Sunday, March 22, 2015

Beyond Atheistic Perception

In materialistic terms, human beings can be described as carbon-based biological life-forms with five highly specified sensor systems on board. Our highly developed meat computers, a.k.a. the human brain, manage these five sensor systems (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) which allow us to perceive the cosmos around us while we think, will, emote, and act. This is what we are from the perspective of scientific naturalism. However, this description is still grossly lacking in explaining the human experience.

While the human biological machine is truly amazing, it is incredibly limited and finite. We exist on the razor's edge of a tiny piece of rock hurling around a small star out in the corner of a single galaxy in a very fine-tuned universe. If gravity was much greater (or less), or if the temperature range on the surface of the planet was more drastic due to even relatively small changes in the atmosphere, or if any similar small changes in the dozens of factors in the fine-tuning of the universe were different, we could not exist at all. The fact that we do exist seems incredibly improbable if this universe is all there is, and as far as we know from a materialist perspective this universe is all there is.

And that is the rub: As far as we know. We simply don't know a whole lot, at least not until very recently. Our built-in sensor systems are simply not that robust. Just take human sight, for example. The human eye can only see light between the wavelengths of 390 and 700 nanometers. We call this the "visible spectrum" because it is the only portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that a human eye can detect. Humanity didn't even know about non-visible electromagnetic radiation until 1800 when William Herschel discovered infrared light, so it is only in the last two hundred or so years that we were even aware of things like gamma rays, x-rays, ultra-violet light, microwaves, and radio waves. Before Herschel, all that stuff was beyond our perception.

This article would be too long if I got into the discovery of quantum mechanics, general and special relativity, and the DNA double-helix which are extremely recent discoveries, all pretty much in the last one hundred or so years. These four discoveries alone totally and radically changed our understanding of matter, space, time, and biological life. If you consider the last 100 years in the overall course of recorded human history of roughly 5,000 years, it has only been in this most recent 2% of recorded history that we learned about all this stuff. (If you believe the Darwinists, this is in the most recent 0.05% of human history since Darwinism might argue humans have been around for 200,000 years, but I digress.) Bottom line is for all but the most recent few years of human existence most of what we know today about physical reality was beyond our perception.

So, if all this stuff has been beyond our perception, what makes an atheist so sure that there is no God (or gods) out there beyond their perception? How can someone be so sure that God does not exist when for 98%, or 99.95% for the Darwinists, of human history we didn't know much of anything about the physical reality around us? What blows my mind is that otherwise intelligent people (a.k.a. atheists) disbelieve in the possibility of discovering God (or gods) when their supposedly scientific world view is based on discovery! The atheist mind does not welcome the possibility their human sensor systems have been unable to detect a God that transcends the natural realm. That level of inquiry is carefully carved out as off limits by an ad hoc assumption that the material realm is all there is of reality, and that (false) assumption is easily disproven. When it comes to the idea of God, the atheist mind snaps shut like a steel trap.

And that trap snap is just at the mention of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God. If you happen to venture into the topic that a philosophically possible God has been revealed in the best selling book of all time, pretty much every atheist will weave and dodge that evidence like a professional dodge ball player. That doesn't seem too "free thinking" to me. If you want evidence, dig in. Christianity is different from every other belief system. There is nearly 2,000 years of scholarship to examine, give or take a couple centuries for the dark ages where it was Christian monasteries that preserved knowledge. Take a look at the cartoon below to see how Christianity differs in simple terms from every other religion.

The unwavering faith the faithful disbelievers (a.k.a. atheists) have in Darwinism is stunning. The average Christian pales in their faithfulness as compared to the average atheist. According to perhaps the most famous atheist on the planet today, Richard Dawkins, "Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." [The Blind Watchmaker (1986), p. 6] If you discount atheists who have a predisposed penchant for the dogma of Darwinism, which includes a large portion of the scientific community which is disproportionately atheist, pretty much every other thinking person on the planet understands what Intelligent Design looks like. If you see a wrist watch laying on the beach, you don't think all those parts just randomly came together out of the primordial ooze of the ocean by chance over billions of years. You know there was an intelligent watchmaker involved in designing and making the watch. Even a five year old understands this without any formal schooling.

You have to be a highly trained scientist like Richard Dawkins to unlearn this human intuition, plus you have to go to extraordinary lengths to explain away reason with the pixie dust of "billions of years" and fairy tales about amoebas evolving into higher life forms which eventually evolve into the lower primates and then finally homo sapiens. It goes against all rationality considering the complex design of the inner workings of a single cell, much less the highly developed carbon-based biological life-forms with five highly specified sensor systems on board. But, I guess if you need a reason to not believe in God, any silly reason will do. Never mind the possibility that perhaps God is just beyond the perception of the atheist like pretty much all of modern scientific understanding for 99.95% of human history, to use the Darwinists' numbers.


6 comments:

  1. Dennis, as the smartest non-atheist I know, I expect more from you than than the old "watch and watchmaker" analogy. But for a moment I will stay within your flawed premise. Of course no one expects a watch to miraculously assemble itself from the flotsam of the ocean waves. It would be as absurd to expect Henry Ford's first effort to be a Tesla. Instead, it has taken a century for cars to "evolve" from the rudimentary contraptions of the early 1900's to the technological marvels we have today. Small steps, improvements, and innovations from many, many contributors, as well as countless "dead ends", have lead to the rich variety and tapestry of the multiple lineages that exist in cars today. The more I think about it, the more apt the analogy seems to me, with one GLARING problem: cars aren't alive.

    So we could do the usual back and forth about evolution and biology vs the God-magic theory, but we've done that or seen it countless times. What I personally like more from you is along the lines of the funny cartoon. I find it ironic that one of the points you made to me last week at breakfast, that God often reveals Himself and His desires through dreams, is one of the "knocks" on the "How other religions start" cartoon. Also, as I understand it, Jesus most monumental miracle, the only one that truly mattered, was witnessed by virtually no one, despite the "How Christianity Started" cartoon depicts it. He arose from the dead (though actually why that is considered such a big deal I'm not sure, since arising from the dead was an event that happens several times in the Bible) and I think Mary saw him? That's it? Shouldn't it have been witnessed by at least a multitude? Anyway, there doesn't appear to me to be that much difference between your faith and the faith of the many disparate civilizations all over the world.

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    1. Ross, for your analogy to be suitable you would have to have rubber from a rubber tree evolve into a tire and then fasten to a wheel while metal from rocks refined itself and became pistons and inserted themselves into cylinders, etc. Never mind that the whole process is DESIGNED by engineers who presumably are intelligent. And speaking of intelligence, if the smartest non-atheist you know is me you need some smarter friends. That is a pretty low bar. Also, regarding dreams, none of the people with personal experiences of Jesus in dreams are saying those private experiences are evidence of Christianity for someone else other than anecdotal evidence. Keep reading the New Testament. You'll get to the part where Jesus stuck around for 40 days after the resurrection and was witnessed by hundreds of people. Your comment that his resurrected body was "witnessed by virtually no one" is a factual error.

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    2. On more comment... Ross says the watch maker premise is flawed, but doesn't point out where. This argument from silence is not very convincing in countering the watch maker analogy which I find far more rational than cars, which everyone knows are designed by intelligent agents, evolving from other cars. Every Bible believing Christian will admit we see diversity in race horses and dogs. We just don't get dogs from rocks unless you believe in the fairy tale of Darwinism's "billions of years" pixie dust that happens so slow nobody ever saw it or measured it or witnessed it, unlike Jesus who hundreds of people saw with their own eyes.

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  2. Dennis, I am curious where you stand on the "billions of years" concept. You put it in quotes in your post but you have also posted a video showing a man discussing the universe being 13+ billions of years old.

    "Every Bible believing Christian will admit we see diversity in race horses and dogs." I think this means you accept some evolution. It seems that some creationists -AiG, in particular -claim to accept what they call micro evolution but also deny that natural selection can add information to a genome (Link and info on how it can below)*. AiG accepts that all cats alive and extinct came from a single pair on the Ark but offer no explanation for how those species and genera could diverge without such changes to their genomes.

    Ross didn't point out where he thought the flaw in the watchmaker argument was but I think it is touched on above. Watches don't reproduce, don't collect mutations. This is why they are not a good metaphor for evolution. Except, as Ross pointed out, watches have undergone a similar form of evolution - there were watches before Harrison I famously kept time on British ships. It was a giant clock but by Harrison III, it could be carried in one's pocket. Stepwise improvements all the way.

    No one expects dogs from rocks. Evolutionists expect modern dogs from wolves, wolves from a slightly less doglike ancestor, which came from an ancestor of dogs and cats... Notice the third image at this link: (http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2015/12/dodging-darwin.html#more ) The ancestor of cat kind looks a lot like the ancestor of dogs and bears and pandas. Modern dogs don't much look like modern cats but the common ancestor of dogs -which AiG accepts - looks a lot like the ancestor of modern cats. AiG accepts that animal as well. It just apparantly imagines that evolution stops there, with all those animals more similar that different cats are to each other.


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    * Wikipedia Gene duplication
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_duplication
    "Thus, duplicate genes accumulate mutations faster than a functional single-copy gene, over generations of organisms, and it is possible for one of the two copies to develop a new and different function. Some examples of such neofunctionalization is the apparent mutation of a duplicated digestive gene in a family of ice fish into an antifreeze gene and duplication leading to a novel snake venom gene [4] and the synthesis of 1 beta-hydroxytestosterone.[5]"

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    1. Dear Surprises, thanks for your several comments on this article and several others. You asked about my view of "billions of years" and I address that in my "Age of the Earth - does it matter?" essay which you can find in the archives from August 12, 2008. If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment there.

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  3. Thank you. If it matters, I came here from Quora, where I go by my name, Brian.

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