Uncertainty is Uncomfortable

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November 3, 2010 Tags: Divine Action & Purpose

Today's video features Kathryn Applegate. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

In this video “Conversation,” BioLogos Program Director Kathryn Applegate points to evolutionary science as a way to gain a richer understanding of the glory of God.

Scientists become fairly comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty within scientific data, notes Applegate, but that is not the case for most people. Uncertainty—especially where faith is concerned—can be scary for people who want a black and white answer. Yet science has all of the subtlety of a beautiful painting that is hard to encapsulate in a sound byte.

God speaks through the Bible and all sorts of other things that comport with the Bible, says Applegate. “Science is another way of studying what God does. How he created and how he continues to create. God is active and involved. We see that through the means of a continuous creation through evolution,” she says.

That is really exciting and allows us to better understand the character of God. God is infinitely creative and infinitely good. Looking to Genesis for scientific data is like looking at the notes on the page of a symphonic score without ever hearing the music—you miss all the richness. “Not that the notes aren’t important,” says Applegate, but they do not offer the complete picture and it isn’t the primary purpose of those texts.

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Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.


Kathryn Applegate is Program Director at The BioLogos Foundation. She received her PhD in computational cell biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. At Scripps, she developed computer vision software tools for analyzing the cell's infrastructure, the cytoskeleton.

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Cal - #38368

November 4th 2010

Papalinton:

Well I’d say that the need for Christ is not just a need for the man, for while Christ is fully man, He is also fully God. And God is love. Doing the will of God is something we all fall into regardless of our intellectual persuasion. I recall you saying once before that you find it easier to “love for loves sake, and do good for goods sake”. Then I’d like to inform you that God Himself is present and you serve Him though you do not understand. God is not described as being master of love or dispenser of love, but He is love. The two are synonymous.


sy - #38369

November 4th 2010

@Papalinton

” Christianity cannot and can never be synonymous with the Hubble telescope.”

That is certainly true. Im not sure you would find a Christian who would disagree. The whole point of this web site, is that science is not an alternative to faith. It is not one or the other. Many here have decided to embrace both, considering them complementary, rather than exclusionary. Nature must be studied by scientific methods. But where did nature come from? And why are we here? To answer that question we need something else. Faith gives us an answer to those.


sy - #38372

November 4th 2010

Roland

What is astonishing in the unverse, and our own lives, is not that there is cruelty, hardship and misery. That is all to be expected in a purely natural world. The astonishing thing is that there is beauty, love, kindness and joy. In that we see the hand of God.


Papalinton - #38374

November 4th 2010

@ Johan


Your comment at   #38366 has little bearing on the argument other than a bit of mischievous buffoonery.

And I do appreciate humour as a measure of character.

Cheers


Papalinton - #38376

November 4th 2010

Hi Cal

“Well I’d say that the need for Christ is not just a need for the man, for while Christ is fully man, He is also fully God. And God is love. Doing the will of God is something we all fall into regardless of our intellectual persuasion. I recall you saying once before that you find it easier to “love for loves sake, and do good for goods sake”. Then I’d like to inform you that God Himself is present and you serve Him though you do not understand. God is not described as being master of love or dispenser of love, but He is love. The two are synonymous.”

Pure proselytizing.  Best left in church among the converted.

Cheers


Papalinton - #38383

November 4th 2010

Hi Sy
“But where did nature come from? And why are we here? To answer that question we need something else. Faith gives us an answer to those.”

Only for roughly 20% of the world’s population, Sy.

The other 80% have widely, and in many cases a completely different perspective.  Surely, you would not be so pompous to suggest they are all wrong.  But then again, why wouldn’t you, being a christian.  You remind me of the proud father watching his son marching by at a graduation passing out parade, shouting proudly, “Look!  There’s my son, the only one in step.”

Faith doesn’t give you an answer, it only quells the uncertainty and fear much as a placebo does.

Cheers


nedbrek - #38390

November 4th 2010

The problem I see (for both the atheists and TE’s) is inconsistency.

Papalinton is sure that life is arbitrary and meaningless.  Does his life demonstrate this?  I doubt it.  Does he randomly select what to eat in the morning, including from the bottles under the kitchen sink?  He certainly argues as if he want’s to make some point (telos).

For the TE’s, what is the difference between your god and Michael Vick?  Do you honor him or cry out against him?


Papalinton - #38391

November 4th 2010

Hi Sy

“The astonishing thing is that there is beauty, love, kindness and joy. In that we see the hand of God.”

I don’t and around 80% of the world’s people don’t see the hand of your god in it.  Personally, what I do see is the wonderful humanist generosity that revels in beauty, love and kindness and joy shared and experienced by all peoples, if only we could rid ourselves of the groupish, exclusive, separatist, tribal behaviour that so characterises religion of all stripes.  Indeed if there was one belief system I was asked to nominate, in the horrible event that I had no option but to chose, it probably would be Buddhism.  Buddhists don’t proselytize and seem genuinely humble.

Cheers


Papalinton - #38395

November 4th 2010

Hi Nedbrek
“Papalinton is sure that life is arbitrary and meaningless. “

This is a somewhat juvenile response to a serious discussion Nedbrek.  Such conflation is simply immature.  While evolution may be unknowing and uncaring, life as lived by people is not arbitrary and meaningless.  If you threw all that theist part of your life away, you would still be Nedbrek as you are now, but without all that baggage and anxiety that is a function of the pathology of religious belief.

Cheers


nedbrek - #38404

November 4th 2010

Papalinton, by “meaning” I mean globally, in a lasting way.  The meaning you define for yourself dies with you.  The impact you had on others dies with them.  Eventually, everything is lost when everything, everywhere dies (entropy).


Jon Garvey - #38418

November 4th 2010

Papalinton - #38391

“I don’t and around 80% of the world’s people don’t see the hand of your god in it.”

Where on earth do you conjure up your statistics from? Everybody knows that the world is 96% atheist, 3% agnostic, most of the rest Muslim and Jewish and that there are only 14 Christians left, 2 of whom are actually closet Mormons.

Or to quote a more reliable source, the 20% is actually non-religious/atheist (including those in countries where it’s compulsory), 30%+ Christian, 20% or so Muslim, 13% Hindu, 11% Buddhist and Chinese religions and the rest other religions.

Shooting from the hip seems to be your speciality.


johan - #38443

November 4th 2010

@Papalinton -

//But you do Johan. That is your problem[with naturalism]. //

What I meant to say was, the metaphysical belief itself (ie that nature is all there is) is not in particular what I have a problem with, after all this could be true, however it could be false also. The problem I have is with what such metaphysical beliefs do to science, because they drive science. I have a problem with naturalism for the same reason I have a problem with creationism, sure there are differences when it comes to the technicality of the presuppositions, but that is where the differences end. Both are logical deductions which dictate the interpretation of physical evidence, everything is interpreted on the basis that these beliefs are true (regardless if they were false).


johan - #38444

November 4th 2010

@Papalinton

Also you took some cheap shots at theism by saying we are theists because of “warm and fuzzy feelings”. I personally think atheism is more appealing than theism on the surface, I know that I would love to be an atheist, I would get to make my rules, this would mean I am my own God, I own myself. This is a liberating feeling to say the least, I can see why one would wish this was true. And the thought of there being a God scares the crap out of me, how do I know he will just give me a big fat hug when he sees me? Maybe I am in a lot of trouble, for all I know I could be judged, what if I don’t live up to His standards? What if I was suppose to serve him? maybe my judgment is awaiting me..this stuff scares the crap out of me…it would be a lot less trouble if I could believe in none of this..


Papalinton - #38471

November 4th 2010

Hi Nedbrek
You say,  “Papalinton, by “meaning” I mean globally, in a lasting way.  The meaning you define for yourself dies with you.  The impact you had on others dies with them.  Eventually, everything is lost when everything, everywhere dies (entropy).”

Nedbrek, these are sensible words.  And they are meaningful.  And thanks. But would also add ‘the impact you had on others [the meme] could conceivably last til the end of time [eg the works of Aristotle, the life Tutankhamun, the ‘golden rule’.

Then what’s the point of a god?

Cheers


Papalinton - #38474

November 4th 2010

@ Jon Garvey
Don’t get fixated on the numbers.  My comment was illustrative of the reality.

By the information you provide which I know would be correct, the tenor of my point is still valid and would read,  “I don’t and around 70% of the world’s people don’t see the hand of your god in it.”

The reason christians have 30% of the world cake is because they have been proselytising for longer than any other religion, indeed 600 years at it before the muslins had a go [20%] and buddhists [although much older than the christianities] are at 11% because proselytising was not part of their mandate for world domination.

“Shooting from the hip seems to be your speciality.”  This is ad hominem


Papalinton - #38486

November 4th 2010

Hi Johan

I genuinely empathise with you.  I too expressed the same feelings and anxieties that you are expressing in your comment.

You say, “Also you took some cheap shots at theism by saying we are theists because of “warm and fuzzy feelings.”  I am sorry if my comment is read as a cheap shot.  It was not meant as such, but to elicit the notion of being comfortable with theism, regardless of its veracity or otherwise.

A couple of comments on what you say:

” .. I would get to make my rules”:  no your wouldn’t as neither do I
” .. this would mean I am my own God”:  no you’re not, and neither am I, there is no need for a god
” .. I own myself”:  you would as I do [and that feeling is liberating]
” .. the thought of there being a God scares the crap out of me” :  that is how theism works at the emotional and psychological level [it is a form of entrapment]
[cont]


Papalinton - #38487

November 4th 2010

@ Johan [cont]
” .. how do I know he will just give me a big fat hug when he sees me ..”:  you can imagine this without fear of retribution [or descending into hell] as an atheist and genuinely laugh about it without anxiety
” .. for all I know I could be judged”:  That is the greatest fear that theism can perpetrate.  In the ambit of theism you are never out of the courtroom, on trial, not only in this world, but into the purported ‘next world’ and for eternity.  Pretty powerful stuff, stuff, Johan.  But consider for a moment, do you really think the other 70% of the world’s people are destined to hell simply because they have not even heard of jesus?
” .. for all I know I could be judged”:  if god is omniscient as claimed he already has judged you no matter what you do.  Theism’s got your number.

[cont 3]


Papalinton - #38490

November 4th 2010

@ Johan [cont 3]

” .. what if I don’t live up to His standards”:  for atheists loving others as yourself [the golden rule] and doing good for goodness sake alone is sufficient to live a decent and fulfilling life.
” .. What if I was suppose to serve him”:  another form of guilt establishment and of the entrapment process founded on uncertainty which is so much a part of the human condition. Atheists also experience uncertainty but deal with it with different strategies [innumerable].
” .. maybe my judgment is awaiting me”:  that is what theism wants you to believe in the battle for your mind. 
” .. this stuff scares the crap out of me”:  yes it does.  Fear is the great bogeyman of such a painfully aware species as humans.  Overcoming that fear is our greatest challenge.  Atheism is not easy, and any transition to it will not come lightly as there many emotional and psychological impediments, that have accreted over a long time, to overcome.  I can say though, from a devout believer to one that now rests peacefully without such bands, I love my life, my family and the world I live in, unfettered and happy.

Cheers


defensedefumer - #38500

November 4th 2010

Hi Papalinton,

I have been reading your recent posts, forgive me if I say that I do emphathise with you. I was once atheist (despite bing raised in a Christian family) until August 2007. I won’t be able to handle all your objections to Christianity in one post, so bear with me.

1) You seem to say that the concept of God is held because it is emotionally comforting. But isn’t it equally true that God is comforting because He exists?

2) You commented that we should not “get fixated on the numbers”, and that your “comment was illustrative of the reality”. But was it not you who first raised numbers, and Jon Gravey who provided a more realistic figure in response? Anyway that point is a moot point—but you suggest that Christianity is more widespread due to active evangelism. However, isn’t it also true that God can work through evangelism (which He commanded Christians to do at the end of the Gospels)?

I would like to write more, but I have classes tomorrow and I need sleep.

May you and your family have a blessed week!


nedbrek - #38501

November 4th 2010

Papalinton (38471)

Nedbrek, these are sensible words.  And they are meaningful.  And thanks. But would also add ‘the impact you had on others [the meme] could conceivably last til the end of time [eg the works of Aristotle, the life Tutankhamun, the ‘golden rule’.

Then what’s the point of a god?

God stands outside time (and entropy).  He has promised a new creation.


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