Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Jesus Loves Darwin

I have been giving a great deal of thought to religion and religious tolerance recently, having been monitoring the Forums at after hearing Sam Harris' interview on NPR.

Edit:, the web site of the aethist author of "The End of Faith" should not be confused with, the site of the singer who released a recent Christmas album and says recommends that everyone's bookshelf should include, "The Power of Kabbalah (Yehuda Berg) because it explains everything."

It brought to mind the wars over bumper fish, and Darwin or IXTHYS or Jesus symbol sported on so many bumpers.

For the decade of the 1990s, I sported a Darwin on the bumper of my Toyota Corolla. When I got my Saturn Station wagon, I decided not to put one on because there was more to life than just what had been explained by science alone. In more recent years I installed a Dashboard Jesus, perhaps in unconscious homage to the old Ernie Marrs song "Plastic Jesus." I've not yet gotten my Madonna or Joseph or the Twelve Apostles, and although it's not a furry van nor a Winnebago, it is a station wagon. I've got room to expand, but I likely won't go the hedonist, head-strong, pedestrian-terrorist way of the crooner's subject.

Moreso, it was also a tip of the cap to the Rolling Stones, who always made me smile with the laid-back homey tale of the Girl with Far Away Eyes. "Thank you Jesus. Thank you Lord." In recent years, though times were tough for me in some ways, I still have a lot to be thankful for.

Darwin & Co. as Spiritualists

More and more I've been thinking that there's a synthesis possible between spiritual faith and worldly rationality. I call this philosophy "Jesus Loves Darwin." I'm not the first to express it, and I won't be the last.

If we put forth the axiom Jesus of Nazareth pledged pure, selfless love to all humankind, therefore Jesus loves everyone (even as a philosophical memetic ideal if you do not agree with the historical veracity of the Gospels). Charles Darwin represents evolution, though he of course got the idea of natural selection from other influential thinkers before him, including the Rev. Robert Thomas Malthus. Darwin's family, including the Wedgewood branch, were Universalists. Malthus was Anglican and a Creationist.

However, like the 19th Century Creationists, I am not a "Young-Earth Creationist." I find such anti-logical irrationality intently stupid. Poetically, I agree with the concept of "Day Age Creationism," with the "Days" of Genesis aligning with various eras of the Universe's creation, even if some of those "days" might be millions or billions of years. I am also fond of Theistic Evolution and much if the theories of Deism, though I have a feeling God remains a player in the game He created. He may be mostly hands-off, but too much in the world has the scent and taste of God to be utterly devoid of His presence. In fact, as a game designer, I have a feeling that God is the ultimate game master, asking us what our choices are at every key decision point in life. He eagerly awaits our answers, and is often most merciful to us even given our choices.

I'm also somewhat in agreement with Neo-Creationists that many atheists are actually practicing their own form of religion. After all, don't they sacrifice lab rats at the altar of science? Indeed, they do. Quite by fate I ran into a friend who is into biostatistics at dinner this past eve, and he heartily yet good-naturedly confirmed this to be the case. It is an odd paradox that modern medicine men see themselves as somehow wholly divorced and of a different nature than their aboriginal or medieval predecessors.

Evolving Towards Spirituality

I propose Jesus' desire, hope and love for us is an explicit encouragement to grow and adapt — to evolve — ideologically, spiritually, intellectually, maturely and knowledgeably. He loves us, and wants us to evolve. He loves Darwin, a student of theology, for expressing the way we adapt. He loves Rev. Malthus for warning us of unchecked excesses of humankind, and the tragedies and disasters we set up for ourselves by unplanned, unchecked population growth.

If we are to weather this 21st Century, human destiny needs to continue to craft a synthesis of adaptive spiritual faith and an ever-deepening body of scientific proof. We must remember the history of the debates we have already held on this subject, and learn from our common past.

Sam Harris is only half-right in his assertion for the "End of Faith." While there has been an ongoing and now modern clash between atheists and Bible literalists and Islamic fundamentalists — zealotous anti-rationalist, anti-secularists — what he fails to give credence to is the prevalent number of rational spiritualists for whom fighting over religious differences are not as compelling as the universal lessons and goals of brotherly love, cooperation, peace, concord, fidelity, and commonweal.

By complaining solely about faith, he fails to see how Darwin, himself a clergy student at Christ's College, Cambridge, sought to take up that life to "explore the wonders of God's creation," as so many other naturalists at the time did, such as William Paley.

The Intelligent Design crowd is approaching the problem from the wrong angle, in my view. Rather than try to prop up Young Earth Creationists and say that everything was done according to God's plan, which surrenders the issue of "free will," they should stick to how God set up the experiment, and now we are naturally evolving in the midst of the rules established by the experiment's Creator.

At the same time, strict natural evolutionists are missing the boat to say there is not some forms of creation that seem to have an easier time of it than others — certain designs are advantaged over others. Why? What are the rules behind this "natural favoritism?" Why bilateral symmetry? Why is there so much needless beauty, unless there were moral goods and goals such as happiness and harmony?

We can also look at natural "intelligent design" and see how far up the chain of being it runs. Some natural selections are selected by the species itself or by its members. An animal can chose its mate (or at least try to pair up), and a species can select its optimal mating season. Yet communities, through the pecking order, family support mechanisms, inter-group rivalries, and other communal activities can also perform social selection beyond the individual's will. Isn't this part of an intelligent decision? A bias for design? Do not predators and pests and food sources make their own "choice" to interfere with this individual or its group or entire species by their own counterbalancing selections?

Each time a wolf hunts the slow sheep, he's made an intelligent decision for his own survival, and a decision on the evolution of the sheep. This shows that animals exhibit their own "intelligent design" within their species and towards other species.

Humans, of course, are a primary example of a species that intelligently designs certain species by interfering with natural selection and fostering artificial species adaptions through certain processes and conditions. Horse and dog and flower breeding surely show how human intelligence has altered the genetic history and evolution of these creatures.

The real question is not whether "intelligent design" exists, but whether there is a God, and whether He practices intelligent design like humans do upon other species, and species conduct on each other.

On the question of whether God exists is rather simple. He does. Two proofs shall follow.

Memetic and Economic Existence of God

Socially, politically, linguistically and philosophically, God exists in the memetic superorganism associated with his existence.

Whether His existence is any more real than, say, the Cocoa Puff bird or Gandalf is left to one's memetic filters. The Cocoa Puff bird is surely just a marketing image. Gandalf is the "cane-elf" of the Elder Edda, and thus has a mythopoeic "truth" more authentic to human spirituality. God, however, is hotly debated. Some would see Him as a greater phony than even a cereal box icon.

Economically, God is the better seller. Even for all the recent Tolkien books and movies, God has definitely outsold all the Cocoa Puffs and Gandalf-related products combined, from Gandalf-name-brand software to modems to games and CDs and videos to you-name-it.

Economically, God still commands top dollar. So he's an economic reality too. This gives his memetic superorganism an intellectual property value, which could be measured in billions. I haven't sat down yet to calculate the true human value our race puts upon God. It would be an interesting study in macroeconomics.

Another proof of the existence of God memetically would be the combined sum of the energies expended by people working in the ostensible service to God. Whether as clergy, or as adherents to various faiths who commend their acts or give thanks to God for their blessings. All told we could calculate the rough number of newtons, calories, or other measures of energy, power and force conducted in the name of the service of God.

While we can question whether the people are deluded to hold their faith in God, what cannot be questioned is that they have taken these acts and they express that these acts are attributable to their faith and belief. We can say they are crackpots and cranks, but they have acted this way, rightly or wrongly, under these beliefs. Therefore the memetic superorganism known as "God" can be attributed with some percentage of credit towards these acts.

One could, of course, question whether the individual would have undertaken some of these acts regardless of whether they had any religious convictions or not, or whether they would or could have undertaken similiar secular-accredited actions if freed from religious superstitions. This is a valid argument. We would then have to measure the true difference in their actions and behaviors due to their faith, rather than simply crediting their faith with all their daily actions and conscious and unconscious behavior, from sleep to bowel movements.

It would be ironic for people to credit God with their vices, but it could indeed be done if God is to take credit for everything. Conveniently, Satan was invented to be the cause of all vice-related behavior in humankind, to relieve both humankind and God of any culpability in the ongoing predilection towards human sin and malice.

Is God an Active Actor?

Many who have problems with religion today are more upset at the people who do things claiming to act in His name or on His behalf than they have problems with the Divine Fellow Himself. He usually stays out of politics directly, but those who claim to act on His behalf are all over the map, the print page, Internet site, radio dial, and television set.

Many will point to the acts of the supposedly-faithful and say, "This is why I cannot believe in God." Others will point to natural events, and recognize them as simply natural, with no divine interference. No miracle. Just chance or human choices.

Others see God's hand in everything. Nothing can be done without God. Everything is attributed to Him. If there is free will, it is merely to acknowledge that God is in charge of everything. Otherwise, the script is planned, and you cannot change a thing. Predestination.

Whether the Creator exercises complete control over all objects in the experimental container called the "Universe" is therefore highly subject to debate, even among those who acknowledge that God exists. Some would say that we have only Fate -- everything is pre-determined, and we are merely playing out the moves in the pre-destined operational run. Others say the Supreme Being interferes now and then as a tinkerer making occasional course corrections, which we would view as miracles, providence or divine punishment. Some would toss in a bit of natural luck or fortune which perhaps might even surprisingly aid or thwart or otherwise alter the desired state of the Creator. Yet what we might see as random chance or luck is actually just poorly understood yet quite complex rules and conditions; subtle works of the Creator and certainly not out of His omniescent awareness or power to prevent or alter. Yet these are permitted alterations of reality. Other people would believe He's hands-off, letting us natural beings take care of things on our own — free will would rule supreme.

Others want to argue over who controls what God would see as right and wrong, and proper or improper.

Whether this sort of thinking comes from Bible-thumping apocalyptic End Times Christians, or Islamicists wanting to blow up anything Jewish or American because we are Zionists and the "Great Satan," or whether it comes from Communists trying to forcefully repress and wipe out religious doctrines which might threaten their hold on a state, the issue is the same: religious intolerence.

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America created the freedom of religion with a purpose: so that those who held to a spiritual belief would not be terrorized, harmed or repressed by those who did not hold to that faith, and so those that held to a spiritual belief would not terrorize, harm or repress others using their faith as a sociological weapon.

They had all descended from people of Europe, although a few intermingled with the Native Americans also. They were of many different faiths, a good number of them persecuted in their original lands. They had a vision that if a nation was tolerant to permit each person to worship or not worship as they saw fit, that civil order and reason would rule over tyranny and superstition. This did not mean the Founding Fathers were atheists. Indeed, many of them were quite profoundly faithful, and many of them were Deists.

Like our Founding Fathers, I believe in a Supreme Being, which I call God, yet which I believe is the Prime Cause and infinite power which created all the universe. If such a primal infinite power exists, it has infinite knowledge of what occurs within its creation, but it might not interfere with its creation now that the Great Work is in motion.

First Church of God the Mathematician

I hereby declare, both in whimsy and in utter sincerity, a new faith, called the First Church of God the Mathematician. I did a Google search and I didn't see anything like it, precisely, though I did see a question about whether God is a Mathematician. Of course God is a mathematician! God is also an artist, a great comedian, an undefeatable warrior, a superb quick change artist, the best roleplaying gamemaster, and a real great cook.

However, the reason I choose this particular aspect of faith is to prove to people who may be quite intellectual and scientific that a logical explanation for God exists. It is utterly rational, and it is historically tied back to the Bible, the revelations of Moses, the philosophy of Thales, and thus through his pupil Anaximander (c. 611 - 547 BC) to his protegé Pythagoras, the Roman (and non-Christian) Cicero (c. 106-46 BC) and probably a good many other folks over the years, including a great many beyond the Western world. Moses and a good number of these other fellows spent time in Egypt. Other cradles of civilization have their own cosmology, and many would nod their heads at the same conclusion: God exists.

Let's look at the Proof of the existence of God. In fact, let's look at how to do a mathematical proof first. Let's try for a direct proof. We need axioms, lemmata (proven propositions), theorums or facts, upon which we can agree. From this we can build further arguments.


Let it be known,
  • Before the creation of the Universe there was some form of void or, inversely, a formless mass (apeiron), from which matter would spring and into which the Universe would unfold (A or Alpha); it is also the place or state to which things return when they are individually or collectively destroyed or otherwise cease to be (Ω, or Omega).
  • Some pre-existing or eternally existing Prime Cause led to the creation of the Universe. (While one could also propound a set of causes or subsequent series of causes which led to the creation of the Universe, this still leaves the question of what was behind the set or series. Generally, if there is a unified theory for cosmology, then all set of causes or series of causes collectively still come from a meta cause which remains the Prime Cause.)
  • Some First Principle (arche) of matter sprang into being, which gave rise to all other substances. (However it was not air or water, as the ancient Greeks believed. It was likely some far more sub-atomic structure, which we have yet to classify.)
  • The Universe was created (see Big Bang theory).
  • The Universe exists now.
  • The Universe is proceeding towards some end state which we have not yet been able to specifically calcaulate.
  • Perception of the Universe over time increases our collective body of knowledge for understanding of the Prime Cause.
  • Information overload, lack of education, and human stupidity remain primary reasons for arguing over the obvious, rejecting data and reinventing the proverbial wheel.
  • If the Universe exists and obeys natural laws, some force or power underlies its existence and the natural laws in which it operates.
  • By analogical inference, all products have principles and causes by which they are created. The Universe infers a Creator who caused it to be (i.e.,either Cicero's sundial c. 1st Century BC or Paley's Watchmaker analogy, c. 1802).
  • God has been said to be the Prime Cause, or Creator that created the universe.
  • God has been said to be present in all places in creation; omnipresent.
  • God has been said to be all-powerful; infinitely powerful; omnipotent.
  • God has been said to be all-knowing; infinitely knowing; omniscient.
  • God has been said to be eternal; always existing, even beyond our understanding of life and existence (i.e., the Universe); immortal.
  • God has been said to therefore know all past, all present and all future over all time and space.
  • God was said to have given humans free will (choice) to determine their own fates.
  • Fortune, or random chance (or seemingly random chance), has been the names given for non-deterministic outcomes, or outcomes that occur through more chaotic systems than we can devise rules to understand.
  • Chaos theory states that what we see as random, chaotic phenomenon, is actually simply phenomena which is too complex for us to understand given limitations of knowledge, science, and mentality.
  • Some people deny the existence of God, but few people deny the existence of the Universe.
  • Some argue the Watchmaker analogy puts a fallacious presumption, a conscious desire to find a God behind all things, even if there is no God.
  • Some argue the Watchmaker analogy also contains the fallacy the viewer would recognize the watch as artificial against the background of the natural world and thus know it was designed, yet then is self-refuting in that it states all nature is designed, and thus, this would remove any sense of speciality of the watch. The conundrum is that all the world is natural, and if everything is designed, all the world is artificial.

What if the world is in fact all natural and all designed? What if there was some hidden series of rules behind its natural design that are controlled by an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal force or power?

What if all natural laws obeyed this force or power?

Are we of sufficient knowledge, science or mentality to actually heed what has been said over thousands of years of human existence: that there is a single grand unifying theory behind all creation?

Could the name of this grand unifying theory be God?

If God is not the Prime Cause for a Universe that obeys the rules of causality, then what caused the Universe to be? We can call it "Fred" if it would help calm some atheistic jitters, but we can either argue for one "cause" behind the universe, and call it God, or we can argue for many, and instead, we have a "pantheon" of forces.

Thesis: How Do We Prove the Existence of God?

Occam's razor would argue that only one entity would be necessary to be the Prime Cause of all other entities. We can argue that everything came from a null set of entities, but then we fail to get over how "0" becomes anything greater than "0" unless some non-"0" value gets added to the mix.

God's power, if anything, has to be a non-"0", non-null value. Otherwise, the Big Bang would never have happened. Something drove the singularity into being, and something allowed the singularity to be unleashed on an unsuspecting void.

In mathematical equivalents:
  • God = ¬Ø (God is not a "Null" value; God is not an empty set.)
How do we prove that God is not null?

No single causal power or force of the physical Universe could underly all natural laws of science unless it was everywhere (omnipresent) in the Universe, had complete knowledge of the contents of the Universe (omniscient) , had complete temporal access throughout the duration of the Universe to have knowledge of its past, present state and future destiny (eternal), and had ultimate power over all the elements and attributes of the contents of the Universe, and the capacity to apply force and control everything in the Universe (omnipotent).

First, let us disambiguate the term "God" to mean a singular, purportedly omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal entity which exists under many different names in various cultures, including, but not limited to: God, Allah, El, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jah, YHWH, Deus, Dio, Dios, Supreme Being, Lord, Creator, etc.

Let us assign God as the Prime Cause behind the Universe underlying all its natural laws:
  • C is the set of Causes of the Universe.
  • C ={C´} (C has one element, C´, the Prime Cause; other causes can be sub-causes of the Prime Cause and all derive their causality from C´)
  • C´ = "God" (What we call "God" is the Prime Cause; we assign the name "God" to the Prime Cause)
From this Prime Cause, everything else can be:
  • C´ —> ∞ (God, the Prime Cause, leads to the creation or instantiation of everything)
  • One product of God, C´, is the physical Universe.
This Prime Cause can be granted attributes:
  • P(C´) = ∞ (The power of God, the Prime Cause, is infinite.)
  • K(C´) = ∞ (The knowledge of God, the Prime Cause, is infinite; omniscient)
  • R(C´) = ∞ (The reality or existence of God, the Prime Cause, is infinite; omnipresent)
  • R(C´)/s+t = ∞ (The reality of God, the Prime Cause, over all space and time, is still infinite)
  • C´ > P+K+R+e+s+t (God, the Prime Cause, has an existence extending beyond the physical Universe's dimensional power, knowledge, reality, energy, space and time, even into other dimensions; God is omnipresent)
  • C´ > P∞/e+s+t (God, the Prime Cause, is greater than infinite power over the sum of energy, time and space)
  • C´ = ∞/t (The instantiation or duration of God, the Prime Cause, is eternal; infinite over time)
  • ∆C´/t = 0 (God, the Prime Cause, does not change over time)
  • C´ > ∞ (God is greater than infinite)
Since God created everything, God created power, knowledge, reality, infinity, and existence, and thusly, acccording to the law of conservation of energy, the Prime Cause must have power greater than infinite for it to be able to create all of these entitites without being destroyed or transformed into no more than these entities.

An alternate argument would be C´ = ∞, since an infinite being would be arguably able to transmute into any form it desired. Yet God, God would need to be able to transmute back into God, or retain God form, thus would need to maintain sufficient energy. As the Prime Cause, it not only was infinity, it was all other values too. The Prime Cause created infinity and zero, π and e, all cardinal numbers, all real entities and imaginary concepts, which are different values, and a myriad other real and imaginary, rational and irrational values. It would need to be separate from and superior to ∞ in order for it to also create zero and all other numbers and logical or physical entities. God would be the superset from which all other values derived.

YML or YHWHML (Yahweh Markup Language)

God is not simply the Universe, or energy, or power, or knowledge or reality or existence (being an instantiation within reality), since these are all creations of a Prime Cause. It would be more precise to say God has the attributes of eternality and infinite power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), and existence in reality (omnipresence). In which case, He may be better articulated as an XML statement, with the element of "God" having these attributes:
His existence bit is set to "1" though of course others will highly contest whether this is a validly-assigned attribute value.

YML is merely in its infancy. It has no formal DTD or XML Schema. I am not a professional mathematician, logician, nor theologian. I would welcome the comments and assistance of those who understood calculus and higher mathemetics to poke holes in my thoughts or to support them with your own.

It is not the same as Theological Markup Language (ThML), which is for the markup of theological texts. Instead, this is supposed to be a precise language to define God and divine revelations. It might in due time be expanded to be general religious markup language to codify other divinities, pantheons, saints, spiritual movements, as well as angelic and devilish beings. For now, it was an example of how we might wish to create new mathematical languages and representations of God using formal set theory to avoid linguistic barriers towards understanding the truth of cosmology.

A, Ω, ∏ & e — God as Mathematical Formulae

When looked at in this way, God is simply the next set of natural laws in the realm of physics to be solved for beyond the equation E=mc^2. In the arts, God's mathematical nature has been proposed long before and certainly since the 1998 movie π (Pi).
11:15, restate my assumptions: 1. Mathematics is the language of nature. 2. Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. 3. If you graph these numbers, patterns emerge. Therefore: There are patterns everywhere in nature.
In my musing about all the names God might go by, and the Tetragrammaton, I read over the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia on Jehovah (Yahweh). The name originally means "He Who Is," or as Wikipedia states, "He will cause to become." That's about as generic a description of a Creator as you can get.

Jewish scholars and Greek philosophers saw God not as a man in a cloud poking at Adam's fingertip, but as the primal cause. Their reverence of this Creator was so great that by the 3rd Century AD, apparently they took the reading of the 3rd Commandment literally and refused to speak the name of YHWH.

It is also curious that YHWH also referred to as Elohim, which is a plural form of "Gods." Which meant that either the Jewish people considered there was more than one cause, or that some primal cause led to other forces or powers which we percieved as emanations of gods.

It is my contention that such a mathematical, "pure," non-anthropomorphized God is the Creator, which is simply another name to be given to the all powerful force behind everything we see, touch, taste, hear, feel, and sense with every intuitive, instinctual, perceptive power in our being.

As was said, the Alpha and the Omega from which all comes and to which everything returns. I see this as a physical reality, not as a poetic metaphor.

Most atheists flinch when it comes to simply seeing reality as all due to some grand unifying theory of the universe.

Fish Wars and Flame Bait

I came back to my concept of "Jesus Loves Darwin" the long way. I hope I have not taxed your interest or curiosity so far.

In actuality, I want to see if we can market two kissing bumper fish. Jesus and Darwin, nose-to-nose, with a heart between them both. I thought it would be a nice "All you need is love" sort of answer to the debate.

I did a search to see what the state of the Fish Wars was. This is what I found.

First, an article tracks someone who actually did a bit of scientific research on why people put Darwin fish on their bumpers. It's not as alarmist as the title sounds. It was a curious read:

Darwin fish symbols on cars are an act of 'ritual agression.'

Next, I gathered a quick sample of various "Fish" other than the IXTHYS and Jesus symbols.

Fish for Sale in the Net
Darwin — Sticker $2.00
Darwin — Plaque (Size: 5" wide) $8.00
Darwin Loves You
— Sticker (Size: 3" x 12") $2.99; magnetize for $1.99 more
Jesus Loves Darwin — Sticker (Size: 3" x 11") $3.29
Reality Bites
— Plaque (5" long) $8.00
Shark Fish — Plaque (5" long), $8.00
Gefilte Fish (for Judaism) — Plaque (5" long), $8.00
Procreation (Evolution Screwing Ixthys) — Plaque (Size: 4.5" high) $8.00
Flying Spaghetti Monster — Emblem (5" long), $8.00

More Fish (Sinner, Devil, Angel, N' Chips, Bite Me, Jeebus, Fish-on-a-Hook) @

I really didn't want to buy any of these yet, but I needed to do some marketing research. I don't like some of the choices consumers have. They tend to be nasty and nastier; I especially do not like the Procreation one, though I can understand the ironic blasphemy of it. I found the original Darwin to be best and simplest, though I love the Gefilte Fish too. Flying Spaghetti Monster is simply cute and inane. I'm sure someone could do one for the mighty Cthulhu in time.

I was gladdened there is already a Jesus Loves Darwin sticker, but it is purely textual. No "fish wars" per se on a graphical basis. So that's the market opportunity. I will see if I can contact the company to get one designed. Or I might design my own.

The following are curious places to do more research into the Fish Wars. I found Jim Miller's article somewhat heartening, as it speaks about the coming synthesis between Creationism and Evolutionary thinking.

Fishwars — Blog about the Culture Wars

Truce in the Fish Wars — Jim Miller

Let's pray for peace in 2006!

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