Wednesday, May 25, 2016

RIP-Rest in Peace

RIP-Rest in Peace

I felt pity for these Octogenarians.

All of them have fixed ideas and won't budge an inch from their standpoint.

They only agree to disagree, which is also pity by itself.

I won't contribute anything to the confusion (I think deliberately attempted by editing a word or two here and there by the editors) created by this English Paper to up its dwindling sales. 

I have addressed these issues "point blank" elsewhere to keep my blog activity current and viable, quite independent of the paper discussion.

Please read my piece on Lies and Damn Lies.

Human history is riddled with deception, damn lies and distortions in every field, more so in religion.

Religion is one of those distortions these octogenarians have engaged in without adding any substance.

This is the age group of Senile Dementia and Rigidity.

I suppose the editor should send these guys for medical examination, preferably not a psychiatric and publish their Date of Birth (let the reader calculate the age of their brains).

I must reiterate the brain does not grow (except astroglial cells that replace the lost neural cells) after the age of 30 years and loose millions of cells each day BUT thankfully brain has enough cells for survival and not for intellectual capacity.

None of them were my teachers so I can have a free swipe at them, especially if they volunteer their brains for examination at the time of their exit to the eternity.

I will work out how much their brain was lost with age but won't estimate how much of their brain they were actually using when living.

I leave that calculation to the reader.

I am pretty sure if you send them to a psychiatrist he will definitely find a new form of psychosis.

They are making what is distorted more distorted by their own dementia. 

Below is a reproduction from a local Paper

 As the oldest of those who contributed to this forum, three of whom are octogenarians, may I now say, shall we all rest in peace!

Science, religion and faith

by Dr. V. J. M de Silva

This article is by way of response to the three articles in The Island,by Chandre Dharmawardena (CD) of 21.04.16, Shyamon Jayasinghe (SJ) of 26.04.16, and Professor Carlo Fonseka (CF) of 13.05.16), in response to my article "Science, religion and faith" of 20.04.16. All have critiqued me on various issues. The origin of this ‘forum’ was an article ‘Gods vs. Stars’ by Professor Carlo Fonseka (18.09.15), to which Professor Priyan Dias (09.04.16) and Dr. Leo Fernando (07.09.15 & 23.09.15) have also responded. In this article I am only concerned with the articles of CD, SJ and CF.

My friend CF refers to me as his senior colleague. I believe I am seniorto him only in years; where versatility is concerned, I must say, I am his junior! However this is not the first time CF and I have ‘crossed swords’. Apart from articles in The Island, we have had ‘debates’ across the dining table at ‘Bloemfontein’ medical hostel over 60 years ago! Unfortunately, we have never been on the same ‘wave length’ where religion is concerned! Darwin, evolution, intelligent design, were not issues then.

What CD says – I am afraid he has missed the crux of my argument and attacked the ‘icing on the cake’! However, I will comment on what I think is relevant.

Albert Einstein - I have not said anything about Einstein’s religion in my article, though I have been faulted by both CD and SJ as if I said so. However, since everyone has heard of Einstein, I will briefly mention some things he has said about religion.He of course did not believe in a personal God, though he often spoke of God.The two quotes I have mentioned arerelevant, and reflectwhat he has said about science, religion, and God.

A study on Einstein’s views on religion has been made by Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time magazine. In the Time issue of 5th April 2007, Isaacson quotes Einstein as saying: "……., behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent, I am in fact religious." But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist. "I am not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. ……" "There are people who say there is no God," he told a friend. "But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views."

Regarding Jesus Christ, he has said, "I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene." Do you accept the historical existence of Jesus? "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life." – (Walter Isaacson, Einstein : his life and universe, 2007)

Though not mentioned in the Time article, I believe Einstein was an admirer of Buddhism as well.

So, no atheist can claim Einstein as one of their own. Any Christian who says that Einstein believed in the God of the Bible is equally mistaken. He was not a follower of any organized religion.

What SJ says – He too mentions Einstein. However, I have not, as SJ says, "fallen into the huge trap commonly experienced by apologists for theism". I have not tried to ‘baptise’ Einstein!

Faith in religion - Regarding faith, I said that Christian faith is a response to evidence. Christian faith is grounded on a combination of evidence, including that drawn from history, personal experience, and the world around. The justification for such belief is in the nature of a cumulative case. Like the clues in a detective story, no single item of evidence may be totally compelling on its own, but together they may build up a convincing case, sufficient for trust and action.

As I said, God can neither be proved nor disproved; but we can adduce evidence for postulating a Creator God. Some of these are – the Big Bang, the fine-tuned universe, the moral law, the origin of life. Details are not possible here.

‘God of the gaps’ - SJ says "as long as ignorance of a phenomenon persists, religion seems to become a temporary custodian". May be true. I mentioned the concept of "God of the gaps" – the lazy thinking of attributing to God, what you can’t understand.Science is supposed to be based on methodological naturalism.That is, when doing science, scientists must invoke only natural processes. This is procedural atheism. It does NOT mean that science in general supports atheism.Procedural atheism treats nature as if that is all that exists, simply because nature is all that science has to work with. There are many scientists who believe in God, who use procedural atheism in their discoveries. The philosophical atheist dogma barricades itself into a very small box, shielding itself against any knowledge that does not fit the naturalistic theory. Theists, on the other hand, are entirely willingto admit naturalistic explanations for how something works, while reserving room for supernatural explanations for why something exists and functions.

Darwin’s theory - SJ says that the theory of natural selection explains everything.The only aspect of Darwin’s theory which has received support over the past one and a half centuries is where it applies to microevolution. Neo-Darwinian evolution -- the great claim that unguided natural selection acting upon random mutations is the driving force that produced the complexity of life -- has many scientific problems because such random and unguided processes do not build new complex biological features. Alfred Wallace,the co-discoverer of the mechanism of natural selection, differed from Darwin in his interpretation of evolution. He believed in what he called ‘Intelligent Evolution’.

What CF says–

‘Interpretation of Religion’ - He says that he has come to believe that the universe is religiously ambiguous. Well and good! We all have different world views. CF’s is atheistic, mine is theistic and Christian. The simple point is that nature is open to many legitimate interpretations - atheist, deist, theist, and many other ways – but it does not demand to be interpreted in any of these. One can be a real scientist without being committed to specific religious, spiritual or antireligious view of the world.

Proof – CF faults me for saying, "proof lies in the realm of pure mathematics". Well, it is not I who say so. It is no less a person than Professor John Lennox MA, PhD, DPhil, DSc, professor of mathematics, Oxford University. He said so in the famous ‘God delusion’ debate with Richard Dawkins on 3rd October 2007 at Alabama University, Birmingham, US. These are the exact words, "Now of course we do not speak of ‘proof’. You only get proof in the strict sense in my own field of mathematics, but in every other field, including science, we can't speak of proof.We can speak of evidence of pointers, of being convinced beyond reasonable doubt". Dawkins did not contradict what Lennox said – (from transcript of the ‘God delusion’ debate on the internet).

Satoshi Kanasawa, in The Scientific Fundamentalist website says the same thing, "Proofs exist only in mathematics and logic, not in science.  Mathematics and logic are both closed, self-contained systems of propositions, whereas science is empirical and deals with nature as it exists".

I need not say more.

Religious Scientists – In 1916, sociologist James Leuba polled 1000 scientists taken at random from the 1910 edition of ‘American Men of Science’, on whether they believed in God – defined as a personal God who communicates his thoughts to humanity (answers prayers). 40% believed, and 40% did not. 20% were agnostic. A 1996 poll asking the same questions, showed a slight increase in the percentage of atheists, but the believers were still around 40% - (Edward Larson and Larry Witham, in an article in the journal Nature, 3rd April 1997). This is significant, in that, in spite of 80 years of enormous growth in scientific knowledge, the proportion of believers to unbelievers had hardly changed.

It is of course a fact that in the Western world the majority of scientists, especially those at the top, have no religion. For a large number of scientists, materialism is a matter of faith, not of evidence. 

The ‘Hereafter’ – My friend CF has a bit of fun at my expense, (not that I mind it!), by saying that I will go to heaven and he will "roastin hell for ever" – (God forbid! I don’t think anyone deserves that. Not even Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot). These questions cannot be answered in a short article and I will not try to. CF, I think,does not believe in an after-life, so he has nothing to worry about! As a Christian, I believe that we are accountable to God and will one day be judged. God has his own standards, and He will do what is right.

Conclusion –. This forum has been going on for quite some time. Very often, in this type of debate, much can be said on both sides; but, in the end, we can only agree to disagree.Finally, may I close by quoting Rev.John Polkinghorne PhD. DSc. DD. FRS, former Cambridge Professor of Physics:

"I think I have good reasons for my beliefs, but I do not for a moment suppose that my atheist friends are simply stupid not to see it my way. ... I do believe, however, that religious belief can explain more than unbelief can do." ("Understanding the Universe," – Cosmic Questions, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, December 2001). I can only repeat what he says.

As the oldest of those who contributed to this forum, three of whom are octogenarians, may I now say, shall we all rest in peace!

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