Friday, May 6, 2011

Science vs. Atheism

Mercatornet.com's William West reviews God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? by John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics and Fellow in the Philosophy of Science at Oxford’s Green Templeton College, hailed as an "excoriating demolition of Dawkins’s overreach from biology into religion" — Has science buried God?

"The brilliance of Lennox’s approach is that it does not just concentrate on one academic discipline, like biology," writes the reviewer. "It spans all of the most relevant fields, including cosmology, physics, philosophy, theology and mathematics, offering a compelling case for the view that scientific knowledge, rather than killing God off, actually makes a divine creator necessary." Quoting the author:
    The remarkable picture that is gradually emerging from modern physics and cosmology is one of a universe whose fundamental forces are amazingly, intricately, and delicately balanced or ‘fine tuned’ in order for the universe to be able to sustain life. Recent research has shown that many of the fundamental constants of nature, from the energy levels in the carbon atom to the rate at which the universe is expanding, have just the right values for life to exist. Change any of them just a little, and the universe would become hostile to life and incapable of supporting it.
About the facts that "the nuclear ground state energy levels have to be fine-tuned with respect to each other [and] if the variation were more than 1 per cent either way, the universe could not sustain life," Prof. Lennox writes, "Hoyle later confessed that nothing had shaken his atheism as much as this discovery. Even this degree of fine-tuning was enough to persuade him that it looked as if 'a super intellect has monkeyed with physics as well as with chemistry and biology.'"

This is the same Sir Fred Hoyle who said "there are no blind forces in nature worth talking about" and "that the idea of the spontaneous formation of life was akin to a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and producing a Boeing 747 jet aircraft." About this, geneticist Michael Denton said, "Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological systems, such as a crystal or a snowflake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive." It also was genetics that caused Anthony Flew, author of There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, to change his mind:
    What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.
Also today, is this post by Throne and Altar's Bonald — Being a Catholic physicist. He begins:
    The problem with being a Catholic (or other form of Christian) and a scientist is not what our atheist colleagues imagine. They wonder how we deal with all the contradictions that they imagine must plague us, but in fact the problem is the opposite. The findings of the natural sciences and the dogmas of faith don’t clash because they deal with different things: different answers to different questions.
And also, a review of "a masterful recounting of the life and times of Gerbert of Aurillac, the French monk who became Pope Sylvester II," who "is revealed as a lifelong student, an avid bookman, an innovative teacher and textbook writer and an inquisitive and passionate investigator" — Pope who brought science to the dark ages. "His passion for understanding the order of the universe, whether revealed in the intricate and intellectually satisfying connections of arithmetic and geometry, in the harmonies of stretched strings and windblown pipes or in the celestial mechanisms of fixed star and wandering planet - all these orders, for Gerbert, were ways to illuminate the mysteries of the Cosmic Orderer."

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.