Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How can one explain cosmic evolution?

Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 6.

4. Why a life friendly cosmos? (WARNING, THIS SECTION IS FASCINATING)

In looking at the astonishing fact that 13.7 million years of cosmic evolution has led to incredibly developed and complex life, even ‘life with spirit’, Küng asks: ‘Is everything really chance? Is pure chance an explanation?’ (165)

What about science? Could this discipline one day clarify how human life came to be on this planet as it is? ‘Perhaps one day’, says Küng, it would be difficult to principally exclude any such possibility. But what of Kurt Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem (‘a finite system of axioms always contains formulas that within this system can neither be proven nor disproved`, 33)? Surely that makes things more than just a little problematic!

So, if science doesn’t give us a final explanation (and Küng isn’t holding his breath for the day it may do) what does explain the development of life on earth?

What about an anthropic principle? Well, possibly, says Küng, if the principle is understood in its weak sense. But how could a meta-nature law be proven?

In fact, Küng has already laid the epistemological foundations of his thinking in section A (cf. his reliance on Kant), and this excludes the possibility that science could one day provide a ‘final solution’ in the language of meta-empirical law. Rather, for such meta-matters as this, philosophy and religion is responsible, not science.

Now this brings one back to the question: While the development of life cannot be scientifically demonstrated to be ‘goal-orientated’ or more than chance, our view of reality can inspire philosophical/religious thoughts in a direction – namely that it is difficult to believe that ‘the great cosmic development is only a meaningless drama played before empty seats’ (169).

What does all of this reasoning suggest?
  • Religion can interpret evolution as creation.
  • Science can make the creation a concrete evolutionary process.
  • Religion can give evolution a meaning which science cannot. Science cannot read meaning off of (or into) the evolutionary process, and at best can only suggest it.
Thus, any such meta-interpretation of reality is then a matter of faith, or, better: trust.


At 6/20/2006 11:26 AM, Anonymous Big Bang Myth said...


You say that your favret book is the Bible.

If so then how can you say "13.7 million years of cosmic evolution has led to incredibly developed"?

At 6/20/2006 11:28 AM, Anonymous Big Bang Myth said...

sorry i ment FAVORITE not FAVRET

At 6/20/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Simon Hardwick said...

Hi Chris,

It's not me this time! It's for real!

At 6/20/2006 3:36 PM, Anonymous Bro. Bartleby said...

For the theist, a Creator is the explanation for all.

For the atheist, no explantion is possible, for each bit of life merely expires to nothingness -- no matter, no consequences, no purpose. The closest explanation for them is, "life is" with a bit of speculation about some remote time when "life wasn't" and some mystic brew caused inorganic to become organic.

At 6/20/2006 4:39 PM, Anonymous Looney said...

giggle giggle

That reminds me of my 6th grade science test in my Tennessee backwoods public school (back in the '60's):

How Old is the Earth:
a) 100 years
b) 1000 years
c) 10000 years
d) 1 million years

I suspect my teacher copied the question from another nearby teacher by the name of John Scopes.

At 6/21/2006 12:52 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Big Bang Myth!
Nice name!
Yes my favourite book is the bible, and yes I believe in evolution. The bible is not a science book, and I believe it is a mistake to think it is so. Insipred, yes. A science book? No. It's a genre mistake.

I realise that simply stating my opinion is unlikely to convince you, but I hope that you can at least accept that I'm a Christian, who loves the bible, and that I just happen to think differently than you on this subject.

Hi Si, Hehehe

Hi Bro. Bartleby,

Thanks for these thoughts. The sort of point you raise is vry much the sort of angle Küng takes in his 'existential alternative' which I blogged about a while ago.

Hi Looney
Thanks for the link and the smile.

At 6/21/2006 3:06 AM, Anonymous Looney said...


I still think you need to take a step back before trying to reconcile theology with origins. The primary observation I have is that origin science is currently accepted primarily due to coercion from a minority of agressive academics combined with acceptance from a majority of theologians. Still, 1/3 of entering college students in the US don't believe evolution.

I believe that one can believe evolution and still be a Christian (none of us are right about everything!). Theologians have, however, invested a huge amount of theological capital into reconciling Darwinism with Christianity. A high-tech society that revolves around intelligent design will have no trouble discarding Darwinism. It is the theologians who don't want to write-off their investment that stand in the way!

At 6/22/2006 12:10 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Looney,

Thanks for your comments, again.

"I still think you need to take a step back before trying to reconcile theology with origins"

I think evolution is good science, so I feel personally driven to address the relevant questions.

"The primary observation I have is that origin science is currently accepted primarily due to coercion from a minority of agressive academics combined with acceptance from a majority of theologians"

I see things differently, simply. I think evolution, for biogeographical, paleontological, embryological, and morphological reasons is extremely well attested.

At 6/22/2006 1:28 AM, Anonymous Looney said...

So we continue, with engineers being banned from teaching intelligent design (i.e. the science of how engineering is done), because theologians have decreed that intelligent design is impossible!

At 9/18/2006 11:51 AM, Anonymous ashok said...

Neat Blog here. For the story on the Big Bang, and the final facts on how evolution took place do check out


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