Scriptures of the secular age

Scriptures has always held an important role in human culture and society. Scriptures, sacred texts of various religions, promoted a set of non-negotiable principles on which to construct a worldview. Our collective history shows us that we are peculiarly dogmatic creatures. So much so that G. K. Chesterton once quipped, “There are two kinds of people in the world, the conscious dogmatists and the unconscious dogmatists. I have always found myself that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic.”

Scriptures or dogmas (among many other things) fulfill 2 important functions in human society. It provides a set of common precepts or beliefs which serves as a framework upon which a culture is developed. To paraphrase, it provides a set of non-negotiable, self-evident, absolute truths which become the foundation on which human societies, cultures and nations are formed. Scriptures provided eternal truths to its subscribers.

Furthermore, no scripture was ever written simply as a list. The truth that it represented was always communicated as a part of a story. A narrative. A myth. It may be a complete fabrication as it was the case with Greek mythology or it may be based on a historical narrative as it is the case with Judaism and Christianity. Whatever the case may be, scriptures were generally not communicated as mere lists of absolute truths. The truths were always communicated in the context of a story. And they can only be interpreted and understood in the context of that story. And when interpreted in the context of that story, the truths fused the story with a meaning. The truth gave meaning to the lives of people in that story. This is the second function of scriptures. To provide meaning. And isn’t that the eternal human quest? To find the meaning of life? If it is so, then the fundamental longings of the human hearts are eternally linked with scriptures.

It is no secret that our post-modern, post-truth society has rejected the notion of absolute truth. It is a widely held belief that truth, and especially moral truth is only subjective and relative. That what’s true for you may not be true for me and vice versa. What this means is that dogmas or principles as laid out in scriptures no longer provide the framework on which to build the cultural values (or the melting “pot”) of the society. And advocating universal moral values based on a certain religion has become the intellectual equivalent of committing a political suicide. As a consequence of the absence of commonly held dogmas within a culture, the ideal of pluralism has become the driver of sectarianism instead of liberty. By the minute, the secular society is becoming ever so fragmented.

In this context, I want to draw your attention to a very peculiar phenomena that is being experienced around the world. In olden days, what was shown on screen was judged based on scriptures. Now, what is shown on the screen judges the scriptures. In days past, the content of any movie or TV serials was judged by the scriptures of a culture to be moral or immoral. Now the roles have been reversed and it is interesting to see how whole worldviews are being re-interpreted and re-aligned to comply with what is shown on the screen. The rise of Trump, the sexual revolution of the west, even the rise of suicide rates around the world can reasonably be traced back to the power of the screen. But I must ask, why does the screen hold such power?

Historian Yuval Noah Harari, in his book Sapiens: A Brief history of Humankind promotes the idea that the secret glue that is binds the human culture and society is a myth, a story. When people believe the same story or a myth they come together and work towards a world that the myth promotes. Even Nietzsche in his Parable of the Madman where he declared the death of God asks, “What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent?” Having declared the death of God, Nietzsche immediately asks what new myths will need to be invented to take the place of God? Both of these great thinker seem to suggest that without a unifying myth, Human civilization will break down.

Earlier I pointed out that the scriptures provide 1) common absolute truths and 2) context within which the meaning of life can be found. But the scriptures are nothing more than the container for the myth. Religious texts are prime examples of such myths and we can see it’s power throughout history. But as the dogmas and myths of the old are being driven out of the mental landscape of culture, it has created a want of meaning. People are quite content making up their own truths but these truths without the context of a narrative have no way to provide meaning. Recently in a TED talk, Chris Anderson, the prime curator of TED asked, “What are humans for?” as a question that’s been haunting him in recent years.

Today, media houses around the world are churning out myths at an unprecedented scale. Even elections around the world are being won or lost based on who’s myth is more appealing to the masses. The myth doesn’t need to be true to gain momentum, it only has to be appealing. Because “the need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning.” as Hannah Arendt pointed out. Truth and Meaning are two different entities. And humans at an existential level are more concerned about meaning than truth. Having abolished the traditional myths, the hunger for meaning has become a cultural phenomena rather than an individual crisis. Is it any wonder that facts and truth holds less weight in public discourse? Today, we have amassed more knowledge than any point in human history and still the metaphysical question of meaning continues to haunt the masses.

Having denied the “True Myth” people continue to look for other myths that may provide meaning to their lives. The screen provides myths in abundance. And thus the masses turn towards the screen as if it is the oracle of God. Peering intently into it as it narrates the myth of the secular dogma. Because the scriptures of our secular age are not written on pages. They are shown on the screen.

Miracles asking for miracles!

There are some people who say, God doesn't exist. I do not know on what basis can they make such claims, however, the main thing that they ask for is evidence of God's existence. Now they won't accept anything that can be explained by science. They want something that can not be explained. In fact, they are asking of a miracle. They say if you show us a miracle, we will believe that there is a God. So, today, I'd like to show them a miracle. But before that, I'd like to ask them two questions.

  1. Who they are?
  2. How they came to be?

I think that they will answer the questions in the following manner(or something similar).

  1. Human or man/woman or homo sapien (or their name! If they do so, they are disqualified from the game!)
  2. The process of evolution

Those answers are very concise. So let me go a little bit deeper in the answers. What does “being human” mean? I have written about in the past, but the topic of the discussion was not description of humans rather, the message of a certain t-shirt. Right now, I want to be descriptive. As far as I can understand it, there are 4 parts to any human being.

  1. Intelligence
  2. Emotions
  3. Morals
  4. Body(of course!)

I think that is the a good description of a human being. At least good enough for the purposes I am going to use it. The purpose is this: I want to conclude that, human beings are very complex! Agreed?

Now let us move on to the next answer. Evolution. What do they mean by evolution? Evolution explains how life evolved on the earth. But before evolution of life, there must me some life. They say, it was created by a sequence of random chemical reactions.

Let us assume that the very first living organism was created in such a manner. Then the evolution process began. Then after millions of years of evolution, very complex organisms as humans evolved from that very simple living organism. Evolutionists have different explanations and mechanisms of how this process happened. However, if we were to summarize the whole process in one simple sentence, it would be like this: Very complex life forms have evolved from simple ones.

Let us again assume that this happened. But, I think that statement is very similar to the following statement. Very complex systems can be developed from smaller, simpler systems(given enough time). In fact, programmers deal with evolution every day! If millions of years ago, Darwin's monkey faced ancestor had asked a programmer if such a thing as evolution was possible, the ancient and wise programmer had told him, “It is”.

Where does programming fit into all this? Well, you'll see. But for now, we will just understand what evolution says with the help of a simple program. I'll use a simple program with the purpose to do exponentiation. Let me describe very shortly, how such a program can “evolve”. I will describe the process in 3 steps. The steps are as following:

  1. Addition : Takes 2 arguments. A and B. Does A + B. Returns the answer.
  2. Multiplication : Takes 2 arguments. A and B. Then it adds A to itself, B times. Using the addition process.
  3. Exponentiation : Takes 2 arguments. A and B. Then it multiplies A to itself, B times. (Using the multiplication process which in turn uses addition)

It begins with humble addition, then the program mutates to do multiplication(if the program does not mutate, it will be selected out! In fact, the program's life depends on it's ability to adept to the requirements!) and then finally, it does exponentiation. That's more or less, what Darwinian evolution is. I agree that the evolution of exponentiation program is not comparable to the process of biological evolution, but I think it is pretty much the same thing on a much smaller scale.

As the program has requirements to adept to, biological organisms have the environment to adept to. That is called natural selection. The organisms that don't adept to the environment are selected out. Those who do, can continue to live. If natural selection is true, all it does is to subtract from the total number of species. It doesn't add anything new. But, wait a minute! If the process of natural selection is subtracting from the total number of species, then there would be a lot more species in the beginning! So, evolution starts from a single biological organism and then natural selection comes along and tries to subtract it from itself! What the heck? Those two things are contradictory!

So the evolutionists says, there are some times when the natural selection process is “weak” or “absent”. When the selection is “weak” or “absent”, random mutations happen and produce more new species. But, natural selection depend on only one thing. Environment. Is the theory saying that sometimes the environment is “weak” or “absent”? Well, I can go on and on but I'd rather not go into it. You probably are waiting for your miracle to be delivered. So let me move to the next point.

In the last paragraph, I introduced a new word. Mutation. In evolution, mutation means changes in genomic sequences. I don't know what the heck “genomic” means, but the word sequence is something I can understand. It is the order of something. Maybe some events or some instructions. And for mutations to happen, this sequence must mean something to the organism. If it doesn't mean anything, then species can not be different from one another. If they can not be different from one another, then mutations can not happen. Because, mutation means changes in genomic sequences. Change must be distinguishable. Without meaning you can not distinguish between two. So, for the mutation to happen the sequence must be different from the previous one and it must have a meaning. Very interesting.

Do you know that is? It is information. Information is the sequence of things that carry a certain meaning. In language, the “things” are symbols. The characters that form words and sentences. The sequence of that characters carries certain meaning. That's why you can read this. If it didn't have a certain meaning, you would not be able to make sense of this text. In a genome, it is molecules. In DNA there are four molecules. Adenine(A), Guanine(G), Cytosine(C) and Thymine(T). The sequence of this molecules in the genome carries certain meaning. In humans, that information decides our gender, personality, appearance, hair and eye color and many more things. For life to start and evolve, information is needed.

Evolutionists say that the first life form came just by chance. Because of random events. However, for life to evolve there needs to be information. A sequence that means something. Randomness is a sequence but it doesn't have a meaning other than that it doesn't have a meaning. You can not have meaning from randomness. Only because you have meaning, you have meaning of randomness. So you can not have information from randomness. Because of the lack of information, genomes can not mutate and life can not evolve. The very first organism can not have defined the meaning of the sequence because the organism itself operates on it's own genomic sequence. The information must be there prior to the first living organism and it is not possible for randomness to produce any information.

So for evolution to be possible there needs to be information. But information can not come out of randomness. From where can it come?

Let us go back to the evolution of the exponentiation program. In that program, the relatively complex mathematical operation is based on the simpler mathematical operation of addition. Without addition, exponentiation would not be possible. In the same way according to evolution, without the single cell life forms, humans wouldn't exist. But, the evolution of the program also faces the same question as the evolution of life.

Why does it start with addition? From where does that piece of information come? Of course, from the ancient and wise programmer. The programmer knows what he wants but it is too complex. So he creates something much simpler and then uses the simpler system to create a much complex system. The ancient and wise programmer is the source of information for the evolution of the program.

So from where does the information required for biological evolution come? Evolutionists say, from pure chance(yes, the random sequence suddenly had a meaning just by pure chance! How? I have no idea but they say “pure chance”). Why wasn't the very first living organism selected out? Because it was able to adept to its environment. Why was it able to adept? Because of pure chance. Why did it reproduce? Pure chance. Well, if you believe those things happened by “pure chance”, let me suggest something to you. Take a pencil and a paper then start drawing random lines on the paper. A few years later, you will have copy of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. How? By pure chance!

You might be asking right now, where is my miracle? The miracle is this: “Pure chance” that can not ever fill in the role of the “ancient and wise programmer”, does fill it in the mind of the atheist. In their mind, their existence is based on a long chain of events that happened by “pure chance”. So if you are asking for a miracle as a proof of God's existence, go look into a mirror. The miracle is not how you look or how wonderful you are, it is that you believe that the information required for evolution came out of randomness by pure chance all in the name of reason and science! Explain to me how you can believe that! If you can not, you have your miracle. The miracle of ignorance.

I have written about evolution in this post because I came across the following statement in a book few days ago.

Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented. ~ William Provine

The atheists believe that evolution explains life without the need of God. However, in this post I have pointed out the difficulties I find with that stand. Evolution can not initiate by pure chance. The information required can not come from randomness. But it can come from a creator. Because bible says:

John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (KJV)

A word is a sequence of symbols that carry a certain meaning. It is information. It is the definition. From that definition or information, the information required for life can come. So I think it is possible that life on earth evolved by the process of evolution but only if God initiates and guides that process. But then, it won't be Darwinian evolution at all. It will be a creator shaping his creation every step of the way.

By the way, I can put a variable in my program with a value “The software engineer does not exist!”. that doesn't mean I don't exist. It only means that the variable is very ignorant.