Thursday, May 28, 2009

Daniel C. Dennett - fundamental error

A Hubble picture - birth of stars. NASA

This and other amazing Hubble space telescope pictures from the depths of the universe elicit fundamentally different responses from people depending on their worldview and their belief systems:

There are those who exclaim: "What a wonderful God we have!"

There are those who smile with warm satisfaction: "How smart I am! I really know what is going on there."

It seems to me that so many people who deny God share this fundamental error in thinking with Professor Daniel C. Dennett:

The fundamental scientific idea of evolution by natural selection is not just mind-boggling; natural selection, by executing God's traditional task of designing and creating all creatures great and small, also seems to deny one of the best reasons we have for believing in God.

They do not understand that faith in God is not a rational position deduced from some principles like intelligent design or the purpose seeking evolution of species.

Because these people formulate their own worldview on the foundation of rational thinking and empirism and assume that things just exist because they exist and evolution works because it has worked, they think that also religious people have been convinced about the "truths" by a similar rational process.

And now, since there is a "fundamental scientific idea of evolution by natural selection" the rational foundations of this faith have been destroyed and we all can let ancient religious ideas to have their well deserved rest. Let us go forward brightly, progress as a race and keep exploring things rationally, the human spirit is the guiding light and the human intelligence is the hope of humanity.

Our ability to solve problems and to make tools has brought us here and they will continue to provide us with the reasonable explanation to the toughest questions of life and university and even to create other intelligent beings like us, artificially. Surely, tomorrow we will solve even the question of what is life itself.

The Bible, however, states the truth: people do not learn to know God by admiring the Intelligent Design or by being convinced that there must be a Supreme Being behind all this.

Instead of worshiping the true God they start to worship created things. Human religiousity is a fact from prehistoric times on and cannot be clinically or rationally or logically removed from our species. God has created us so that we have a sense about Him.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, "The righteous by faith will live."

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,
because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.

So people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Rom 1:16-25 NET Bible

The fundamental worldview of materialism is surprisingly close to ancient pagan religions from the Mediterranean region from where the Bible comes to us.

Things are born, things come into being by natural processes that are understandable and known to us. We use what we know about existence in order to explain how everything came into being.

The ancients were thinking of divinities copulating and giving birth to things, chaotic waters, eggs, trees, premordial monsters and other imagery but the fundamental idea was that things came into being by themselves, existence simply exists and that is.


The Bible, on the other hand, stands alone in this ocean of human imagination and pre-scientific rationalism and natural logic and says: not so!

Moses said to God, "If I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is his name?' — what should I say to them?"

God said to Moses, "I AM that I AM." And he said, "You must say this to the Israelites, 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

God also said to Moses, "You must say this to the Israelites, 'The Lord — the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.'

Exodus 3:13 -15 NET Bible

Things are not by themselves.

Everything is because He is.

ויאמר עוד אלהים אל־משׁה כה־תאמר אל־בני ישׂראל יהוה אלהי אבתיכם אלהי אברהם אלהי יצחק ואלהי יעקב שׁלחני אליכם זה־שׁמי לעלם וזה זכרי לדר דר׃

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Daniel C. Dennett - evolution, natural growth and God

God's great gift to humanity - wheat

Evolution is lifted by D.C. Dennett from the humble position of natural processes to replace God Himself:

With evolution, however, it is different. The fundamental scientific idea of evolution by natural selection is not just mind-boggling; natural selection, by executing God's traditional task of designing and creating all creatures great and small, also seems to deny one of the best reasons we have for believing in God.

And the poor believers who have problems understanding this attack the clear facts of scientific research, biology, with wishful thinking as the debate on Intelligent Design shows:

So there is plenty of motivation for resisting the assurances of the biologists. Nobody is immune to wishful thinking. It takes scientific discipline to protect ourselves from our own credulity, but we've also found ingenious ways to fool ourselves and others. Some of the methods used to exploit these urges are easy to analyze; others take a little more unpacking.
D.C. Dennett New York Times 2005

Not so fast!

The fundamental scientific idea of evolution by natural selection is not just mind-boggling;

The basic idea in Dennett's worldview is that there is no need to believe in God since we can now explain rationally everything in the nature without referring to anything that is bigger than nature. God is replaced by a natural mechanism that designs and creates all creatures, great and small.

I am sorry to disappoint our dear Professor but this level of reasoning is not something that modern science can discuss and experimentally prove to be true or false. It is not a scientific question at all but rather a matter that belongs to the realm of Philosophy and Theology.

He may represent rationalism, he may represent atheism, he may present empiricism or some sort of positivism and analyze artificial intelligence systems from logical and mathematical point of view.

This is his philosophical point of view.

Biology does not study evolution to point out the presence or absence of a supernatural divinity, that would be superstition. This is the mistake of those who want to mix Intelligent Design teaching to the school curriculum. The subject does not belong to the Biology class, it belongs to the class where Philosophy, Theology and religion are discussed.

Besides, have you ever considered the "natural growth" of a wheat kernel?

There is nothing natural about it!

It is one of the miracles of Nature.

The entire cosmos is another.

Take a seed and look at it. Does it look like the beautiful tall plant that you see in the field once it has "evolved" strangely through processes that science can study. For some reason, this simple looking living thing pushes things we call roots down to the soil, starts to get a chemical we call H20 from there, its cover breaks and a thin greenish stam breaks the surface of the soil and reaches towards the sunlight. For some reason, this small creature knows that a day will come when the winds will blow pollen and make it fruitful and ready to carry its own seeds.

Not just for its own sake. But for the hungry animals and people who use this process to make bread. The idea to use wheat for cultivation changed human history.

Now, Daniel C. Dennett is happy to explain all those processes that science knows about and tell us that look, it is all a mechanism that exists by itself and was created by natural selection.

Freedom of religion.

My faith is that our good Lord, the God of Israel who makes Himself known to us in the Word of God, the Bible, created the seed and not just for itself but with the specific purpose of bringing nourishment to the people He so much loves.

I thank God for the bread in the breakfast table this morning.

And I am not intellectually ashamed of it.

And I do not attack the biologist and other scientists who explain to us even in greater detail who a seed becomes the wheat plant.

It is still a miracle, even if we know how water fights the gravity and reaches the top of this beautiful creation.

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Psalm 8. The Bible. King James Authorized Version.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Daniel C. Dennett - a lucky mutation

Professor Daniel C. Dennett

In Edge Marvin Minsky writes warmly about Daniel C. Dennett - despite of their slight disagreement:

"Dan Dennett is our best current philosopher. He is the next Bertrand Russell. Unlike traditional philosophers, Dan is a student of neuroscience, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science, and psychology. He's redefining and reforming the role of the philosopher. Of course, Dan doesn't understand my society-of-mind theory, but nobody's perfect."

Brian Goodwin refers to one of this philosopher's central idea

"Dennett's concept of relational order in relation to the brain is something I find extremely interesting. He suggests that the properties of mind aren't material properties, they're relational properties. That leads to the strong AI position. I tend to take a similar view with respect to artificial life a view similar to the strong AI position, the idea that you can actually get intelligence in systems that aren't constituted of molecules and cells. You can get life in computers."

This kind of non-organic Artificial Intelligence is, by the way, an idea considered by Sir Fred Hoyle in his Science Fiction novel "The Black Cloud" which I have discussed in my blog Space Theology.

Wikipedia tells that "Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a prominent American philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dennett is also a noted atheist and advocate of the Brights movement."

The Brights' Network has a homepage where the fundamental view of world is explained - there is nothing supernatural and nothing mystic in the Cosmos, everything is natural and can sooner or later be explained by rational reasoning.

The movement's three major aims are:
  1. Promote the civic understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview, which is free of supernatural and mystical elements.
  2. Gain public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance.
  3. Educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such individuals.
On August 28. 2005, Professor D.C. Dennett wrote an op-ed in New York Times joining in the debate about science education in American schools. He wrote about the idea of Intelligent Design under the title Show me the Science:

PRESIDENT BUSH, announcing this month that he was in favor of teaching about "intelligent design" in the schools, said, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." A couple of weeks later, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, made the same point. Teaching both intelligent design and evolution "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone," Mr. Frist said. "I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."

Is "intelligent design" a legitimate school of scientific thought? Is there something to it, or have these people been taken in by one of the most ingenious hoaxes in the history of science? Wouldn't such a hoax be impossible? No. Here's how it has been done.

With evolution, however, it is different. The fundamental scientific idea of evolution by natural selection is not just mind-boggling; natural selection, by executing God's traditional task of designing and creating all creatures great and small, also seems to deny one of the best reasons we have for believing in God. So there is plenty of motivation for resisting the assurances of the biologists. Nobody is immune to wishful thinking. It takes scientific discipline to protect ourselves from our own credulity, but we've also found ingenious ways to fool ourselves and others. Some of the methods used to exploit these urges are easy to analyze; others take a little more unpacking.

A creationist pamphlet sent to me some years ago had an amusing page in it, purporting to be part of a simple questionnaire...

Our dear Professor thus discusses the idea of Intelligent Design and refers to Creationist ideas.

The American Creationist movement's publications resemble in many scary ways Jehova Wittnesses way of trying to convince people about some truth and does not represent the main-stream Judeo-Christian worldview based upon the Holy Scriptures. It does not matter if 40% of Americans have adopted creationist ideas about the world, it is not an authentic Biblical view of the world.

I want to make a very clear difference between belief in one Creator and modern rationalistic USA born creationism. It can be quite confusing. Some people may use a broad language and put them all in one basket - if you believe in a Creator you are a creationist. This misinterpretation is typical to atheists who do not really understand what religion is all about and do not really bother to find out, either.

The idea of the Creator is not born from human intelligence and reasoning. In natural religions the origins of cosmos is explained in myriad different ways but always go back to the human experience of how things begin: an egg, a sex act of gods and goddeses or, as in many oriental religions, things just exist forever in an eternal circle of birth, life, death and rebirth without any beginning or end.

The idea of one God who has created everything and is Himself not created originates from the Jewish religion and its development is documented in the Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim, Tanakh. Christianity is a "Jewish sect" and adopted the entire Tanakh in the Bible that also contains the books of the New Testament, four Gospels about Jesus of Nazareth, Acts of Apostles, a number of letters by Paul and others and the Book of Revelation.

Moslems adopted both the Old and the New Testament and believe that the Koran is the complete message of the Creator to the human race.

Today these three Book religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam form the majority among the religions of human beings. Recently the number of Sunni muslims has passed the number of the largest Christian church, the Roman Catholic church. Clear majority of the human race belongs to the sphere of the three great Monotheistic religions.

So - well over two billion people are creationists in the sense that they believe in a Creator. But very few of them are creationists with their odd fallacies.

One Roman Catholic priest said very beautifully: "I am not a product of Intelligent Design. God has loved me into being"

There is no better answer to the rationalistic cold and futile attempt to introduce God as a parameter into human science. That is reprehensable.

Professor Dennett is a brilliant philosopher, teacher, a student of artificial intelligence and many other things - but he is not a Biologist. Also, he is not a Geologist, not a Paleo-anthropologist, nor a Theologian.

For this is how his editorial in the New York Times explains:

Take the development of the eye, which has been one of the favorite challenges of creationists. How on earth, they ask, could that engineering marvel be produced by a series of small, unplanned steps? Only an intelligent designer could have created such a brilliant arrangement of a shape-shifting lens, an aperture-adjusting iris, a light-sensitive image surface of exquisite sensitivity, all housed in a sphere that can shift its aim in a hundredth of a second and send megabytes of information to the visual cortex every second for years on end..


All it takes is a rare accident that gives one lucky animal a mutation that improves its vision over that of its siblings; if this helps it have more offspring than its rivals, this gives evolution an opportunity to raise the bar and ratchet up the design of the eye by one mindless step. And since these lucky improvements accumulate - this was Darwin's insight - eyes can automatically get better and better and better, without any intelligent designer.


A Philosopher may adopt deep in his heart the classic principles of darwinism enhanced with the knowledge of mutations in genes that occur by chance and the good old natural selection that guides the survival of the fittest. It kind of makes sense as an idea. He might even frown benignly to those uneducated ones who do not internalize these things.

But a modern Biologist might tell him that they have today serious problems with the simple ideas of Charles Darwin equipped with early 20th century knowledge of genetics and evolution of life. Take the feather of the Jurassic Archaeopteryx, for example.

But a Geologist will tell that the "explosion of life" on this planet happened very recently in Cambrian period about 600 million years ago. Unlike people commonly believe, the time is short for random chance to produce higher life forms.

A paleo-anthropologist would tell that the branch of apes that we call "humans" emerges about five million years ago in Africa. The recent DNA check of all Africans is of great interest showing the great anciety of Bushmen in the genealogy of Homo sapiens sapiens as we humbly call ourselves. The main difference to other apes is the amazing fast growth of our brains that lets us to pray and be in personal contact with our Creator, moving this planet into a "psychozoic" period with self-consciousness.

Already Homo sapiens neanderthalensis was religious burying the dead with rituals. True atheists are a minority among the human race and have always been.

A Theologian could explain the difference between natural religion and a religion based upon belief in revelation. Biblical cosmology, its Near Eastern roots in Sumerian and paint a beautiful picture of how humans have learned to know more and more about the cosmos with improved instruments of research and evolving theories about the origins of the universe and about the mystery of life itself.

But Professor Dennett is bright and skips all this supernatural and mysterious beauty of the Cosmos for the great capability of his own brain. Which he somehow has in the head on his shoulders.

According to his explanation about the origins of eye, also all the brilliance of Professor Dennett's amazing brain, the brightness of his thinking, the pride of his heart and those of his beloved ones of his achievements is nothing but a lucky mutation.

But also in this matter the Bible written by the Jewish people, for salvation is from the Jews, is accurate ... and very sad.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Apostle Paul letter to the early Christians in Rome Chapter 1 verses 16-25 KJVA

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First force of the universe - love

Woman - greatest triumph of God's creation

The naked truth is that about 50% of the time men are awake or see dreams they consider the extremely finely drawn delicate and beautiful lines in female behind, ponder the share beauty of the wonder, talk about it, take photos, create great paintings, write deep poems and novels that range from the most beautiful love to ice cold darkest sadism.

What they do with the other half?

Well, about 50% of the remaining time they wonder the female breast, the many shapes and sizes, the colour of the aureola and the sweet nipples. No end, never get tired, always something fascinating and new in these organs that link us with all the mammals upon the Earth.

It does not take really very much to catch the total attention of man's brain - two red dots and a black triangle below them will do the trick. In a subsecond everything else disappears from the mind and the man focuses on some very important issues in human existence.

Our modern culture is well aware of this - especially after the ground breaking work of Sigmund Freud on the depths of male and female brains. Commercials are filled with attractive women selling everything from sweet chocolates to expensive cars. Because those who do the marketing know that nothing gets attention better than the picture of a nice lady with perfect hair and gentle gazelle eyes.

And the women - the same forces of marketing want to sell them everything possible to make them feel even more comfortable, admired, beloved, respected ... oh, sorry, no my mistake - to make them feel even more sexy.

This is how God has created humans with the explicit command to have sex

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:28

We often wonder what this means:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Genesis 1:26-27

First in the plural, than in the singular and the creation is not one but two - male and female.

The obvious idea does not easily come to our religious minds - what if God is talking here with His wife. A male and a female divinity creating mand and woman?


But there is one problem

Verse 27 is in singular.

Man plus woman = image of God

Word of God is truly very powerful and gives us enough to think for our life time and more.

Almost all higher life on this planet has this same duality, there are males and females. Plants, insects, birds, lizards, fish, apes, giraffes, polar bears, humans...

It is almost an anomaly to find some form of life that is not sexual.

It is as if God the Creator has something to do with this wonderful thing and this is one command that we have happily obeyed - humans have indeed filled this planet with their descendants.

Theoretical physicists are looking for the one unifying force in the nature that would put together all the four known physical forces into a single standard model.

My humble suggestion is that this mighty single unifying force, the greatest force in this universe, is Love.

for God is love.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:8 KJVA

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Golden cross with Greek words Light and Life on it

It is important to make clear that the first light of creation that filled the universe is not the light that the Gospel of John and other New Testament books talk about in connection with Christ. Created light was made by the Word of God.

The gospel begins with words that do bring to mind the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-14 KJVA

Genesis tells that the first word of Creation where "Let there be light!"
Genesis 1:3

And indeed, the Big Bang was quickly followed by brilliant light as things began to happen in extreme heat and energy and photons, those amazing wave-particles, began to fly around at the speed of light.

But the Gospel of John does not refer to created light that fills the universe and makes us wonder what it is. The True light of Christ is not made of photons.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Apostle Paul writes about the Light where Christ dwells

I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting.

1 Timothy 6:13-16 KJVA

Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see