Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Carl Sagan explains the history of Creation

Carl Sagan (1934-1996), he was an astronomer, SETI activist, Astrobiologist, and a skeptic. In this particular video he does a good job at eloquently describing history of the universe.

Carl Sagan-origins

I disagree with a lot of what he says, being an evangelical Christian I disagree with a major part of his worldview. But there are also things we have in common; we are love astronomy, we both imagined life on other planets, we both believe the Big Bang and we both generally accept most of the same science. But there is one major difference which leads to several other differences.

The difference is my belief in God.

Mr. Sagan saw the universe as the result of chance events and mishaps. He saw mankind as a highly advanced animal. He saw religion has superstition of an age past.

I see it hopefully how many Christians see it. I see the big Bang as original creation ex nihilo where God began creating the universe. I see the universe as the work of a cosmic genius.

And as for evolution, I see it as the cosmic creator's method of creation. And what is Man? From a materialist point of view Man is no more then animal. A highly evolved primate which will soon be capable of interplanetary spaceflight. But according to the Christian theistic evolutionary worldview; Man is more then that, somewhere along the way we went from being like them, the animals; brutish, dimwitted, dominated by instinct. Humanity has in this view been given the earth by its creator to live on and to steward. Humans are distinguished from all life-forms since they are made in God's image. Having sense, reason, intellect, morality, etc.

According to Theistic Evolution Humanity is not simply here because the odds were in our favor but because our existence had been planned from the very beginning. From the Big Bang our lives had been mapped out and our existence plotted. And now 14 billion years later here we are, we are only a dim reflection of the glorious resplendent jewel that is God but we are still in God's image, we were created for a purpose, and that purpose is to be a child and servant of God and to serve and love other humans.

On this planet have been given the opportunity to finish our mission; we can either use our gifts, our God-given reason and moral sense to help others, make the world a better place, improve other people's lives, and what not. Or we can squander it all for the sake of the greed, selfishness, and wickedness of the vulgar side of humanity, it is ultimately up to us.


Anonymous said...

In the usual Atheist worldview, the universe was not created as a mishap or a mistake. In order for something to be a mistake, there must be a correct way to do something that failed or a plan that didn't go through. There was no plan and no one to do anything, so it is, by definition, not a mistake or a mishap. It just happened.

We don't know exactly how it happened, but we can pretty much map out cosmological time from within 1/100000 of a second after the Big Bang until now. That's some pretty substantial evidence that the Big Bang did happen.

Without using the Bible, could your give your reason for thinking that Carl Sagan was wrong about the universe?

Also, we are highly "advanced" (we're good at what we do, but I doubt a Great White Shark would call one of us advanced while it tore our heads off... it's all in perspective) animals. We have mapped our genome completely and the similarities between our genome and the rest of the animal kingdom is enormous. Especially as you go through the taxonomy toward humans. Our genome is most similar to the mammals, which we are, and then to the great apes, which we also are.

If you need a specific example: Cats don't eat oranges. Neither do dogs. If humans don't eat oranges and other vitamin-C-packed fruits, we get scurvy. Why? Most animals have an enzyme that synthesises vitamin-C for them. Primates, including us, lack the enzyme and do not synthesize vitamin-C. We must eat oranges, bananas, lemons and other vitamin-C-heavy foods. Recently, we found the gene that codes for this enzyme in our own genome. It doesn't work, obviously, because an unfortunate mutation got passed down to all of the primates from a common ancestor.

The Institute for Creation Research speculates a few things: Either God made the gene inactive because he wanted humans to be dependent on fruit to remind them that they are dependent on God. (eye roll) This, of course, leads to the conclusion that God is a fruitcake. Another of their baseless and hilarious suppositions is that Adam and Eve had a working gene to code for the enzyme, but after they ate the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil he took the gene away to make them dependent on fruit forever to remind them of Eve's sin. And somehow the rest of the primates were close enough to us, genetically, to get caught in God's magic gene-altering ray gun. Either way, God is an asshole.

Without resorting to IRC's glorified storytelling, could you explain or speculate how we came to have the exact same genetic mutation with the rest of the primates if we do not come from a common ancestor?

Anonymous said...

That should be:

Our genome is very similar to the mammals, which we are, and then even more similar to the great apes, which we also are.

Anonymous said...

And by "the Big Bang did happen," I mean it just like the Big Bang theory tells it: it was a product of natural forces, it was unguided, it had no plan for the future (as unthinking energy and matter, how could it?), and it most certainly did not require a Prime Mover.

Created Rationalist said...

I am not denying evolution, I am simply contrasting two worldviews. Mishap is a misnomer, I was giving the impression that it was not planned.

I am not saying the Big Bang was or was not planned I am saying a particular worldview says it was planned. I accept that most of our genome came from apes and such.

Anonymous said...

Can you say something with those words, please?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I phrased my comment weird. I was half awake. My main point of contention with your post is this:

"According to Theistic Evolution Humanity is not simply here because the odds were in our favor but because our existence had been planned from the very beginning."

That's not how evolution works.

I meant to comment on that anyway... I think in my hungover tiredness, I ended up picking apart this paragraph:

"Mr. Sagan saw the universe as the result of chance events and mishaps. He saw mankind as a highly advanced animal. He saw religion has superstition of an age past."

Which really says nothing about your view on the issue.

Hangovers suck.

HERE's what I wanted to say:

If you think evolution was guided, you don't understand the main point of the theory of evolution. Evolution is a process that hinges on the highly random mutations of genes and the adaptability of organisms with those mutations. There is no natural way for evolution to direct itself toward any specific end result... unless God used evolutionary history as a sort of puzzle game. That, however, destroys the concept of free will. If God destined certain creatures to be ancestors and others to die out to achieve his end goal, all life is nothing more than a plethora of machines with no control over their own actions. It's like playing The Sims with the AI turned off.

Also, if we were the end product, God missed. We have so many abnormalities and imperfections that only a God who was evil could have created us. We have appendices that are nothing more than large, poppable poison bags in our torsos with a propensity for infection. Our teeth can become impacted and grow into our skull, misshaping our brains. Our backs are notoriously bad at staying in a straight line. We can't synthesize our own vitamin-C and fruit is not always available to us. Our teeth need straightening, our vision needs correcting, our hearing needs help and all three of these problems get worse as we age. We are susceptible to AIDS if we help someone bleeding on the street... like Jesus told us to do. We have too many types of cancer to count.

All of this shows that we were not the target outcome of any loving God. It shows a veritable cornucopia of signs of random mutation with no specific outcome.

But maybe I'm wrong and we really are the end result of evolution; what God had in mind all along. If that's the case, then God is a sadistic asshole or an incompetent buffoon.

But what about the dinosaurs? If evolution was directed toward us, why waste so much effort and material on entire swaths of the tree of life that have died out with no impact on humanity?

I realise it's a comforting thing to believe--that evolution was designed with you in mind--but it doesn't hold water with what we know about biology as a whole.

Created Rationalist said...

Once again, that is not my point. From a scientific point of view evolution was not planned, you can make whatever you want about evolution. Thats not the point.

My point is the interestig contrast between our worldviews.

I do not think God was guiding every evolutionary line, nore was he guiding every mutation and evolutionary path, otherwise humans would be virtually free of defect, but they are not.

We were not designed by God the same way the young earth creationists say we were; God simply was behind the coincedences which affected how natural selection went, thus he started evolution on the right course he didn't guide it in the same way I must have made it seem. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

My point was not scientific but philosophical and how theists and atheists view evolution differently.

We are probably not the biological end result or the pinnacle of evolutionary development. That is not what I am saying. But I am saying we are the pinnacle of a particular evolutionary development. And that would be in the realm of the intellect.

I hope that helps