Bad Science and Even Worse Theology


The Federalist reports that Nancy Pelosi wants to keep churches closed. When asked to comment on her archbishop’s statement that the state and local governments’ restrictions on worship violate the First Amendment, the Speaker said,

With all due respect to my Archbishop, I think we should follow science on this. And again with faith and science, sometimes they’re countered to each other.

Mrs. Pelosi is wrong in multiple ways in her statement. First, there is less science involved the medical response to the Wuhan virus pandemic than many people imagine. Good medicine, like good engineering, uses scientific knowledge and principles to the extent they are available and applicable to the case at hand, but sometimes a new problem must be dealt with without existing good scientific knowledge available. Guesswork based on experience may or may not give an optimal solution, and some guesses will be wrong. Today’s news about Nashville’s wrongheaded response in closing certain business is just one example of how fallible public health officials, mayors, and governors have been. Continuing to act as if a failed hypothesis is correct in bad science.

Second, while her invocation of science is bad science, her theology is even worse. Without exception, apparent contradictions between what we think we understand from science and theology wind up being caused by a lack of clear understanding of what one or both of them are trying to tell us—or from asking one of them to answer questions about which it has no answers. Science tells us how. Religion tells us why. (See the posts under the Science and the Bible tab in the menu above for more on this point.)

Third, her due respect for the pastoral authority of her Archbishop requires that she submit to his spiritual leadership. If she can not or will not, she has a limited range of options. She can go full Karen and speak with his manager. The Pope would probably take her phone call. (Come to think of it, she might even get support from Pope Francis.) Her other honest choice is to leave the Catholic Church. I expect she will do neither.

The voters of San Francisco are getting what they voted for. Good and hard.

Don’t Know Much Biology


There’s a post over at HillFaith that asks the question, “Is Being Gay Genetic?” The post contains a link to a video from the Colson Center that argues the evidence for a gay gene simply doesn’t exit. The post ends with these words—

That doesn’t mean such a gene will never be found, but it ought to encourage advocates on all sides of these issues to avoid definitive declarations about what the science does or does not prove[.]

Yes, the lack of evidence should lead both sides to be careful in their scientific claims. However, I suspect that if there is a gay gene or gay mutation, it should be recessive because it would tend to limit reproduction and be less likely to be passed to succeeding generations.

There are self-destructive or immoral behaviors which may be affected by genetics. Alcoholism probably is in some individuals. While our individual genetics may make some parts of our lives easier and other parts more challenging, our genes shouldn’t control our moral destiny.

Humans are clearly complementary sexual beings. We come together as male/female partners to create and raise the next generation. Living a life that denies that fact places one at odds with the truth not unlike an unfortunate character in a novel by Dostoevsky. Life is filled with difficult choices, but choosing truth always works best in the end.

Science tells us how. Religion tells us why. They complement each other, and we should pay attention to both.

Quote of the Day


Those who wash their body and cleanse their garments whilst they remain dirty by bad actions and principles, are described by Solomon as “a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness; a generation, oh how lofty are their eyes!”

—Maimonides

Quote of the Day


Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—I Corinthians 15

Quantum Mechanics and Free Will


There are two forms of causality. One is called final causality. It describes why something occurs because of a subsequent event. I put on my shoes to go outside to check the mail. The reason (checking the mail) for one event (putting on my shoes) follows after the event itself. Cause follows effect. Human beings operate in the realm of final causality. The other is called efficient causality. This is the kind of causality I learned about in physics class. In physics, all causes must precede the resultant effects. Or at least they did when I was taking physics over 50 years ago. Now, it turns out that on a quantum mechanical level not only can two physically separated particles influence each other, they can influence each other through time. Experiments indicate that such particles can engage in final causality.

There’s an interesting post over at Mind Matters about the scientific and philosophical implication of quantum mechanical violations of efficient causality. (H/T, Mark Trapscott)

These two views of causality appear to be irreconcilable and they lead to deep mysteries. If everything is physical, then why is causality at the higher, human, level the complete opposite of causality at the lower, physical, level? Because final causality cannot come from its opposite, efficient causality, then something must intervene between the levels. That, in turn, implies that the human level cannot be reduced to the physical level.

Also—

Instead of eliminating the mystery of final causality, the experiments deepen the mystery. There must be an observer in order for the entangled causality to occur and physical processes cannot observe anything. So the very occurrence of reverse causality at the physical level means there is top down influence from the human level to the physical level. Not only is quantum physics unable to explain human final causality, it cannot explain its own final causality by itself. Its final causality is a trickle down effect from the human level.

And herein lies the rub. If human observers are necessary for physical final causality to occur, how do humans come to have the capability in the first place? This question points to a yet even higher source of final causality that extends beyond the human realm, and is responsible for the final causality that humans exhibit.

Thus, these quantum physicists are showing that—far from final causality being a minor physical phenomena that can be explained away with an experiment—our entire universe is imbued with final causality within its very fabric and this final causality must come from some source beyond the universe.

Read the whole thing and Genesis 1:1.

Self Defense for People of Faith


A friend who is an Orthodox rabbi once told me that our lives are not ours but a gift on loan from God and that we are obliged to take care of what belongs to Him. Therefore, my friend reasons that we are should resist the taking of all innocent lives, including our own, even if it requires us to use deadly force against the aggressor. The only time one should give up his own life would be to save another person.

I find no fault in his argument.

Peanuts and Space Pilots


There’s a post up over at NewsBusters about how Charles Schultz stood firm when he was told by CBS executive that “you can’t read the Bible on television” and insisted on keeping the closing scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas during which Linus quotes from Luke 2.

That one small step for an animated character set the stage for larger steps by three space pilots, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, three years later. During the 40th Anniversary celebration for the Apollo 8 mission in 2008, Frank Borman recalled, “We were told that on Christmas Eve we would have the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice, and the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate.” Jim Lovell added, “The first ten verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world’s religions, not just the Christian religion. There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that’s how it came to pass.”

Merry Christmas!

Quote of the Day


For a child is born to us. A son is given to us; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on David’s throne, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever.

—Isaiah 9:6, 7