Volume. XXII, No. 28
Sunday, 06 January 2008

From The Pastors Heart: Know or Not Know?

There are many things we have assumed to know, but we do not know in reality.  Of course, there are many things that we really do not know about.  Life seems to be full of mysteries.  In one sense, it adds more uncertainties to the burdens we have already carried in this life.  But, on the other hand, these uncertainties are disguised blessings that prompt us to consider a possibility of the existence of God and even to drive us to His presence.  One of the books that have challenged me to think more and deeper is Gordon Clark’s book, A Philosophy of Science and Belief in God.  He was a Presbyterian minister and philosopher.  In his book, he talks about science and its uncertainties. 


When we, as Christians, talk about science, there is a hidden fear.  We do not know much about space, universe, stars, time, energy, quantum theory, and many other things.  We feel that we are very much inadequate to talk about science at all.  Against such common notion, Clark argues that it is not necessary to fear.  If we can prove that science cannot explain the simplest of things, then that is sufficient enough to show the weaknesses of science.  He suggests two examples: firstly, how does a marble roll across the table? Secondly, when someone picks up one end of a pencil, how does the other end follow it?  The following is a summarized paragraph from his talk about motion (done by C. Matthew MaMahon) [Read it and try to understand what it is talking about]: “Science begins with a study of motion.  If there was no motion there would be no need for science.  Nothing would materially exist.  Everything, in one way or another, in this universe has motion.  Plants grow, birds fly, volcanoes erupt, the earth rotates, and motion is seen all over the planet.  Zeno begins scientific history with a quaint little puzzle about motion.  If point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ is five feet, and a person was going to walk from point A to point B would this be possible?  Is movement an illusion or is it real?  Suppose the distance is divided in half.  It should be self evident that the person walking must get to the halfway mark before they reach the end.  But what if we divided each half into quarter, and then each quarter into eights and so on?  How could the person walking actually move through an infinite number of points before getting to the end?  Is motion illusionary?  Well, the answer to the puzzle is a bit more complex than some think.  How could a person pass through each point and actually move from one point to the other?  Think about that for a moment.  After thinking that through the reader should make the connection that none ever passes through one point at a time, rather, they pass through them all in one step.  It is not that each point is considered; rather, they are all considered.  Zeno confused a collective ‘all’ with an individual ‘each.’  The puzzle actually is a logical fallacy.”


Motion, the fundamental principle of science, has never been properly defined.


We then come to an issue of gravity.  Why does a falling body fall?  Bodies fall faster when they have more time to fall.  Then, what makes them fall faster?  Newton’s Law comes in to explain this phenomenon.  Planets move.  Copernicus said that certain planets move certain ways.  But, it does not matter which planet moves around which.  One real question is, “what makes the planets move?”  Scientist will quickly say that it because of gravity.  Then, our question is, “What causes gravity?”  When we let any objects let go from our hands, then they fall.  We explain it as a work of gravity.  This answer, in fact, is not as much a scientific answer as scientists want to believe.  When scientists use the term, “gravity,” they explain how a stone or any object falls, not why they fall.  There is a significant difference between how and why.  A simple factual statement is not an explanation.  For example, there is gravity that pulls objects to fall.  It is observable, and we can see its effects.  However, when we say that objects fall because of gravity, we are not explaining why they fall, but describing how they fall.  If science cannot give answers to “why questions”, then it becomes a philosophy.  A scientist may behave as if he knows all things.  However, there is a fallacy.  Usually science is contained in a laboratory setting.  Science is never working with a perfect environment, or a universal environment.  Listen to Clark’s argument against science’s absolutism: “Scientists simply choose from an infinite number of possibilities what they think is best for the situation at hand.  If mathematical equations alone could describe nature, for instance, the chance that the scientist will choose the correct formulation is one in infinity (or zero).   Therefore, in reality, all the laws of physics are false.”  His conclusion is even more shocking: “Science is forever incapable of producing valid arguments against the existence of God.  It is simply not in a secular humanist, or secular scientist’s power to do so.  They have no valid arguments for arguing against miracles, supernatural revelation, or life in heaven or hell.  Science is always false, but is often useful.”


Not too long ago, there was a very interesting article in the New York Times.  The title of it was “Laws of Nature, Source Unknown” by Dennis Overbye (December 18, 2007).  In this article, Overbye talks about Paul Davies, a cosmologist at Arizona State University and author of popular science books, on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.  It seems that science is working based on universal laws.  Just think about sending emails from Australia to Asia, America, Africa, and even north poles, if necessary.  Spacecrafts have been sent through the rings of Saturn, and pharmaceutical companies have been trying to find pills to cure depression.  Without universal laws, how is this work able to be done?  Our question is: what are the universal laws?  How do they work?  “Dr. Davies asserted in the article that science, not unlike religion, rested on faith, not in God but in the idea of an orderly universe.  Without that presumption a scientist could not function. His argument provoked an avalanche of blog commentary, articles on Edge.org and letters to The Times, pointing out that the order we perceive in nature has been explored and tested for more than 2,000 years by observation and experimentation. That order is precisely the hypothesis that the scientific enterprise is engaged in testing.” Of course, Dr. Davies’ comment on science is a huge blow to humanist scientists because he talks about faith, though not in Christian God or any religions, as the basis of scientific studies.  As a result, he has been a target of all kinds of criticism.  In this argument, the crux of the question is a kind of a chicken-and-egg problem with the universe. Which came first – the laws or the universe?


In “the fifth century B.C. the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras and his followers proclaimed that nature was numbers.  Plato, a few hundred years later, envisioned a higher realm of ideal forms, of perfect chairs, circles or galaxies, of which the phenomena of the sensible world were just flawed reflections.  Plato set a transcendent tone that has been popular, especially with mathematicians and theoretical physicists, ever since. . . . The ultimate Platonist these days is Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In talks and papers recently he has speculated that mathematics does not describe the universe — it is the universe.”  If the universe came before laws/mathematics, then it is safer for us to have faith in the supernatural God who created the universe than in science that describes only what scientists can see and experience.

“Steven Weinstein, a philosopher of science at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, termed the phrase ‘law of nature’ as ‘a kind of honorific’ bestowed on principles that seem suitably general, useful and deep.  How general and deep the laws really are, he said, is partly up to nature and partly up to us, since we are the ones who have to use them.  But perhaps, as Dr. Davies complains, Plato is really dead and there are no timeless laws or truths. A handful of poet-physicists harkening for more contingent nonabsolutist laws not engraved in stone have tried to come up with prescriptions for what John Wheeler, a physicist from Princeton and the University of Texas in Austin, called ‘law without law.’”  Holger Bech Nielsen, a Danish physicist at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen has tried to show how the laws of physics could evolve naturally from a more general notion he calls “world machinery.” Maybe the following paragraph is helpful to you: “Since cosmologists don’t know how the universe came into being, or even have a convincing theory, they have no way of addressing the conundrum of where the laws of nature come from or whether those laws are unique and inevitable or flaky as a leaf in the wind. These kinds of speculation are fun, but they are not science, yet. “Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds,” goes the saying attributed to Richard Feynman, the late Caltech Nobelist, and repeated by Dr. Weinberg.”



What I want to tell you is a simple truth.  Science has not truly defined what the laws of nature are, and why they are there.  The Bible says that God created both heavens and earth.  He provided all other things for our benefit.  Do we know anything or do you not know anything?  The Bible also says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.  Let us strive to know God this year.



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope





Christmas Concert CD available for $5. Please see Sis Sally Teng.

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Sixth Missions Cambodia: 15-30 Jan 2008.

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Church activities: YAF Prayer & Share.



Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

Cambodia Missions commencing Tuesday 15 Jan - Ebenezer & Hope BPCs. For God’s guidance & protection. Bro Joseph Lo in Siem Reap.

Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam & family.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family - encouragement.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

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Jobs - Bro Daniel Volvricht; Sis Juanita Tong.

The Lord’s provision for a new church van and floor coverings for our Sunday School rooms.

Sister B-P Churches in Australia.

Persecution: Believers suffering in Islamic   countries.

God’s guidance - Sis Shu Jun Liew & Dr An-Gie Ho.




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