November 25, 2014

In Their Own Words XXII: There's A Mind Behind Our Mind

[An ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological/philosophical quotes scientists or those in academia make.]

“There is a wide measure of agreement which, on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail mind as the creator and governor of the realm of matter—not of course our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms out of which our individual minds have grown, exist as thoughts.” ~Sir James Jeans

Sir James Hopwood Jeans was a knighted English mathematician, physicist and astronomer. He was on of the main contributors to the development of an understanding of how stars evolve. He published the above information in his 1931 book The Mysterious Universe. He is also known for his contributions to physics, quantum theory and radiation.

In 1928 Jeans was the first to theorize a steady state cosmology based on a the idea of continuous creation of matter in the universe. This theory was over-ridden when the 1965 discovery of cosmic microwave background was widely interpreted as the tell-tale signature of the Big Bang. Due to Jean’s reputation as a scientist and an author, he became rather popular and well-known. His books made him an acknowledged expositor and author of the revolutionary scientific discoveries of the early 20th century including Relativity and Quantum theory. He was knighted in 1928 due mostly to his formidable reputation among his peers and due to his notoriety as an author about astronomy.

When it comes to his religious views, Jeans was documented as being an agnostic. He did not believe in God but nor did he deny one.

So other than a rather unremarkable quote by a non-believing man, what we see is a relatively non-descript scientific worldly life. From a Christian point of view his studies and life’s work may have some bearing on our everyday lives but this seems unlikely. So from a Christian point of view Jeans really becomes of interest to us because of his quote from a book that combined the awe of the created universe, science and philosophical reasoning.

In Jean’s forward to his book The Mysterious Universe he said that, "…there is a widespread conviction that the new teachings of astronomy and physical science are destined to produce an immense change in our outlook on the universe as a whole, and on our views as to the significance of human life. The question at issue is ultimately one for philosophic discussion, but before the philosophers have a right to speak, science ought first to be asked to tell all she can as to ascertained facts and provisional hypotheses.”

Jeans understood that the things being learned in astronomy, quantum physics and other advances were totally reshaping the scientific horizon of the modern age. I suspect though that he and his peers didn’t fully see the direction or impact of scientific discoveries of the early 20th century and where they might lead. His quote at the beginning of this post and his books hinted at it but never fully elucidated it. It seems the deeper science dug over the last century the more things became complex. I suspect many in the scientific community thought the deeper people dug the more simplistic the data and facts would become.

Conversely, when science hit baseline scientific strata, they found unfathomable complexity and mystery….hence the adjective in the title of Jeans’ book: Mysterious. He began to recognize that quantum theory and the atomic age had opened a Pandora ’s Box of philosophical and metaphysical implications. Science had hit a dead end and was at a loss to explain the mystery of the Quantum world and to a greater extent it still is. In the 50's science would enter the age of genetics and DNA further exacerbating science's conundrum. Science had reached the threshold of philosophy and it is at that point it began to flirt with metaphysics. 

Scientists are now in an ever deepening spiral of complex and ludicrous theories to reflect a deepening reality in science. To avoid conceding the fact Creation was indeed created (by God), science has now opted to pursue non-scientific postulations and theories to explain the existence of humanity on earth. They have put forward theories such as Panspermia. Panspermia is from the Greek πᾶν/pan meaning "all", and σπέρμα/sperma meaning "seed". It posits that the life on Earth was seeded here because life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids, comets, spacecraft, etc. In an effort to avoid admitting God exists, some scientists would rather believe in aliens! Science is now making leaps of faith to believe in aliens from other planets to justify life on Earth. Mind you that they have no proof or evidence of this but they believe it in a vacuum of no evidence. You need to ask yourself. Which is more plausible…a Creator or alien farmers? Which do scientist have more proof for?

As I said, science marched right up to the threshold of philosophy and became perplexed not knowledgeable. So instead of acknowledging God, they chase fruitless and fanciful theories and myths...just as they claim Christians do.

Jeans seems to take the middle road in his original quote. He philosophically acknowledges a “unanimity” or what we would more commonly understood as harmony in the universe. The universe is balanced. It is organized like a fine-tuned orchestra but Jeans stops just short of saying so. He then goes even farther down this philosophical path and injects “knowledge” or intelligence into this harmony. Not just any intelligence but a cognizance or consciousness. He specifically says there appears to be thought in the universe. What he is saying or implying is that the universe is not an accident but it appears there is a mind in the universe (Pantheism/Panentheism). Conversely, a Christian believes that the evidences in the universe point to a mind that created the universe or can “intrude” upon if from elsewhere (theism). Jeans has firmly planted his feet in the metaphysical at this point in his quote but planted it on the wrong side. Furthermore, he has chosen a pantheistic religious view.

Jeans then crosses wholly over the science and philosophical threshold into metaphysics at the end of his quote. He says in a pantheistic way that mankind should acknowledge the consciousness planted Universe and should recognize this mind or consciousness as, “…the creator and governor of the realm of matter”. 

In essence he is saying there is a force or signature in the Creation that is more than the sum of its parts. There seems to be an instilled mind in the Creation. He is acknowledging some form of design and intelligence. He literally says that there is a rooted intelligence in the very atoms that create our intelligence in our own brains. We exist because something existed before us. In a roundabout manner Jeans states that there is a mind that created our minds and it is “at work” directly in the forces and matter around us. He just looks into the wrong philosophical worldview to try and ufind it. God is not in and of the Creation but the Creator and sustainer distinct from it (Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-20). This is where the distinction needs to be made between Jeans' pantheism and Christian theism. 

In a way (ironically), I believe that scientists who dreamt up Panspermia might actually be on to something with their idea of seeding Earth. It is probable that life on earth is due to seeding by an Alien life form. The Being is indeed alien to humanity in that He is not familiar to us or like other things we have known.

Isaiah 40:13–14 ~ “Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

This Alien is quite different from us in that He is holy and we are not. He is not only from beyond the galaxy, He is from beyond the universe. He is outside of Creation and can enter as He so chooses like He has done in the past. He is ontologically distinct from the universe. He is wholly other. He holds things together. The very image of what He is, is indeed knitted in our DNA and minds and without Him in our lives...we are incomplete.

Genesis 1:27 ~ “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Jeremiah 1:5 ~ “"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Like an artist leaves hints or signatures of his mind in the art he creates, so too God leaves traces of His glory in creation. We have been told that these signatures or signs of intelligence can even be seen by non-believers. In Sir James Hopwood Jeans we see another perfect example of General Revelation or the ability to know about God or spiritual matters through natural means, such as observation of nature and through philosophical means.

Romans 1:19-20 ~ “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Therefore, the only difference between a believer and non-believer is Special Revelation which is revelation of Jesus Christ both from the Holy Spirit and Scripture. This is then followed by acknowledgment and acceptance of this fact. That which was once alien to us has become like us. In so doing He revealed Himself and the intelligence behind the universe. That intelligence was revealed in the form of the perfect God-man Jesus Christ who came on behalf of mankind to bridge the gap between our sinful minds and God’s holy mind. God’s Mind…from which the Creation (galaxies, stars) that James Jean studied was spoken into existence. God is therefore the origin of Jeans’ “unanimity”, “thought”, “creator”, “governor” and “mind”. He just avoided saying so as an agnostic.

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