Re: [asa] Europe's Scientific Search for God

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue Mar 25 2008 - 12:03:57 EDT

A friend, not on the list, directed me to the work of Justin Barrett in
connection with this -- looks interesting!:

On Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 1:06 AM, Merv <> wrote:

> Ted Davis wrote
> > Many agnostic and atheist philosophers,
> > mathematicians, and scientists have stated this much in frank terms.
> Our
> > ability to do higher mathematics, for example, was utterly irrelevant to
> our
> > survival in evolutionary terms--our ancestors needed to know absolutely
> > nothing about topology or fractals, manifolds or tensors, even
> differential
> > calculus, in order to outwit mammoths and saber-tooth tigers. Nor did
> they
> > need to know the profoundly shocking fact (from the point of view of
> > naturalism) that mathematics of the kinds just mentioned is incredibly
> > powerful for understanding the external world--a fact that just cries
> out
> > for a deeper explanation. Pinker, Dawkins, Dennett and company are
> flying
> > into the face of the facts on this one. We can not only do mathematics,
> but
> > our mathematics actually matches the subtlest details of the external
> world.
> >
> Actually we aren't in a position to know (on scientific turf) how our
> mathematical abilities impact our evolutionary standing. Being a
> relatively recent blip on the geological time line, it may turn out that
> all these extra "encumbrances" of higher consciousness and mathematical
> savvy do nothing but trigger a geologically sudden species-suicide by
> mass weapons development and profligate amplification of our means of
> effecting evil. We have nothing yet on other species whose tenures were
> in the tens or hundreds of millions of years (if we were to arbitrarily
> select longevity as a signal of virtue or success) or even our own
> pre-mathematical forbears whose generations would still dwarf this last
> couple of moments of time that we proudly herald as the enlightenment
> centuries. Maybe our need to go down this path was part of the
> forbidden fruit in the first place. Now that we've taken it, God works
> with us and allows us to follow that curiosity to much sorrow and some
> redeemed results, or so I speculate. --Sort of like the Israelites
> wanting a king despite God's wishes, but grudgingly He relented --gave
> them over to it, and then even blessed them (and the world) through
> those kings.
> I don't necessarily defend this as the true (Christian) view, except at
> the end; I'm just suggesting that the D&D boys aren't the only ones out
> of their depth in trying to construct or de-construct some
> meta-narrative around evolutionary ideas. We are too. Thank God for
> his Word.
> --Merv
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David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Tue Mar 25 12:05:17 2008

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