Materialist Worldview and the Resurrection
I came across a very interesting theory in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. The article was dealing with the concept of justice/injustice in a Materialistic worldview.
Some preliminary thoughts. One of the philosophical problems which has emerged since the Enlightenment and its scientific worldview was the process of slowly making religion, particularly Christianity as an outdated kind of thinking, was the problem of values. In other words, what is the origin of values, of any values? Most of us don’t worry about this too much because the fruit of Western thinking, especially the Christian values, still abounds.
But as science makes more of an inroads into people’s trust, as in thinking science can really solve most of our problems, even those of a spiritual nature, what we call good and bad and why we make those distinctions will become very important. A total rejection of religious thinking and a total reliance on science will inevitably make every decision a matter of politics!
That will seem to be the logical when we examine the worldview of science which, with the exception of a minority, is exclusively evolutionist! Why that matters is that pure evolution has nothing to say about values and ethics. Evolution is brutal, impersonal, blind, purposeless, and valueless! If we took a cross section of every ethical maxim and value-laden rule and asked how did that emerge—then the values question becomes obvious! Any kind of thinking which we have arrived at has to be sourced in the very cosmic material which is influenced by evolutionary processes, namely the atoms and molecules of our brain. So the movement of electrons and the chemical processes taking place in the brain is undergoing continual evolutionary change even as I write. It may be slow, but what is viewed today as a “value” may not be down the road—so what is “right”?
With that state of affairs, one could then ask about actions which have made the news in the past few years, for example, what makes Isis’ acts of beheading innocents wrong, or what makes those terrorists who go through theaters and killing as many as they can, wrong? What do we appeal to? Our evolved thinking? Isis’ thinking could also be claimed as “evolved”—evolution makes no distinctions and so then how can we? We really can’t, and that is where ultimately politics will have to be the arbiter and the world may not like where this will eventually head since it will be a matter of who has the power! Hence our future if we are not careful!
Back to the article. One of the questions confronted is the idea of justice and injustice. The article makes one feel the tensions brought about by the science/evolution worldview and its possible atheistic “resignation”! The “absurdity of a world without God” is even mentioned. To avoid the consequences of those tensions, which any reasonable person should recognize as a bad state of affairs, an effort was made to justify “bodily resurrection” as a way of making life seem more attractive. Now, resurrection should not be possible according to present day science—as the article states about science’s thoughts on the matter: “We die, and we remain dead.” But due to some theories about the mathematics of “infinite” quantities, the author sees an opening for the idea of bodily resurrection. These mathematical theories generally prohibit the possibility of science/mathematics ever completely encompassing all “logical possibilities” and with some tricky reasoning an argument is made that bodily resurrection is a “logical possibility” and so not absolutely prohibited by science after all.
The problem that is not answered is whether it really really can happen and following that, what is the “how” of resurrection. And, this whole discussion is not predicated on a God who will do this later, this is all assumed without a “God” behind the scenes. So the idea comes across as just some kind of therapeutic notion, or a kind of “pretending”, which if bought into, makes life easier to face. Sure, in a world in which we are finite, then how are we to really know that bodily resurrection just can’t occur on its own? But the way this is presented is a leap!
In this article, the ultimate injustice is death! If we have a “chance” of being resurrected then that takes away the injustice in a way! Knowing that bodily resurrection is possible serves to counter the injustice in the world and so allows one to not give in to a nihilistic life! But at the end of the day, I really don’t think many people will buy this!!! Some years age I remember a quote by an evolutionist in which, paraphrasing, he said that immortality is a part of life! After all, when we die and our bodies get broken down into its respective atoms, they will be absorbed into other structures of the universe—hence we live on!! Sorry, that just doesn’t capture immortality for me. The same for just the “idea” of bodily resurrection—thinking something may happen due to some mathematical possibility just doesn’t give much comfort—human nature is a bit more complex than to fall for that kind of thing.
It did interest me that the concept of bodily resurrection was considered in this way! Was he influenced by Christianity? I don’t know but, for the writer, there seems to be a “sense” that something beyond this material world that we experience, is needed to offer “hope”.
He is on the right track because in Christianity, resurrection is also the ultimate source of hope! But the bodily resurrections we are looking forward to are not predicated on some “chance” possibility, but instead is based on the actual Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who will do the same for His followers. And for the record, His resurrection has been challenged but never refuted—so this is an actual real hope which has endured, one that a person can stake this life upon, and have for 2000 years! To the Christian, we don’t look at resurrection as a “panacea” idea but a real event which will occur. The confidence one can have in the resurrection after receiving Christ is hard to put into words but to those who believe, it is not hard to understand!
So I end with the Apostle Paul:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable…For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
I’ll stick to that!
Egypt, Pyramids, and Climate Change
A while ago I was reading about ancient Egypt and some of their religious views. I came across a reference concerning the Pyramids and the “why” of their existence. Not necessarily the tomb aspect or things of that nature, but rather the genesis of the actual shape. A photograph was presented showing light rays filtering through the clouds. Descending to the surface in an angled tilt, the overall shape could be represented as pyramidal in shape.
My first photo, similar to the one I mentioned above, gives a possible example of what the Egyptians would have seen many times over their skies. A Pyramid picture follows and the resemblance in shapes is clear. But a question is why would that sunlight view become an impetus for those Pyramids and their shapes?
In studying ancient Egypt, one can’t help but be exposed to many stone reliefs which were made part of all their building architecture. Because of their material nature, thousands of those reliefs have survived the millennia and have been studied for the past few hundred years for historical insights. On many of the reliefs, the sky is portrayed above various types of Egyptian scenes and pictured coming from the clouds are what looks like arms with open hands reaching down.
The third photo shows an example of that type of relief.
My fourth photo indicates how that “arm” representation could have been “imagined” from typical cloud + sunlight interactions (this one is my personal picture). But the question of “why” still pertains. And again we may ask what was there about those images from above which inspired the iconography so important to these people?
I believe part of the answer lies in the Biblical view of Mankind sinning against God through Adam and subsequently becoming alienated from Him because of that sin! One of the consequences of that alienation was the loss of the ability to recognize God in His true nature and attributes. In a sense, Mankind became trapped to physical world and the spiritual world largely became only a shadow.
Romans 1 also brings out the fact that the one thing Man held onto was the knowledge that “something” had to be behind all creation but the details were out of reach. Another point which relates to the Egyptians (and others besides them) was that Man would commit to the worship of the creation rather than the Creator. That would take many forms but physical creation now would act as a substitute in many ways for God! As well, Man has an unavoidable religious nature and has to worship something.
Metaphorically, due to his religious sense, Man looked to the heavens for answers but could not “see” beyond those physical heavens to understand the True God, and thus they had to settle on what they saw with the eye and the imagination then added to that! And for the Egyptians, those basic atmospheric phenomenon and all its interactions gave inspiration, the sun being an obvious influential heavenly body. And what is interesting is that the gods these Egyptians created, which they believed was behind everything, looked just as human as them, literally they created gods in their own image. Many cultures down through time have repeated that aspect and that was the best that could really be achieved. The “shadow” of the True God was present but the proper apprehension of Him was not!
Moving into our modern age, or “postmodern” according to many, societies in many places have lost “meaning”. With the assault on Truth and with more and more sophisticated arguments convincing people that there is no real Truth anyhow, “meaning” becomes problematical. Basic questions such as the purpose of life, etc. become harder to answer and so must be found by other avenues. Though uncertainty may prevail, people do feel a need for a sense of purpose. And while the philosophical aspects associated with the “postmodern” approach to Truth may not be important for many to debate, that sense of loss can be real to an individual and their own kind of searching may occur!
Where does one go to find meaning and purpose if one hasn’t already accepted the true God, the Father of Christ? Well, for one group the answer lies in the Creation itself, just like Romans 1 suggested. If all one can be sure about is what the senses provide, then Creation fills that requirement. And so the “worship” of that creation follows. It’s a kind of worship not involving altars necessarily, but a worship which command the total devotion from the individual. The obvious group I am referring concerning this are those who accept the view of man-caused climate change and that we are maybe only a few atoms of carbon dioxide (mild sarcasm) away from eventual and unstoppable annihilation–hence the earth must be saved from Man and his approach to nature! While some of their points may be accepted, after all we do need to think about our finite resources, their remedies of fixing what they think are the problems, would literally wreck society and create many hardships for people.
Their basic premise seems to be that Man is made for the Earth and not the other way around, as Genesis implies! Their zeal for these kinds of matters seem to approach a typical religious sense and others have made reference to that effect, especially when they are engaged by those who feel that the climate is in no danger from Man and that climate is to complex to be reduced to the simple increase of carbon dioxide atoms, the so-called Climate Deniers.
So the physical heavens have been a source of worship and worship-inspired actions for millennia! It still goes on today, but the cost to society today may be more than we can bear if Earth-worship gets too powerful and has its way among us with the changes it wants!
Chimeras, Humans, and the Nuremburg Code
The Nuremburg Code arose out of the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war crimes following WWII. It was a standard work meant to set limits on human experimentation and consisted of 10 main points. Although not legally binding, it has been influential in many ways and to which various nations and organizations refer when setting up various medical scenarios.
One of the most important principles was the first point: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”
During the Nazi regime consent was NOT in the vocabulary of the ethical profession as they performed many horrendous experiments on prisoners of war and others deemed undesirable. Many of these people were either severely maimed or died afterwards!
There were other principles enunciated by the Code, involving limits of experiments, who can perform them, risk/harm assessments, etc. The overall tenor of the Code emphasized the person first! Results second!
We now live in an age in which science has flowered beyond belief! We are really at a place in which effectively we can “play God”! Much too often breakthroughs far outpace society’s ability to digest the results and to assess the ramifications of these results for the future! Science should pause so that the ethical aspect of these things can be effectively discussed.
Just because something can be done—doesn’t mean it should!
Some of the newer scenarios in the works is “chimera” (animal/human hybrid) research. Before, this involved injecting human cells into animals for the purposes of growing organs for transplants, assessing treatment effects for cancer, etc. Now it has taken a far more serious turn—after all, it seems like the paradigm of science today is that idea that if it can be done then it should be done!
Now the experiments involve mixing DNA of humans and animals at the embryo level. Very serious step! Embryonic stem cells of humans will be inserted into the embryos of animals. What will this do? Scientists are not really sure, but one matter of concern is what happens to the animal brain when human DNA becomes a part of it? A chilling thought!
One of the evolutionary artifacts left over from Darwin is that humans are just another kind of animal, though more advanced. Experiments like this only serve, in the end, to dehumanize”man” even more. After all, we have already by fiat, declared a whole class of humans as”nonhuman”, and I’m talking about those in the womb! And now we are treating human DNA as just some kind of object to be used in whatever fanciful way imagined!
And where does this DNA material come from? The human stem cells used in these “chimera” experiments are from human embryos, which have to be destroyed to obtain the material! By defining life as starting somewhere other than the most logical place, conception, then those embryos are now open for use, and experiments!
The Nuremburg Code says voluntary consent is absolutely essential from the human subject. When a person is unable to provide that consent for whatever reason, then society answers for that person with an assumed “no”! Humans in embryonic form can’t give consent but instead of being protected by society, humans at conception have already been given up as “nonhuman”!
So science is free to experiment—similar to the Nazis! After all, one of ways the Nazis got around the intellectual challenge of doing these horrible things to their fellow man, was to redefine them as something else!
We don’t need to fool ourselves, the ends do not justify the means here! These “chimera” experiments may open up many new things regarding the health of humanity, but at what price! That is why we need to really pause and think these things through—-but unfortunately we won’t! Health, longevity, etc are now seen as something to be grasped at all costs!
But we better beware, some things considered utopian, turn out to be Faustian in the end!
Just wait until animal DNA is pushed for insertion into human embryos! It’s coming! Science will never stop and has the ability over time to justify anything. History, even WWII history can be repeated! Only in a different form!
Do we have the ability to recognize it!