News & Reviews
We Need to Look at the Evidence
March 12, 2021
We have been blessed with several relatively new and very powerful books that give us extremely important information about life, the universe, and about a number of very clear gifts that we have been given by God.
The most recent book, Fundamentals, Ten Keys to Reality, was written by Nobel Prize winning physicist Frank Wilczek and does a wonderful job of explaining in amazingly clear ways the most current beliefs in physics and quantum physics that are shaping our thinking and our science today.
We have cell phones, computers, GPS, and both nuclear power plants and atomic bombs because of the science, formulas, and mathematical and functional tool kit that Wilczek explains in sometimes pioneering and unexpectedly clear ways for some of the components of the process.
Steven Pinker calls the book “a gorgeous and inviting overview of the fundamental facts of physical reality.”
Wilczek explains and celebrates the fact that our mathematicians and our physicists have managed to discern, develop and confirm amazingly complex and both highly refined and elegant mathematics that tie all of the pieces together in ways that the human mind who has expertise in the field can both comprehend and use.
Mysteries remain in the quantum world that he describes in his wonderful book, and
Wilczek has confidence that we will continue to solve those mysteries over time because of the huge progress we have made in those areas so far and because our tool kit for solving them gets better every day in both encouraging and amazing ways.
Wilczek celebrates our ability, as conscious and intelligent beings, to actually discern and build functional solutions for those issues.
He has great humility about what a tiny piece of the overall time line of the universe is occupied by human life and about how small a percentage of the total timeline of the universe since the Big Bang event that most physicists now believe actually began this phase of the universe’s existence is taken up by our planet and by life, itself, as it exists on our planet.
He loves thinking and being able to think.
He very much celebrates the fact that we have conscious minds and that we actually have the amazing power in our conscious minds to both have a sense of our own existence and to figure out many of the functional complexities of the world and the universe we live in.
We have amazing brains. We now know that there are literally billions of stars in what we currently perceive to be the known universe and Wilczek points out that we actually have about that number of cells and that number of neurons in our own brains.
I was struck, surprised and impressed by that strange and unexpected symmetry.
We are both tiny and huge.
And we are also clearly not accidental.
He is a creationist in his core belief.
Wilczek believes that the universe was created. He believes that we were created to be conscious and to have the ability to understand many levels of that creation.
He loves mathematics.
He believes that mathematics was created and he believes that the laws of physics that so clearly function as actual laws in our world were also created and he believes that they both have a beauty that should be appreciated simply for being beautiful.
He also looks at the extreme interlocking complexity of bio engineering and code structure that we now know is embedded in DNA and RNA and in life itself, and he points out that complexity also should be appreciated and that the trajectories for life, itself, should also be celebrated and appreciated for the intentionally designed gifts that they also clearly are.
We are living in very interesting times.
We are on the cusp of massive learning for major areas of our existence that will reground our context in a number of key and important areas.
We believed in Newtonian physics for a very long time in very useful ways as the best description for how physical things worked. We also have believed in classic Darwinian evolution for a very long time as the highly probable description and explanation of how life both developed and evolved on this planet.
Both Darwin and Newton gave us wonderful gifts, but we now know that quantum physics is very real that DNA is actually functionally and intentionally encoded at complex levels, and we now know that there is no possible sequence of the class Darwinian “survival of the fittest” reproduction and selection cycles that could actually have built those tools.
We have a pandemic raging right now on the planet, and we are using some of our most advanced current learning in the DNA and RNA area today to come up with vaccines that will help us survive the pandemic onslaught. Anyone who looks at how we are using those sets of tools can realize that there was no possible combination of random mutations followed by relative improvements in survival rates that could have either originated or refined those processes.
This is a very good time for us to look at the total context in which we find ourselves, with the expanded knowledge we now have in so many key areas. This Fundamentals book will definitely be a major asset in helping us create that sense of context for where we are, and it is not alone in giving us some extremely important guidance at this point in time.
We are blessed to have several other relatively new books that can help build and enhance our sense of total context for the Universe and our role in it at this moment in time.
The Perry Marshall book, Evolution 2.0, points out how clearly actual evolution on this planet has taken place in a context created intentionally as a gift to this planet and he explains what key elements of that gift set are.
Evolution, as it actually functioned, is clearly a gift from God, because it is clearly anchored on a set of programs that enable, sustain, and perpetuate life in very intentional and brilliant ways.
Perry suggests that we should look at actual evolution today as being what he calls a six blade Swiss Army knife — and he suggests in his book in the language of a functional engineer what he believes the actual six blades to be.
Charles Darwin would have absolutely loved these tools and those insights.
Darwin loved being an amazingly thorough and observational naturalist and he would have helped us figure out how to go down the right epigenetic paths to truly optimize the genetic opportunities that we are discovering and learning to use. We are discovering that epigenetics has an extremely powerful and flexible set of tools that can give us better lives at multiple levels when we learn what they are and when we choose to use them well, and those tools explain why species have survived for so long in so many challenging settings.
So the Marshall book points us to good directions on Evolution.
George Ellis, another brilliant physicist, has been an extremely useful guru and thought leader in leading us down the path to working with extreme levels of inter locking complexity, and has given multiple lectures and has written very useful books in that space as well. Dr. Ellis specializes in interlocking complexity and shows us all the same kinds of intentional tools that Dr. Wilczek celebrates.
Ellis, Marshall, and Wilczek are not alone today on that path.
The current head of the NIH in our country, Dr. Francis Collins, presided over the seminal human genome project for our country and for the world, and Dr. Collins also wrote a book called The Language of God explaining why he believes that science and those tool kits are Gifts from God. That book was also reviewed on this website.
Each of those thinkers explains why it is so clear from those biological and physical reality tool kits that both those explicit tools and the planet we live on are all gifts from God.
They each have their own link to their own faith systems to deal with that belief and they each have their own channel for their own scientific beliefs and their religious beliefs that seem to be directionally aligned with some consistency between them that is reassuring for people trying to figure out what pathways might be the best for us all to use.
The case can be made that we live in an Eden that is remarkably well designed and well set up to sustain human life. Each of the books has extensive and persuasive sections explaining how particularly supportive of human life our solar system and our planet happen to be.
For the people who might want to think about the actual Eden tradition from the old Christian Judeo theological stream of beliefs, it is interesting today to see how close that very first description of creation, that has been included in the book of Genesis for a very long time, has come to describe what we now believe to be true.
Genesis has a seven-day creation story.
Day one in Genesis in the first telling of the Creation story there said that existence was without form and a void. With the Spirit of God hovering over the formless void.
Then God said, let there be light. And that was the first day.
If you believe in the current Big Bang theory of an event-based origin for everything, “let there be light” into a formless void isn’t a bad beginning or overlap for that version of the story.
Day two of the book of Genesis created the firmament in every setting.
Day three, the areas under the firmament turned into land and seas, and God saw that was good.
Again, that Biblical sequence works in broad terms for what we now know about the functional history of our planet. It immediately has water playing a major role. The thing that makes our planet such an Eden compared to other planets actually is the water and the ways it exists here. We need water to support life, so God creating it and then some dry land to go with it at the beginning of the sequence has some logistical credibility and functionality.
Then, according to Genesis, God created the plant species and set each species up to be true to its kind. That’s very Darwinian in its focus on species and on sequence.
Day four created the stars across the expanses of space and also created the sun and moon, and that seems slightly out of sequence with water happening on the prior day — but it is roughly correct as good science for what follows.
Day five created an abundance of life in the waters and set up each thing “according to its kind” for sea and air creatures. Species clearly are things that are according to their kind. They were all told by God to be fruitful and to multiply.
Again, current biological and evolutionary science supports a sequence of having the first forms of life appear in the waters before being on land.
Day six creates the land animals — again, each according to its kind — and “God liked what was there and saw that it was good.”
Then, according to the Book of Genesis, with all of the other animals created, God decided to add humans to the mix. Depending on our interpretation of actual biological history, Genesis seems to be right on track for adding us to the mix after creating everything else as forms of life.
That’s where the really fascinating line comes into play where God says, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.”
That line gets repeated.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God — He created him, Male and Female, He created them. Then God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply.
Fill the earth and subdue it.”
Genesis then says that He gave them every herb and plant and every animal for support and use, and that God believed that it was good.
The fascinating piece of that sixth day of creation was that both men and women were simultaneously and jointly made “in the Image of God” — and if we are inclined to attach meaning to that expression, we can find it very easy to believe and interpret that message to mean that the key component part of the “image of God” was to have a conscious mind and it was not to be any particular physical body or physical form or even to have any specific biological characteristics.
People who believe in that Genesis account of Creation as having some directional validity have debated about what the image of God means. If we believe it to be a conscious and self-aware mind, that’s actually a fairly easy answer and it possibly at least partly explains why it was done.
In a number of religious traditions, God created people because God was lonely as being the only conscious being in the universe.
On the seventh day, God rested.
Whether you believe that the Genesis story has any value other than directional and symbolic at a highly symbolic and sequentially useful level, it is an interesting process to recognize that each of the people who are now giving us these particular books of very direct guidance at this point in time each do believe in God, and each seem believe that we should get guidance from that belief to move us in the most loving and accepting directions.
Having a created universe means that someone or something had to do the creation. Those books were not written by theologians, and they do not advocate any particular theology for their explanation of God in their books, but they do say that they believe that people should find their own religious answers for their own lives.
Religion is clearly one of the things that people look at when we talk and think about the process of Creation and about the existence of God.
Dr. Ellis is a Quaker. Wilczek had Catholic roots and doesn’t accept that faith as a firm guidance now, but appreciates the best and most enlightened values that it gave him to act in supportive ways.
Marshall and Collins both find current linkages to their faith in God through their own denominations within the Christian belief context.
Their thinking on that point is something we should all understand. They are believers, and they each believe in what they each describe as an ethical, moral and loving God.
It is important and more than a little reassuring to recognize that some of the people who are giving us these extremely high levels of insights into the science of life and the physical reality of our world, and who do believe that God created all of it as gifts to us as part of the process, each have a strong belief in the innate goodness of God.
The people who are looking most closely at those gifts believe that God is good. Each believes that the right things for us to do are to learn from the gifts and to use what we learn, and do it in ways that are responsible, ethical, caring, supportive, and extremely loving relative to each other as conscious beings and as people.
The people who have drilled down hardest to see the face of God and who believe they are succeeding in important ways each believe that God is good, that we should delight in learning, and that we should delight in doing the right things for one another.
Read their books. Before the Beginning, by George Ellis, calls for us to answer our mission with God by making a contribution with our own lives and by doing the right things for each other. The Language of God, by Dr. Collins reaches the same conclusion.
Each of the writers who celebrate our conscious minds and who exemplify our absolutely amazing intellect that lets us use the mathematics tools and build stunningly complex and brilliant formulas and pieces of equipment to figure out the intricately enveloping realities of both biological science and physical science also recognize the fact that we do seem to have free will at an extremely high level — and that we can think and do things entirely on our own in ways that we decide on our own in whatever context we decide to do them.
Free will is an extremely important part of the process.
The facts and circumstances of our lives create the context in which we each live — and we each get to decide in the context of our lives what we will believe and what we will do given the reality we are part of. Context is extremely important. We have free will, but it’s relevant in the context where we find ourselves with each of our lives.
That context lets some people, like Frank Wilczek, have the opportunity to grow the neurons in their brain and connect them by the trillions and to study and learn, and to actually figure things out before age 25 that earned him a Nobel Prize. If a madman had killed his mother when he was two years old, he would have been on a very different life trajectory and that trajectory might not have allowed him to name a new particle in the world of quantum physics before his 25th birthday.
He was, however, part of a growing army of brilliant physicists who have been doing extremely useful work in the glowing context of that science, and the sum total of that work is giving us collectively a new context for our world and making our lives easier at levels we could never have suspected only years ago.
To fully benefit from that work and to also benefit from the equally brilliant work being done on the DNA coding tool kit, we need to go forward into a world where we use those tools to support one another, and where we don’t use them to do damage or to make negative realities happen for other people.
One of the key areas of evolution that is extremely important for us at this point in our history is to evolve in enlightenment about who we are and what we choose to do relative both to our own lives and to one another.
Our science is evolving and continuously improving relative to both physics and biology, and we need our understanding, wisdom, values, ethics, and both interpersonal and inter group behaviors to evolve as well.
We need to all understand our basic patterns of instinctive behaviors that create a context for our science in all of those areas. We need to apply the same levels of insights into our thought processes, instincts, and behaviors as we are now applying to our computer designs, laser tool kits, and DNA engineering efforts.
We have very powerful sets of instinctive behaviors that guide us as individuals and groups in whatever context we are in. We have instincts to be maternal, paternal, territorial, hierarchical, and tribal — to both survive and thrive that structure the world and settings we are in.
We have instincts to be alpha that can be so powerful that they are both seductive and addictive to too many people who have them activated, and we have strong instincts to be beta and theta that can cause us to hate and even kill people who threaten our relative position and our relative status in any setting.
A small set of basic and extremely consistent instincts structure our lives and our emotions and we tend to build cultures in every grouping and setting that give us the tools to achieve some basic instinctive goals. We create hierarchies everywhere — with kings, generals, chairs, presidents, and captains for every group, and we crave being in those positions and feel loyalty to whoever holds them in our settings for purely instinctive reasons.
We need to understand that entire set of instincts and we need to channel them in enlightened ways to achieve our most enlightened goals. This website and the Institute for InterGroup Understanding were set up to help people both understand those instincts and use them in the most effective and least damaging ways in our communities and our lives.
We need our faith to have context, opportunity and channels as well.
We should know how to channel our faith and our belief systems in ways that help us achieve the role that is optimal for us in our own lives.
Religious organizations can and should help us with that process — and we need to each make the choices that feel right for each of us along those pathways. We need religions that support loving and understanding linkages to our best values and to our highest selves as part of our lives and support for doing the right things where they need to be done.
Sadly — some religious organizations have gone in exactly the wrong directions and have gone there in very damaging ways.
The centuries of bloodshed with a religious label in Northern Ireland have been amplified and extended over multiple countries in the Middle East where being Sunni or Shai or Alawite or Kurdish has people doing evil to one another under the label of their religious beliefs and feeling completely right in doing those damaging and evil things. Every one of the most negative tribal instincts are actually at the core of the conflict in each of those settings — and we need people everywhere to learn why that is true and to learn what they can do to make it not true in the future.
There are more than 125 ethnic wars going on in the world today — and people in all of those settings are hurting other people and believing that they are doing it for good and right reasons because that’s how those instincts steer our emotions, values and thoughts when they are activated.
Peace is possible — but not as long as people simply hate other tribes and don’t even understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.
We need to have the same level of insight that we have now about quarks and RNA to guide inter group interactions — and we need to have our enlightened new physics of inter group interactions continuously improving in the interest of inter group Peace.
We need to be Us to succeed.
We need to very intentionally and deliberately create a sense of very human Us in each setting, and then we need to rely on that sense of us to do the right thing for our children and for our relevant community.
We need to support our faith organizations and we need to very intentionally help channel each of them to inter group Peace. We need both community leaders and faith leaders who help us relate to God and to each other in holy and loving ways and who resist the temptation to do evil in either the name of their group or in the name of God.
The authors of those books that teach us so much about the actual gifts of God into our world all believe that is what God wants us to do.
God isn’t competitive. It seems that multiple pathways to prayer should all work, and we should each pick the pathway and venue and setting for prayer, worship, and personal alignment and experience that feels most right to us in our lives.
God isn’t controlling at a core level, or we would not have free will and quarks would not have random options for direction and behavior.
It’s all evolving.
Let’s take the opportunity to do what we feel is entirely right and act in loving ways to give us all the right start.
We can show good intentions to each other as part of the process.
Let’s give every child the right start in those first months and years when neurons connect by the billions in every child when that is allowed and enabled to happen.
Let’s also make continuously improving health care available to everyone.
We have more than enough resources to have great care for everyone — and our caregivers will feel joy and satisfaction in delivering it.
Let’s have every community build an intentional sense of aligned Us. We need people everywhere to trust other people because we need to do what we need to be trusted.
That’s all entirely possible.
Let’s also stand back, look at the overwhelming evidence, and appreciate the wonderful gifts we have from God — including this Eden that we live in — and then let’s make sure it will continue to be Eden for our grandchildren and for their grandchildren as well because we did the right things now to make that happen.
Be well and feel the blessings all around us.