On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:
Arif Ahmed, Sir David Attenborough, Mark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael Bate, Patricia Churchland, Aaron Ciechanover, Noam Chomsky,Alan Dershowitz, Hubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan Feuchtwang, David Friend, Riccardo Giacconi, Ivar Giaever , Roy Glauber, Rebecca Goldstein, David J. Gross, Brian Greene, Susan Greenfield, Stephen F Gudeman, Alan Guth, Jonathan Haidt, Theodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison, Hermann Hauser, Roald Hoffmann, Bruce Hood, Herbert Huppert, Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve Jones, Shelly Kagan, Michio Kaku, Stuart Kauffman, Lawrence Krauss, Harry Kroto, George Lakoff, Elizabeth Loftus, Alan Macfarlane, Peter Millican, Marvin Minsky, Leonard Mlodinow, Yujin Nagasawa, Alva Noe, Douglas Osheroff, Jonathan Parry, Saul Perlmutter, Herman Philipse, Carolyn Porco, Robert M. Price, Lisa Randall, Lord Martin Rees, Oliver Sacks, John Searle, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Schaffer, J. L. Schellenberg, Lee Silver, Peter Singer, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ronald de Sousa, Victor Stenger, Barry Supple, Leonard Susskind, Raymond Tallis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John Walker, Frank Wilczek, Steven Weinberg, and Lewis Wolpert,
Pascal Robert Boyer is an American anthropologist of French origin, mostly known for his work in the cognitive science of religion. He taught at the University of Cambridge for eight years, before taking up the position of Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches classes on psychology and anthropology. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Lyon, France. He studied philosophy and anthropology at University of Paris and Cambridge, with Jack Goody, working on memory constraints on the transmission of oral literature.
Pascal Boyer, an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist, studies how the human brain and how its evolutionary biases and functions have resulted in or encouraged cultural phenomena. He advocates the idea that human evolution resulted in specialized capacities that guide our social relations, morality, and predilections toward religious beliefs. Boyer and others propose that these cognitive mechanisms make the acquisition of “religious” themes, like concepts of spirits, ghosts, ancestors or gods, highly transmissible within a community.
Boyer has conducted long term ethnographic fieldwork in Cameroon, where he studied the transmission of Fang oral epics and its traditional religion. Most of his later work consists of experimental study of cognitive capacities underlying cultural transmission. He also conducted studies on supernatural concepts and their retention in memory, and a general description of cognitive processes involved in transmission of religious concepts.
He has written several books, of which Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, is the most known. Boyer introduced cognitive anthropology, which provided a new understanding of religion. Religion for Boyer is a cultural construct and thus it is hard, if not impossible, to find an essence of it. This is also why definitions of religion fail. There is hardly anything in common with all religions except relation to supernatural agents (spirits, gods, ancestors and such). The concept of Supernatural agents is core for his theories working with religion because for Boyer, “Religion is about the existence and causal powers of non-observable entities and agencies.” The underlying basis for his theory of religion is that religions are natural in at least two senses: “that the content and organization of religious ideas depend on properties of human mind-brain and despite ‘socialization,’ they are perceived as intuitively unnatural by human subjects.” In this cognitive paradigm belief in supernatural agents is natural and part of human cognition.
The Counterintuitive Concept
In Religion Explained, Boyer uses the word “counterintuitive” as “a technical term (p. 65)” to refer to how “religious concepts seem to go against some of (the) information” that people (consciously or not) associate with “ontological categories (p. 64).” While Boyer does allow for “precognition” as an example of “puzzling mental phenomena (p. 11),” he uses the word “intuition” here to apply to “guess(work),” which is a “powerful (p. 53),” but “not always reliable (p. 54)” component of “the brain’s inference systems (p. 18).” Important for Boyer is that “when we have relatively stable intuitions about what is ‘all right’ and what is not, it is often because we are using rules without necessarily being aware of them (p. 54).”
Boyer’s suggests that “the neologism counterontological might be a better choice” than counterintuitive, since he is explaining how “concepts are…counterintuitive” in that they “‘includ(e) information contradicting some information provided by ontological categories (p. 65).” For Boyer, “religious concepts” are counterintuitive in that they both “violate certain expectations from ontological categories [“very abstract concepts…distinguish(ed) from more concrete ones,” see p. 60-61, and elsewhere for definition and detail]” and “preserve other expectations (p. 62).” Boyer asserts that “religious concepts invariably include information that is counterintuitive relative to the (ontological) category activated (p. 65).”
Justin L. Barrett has argued that Boyer’s book, The Naturalness of Religious Ideas: A Cognitive Theory of Religion is an attempt to reform traditional models and allow understanding religion in terms of cognitive experience. Boyer dismantles many traditional assumptions of cultural studies. However, Barrett claims, Boyer lacks clarity–mostly due to the shift in anthropological to psychological jargon.
In the first video below in the 25th clip in this series are his words and my response is below them.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
Below is my letter to Dr. Boyer and my response to his quote:
March 24, 2015
Dr. Pascal Boyer, c/o Department of Anthropology | Washington University in St. Louis
Dear Dr. Boyer,
Let me start off by saying that this is not the first time that I have written you. Earlier I shared several letters of correspondence I had with Carl Sagan, and Antony Flew. Both men were strong believers in evolution as you are today. Instead of talking to you about their views today I wanted to discuss the views of you and Charles Darwin.
Previously I wrote you that in 1994 and 1995 I had the opportunity to correspond with the famous evolutionist Dr. Ernst Mayr of Harvard. He stated in his letter of 10-3-94, “Owing to your ideological commitments, it is only natural that you cannot accept the cogency of the scientific evidence. However, to a person such as myself without such commitments, the story of the gradual evolution of life as reconstructed by chemists and molecular biologists is totally convincing.”
I responded by pointing out several points and here are two of them. First, Scientific Naturalism is atheistic by definition. Second, many great scientists of the past were Christians, and that did not disqualify their observations and discoveries.
I just finished reading the online addition of the book Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray. There are several points that Charles Darwin makes in this book that were very wise, honest, logical, shocking and some that were not so wise. The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said of Darwin’s writings, “Darwin in his autobiography and in his letters showed that all through his life he never really came to a quietness concerning the possibility that chance really explained the situation of the biological world. You will find there is much material on this [from Darwin] extended over many many years that constantly he was wrestling with this problem.”
Quote from you:
“I was brought up in a culture where no one is religious and no one educated in particular is religious. It is completely sort of exotic. So of course for me it would seem that being A-Religious which really doesn’t mean what atheism is like. People think of people against religion but it is sort of indifference to religion. Most of western Europe for many decades or maybe centuries now has been in this default mode of not being terribly interested.”
Now this quote is why I thought of you when I read the words of Charles Darwin. You talk about the culture where you come from and how hardly anyone believes in God, but that is not the way it is worldwide. THERE IS AN INNER MORAL CONSCIENCE IN EVERY PERSON THAT POINTS THEM TO GOD AND EVERYONE ACTS ON MORAL MOTIONS.
When I read the book Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters, I also read a commentary on it by Francis Schaeffer and I wanted to both quote some of Charles Darwin’s own words to you and then include the comments of Francis Schaeffer on those words. I have also enclosed a CD with two messages from Adrian Rogers and Bill Elliff concerning Darwinism.
The passages which here follow are extracts, somewhat abbreviated, from a part of the Autobiography, written in 1876, in which my father (Charles, this book was put together by Francis Darwin) gives the history of his religious views:—
CHARLES DARWIN’S WORDS:
But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind and the universal belief by men of the existence of redness makes my present loss of perception of not the least value as evidence. This argument would be a valid one if all men of all races had the same inward conviction of the existence of one God; but we know that this is very far from being the case. Therefore I cannot see that such inward convictions and feelings are of any weight as evidence of what really exists. The state of mind which grand scenes formerly excited in me, and which was intimately connected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the sense of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sense, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.
Francis Schaeffer observed:
You notice that Darwin had already said he had lost his sense of music [appreciation]. However, he brings forth what I think is a false argument. I usually use it in the area of morality. I mention that materialistic anthropologists point out that different people have different moral [systems] and this is perfectly true, but what the materialist anthropologist can never point out is why man has a sense of moral motion and that is the problem here. Therefore, it is perfectly true that men have different concepts of God and different concepts of moral motion, but Darwin himself is not satisfied in his own position and WHERE DO THEY [MORAL MOTIONS] COME FROM AT ALL? So you are wrestling with the same dilemma here in this reference as you do in the area of all things human. For these men it is not the distinction that raises the problem, but it is the overwhelming factor of the existence of the humanness of man, the mannishness of man. The simple fact is he saw that you are shut up to either God or chance, and he said basically “I don’t see how it could be chance” and at the same time he looks at a mountain or listens to a piece of music it is a testimony that really chance isn’t sufficient enough. So gradually with the sensitivity of his own inborn self conscience he kills it. He deliberately kills the beauty so it doesn’t argue with his theory. Maybe I am being false to Darwin here. Who can say about Darwin’s subconscious thoughts? It seems to me though this is exactly the case. What you find is a man who can’t stand the argument of the external beauty and the mannishness of man so he just gives it up in this particular place.
Let make 2 points here. First, the Bible teaches that everyone knows in their heart that God exists because of the beauty of God’s creation and the conscience that God has planted in everyone’s heart (Romans 1).
Second, all humans have moral motions.
Francis Schaffer in his book THE GOD WHO IS THERE addresses these same issues:
“[in Christianity] there is a sufficient basis for morals. Nobody has ever discovered a way of having real “morals” without a moral absolute. If there is no moral absolute, we are left with hedonism (doing what I like) or some form of the social contract theory (what is best for society as a a hole is right). However, neither of these alternative corresponds to the moral motions that men have. Talk to people long enough and deeply enough, and you will find that they consider some things are really right and something are really wrong. Without absolutes, morals as morals cease to exist, and humanistic mean starting from himself is unable to find the absolute he needs. But because the God of the Bible is there, real morals exist. Within this framework I can say one action is right and another wrong, without talking nonsense.” 117
Now back to my first point, concerning ROMANS CHAPTER ONE. It has been found that when atheists are asked with a polygraph machine if they believe in God and they so “NO” the polygraph indicates they are lying. Claude Brown actually tested this with over 15,000 job applicants over a long period of time in his trucking line during the 1970’s and most of the 1980’s.
Romans 1:18-19 (Amplified Bible) ” For God’s wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness REPRESS and HINDER the truth and make it inoperative. For that which is KNOWN about God is EVIDENT to them and MADE PLAIN IN THEIR INNER CONSCIOUSNESS, because God has SHOWN IT TO THEM,”(emphasis mine). At the 37 minute mark on the CD that I sent you today Adrian Rogers noted, “”There is no such thing anywhere on earth as a true atheist. If a man says he doesn’t believe in God, then he is lying. God has put his moral consciousness into every man’s heart, and a man has to try to kick his conscience to death to say he doesn’t believe in God.”
ROMANS CHAPTER ONE IS RIGHT WHEN IT SAYS THAT GOD PUT THAT CONSCIENCE IN EVERYONE’S HEART THAT BEARS WITNESS THAT HE CREATED THEM FOR A PURPOSE AND THAT IS WHY THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE ATTEMPTING TO SEEK OUT GOD!!!!
As a secularist you believe that it is sad indeed that millions of Christians are hoping for heaven but no heaven is waiting for them. Paul took a close look at this issue too:
I Corinthians 15 asserts:
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
I sent you a CD that starts off with the song DUST IN THE WIND by Kerry Livgren of the group KANSAS which was a hit song in 1978 when it rose to #6 on the charts because so many people connected with the message of the song. It included these words, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”
Kerry Livgren himself said that he wrote the song because he saw where man was without a personal God in the picture. Solomon pointed out in the Book of Ecclesiastes that those who believe that God doesn’t exist must accept three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life. FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. The Christian can face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.
Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same interview can be seen on You Tube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. DAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.
The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.
Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.
Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicle, of Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, 9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets. 10. Cyrus Cylinder, 11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E., 12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription, 13. The Pilate Inscription, 14. Caiaphas Ossuary, 14 B Pontius Pilate Part 2, 14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.,
You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:
(part 1 ten minutes)
(part 2 ten minutes)
Kansas – Dust in the Wind (Official Video)
Pre-Order Miracles Out of Nowhere now at http://www.miraclesoutofnowhere.com
About the film:
In 1973, six guys in a local band from America’s heartland began a journey that surpassed even their own wildest expectations, by achieving worldwide superstardom… watch the story unfold as the incredible story of the band KANSAS is told for the first time in the DVD Miracles Out of Nowhere.
Adrian Rogers on Darwinism