“For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of his reason, the story ends like a bad dream” —Robert Jastrow, American NASA astronomer, physicist and cosmologist.
“Around every circle another circle can be drawn, under every deep another deep opens” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.“— 2 Tim. 3:7
The immensity of the universe dwarfs the minds and endless conflicting theories constructed by our scientists. Yet these same scientists hold a secret that few fully realize: viz., The more they see and ‘know,’ the less they know… in the face of immensity.
If we cannot “explain” or fully understand the astonishing mystery contained in a single living cell, how much less can we understand the Mystery that dwarfs us?
Absent theism, revelation and epistemological honesty, every question leads only to more questions, as does every theory. And every theory breaks down into sub-theories, all of which spawn various—nay, endless—- schools of thought, each one partisan to a particular “way of seeing” things.
And, of course, all genuine knowledge hangs on the “ifs”; and these “ifs”— these contingencies— which might go this way or that, break down into even more “ifs” at every critical juncture endlessly, spawning more and more schools of thought and ways of seeing things, ad infinitum.
It is a serious problem and has led many to a postmodern despair, a fear which gnaws at the honest scientists, that anything can be truly “known” in any final sense about the origins and telos-goal of the universe. We are tinier in relation to the whole than the proverbial flea on the back of a bear.
In fact that analogy does not begin to tell it.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made… and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth“ (Jn 1:1,14)
Unless God, the Creator of all contingent being, reveals Himself, man can climb no higher than the educated guess, with or without measurements. All claims to understanding, or even approximating the Whole would be folly.
But Jesus Christ left an empty tomb.
“Without this Word…”
Thomas a’ Kempis, 500+ years ago, wrote:
“What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom the Eternal Word has spoken is set free from a multitude of opinions. For from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak — the Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright.
He to whom all things are one, who draws all things to one and who sees all things in one, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God.”—The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis, Bk 1, ch.3
The real Matrix of error exists outside this Word. Yet as immense as the universe is, it is not as immense as one ‘tiny’ Eucharist which is the Gift after the Incarnation itself, the real Presence of the Word made flesh for the salvation of man (Jn 1:1).
Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow:
“For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of his reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a small band of theologians, who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Genuine scientists are involved in practical affairs, like engineering, medicine; hard, measurable science. They don’t pretend to know what happened supposedly “billions of years ago” and do not even try to answer the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of being, which exceeds by far their competence.
Other Dimensions: “The limitations of the human brain mean we may never understand the secrets of universe, says Britain’s top scientist, President of the Royal Society Lord Rees”.
“In theory, there could be another entire universe less than a millimetre away from us, but we are oblivious to it because that millimetre is measured in a fourth spatial dimension and we are imprisoned in just three,’ he said.”(1)
Yes, like Heaven, angels good and bad…
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”—Hamlet, Act 1. Scene V
Before we can debate the nitty-gritty of paleontology or cosmology with an evolutionist who employs his theory as the all-embracing interpretive lens and filter for all cosmic and human (even sociological!) data, one must spend long periods of time, even years if need be, discussing what constitutes a true fact; not what is a possibility or even what constitutes a probability, but what constitutes a true brute fact before ever proceeding to final conclusions where “facts” must configure perfectly with all other “facts,” if they can be established as such, towards conclusions. We must know what one’s epistemological presuppositions are.
Most “scientists” (and certainly academics at all levels) simply look for a dominant fashionable theory (a direction) and follow it in an impressive example of group-think, discarding all data which may contradict the dominant metatheory.
This is where I find most evolutionary theory dies the first death, since it is here where the model’s proponents must confess, upon epistemological analysis, that they are justified by faith. There are subsequent ‘deaths’ in discussions(2) but after the first they are superfluous.
“The universe is not the result of chance, as some would like to make us believe. In contemplating it, we are asked to interpret in it something profound; the wisdom of the Creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God, his infinite love for us.
“We must not let our minds be limited by theories that always go only so far and that — at a close look — are far from competing with faith but do not succeed in explaining the ultimate meaning of reality. We cannot but perceive in the beauty of the world, its mystery, its greatness and its rationality, the eternal rationality; nor can we dispense with its guidance to the one God, Creator of Heaven and of earth.”—Benedict XVI, Jan 7, 2011
Karl Popper: “For us therefore, science has nothing to do with the quest for certainty or probability or reliability. We are not interested in establishing scientific theories as secure or certain, or probable…. It can even be shown that all theories, including the best, have the same probability, namely zero…the realization that our attempts to see and to find the truth are not final, but open to improvement, that our knowledge, our doctrine, is conjectural; that it consists of guesses, of hypotheses rather than of final and certain truths…The title of this lecture is likely, I fear, to offend some critical ears. For although ‘Sources of Knowledge’ is in order, ‘Sources of Error’ would have been in order too…”
—Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1963, 1965, pp. 3, 229, 192, 151 — SH
(1) Cf. Daily Mail 08:49 EST 13 Jun 2010, Limitations of human brain mean we may never understand the secrets of universe, says Britain’s top scientist.
(2) All who look “up” [i.e., beyond the universe] for answers…whether in India or Iran or anywhere show that they intuit Logos (Jn.1:1-14), and that the meaning of the universe cannot be found in mere matter (Rom.1: 20).
At the Dawn of Humanity: The First Humans
By Gerard M. Verschuuren
Publisher: Angelico Press
Review Author: Anne Barbeau Gardiner
New Oxford Review
In At the Dawn of Humanity, Gerard Verschuuren, a geneticist and philosopher of science, takes up the challenge of the neo-Darwinists who have made a “doctrine” of gradualism, Charles Darwin’s belief that between animals and humans there is only a difference “of degree and not of kind.” They see animals as humans-in- the-making and claim there can be no “evolutionary leaps” in the development of man.
Neo-Darwinists believe language evolved from animal communication, and so they search desperately for animals that can learn to speak. Yet language is unique to humans. Even though animals can be trained to string sounds together, they can’t grasp grammatical structure, which human children at the age of three can do. That is because language is “primarily an instrument of rationality,” which we use for conceptual understanding and reasoning. We use it only secondarily for communication. It is how we transform the particular things we perceive into universals, such as seeing a circular object and abstracting from it the concept of circularity. Gradualists try in vain to find concept-like elements in the animal world, but animals use sounds only as signals, warnings, and commands.
Gradualists, mindful of Darwin’s goal in The Descent of Man — “to show that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties” — maintain that there must be something like reasoning in the animal world. Verschuuren replies that there is indeed social intelligence in wolves, and spatial intelligence in bats, but these don’t involve cognition. Animal intelligence is not the same as the human intellect, which changes perceptions into concepts. Animals have drives and motives but not symbols and reasoning.
Gradualists also claim that there must be some morality in animals from which human morality evolved…
Far from residing in the brain, the mind is the subject that studies the brain as its object” … Continue
Gradualism has a major problem. The Discontinuous Fossil Record
— See also, The Image of God Beyond the Myths