Creation

A couple of conversations brought my thoughts to this subject this week. I no longer argue the points, if someone wishes to deny the obvious there is no need to bang my head against a wall.

One friend was commenting on the beauty of nature, and the intersection of mathematics. She was fascinated with a broccoflower, the beautiful spiral upon spiral of its form. Marveling at the mathematics behind the spiral sequences (F_n = F_{n-1} + F_{n-2}), the Fibonacci sequence.

Broccoflower

The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical explanation of perfect spirals, the arc following a pattern in which each segment is equal to the sum of the previous two. 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 etc. The number of petals on a flower is always a Fibonacci number. Someone entered the conversation with what appeared to be secular point of view after I said “God really likes math”. I didn’t feel like getting into an argument, so I just walked away. His point was “It is not surprising that basic evolutionary paths follow some of the basic mathematical rules. What else could they do?”. Well, what they could do is adapt for each situation depending on the requirements of that environment, which would negate any pattern in global systems. Instead, evolution follows a path opposite the second law of thermodynamics. While the rest of the universe follows a pattern of decay, evolution works towards more complex and specialized systems. By accident.

An article in Scientific American about cosmic dust entering Earth’s atmosphere, and thus being a part of the dust you clear from your windshield, was met with the most nonsensical of comments. It took me a moment to remember that my fellow Scientific American readers are for most part non scientists. The Earth is not separate from the cosmos. The Earth was made from intergalactic dust and continues to accumulate and shed matter.

A third incident occurred during an interview on NPR. The host desperately wanted a number of the planets that would have life on them, and the astrophysicist he was interviewing was very polite in refusing to speculate in any way. The host wanted to validate the Drake equation, the astrophysicist was attempting to point out that the variables are, well, variable.  This is the Drake equation:

$N = R_{\ast} \cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_{\ell} \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L$
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

and

R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

The initial problem is that not a single variable can be defined. If life is indeed a random event, what exactly is life? There remains a reasonable debate over whether human beings are the most intelligent form of life on Earth, how do we expect to locate other forms of life if we have no idea what they might look like, or how they might communicate? What scientist in his right mind could approach this equation with a data set of one (Earth)? In creating such an equation, we make the assumption that human beings are the definition of “Life”. It is both egotistical and demeaning to suggest we are the highest expression of life, and our existence is so random we could happen anywhere.

There is no conflict between the belief that God created the universe and our understanding of the mechanics of that creation. There is no reason to not believe that when God said “Let there be light” the next event was “The Big Bang”. There is no reason not to believe that the creation of Earth for the purpose of supporting humans involved several steps, and that evolution is one of the tools used. There is every reason to not believe that life is an accident, yet the same people who think we “just happened” think the exact same events took place on other planets, with absolutely no guidance other than chance.

2 comments on “Creation”

1. Mike Reith says:

Well argued. Post-modern thinking is frustrating to deal with, e.g., the belief that man knows and understands a sufficient amount of information that he can answer any question, now or at least in the future, with the god of science, and that for now anything not provable can be explained away by random order x billions of billions of years. I remember having a conversation with a fellow who wanted desperately to hang on to such an explanation, that all events occurred by random. My advice was to see that common sense proves such a theory wrong. Did he drive to work a different route each day? Did he look for milk in a different part of the supermarket each time he went to buy some?

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2. […] As Janice continued decorating, she came across an old stocking, and asked if she could hang it in the living room. It was green, with an image and the sentiment of a message to Christians that Atheists believe in Science instead of God. I told her not to hang it in the living room and she asked if it would be okay to hang it in the bedroom. It was not the location I objected to, it was the stocking itself. I personally found it offensive and Janice  couldn’t quite understand, “It’s just a joke between atheists” she said. When I replied “Like the jokes about Nig***s you can share with your friends?” I think she understood. Insulting other religions is not funny, and is often a display of ignorance. There is no disparity between Christianity and Science, as I have mentioned before. […]

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