7
Apr

How Timeless Truths Lead to God

imagesCAV786DNMaterialists insist that Science will someday answer all the questions that Christians claim can only be answered by acknowledging the reality of God. Why is there something rather than nothing? How did life emerge from non-life? What is the basis for consciousness and self awareness? 

Of course, being “materialists,” these skeptics always focus on the material. The body may be the product of DNA, but even if DNA could ever be explained by purely materialistic means, how do you account for the mind? If mankind did evolve from lifeless rock to unconscious primitive life, at the very first point in time – in that magical moment when neurons first started interacting so as to create consciousness – something infinitely greater than the sum of the parts resulted.  When man “evolved” past the animals, along with this power to “think,” he developed the capacity for self-awareness, the appreciation of beauty, the understanding of math and music.  Where did these things come from? Where are they located?

To remain true to their materialistic presuppositions, skeptics face a dilemma. If this is all there is, then our thinking is not true in any objective sense, but is simply a product of the random processes which resulted through time.  You may believe that torturing children for fun is a good thing, while I may frown on it.  But neither of us would be right.  Similarly, for you, 2 + 2 could equal 5 today and 7 tomorrow.  Both “mind” and matter are, after all, changeable. I can convert matter from one form to another, and I can change the way I am thinking about something. The person I am today is much different – mentally and physically – than the person I was a quarter century ago. Yet, intuitively I can’t seem to escape the notion that there really is such as thing as “truth,” and that it is knowable.  My mind appears to have been designed to do certain things without my directing it, or sometimes being aware of it. My capacity to acquire language, for instance, was operating from the first months of my life. My capacity to manipulate numbers in a meaningful way was also largely present before I went to my first math class. Much more importantly, I also intuitively seem to recognize that there is good and evil and that these things too are knowable.  People may disagree about whether a certain act is good or evil, but they automatically, and without effort, apply that standard to it. Indeed, we seem to know that a thing is wrong first and then have to assess – attempt to put into words – why that is the case. Even for the most ardent skeptic, the acts of other human beings are never viewed as morally irrelevant. They have moral content. Even considering one of our most divisive issues – abortion – there are “moral” claims on both sides. Even for the skeptic, there seems to be no escaping that real “truth” is out there and its worth pursuing.

It is axiomatic that for every effect there must be an adequate cause. The Christian claim is that only God – an infinite, transcendent, omnipotent Being – can explain the existence of mind.  In other words, only an eternal and immutable mind can account for ideas – for truths – that are not subject to change, that remain themselves immutable. After all, if I acknowledge that some things are unchanging – math for instance – and I concede that both human minds and matter are subject to change, I really have little choice but to conclude that something else is out there grounding all this for us. If there are eternal ideas, there must be an eternal mind.

The skeptic may object that two plus two is simply a reflection of things seen in the world. Counting, in other words, doesn’t prove anything more than that sounds or labels can be attached to things we see around us. But what about higher math? Calculus has many practical applications in the world. Equations can be manipulated that actually describe the way objects move, for instance. These equations can be checked by others – even others who speak an entirely different verbal language – and can be determined to be correct or incorrect. Physics equations, such as the famous E = mc2 , are not just matters of opinion or works of prose. They describe the workings of the real world.  Now, the question for the skeptic is, where did these equations reside before the first human being conceived of them? Did they pop into existence the first time a set of neurons, firing wildly in a human brain, settled upon them? And if all math-literate people in the world simply vanished, would these equations no longer exist? Would they cease being true?

 Similarly, the fact that the human mind can contemplate the existence of God is itself interesting.  What is the idea of God?  Absolute perfection.  And how much perfection is in any human mind? Finite perfection.  How can a mentally imperfect being produce a mentally perfect effect?  God is an adequate cause for a finite being, but how can a finite being be an adequate cause of a perfect effect?  If there is no God, why is there such an idea?  The idea is so remote from this imperfect world, how could such imperfect causes produce a perfect effect?

Where this leads, ultimately, is to the conclusion that something is out there, a mind which is separate and apart from us, a mind that is the source of these concepts.  Materialism can’t account for it, because randomness would generate random results, not timeless truths.

Because this Mind created us, and because there is a purpose for all created things, there must be, in the mind of God, a purpose for us.  Christianity teaches that we are eternal beings, but the issue is where we will spend it.  If we follow the purpose for which we were created, one result will occur; if we reject that purpose, another. 

We should choose wisely.

Posted by Al Serrato 

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6 Comments

  1. zilch says:

    Al- again, a very nicely stated point of view. But I have to say that this is mostly just a reformulation of stuff you’ve already said in previous, equally good posts. For instance:

    “Materialists insist that Science will someday answer all the questions that Christians claim can only be answered by acknowledging the reality of God. Why is there something rather than nothing? How did life emerge from non-life? What is the basis for consciousness and self awareness?”

    You must know a whole different crowd of materialists than I do, al. I don’t believe that science will answer all questions, or even these question, someday, and I don’t know anyone else who believes this either. I simply believe that such answers as we will discover, even though they will always be incomplete or sometimes nonexistent, will come from science and not from religion. How far we will ever understand these questions is moot.

    “To remain true to their materialistic presuppositions, skeptics face a dilemma. If this is all there is, then our thinking is not true in any objective sense, but is simply a product of the random processes which resulted through time. You may believe that torturing children for fun is a good thing, while I may frown on it. But neither of us would be right. ”

    Okay, then toss “right” and substitute “workable”. What you’re saying is that, if for me, my thinking is not true in your objective sense, then it cannot be right. But then how do you explain that I can multiply numbers in my head and get the same answer, or maybe even a better or faster answer (I’m pretty fast) than you, with your “objective” truth? Same goes for torturing children for fun. Funny, I don’t do it, and I don’t approve of it, for genetic, cultural, and rational reasons. How is your position, “I don’t do it, and I don’t approve of it, because God says no” an improvement?

    cheers from finally sunny Vienna, zilch

  2. Jim says:

    Permit me to feed your third paragraph back to you:
    “Science cannot answer all questions.
    The only answers we will discover will be discovered by science, and those will always be incomplete or nonexistent.”
    I think I am beginning to understand why you camp out on this web site. I think I would too if I thought similarly.
    Zilch, may I respectfully ask you to examine your last paragraph in light of the original proposition? It misses the point entirely, and I’m not used to seeing you do that.
    Auf wiederhoeren.

  3. Al says:

    Zilch,
    I’m not giving a reason why one should not do it. What I am pointing out is that we both know it’s objectively wrong. Someone who told you they were in favor of it for “genetic, cultural and rational reasons” would be an evil person, who you would rightly act against. My worldview can make sense of why it is objectively wrong, and evil. I would ask you to consider the shortcomings of a worldview that must be neutral to something you know intuitively, and plainly, to be wrong.

  4. zilch says:

    Jim- I’m not exactly sure what point you think I missed, unless it’s my admission that science can’t provide all answers, and the claim of Christians that God can. If that’s the case, I would say that what Christians claim is not necessarily true.

    Al- as I’ve said numerous times here, I don’t see why my (and practically everyone else’s except for psychopaths’) objection to torturing children for fun is any worse than yours, when the only difference is that you claim yours is godgiven and thus “objective”. You just have a couple more unfalsifiable claims attached to your objection, and my objection works just as well to stop me from torturing children for fun as yours does. So what do you gain, and what do the children gain, from your “objectivity”?

  5. Al says:

    Zilch,

    You’ve inspired me once again to write a post to respond to your challenge.

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