Monday Musings for November 19, 2018

Scripture, the Higgs boson and epistemology

Good morning, Musers,

Some people stand on their heads to disparage Christianity, and we’ll be looking at that type of challenge today. In fact — if there are any DC Comics fans out there — we’ll be traveling to a Bizarro World to examine what some skeptics are saying. Here’s a sampling.

What if the devil wrote the Bible? What if this whole Christian enterprise is actually working against some otherly-defined “good” that’s being hidden from us? What if what we think is good is bad and what we think is bad is good… and our earnest striving towards a greater knowledge of Christ is in vain?

Those are interesting ideas. For me, they evoke the movie, the Matrix, in that they challenge the notion that our perceived reality is our actual reality. But similar to how we “deal” with the Matrix’s challenge, we non-philosophers don’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not what we’re experiencing is true. We just go about living our lives.

Unfortunately, “living our lives” can involve answering bizarre challenges from God’s skeptics — and today’s questioner finds himself in just that spot.

Now, our questioner holds a high view of Scripture. But (and as these challenges have made him realize), the Bible doesn’t address everything — especially the more off-the-wall challenges to its epistemology — and why should it? It’s God’s word! David commends it… Jesus commends it... Paul commends it… Peter commends it… and it commends itself.

The thing is that Scripture assumes of itself that its words are straightforward and true, so any discussions about alternate epistemologies are beyond its scope — and many things are — but these are so because they are beyond the pale of reason (as opposed to merely being out of the Bible’s historical range like telecommunications and automobiles. These are real entities, not theoretical ones as would be alternate epistemological scenarios).

Now, the world pretends that Scripture doesn’t matter — that an enlightened world has moved away from metaphysical explanations of the world to merely physical ones. But the world should be careful here. Although we cannot use the scientific method to test whether or not a spiritual world exists or whether metaphysical entities coexist with physics, the scientific enterprise could not proceed unless certain biblical ideas are true.

For instance, God made a discoverable universe (Romans 1:18-20)… and he didn’t have to… but this matches humanity’s compulsion to discover things. He also built a moral world, and without the global cooperation that this engenders, we’d still be in the dark ages.

Just think of all the cooperative resources that went into building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The collider runs under parts of France and Switzerland, and although 22 countries officially belong to CERN, the entire world benefits from the work done there.

To say CERN is an amazing place — and an astounding example of international cooperation — would be an understatement. But with all its amazingness, the LHC still cannot measure the spiritual world… although it can tell us more about God by examining his creation… and that’s what the Bible predicts.

Yet, with all the money we spend on exploring physical reality, people still want to explore the extra-physical — and hashing around alternate scenarios in spiritual realms is certainly one of those! But this can seem like a silly enterprise to those of us who are focused on reality.

But here — just as with the Large Hadron Collider — running alternate scenarios allows us to poke around where only a few dare to go… and who knows? Maybe we’ll discover the epistemological version of the Higgs boson while we are there.

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