Contending for the Faith

What is Real?

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Clifford Goldstein


Series Code: CFTF

Program Code: CFTF000005

00:20 Hi, Cliff Goldstein here,
00:23 and I want to welcome you to Contending for the Faith.
00:26 We are continuing our series
00:28 on the questions of faith and science,
00:31 because I have said on a number of the programs
00:34 in many ways faith and science
00:36 work together very harmoniously,
00:39 very harmoniously though times there have been problems
00:43 and this is been exacerbated
00:45 by men like Richard Dawkins Slake,
00:47 the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.
00:52 These men have been deemed the new atheists
00:55 and they could be best described as kind of
00:58 oh, atheists fundamentalists.
01:01 But with fundamental is being used
01:03 in the worse sense of the word.
01:06 And that's because these man are,
01:09 they use a phrase hardcore ontological materialists.
01:14 That means that they believe that
01:17 all existence is purely material,
01:20 as an atoms, and protons, and fermions, and bosons
01:25 and that's all there is to anything
01:27 and there is no room for the supernatural,
01:30 there is no place for the divine,
01:32 no place for the spiritual
01:34 as in a belief in God's spirituality.
01:37 They utterly refuse,
01:40 you know, to allow any idea of God
01:42 or the supernatural or a faith
01:45 as in anyway traditionally understood
01:48 and they are promoters of the myth,
01:51 yes, the myth that's science
01:55 is all rationality and reason and experiment and truth
02:00 and that religious faith is just well, you know,
02:03 silliness and superstitions and nonsense.
02:08 And you know, interestingly enough
02:11 there position is really not a scientific position.
02:15 It's not something that science even demands.
02:19 It is a metaphysics position, a philosophical position
02:24 that some tried to push off as science.
02:29 In fact, listen to this well know--
02:30 this quote by a scientist.
02:32 This quote is been made the rounds for a while.
02:35 Listen to this "We take the side of science
02:39 in spite of the patent absurdity
02:42 of some of its constructs, in spite of the tolerance
02:46 of the scientific community
02:48 for unsubstantiated just-so stories,
02:53 because we have a priori,
02:55 we have a prior commitment to materialism.
03:00 It's not that the methods and institutions of science
03:04 somehow compel us to omit material explanation
03:09 of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary,
03:13 that we are forced by our a priori adherence
03:17 to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation
03:23 and a set of concepts that produce material explanations,
03:28 no matter how counterintuitive,
03:32 no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated."
03:38 Now I don't want to brag down and in all this
03:40 and you can find this quote and pursuit yourself.
03:44 But what he is saying here
03:46 is that even though science itself does not demand,
03:50 that scientists expect a material
03:53 explanation of the world,
03:55 a purely materialist explanation of the world
03:58 the science do it, the scientists do it anyway.
04:02 And that is therefore
04:03 just right out of the gate before hand.
04:06 They have-- that's because right out
04:07 of the gate before hand
04:08 they have made a commitment to do that,
04:10 and it's not science demands it they just do it anyway.
04:14 Now I don't want to be,
04:15 but I find that in amazing quote.
04:18 I'm really stunned by how open and honest this guy is
04:22 and he also gives the reason why they do it.
04:25 Listen to the reason why they locked themselves
04:27 in this dogmatic a priori materialism.
04:30 Here is what he said,
04:33 and he goes "It's not that the methods
04:34 and institutions of science somehow compel us
04:37 to accept a material explanation
04:39 of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary,
04:42 that we are forced by our a priori adherence
04:45 to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation
04:50 and a set of concepts that produce material explanations,
04:54 no matter how intuitive-- how counterintuitive,
04:57 no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated."
05:01 Then he says "Moreover, that Materialism is absolute,
05:06 for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."
05:12 In other words, the idea that they can't possibly
05:15 allow anything smacking of God, of faith,
05:18 of the supernatural into their science,
05:21 this is the idea.
05:22 Now I risk reviewing
05:23 a lot of unanswered questions here by moving on
05:27 but I don't brag down in all of this,
05:29 but this is the point I want to say,
05:32 is that if you hold this view,
05:34 automatically by default that without any real
05:37 even any real reasons at all other than
05:41 just wanting to keep out
05:42 what has been deemed the God hypothesis,
05:45 if you want to keep that out of your science
05:48 then there is no question that faith
05:51 which we understand here
05:52 at the Jhudiel Christian tradition.
05:55 And science which you know refuse as it's now practice,
06:00 then you gonna have conflict.
06:01 How could they not be in conflict?
06:03 One absolutely doesn't allow anything at all like that in
06:07 the other is that's foundational toward thus,
06:11 you have the conflict.
06:14 But I said before on programs
06:16 for most of the history and science and religion,
06:20 the term science really this is a much later term
06:23 that really wasn't a conflict at all.
06:27 We tend to view the history of faith and science
06:29 through the lens of Galileo in the church
06:32 or through the creation ever loops
06:34 and controversy and there they--
06:36 and they have there roles
06:37 but there is much more complicated than that.
06:41 In fact, listen to another quote,
06:43 this from a book titled "Science and Religion,
06:46 A Historical Introduction.
06:49 Yet science is even more changeable them theology.
06:53 If the historical landscape is littered
06:55 with discarded theological ideas,
06:58 it is equally littered with discarded scientific ones.
07:03 Failure to understand this historical reality
07:06 has led those who see the march of science
07:09 as one of inexorable progress to view controversies
07:13 between science as religions in-dispute as disputes
07:18 in which religion was always wrong
07:20 and science is always right.
07:23 The true factors of the case are very much more complex
07:27 and refuse to be summarized in these simple terms."
07:33 That's heavy, especially this idea,
07:37 this idea about the landscape being littered
07:40 with discarded scientific ideas.
07:44 You know, we forget that
07:46 there were some very smart educated scientists
07:50 who had very good for belief,
07:52 reasons for belief in scientific theories
07:55 that we today know or believe turned out to be wrong.
08:01 And that's why we today, we need to be aware
08:04 that many of the things
08:06 that science tells us could be wrong as well.
08:10 In fact, I think that many of them
08:12 and particularly when it comes to human origins are wrong.
08:16 And that's it we been looking at
08:17 and what I want to continue to look at in this series
08:21 and if you been following along you know
08:22 what I been saying,
08:24 but I want to repeat this again
08:26 we have to realize that science as powerful as it is,
08:30 it doesn't have all the answers.
08:33 And I don't think could ever have all the answers for me
08:38 because me as believer in the God of the Bible,
08:41 I think that reality is too big, too broad,
08:44 you know, for the relatively narrow scope
08:47 that science works in.
08:50 I think of the text in 2 Corinthians 4:18
08:54 "While we do not look at the things which are seen,
08:57 but the things which are not seen.
09:00 For the things which are seen are temporary,
09:04 but the things which are not seen are eternal."
09:10 I don't think that scientists with their atom smashers
09:14 or their test tubes or their space telescopes
09:17 are gonna be too much help to us there, do you.
09:22 And one of the reasons we are looked at
09:26 is you saw the program before,
09:28 one of the things we looked at
09:29 if you saw on the program before,
09:31 the program is called Seen is Believing.
09:34 We looked at this fancy term called empiricist epistemology.
09:39 Epistemology is the study of what we of--
09:42 how we come to know what we know
09:45 and empiricism is how we come
09:48 to know things through our senses.
09:50 It's a way we come to knowledge okay,
09:54 that we use our senses.
09:55 I mean, for instance if you say in mathematics
09:59 you know, when I divide 65-- 650/5 you get 130.
10:05 You don't actually sit there and count those things, do you?
10:08 You don't count them out and so on.
10:10 No, you can't have certain mathematical techniques
10:13 that help you give you the answer.
10:16 If you say that the number 100
10:18 is greater than the number five
10:20 you don't have to get 100 things
10:21 and count them out
10:23 and five things and look at them.
10:24 No, you don't have to use your senses.
10:26 You can just use rational thought to do that.
10:31 No math and reasons are another form of knowledge
10:34 another kind of epistemology.
10:37 Though science uses math,
10:39 it uses it to inscribe empirical things,
10:42 it uses it to describe things of the world
10:44 as they come to us.
10:46 It can use math to explain moments of the stars,
10:49 the planets, the asteroids and light.
10:52 But it still studying them,
10:54 it's still an empiricist method.
10:57 And weather you're doing chemistry
10:59 or weather you're doing physics or weather you're doing biology
11:03 you are employing an empiricist epistemology.
11:07 You are studying how things appear to us.
11:11 In fact, this leads to a very deep question,
11:17 a question that people have been debating
11:20 for literarily thousands of years
11:22 and amazingly enough even with all this time
11:25 they still haven't come to an answer.
11:30 You know, and this is the question,
11:32 if you remember one of the early shows
11:35 we talked about Isaac Newton
11:37 and his great work on the theory of gravity okay,
11:41 but when got done we looked at it,
11:43 we realize that Newton never explained
11:46 what was going on, he never gave a definition.
11:49 All he did was describe how it--
11:52 how nature reacted.
11:54 All he did was make-- you know, make predictions.
11:58 He never gave any answer as to what was really going on.
12:04 So he just told us how nature itself acted,
12:08 didn't give us any explanation of why.
12:12 But you know there are some who would say
12:16 that Isaac Newton didn't even get that far.
12:19 They argue that Newton or any science at all does not
12:23 and cannot tell us at all about what nature itself,
12:28 about that what nature itself really is
12:31 or what it's like or really what it really does.
12:35 Instead and listen to this here,
12:37 because this gets new odds but it's very important.
12:41 They said all science can do is tell us
12:45 how nature appears to our senses.
12:49 That is it tells only how nature
12:52 and the world appeared to us,
12:54 how it looks to us as human beings constituted
12:58 the way we are but that's a radically
13:00 different thing from telling us
13:03 what nature is in and of itself.
13:06 Now this is really a very profound
13:09 and important idea
13:11 and I want you to listen carefully
13:13 and think it through,
13:15 because if you think this through with me
13:18 I think it will help you see that
13:20 there is a very fundamental and inherent limit to science
13:25 and that could help you not-- so I have to be so afraid
13:30 when somebody makes a scientific statement
13:33 that challenges your faith.
13:35 Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.
13:39 I could remember a number of years ago
13:42 I went to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC
13:45 and that's kind of where some of the real strange "art" is.
13:50 And I remember I went to this exhibit
13:52 and I was in a dimly with room, it was so dark that the ushers,
13:57 an usher had to guide me by my hand
14:00 and sit me down on a chair
14:02 because it was so dark I couldn't see anything.
14:06 And I'm just sitting in this dark room
14:08 and I'm wondering this is art?
14:10 You know, I don't want to seem like philistine
14:12 but I'm wondering what's going on here.
14:14 Well, anyway after a little while
14:17 I noticed these lights started to come out from the wall.
14:21 It was like-- there was just this
14:22 tiny dim light in the wall and it's started to get,
14:25 it started to get larger and larger
14:28 it actually started to come out from the wall
14:32 and I'm assume before long the room was quite well lit.
14:36 well, as I said sitting here wondering you know,
14:40 what kind of art this is and as I'm sitting there
14:45 the usher came in with another person,
14:48 but what was fascinating the usher had to guide
14:52 the person in by hand
14:54 and sit the person down in the seat
14:57 and I remember thinking
15:00 what did that he need usher for?
15:02 Why did he need the usher to bring him in?
15:05 The room was filled with light now,
15:08 the room was filled
15:10 as the light moved out from the wall.
15:14 So what was that to do with the usher?
15:17 Then it hit me, the room to my mind
15:22 which had adjusted to the light,
15:24 my eyes have adjusted to the light,
15:26 my brain had adjusted to the life,
15:28 seemed bright enough,
15:31 but to the man who just entered in his--
15:34 in his mind the room was so dark
15:37 as it was to me when I first came in
15:40 that he needed an usher to sit him in the chair.
15:45 Now here is the question,
15:49 the reality of the room seemed different to him
15:53 than it seemed to me.
15:55 Now listen to me here
15:56 because this is where it gets crucial.
15:59 There was only one room
16:01 and there was only one light in it,
16:04 so whose view of the loom,
16:06 the room and the light was the true one
16:09 the view that accurately corresponded
16:12 to the immediate environment of both of us?
16:15 That is the room to me was filled
16:19 with enough light to me to see clearly
16:21 because my mind and eyes had adjusted.
16:24 There were receptors in my mind, in my head
16:26 that perceive the room where perceiving differently
16:30 from the man who had just come in.
16:32 To the man who had just come in
16:34 the room was too dark to see anything
16:38 so he couldn't find the seat.
16:40 Again listen to me here, there is just one room,
16:46 there is just one light okay, but my mind perceived
16:52 it radically differently than did the man who came in.
16:58 So now I ask the question,
17:01 what was the truth the reality about the room
17:05 and the light themselves, okay?
17:08 What was the room and the light really like
17:10 in enough themselves okay,
17:13 apart from these two subjective beings myself
17:17 and that man perceiving it?
17:20 Can you see what I'm trying to get that here?
17:23 I know how the room looked to me
17:25 but it looked to me radically different
17:27 than it looked to that man okay.
17:30 So who has had the true view of the room and the light?
17:34 Was there really in any absolute sense,
17:40 what that room was like?
17:42 I look at it this way,
17:44 suppose when I entered that room
17:45 instead of two eyes I had ten eyes
17:49 and suppose my eyes could see an greater electromagnetic band
17:54 than our eyes now can, same room, same light,
17:58 the same immediate environment,
18:01 the reality the room was exactly what it was
18:03 that didn't change at all,
18:06 but the receptors, the receptors
18:09 that I brought in would be radically, radically different.
18:14 So how would the room appeared to me than
18:17 and who would have the correct view of the room?
18:20 That was who would have the correct view
18:23 that wasn't filtered through senses or any one senses?
18:28 Suppose someone came in with 100 eyes
18:30 and with x-ray vision same room,
18:33 only it appear completely different to that person
18:37 than it would to those who had two eyes or twenty eyes.
18:42 But see so I'm asking the question now
18:46 what was the truth of the room as it came to our senses,
18:51 but what was the room itself really like?
18:54 If the Germans have a phrase
18:56 they call it the "ding an sich" the thing in itself.
19:01 Now what appears in our eyes because we have just seen,
19:04 our eyes will give us different appearances,
19:07 it will look different.
19:09 What was it in an of itself?
19:12 The German philosopher Immanuel Kant,
19:15 once he talked about the world as it appears to us.
19:18 He called that the phenomenon
19:21 and the world as it was in an of itself
19:24 and he said there is a gap between the two
19:28 and it's impossible for us
19:30 as human beings to cross that gap.
19:35 Now if this is idea is new to you
19:40 take little time to let the implication sink in
19:44 but there is this idea that there is a difference,
19:48 a divide between what is out there
19:51 in the real world,
19:52 the world as it is in an of itself
19:55 and how we as subjective beings precede it.
20:01 I think they are right there is this gap.
20:03 That some argue that we can never know
20:07 the world as it really is,
20:10 but only as we as human beings with our limited brains
20:14 and our limited sense receptors allow us to know it.
20:20 You know, I really think there is something to this
20:23 and I think it can explain for instance how right now,
20:28 right now I believe in this room
20:31 or may be where you are sitting right now
20:33 there could be angels and demons
20:35 right there in the room with you,
20:37 right now in the room with us
20:39 as it certainly as real as my voice or any thing here
20:43 and yet we don't see them, we can't sense them.
20:49 I mean, think about it too,
20:52 I'm gonna be silent for a second,
20:55 you don't hear anything,
20:58 how many millions of cell phone calls
21:03 are in the room right now?
21:05 How many millions of cell phone calls
21:07 are in this room as real as my voice,
21:09 as real as this table right here,
21:12 as real as the air, as real any of that
21:16 and yet do to the limited preceptors that we have,
21:20 the limited view of reality that our minds,
21:23 and our brains, and our bodies,
21:25 and our heads give us we completely miss them
21:31 or take another idea.
21:34 Suppose everyone in the world
21:37 were color blind to the color red,
21:41 suppose in all the cosmos there is no being
21:44 who had the receptors
21:46 that could take the electromagnetic waves
21:49 that project the color red and translate them in--
21:53 and translate them into the sensation of red okay.
21:57 Sure what ever molecular structure it is that
22:00 creates those specific light waves
22:03 they are real, they exist
22:05 but it takes us and our specific receptors
22:10 to give us the color red.
22:12 But as I said suppose in all the universe there--
22:16 all the universe were color blind
22:19 that nobody have those receptors
22:22 could there be the sensation of red.
22:27 I would say, no. It's impossible.
22:30 Now notice I use the word sensation,
22:35 is a sensation something that exist
22:38 only in our minds, its okay,
22:42 is that the same thing as the reality
22:44 that gives us the sensation?
22:48 I'm staring at the Mona Lisa let say,
22:52 I have certain sensations in my minds
22:56 shapes, colors, forms I see it all.
22:59 But what am I'm really seeing?
23:01 I'm having sensations in my head
23:04 and what our sensations
23:06 but sense impressions that exist in my mind.
23:09 I mean the painting is out there,
23:11 the Mona Lisa is out there but it isn't in my head
23:15 the painting itself isn't my head of course not.
23:18 What do I see,
23:19 but electromagnetic waves that the painting reflects.
23:24 Well, actually I don't even really see them
23:26 if you want to get technical about it.
23:28 If you really want to get technical about it
23:30 I don't see that waves coming at me the speed of light.
23:33 I said its have impressions in my head
23:36 but these magnetic waves they hit my eyes
23:39 and then the nerves in my eye,
23:40 the rods and cones take it back to the optic nerve
23:43 and that goes in to my brain the back part of my brain
23:46 and I'm given with the electro chemical processes in my brain
23:51 and its in these brain that all the stuff out there
23:54 is translated into what I perceive as the Mona Lisa
23:59 and the shape and colors of the Mona Lisa.
24:02 So when you sense, when you see the Mona Lisa,
24:04 it isn't really the Mona Lisa itself is it?
24:07 It's really just a bunch of chemicals,
24:09 the paint that is made up of molecules,
24:12 that are made up of atoms,
24:13 that are made up of quarks and electrons
24:16 and the forces that bring them together.
24:18 Isn't that really what the painting is
24:20 and yet we never get anywhere near that.
24:23 Instead what I'm saying is
24:26 there is a vast gap between reality itself
24:32 and what we perceive is reality.
24:35 I once heard a story about somebody was on chemotherapy
24:39 and the chemotherapy suddenly food
24:42 that they once loved became compoundable,
24:45 food they ate their whole life suddenly--
24:48 but where did the change take place?
24:50 Was it in the food or was it in them?
24:52 I mean, suppose that person love Cap'n Crunch cereal,
24:56 suddenly now they eat Cap'n Crunch and--
24:59 they want to vomit it up.
25:01 Where did the change take place?
25:03 Did it change place in the external reality
25:06 in the Cap'n Crunch itself as a ding on zeek
25:11 or did it take the change take place in them
25:14 in their senses?
25:16 The reality itself was it-- was the same,
25:20 but what changed was how we perceive it.
25:25 And this I dare say is an issue with all our senses,
25:29 with all our empirical tools
25:32 and it's the same thing was science.
25:36 Science in its own way has to deal
25:38 with this great limitation as well.
25:42 Thus, we come to a question
25:45 that has been asked for a long time.
25:48 Does science tell us what is really out there,
25:51 or does it tell us or does it tell us
25:53 just how the world appears to our senses?
25:57 And if it's just how the world appears to our senses,
26:00 what is it really teaching us about truth?
26:04 This has been a big question
26:06 and to this day it remains unresolved.
26:10 That this is true,
26:12 I think if there is something to this,
26:13 this means that even science cannot tell us
26:16 what the world is really like
26:19 but only as it appears in our experiences
26:22 or even in the experiences
26:24 that our scientific instruments give us.
26:28 Anyway at least this is the argument
26:31 and I think there is something to it,
26:33 something to-- we need to keep in mind
26:36 when we think about the limits of scientific knowledge.
26:41 You know, I have said this before
26:43 some people say, who cares about all this?
26:45 It doesn't matter.
26:47 I want to build the better mouth strap
26:49 and my science helps me to build a better mouth strap
26:52 and who care about all the rest of this stuff and that's fine.
26:55 And there is a whole weighing of scientists
26:57 and philosophy of science that says,
27:00 that's all science could do, that's all that matters
27:03 all the rest of this stuff is just a bunch of hilosophical
27:06 and metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
27:08 and its got nothing to do with science.
27:10 Okay, and that's fine and you can believe that
27:13 and amen, more power to you.
27:16 But on the other hand if you are looking for science
27:22 as the final orbiter of truth,
27:26 as the ultimate expression of reality
27:29 then these questions, then these are questions
27:32 that have not been answered.
27:34 Thus again, I want to wrap this up
27:38 and I think that as believers in God,
27:42 as believers in the Bible we don't have to be afraid
27:47 when someone makes a scientific pronouncement
27:51 that goes directly against our faith.
27:54 We can take the Word of God over and beyond any of that.
28:00 You know, I know that the context
28:01 is a bit different but Paul says
28:05 "For we walk by faith and not by side."
28:11 And that I think what we looked at that's for sure
28:14 especially when you can't even know for sure
28:17 what you are seeing anyway.


Revised 2015-01-29