Hamblin & Peterson: Finding God through the history, philosophy of science

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  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Nov. 6, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    If reason and faith are ever seen to conflict, one or the other has moved outside its proper territory.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Nov. 6, 2013 5:27 a.m.

    The more I read the religious based posts here and the myriad of responses to many of life's simple questions the more I think becoming a Hindu makes more sense than Christianity every did, has or will.
    Christianity doesn't have answers because no one agrees on specific doctrine. LDS included. Loosely quoting "as man is God once was, as God is, man me become". I grew up with that being simply a cornerstone of Mormonism. Gordon B. Hinckley was quoted as saying something to the effect that that wasn't doctrine. What?
    Philosophy and science mix with religion poorly. Anytime religion takes on mystical notions that we're "not supposed to know yet" that tries to trump known scientific fact is when I run for the hills.
    I think I'll just try to be nice and let the rest of the world do the battles.

  • donn layton, UT
    Nov. 5, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    Modern scientific cosmology buttresses the doctrine of CEN . According to prevailing scientific theory, the universe had a singular beginning nearly 14 billion years ago. All matter, energy, time, and space exploded into existence from nothing. This basic big bang cosmological model, which is embraced by the vast majority of research scientists because it has withstood extensive scientific testing, uniquely corresponds to the biblical teaching concerning CEN. “Reasons to Believe”.

    RE: Coltakashi, J S rejected the idea of "creation ex nihilo.

    Greek philosophy is the origin of this type of philosophy, not the Bible.

    The Bible teaches in1 Cor. 15:46-47: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second is man is from heaven.”
    Christians, and Jews believe that God created all that exists ex nihilo (out of nothing).

    (Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Rom 4:17 God calls things into existence. Acts 17:28 Creation is dependent on God for its very existence . 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2 God existed before time, implying that He created time .

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 5, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    "....There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter." (D&C 131: 7-8)

    That was Joseph Smith in 1843. Einstein’s theory of the equivalence of mass and energy came 62 years later in 1905. What does one have to do with the other? Probably nothing. At best, an uncanny coincidence or subconscious anticipation of an emerging cognition.

    Joseph is revered as a prophet. Not so for Einstein who claimed no prophetic properties. He wasn't even comfortable at being acclaimed as a genius. He liked describing himself as an artist. Said Albert: “....knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Nov. 5, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    What fact about natural science was ever predicted through "religion"?

    In the 1830s, Joseph Smith asserted that there are "innumerable" worlds inhabited by children of God like us. That was not part of the scientific OR religious orthodoxy of his day. Until two decades ago, to the extent scientists asserted the existence of habitable worlds around other stars, they were acting on faith, without any relevant direct observation. And only very recently have they been able to find worlds that are candidates to host life.

    Joseph Smith also rejected the idea of "creation ex nihilo", stating that the universe is eternal, and did not come into existence in one moment of creation, but is an ongoing process reaching infinitely back in the past and on into the future. In order to understand the uniformity of the expanding universe, cosmologists have adopted the theory that the universe experienced an initial period in which all matter was relatively close and could interact, and then experienced a rapid inflation. Those scientists say that new universes blossom out of the existing material of reality, not out of nothing.

  • Whos Life RU Living? Ogden, UT
    Nov. 5, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    This week in Science! Impossible to list them all, but here are some new findings.

    Three new species were found in Australia after being isolated for millions of years.
    Hot water freezes faster than cold - and now we know why!
    A new type of artificial blood has been developed that could end donor shortages.
    A new species of dolphin was discovered.
    Astronomers discoverd an "impossible" lava covered exo-planet.

    We will find out the unknown. Don't limit your knowledge.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 5, 2013 6:24 a.m.

    The one certainty about science is that we know it is incomplete or incorrect.

    - In the 1940s, medical schools taught that the human heart could not be touched or handled or it would die. Within a couple of decades, heart surgeries were fairly common. Another decade or two and heart transplants became common.

    - In the 1960's, we were told overpopulation would result in world-wide mass starvation and cataclysmic world war by the end of the century. We've since learned that people, on average, produce more than they consume over a lifetime and that they develop technologies that greatly expand the use of our resources. Today we are living a higher standard of living than ever.

    - In the early 1970s, we were told that the world's oil reserves would be exhausted within 20 years. Today there are more known oil reserves than any time in human history.

    The problem with science is that it preaches limitations and negativism, as shown in the examples above. It is also amoral and so the social sciences are leading our society downward instead of upward.

    Religion, properly understood, teaches hope and optimism.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Nov. 4, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    @Tyler D

    I am still waiting for proof of contradictions.

    So far what you have given are just big unsubstantiated claims, without any real supportive true science.

    Your claims are all based on assumptions and supposition much like evolution and climate change.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    Nov. 4, 2013 6:22 p.m.

    Tyler D:

    I guess you missed my point which is true religion == true science == true religion.

    Human science, IMHO, will never be able to determine the meaning of life (i.e. answer the question WHY?).

    If you study LDS theology you would know we know the Bible (and all scripture, for that matter) is not perfect. Good for you (maybe) and I that we have both to deepen our understanding of things. Nothing wrong for a faithful LDS (or any religious) scientist to use the tools of science (i.e. evolution) to understand and predict things that better humanity and help our understanding and learning.

  • donn layton, UT
    Nov. 4, 2013 4:36 p.m.

    @ Maclouie.
    (John 4:24)God [is] spirit. ( *pneuma ο theos). There is ‘*no article’ in the Greek text before the word spirit, and that emphasizes the quality or essence of the word. The word spirit occurs first in the sentence for emphasis. The literal idea would be something like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God .”(the father)

    No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.(John 1:18 NET).” Christ is God (the Son)”.

    Christ… was an Israelite as far as his human nature…. he is God(the Son)… (Romans 9:5) Christ is the unique God-Man see, Hypostatic union.

    See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”(Luke 24:39 ESV) God the Son.

    JS, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Nov. 4, 2013 12:20 p.m.

    Deism is not a far cry from Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, the difference being that the deist's god has not interacted (yet) with his creation, while the others have. Otherwise, all of the attributes of the deist's god are shared with "the big three." There aren't many other gods that can claim this, including the infinite number of Mormon gods, Zeus, the flying spaghetti monster, and almost every other god of history (there may be a few exceptions, like Bah'ai, but even that god falls inside the Islamic tradition). This common ground with deism is a game changer, because if deism is established, all other religions except the big three are eliminated, including atheism and agnosticism.

    As I've noted before, creatio ex nihilo was a doctrine taught for four millennia by the Judeo-Christian tradition, and only discovered 80 years ago empirically. Haha, and they've been trying to overturn it ever since then. The implications are disturbing, indeed.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 4, 2013 11:16 a.m.

    @maclouie – “is an example of an imperfect understanding of things which I described in an earlier post.”

    I think you miss my point – of course we know that light existed before water. My point was we know this because of science. We emphatically DO NOT know this fact because of the Genesis account of creation, and that is just one example of the many mistakes in Genesis (not to mention the rest of the Bible which is filled with Bronze Age nonsense no one, even believers, takes seriously anymore – or do you stone your kids when they talk back?).

    And you may be right that someday all truths will converge, but the evidence is overwhelming that if that were to happen it will be because science did the heavy lifting, often if the face of stern opposition from religion.

    @brokenclay – “empiricists do often deny that any relevant truth can be found outside of the bounds of science…”

    I don’t (surprised?)… my critique is simply about religion treaded into an area (positing facts about the natural world) where it has failed miserably, period.

    Reached comment limit…

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Nov. 4, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    Alister McGrath's testimony is so powerful in the intellectual community. He's got the credentials (both scientific and religious), the intellect, the thoroughbred atheistic history-- and he's found Christianity to be the most persuasive worldview. I'm not sure how this promotes the LDS case, however, since the reasons behind his conversion are unique to traditional theism, which would exclude Mormonism.

    Tyler, you're really comparing apples and oranges. Religious epistemology isn't asking empirical questions, so it can't be faulted when it doesn't get empirical answers. It does, however, claim hundreds of millions of modern-day, direct encounters with God, something which empiricism does not, indeed can never, claim. If you were looking for an immaterial God, why would you employ a method that by definition can only study material realities, a point made by Christian scientists like Francis Collins?

    Christians do not deny that truth can come through empiricism. On the other hand, empiricists do often deny that any relevant truth can be found outside of the bounds of science, resulting in at best a sort of practical scientific positivism. It is therein that the real arrogance lies.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    Nov. 4, 2013 9:59 a.m.


    posted “As man is, God once was; as God is man may be.”? and I am not sure for what reason he posted it. However, I just want to point out that ancient and contemporary as well as restored Christianity sustains this belief. Man is mortal, has a body of flesh and blood, and dies. Jesus who is God came down to earth to become mortal, have a body of flesh and blood and dies. OK, that takes care of "As man is, God once was". Then Jesus (aka God) was resurrected and ascended to heaven with his immortal body and gave us a promise that we would also become resurrected and live with God in Heaven. That takes care of "as God is man may be."

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    Nov. 4, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    Tyler D:

    "We know from astronomy that the stars (light = hydrogen which is necessary for water) formed long before the Earth (let alone water)."

    is an example of an imperfect understanding of things which I described in an earlier post.

    The assumption you made is: this is the first time light had existed. LDS theology knows this was not the first time light existed. I create light whenever I turn on a flashlight yet I was able to jump over a water puddle before flipping the switch.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 4, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    @sharrona – “Flew reversed his long-standing espousal of atheism by endorsing deistic theism.”

    Deistic theism is a far cry from Christianity…

    And these debates go either way depending on the talents of the individuals – Hitchens & Harris typically score as favorable or better against their religious opponents.

    But you raise some interesting points (and I am a big fan of Habermas – oh wait, I meant Jurgen and not Gary) – but I think the explanation is quite simple. As truths about the natural world are discovered, religion either “evolves” to incorporate these truths into its narrative or it dies out. I have no doubt religion will continue to do this for many years to come (assuming it doesn’t destroy us first in its lust for the apocalypse).

    But here’s the crucial point – religion only adapts in this way AFTER truths have been discovered outside of religion (i.e., religion is always playing catch-up with science).

    This to me is not an impressive sequence of events for people & institutions who claim to be receiving knowledge directly from the creator of the universe.

  • maclouie Falconer, NY
    Nov. 4, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    If there are contradictions, they are contradiction of men. Religious and scientific knowledge will always have contradictions until our understanding is perfected.

    I have wandered in the wilderness of arrogant atheism and since became LDS and am glad I have the tools to better understand and appreciate the natural and spiritual worlds. In the end we will find that all truth converges. The journey for each of us then could be one of learning or one of ill informed, arrogant, antagonistic attacks against the other side.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 4, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    RE: Tyler D. Alister McGrath(Calvinists) Among his best-known books are The Twilight of Atheism.

    Also,Jonathan Wells, Ph.D. in molecular cell biology U of C at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale . Evolution vs. Intelligent Design,“ I compare Darwinism to a frozen pond in the springtime. As winter passes and the days grow longer, the ice may look thick, but it becomes honeycombed with melt water. In the next thaw it may disappear overnight.”
    2 of many Scientists that are Christians.

    In 1985, Dr. Gary Habermas and Antony Flew debated the question of Jesus' resurrection as a literal and historical/physical event, before a crowd of 3000 people. Five philosophers and five professional debate judges judged the debate. Of the philosophers who judged on the content of the debate, four voted that Habermas won and the other was undecided. Of the debate judges who voted on debate technique, three voted for Habermas while two voted for Flew.

    In 2004, Habermas conducted an interview with Antony Flew published in Biola University's Philosophia Christi journal, in which Flew reversed his long-standing espousal of atheism by endorsing deistic theism.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 4, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    @the truth

    You seem surprised that religion (or even speculative philosophy) has been making claims about the natural world for thousands of years – my questions are simply a critique of that effort, so I fail to see how they are “the wrong questions.”

    And as far as those efforts go, the early Jewish effort is not even the best of the bunch – for that you would have to look to the eastern religions or the ancient Greeks (e.g., Heraclitus, Democritus).

    @the truth – “What REAL scientific truth… is contradicted in the scriptures?”

    Genesis 1 verse 2 - God was hovering of the water and then in verse 3 he created light – this sequence is a scientific impossibility. We know from astronomy that the stars (light = hydrogen which is necessary for water) formed long before the Earth (let alone water).

    The list of errors is quite long from there…

    PS – and I never claimed science (currently) has all the answers, just that it is a far better method than religion for getting answers.
    And yes, truth is truth… good insight.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 4, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    "I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in polities or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent." - Thomas Jefferson.

  • Simplicio Redmond, WA
    Nov. 3, 2013 6:33 p.m.

    “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” –Sir Francis Bacon, Father of the Scientific Method

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Nov. 3, 2013 5:47 p.m.


    The same comment could be turned and asked of atheists, and be just as valid

    Unfortunately, the comment lacks any useful substance.

    @Tyler D

    You ask the wrong questions, and worse they assume there must be opposition between science and religion.

    Your are declaring contradiction where there is none.

    Truth is truth and can not be in opposition to itself.

    What REAL scientific truth (not some theory or hypothesis, or some current idea that is politically popular) is contradicted in the scriptures?

    Can you tell us science knows all truth, and knows all that is possible and all that is not possible, and contains all knowledge past, present, and future?

    Can you claim the bible contains the full truth of what was said or written, OR that it is translated correctly?

    If there is contradiction you prove there is contradiction.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 3, 2013 7:07 a.m.

    Before we get too carried away in our belief that science and religion are simply equally valid and competing belief systems (an utterly ridiculous claim), we would do well to remember the track record of each when applied to explaining the natural world. The following two questions are relevant and illuminating:

    1.Name a fact about the natural world for which we once had a religious explanation but now have a better scientific explanation?

    2.Name a fact about the natural world for which we once had a (modern, testable & falsifiable) scientific explanation but now have a better religious explanation?

    Religion (but which one?) may indeed point to some truths beyond the realm of empirical observation, but when it seeks to explain things outside its increasingly narrow area of applicability it demonstrates an arrogance – again, totally undeserved given its abysmal track record – far beyond anything we see from scientists or even the so-called “New Atheists.”

    It’s beyond me why anyone would think this “competition” of explanation (which is currently in the neighborhood of ~a million to zero) is likely to change direction anytime soon.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    Nov. 2, 2013 5:30 p.m.

    Absolutely a person can become a rationale faith follower of Christ through science, philosophy and deductive reasoning. Unfortunatley these same things will not lead you to believe in the BOM. It requires faith apart from reason for that.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Nov. 2, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    I can see only one name associated with this "conference" who has any recognized expertise in philosophy and history of science, including Daniel Peterson himself.

  • Apocalypse please Bluffdale, UT
    Nov. 2, 2013 1:58 p.m.

    As a devout pastafarian I see his noodly appendage everywhere and nowhere.

  • donn layton, UT
    Nov. 2, 2013 10:27 a.m.

    RE: Twin Lights,
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and ‘divine nature’—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being…..[“As man is, God once was; as God is man may be.”?] (Romans 1:20-23 NIV)

    Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God(the Son), the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.( Romans 9:5 NLT)Hypostatic union.

    For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form,(Col 2:9 NET)

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Nov. 2, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    It is ironic how church believers try to impose a claim of the unknown as religion.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 2, 2013 7:33 a.m.

    I am no scientist. But I have an amateur's love of the natural world. I find beauty and wonder in it.

    In the natural world I see the hand of God. I understand that others may not. But I find in it not a repudiation of the divine, but a witness thereof.

    Nov. 2, 2013 6:40 a.m.

    This is another superb article from Dr. Peterson. I have come to the same conclusion, though without having wandered in the wilderness of arrogant atheism. "The whole enterprise [of arrogant atheism] rests upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the history and nature of science and on a concept of religion that was rejected by serious scholars decades ago."

    The "religion" which Dawkins and other militant atheists criticize is nothing more than a straw man, and the substitute science they promote requires more faith than does religion. The method by which God is discovered differs only slightly from method by which science advances, the one big difference being that the former does not require mathematical acumen or advanced degrees, but is available to all who are willing to humble themselves before God and seek his will.