GUTSPAR (Grand Unified Theory of Science, Philosophy And Religion)
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Grand Unified Theory of Science, Philosophy And Religion (GUTSPAR) Reconciles Theists and Non-Theists.·
Both science and theology apply the power of reasoning in seeking to enable humans to understand themselves and the universe. The former seeks to discover the fundamental nature of reality by following the scientific method; the latter seeks to gain insights into reality in harmony with perceptions shaped by interpretations of scriptures deemed holy. Some scientists and theologians have long contended there to be an intrinsic incompatibility between the fundamental natures of science and religion, each of which seeks to answer different questions-- i.e., that science seeks to learn "what, where and how," while religion seeks to learn "why." Science applies the scientific method to demand valid and reliable proof of a proposed conclusion as the requisite for its acceptance as scientific "knowledge." Most01 theologians don't contend their theological beliefs are provable by the scientific method, asserting instead theological beliefs are matters of "faith" and/or "common sense." Most02 scientists don't contend that science negates all theological beliefs but rather contend that science can't prove any theological belief.
Such differing ways of applying the power of reasoning seem unlikely to reach conclusions in common. Yet careful analysis reveals that reason-based03 application of both approaches yields virtually identical conclusions about a foundational value upon which a scientifically and theologically enlightened society could (and should) rest. Those virtually identical conclusions form the basis for a Grand Unified Theory of Science, Philosophy And Religion ("GUTSPAR").
If this is correct, why is there so much disharmony, if not outright hostility, between the two reason-based types of intellectual disciplines? A conscientious, rigorous and dispassionate effort to answer this question reveals not only why such disharmony/hostility exists but also why it ought not exist and in so doing reveals the nature of such GUTSPAR. It's a fascinating journey, which, of necessity, must commence at a fork in the road of reason appearing to lead scientific and theological travelers inexorably further apart except for those willing to continue a reason-based04 journey until their paths re-converge in GUTSPAR. Completing the journey requires patience.
Describing the path leading to the fork in the road as well as the journeys on each path warrants generalizations emanating from common knowledge and common sense without the necessity of empirical evidence. To generalize about human behavior exhibited among, and between, differing groups adhering to differing belief systems is not to stereotype all members of such groups; rather, it is to draw common-sense conclusions about such not-uncommon behavior patterns.
The first step is to accurately describe the path leading to the fork-- i.e., the current state of dissonance between science and theology ranging from tolerant disharmony to intolerant hostility:
Today, many, if not most, Christians and Jews, and at least a significant minority of Muslims, reconcile differences between scientific knowledge and their respective scriptures by eschewing literalistic scriptural interpretations not common-sensibly compatible with such knowledge. The modern iteration of this process began anew at the dawn of the Renaissance when medieval theocracy began losing the power to define the boundaries of scientific knowledge. The process came to be recognized as the enlightenment of theology by scientific inquiry. Hereafter, "Scientific/Theological Reconciliation" refers to this process by which theologians seek to common-sensibly adapt theological interpretations to knowledge revealed by science.
At the same time (today), a minority of Christians and Jews, and probably a majority of Muslims, do the reverse by either (a) rejecting scientific knowledge inconsistent with literalistic scriptural interpretations or (b) constructing unscientific interpretations of scientific knowledge in ways to make it seem compatible with, or even supportive of, literalistic scriptural interpretations. The latter approach seeks to bend scientific knowledge toward theological interpretations.05
Also at the same time many, if not most, people publicly touting themselves as "atheists" follow a third path by asserting that (1) belief in a Deity or Creator is (1-a) unscientific, (1-b) anti-scientific or (1-c) "stupid" and/or (2) that "there is no deity."06 Adherents to (1-b) and (1-c) tend to be insufferably arrogant and close-minded on the subject in a manner inconsistent with the scientific method. Adherents to (2) suffer not only from the intellectual disability of arrogance but also from an inability to grasp that their view is a form of unscientific fundamentalism that is conceptually indistinguishable from leap-of-faith religious fundamentalism described above as "(a) or "(b)," and they also consider themselves intellectually superior to anyone adhering to any set of beliefs other than (2). A more suitable description of this brand of atheism is that it is "anti-theistic" rather than merely a-theistic, with the latter meaning the state of being un-persuaded that a Deity exists but refusing to unscientifically assert that "no deity exists."
Do all "atheists" fit into one of the above categories? The answer is "NAAAAH," which means "Not All Atheists Are Asininely Hubristic." Given the connotation attached to "atheism" by the anti-theists, a more suitable description of genuinely scientific "atheism" would be "non-theism" to best describe people who say they find the argument for the existence of a deity to be unpersuasive but who also refuse to unscientifically assert that no deity exists or to mock or ridicule reason-based theology instead of merely offering reason-based criticisms. A view similar to scientific atheism is agnosticism. Many, if not most, people identifying themselves as "agnostics" profess to be "neutral" on the question of whether there is a deity. It makes sense to also classify this view as "non-theism" because -- like scientific atheism-- it does not constitute the unscientific religion of anti-theism but rather constitutes the state of remaining un-persuaded that a deity exists.
A minority of Christians have sought to "reconcile" science and religion (i) by advocating that "Creationism" be taught in science classes in public schools as an "alternative" to the theory of evolution or (ii) by advocating teaching the "Intelligent Design" theory as a scientific theory offering "scientific proof" of the existence of a "Designer." Regarding "(i)," most people (including most religious people) disagree with proposals that "Creationism" be taught in science classes, but with respect to "(ii)," there may be a significant minority, if not a majority, of religious people who would advocate the teaching of "Intelligent Design" in science classes. Many people conflate "Creationism" with "Intelligent Design." They're similar in some ways, but different in more important ways. Advocates of Creationism characterize it as an "alternative" to the theory of evolution. In contrast, the "Intelligent Design" theory isn't intrinsically incompatible with evolution.
Advocates of "Intelligent Design" commence their argument from two scientific premises generally accepted as correct (until recently): First, the "law" of entropy-- i.e., that order decays into, and cannot evolve from, chaos; Second, the theory that the laws of physics apply throughout the universe. From these theories about what scientists have long described as the "laws" of physics, advocates of the "Intelligent Design" theory contend that the virtually universal application of such "laws" of physics (including the "law" of entropy) constitutes evidence of a universal "order" and, hence, evidence of a "design" and that the existence of a "design" is proof of the existence of a "Designer." A reason that the Intelligent Design theory isn't intrinsically incompatible with evolution is that it would not be contrary to the theory to view evolution as a tool "designed" (and used) by the "Designer." However, the continual evolution of scientific theories to explain new discoveries (such as "black holes," the structure of which appear to defy what scientists have heretofore described as "laws" of physics) is rapidly eroding the foundation upon which the Intelligent Design theory rests-- i.e., that the "laws" of physics (including the "law" of entropy) are universally applicable and that the mere fact of such universal applicability is proof of a "design" and hence a "Designer."
Having generally classified the differences (and deficiencies) in various methodologies employed across the spectrum of views purporting to constitute either science or theology or both, the next step on this journey is to apply reason-based analysis faithful to the fundamental tenets of each such discipline. Experts could differ endlessly over whether "scientific" thinking or "theological" thinking occurred first, but common sense suggests they probably arose simultaneously as a result of the desire of the human mind to seek answers to questions. Most historians would agree that increases in societal confidence in revelations of scientific knowledge contrary to, or less than consistent with, theology have tended to yield decreases in societal confidence in such particular aspects of theology and, to a lesser degree, with respect to confidence in theology in general. Indeed, such trend tends to be accelerated by occasional efforts by even mainstream07 religious leaders attempting to inject theological theories of causation (i.e., "sin") into natural-disaster issues to which science knows the cause, the effect of which attempts is to further diminish respect for theological views at odds with demonstrably sound scientific knowledge.
To understand GUTSPAR, one must complete two journeys from a fork in the road of reason-- One taking the scientific path and the other taking the theological path, both of which ultimately converge at GUTSPAR. What is the nature of such fork in the road and how do people seeking to apply a reason-based form of either science or religion get there? For reasons that will be apparent hereafter, it's best to focus first on how the search for theological truth can lead to the fork and then on how the search for scientific truth likewise leads to the same fork, from which such views diverge before converging farther along the two separate paths.
Most people who embrace any particular theology began doing so as children through parental instruction. This is how it should be. Enlightened societies don't want a governmental or theocratic hierarchy performing this function over objections of parents-- otherwise, such hierarchy would supplant the family as the basic unit of human society responsible for rearing succeeding generations in conformity with socially and morally acceptable norms. (An enlightened society does not seek-- and indeed opposes-- monolithic thought.) Thus, it's a matter of common knowledge and common sense that most people don't acquire their adulthood theological views from a "blank slate"08 but instead begin with fundamental assumptions embedded in parental instruction they received on the subject. This doesn't mean that after attaining adulthood only a few adopt theological views that differ (marginally if not significantly) from those of their parents-- indeed, it's far more likely that few people maintain theological views identical to their parents' after attaining adulthood, and there's no doubt that some become "non-believers."
Differences between parentally-taught theological beliefs and those developed in adulthood commonly arise by one of two methods (or a combination thereof): One is a comparative method -- i.e., adults synthesizing beliefs taught by their parents with beliefs espoused by other denominations or religions, which method also may involve comparison of historical aspects of the derivations of various theologies. Another is the "blank slate" method. What is the "blank slate" method? I paraphrase a well-known pundit's (who also seems to be sincerely religious) paraphrasing of a Founding Father: "Question with boldness the very existence of God so that the foundation of your beliefs will be sound." Such blank-slate method constitutes the "fork in the road" at which reason-based analysis leads some onto the theistic path and others onto the non-theistic path. How so?
The "blank slate" method begins on the basis of what has long been commonly perceived as a scientific principle similar to what most people intuitively derive from common sense: that for every condition (i.e., "effect") there is a condition-precedent (i.e. "cause"). At this point, virtually every observer views the mind-boggling complexity and apparent order of our universe as a "condition" (i.e., "effect") and applies the cause-and-effect analysis by asking what caused such mind-bogglingly complex and orderly "effect."
Some conclude that only something vastly more complex and orderly could have done so, which leads them to the conclusion that only a vastly more complex and orderly power could have done so. Further inferring that such vastly more complex and orderly power would, of necessity, also possess a commensurately vast intelligence, they perceive such power/intelligence as the "Creator" of the universe (i.e., the un-caused causer, or the ultimate cause, of the "effect" we perceive as the universe.)
Others recognize that the premise for such conclusion (i.e., a vastly more complex and orderly power) negates it being accepted as the "answer" because, according to the premise, the existence of any condition (i.e., a "vastly more complex and orderly power") is an "effect" for which there must be a "cause." Concluding that the premise applies to any and every conclusion from it, such others recognize that the positing of every conclusion as a "cause" of an observed (or theorized) condition (i.e., "effect") requires the next step of viewing such "cause" as an "effect" and then seeking to identify its "cause," which process continues endlessly (i.e., infinitely).
Some who recognize the infinite nature of this premise view the ultimate answer to be unknowable or undiscoverable by the finite mind choose to view the ultimate "cause" as being an "infinite" power, which they define as a Creator. Some in this category simply accept such conclusion. Others view it as imposing an obligation on the finite human mind to seek to understand the infinite mind of such Creator. This leads to a variety of theological views about the mind and will of such Creator and how humans should go about seeking to comprehend them.
Others who recognize such infinite nature of the premise simply view the ultimate answer to be unknowable or undiscoverable by the finite mind while nevertheless recognizing the value of continually applying the premise (i.e., continually asking the questions posed by it) as a scientifically sensible way of learning new answers waiting to be found in the inexorably unending quest to find an ultimate answer to questions posed by the premise. Those with this view find it more reasonable to accept the existence of our universe as an un-caused condition than to posit the existence of an un-caused Creator as the "cause" of the universe.
Still others view the ultimately unanswerable nature of the unending series of questions required by the premise as invalidating (or at least casting doubts upon the validity of) the premise itself, which view leaves them un-persuaded that a Creator exists. Some who view such premise as thus being invalidated (at least with respect to the entirety of the universe being viewed as an "effect") unscientifically09 contend that such invalidation necessarily invalidates or "negates" theists' assertion of the existence of a Creator as the "conclusion" from (or answer to the question posed by) such premise.
Thus, the "blank-slate" fork in the road leads some onto the non-theistic, scientific path and others onto the theistic path. To understand how both paths re-converge at a point described above as "GUTSPAR," it's necessary to open-mindedly apply reason in following both the theistic and non-theistic paths. For reasons that will become apparent, it's more suitable to first travel the theistic path.
The theistic path has many branches, but many (if not most) converge in a common branch including a number of foundational beliefs held in common. Abstractly stated (in bullet-points format), such foundational beliefs are:
Despite the soundness of such theological reasoning, some theologies and/or some secular ideologies assert other values inconsistent with, contrary to, or violative of, Moral Self-Determination and in doing so seek or assert authority to deceptively, coercively or forcibly limit, deter, control, prohibit, proscribe, punish or terminate Moral Self-Determination. Any such theology/ideology is, by definition, Immoral Theology/Ideology because it employs Immoral Self-Determination to violate, and pose a threat to, the fundamental moral goal established by the Supreme Being: Moral Self-Determination. Moral Theology soundly founded on such moral standard recognizes that even though "might doesn't make right," wrong wielding might can extinguish might-less right, and therefore for right to flourish rather than being extinguished, right must wield might against wrong. Stated differently, just as the foundational premise for the Golden Rule permits forcible self-defense to overcome aggression, Moral Theology permits action to deceptively, coercively or forcibly limit, deter, control, prohibit, proscribe, punish or terminate aggression against Moral Self-Determination by Immoral Theology/Ideology wielding Immoral Self-Determination
Thus, as long as Free Will exists among humans, conflict will exist. Moral Theology recognizes that this does not mean that the Supreme Being desires for such conflict to exist but rather that it's the Supreme Being's Will to permit Finite Free Will, which by its very nature makes the inevitability of such conflicts an unavoidable effect of permitting Finite Free Will.
Having arrived at this destination recognizing the ultimate value of Moral Free Will (Moral Self-Determination) by following the theological path from the fork in the road, it's appropriate to ignore what appears to be another path leading to this destination and return to the fork and explore the scientific path. So let's return to the "blank-slate" fork in the road.
Virtually all whom the "blank-slate" analysis leads onto the scientific, non-theistic path (and even including those who fall into the unscientific ditch of anti-theism beside such path) accept "evolution" as a scientific fact in general and as the process by which human self-aware consciousness, intellect and free will evolved. Although those traveling in the anti-theist ditch unscientifically assert scientific proof of evolution as a negation of any theistic assertion of the existence10 of a creator, those traveling on the scientifically non-theistic path do not make such unscientific assertion. Instead, they recognize (as do many theists) that such differing conclusions are not inherently or intrinsically incompatible.
Applying scientific reasoning to scientific knowledge that evolution is the process by which human self-aware consciousness, intellect and free will arose leads inexorably to the conclusion that such process lasted less than four billion years in a universe believed to be at least fifteen billion years old. Scientists readily admit that what science currently perceives to be the "laws" of physics not only cannot yet explain what "existed" (if anything) "before" the existence of our perceived universe began and, indeed, cannot yet say whether any such "before" existed. Scientists also readily admit that recent evidence (such as evidence of the existence of "black holes") strongly indicates that the "laws" of physics as currently understood by science are not applicable throughout our universe because such laws appear not to apply inside "black holes" that are "within" our universe (or that may be "outside" our universe while nevertheless being detectable from their effects they may cause inside our universe).
Scientists also readily admit that "infinity" is a concept beyond the known laws of physics even though such laws necessarily include a recognition of, and applicability of, the concept of infinity in the course of scientific efforts to discover such "laws," to formulate theories that correctly describe them, and to test such theories by the scientific method. Recently emerging scientific theories seeking to achieve the goal that eluded Einstein -- i.e., to discover a Grant Unified Theory capable of explaining the nature of our universe both at its sub-atomic level (quantum physics) and at its "macro" level (the entirety of the universe above such sub-atomic level) -- are postulating that rather than our universe being "the" universe, it may be merely one among infinite universes comprising an infinite "Multiverse."11
According such emerging "Multiverse" theories an unknowable "number"12 of such "universes" may/may-not interact within (or even "outside of") such Multiverse; an unknowable number of such interactions may/may not affect interacting universes in significant ways; an unknowable number of universes may be virtually identical or differ in only in an almost infinitely small way; an unknowable number of universes may have laws of physics identical to, or similar to, the laws of physics predominating in our universe; an unknowable number of universes may be partially or wholly chaotic; with respect to (or within) an unknowable number of universes, "time" may exist infinitely or only finitely, and there are unknowable numbers of other characteristics or conditions pertaining to universes within such Multiverse beyond the scope of this essay as well as beyond the scope of current scientific knowledge.
Given such scientific postulations of theories necessarily including (by being unable to exclude) the possibility of infinite existence of what we recognize as "time" and given accepted scientific knowledge that human self-aware intelligence and free will (i.e., Finite Sentient Beings with Finite Free Will) evolved within a mere four billion years and that such time-span compared to an infinite time-span would constitute infinitely less than the blink of an eye, it would be the height of unscientific folly to contend that the scientific method could negate a theory that such Multiverse is an "un-caused" condition or that a "pre-existing" infinite power "caused" or "created" it or that "during the course of" infinity, an Infinite Power with Infinite Free Will evolved. Thus, a person adhering to the scientific method would necessarily concede that science and theism are not intrinsically incompatible.
So, where does the scientific path lead Finite Sentient Beings with Finite Free Will? Scientific inquiry is the fundamentally essential tool of science for which intelligent Free Will is indispensable. Thus, recognition of science as the search for knowledge necessarily requires recognition of maximization of Free Will (Self-Determination) as the highest value (i.e., "best"). Therefore, science deems human conduct comporting with such highest value (i.e., conduct respecting, rather than undermining, Self-Determination) to be "good" (i.e., Moral Self-Determination) and deems human conduct undermining such highest value to be "bad" (i.e., Immoral Self-Determination). Stated differently, science deems human conduct seeking to deceptively, coercively or forcibly limit, deter, control, prohibit, proscribe, punish or terminate Moral Self-Determination to be Immoral Self-Determination. Eureka! Fundamental principles of science, like fundamental principles of theology, place the highest value on (and recognize as "good") Free Will (Self-Determination) exercised in a manner consistent with the Golden Rule-- i.e., Moral Self-Determination. Furthermore, as is the case with principles of theology, principles of science necessarily require recognizing as "bad" (or "immoral") any person's (or group's) exercise of Free Will in a manner seeking to coercively or forcibly infringe upon the "good" exercise of Free Will by any other person. Double Eureka! But it doesn't stop there. As do principles of theology, principles of science warrant recognizing as "good" the coercive or forcible exercise of Free Will to deter, prevent, terminate or overcome the exercise of "bad" Free Will. Triple Eureka!
What is the true nature of the exercise of Free Will in a manner recognized as "good" according to principles of both science and theology-- i.e., what is the true nature of Moral Self-Determination? Liberty. Quadruple Eureka! What is the true nature of the exercise of Fee will in a manner recognized as "bad" or "immoral" according to both sets of principles? Tyranny. Quintuple Eureka! What is the proper way to describe these virtually identical, objective standards for "good" and "bad" (i.e., "moral" and "immoral" or "good" and "evil")? Grant Unified Theory of Science, Philosophy And Religion (GUTSPAR). Infinite Urekas!
Recognition of these principles by non-theists and theists alike ought to engender mutual respect between both disciplines. Both sets of principles identify objective, "absolute" standards distinguishing between "good" and "bad" (or "moral" and "immoral" or "good" and "evil"). Recognition of such principles preclude what theists have viewed as a flaw in secular thought: moral relativism-- both sets of principles correctly identify Liberty as good and Tyranny as evil. There is no basis for characterizing any variation of "Tyranny" as "good." The demonstrable validity of the standards defined as "good" and "bad" under both sets of principles transcends culture. Recognition of such standards constitutes enlightenment; denial of them constitutes intellectual and moral backwardness.
Is there a document that best exemplifies recognition of such principles? The United States Constitution founded on principles declared in the Declaration of Independence on which theists and non-theists alike agree: "We hold these Truths to be Self-Evident: That all men are created Equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Enlightened non-theists need not object to references to a Creator because viewing human Free Will (Liberty) as a product of evolution necessarily views it as an inherent element of human nature rather than as a "gift" from "government" in the same manner as the reference to a "Creator" identifies it in the same way (as an inherently endowed aspect of human nature). Both views objectively negate theories of cultural relativism speciously asserting the absence of "objective" bases for morally distinguishing between theocratic (or secular) ideologies suppressing liberty and limited-government principles guaranteeing liberty.
--Jim Wrenn, Editor, WrennCom.Com; Editor, PoliSat.Com.
01. However, some religious believers assert that science does "prove" their theology. Examples: Advocates of "Intelligent Design" contend a "law" of physics (entropy) proves that observable orderliness of how things "work" in our universe is evidence of a "design" that could not occur spontaneously due to the "law" of entropy and that, therefore, the existence of such "design" is proof of a "Designer," which they view as the equivalent of a Creator. (An internet search for an authoritative description of "Intelligent Design" yields tens of thousands of links, most of which appear to conflate "Intelligent Design" with other arguments for "Creationism," and I have been unable to find any single, authoritative description, advocacy or criticism of "Intelligent Design" not including such conflation; nevertheless, sensible logic permits de-conflating the two views in order to focus objectively on aspects of "Intelligent Design" objectively distinguishable from what is commonly understood by the term "Creationism," because, contrary to assertions by its critics, it's logic is patently distinguishable from the "anti-evolution" assertions by "Creationists.") Similarly, an Islamic physicist has contended that application of modern science to assertions attributed to Mohammed prove that Allah revealed to Mohammed the ratio (formula) for deriving the speed of light from the "distance" traveled by the Moon in 12,000 orbits of the Earth as the equivalent of a "day" for Allah. Just one of the obvious flaws in such pseudo-scientific claim that such passages "prove" Mohammed received divine insights is that modern science (but apparently not this Islamic physicist) knows that the distance between the Moon and Earth has been steadily increasing for nearly three billion years since the formation of the Moon approximately a billion years after the original formation of the Earth when a proto-planet collided with Earth in an off-center collision, after which such colossal collision ejected matter aggregating into the Moon orbiting Earth at a distance vastly closer to Earth than now. (Back to text citing this Footnote 01.)
02. However, some scientists contend not only that science doesn't "prove" the existence of a Creator but that it also "disproves" it. That such assertion is a manifestation of a belief founded on faith rather than science is self-evident to virtually anyone not too blinded by such anti-theist faith to perceive how such assertion violates, rather than comports with, the scientific method. (Back to text citing this Footnote 02.)
03. Use of the phrase "reason-based" to describe application of both disciplines-- theology as well as science-- serves to distinguish rational theological beliefs from those founded on blind faith in virtual defiance of reason as well as to distinguish scientific assertions of knowledge derived from application of the scientific method from assertions of conclusions founded on ideological anti-thesim without proper application of the scientific method, the latter of which are conceptually indistinguishable from blind-faith theological beliefs. An example of a theological blind-faith belief would be if Catholic theologians were to still contend that the Earth is the center of the universe despite scientific evidence to the contrary. An example of an ideological blind-faith assertion invalidly purporting to constitute an assertion of scientific "knowledge" would be an assertion that science "proves" that "there is no God." (Back to text citing this Footnote 03.)
04. However, secular fanatics and religious fanatics lack the intellectual discipline to complete their respective journeys without taking branches onto ever-diverging paths of ideological blind faith or theological blind faith. (Back to text citing this Footnote 04.)
05. Examples: (A) An Islamic physicist (see also Footnote 01) has contended that passages in the Quran attributed to Mohammed describing aspects of the phases of the Moon in relation to religiously significant events or phenomena reveal ratios which, when analyzed in light of the "known" distance between the Moon and Earth, demonstrate that Mohammed "knew" the precise speed of light. The obvious flaw in this analysis is that the Islamic physicist is apparently ignorant of modern scientific knowledge that the distance between the Earth and the Moon has been steadily increasing since the creation of the Moon as the result of a collision between the Earth in its original form and another proto-planet a billion or so years after the original formation of the Earth. (B) Some fundamentalist Christians who interpret everything in the Bible literally believe dinosaurs (as well as other life-forms that became extinct many millions of years before dinosaurs roamed the Earth) existed within the time a mere few thousand years ago described in the Old Testament as being shortly after "Creation" and that scientific methods for "dating" fossils and rocks as being millions or even billions of years old are simply totally unreliable and inaccurate. (Back to text citing this Footnote 05.)
06. See Richard Dawkins. It seems that many atheists prefer the ego-satisfaction of mocking and alienating people they should want to seek to persuade rather than to insult by arguing that those who believe the universe as we know it to have been caused by an uncaused effect (i.e., a conscious, self-aware infinite power) are, in effect, irrational people. This attitude is tantamount to, if not literally, anti-theism, which is unscientific for reasons explained as the "blank-slate" analysis-- See footnote 08. (Back to text citing this Footnote 06.)
07. Example: In the immediate wake of the 2004 tsunami affecting Indonesia, Thailand, etc., and killing more than 300,000 people, the daughter of a prominent Christian evangelist appearing as a guest on a news/commentary program about the disaster alluded to Old Testament passages on the "wrath of God" in suggesting that God had caused the tsunami as a form of judgment against what she said God deemed widespread "sin" in that region-- go here for more detailed information. (Back to text citing this Footnote 07.)
08. Most parents don't teach their theological views to their children by begging with a "blank slate"; rather, they begin by teaching their own theological conclusions and moral lessons to their children. This is not "wrong"-- it's normal. Parents should teach what they sincerely believe. Of course, as children mature, wise parents may choose to also expose them to other beliefs and/or introduce them to the "blank-slate" starting point to enable them to acquire solid, rational bases for whatever beliefs they may ultimately embrace as adults. What is the "blank slate" method? I paraphrase a well-known pundit's (who also seems to be sincerely religious) paraphrasing of a Founding Father*: "Question with boldness the very existence of God so that the foundation of your beliefs will be sound." (*See paragraph 4 in Jefferson's Letter to Peter Carr.) (Note: The Wiki commentator criticizing Beck's "quotation" of Jefferson apparently labors under the misconception that there is a meaningful distinction between "honest questions" and "homage of reason." Few people I know view Wiki as "authoritative" on anything other than the opinions of contributors to it; instead, most sensible people view it as a place where people quite often, if not usually, post opinions purporting to be facts but occasionally provide links to independent, authoritative sources.) (Back to text citing this Footnote 08.)
09. Although it's scientifically correct to say that science can't "prove" the existence of a Creator (or Designer), it's patently unscientific to contend that science proves the non-existence of a creator. Proving an assertion that any particular thing or condition does not exist under any possible circumstance requires (a) proof identifying all possible conditions, signs, characteristics or effects that would be observable (as evidence) if such thing/condition were to exist, (b) proof completely identifying all possible circumstances in which evidence of such existence would be observable if such thing/condition were to exist, (c) proof of the entirety of every possible state or condition of every relevant aspect of every such possible circumstance at all relevant times, and (d) proof that no evidence of the existence of such condition is found in any aspect of any such possible circumstance at any relevant time. Since the "number"* of possible evidentiary signs of the existence of a Creator/Designer would be infinite as would be the "number" of possible circumstances in which such evidence would be apparent as would be the evidentiary elements necessary to prove all possible aspects of all such circumstances possibly relevant to whether any sign of a Creator/Designer would necessarily be manifest if such Creator/Designer were to exist, it's obvious that it would be infinitely impossible to satisfy such burden of proof. [*Use of the word "number" to modify "infinity" is symbolic rather than real because the concept of a "number" is finite and thus the concept of an "infinite number" is oxymoronic, but symbolic use of "number" modified by "infinite" helps convey the concept of the absence of any numerical limit whatsoever.] (See also Footnote 11.) (Back to text citing this Footnote 09.)
10. The anti-theist assertion that "there is no Creator/Designer" is an unscientific-- indeed anti-scientific-- assertion manifesting blind ideology that is virtually indistinguishable from religious blind faith they so disdain. Furthermore, beliefs in a Creator/Designer and in evolution are not incompatible since a Creator's/Designer's "handiwork" could have included evolution as an element of Creation/Design to serve as a tool or mechanism for creation of life in all its forms including humans. However, the assertion that the vast amount of scientific knowledge establishing the fact of evolution and reasonably reliable approximations of its various paths, duration, operation and functionality over billions of years does scientifically "negate" literalistic theological interpretations of ancient scriptures to assert that Earth (and our universe) are only a few thousand years old. Just as the anti-theists make themselves look foolish and ignorant by claiming science proves "there is no God," the literalistic theologians make themselves look foolish and ignorant by claiming the Earth is only a few thousand years old. (Back to text citing this Footnote 10.)
11. Such theories describe a "Multiverse" comprised of fundamental forces within eleven dimensions-- five of which are currently detectable within our universe (i.e., three spacial dimensions, plus gravity and time) and six of which are not detectable by our current state of scientific knowledge. Other terminology describing these theories includes: "super-string/super-gravity" theory (with the word "string" representing "vibrations" of quantum-forces comprising the sub-atomic level of "matter" and "energy" in our universe) and "Membrane" (or Brane) theory describing each "universe" within the "Multiverse" as a continually undulating "membrane" among an infinite number of other undulating "membranes" generating an infinite "number"* of universes. [*Use of the word "number" to modify "infinity" is symbolic rather than real because the concept of a "number" is finite and thus the concept of an "infinite number" is oxymoronic, but symbolic use of "number" modified by "infinite" is useful to convey the concept of the absence of any numerical limit whatsoever.] (Back to text citing this Footnote 11.)
12. For purposes of this essay, the terminology "unknowable number" represents any quantity from zero to infinity. (Back to text citing this Footnote 12.)
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