”Greta Christina eloquently makes a brilliant and sobering point. She states, ‘Religion is ultimately dependent on belief in invisible beings, inaudible voices, intangible entities, undetectable forces, and events and judgements that happen after we die. It, therefore, has no reality check. And it is therefore uniquely armoured against criticism, questioning, and self-correction. It is uniquely armoured against anything that might stop it from spinning into extreme absurdity, extreme denial of reality … and extreme, grotesque immorality.’”
(Dr. Michael Abrahams, Gleaner column, July 6, 2021)
There are many persons, very educated and some not so educated whose main problem with God seems to be that for them God is invisible. My friend Michael and Greta Christina whom he quotes are just two of the very educated ones.
After reading and thinking about Michael’s column and especially Ms. Christina’s views I thanked God that from my undergraduate days through post-graduate studies I majored in philosophy among other disciplines.
I gleefully set aside other projects and sent a response to Michael’s column to the Gleaner and the Observer but neither newspaper published it.
There is quite a bit of irony in the quotation from the erudite Ms. Christina. For elementary starters, all Psychiatrists and Psychologists, especially those who are hard-nosed materialists and so give credence only to matter, would need to explain what exactly they are treating in clients with mental problems since the mind, the self, the psyche is non-material, invisible and intangible. Neurosurgeons treat brain problems, plus, but at least they are dealing with brain as matter.
So, mental entities are real but invisible and intangible. The irony gets worse when you factor in the ‘self’, that invisible, intangible part of us that functions as the ‘I’ in a sentence like “I am determining that…”. In a real sense all of us are invisible and intangible as selves but we manifest our existence through bodies.
Consciousness and worse, self-consciousness, still baffle prestigious scientists including neurologists! What exactly are these and how did they arise in homo sapiens sapiens.
Within the purest of the natural sciences, mathematics, there are real but intangible numbers and even real intangible imaginary numbers.
In a very recent video God and Mathematics, my former Philosophy lecturer Prof. William Lane Craig (Biola University)-very recently ranked as the 10th most influential philosopher in the world over the last 30 years (1990-2020)- says: “Think about it… Mathematical entities like numbers, sets, and equations are non-physical and abstract. They can’t cause anything. Yet, for some reason, the physical universe operates…mathematically. As Galileo put it, ‘The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics.’ So, how do we explain the astonishing applicability of math[and its non-physical entities] to the physical world?”
Yes how Michael, Greta ? Reflect a bit on the so-called laws of nature and you encounter baffling but real intangible entities. Take for instance the law of gravity, discovered by mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton (a Christian by the way). The law of gravity is expressed as a mathematical equation which enabled us to enter the space age. Mathematical formulae are behind the discovery of Einstein’s general Theory of Relativity, Peter Higgs’ prediction of an elementary particle- confirmed some 40 years later through very expensive scientific experimentation – the Higgs boson.
In 1960 Eugene Wigner, Nobel Prize winning scientist and mathematician published an article which stunned some of his colleagues. In this article. titled ‘The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences’ he concluded: ”The effectiveness of mathematics is a ‘miracle’ …which we neither understand nor deserve.”
Since Hume and many non-religious scientists are so hooked on the inviolable regularity of the laws of nature one must ask if these laws came into being [miraculously] with the origin of the universe or they developed gradually over time.
Roy Varghese (co-author with the late former atheist Antony Flew in his last book There is a God) asks and answers: “How were [the laws of nature] conceived, and just as important, how were things forced to follow the laws? What compels the protons and neutrons in an atom to be bound by strong nuclear forces that are strong enough to overcome the positive charges that could blow apart the nucleus?…who keeps the underlying laws of nature in place? Ultimately, it’s God who ensures their continued operation…Thus, God did not simply invent all things but constantly holds them in being.” (Roy Varghese, The Wonder of the World: A Journey from Modern Science to the Mind of God, 2003, 173, 63)
There is arguably no greater ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ evidence for the existence of a personal intelligent designer God than the presence and pervasiveness of [invisible and intangible] biological information in all living things.
Ponder the testimony of atheist Biologist Richard Dawkins on the nature of biological information. Somewhat akin to what lawyers would call, a hostile witness in court, Dawkins avers: “…at the molecular genetic level, every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer…” (The Blind Watchmaker, 1986, xiii).
Each of us began as a tiny entity about the size of a full stop. Yet all our physical characteristics were spelled out in our DNA and this coded information guided our development into adulthood. Modern scientists with their advanced technology and superior intelligence still can’t store so much information in so small a container as one cell of the human body (probe Dawkins’ words again).
What would any rational person conclude about the origin of a computer (a mechanical information-storing facility)? By chance, natural cause or by intelligent cause? What is the inference to the best explanation here?
Bear in mind too that genetic information is invisible and intangible and cannot at all originate from matter though it can be stored in matter. It follows inexorably then that once we detect genuine complex or specified information we must conclude that intelligence is behind its origin.
This has been the scientific basis/justification for the very (read horribly) expensive SETI program, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. SETI scientists scanned the millions of radio signals produced in outer space in search of a specified, complex pattern distinguishable from the normal noise (unspecified or specified but simple signal patterns) of outer space (cf. the movie Contact).
It is understandable to me then why the late British Atheist and renowned Philosopher Antony Flew abandoned atheism and gave one of three reasons for his change as the formidable challenge of finding a naturalistic [non-God] explanation for “…the origin of the coding and information processing that is central to all life-forms…” (in his There is a God, 2007, 126).
The invisible and the intangible are not necessarily unreal.