Sunday, November 6, 2005

Metaphysical Ruminations

Today is All Saints' Sunday in the Lutheran Church, a day when, among other things, we pause to remember those who have "gone home" during the past year. In his sermon today our pastor remarked that if we understood what our departed loved ones' life was now like we wouldn't wish that they were back with us.

We might add that if we understood what it means to pass from this world of space-time into "divine time" we might be even less inclined to wish them back.

Imagine the "cosmic" time line as a string draped across a sphere. The string represents all of our time past, present, and future. The sphere represents "divine" time which is in contact with every point on the string so that every moment of our past, present and future are in the present of one who resides in divine time.

That would mean that every event that has happened, or will happen, may well be in the present of those who have passed on. It would follow from this that, as difficult as it may be to conceptualize, our own death, which is future for us, is present to the loved one who has already died. Thus the reunion to which we look forward in our cosmic time is already occuring in divine time. We, in some sense, exist both here and there simultaneously.

More than that. If when one dies all of cosmic time becomes their present, then every death which occurs in cosmic time occurs simultaneously with the one who dies. It is for the dying person not as if they were going on ahead of everyone else but rather as if everyone is leaving this life and being born into this new existence together.

For us here on the string of cosmic time the reunion is still future. For those who depart and enter the sphere of divine time, the reunion we anticipate is in their now. For ages Christians have wondered when Christ is going to return for His Church. If cosmic time stands in relation to divine time somewhat as we've sketched it here then the answer may well be that Christ's coming will be at the moment of our death when all of the cosmic future becomes our present. The eschaton will occur at the moment of our passing and it has occurred at the moment of every death which has ever occurred.

Strange stuff, perhaps, but no stranger than what physicists are telling us about the structure of cosmic space/time and the world of the quantum. Perhaps truth, to borrow from a title of a book by Brian Walsh on a different topic altogether, is stranger than it used to be.

Michael Behe

The L.A. Times has a very good article by Josh Getlin on Lehigh University biochemist and author of Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe.

The entire article is both fair and interesting, but here are a couple items worthy of special note:

"Behe does not convince me in the slightest," said Michael Ruse, a Florida State University philosophy professor who wrote "The Evolution-Creation Struggle" and is in the Darwinian camp. "But he's a genial, personable guy, and he comes across as a very serious man. I don't think you can dismiss him as a crank. He is a real scientist."

Although most scientists dismiss Behe, they make a big mistake if they try to demonize him, Ruse added: "We tend to think these people favoring intelligent design are all evil people, and they're not. That's the trouble on my side. Our opponents come in different shapes and sizes, and Michael is proof of that."

Some in the media consistently do what Ruse warns against. They seek to portray anyone as a nut who thinks the Intelligent Design people are on to something important. In order to do that successfully, though, they have to mine quotations from laymen and fundamentalist pastors. When people like Behe and Scott Minnich are questioned about ID the media folk are flummoxed. The leaders of the ID movement just don't fit the stereotype of hicks and yokels that the media wants us to believe comprise the movement.

Evolutionary theory, which gained prominence in the 19th century, is based on scientific evidence that life on Earth has evolved through a process of natural selection and random mutations, with no supernatural plan or purpose.

Note the last prepositional phrase. This is precisely why people like the Dover school board members wanted a little balance in the classroom. Those six words are pure religion. There's absolutely no scientific evidence anywhere that life on Earth has no supernatural plan or purpose, nor can there be. Yet statements like this are perfectly acceptable in high school classrooms, but the contrary of such claims is not. The reader will be forgiven if he or she is beginning to think that the battle in Dover is not over the respective roles of science and religion but rather over whether atheism (or agnosticism) will be permitted to remain the official religious view in our kids' classrooms.

Behe has written one of the few books on intelligent design to reach a mass audience, "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," and is finishing a sequel.

That a sequel is on the way is great news. Not only will a follow-up volume enrich Behe, it'll much more importantly, both to him and to us, also enrich the public discourse on a very important issue. We look forward to its release.