The New Atheists are, in many ways, the intellectual children of Bertrand Russell. Out of respect for Russell, I hasten to add that theirs is a much more superficial position than his. Still, his speech "Why I'm not a Christian" is an almost perfect distillation of the New Atheist project. As such, I'd like to take a few posts to respond to it.
Pity the poor atheist who depends on science to justify his disbelief. It must seem like a faithless spouse who steals away to spend time with a former lover. Although science has declared its marriage to atheism (or agnosticism, if you prefer), at every turn it harkens back to Genesis 1.
Surely at the beginning of the last century the romance was still fresh and exciting. Darwinism was winning over even the theologians. Astronomy was looking deep into the night sky. Geology was speaking of millions of years rather than thousands. The universe was eternal and unchanging, and fewer and fewer people paid attention to the creation myth.
The other day, I watched Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World for perhaps the fifth time. The movie is very intriguing for a history buff like me because of its semi-realistic portrayal (it is, after all, still Hollywood) of life aboard these ancient warships. What audacity those early explorers had to sail their ships over the horizon into the unknown. Continue reading
You wouldn’t think two topics could have less in common than quantum mechanics and the inspiration of scripture, but I suspect they are intimately connected. As I’ve said before, all it takes for God to be God is for him to have retained control over his creation at the quantum level of our reality. Our physical universe is constructed in such a way as to make that quite plausible. Everything that is begins at the tiniest scale, an arena of seemingly chaotic, random events that somehow cohere into the world we experience. Even we imagine that one day humans will learn to build from the quantum level in a small way. Every trekkie knows that each time Captain Picard orders “tea, Earl Grey, hot”, his replicator is doing just that. So why shouldn’t the God who created us have that same ability, albeit on a grander scale?
Ex nihilo nihil fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. One of the great questions of our existence is why there is something rather than nothing. Why does anything exist? As this Latin phrase suggests, if ever there was a point where absolutely nothing existed, then that state of nothingness would still be the case. Therefore, something must be eternally self-existent. That is the logical quandary we find ourselves in.
“Look, there are 1080 elementary particles in the universe. Do you realize how big God would have to be to keep track of every one of them?” I heard that question long ago from someone of significance (Carl Sagan, perhaps?) before I started keeping track of such things. Who asked it isn’t important because the question itself reflects a common feeling that an omniscient God would have to be impossibly large in order to keep track of the entire universe. Now for a Christian that has never been a problem. We are used to thinking in terms of a God who is infinite. While we marvel at the size of the universe like anyone else, we know the Creator must be larger than his creation. However large the universe is, it is finite. Our minds are accustomed to the infinite.
There is both a natural world and a supernatural world. Is that a religious statement? Yes, but it has now become a scientific statement as well. Thanks to string theory, we now have a working definition of what the descriptive word supernatural may mean.