by Marinus Jan Marijs
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Gottfried Leibniz coined the term ‘theodicy’ in an attempt to justify God’s existence in light of the apparent imperfections of the world. A theodicy (/θiːˈɒdɪsi/ from Greek theos “god” + dike “justice”) is an attempt to resolve the evidential problem of evil by reconciling the traditional divine characteristics of omnibenevolence, omnipotence, and omniscience with the occurrence of evil or suffering in the world. Unlike a defense, which tries to demonstrate that God’s existence is logically possible in the light of evil, a theodicy provides a framework which claims to make God’s existence probable. The term was coined in 1710 by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his work, Théodicée, though various responses to the problem of evil had been previously proposed. The British philosopher John Hick traced the history of theodicy in his work, Evil and the God of Love, identifying two major traditions: the Augustinian theodicy, based on the writings of Augustine of Hippo, and the Irenaean theodicy, which Hick developed, based on the thinking of St Irenaeus. Other philosophers have suggested that theodicy is a modern discipline because deities in the ancient world were often imperfect.
German philosopher Max Weber saw theodicy as a social problem, based on the human need to explain puzzling aspects of the world; sociologist Peter L. Berger argued that religion arose out of a need for social order, and theodicy developed to sustain it. Following the Holocaust, a number of Jewish theologians developed a new response to the problem of evil, sometimes called anti-theodicy, which maintains that God cannot be meaningfully justified. As an alternative to theodicy, a defence may be proposed, which is limited to showing the logical possibility of God’s existence. American philosopher Alvin Plantinga presented a version of the free will defence which argued that the coexistence of God and evil is not logically impossible, and that free will further explains the existence of evil without threatening the existence of God. Similar to a theodicy, a cosmodicy attempts to justify the fundamental goodness of the universe, and an anthropodicy attempts to justify the goodness of humanity.
A theodicy is a theological construct that attempts to vindicate God in response to the evidential problem of evil that militates against the existence of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent deity. The word theodicy derives from the Greek words theos and dikē. Theos is translated “God” and dikē can be translated as either “just” or “right.” Thus, theodicy literally means “justifying God.”
As a response to the problem of evil, a theodicy is distinct from a defence. A defence attempts to demonstrate that the occurrence of evil does not contradict God’s existence, but it does not propose that rational beings are able to understand why God permits evil. A theodicy seeks to show that it is reasonable to believe in God despite evidence of evil in the world and offers a framework which can account for why evil exists. A theodicy is often based on a prior natural theology, which attempts to prove the existence of God, and seeks to demonstrate that God’s existence remains probable after the problem of evil is posed by giving a justification for God’s permitting evil to happen. Defences propose solutions to the logical problem of evil, while theodicies attempt to answer the evidential problem.
The term theodicy was coined by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work, written in French, Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal (Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil). Leibniz’s Théodicée was a response to skeptical Protestant philosopher Pierre Bayle, who wrote in his work Dictionnaire Historique et Critique that, after rejecting three attempts to solve it, he saw no rational solution to the problem of evil. Bayle argued that, because the Bible asserts the coexistence of God and evil, this state of affairs must simply be accepted.
French philosopher Voltaire criticised Leibniz’s concept of theodicy in his Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne (Poem on the Lisbon disaster), suggesting that the massive destruction of innocent lives caused by the Lisbon earthquake demonstrated that God was not providing the “best of all possible worlds”. Theodicy came to consist of the human knowledge of God through the systematic use of reason.
The Augustinian theodicy is based on the writings of Augustine of Hippo, a Christian philosopher and theologian who lived from AD 354 to 430. This form of theodicy argues that evil does not exist except as a privation—or corruption of—goodness, and therefore God did not create evil. Augustinian scholars have argued that God created the world perfectly, with no evil or human suffering. Evil entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve and the theodicy casts the existence of evil as a just punishment for this original sin. The theodicy argues that humans have an evil nature in as much as it is deprived of its original goodness, form, order, and measure due to the inherited original sin of Adam and Eve, but still ultimately remains good due to existence coming from God, for if a nature was completely evil (deprived of the good), it would cease to exist. It maintains that God remains blameless and good.
Irenaeus (died c. 202) expressed ideas which explained the existence of evil as necessary for human development. Irenaeus argued that human creation comprised two parts: humans were made first in the image, then in the likeness, of God. The image of God consists of having the potential to achieve moral perfection, whereas the likeness of God is the achievement of that perfection. To achieve moral perfection, Irenaeus suggested that humans must have free will. To achieve such free will, humans must experience suffering and God must be at an epistemic distance (a distance of knowledge) from humanity. Therefore, evil exists to allow humans to develop as moral agents. In the twentieth century, John Hick collated the ideas of Irenaeus into a distinct theodicy. He argued that the world exists as a “vale of soul-making” (a phrase that he drew from John Keats), and that suffering and evil must therefore occur. He argued that human goodness develops through the experience of evil and suffering.
A creative force
The order, the complexity and incomprehensible arrangement of the natural world, was by seen as an indication of a hidden creative force. To quote David Bohm:
People had the insight in the past about a form of intelligence that had organized the universe and they personalized it and called it God. A similar insight can prevail today, without personalizing it and call it a personal God.
With the concept of a creative force behind the natural world, the question arises what the nature was of (what one called) God is. The divine is presumed to be intelligent, conscious, benevolent, compassionate and not neutral. The theodicy starts with the assumption that there is such a thing as God; but “How can there be evil or suffering in the world if God exist?”. The concept of God originated in a mythological society, and one could question whether this concept had a basis in reality. But the concept of a God did find its origin with the perceptions of prophets, mystics and was relating to a deeper reality. The way in which these perceptions were being communicated in words, was in many ways cultural specific.
The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:
- as a powerful, human-like, supernatural being, or as the deification of an esoteric, mystical or philosophical category;
- the Ultimate, the summum bonum, the Absolute Infinite, the Transcendent, or Existence or Being itself;
- the ground of being, the monistic substrate, that which we cannot understand, etc. (Wikipedia)
The Abrahamic God is on the one hand seen as anthropomorphic, and on the other hand conceived of as eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and the creator of the universe.
God is further held to have the properties of holiness, justice, omni-benevolence and omnipresence. Proponents of Abrahamic faiths believe that God is also transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time and therefore not subject to anything within his creation, but at the same time personal and involved, listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of his creatures. (Wikipedia)
With the arrival of the rationalistic world view, many of the mythical views were proven to be wrong and this brought up the question: Is the concept of a cosmic creative force also only a myth? This would solve the theodicy, because this would mean that there was no God.
However with the progress of scientific investigation it was discovered that the concept of a steady state universe that always existed was wrong, the universe had a beginning, was created. So the next question was: if there was a creation, was there also a Creator? Could chance and random processes generate the cosmos or was there “a form of intelligence that had organized the universe”.
The discovery of the fine-tuning of the universe, an extremely precise set of initial conditions that were found, made it possible to calculate how great the possibility was that chance could explain this fine-tuning. Roger Penrose Professor of Mathematics at the Oxford University has calculated that the odds of our universe’s “ low-entropy “ (high order) condition obtaining by chance alone are on the order of 1:1010(123) (that is as close to zero as it gets).
This together with what is called the “Rare earth hypothesis”
In planetary astronomy and astrobiology, the Rare Earth hypothesis argues that the emergence of complex multicellular life (metazoa) on Earth (and, subsequently, intelligence) required an improbable combination of astrophysical and geological events and circumstances. The term “Rare Earth” originates from “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe (2000)”, a book by Peter Ward, a geologist and palaeontologist, and Donald E. Brownlee, an astronomer and astrobiologist.) (Wikipedia)}
This and some other unsolved problems in evolutionary biology brings back the concept of some form of intelligence capable of manipulating or designing the basic physics that governs the universe.
“This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism”.
— Fritjof Capra, In The Tao of Physics (1975)
Fred Hoyle says it like this:
If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of…
And Werner Heisenberg like this:
The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.
― Werner Heisenberg
This now brings us back to the Theodicy. Since astronomer Edwin P. Hubble’s discovery we know that the universe consists of about 1:1010(22) stars and if we talk about an intelligent Kosmic force that created the universe, then we talk about something different than a tribal deity. If there is an intelligent creative kosmic force that created the universe, what is its influence on human affairs?
Let’s take the example of prayer: God is seen as transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time, but at the same time listening to prayer and reacting to the actions of his creatures. This leads in many cases to a very remarkable and very egocentric interpretation of the concept prayer; one prays in most cases for fulfilment of some personal and usually (but certainly not always) egocentric wish and this transcendent Kosmic force will intervene on your behalf. This is a rather primitive interpretation of the concept of prayer.
The method of prayer however has a working principle which can be explained: When one transcends the mental/intellectual processes one can enter into a stillness of mind (level 8) in which one can have intuitions/deep insights that have created science, mathematics, logic and philosophy. On a higher level (9) this stillness deepens in which one can have inspiration, which is generated by a contact with a kosmic force. This is at the heart of all great art. On a still higher level (10) one finds revelation. The meaning of prayer is to concentrate on one image with such an intensity that all other images disappear, finally one lets go this last image and one enters at the level of union (11) with the divine.
This doesn’t mean that the divine is in a verbal communication with a human, but that in a mystical prayer one comes in contact with this transcendent force, not because this transcendent force reacts to a prayer but because it is always there and one just has to make contact with it. And this doesn’t fulfil ones wishes but will transform the way one is functioning}
There is the concept of a developing, evolving God: A Socinian God, the Dharmakaya within Buddhism, Teilhard de Chardin’s – Omega point, the evolving God of Schelling, Whitehead’s process theology and Aurobindo’s Supramental process. Professor Ian Stevenson:
My idea of God is that He is evolving. I don’t believe in the watchmaker God, the original creator who built the watch and then lets it tick. I believe in a “Self-maker God” who is evolving and experimenting; so are we as parts of Him.
|Evolving within time||Space and Time transcending|
|The Tao of which one can speak||The unspeakable Tao|
|The creative power||The Creator|
|The Demiurge||The unmoved mover|
|The creative force||One without a second|
|The many||The non-dual|
This evolutionary process is not only visible in cosmology and biology but also visible in psychological and cultural development. In the course of time the different ontological levels are activated one by one, eventually until it reaches the highest level and a feedback loop is generated.
The lowest level (Ur.) is the physical world. This Omega point has been mentioned in about 20 different cultures but a logical structural approach has not been put forward. This is possible if one realises that this process has several developmental sequences of which several phases are already activated. So that this process exists is already visible.
In the in the course of time the different ontological levels are activated one by one, eventually until it reaches the highest level and a feedback loop is generated. This Omega point has been mentioned in about 20 different cultures but a logical structural approach has not been put forward. This is possible if one realises that this process has several developmental sequences of which several phases are already activated. So that this process exist is already visible (more than a hundred psychological developmental sequences and more than a hundred social / cultural developmental sequences have been put forward here):
(see the chapters / sections on individual and collective transformations in the
main-menu of this website)
This brings us to the question why is there something instead of nothing, why is the world created. If it is a random process, just by chance than there is no why, than it just happened without a reason (not even for the wrong reason). If it is a guided process than the question is why from the Absolute, the unmoved mover (Aristotle), there was the movement that created the manifest world. One cannot even say why the Absolute wanted to create the world because as the Absolute is beyond or transcends duality or categories so one cannot say the ”Will” of the Absolute. Nevertheless there seems to be a teleological process which has a direction and that is to a certain degree comprehensible for the human intellect.
The complexification of matter makes evolutionary processes possible. These processes are physical processes but they start up a whole series of ontological transformations which eventually lead to what has been called the Omega point an ontological singularity which generates a feedback loop which connects the highest ontological level, the Divine, with the lowest ontological level, the physical world.
For a mystic it is not only possible to have an intellectual understanding of the process but also to experience where the teleological process leads to: in the non-dual state which is called nirodha, or Turiya(tita) one is in the state which was before the creation. But in high-causal bhava samadhi a mystic experiences on an individual temporary basis that which will be collective and permanent after what Aurobindo called Supramentalisation and what Christ called the coming of the Kingdom of God.
This however does us still leave with the Theodicy: “How can there be evil or suffering in the world if God exist?”.
The nature of Evil
If for example one would say well if humans reincarnate hundreds of times than the injustice of good and bad lives will be removed because on average humans will have more or less the same amount of difficulties. This would solve the problem of justice, but not the Theodicy: “How can there be evil or suffering in the world if God exist”.
There are different forms of evil or suffering:
- Diseases, sickness, illness caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, who affect people not only physically, but also emotionally;
- Natural disasters large-scale crisis or disasters that are caused by the forces of nature such as earthquakes, floods and so on;
- Man-made disasters, means threats having an element of human intent, negligence, or error; or involving a failure of a man-made system. It results in huge loss of life and property. It further affects a personal’s mental, physical and social well-being, such as War, or different forms of great social injustice.
Relating to diseases, sickness, illness why is there sickness?
From a human compassionate point of view this extremely difficult to accept. But if one looks at the enormous complexity of the human body, D.N.A. , the Human cell which carries more information than the encyclopedia Britannica to the human brain which is the most complex mechanism we know in the universe. From an emotional point of view sickness is extremely difficult to accept certainly for parents with severe ill child, but from a logical point of view it is baffling that a human body can function with so little dysfunctions.
Relating to natural disasters; what is called the “Rare earth hypothesis” as said above:
In planetary astronomy and astrobiology, the Rare Earth hypothesis argues that the emergence of complex multicellular life (metazoa) on Earth (and, subsequently, intelligence) required an improbable combination of astrophysical and geological events and circumstances”. (Wikipedia)
Here again from an emotional point of view the human suffering relating to natural disasters is extremely difficult to accept. But from a logical point of view data from astronomy, biology, and palaeontology, show how amazing the circumstances are that lead to the possibility of the emergence of human life.
Both the first and the second categories seem to be processes which are apparently extremely fine-tuned, so the question why doesn’t God interfere seems to be premature. Many of the traditional images of a kosmic intelligent creative force that have been put forward, are mythic and not accurate. But as the idea of a flat-earth is an inaccurate description, that doesn’t mean that this planet we live upon doesn’t exist.
We go now to what is the most difficult to accept, the Man-made disasters.
I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.
Many of the great thinkers have shared this last sentiment, not because as some religious people would say that they were immoral, but just because they were deeply concerned with moral issues, and they could not comprehend: ”How there could be evil or suffering in the world if God exist?”.
(Einstein’s statement about “the orderly harmony of what exists”, given above is not fundamentally different from Intelligent design, and certainly not meant as a vague metaphor). Einstein said:
In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.” Clark, Ronald W. (1971). Einstein: The Life and Times. New York: World Publishing Company, p. 425).
How do we reconcile that there are so much Man-made disasters, like War and many other forms of great social injustice? The fine-tuning of Cosmological constants, the planetary system, the chemical elements, and the biological development, all show processes that make former atheist thinkers say: this cannot be happened by chance and natural selection, and has to be guided by a teleological kosmic intelligent force. But still: How do we reconcile the wars, the atrocities, the cruelties?
Here we go back to an evolving God, a Creator that develops together with its creation. Then we see that the developmental sequences show hundreds of transformative developments in which humans and society can grow. Together they form a total ontological transformation that takes place. If we take part in this development by transforming on an individual psychological basis and on a collective social level, we can take part in a kosmic process through which injustice and evil can be eliminated, and where social systems are developed to help the sick, the poor and the elderly.
Furthermore there is a hidden process to which many mystics have hinted; mental activity is not only physical processes that take place in the brain but also the activation of subtle energetic processes. These energies which represent the felt experience, the understanding, the esthetic, the subjective inner experience, the secondary qualities. The experience of color, beauty, and meaning all belong to these non-physical subtle energies. These energies when they are repetitive and of the same kind tend to cluster and get their own momentum. They form clusters in the collective unconsciousness. When these clusters reach a certain energy level they are going to have an influence on collective processes, it is for this reason that mystics have said that it is not only wrong to do evil or to speak evil but also to think evil.
The question of evil and injustice is perhaps never so pressing as with the holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews in Nazi Germany. The Jews have been the victims of centuries of anti-Semitism. If one looks to the tremendous contributions the Jewish people have made to civilization, in almost all fields of human endeavor: science, philosophy, psychology, phenomenology, sociology, morality, arts, literature, economics, music, motion pictures, ….. The Jewish people who form only about a 0.2 % of the world’s population brought forth about 20 % of western civilization:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969. Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 850 individuals, of whom at least 20% were Jews, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population, (or 1 in every 500 people). Overall, Jews have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of Physics, 19% of Chemistry, 13% of Literature and 9% of all peace awards.
As to the Theodicy: Emmanuel Levinas argued that humans are not called to justify God in the face of evil, but to attempt to live godly lives; rather than considering whether God was present during the Holocaust, the duty of humans is to build a world where goodness will prevail (Pinnock, Sarah Katherine (2002). Beyond theodicy: Jewish and Christian continental thinkers respond to the Holocaust. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-5523-4).
Sociologist Peter L. Berger characterized religion as the human attempt to build order out of a chaotic world. He believed that humans could not accept that anything in the world was meaningless and saw theodicy as an assertion that the cosmos has meaning and order, despite evidence to the contrary. Berger presented an argument similar to that of Weber, but suggested that the need for theodicy arose primarily out of the situation of human society. He believed that theodicies existed to allow individuals to transcend themselves, denying the individual in favor of the social order (Wikipedia).
Within Judaism there is the concept that ten righteous people can save humanity; When you think of people like: Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu this can point in the right direction. These where all highly religious persons of extraordinary quality.
Next to the moral issues, there is also the way in which religious narratives are written down, usually as allegory, metaphorical, poetical or with the personification of forces. They are transmitted to convey religious or idealized experience, to establish behavioural models, and to teach a higher way of moral functioning. In the modern society there is sometimes strong criticism to the worldview that has been put forward in these scriptures. This however has to be placed into a historical developmental framework. Some points of view that are primitive by modern standards, could be seen as highly developed in the time period when they were put forward.
While the age of the earth by fundamentalists has been put at ± 6000 years this corresponds more or less with the historical period;
- but doesn’t include the archaeological period;
- and doesn’t include the paleontological period;
- and doesn’t include the geological period;
- and doesn’t include the cosmological period.
In the course of time there have been changing views of the history of the Earth. Early calculations relating to the age of the earth.
The naturalist Mikhail Lomonosov suggested in the mid-18th century that Earth had been about 75,000 years old.
- In 1862, the physicist William Thomson published calculations that fixed the age of Earth at between 20 million and 400 million years.
- The physicist Hermann von Helmholtz (in 1856) and astronomer Simon Newcomb (in 1892) contributed their own calculations of 22 and 18 million years respectively to the age of the earth.
- The last estimate Thomson gave, in 1897, was: “that it was more than 20 and less than 40 million year old, and probably much nearer 20 than 40”.
- In 1899 and 1900, John Joly calculated the rate at which the oceans should have accumulated salt from erosion processes, and determined that the oceans were about 80 to 100 million years old.
- In 1892, Thomson had been made Lord Kelvin in appreciation of his many scientific accomplishments. Kelvin calculated the age of Earth by using thermal gradients, and arrived at an estimate of 100 million years old.
- In 1895, John Perry produced an age of Earth estimate of 2 to 3 billion years old using a model of a convective mantle and thin crust.
- The chemist Bertram B. Boltwood by the end of 1905 had provided dates for 26 separate rock samples, ranging from 92 to 570 million years.
- Arthur Holmes performed measurements on rock samples and concluded in 1911 that the oldest (a sample from Ceylon) was about 1.6 billion years old. Holmes published The Age of the Earth, an Introduction to Geological Ideas in 1927 in which he presented a range of 1.6 to 3.0 billion years.
- An age of 4.55 ± 0.07 billion years, very close to today’s accepted age, was determined by C.C. Patterson using uranium-lead isotope dating (specifically lead-lead dating) on several meteorites including the Canyon Diablo meteorite and published in 1956.
Altogether, the concordance of age dates of both the earliest terrestrial lead reservoirs and all other reservoirs within the solar system found to date are used to support the hypothesis that Earth and the rest of the solar system formed at around 4.53 to 4.58 billion years ago.
How old is the Earth? Scientists think that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. Coincidentally, this is the same age as the rest of the planets in the Solar System, as well as the Sun. Of course, it’s not a coincidence; the Sun and the planets all formed together from a diffuse cloud of hydrogen billions of years ago (Wikipedia).
Within Hinduism tradition dating maybe to roughly the sixth century B.C.E there was the concept of a Kalpa:
Kalpa is a time period in Hinduism: One of the Brahmanic eons, a period of 4,320,000,000 years.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
How do we reconcile that there are so much man-made disasters, like War and many other forms of great social injustice? Certainly not by postulating some abstract theological proclamations.
Many modern thinkers are hesitant to put value to religious ideas, which use mythological images that seem outdated, so the theodicy, why doesn’t God interfere seems like an old scholastic question.
Creationism which claims that the earth is ± 6000 years old and sees the paradise story not as an allegorical story but as historical data, ignore the value of the scientific method. Is the concept of intelligent design mythology in a modern coat? An excuse to introduce God in the equation?
The concept of fine tuning however is far removed from primitive mythological thinking, as put here above: “it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism”.
The discovery of the fine-tuning of the universe, an extremely precise set of initial conditions that were found; and the emergence of complex multicellular life (metazoa) on Earth (and, subsequently, intelligence) that required an improbable combination of astrophysical and geological events and circumstances, shows an extremely precise fine-tuning on cosmological, geological and biological scale. This fine-tuning is by many seen as the result of intelligent design. An additional argument for intelligent design or divine intervention is that many of those who calculated this fine-tuning were initially atheist. Nobel prize winner Paul Dirac co-inventor of quantum mechanics, was initially extremely hostile to religious views, however in the May 1963 edition of Scientific American, Dirac wrote:
It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of a mathematical theory of great beauty and power, needing quite a high standard of mathematics for one to understand it. You may wonder: Why is nature constructed along these lines? One can only answer that our present knowledge seems to show that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe
Fred Hoyle an English astronomer noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis who was not only an atheist but was even an anti-theist (neutrality wasn’t his thing). An early paper of Hoyle’s made an interesting use of the anthropic principle. In trying to work out the routes of stellar nucleosynthesis, he observed that one particular nuclear reaction, the triple-alpha process, which generates carbon, would require the carbon nucleus to have a very specific resonance energy for it to work. The large amount of carbon in the universe, which makes it possible for carbon-based life-forms of any kind to exist, demonstrated that this nuclear reaction must work. Based on this notion, he made a prediction of the energy levels in the carbon nucleus that was later borne out by experiment.
These energy levels, while needed to produce carbon in large quantities, were statistically very unlikely. Hoyle later wrote:
Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”
If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of…
—Fred Hoyle (Wikipedia)
J. B. S. Haldane a British-born geneticist and evolutionary biologist generally credited with a central role in the development of neo-Darwinian thinking.
Teleology is like a mistress to a biologist: he cannot live without her but he’s unwilling to be seen with her in public.” Quoted in; Hull, D., Philosophy of Biological Science, Foundations of Philosophy Series, Prentice–Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1973.and: Mayr, Ernst (1974) Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume XIV, pages 91–117. And: In Mechanism, Life and Personality Haldane declared that “The phenomena of life are of such a nature that no physical or chemical explanation of them is remotely possible”.
Anthony Flew has been described as “The World’s Most Notorious Atheist” and “The most influential atheistic philosopher of the twentieth century”. Flew wrote the article “Theology and Falsification,” which argued that claims about God were meaningless where they could not be tested for truth or falsehood. Though initially published in an undergraduate journal, the article came to be widely reprinted and discussed. Later, in God and Philosophy (1966) and The Presumption of Atheism (1976, reprinted 1984), Flew argued that one should presuppose atheism until evidence of a God surfaces. At the most recent debate in 2004, at New York University, he declared that he ‘now accepted the existence of a God’ (p. 74).
In that debate, he said that he believed that the origin of life points to a creative Intelligence, almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence (p. 75).
The complexity of the genetic code led Flew to believe that the origin of life required a ‘creative intelligence’. Flew was particularly impressed with a physicist’s refutation of the idea that monkeys at typewriters would eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. The likelihood of getting one Shakespearean sonnet by chance is one in 10690; to put this number in perspective, there are only 1080 particles in the universe. Flew concludes: If the theorem won’t work for a single sonnet, then of course it’s simply absurd to suggest that the more elaborate feat of the origin of life could have been achieved by chance (p. 78).
Flew was also critical of Dawkins’s ‘selfish gene’ idea, pointing out that ‘natural selection does not positively produce anything. It only eliminates, or tends to eliminate, whatever is not competitive’ (p. 78). He called Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene ‘a major exercise in popular mystification’, and argued that Dawkins made the critical mistake of overlooking the fact that most observable traits in organisms are the result of the coding of many genes (p. 79).
Flew’s belief in God hinges on three aspects of nature: ‘The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life … The third is the very existence of nature’ (p. 89).
The Laws of nature
Every scientist must assume that nature acts in certain predictable, measurable ways; this is what makes scientific discovery possible. Paul Davies argued that ‘science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview’ (p. 107). However, there is really no reason why nature should follow laws; the existence of such laws requires an explanation. Three questions must be answered: ‘Where do the laws of physics come from? Why is it that we have these laws instead of some other set? How is that we have a set of laws that drives featureless gases to life, consciousness, and intelligence?’ (p. 108). Flew argues along with many other classical and modern scientists that theism is the only serious answer.
When Flew was an atheist, he argued that the universe and its laws were themselves ultimate (p. 134). Every belief has some fundamental assumption; for theists, the existence of God is the fundamental assumption. Flew, however, took the universe and its most fundamental features as that assumption. The discovery that the universe was not infinite threw a wrench into this assumption; if the universe had begun to exist at some point in time, it was reasonable to assume something caused its beginning. Because it is more likely that God exists uncaused, rather than the universe, it is logical to argue for the existence of God from the existence of the universe (pp. 144–145).
The fine-tuning of the universe
Not only does our universe follow finely tuned physical laws, but laws which seem to be finely tuned to enable life to exist. The most common atheist answer is to assert that our universe is one of many others—the ‘multiverse’ speculation. It is interesting that atheists who refuse to believe in an unseen God, based supposedly on the lack of evidence for His existence, explain away the appearance of design by embracing the existence of an unknown number of other universes for which there is no evidence—or even any effect of their evidence. In any case, Flew argues that even if there were multiple universes, it would not solve the atheists’ dilemma; ‘multiverse or not, we still have to come to terms with the origin of the laws of nature. And the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind’ (p. 121).
The origin of life
Can the origins of a system of coded chemistry be explained in a way that makes no appeal whatever to the kinds of facts that we otherwise invoke to explain codes and languages, systems of communication, the impress of ordinary words on the world of matter?—Antony Flew
The existence of physical laws which allow life to survive is necessary, but not sufficient by itself, for the existence of life. The question of the origin of life became much more complex with the discovery of DNA, a molecule comprising ‘letters’ that code for the instructions to build the machinery of life. A real vicious circle is that the instructions to build decoding machinery are themselves encoded on the DNA. That life is governed by a complex code leads to the question:
‘Can the origins of a system of coded chemistry be explained in a way that makes no appeal whatever to the kinds of facts that we otherwise invoke to explain codes and languages, systems of communication, the impress of ordinary words on the world of matter?’ (p. 127).
He pointed out that natural selection can’t explain the origin of first life. Ultimately, a vast amount of information is behind life, and in every other case, information necessarily points to an intelligent source, so it is only reasonable that there be a Source behind this information as well.
In 2007, in an interview with Benjamin Wiker, Flew said again that his deism was the result of his “growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe” and “my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source” (Wikipedia).
The point here is not only that prominent atheists changed their mind about their not believing in a believe. But to follow the data, the arguments, and the logical conclusions that follow. It is for this reason that their argumentation is here extensively quoted.
It can be argued that modern scientific investigations and mathematics have shown that there is fine-tuning → intelligent design → a divine creator. If that is the case than the question why doesn’t God interfere, is by experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism answered : There is an interference of an incomprehensible great order.
Than how do we reconcile that there are so much man-made disasters, like War and many other forms of great social injustice?
Here above the horrific murder on 6 million Jews is been brought forward as an example, but there are many other cases of ethnic cleansing, the mass murder on non-combatants and the many wars and huge forms of social injustice.
The psychological and social origins of these human-made conflicts can be identified, and they are within human capacity to resolve. Not with the aim to find some theological excuse, but to solve this because of the moral unacceptability of these human-made conflicts and our responsibility to our fellow human beings.
It took 13.79 billion years before the cosmological fine-tuning did brought us here, it took 3.8 billion years of evolutionary fine tuning to bring modern humans in existence. Because of this fine-tuning we as humans are now in a position to work together with this Kosmic creative force and transform society
It is necessary to identify the different individual and collective developmental lines, the sequences they follow, the developmental phases, the ontological and lateral development, and how the transformations from level to level can be realised. And to eliminate psychopathologies, discrimination, fallacies, polarizing, intolerance, regression and violence with the aim of transforming society.
Within Christianity there is the concept of a kosmic transformation to which the teleological processes lead, an Omega point after which there is no injustice, so many Christians ask:” But why is it delayed?” It is now clear that to reach this Omega point a development in time is necessary. This because the different ontological levels have to be activated one by one before it is possible to generate the feedback loops that will connect the highest ontological level, the divine to the lowest ontological level, the physical world.
The following remarks, mostly verbal, by Kurt Gödel are recorded in Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996. References are to the quotation numbers in the text.
Our total reality and total existence are beautiful and meaningful . . . . We should judge reality by the little which we truly know of it. Since that part which conceptually we know fully turns out to be so beautiful, the real world of which we know so little should also be beautiful. Life may be miserable for seventy years and happy for a million years: the short period of misery may even be necessary for the whole. [9.4.20]
– Kurt Gödel
Christ And Sinner Painting by Vassilli Polenov (1 June 1844 – 18 July 1927)
Scribes and Pharisees bring an adulterous woman to Jesus, who was just teaching. They try to embarrass Jesus: if he abides by the law, the woman must be stoned; if he adheres to his own forgiving principles, he violates the law.
After thinking about it for a while, he speaks the famous words ” He that is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone.” One by one the prosecutors drip off.
Christ And Sinner (detail) Painting by Vassilli Polenov (1 June 1844 – 18 July 1927)