprehend and might as well be eternity for our minds. Everything we interact with is inside and part of God. Nothing can exist without God. We come from God we return to God, and we have a little journey in physical bodies in a somewhat illusionary physical world in an even more illusionary culture which makes for a great roller coaster ride! This oneness with God can be an extremely unsettling concept in some ways, yet looked from another way it makes it clear how “with God all things are possible”. .Is Varghese right that this natural process of reason will always end ultimately in theism?