Science & Faith
3/3/12 at 09:51 AM 0 Comments

Human Uniqueness vs. Modern Dethronement Ideology

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NASA

Tom Bethell prods us to consider Why Humans are Unique in The Washington Times this week. I shall offer my own thoughts about parts of his pithy essay. Bethell writes:

Almost daily there are new reports of distant planets [for example, see my last CP blog on the latest, greatest of these planets]. They may outnumber the 100 billion stars in our galaxy. What we're looking for, of course, is extraterrestrial intelligence, not just orbiting rocks. But nothing has been found. The silence in outer space "is maddening," Charles Krauthammer has written. It "makes no sense."
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Fifty years ago, a mathematical exercise called the Drake Equation posited that extraterrestrial civilizations should be numerous. Carl Sagan thought there might be a million advanced civilizations in our own galaxy. But the numbers in the Drake Equation were guesses, and they were skewed by Sagan himself. They deliberately boosted the odds that life can arise by chance from non-life. As far as we know, life has only appeared here, and perhaps not by chance.

Dr. Stephen Meyer in TrueU and in his book Signature in the Cell explains just how unlikely it is to go from non-life to life without the guidance of intelligent design, even if you are running the calculations for a cozy place like Earth with its liquid water, stable temperatures, and other life-friendly physical features. There are not enough opportunities in the known cosmos for accidents to make life's origin scientifically plausible even if 100 billion earth-like planets existed (or even 100 billion times more than that).

Don't be beaten into materialistic submission by the sheer immensity of the cosmos. Ancient Hebrews were familiar with the vastness of the physical heavens, despite their lack of modern scientific knowledge. They simultaneously, with God's help, grasped the truth of human uniqueness. This dual understanding is reflected clearly in Old Testament passages such as these:

Psalm 8:3-6
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet.

Psalm 103:10-11
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.

Isaiah 40:25–26
To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.

Such passages celebrate God's greatness as reflected in the impressive dimensions of cosmic real estate. Yes, even premodern people appreciated this without the assistance of modern science. These biblical texts also point to our special status in God's creation. We were created in God's image, Genesis explains. Some of the verses above echo that foundational teaching which supports human dignity.

In my next blog I shall review more of Tom Bethell's essay and muse yet further on the ironies and evidential inadequacies of modern human "dethronement" ideology.

Disclosure: I am helping Focus on the Family with their TrueU apologetics curriculum, which is aimed at high school and college students.

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