“Frankly speaking, these are just fancy words we use to name something we do not understand.” Christian Boehmer, quoted on MSNBC, discussing dark matter and dark energy.
I haven’t spent much time at all studying dark matter and dark energy (who has time to be an expert on everything?), but I do find the concepts interesting, and mildly amusing. The MSNBC article discusses a new model, where DM and DE are actually the same – a Dark Fluid. I guess it makes sense that if matter and energy are in a sense equal, that so it “the dark side.”
I completely understand the need to create models – which we know are inadequate and inaccurate – to try to understand the unknown, as I have recently discussed. So, I appreciate it when cosmologists admit that possibly 95% of the universe is made up of something which no one as yet understands (although the common person tends to believe that if scientists talk about dark energy, it must exist). It is this parenthetical remark that I find somewhat problematic.
In a world where many people still in effect worship science – that is, take imperfect scientific models to be “fact” in a more concrete sense than do scientists – the use of imaginary particles & energies as well as relying on imaginary numbers for scientific theories has the effect of creating the near equivalent of Athen’s “unknown god” (Acts 17:23). The Athenians had, in essence, created their own “model” to fill in the “gaps” in their understanding. (Now, certainly I am approaching everything here from a theological/philosophical POV, including Dark Whatever. I am obviously not speaking scientifically.)
Paul, as we know, responded to this idol to an unknown god by saying, “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” He wasn’t, of course, speaking specifically about whatever they may have believed about this particular god, but more to the fact that they had admitted a gap in their knowledge. As they didn’t know about the Christian vier of God, this was something unknown to them, and so an appropriate connection was made.
Much has been bantered about by those holding to a materialist worldview about the “God of the gaps,” always derogatorily. This is not to say that they have no unknowns, but rather that they filter the possibilities for what might exist as an unknown. This, now, is not a scientific opinion, but a philosophical one. It’s like saying, “I’m not sure what color the sky really is, but I know it’s not blue, because I don’t believe that the color blue exists.”
For the Christian, however, it is perfectly appropriate to speak theologically and philosophically and proclaim the God which is unknown to materialistic science, the “God of the gaps.” However, I believe that materialists are correct in that such a proclamation is not appropriate as science, but not for the same reason. It is inappropriate, because to attempt to fit God into a scientific box is to fall into the philosophical error of thinking that God needs to be argued, explained, or proved. Absurd. As I’ve indicated in the past, materialism is a defective, inadequate philosophy, and science is limited in what it can address. The truth of the God of the gaps merely needs to be proclaimed and lived.
Is it legitimate to say, then, that the unknown force/substance which holds the universe together and keeps universes spinning faster than science says they should is the same God who created the universe in the first place? Absolutely, in the same way we can say that that the universe we do see is clear evidence of God. Is it science? No… but frankly, my dear…
Quixote, I would say that the absurd notion is that man needs salvation. This is perhaps where Aquinas is dead on target. Although, when I (thought I) had faith, no explanation was satisfactory. Perhaps I didn’t have sufficient faith, but I came to the conclusion that I had created my own need for salvation based on the miasma of religion in which I was raised. (I mean the whole society and not just my family’s religious heritage.)
It is hard for me to take much stock in personal revelation.
Eric, no apologies necessary. Any good comments concerning coffee are always welcome!
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Regarding conviction, once again I must quote Aquinas: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
Further, Christianity isn’t really about believability, but about desperate need met through faith in an absurd proposition. Those who have no need of salvation, have no need of Christianity, believable or not. For those of us who in desperate need believe, this very foolishness is the power of God.
My apologies to those who demand wisdom and signs. None shall be given.
“God of the gaps.” Wow, I haven’t heard that term used since my phil. of science class with JP Moreland!
Convinced of what? I am not trying to convince anyone of anything; it’s not my job. As I believe that the truth of God is universal (and obvious), I merely proclaim what I see (by the way, I also admit my perception is imperfect).
I disagree with your statement that the idea behind science is to “objectively know what exists in the material word.” I actually think existence is a philosophical issue, outside the realm of science. Science merely attempts to understand the relationship between what appears to be the material world. In other words, you really can’t detect reality from the Matrix as long as the Matrix remains consistent.
So, science is at best a method of addressing a subset of knowledge, and it is inadequate to address anything outside of its scope. That being said, it does have purpose and value, and I don’t mean to underrate that. When working with models, care must be taken to recognize their scope, and not confuse philosophical models with scientific models.
Now, a comment about “A faith based on an oft-translated and poorly sourced scripture…” This does not represent my faith. The Bible (if you read legitimate scholars) is a collection of the most well-documented ancient manuscripts we have. However, that is not the basis of the Christian faith.
The Gospel, the Word of God, as discussed in the New Testament documents, existed before the documents themselves were written. You may recall Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This does not speak merely of written documents.
The Christian faith is based on more than written documents, but on revelation; and, not merely individual revelation, but on the agreed revelation and testimony of millions upon millions of people over 2,000 years, added to the pre-incarnational (Old Testament) testimony of millions more over 4,000+ more years.
Christianity is not a cultural phenomenon, nor is it limited to worldview. It has existed in – and penetrated – every age, nationality, race and culture, through pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism, in both East and West. This is a faith which resists control, by the Pope, Emperors, the Communist Party, or James Dobson.
In short, the testimony of the Christian faith is unmatched and stands behind the Bible as a written account of that faith.
So whether it is “satisfying” or not is not really the issue; if hundreds of millions of people with nothing else in common have testified that something is true through personal experience, I’d say it bears some consideration.
But, I’m not trying to convince you… 😉
Yes, but it isn’t all that convincing to me. Nice that you hold that faith in the God of the Gaps, but it isn’t universal. The idea behind science and models is to objectively know what exists in the material word.
The philosophical structure is how we aim to use that knowledge. Models provide a framework for fitting the data and analyzing it until and unless they no longer work. Then they have to be changed. A faith based on an oft-translated and poorly sourced scripture may be satisfying to you, but not to me.
East is east and west is west….