Is God Real?

Posted on October 29, 2020 By

Is God real

Is God real? In short, yes, and this is much easier to perceive when we first consider how our perception of reality has been distorted by our culture:

Have you ever suspected that you are living in the matrix? If so, you are not alone. Many very smart people have considered this to be a very real possibility. For example, an Inc.com article notes that billionaire Elon Musk (of Tesla and Space-X fame) believes that reality as we perceive it is an illusion. In his view, we are living in the matrix, or a computer simulation created by an advanced future civilization.

I agree with Musk that the material world is ultimately an illusion (at least in the manner which we perceive it), and that we are living in a matrix. However, I disagree with him regarding the nature of this matrix.

Is God real? Start by considering that you are living in the matrix.

In the famous Keaunu Reeves movie titled The Matrix, humanity is duped into accepting an illusory, computer simulated reality by intelligent machines, so that they may use human bodies as an energy source. However, you and I (and virtually everyone else in modern Western culture) have been duped into a false and impoverished perception of reality, not by intelligent machines, but rather, by our own philosophically backwards civilization. Further, opposite to the storyline in the movie, the matrix in which we live is the real world, whereas a shadow world outside of the matrix is the illusion. (Please also read my post: The Cultural Smokescreen Which Obscures God).

Zhuangzi (pronounced shong-zee), an ancient Chinese philosopher from the 4th century B.C., superbly expressed the need to be wary of the limitations of one’s own perception of reality when he wrote:

“A frog in a well cannot discuss the ocean, because he is limited by the size of his well. A summer insect cannot discuss ice, because it knows only its own season. A narrow-minded scholar cannot discuss the Tao [translated as “the way” or “the path”], because he is constrained by his teachings. Now you have come out of your banks and seen the Great Ocean. You now know your own inferiority, so it is now possible to discuss great principles with you.”

Be careful to recognize the limitations of your perception of reality.

Is it possible to discuss great principles with you? If so, please read on. To a large extent, your willingness to consider that you might be like a frog in a well who cannot discuss the ocean, or a summer insect who cannot discuss ice, will dictate your ability to escape the doldrums of an impoverished perception of reality. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Anthony Hewish echoes Zhuangzi’s warning to heed the limitations of one’s own perception in the foreword to Questions of Truth:  Fifty-one Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief :

“The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is non-intuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief that God became Man around two thousand years ago, may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense intuitions.”

As Hewish alludes to above, we must all be willing to consider that our common-sense perception of reality is flawed. Please recall that humans have frequently needed to radically revise their understanding of the world in which they live. Prior to the ancient Greeks, for example, it was commonly perceived that the world is flat. Imagine how difficult it must have been for certain ancient people to wrap their heads around the idea that the Earth is round. If this is so, they may have asked, why don’t objects just fall off?

To get an understanding of how you and I were duped into a false and impoverished perception of reality, a quick review of history is in order: Throughout the history of Western Civilization, there has been a chicken-or-the-egg debate of which came first: mind or matter? In other words, what is ultimate reality (defined as the something from which everything else comes, or the ground of all being)? Is matter ultimate reality, or is mind ultimate reality? Did everything begin with basic matter (atoms or subatomic particles)? Or did everything begin with a mind (or a consciousness)? Stephen C. Meyer holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University. In his book The Signature in the Cell, he lays out the historical framework of this debate: 

“Since the time of the ancient Greeks, there have been two basic pictures of ultimate reality among Western intellectuals, what Germans call a Weltanschauung, or worldview. According to one worldview, mind is the primary or ultimate reality. On this view, material reality either issues from a preexisting mind, or it is shaped by a preexistent intelligence, or both…This view of reality is often called idealism to indicate that ideas come first and matter comes later. Theism is the version of idealism that holds that God is the source of the ideas that gave rise to and shaped the material world.”

“The opposite view holds that the physical universe or nature is the ultimate reality. In this view, either matter or energy (or both) are the things from which everything else comes. They are self-existent and do not need to be created or shaped by mind….In this view matter comes first, and conscious mind arrives on the scene much later and only then as a by-product of material processes and undirected evolutionary change. This worldview is called naturalism or materialism.”

The insights of modern physics make a powerful case for God.

Modern Western culture sits firmly in the second of the two camps which Meyer describes above (matter is ultimate reality). This, as Meyer notes, is the philosophical view known as materialism. (The philosophical definition of materialism is not to be confused with the more common definition of materialism, which involves always wanting fancy material things like exotic Italian sports cars, yachts, and gold watches). But, unbeknownst to our culture, modern physics has an entirely different story to tell: We are living in the mental/spiritual matrix of the mind of God. To this end, Max Planck, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who is credited with founding quantum physics, writes in his book The New Science::

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Nobel Prize-winning, Harvard University biologist George Wald reflects Planck’s above comments when he wrote the following in his address to the Quantum Biology Symposium titled Life and Mind in the Universe:

“It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals.”

(Please read Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry’s article The Mental Universe, and University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp’s book Mindful Universe for a more thorough exploration of this subject).

Materialism is impossible to rectify with modern physics.

Authority opinions from scientists such as Planck and Wald are valuable. But a precise understanding of the scientific reasons why the mind of God is clearly the best candidate for ultimate reality is crucial to lifting oneself outside of the impoverished shadow reality of materialism (the philosophical stance that matter is ultimate reality). Quantum theory describes the motion of objects at the atomic and subatomic level. One of several quantum phenomena which confound materialism is known as nonlocality. According to nonlocality, it is impossible to isolate an unobserved quantum object, such as an electron, into a bounded region of space. Science writer George Musser discusses nonlocality in an article for Scientific American:

In everyday speech, “locality” is a slightly pretentious word for a neighborhood, town or other place. But its original meaning, dating to the 17th century, is about the very concept of “place.” It means that everything has a place. You can always point to an object and say, “Here it is.” If you can’t, that thing must not really exist. If your teacher asks where your homework is, and you say it isn’t anywhere, you have some explaining to do.

The world we experience possesses all the qualities of locality. We have a strong sense of place and of the relations among places. We feel the pain of separation from those we love and the impotence of being too far away from something we want to affect. And yet multiple branches of physics now suggest that, at a deeper level, there may be no such thing as place and no such thing as distance. Physics experiments can bind the fate of two particles together so that they behave like a pair of magic coins. If you flip them, each will land on heads or tails—but always on the same side as its partner. They act in a coordinated way even though no force passes through the space between them. Those particles might zip off to opposite sides of the universe, and still they act in unison. The particles violate locality—they transcend space.

The impossibility of rectifying materialism with nonlocality is easy to recognize: How can one suggest that nothing exists except for material things when the entire concept of location or place is an illusion? Location is a crucial aspect of material objects. As Musser notes above, if you cannot point to an object and say “here it is,” then in what sense can that object be said to really exist as a material thing? But subatomic particles do not really have a location, as nonlocality illustrates.

Additionally, the observer effect of modern physics (click here for a video illustration) demonstrates the primacy of consciousness. In other words, mind or consciousness (read: God) comes first, and matter is the product of mind. This is an utterly alien concept to the modern Western mind, but it has been repeatedly demonstrated by modern physics. The observer effect demonstrates that, prior to observation by a conscious observer, particles exist only in an immaterial form known as a possibility wave (or probability wave). It is only after an observation is made by a conscious observer that these possibilities “collapse into actuality,” thereby taking on material form. So, in reply to the above mentioned chicken-or-the-egg debate about whether mind or matter is primary, the observer effect answers in favor of the former.

Readers who find this bizarre or difficult to understand are in good company. Even the world’s most elite physicists are amazed and puzzled by the observer effect. But it has been repeatedly scientifically verified. Physicist Amit Goswami (University of Oregon) explains how the famous double-slit experiment illustrated in the above video conclusively demonstrates that mind (read: God) is the ground of all being or ultimate reality in Creative Evolution:

“First let’s discuss how the idea that consciousness is the ground of being is forced upon us by quantum physics. Take the idea that conscious choice affects the quantum possibility wave of an object by collapsing it into an actual event of our experience, into a “particle,” so to speak. This idea seems dualistic at first. Why? Because consciousness has to be nonmaterial to effect collapse. To see this, suppose, as materialist biologists believe, that consciousness is a brain epiphenomenon. But undoubtedly the brain is a conglomerate of elementary particles, quantum possibilities, so it must itself also consist of quantum possibilities. Ditto for any epiphenomenon associated with it.”

“Now do you see why consciousness, to effect collapse, must be nonmaterial? A material consciousness arising in the brain is only a possibility wave. A possibility wave acting on a possibility wave just makes a bigger possibility wave. No actuality ever comes out of such an interaction (von Neumann 1955).”

“You may not have noticed, but we can see paradox in the observer effect in another way. The observer chooses, out of the quantum possibilities presented by the object, the actual event of experience. But before the collapse of the possibilities, the observer himself (or herself) consists of possibilities and is not manifest. So we can posit the paradox as a circularity: An observer is needed for collapsing the quantum possibility wave of an object; but collapse is needed for manifesting the observer. More succinctly, no collapse without an observer; but no observer without a collapse. If we stay in the material level, the paradox is unsolvable. The consciousness solution works only because we posit that consciousness collapses the possibility waves of both the observer (that is, his or her brain) and the object simultaneously from the transcendent reality of the ground of being that consciousness represents.”

(For a more thorough understanding of why materialism is incompatible with modern physics, and how modern physics demonstrates the primacy of consciousness, please watch the following video):

Physicist Richard Conn Henry from Johns Hopkins University explains how people with atheistic leanings recoil at the clear theistic implications of modern physics:

“Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism.” [“Solipsism” is defined as “the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.”]

You (yes you) have experienced expressions of God’s love.

You (yes you) have received glimpses of the higher reality of the mental/spiritual matrix of the mind of God before, but you may have dismissed them. Perhaps it was in the beauty of sunset, or in the beauty of a mountain meadow filled with flowers. Or perhaps it was in the scent of a flower, or in the love of a human relationship, such as a romantic relationship or a parent/child relationship. English poet William Blake (1757-1827) beautifully captured the essence of this higher reality when he wrote:

To see a world in a grain of sand

And heaven in a wild flower

To behold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour

Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry concludes his article titled The Mental Universe, 

“The universe is immaterial—-mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.”

But true enjoyment will remain forever unobtainable to those confined to the impoverished shadow reality of materialism. Escaping from this bleak shadow reality will consist of realizing that you are an interconnected spiritual being with a higher purpose ordained by an infinite mind or spirit (God), or “The mind [which] is the matrix of all matter,” in the words of Max Planck, the founder of quantum physics.

God made a sacrifice for you when he sent his Son Jesus to lay down his life on the cross, and he offers you the experience of unimaginable enjoyment of being in a deep relationship with him. As C.S. Lewis wrote:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Release from the doldrums of a life impoverished by materialist philosophy begins by asking God for forgiveness for your sins, accepting the gift which has been offered to you by merit of the sacrifice he made for you on the cross, and committing your life to His purposes for you.  

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Additional  citations relevant to this subject matter appear below:

“Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe is also weird, with its laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it passes beyond the scale of our comprehension.”

–Freeman Dyson, who currently holds the professorship in physics at Princeton University formerly held by Albert Einstein.

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“Materialist philosophers argue that consciousness is a construct of matter. But Plato and almost all the great classical philosophers, East and West, suggest the opposite. Matter, at least as it appears to us, is a construct of consciousness.”

“…Consciousness is real and creative. It is not just a by-product of the world we perceive. Without consciousness, that world, the world we perceive, would not even exist. Another quantum physicist, John von Neumann, said, ‘All real things are contents of consciousness.’ This is about as far from materialism as you can get – and it is an interpretation of modern physics, not some weird religiously inspired theory.”

–Keith Ward, retired Professor of Philosophy at Kings College, London, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, as quoted in his book Is Religion Irrational?

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“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence. Believe me, everything that we call chance today won’t make sense anymore. To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”

–Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and string theory pioneer. 

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“…This sense of wonder leads most scientists to a Superior Being – der Alte, the Old One, as Einstein affectionately called the Deity – a Superior Intelligence, the Lord of all Creation and Natural Law.”

Abdus Salam, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in electroweak theory. He is here quoted in his article entitled Science and Religion.

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“I have looked into most philosophical systems and I have seen that none will work without God.”

“Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.”

Physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who is credited with formulating classical electromagnetic theory and whose contributions to science are considered to be of the same magnitude as those of Einstein and Newton.

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“For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence—an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered—-’In the beginning God.’”

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Arthur Compton, discoverer of the Compton Effect.

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“Those who say that the study of science makes a man an atheist must be rather silly.”

“Something which is against natural laws seems to me rather out of the question because it would be a depressive idea about God. It would make God smaller than he must be assumed. When he stated that these laws hold, then they hold, and he wouldn’t make exceptions. This is too human an idea. Humans do such things, but not God.”

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born, who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics.

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“I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”

Lord William Kelvin, who was noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics, the concept of absolute zero and the Kelvin temperature scale based upon it.

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“Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other.”

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

Max Planck, the Nobel Prize winning physicist who founded quantum physics, and is therefore one of the most important physicists of all time.

Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers,trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 184

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“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.”

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Paul A. M. Dirac, who made crucial early contributions to both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.

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“In the history of science, ever since the famous trial of Galileo, it has repeatedly been claimed that scientific truth cannot be reconciled with the religious interpretation of the world. Although I am now convinced that scientific truth is unassailable in its own field, I have never found it possible to dismiss the content of religious thinking as simply part of an outmoded phase in the consciousness of mankind, a part we shall have to give up from now on. Thus in the course of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on the relationship of these two regions of thought, for I have never been able to doubt the reality of that to which they point.”

Werner Heisenberg, who was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics for the creation of quantum mechanics (which is absolutely crucial to modern science).

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“We all know that there are regions of the human spirit untrammeled by the world of physics. In the mystic sense of the creation around us, in the expression of art, in a yearning towards God, the soul grows upward and finds fulfillment of something implanted in its nature. The sanction for this development is within us, a striving born with our consciousness or an Inner Light proceeding from a greater power than ours. Science can scarcely question this sanction, for the pursuit of science springs from a striving which the mind is impelled to follow, a questioning that will not be suppressed. Whether in the intellectual pursuits of science or in the mystical pursuits of the spirit, the light beckons ahead and the purpose surging in our nature responds.”

–The great physicist Sir Arthur Eddington, as quoted in his classic work The Nature of the Physical World

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“Science is a game – but a game with reality, a game with sharpened knives. If a man cuts a picture carefully into 1000 pieces, you solve the puzzle when you reassemble the pieces into a picture; in the success or failure, both your intelligences compete. In the presentation of a scientific problem, the other player is the good Lord. He has not only set the problem but also has devised the rules of the game – but they are not completely known, half of them are left for you to discover or to deduce. The uncertainty is how many of the rules God himself has permanently ordained, and how many apparently are caused by your own mental inertia, while the solution generally becomes possible only through freedom from its limitations. This is perhaps the most exciting thing in the game.”

“Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”

Erwin Schroedinger, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory.”

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The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”.

“…Discussing the creation of the universe in terms of time and space is like trying to discover the artist and the action of painting by going to the edge of the canvas. This brings us very near to those philosophical systems which regard the universe as a thought in the mind of its Creator, thereby reducing all discussion of material creation to futility.”

—The knighted physicist, mathematician, and astronomer Sir James Jeans, as cited in his book The Mysterious Universe.

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“The more I study science the more I believe in God.”

“I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.”

Albert Einstein

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“It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

James Joule, propounder of  the first law of thermodynamics (on the conservation of energy). Joule also made important contributions to the kinetic theory of gases. The unit of heat known as the “Joule” is named after him.

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“An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.”

–Srinivasa Ramanujam, who is widely regarded to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time (on a similar plane with such greats as Archimedes and Newton).

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“Is intelligent mind an ultimate and irreducible feature of reality? Indeed, is it the ultimate nature of reality? Or is mind and consciousness an unforeseen and unintended product of basically material processes of evolution?”

“If you look at the history of philosophy, it soon becomes clear that almost all the great classical philosophers took the first of these views. Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel—they all argued that the ultimate reality, often hidden under the appearances of the material world or time and space, is mind or spirit.”

–Keith Ward, retired Professor of Philosophy at Kings College, London, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (mentioned above), as quoted in his book Doubting Dawkins, Why There Almost Certainly is A God.

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“It is as impossible to conceive that ever pure incogitative matter should produce a thinking intelligent being, as that nothing should of itself produce matter.”

–Philosopher John Locke, who was one of the most important Enlightenment thinkers.

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“Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and everywhere, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing.”

Sir Isaac Newton, who is widely regarded to have been the greatest scientist of all time, as cited in Principia, which is perhaps the most important scientific work of all time.

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“In the New Story of science the whole universe–including matter, energy, space, and time–is a one-time event and had a definite beginning. But something must have always existed; for if ever absolutely nothing existed, then nothing would exist now, since nothing comes from nothing. The material universe cannot be the thing that always existed because matter had a beginning.  It is 12 to 20 billion years old. This means that whatever has always existed is non-material. The only non-material reality seems to be mind. If mind is what has always existed, then matter must have been brought into existence by a mind that always was. This points to an intelligent, eternal being who created all things. Such a being is what we mean by the term God.”

Physicist George Stanciu and philosopher Robert Augros, as cited in their book The New Story of Science.


  1. [Your video example: https://youtu.be/YqyUkWArY3A%5D

    This has no evidence of your imaginary friend. It does however show evidence of criminals chained in a cave watching shadows. Has it ever occurred to you that your perception of evidence is misguided. Much like the men chained in the cave, all you see are the shadows of your religious cult. Totally blinding you to truth and reality.

    I prefer this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE

    • Yet again, Resident Atheist, you have furnished nothing in the way of logical argumentation to rebut my points. Rather, you have engaged in strident rhetoric and insults. I assure you that all intelligent third-party viewers of this discussion are aware that rhetoric and insults are a convenient substitute for logical argumentation. This convenient substitute is needed precisely because you do not have a fact-based, logically constructed rebuttal to my points.

      And, yet again, you have committed the logical fallacy of Appeal to Ridicule. As the preceding link notes, ridicule is a desperate crutch for those who cannot argue their stance with logic.

      You are much like a poker player who has just showed his hand: If you held your atheist views for logical reasons, you would have responded with calm, cool logic. But the anger in your reply betrays the emotional and ideological (as opposed for rational) basis for your atheism.

      Just think about it: When Albert Einstein was defending his Theory of General Relativity from its many detractors, how much ridicule do you suppose he needed to use? Answer: Zero, because his basis for belief in his theory was logical, NOT emotional or ideological.

  2. [But the anger in your reply betrays the emotional and ideological (as opposed for rational) basis for your atheism.}

    LOL. You can hear anger in written words. You mush have some really big ears.
    I am calling FALLACY on you.

    • Ok. Please point out SPECIFICALLY where I use anger. Vague allusions to unspecified instances of anger are meaningless.

      The anger in your comments is immediately apparent: You use ridicule (“imaginary friend”) and strident rhetoric (“your religious cult” and “you must have some really big ears,” etc.)

  3. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Dear Scott,

    Your article on is God real reminded me of another conversation with an atheist. The atheist said that science and the 5 senses is the BEST means to acquiring knowledge about the world. In short, methodological naturalism is the best method to figure out reality. The atheist said that there is a good reason inference wise to think that this is all there is. Thus atheist philosophers like Dr. Graham Oppy argue that naturalism can offer a good argument if not better than theism.

    At the fundamental modal explanation, there is not a difference between atheism and theism. The atheist says then why prefer atheism. Because the track record for science is exemplary. That’s why scientists would never prefer demon possession argument to some sort of mental illness.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      Atheists argue that “the track record for science is exemplary.” But there a big problems with using this as an argument for atheism.

      1) The track record for science leading to truth is anything but exemplary. Please recall how bloodletting had scientific consensus behind it for more than 2,000 years, and taught that diseases were caused by an “imbalance of bodily humors,” as the preceding link discusses. Please also recall how, if you were alive during the Victorian era, you would likely have had to undergo a phrenology test as part of a job interview, as this post discusses. Phrenology (which was the science of its day, but is regarded as superstition today) was a scientific paradigm which believed that the shape and features of a person’s skull revealed that person’s personality traits:

      “Hmmm, Joe seemed like a great candidate for this job, but his skull features indicate a tendency towards dishonesty and theft. We’d better not hire him.”

      Click here for several dozen more examples of scientific theories which used to be scientifically respectable, but now are perceived as pseudoscience.

      2) Science only addresses the material level of causation. Suggesting that a full description of material causes provides an explanation of ultimate cause is a non-sequitur (does not follow) and commits is what is known in philosophy as a category mistake. This is because material causes do not belong to a category of things which can be said to address ultimate cause. The two following statements commit the same category mistake because they confuse material causes with an explanation of ultimate cause:

      “Life was not caused by God, but rather, by natural processes.”

      “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather, by manufacturing processes.”

      Natural processes and manufacturing processes are material causes, but a full account of material causes does not address the question of ultimate cause. To suggest otherwise is a non-sequitur.

      • Jeff Mwangi says:

        Dear Scott,

        You are absolutely correct. Normally I see this kind of argument from new atheists but I was surprised that the esteemed atheist philosopher Dr. Graham Oppy believes that we can’t say anything about the fine tuning argument because we don’t have enough data to make the conclusion that the universe was fine tuned.

        Yours Sincerely,
        Jeff

        • Dear Jeff,

          I think you are starting to realize how people do not come to atheism as a result of reasoning. Rather, atheism is arrived at as a result of psychological and emotional factors which override logic (ideology).

          Scott

          • Jeff Mwangi says:

            Dear Scott,

            I hope you and your family are well and safe.

            You are correct. Especially since atheists are always the ones accusing Christians of bias and fearing death so our ape brains come up with stories to put down the fear of death. Maybe it is time theists start playing the same game.

            Anyway, I hope you write more articles. When you touch upon the philosophy of mind, mathematics, and physics, they always intrigue me. I hope you won’t stop writing these articles.

            Yours Sincerely,
            Jeff

  4. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Dear Scott,

    Have you ever considered the replies to Dr. Larry Laudan on the demarcation problem? Here is a good response by atheist philosopher of science Dr. Massimo Pigliucci: https://philpapers.org/rec/PIGTDP

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      I tried to access that article, but it requires an account to be set up. Can you copy and paste the important parts which you would like me to respond to?

      Scott

      • Jeff Mwangi says:

        Dear Scott,

        I hope you and your family are well.

        Kindly give me time to read it and summarize the paper carefully so as not to strawman a professional philosopher. I hope that is okay with you.

        Anyway, I hope you write more articles. When you touch upon the philosophy of mind, mathematics, and physics, they always intrigue me. I hope you won’t stop writing these articles.

        BTW, Scott, it is interesting that Wikipedia called Dr. Stephen C. Meyer a “pseudoscientist” for endorsing intelligent design. I don’t think ID is pseudoscientific simply because they don’t believe life evolved from purely naturalistic processes. In the end, theism and atheism will continue to brawl since the time of the ancient Greeks.

        Yours Sincerely,
        Jeff

        • Jeff,

          I plan on writing more articles and making You Tube videos, but right now, my time is consumed with caring for our newborn son.

          As you recall, the problem with calling someone a “pseudoscientist” is that scientists and philosophers of science have been unable to demarcate between science and pseudoscience…despite 2,000 years of trying. Larry Laudan’s influential article The Demise of the Demarcation Problem touches upon this.

          Those who label Meyer a pseudoscientist must first come up with an arbitrary means of demarcating between science and pseudoscience.

          Scott

  5. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Dear Scott,

    I hope you and your new family have been well.

    In the past, you have stated that scientific consensus is almost useless. Does this mean that theists should be careful using cosmological arguments such as the Kalam which rely on the consensus of big bang cosmology? Keep in mind that you have stated in the past that a scientific theory is useful but not the ultimate truth. Could you clarify how theists can use scientific theories in the field of philosophy without constantly overturning arguments based on new knowledge from scientists.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      It is not accurate to say that arguments such as Kalam rely on consensus of Big Bang cosmology. Please recall that the Kalam cosmological argument originated with 11th-century Persian Muslim scholastic philosopher Al-Ghazali…many centuries before Big Bang cosmology. Al-Ghazali formulated a meta-scientific argument, and then Big Bang cosmology came along to merely supplement his logic.

      Please recall that scientific observations are merely supplements to meta-scientific positions. For example, an atheist is free to make the scientific observation that natural laws govern the motion of material objects. But this only leaves us with the meta-scientific question of who or what governs natural laws (or “regularities”). No new information from science will ever answer this question because it is beyond science (hence meta-scientific or ontological).

      The big question is which meta-scientific position makes the most sense based upon the totality of what we know…not just what we observe from science. As an example, recall that the Kalam cosmological argument is based in part on the philosophical stance that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. And we know from mathematics (not science) that an infinite past is mathematically impossible.

      David Hilbert (among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, and the father of finite mathematics) said:

      “The infinite [as in infinite past time] is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea.”

      Many other contemporary mathematicians (such as mathematicians Frankel, Rotman, Kneebone, Zermelo, and Robinson) draw the same conclusion. Mathematicians Rotman and Kneebone state in The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Numbers:

      “The conception of an infinite sequence of choices (or any other acts)…is a mathematical fiction—an idealization of what is imaginable only in finite cases.”

      But rather than just taking some highly prominent mathematicians at their word, wouldn’t it be nice to understand for oneself just why infinite past time is mathematically impossible? Fortunately, the mathematical concepts herein are easily accessible to non-mathematicians. Below is an excerpt from The Case for the Creator by Lee Strobel and features an interview the author conducted with William Lane Craig:

      “Let’s use an example involving marbles,” he said. “Imagine I had an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. In fact, suppose I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles. One way I could do that would be to give you the entire pile of marbles. In that case I would have zero marbles left for myself.”

      “However, another way to do it would be to give you all of the odd numbered marbles. Then I would still have an infinity left over for myself, and you would have an infinity too. You’d have just as many as I would–and, in fact, each of us would have just as many as I originally had before we divided into odd and even! Or another approach would be for me to give you all of the marbles numbered four and higher. That way, you would have an infinity of marbles, but I would only have three marbles left.”

      “What these illustrations demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. In the first case in which I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero; in the second case in which I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity; and in the third case in which I gave you all the marbles numbered four and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results.”

      “For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. You see, the idea of an actual infinity is just conceptual; it exists only in our minds.”

      And lastly, in 2003, physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth corroborated to formulate a proof that demonstrates that an eternal universe is not possible. It is known as the BVG theorem. Alexander Vilenkin is very blunt in regard to the implications of this proof:

      “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

      Because we don’t yet have a quantum theory of gravity, we are not able to provide a physical description of the first split second of the physical universe. BUT, the BVG theorem is independent of any such description of that early moment of the universe. Their theorem implies that the quantum vacuum state of the very early universe (which some popularizers have misleadingly and incorrectly characterized as nothing) cannot be eternal in the past, but must have had an absolute beginning. For example, even if our universe is just a tiny part of a so-called multiverse, composed of many universes, the BVG theorem requires that this multiverse itself must have a beginning.

      So, with a speculative model such as a multiverse model, our universe’s beginning was not necessarily the ultimate beginning, but the multiverse of which our universe is a part DID have an ultimate beginning. All that speculative models (multiverse, loop quantum gravity models, string models, and closed time-like models, etc.) achieve is push the beginning back a step! What makes the BVG proof so powerful is that it holds regardless of the physical description of the very early universe.

      Borde, Villenkin, and Guth were able to mathematically prove that any universe which is on average in a state of cosmic expansion throughout its history (Hubble parameter H has a positive value) cannot be infinite in the past, and must have a past space-time boundary. And we know that our universe is in a state of cosmic expansion as a result of observations such as redshift, and other galaxies moving away from us.

      • Jeff Mwangi says:

        Dear Scott,

        Thanks for replying. This makes more sense than I first realized.

        Scott, at the heart of the Christian message is the ability to choose right and wrong. I read a comment which gave the following argument. It seems to be a case against free will.

        Perhaps they are some reasons that compels you to choose x but you don’t really have control over what convinces you so choosing x isn’t really free. Well, let’s say you do have a choice, we can just continue the question, why is the reasoning for x more convincing than y, and so on and so forth. You get a kind of regress and it seems like our choices have to be brute contingencies at best, in order to be free but this also means there isn’t a deeper explanation, there is no reason why x and not y. Thus, it’s arbitrary/random.

        The first issue I notice is that if out choices cannot be controlled, does this mean that this argument, when applied to itself, cannot be controlled.

        I would like to hear your thoughts on this and thank you for answering all my questions.

        • Jeff,

          My post titled Atheists Cannot Live as if Their Beliefs are True is here relevant:

          The real world provides a laboratory to test worldviews. The problem for atheism is that it fails in the laboratory of the real world. For example, atheism insists that we are nothing but mindless robots made of meat, without free will. But atheists cannot live as if this were actually true.

          According to atheist biologist Richard Dawkins,

          “We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.”

          But does Dawkins treat his wife and children as if they are blindly programmed robot vehicles? One would hope not. And how could a blindly programmed survival machine determine truth? Making a truth judgement is a voluntary mental process, not a chemical or mechanical process such as digestion or a bodily reflex. Regarding this point, Nancy Pearcey writes in her book Finding Truth:

          “Materialism reduces thinking to biochemical processes in the brain, akin to the chemical reactions in digestion. But digestion is not something that can be true or false. It is just a biological fact. If thinking is reduced to brain processes, then our ideas are not true or false either. But in that case, how can the materialist know that materialism is true? The philosophy is self-refuting.”

          Pearcey continues:

          Just as scientists test a theory by taking it into the lab and mixing chemicals in a test tube to see if the results confirm the theory, so we test a worldview by taking it into the laboratory of ordinary life.

          Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say,

          “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”

          It seems that we are forced to accept the reality of free will. Humans are so constituted that they cannot function without it. It is one of those stubborn facts that must be accounted for by any worldview.

          Consider Marvin Minsky of MIT. He is best known for his pithy phrase that the human brain is nothing but “a three-pound computer made of meat.” Obviously, computers do not have the power of choice; the implication is that neither do humans. Surprisingly, however, Minsky then asks, “Does that mean we must embrace the modern scientific view and put aside the ancient myth of voluntary choice? No. We can’t do that.”

          Why not? Minsky goes on: “No matter that the physical world provides no room for freedom of will; that concept is essential to our models of the mental realm.” We cannot “ever give it up. We’re virtually forced to maintain that belief, even though we know it’s false.” False, that is, according to Minsky’s materialist worldview. This is an amazing case of Orwellian doublethink.

          Let’s apply the idea that we do not have freewill to the stance that we don’t have control over what convinces us (as you put forward): This means that the person who thinks we don’t have freewill was compelled by the laws of nature to argue against freewill. And the person who does believe in freewill was also compelled by the laws of nature to argue in favor of his stance. This means that, apparently, the laws of nature like debating against themselves. But aren’t the laws of nature supposed to be universal? The idea that we do not have freewill does not pass a basic smell test.

          Scott

  6. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Dear Scott,

    I hope you and your family are are well.

    I just wanted to say thank you for all our engagements. Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I look forward to new articles in the coming year.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

  7. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Dear Scott,

    I hope the new year has started out well and that you and your new family are safe. Your writing has been very helpful to me. I hope to one day become as knowledgeable as you.

    You have written that a past infinity is impossible. However, atheist philosopher Dr. Alex Malpass has argued that future events occurring in an infinite time are impossible. He argues that an eternity in heaven won’t make sense since if an infinite past is not possible, then an infinite future is equally not possible since a beginning must have an end.

    Could you share your thoughts on this point?

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      Malpass confuses and conflates infinite time with eternity. These are not the same thing. Eternity refers to timelessness, or an existence outside of time. It does not refer to an infinity of time.

      Please recall that time is one of the properties which originated at the Big Bang…in addition to space, matter, and energy. According to Einstein, time and space are different parts of the same fabric, hence the term spacetime.

      Scott

  8. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Dear Scott,

    How have you been doing my friend? I hope you and your new family have been well and are staying safe.

    I was sent a paper by a skeptic that said that it is possible for an order to come from a disorder. Here’s the link to the paper: https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-thermodynamics-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-20140122/

    I have read it and I found it intriguing. Is it possible for order to emerge from disorder? For example, Dr. England says “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine a light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant”. Apparently, this shows that order can come from disorder in a thermodynamically open system.

    I would really love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeff

    • Thanks Jeff. Yes, we have been staying safe and avoiding COVID.

      If you look what actually happens in the natural world, it is immediately apparent that raw energy alone is not sufficient to produce order from disorder. The second law of thermodynamics (SLOT) states that the measure of disorder in a system (entropy) tends to increase over time. SLOT is the reason your clean room gets dirty, your shoes wear out, iron rusts, and you and I age, etcetera.

      To reverse the disorder caused by SLOT, the energy flow must be DIRECTED by external effort. For example, when your clean room gets dirty, you don’t just shine a heat lamp over it and expect it to get clean. Rather, you expend energy in a DIRECTED fashion by using a vacuum cleaner (electrical energy) on your rug, and by using your muscles (burning calories to expend chemical energy) to dust your dirty table tops, etc.. The energy flow must be DIRECTED by external effort.

      By Dr. England’s logic, placing a decomposing dead animal in the sunlight (to infuse it with heat energy) should cause it to recompose. But this is unequivocally NOT what happens.

      Dr. W.M. DeJong studied Mathematics and Thermodynamics at the University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands, and is consultant and researcher of innovation and change at INI-Consult. He wrote two EXCELLENT papers which rebut England. See below:

      https://www.evoskepsis.nl/docs/Evolutionary%20theorie%20and%20empirical%20science.pdf

      https://www.evoskepsis.nl/docs/Does%20the%20Second%20Law%20of%20Thermodynamics%20only%20hold%20for%20closed%20systems.pdf

      As DeJong points out, any order produced by unintelligent natural processes must be maintained by directed external effort. For example, the unintelligent natural process of wind blowing sand on beach may cause orderly ripples in the sand. But the moment the direction or speed of the wind changes, the same natural processes which created the ripples more quickly destroys them. Only directed external effort can maintain the ripples. Please read both papers in their entirety, but here is an important excerpt from one of them. As DeJong notes, if thermodynamics worked as people like England suggest, the chemical industry would be out of business, because undirected energy flows would be able to produce complex molecules:

      Order out of chaos

      Ilya Perigone [1] has shown that ridges in the sand can emerge by random energy flows; but
      he overlooked that these ridges are not maintained by these random energy flows; the next
      day they disappear again and are replaced by other ridges in an other direction. Perigone
      has also shown that living nature is constantly transforming molecules, cells and organisms
      into more complex structures; but he overlooked that this ordering is driven by the DNA
      program present in any cell, and not by random energy flows.

      In the chemical industry simple molecules are transformed into complicated molecules by
      directed energy flows, not by random natural processes. If random, natural processes would
      be able to turn chaos into order, complicated molecules would become available for free; all
      energy problems on earth would be solved and the chemical industry would be out of
      business.

      The second law and the natural course of events

      The Second Law of Thermodynamics captures a fundamental property of our physical reality:
      everything will ultimately decay, driven by natural processes. Only directed effort can
      maintain, expand, or transform a system, resulting in a decrease of its entropy. The
      assertion that the second law does not hold for open systems denies a fundamental property
      of our physical reality.

      Dean Overman reflects DeJong’s above comments in A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization:

      The probabilities of abiogenesis appear greater when considering an open system with an energy source maintaining the system far from equilibrium and from the disorder which inexorably occurs pursuant to the Second Law in equilibrium processes. Although the earth has an energy source from the sun, energy alone is not sufficient to support abiogenesis. Dynamite can be a source of energy, but unless the energy from its explosion is directed in an intelligent manner, its energy will be more destructive than constructive. For abiogenesis to occur, energy flow must be joined to a mechanism which will direct it to generate sufficient information content into inert matter. Information content is the minimum number of instructions needed to specify the structure. The information content of living systems contains an enormous amount of specified instructions.

      In reviewing the effects of energy flow one must distinguish between the maintenance of order in a living system and the origination of a living system from inert matter. Energy flow simply maintaining a system far from equilibrium and protecting it from the effects of the Second Law may sustain the order in a system, but energy flow alone is not sufficient to explain the complexity of life’s origin. For example, Toby, my family’s golden retriever, eats heated frozen, pre-packaged turkey dinners to provide himself with energy which builds and maintains his body. To maintain his life, he needs to have a stomach, liver, and intestines which provide a mechanism to join the energy available from the turkey dinner to the work required to sustain his body. This example of the maintenance of a golden retriever’s body is fairly simple to understand because the energy flow is joined to the required work by the dog’s mechanism of DNA, enzymes, and RNA. The origin of this mechanism, however, is a deep, unsolved mystery.

      The solution to the puzzle of life’s origin requires an explanation of the development of molecules with intense information content. By what means is the energy flow which keeps a system far from equilibrium capable of generating information content? How did the mechanism which stores, transfers, and directs information arise spontaneously? Natural selection is not a viable explanation for the origin of DNA and enzymes, because, as noted above in the critique of the mathematical probabilities of a monkey typing the Bible, natural selection only acts within systems which already have replicating capacity. Again, natural selection does not exist in prebiological molecules.

      These points are worth restating: Energy flow from a source, like the sun, can keep a system far from equilibrium. However, the energy flow which maintains a system far from equilibrium does not contribute towards the origin of life if the energy flow is not directed in some manner into generating generating information content into inorganic matter. The energy flow does remove the system from equilibrium and prevent the total disorder which flows from the Second Law, but that alone is not sufficient to begin life, because life requires energy flow to be directed to produce information content in inert matter. 99 The issue of the generation of information content is the fundamental problem in the origin of life theories, not the influence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

      As discussed many times in this book, scientists frequently confuse the concepts of order and complexity. To construct a plausible theory for the origin of life, scientists need to discover a theory which explains the generation of complexity, not the generation of order. The Second Law of Thermodynamics addresses the orderliness of energy. Order may arise spontaneously in inorganic systems far from equilibrium. In terms of the formation of the first living organism, however, the applicability of the Second Law in a system far from equilibrium is not so significant, because complexity rather than order is the issue. In this sense order is nihil ad rem.

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