Wednesday, 18 June 2014

From Science to Jesus - Part I: Science and the Supernatural

(Last edited on March 22, 2017)

I often make the claim that Jesus is the best choice not just on a religious level, but on a scientific one as well.  Jesus says that he is the "truth," so following him must also be consistent with other things we have accepted as the truth, otherwise the law of noncontradiction will say that one or the other must be wrong.

I am currently working through a book called "Miracles" by C.S. Lewis, in which he explains in many wordy chapters an answer of sorts to this question.  So I hope you'll forgive me if my own response isn't as short as you would like it.  I'm not nearly as educated as C.S. Lewis was, and as a result I'm hoping this article will be easy for you to follow along.

First off, I would like us to discuss what it means to have a "scientific point of view."  Quite often the mindset is that "scientific" is synonymous with "naturalistic" or "secular" when it isn't.
Science is the systematic gathering of information or knowledge based on observations and experimentation.

It is true that things supernatural in nature are harder to see and test, just as a hypothetical two dimensional circle would have a hard time doing tests on a sphere.  A sphere interacting with the circle's environment, like, say, a paper, will have effects on the paper unlike any effect a two dimensional object can have.  These effects can still be seen and observed by the hypothetical sentient circle, and therefore knowledge regarding the existence of the sphere can be gathered. 

Whenever I run into people questioning the legitimacy of the supernatural and miracles, I always try to start by showing the obvious - that God exists.  Once it is understood that an entity such as God exists, it is not so hard to believe that this entity could interact with the natural world and cause miracles.

The simplest way I have to prove the existence of God is by asking the listener "where do you think you came from?"

The prevalent theory in a secular world view is that we evolved.  In the past I have tried to "prove" the existence of God by debunking the theory of evolution.  An example of how I did that is by pointing out specific complex biological systems that could not have evolved.  I have since seen counter-arguments that I did not have the education to refute.  It may have been a faulty way of proving God to begin with, because even there may be seemingly unexplainable processes right now, it doesn't mean that evolution will never be able to explain it in the future.

Science is always growing, and so it's not up to the scientist to indefinitely prove one way or another, but to come to the most logical conclusion given the evidence.
Some people will say that evolution is the most logical explanation for our origins given the evidence, so let's at least for now assume that evolution happened.

We are still left with the big question:  where did the matter that we used to evolve come from?  There are two common responses that the secularist will use:  the Big Bang and the Infinite Universe.

The Big Bang

This is the most common viewpoint.  It is the one where all matter exploded out of a point, and thus began time-space.  It would be pointless to ask me what this "point" was made up of.  Everything?  Nothing?

Regardless, there are two questions that arise in my mind that the Big Bang fails to answer: 

1.  Where did this "point" come from?  Agreed, we can apply this question to God as well.  Where did God come from?  However, God does not have to follow the rules of the physical world.  It is physically impossible for something to come from nothing, but God isn't physical, and who are we as physical beings to say that it's "supernaturally impossible" for God to always have existed?

2.  What "caused" this point to explode?

I once heard an talk explaining that the formation of the universe is related to the intense nature of black holes.  There is a gravity so high in black holes that it sucks in light.  The laws of physics are different in this state of super-gravity.  But the educated man giving the talk went a direction that I couldn't follow him down.

If the laws of physics were completely different inside of a black hole, one black hole instance may produce a set of physics completely different than another black hole.  In fact, our universe could very well be a one of many universes with one of many sets of laws of physics created by a super-black hole.

Here's what I'm getting from this:  we are allowing a "physical" phenomenon to break the very laws of physics that we follow and evaluate physical objects by, but we won't allow that there is a "supernatural" being breaking the laws of physics of our physical world.

If you're lost here, don't worry, I am too, kind of.  To me, however, it boils down to one question:  which is the most logical conclusion a scientific mind can come to:  a physical entity bound by the laws of physics breaking the very laws that it is bound by, or a supernatural entity breaking the laws of physics that it isn't bound by?

The Infinite Universe

An infinite universe is one that has no beginning or end.  This model of the universe is gaining in popularity from what I can see.

One problem I see with the infinite universe involves something called "entropy."  Basically it means that there is energy in a system usable to do work, and this value is declining.  The more efficient the system, the less entropy it has - the more it is able to retain usable energy.  For instance, when you light a wooden match, the wood is usable energy in the form of a solid that can be used for fuel for the flame.  Once the wood is burned, however, the heat is forever lost, never to fully go back and re-form the piece of wood.

In my limited post secondary education, I learned how there are processes in a refinery take the heat inside something (such as steam), and after it has done its primary duty, re-use that heat for an additional purposes down the road.  However, it's impossible to get an 100% efficient system.  Perhaps the day may come that humans learn of a way to develop one (which I doubt), but at least in the vast scope of nature, the amount of usable matter is decreasing.  I have heard (you can go ahead at any point in this article and research the things I say if you think I'm either lying or using faulty information) that there is a number on how long it will take for all "usable" matter to disappear from the universe - essentially, there will be an "end" to the universe as we know it.

This might take some mental gymnastics to understand, but if the universe has an end, it would have already ended in the case of an infinite universe, for there would be infinite time for it to run its course before now.  Does it make sense that a universe with an end must have a beginning?

The "Circumstantial" Evidence

 The evidence that the atheist denies is the supernatural experiences of people.  However, there are enough of these observations of supernatural involvement here on Earth that it requires explanation.  For instance, if one sleepless scientist reports a lab rat levitating, his report can justifiably be dismissed when no further reports are given, as science requires multiple similar results for verification.  Who knows, the rat might have levitated, but as far as the general populace is concerned it isn't wise to believe that it did.

Now I fully understand that certain states of mind can convince someone is seeing something when they really aren't.  However, the pre-cursor to these events usually involve some mind-altered state such as ones induced by drugs, disease, or stress.  Yet many healthy people have reported seeing evidence of the supernatural, such as:
- healings after prayer
- ghosts/poltergeists
- unexplained deliverance from death or injury
- feeling the presence of loved one's after they have died, and other near death experiences (take a look at my previous article, Our Spirits After Death)
- levitation
- demonic possessions
- psychics, spiritists, mediums, etc.

Atheists will explain away every single one of these proofs for the supernatural as a hoax, lie, a result of a compromised mental state, or something that can already be scientifically explained (and if you're an atheist, there's a good chance I won't be able to convince you otherwise.  Yet there are many readers who know that they're not lying, and their mental state was not compromised when they experienced the supernatural).  A significant number of times, the skeptic is correct.  Fake psychics do exist.  But when all of the data and reports of the supernatural are gathered and analyzed there is too much evidence supporting the supernatural that can not be explained any other way.

The truly scientific mind is void of biases.  This means that they are open to the "God" explanation if it is the best explanation for the supernatural and the origin of the universe.  What a scientist doesn't do is throw away a valid explanation that fits the evidence and call something "unknown."

There's a phenomenon that involves twins being able to sense what the other person is thinking and even when something happens to their twin at a distant location.  To me, the explanation for this is "unknown."  It is "unknown" if there is intelligent life somewhere else in the universe (at least from the majority of scientists' point of view).

It makes very little sense to admit to not knowing something when there is a valid explanation for things sitting right in front of us.

I agree, we cannot look at every mystery of the world and say "it's only like that because God made it that way" (it is my personal belief that God provides the "why" things happen, and science proves "how" they do).  It is true that the magic of yesterday is the science today.  However, even if an absolute truth exists, what is truth to us other than our best guess at it?  Were the ancients doing something so unlike the scientists of today by calling thunder "the wrath of the gods?"  They did not have the scientific method we have today, but they still were still giving their best guess about a phenomenon given the evidence.  That's what we must do as well.  

It does us very little good believing that we cannot gain evidence and knowledge given what we can now observe because we are primitive.  Perhaps we will find that we are all a high-tech simulation being run by a super-sophisticated group of advanced alien life-forms.  But for now that is not the best explanation for what we now see.  We must assume what we believe today is closer to the truth than what we knew yesterday, and so since it's the closest to the truth that we have we may as well believe it to be true until proven otherwise.

Right now I see evidence of the supernatural, and I will fit my theory to the evidence, not the evidence to my theory.

Please continue through the next two parts for the rest of my scientific explanation of Jesus.

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