#2 Science Born of Faith: founding fathers

The first scientists brought astronomy out of astrology in the 15th and 16th century; the Mechanical Philosophy became the corner-stone of science in the 17th century; and laws of nature became the language of scientific understanding in the 18th century.

The founding fathers of astronomy, physics and chemistry did science to glorify God the Creator.  They were later called Deists as a derogatory term.

Life forms were classified in natural classifications showing the relationships between things, giving rise to the question: what were the units of creation, and to what degree can living things become changed through time?  It was well-known that mankind could produce varieties of domestic animals and garden plants.  Linnaeus identified orders of plants as the units of creation.

Earth sciences such as geology, palaeontology and biology started in the early 19th century as further ways to explore the wisdom of God.  Creatures were seen as designed and purposefully fitted to their functions in nature.  But the newly discovered dimension of deep time was now exercising the minds of thinkers.

Various types of Progressive Creationism were proposed to accompany Catastrophism in geology – which showed that various mass extinctions of life on earth had occurred.  Other geologists proposed that rock strata accumulated very gradually over vast amounts of time.

Evolution was in the air when Darwin proposed that it occurred through natural selection in 1859.

#1 Science Born of Faith: Medieval founding of universities

The following posts summarize the article ‘Science Born of Faith: A History’ which can be found on the Theology page of this website.

the medieval period

The article starts with the founding of universities in the 12th century and the discussions between Orthodox Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Latin philosophers concerning the nature of reality.  Learning was based on the rediscovery of Greek philosophy preserved by Byzantine Orthodox Christian scholars from where it passed to the Islamic world and then the Latin world of Catholic Christianity.

Historical movements led towards the Protestant Reformation and Catholic counter-reformation of the 16th century.

There had been proper attempts at scientific reflection and scientific observation during the medieval period of the 13th and 14th centuries, but these had not flourished within the world of medieval symbolism. 

The well-known thesis that the Protestant Reformation was the precondition for the development of modern science is borne out.  The new society provided an opening for new ideas.  The Christian search for truth of devout Bible-reading Protestants led to the first expressions of modern science as a search for true knowledge of the created world.

#5 My words will live on

In the shanty town as I saw the houses around me visibly sink into the ground. I knew that these houses had once been newly built, maybe even luxury houses of the 19th century.  The poverty-stricken shanty town had once been a thriving economic concern when the copper foundry was there. But 150 years later disintegration had set in, and the houses were clinging precariously onto verticality.

I lived a life in a place that may have had a profound subconscious influence on my writing. But I also had contact with the world of science via books and scientific journals. Molecular biology was advancing during the 1990s as my theory took shape.  Many details about DNA were confirming my innovative concepts which were written on bits of paper.

Research into the origin of things also gave me an inner life.  I have never got bored or given up hope.  The well-spring of inspiration wells up each day and is always new.  The God who created life gives life to the soul, and the soul, at least, never grows old.

One day people will listen.  Maybe after I have returned to dust I will have my say.  My words will live on. 

Out of the precariousness of human life sprang an idea – if it is truth, it will outlast the vagaries of time.  It will build up.  These written words will not pass away as everything around us is lost.  What is old will be renovated, and made new.

I lived in the far side house

#4 Entropic Evolution

Increasing disorder shows that order was the initial state.  Loss of function shows that function preceded dysfunction.  Reduction in parts shows that wholeness came first.  Entropic Evolution presupposes complexity in the basic kinds of life.  These then evolved over time essentially in a downwards direction.

These scientific observations are attuned with the belief that God created life, and that He created complex life.  God did not create every species, but a certain number of basic types or kinds.  It is the complexity of the basic original types that has allowed them to evolve.  Evolution has been free to take many different directions, bringing about a multitude of adaptations to many different environments for the various forms of life.

I have called this Nanocreation because it is the creation of life through creation of the DNA code.  God conferred upon life the possibility of evolution by the operation of natural selection.

#3 The big idea

I think I’m nearly ready to present my big idea to the world.  This is it:

That, in essence, evolution is based on increasing disorder, a running down.  At the genetic level dysfunction increases over time.  The reason for this is that mutations are errors in the replication of DNA.  These errors cause genes to become switched off.  This represents a loss of information carried by the genetic code.

However, and this is a very big however, switched-off genes can be useful in that they can give rise to modifications in traits that bring about adaptation to new environments.  When switched-off genes are useful because the modifications they produce are beneficial, they are positively selected by natural selection.

There are hundreds of examples of plants and animals that have modifications such as reduction in structures and organs that are missing such as moles which have no eyes.  All these examples are underpinned by mutation causing genes to cease to function.  There are also all sorts of modifications that have led to the evolution of a great diversity of species.

This is the grand principle of evolution that sprang from the dust of a shanty town.  Error causes loss of information in the genetic code and this is passed on. 

I conceived this principle in my mind, but I had no name for it.  Then, one day I read the appendix of a book that spoke of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  I realized that the name for my principle was entropy.  But this is not entropy involving the running down of energy, but the running down of information in a code that is a transmitted message.  I now name this Error Entropy (this notion of entropy is different to Shannon Entropy).  It gave the name to my theory: Entropic Evolution.

Here is the bigger idea:  if Entropic Evolution in essence runs down, then there must a proceeding phase when it is ‘wound up’.

#2 I bought an empty office

I’ve expected to become famous since age five.  Five decades have passed, that is half a century.  I’m now on this side of the hill, not the other side, the slope going down bit.  I’ve exchanged the pinkness of youth for increasing serenity.  Though I’m still remarkably fit in many ways – but I put this down to poverty and having worked as a cleaner lady.  I did this when I got back to England.  Anyway aging was never going to happen to me, so this is quite surprising.  It does not seem to be avoidable.

Instead of remaining the Gringa of Guayacan, I came back to England and became an office cleaner for Derby City Council.  I fought dust and disorder in Derby’s offices for nine years, but every day I was writing.  I regarded pushing a vacuum cleaner round an office as a work out, for which I was paid, rather than having to pay to keep fit.  I always felt sorry for the people working in the offices, condemned to sit at desks and sort out other people’s (stupid) problems, while I only had my own problems to sort out.  It was my job to smile as I went round emptying bins.  My appearance in the office meant that the others could go home, so they looked happy too.

I finally found an empty office in Derby going cheap.  I bought it, moved there, converted it back into a house and rented out rooms to lodgers.  This allowed me to give up the cleaning job.

So I now live in the multicultural part of Derby and rent rooms to lodgers who come from all over the world – from crumbling shanty towns – young people who seek work in Britain since they have no work in their own countries.

I and my five lodgers share a back yard with the house next door where there are 13 rooms rented out.  There’s also a cat with one ear that jumped over the back fence and moved in.

Our street has constant visits from the police and ambulances, and there are always beer cans thrown in the front garden.  I’ve become Tess of the Wheelie Bins trying to cope with the neighbour’s inability to recycle and put their bins out on the right day.

I feel at home here, surrounded by people; it’s like living in a shanty town.  I know a lot about disorder, nonsense and things that are run down.

Finally, my dream came true and my book The Steps of Creation was published in July 2016.  No one has yet opened the book, except for two people.  One got really excited and said it contained the most original ideas he’d ever read, but then forgot what they were.  The other was still trying to read it last time I heard.  I just keep on writing, when I’m not cleaning my own house occupied by six people or fixing things that break.

#1 Entropy: Precarious Life and Big Idea

My big idea was conceived in a shanty town in Chile in the 1990s.

Guayacan had been a thriving part of the north Chilean town of Coquimbo at one time.  British people had gone there too in the 1890s.  Guayacan was built around a copper foundry in the 19th century.  The foundry owners lived in big houses built of high-quality mud-brick, while the workers of the foundry inhabited wattle and daub houses although with big gardens at the back.  While the copper foundry furnace burned night and day, there was money.  But when I went there a hundred years later the foundry was gone and only clinker on the beach remained as evidence of its former existence.

The little fishing port with its old houses was now a crumbling shanty part of town.  Faded glory gave it quaintness, but each earth quake took its toll and many houses now leaned precariously.  One big house had a preservation order on it, but the earth quakes had taken no notice of this – they had shaken the front off it.  The house stood with no front so you could see into the rooms with their outdated wallpaper.  It made you feel uncomfortable looking into the private space now exposed.

I spent a lot of time doing work on my old house that in the 19th century had been the post office.  I liked living there, but as I observed the old houses, I came to realize that termites would eventually eat all the new beams I’d had put in, and all my renovation work would return to dust.

Termite damage to a house in Guayacan, Coquimbo, Chile

Of course doing up houses has an immediate benefit in providing a place to live, and places to rent out and so have an income.  But ultimately the whole shanty town would be swept away by modernity, and be no more.

My efforts in the shanty town were destined to return to dust, and I would also return to dust maybe in the English cemetery close by.  I expected to be immortalized as the ‘Gringa of Guayacan’ one day since I expected to remain living in Chile.  What I realized, however, is that the written word has an efficacy that other creative efforts do not have.  The written word is not swept away; it does not turn to dust.  So it is that I started writing.

It was here in the shanty town that I conceived my big idea – the idea that would direct my life and become the fire of my soul.  I started writing every day except Sundays.  I’ve done this for 26 years now.  Even while everything was collapsing around me, and earth tremors shook the house, I could still write.

Creation of at least one gene

Haven’t we all met someone who has said, ‘I can’t believe in Christianity or go to church because I believe in science’?

And what do we say?  We fumble about for some kind of answer – that we also believe in science – but then we appear to abandon our faith to some obscure private domain of irrationality.  Do we really sell the Good News to anybody with regards to science and faith?

I want to use these few words to present to you a new view of creation and a new understanding of evolution.  Genetics is the key to this new idea and Incarnation is the sign.

Science today tells us that everything has simply evolved.  No need of a Creator God.  No need of purpose, no meaning and no message.

Over the past 150 years the church has, by and large attenuated this stark conclusion by claiming that evolution was God’s method of creation.  Each Sunday we proclaim God as maker of heaven and earth, but it is unclear to most people what this means.

I had been studying science, genetics and biological evolution, and reflecting upon creation for 14 years when the Lord showed me the implications of the Incarnation: 

At the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Spirit, God performed a miracle that allowed Jesus to be fully human and yet be born from a virgin.  Mary provided an egg that started to develop without fertilization from a human father.  This means that Mary provided all of Jesus’ DNA and all of his genes.  But there was one gene that no female can provide.  It is a gene on the Y chromosome called TDF.  If God had not directly created this one gene, TDF, as a minimum requirement, the Messiah would have been female, not male.

This shows – at least to us Christians – that God is able to create genetic codes – genes made of DNA.  I am not a six literal days Creationist, but I know this great truth: God created life. 

I propose that God created life by creating the genetic code at the microscopic, nanoscale level of cells.  This new way of seeing creation opens the way to a new understanding of evolution.  The science of genetics is now revealing – and this was not known before – that modification of traits through the processes of evolution is almost always based on mutations that switch off genes.  Mutation is error in the replication of DNA.  However, and this is the very big however – switched-off genes can sometimes bring about useful traits in the physical bodies of plants and animals.  When these new traits are useful, they are selected by natural selection.  The natural processes of evolution allow plants and animals to adapt, be modified and diversify into many different species. 

God does not create through error.  Mutation which is error simply modifies what God has created in perfection.

A new understanding of evolution shows that its source is in creation, and a new view of creation shows that life was created to adapt and evolve.  The genetics of the Incarnation shows that the genetic code within cells is the message, the message that carries life and the message that proclaims God as Creator. 

October 2018

Read more in the article ‘Genetics and the Incarnation’ on the Incarnation page of this website.

Job’s Dialogue with God

Job came from the land of Uz. He is probably Jobab mentioned as a younger son of Joktan in Genesis 10:26. If so he was a descendant of Noah via Shem who lived before the tower of Babel and before Abraham.

Uz was his grand father’s nephew, or some sort of second cousin twice removed (Uz appears in Genesis 10:23). Lands were named after tribal leaders.

Uz was located somewhere where the Sahara Desert is now found in North Africa. At the time, this land provided pastures for the herds of camels, sheep, oxen and donkeys which Job owned. He was a rich man.

In Job 6:15-17 Job makes reference to intermittent streams that flow from thawing ice and become torrents from melting snow. At the end of the Ice Age the climate of the Sahara was very different to what it is now. This shows how ancient the Book of Job really is. It may date from the earliest written texts of about 3200 BC.

The Book of Job gives a unique insight into life during the early Neolithic among the Semites and their strong faith in God prior to the time of the Patriarchs of Israel.

The story recounts a tale of woe: Job’s extensive herds of oxen, donkeys, sheep and camels were carried off in tribal raids and his servants were killed; then his brother’s house collapses on his sons and daughters killing them as they were feasting; finally Job is afflicted with an unsightly disease of sores. Satan who appears in the story says to God that Job will curse Him to His face when his own body is struck. Job’s wife says to him, “Curse God and die.”

The rough time that Job is experiencing gets even rougher when his friends pass judgment upon him saying he only has himself to blame for the suffering in his life. Job will not concede that this is the case. Job will not admit guilt and holds onto his integrity.

The book of Job is mainly about understanding God’s justice, but it is also the context of one of the most ancient references to God as Creator. At this time people thought that God clothed Himself with the clouds of the storm, throwing lightning to the earth like spears and spoke with the voice of thunder. This is voiced by Elihu in his discourse in Job chapter 37.

god speaks to job from the storm and out of the thunder

God answered Job from out of the storm. This is a paraphrase of Job:38-42: God thunders:

Who is this that darkens my counsel with words devoid of understanding? Stand up and brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?  Tell me if you know all this?  What is the way to the abode of light?  And where does darkness reside?

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?  Can you loose the cords of Orion?  Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the Bear with its cubs?  Do you know the laws of the heavens?  Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

God mocks Job and asks him, were you born when I created all these things? He goes on, who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?

The Lord finishes his discourse saying, will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him.

Then Job answered the Lord: I am unworthy – how can I reply to you?  I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

It ends with the Lord saying that Job’s three friends had not spoken of Him what is right, while Job had. Job is ordered to make sacrifices on their behalf to obtain forgiveness. After this Job is restored to health and prosperity, coming to own twice what he had before, and has seven more sons and three daughters.

The book of Job is an extraordinary book of drama, poetry, observations of nature and truth about God and the human condition.

I wish to conclude with the thought that none of us were there.  Nobody witnessed creation nor saw the Beginning.  But someone was there; God was present, the Creator of the universe.  He alone knows how creation happened.  He alone has power to create.  He brought matter out of nothing and created life from non-life.  

God alone saw creation as it unfurled. We cannot comprehend the fundamental things unless God reveals His purposes to us. Humility is the condition required for the gaining of knowledge and the understanding of things. To find wisdom let us seek it with the One who does know the answers to our questions.