Unlocking the Mystery of Life
#1

Blurb:

Quote:

"Unlocking the Mystery of Life" is the story of contemporary scientists who are advancing a powerful, but controversial, idea—the theory of "intelligent design." It is a theory based upon compelling biochemical evidence. This remarkable documentary examines the scientific case for intelligent design—an idea with the power to revolutionize our understanding of life... and to unlock the mystery of its origin.

 
Unlocking the Mystery of Life
1 hour 7 minutes

 
 
From the first of St. Basil's Nine Homilies on the Hexaemeron:
Quote:"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider's web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all was given up to chance. To guard us against this error the writer on the creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God; "In the beginning God created." What a glorious order! He first establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never had a beginning. Then be adds "Created" to show that which was made was a very small part of the power of the Creator. In the same way that the potter, after having made with equal pains a great number of vessels, has not exhausted either his art or his talent; thus the Maker of the Universe, whose creative power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite, needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being. If then the world has a beginning, and if it has been created, enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was the Creator: or rather, in the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, Moses has anticipated enquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a safeguard, the awful name of God: "In the beginning God created"--It is He, beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, it is He who "in the beginning created heaven and earth."
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#2
There is no scientific case for intelligent design, because it does not adhere to scientific principles (falsifiability, conjecture/hypothesis); so-called “Creation science” is not science. It is an attempt to introduce religion into the scientific world, when the two answer different questions (though science can be seen as ad maiorem Dei gloriam).
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#3
The scientific method is just a tool of science, which is a sub-set of philosophy, which is a sub-set of theology. The scientific method can only go so far, and it's not unscientific at all to say that the scientific method can't explain how things like flagella could have evolved simply due to the mechanisms of natural selection, and that there is apparent design to it all ("design" intimating a "Designer"). It is more scientific to say "the discipline and tools of science can't explain" than to try to use natural selection not just as a possible explanation for all that we see biologically, but as some hard-core fact that only idiots disagree with as the Big Biological Theory of Everything.

The Holy Father's Wednesday address of November 9, 2005, from Zenit:


Commentary on Psalm 135(136):1-9
"From Created Works One Ascends to the Greatness of God"
 

1. It has been called "The Great Hallel," namely, the solemn and grandiose praise that Judaism intoned during the paschal liturgy. We are speaking of Psalm 135(136), of which we now heard the first part, according to the division proposed by the Liturgy of Vespers (cf. verses 1-9).

First we reflect on the refrain: "for his steadfast love endures for ever." At the center of the phrase resounds the word "love" which, in fact, is a legitimate but limited translation of the original Hebrew word "hesed." In fact, it is part of the characteristic language used by the Bible to express the covenant that exists between the Lord and his people. The term seeks to describe the attitudes that are established within this relationship: faithfulness, loyalty, love and obviously God's mercy.

We have here the synthetic representation of the profound and interpersonal bond established by the Creator with his creature. Within this relationship, God does not appear in the Bible as an impassible and implacable Lord, or an obscure and indecipherable being, or fate, against whose mysterious force it is useless to struggle. He manifests himself instead as a person who loves his creatures, he watches over them, he follows them in the course of history and suffers because of the infidelity with which the people often oppose his "hesed," his merciful and paternal love.

2. The first visible sign of this divine charity -- says the Psalmist -- is to be sought in creation. Then history enters. The gaze, full of admiration and wonder, pauses first of all on creation: the heavens, the earth, the waters, the sun, the moon and the stars.

Even before discovering the God who reveals himself in the history of a people, there is a cosmic revelation, open to all, offered to the whole of humanity by the only Creator, "God of gods" and "Lord of lords" (cf. verses 2-3).

As Psalm 18(19) stated, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft. One day to the next conveys that message; one night to the next imparts that knowledge" (verses 2-3). There is, therefore, a divine message, secretly inscribed in creation and sign of the "hesed," of the loving faithfulness of God who gives to his creatures being and life, water and food, light and time.

One must have clear eyes to contemplate this divine revelation, recalling the warning of the Book of Wisdom, which invites us to know the Creator by analogy "from the greatness and beauty of created things" (Wisdom 13:5; cf. Romans 1:20). Prayerful praise then flows from contemplation of the "wonders" of God (cf. Psalm 135[136]:4), displayed in creation and is transformed in a joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.

3. From created works one ascends, therefore, to the greatness of God, to his loving mercy. It is this that the Fathers of the Church teach us, in whose voice resounds the constant Christian Tradition.

Thus, St. Basil the Great in one of the initial pages of his first homily on the Hexameron, in which he comments on the story of creation according to the first chapter of Genesis, pauses to consider God's wise action, which leads him to recognize in divine goodness the propelling center of creation. Here are some of the expressions taken from the long reflection of the holy bishop of Caesarea of Cappadocia:

"'In the beginning God created heaven and earth.' My word yields, overcome by the wonder of this thought" (1,2,1: "Sulla Genesi [Omelie sull'Esamerone]" -- On Genesis: Homily on the Hexameron -- Milan, 1990, pp. 9,11). In fact, although some, "deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined the universe deprived of a guide and order, at the mercy of chance," the sacred writer instead "has immediately enlightened our mind with the name of God at the beginning of the narrative, saying: 'In the beginning God created.' And what beauty this order has!" (1,2,4: ibid., p. 11). "Therefore, if the world had a beginning and was created, you have to seek the one who initiated it and who is its Creator ... Moses has prepared you with his teaching, imprinting on our souls as a seal or phylactery the most holy name of God, when he says: 'In the beginning God created.' The blessed nature, goodness free from envy, he who is the object of love on the part of all reasoning beings, the beauty greater than any that can be desired, the beginning of beings, the source of life, the light of understanding, the inaccessible wisdom, in a word, He 'in the beginning created heaven and earth'" (1,2,6-7: ibid., p. 13).


[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father said:]

I believe the words of this fourth-century Father are of amazing timeliness, when he says some, "deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined the universe deprived of a guide and order, at the mercy of chance." How many are these "some" today?

Deceived by atheism, they believe and try to demonstrate that it is scientific to think that everything lacks a guide and order, as if they were at the mercy of chance. The Lord, with sacred Scripture, awakens the drowsy reason and says to us: In the beginning is the creative Word. In the beginning the creative Word -- this Word that has created everything, which has created this intelligent plan, the cosmos -- is also Love.

Let us allow ourselves to be awakened by this Word of God. Let us pray that he clear our minds so that we will be able to perceive the message of creation, inscribed also in our hearts: The beginning of everything is creative Wisdom and this Wisdom is love and goodness: "Eternal is his mercy."


[The Pope then read the following summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today I would like to reflect with you on Psalm 135, the solemn hymn of praise that formed part of the Jewish Passover liturgy. Let us consider the refrain: "for his mercy endures for ever." The key word here is "mercy," in Hebrew "hesed."

It describes God's love for the chosen people with whom he has established a covenant. He is not a cold, distant God, but one who loves his creatures and suffers when they are unfaithful to him, when they reject his merciful fatherly affection.

The signs of God's love are seen in the marvels of creation and in the great gifts he has given to his people. The Fathers of the Church teach us to recognize in created things the greatness of God and his merciful love towards us.

St. Basil, filled with wonder as he reflects upon the mystery of Creation, writes that God is "beauty greater than any that can be desired, the beginning of all beings, the source of life, the light of understanding, inaccessible wisdom": Such is the God who "in the beginning created Heaven and Earth." Let us praise the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.

[Benedict XVI then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including visitors from China, Indonesia and Japan, from England, Africa and North America. I pray that your visit to Rome will strengthen your faith and renew your love for the Lord, and ask God's blessing upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones.

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#4
GrumpyTroll Wrote:There is no scientific case for intelligent design, because it does not adhere to scientific principles (falsifiability, conjecture/hypothesis); so-called “Creation science” is not science. It is an attempt to introduce religion into the scientific world, when the two answer different questions (though science can be seen as ad maiorem Dei gloriam).

Intelligent design satisfies both principles you mention. The hypothesis is that life is too complex to have arisen by random processes, and that can be tested, by attempting to find other explanations for it, as have been found for many other areas of science. Other events, such as the Flood, can also be examined, with theories on the effects of a worldwide flood, and whether what we see today is consistent with that or not.

And even if intelligent design doesn't meet the criteria to be considered science, that doesn't make it false, nor does it make evolution true. Science cannot prove that our Lord rose from the dead (the Shroud notwithstanding), but we believe it anyway.
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#5
Summa Theologica Ques 1, Art 3
The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
Interestingly he addresses the same arguments so-called "scientists" use today to dodge the question of God in the same article

Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.

Modern science believes it has or soon will explain everything (away). St. Thomas says:

Reply to Objection 2. Since nature works for a determinate end under the direction of a higher agent, whatever is done by nature must needs be traced back to God, as to its first cause. So also whatever is done voluntarily must also be traced back to some higher cause other than human reason or will, since these can change or fail; for all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first principle, as was shown in the body of the Article.
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#6
kjvail Wrote:Summa Theologica Ques 1, Art 3
The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
Interestingly he addresses the same arguments so-called "scientists" use today to dodge the question of God in the same article

Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.

Modern science believes it has or soon will explain everything (away). St. Thomas says:

Reply to Objection 2. Since nature works for a determinate end under the direction of a higher agent, whatever is done by nature must needs be traced back to God, as to its first cause. So also whatever is done voluntarily must also be traced back to some higher cause other than human reason or will, since these can change or fail; for all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first principle, as was shown in the body of the Article.
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#7
Mark Wrote:Hey VOX, do you have a link for that video?
 
 
This is the URL, Marco (I mailed it to you, too):
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5585125669588896670&hl=en

(BTW, you can get the URL to an embedded Google video by just clicking on the Google logo at the bottom right of the embedded video :) )
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#8
VoxClamantis Wrote:The scientific method is just a tool of science, which is a sub-set of philosophy, which is a sub-set of theology.

I cannot say that I have studied the issue much, but how can science be nested within theology when the former concerns itself with knowledge and the latter with faith?

VoxClamantis Wrote:The scientific method can only go so far, and it's not unscientific at all to say that the scientific method can't explain how things like flagella could have evolved simply due to the mechanisms of natural selection, and that there is apparent design to it all ("design" intimating a "Designer").

The idea that the flagellum is of irreducible complexity has been refuted time and time again. It is unscientific to say that the scientific method cannot explain something, because such a statement contradicts the very foundation of science, the mechanism of its elaboration!

VoxClamantis Wrote:It is more scientific to say "the discipline and tools of science can't explain" than to try to use natural selection not just as a possible explanation for all that we see biologically, but as some hard-core fact that only idiots disagree with as the Big Biological Theory of Everything.

It is not more scientific to say that “the discipline and tools of science cannot explain” than to use natural selection as a theory, because natural selection is a scientific theory that posits conjectures prone to refutations in the process of falsification (see Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery or Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge), whereas saying that science cannot explain assumes that there is a Designer and is not susceptible to refutation, given that there can be no experiments performed on God. Intelligent design can therefore not be referred to as a scientific theory, because it is faith, and faith is not scienctific knowledge, but belief.
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#9
Paul Wrote:
GrumpyTroll Wrote:There is no scientific case for intelligent design, because it does not adhere to scientific principles (falsifiability, conjecture/hypothesis); so-called “Creation science” is not science. It is an attempt to introduce religion into the scientific world, when the two answer different questions (though science can be seen as ad maiorem Dei gloriam).

Intelligent design satisfies both principles you mention. The hypothesis is that life is too complex to have arisen by random processes, and that can be tested, by attempting to find other explanations for it, as have been found for many other areas of science. Other events, such as the Flood, can also be examined, with theories on the effects of a worldwide flood, and whether what we see today is consistent with that or not.

Intelligent design does not satisfy scientific principles, because the hypothesis is that there is a Designer, but this cannot be falsified, because, as I have said, no experiments can be performed on God.

Paul Wrote:And even if intelligent design doesn't meet the criteria to be considered science, that doesn't make it false, nor does it make evolution true. Science cannot prove that our Lord rose from the dead (the Shroud notwithstanding), but we believe it anyway.

That is the whole point: science is not faith, and it cannot disprove our Holy Faith, which can be proven to be true from serious and honest study of Scripture and the many miracles God has produced. The problem with intelligent design is that it tries to inject faith into science and it fails, because it is based on faulty premisses (the idea that flagella are of irreducible complexity, for example); evolution, on the other hand, is a scientific theory that explains adequately observations made in nature.

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#10
GrumpyTroll Wrote:
VoxClamantis Wrote:The scientific method is just a tool of science, which is a sub-set of philosophy, which is a sub-set of theology.

I cannot say that I have studied the issue much, but how can science be nested within theology when the former concerns itself with knowledge and the latter with faith?
 
There is more to God than what He has revealed miraculously; there is nature which reveals Him (see http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm#2)

Quote:
VoxClamantis Wrote:The scientific method can only go so far, and it's not unscientific at all to say that the scientific method can't explain how things like flagella could have evolved simply due to the mechanisms of natural selection, and that there is apparent design to it all ("design" intimating a "Designer").

The idea that the flagellum is of irreducible complexity has been refuted time and time again.
 
No, it hasn't.
 
GrumpyTroll Wrote: It is unscientific to say that the scientific method cannot explain something, because such a statement contradicts the very foundation of science, the mechanism of its elaboration!
 
The scientific method can't explain everything in the same way you can't use a bulldozer to make an omelette. The scientific method, as great and important and useful as it is, is just a tool, and a limited one at that.
 
Quote:It is not more scientific to say that “the discipline and tools of science cannot explain” than to use natural selection as a theory, because natural selection is a scientific theory that posits conjectures prone to refutations in the process of falsification (see Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery or Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge), whereas saying that science cannot explain assumes that there is a Designer and is not susceptible to refutation, given that there can be no experiments performed on God. Intelligent design can therefore not be referred to as a scientific theory, because it is faith, and faith is not scienctific knowledge, but belief.
 
No one disputes the reality of natural selection; the issue is using natural selection as an explanation for the biodiversity we see today, and that isn't testable. Saying that science can't explain something doesn't necessarily admit a Designer; it simply states that science, at least with present tools and such, can't explain what we see. Natural selection is just one guess, and a lousy one. Positing a Designer, especially considering the evidence for intelligence behind what we see as "design" (and for good reason; see the video), is the wall at which Science stops and can go no further -- but it isn't unscientific to recognize the possibility of that wall in the first place.

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