My Jan 10, 1996 Response Letter to Carl Sagan Part 2

Recently I have been revisiting my correspondence in 1995 with the famous astronomer Carl Sagan who I had the privilege to correspond with in 1994, 1995 and 1996. In 1996 I had a chance to respond to his December 5, 1995letter on January 10, 1996 and I never heard back from him again since his cancer returned and he passed away later in 1996. Below is what Carl Sagan wrote to me in his December 5, 1995 letter:

Thanks for your recent letter about evolution and abortion. The correlation is hardly one to one; there are evolutionists who are anti-abortion and anti-evolutionists who are pro-abortion.You argue that God exists because otherwise we could not understand the world in our consciousness. But if you think God is necessary to understand the world, then why do you not ask the next question of where God came from? And if you say “God was always here,” why not say that the universe was always here? On abortion, my views are contained in the enclosed article (Sagan, Carl and Ann Druyan {1990}, “The Question of Abortion,” Parade Magazine, April 22.)

I was introduced to when reading a book by Francis Schaeffer called HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT written in 1968. 

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In my January 10, 1996 Response letter to Carl Sagan (which I posted earlier) I also included the following insert based on the words of Francis Schaeffer in 1978:

Is man special or not?

Douglas Futuyma has said “Whether people are explicitly religious or not they tend to imagine that humans are in some sense the center of the universe. We are just one product of a very long historical process that has given to an enormous amount of organisms, and we are just one of them. So in some sense there is nothing special about us.”

The following comments were taken from the chapter called “”The Basis for Human Dignity which is in the book and film series co-aurthored by Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop called “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?”

Section 1 Materialistic Humanism: The Worldview of our Age

The West has adopted a worldview which says that all reality is made up only of matter. In this view the universe did not get here because it was created by a “supernatural “ God. 

Rather, the universe has existed forever in some form, and it’s present form just happened as a result of chance events way back in time. 

Section 2 The search for an adequate worldview 

Any worldview must answer 2 basic questions satisfactorily if it is to provide a real base for life and morals. The first is what we will call “the universe and it’s form,” and the second is the “mannishness of man.” The first draws attention to the fact that the universe around us is like an amazing jigsaw puzzle. We see many details, and we want to know how they fit together. That is what science is all about. Scientists look at the details and try to find out how they all cohere. So the first question that has to be answered is: Hiw did the universe get this way? How did it get this form, this pattern, this jigsawlike quality it now has?

Second, “The mannishness of man” draws attention to the fact that human beings are different from all other things in the world. Think, for example, of creativity. People in all cultures of all ages have created many kinds of all things, from “high art” to flower arrangements, from silver ornaments to high-technology supersonic aircraft. This is in contrast to the animals about us. People also fear death, and they remember the past and make projections into the future. One could name other factors, but these are enough to differentiate people from the other things in the world. 

What worldview adequately explains the remarkable phenomenon of the distinctiveness of human beings? There is one worldview which explains the existence of the universe, it’s form, and the uniqueness of people— the worldview given to us in the Bible. 

Section 3 The humanist base leads to meaningless 

An overwhelming number of modern thinkers agree that seeing the universe and man from a humanist base leads to meaningless, both for the universe and for man—not just mankind in general but for each of us as individuals. Professor Steven Weinberg wrote these words in his book THE FIRST 3 MINUTES: A MODERN VIEW OF THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE while he was looking down from an airplane: 

  • It is almost irresistible for humans to believe that we have some special relation to the universe, that human life is not just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents reaching back to the first three minutes, but that we were somehow built in from the beginning. … It is very hard to realize that this is all just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is even harder to realise that this present universe has evolved from an unspeakably unfamiliar early condition, and faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat. The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.
    • (1993), Epilogue, p. 154

When Weinberg says that the universe seems more “comprehensible,” he is, of course, referring to our greater understanding of the physical universe through the advance of science. But it is an understanding, notice, within a materialistic framework, which considers the universe solely in terms of physics and chemistry—-simply machinery.

If everything “faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat,” all things are meaningless.

Section 4 Tension results when you have an inadequate worldview 

The greatest dilemma for those who hold an inadequate worldview is that it is impossible to live consistently within it. The playwright Samuel Beckett can “say” that words do not communicate anything—and that everything, including language, is absurd—yet he must use words to write his plays, even plays about meaninglessness. The list of contradictions can be extended endlessly. The truth is that everyone who rejects the Biblical worldview must live in a state of tension between ideas about reality and reality itself. If a person believes that everything is only matter or energy and carries this through consistently, meaning dies, morality dies, love dies, hope dies. Yet! The individual does love, does hope, does act on the basis of right and wrong. This is what we mean when we say that everyone is caught , regardless of his worldview, simply by the way things are. 

Section 5 The Bible is God’s revealed truth and it tells us about our origin.

The scriptures tell us that the universe exists and has form and meaning because it was created purposefully by a personal creator. This being the case, we see that, as we are personal, we are not something strange and out of line with an otherwise impersonal universe. Since we are made in the image of God, we are in line with God. There is a continuity, in other words, between ourselves, though finite, and the infinite creator who stands behind the universe as its final source of meaning. Unlike the evolutionary concept of an impersonal beginning plus time plus chance, the Bible shows how man has personality and dignity and value. Our uniqueness is guaranteed, something which is impossible in the materialistic system!!!!!!

LETTER TO HUMANIST MAGAZINE IN 1994: 

Francis Schaeffer once said, “If a man takes a certain non-christian set of presuppositions he will be forced eventually to be in a place of tension. The more consistent he is to his non-christian presuppositions the further he is away from the real world.” In “Ape and Essence,” (July/ August 1994) Edd Doerr is consistent with his humanistic presuppositions when he says “The bottom line is that the great apes are so much like us that there is no logical reason not to treat them as ‘persons’.”

Because Mr. Doerr has embraced evolution, he has been forced to ask himself this logical question: “When in the course of evolution did our ancestors qualify as persons?” But does this type of logic square with what we know to be true in the real world?

Genesis chapter one tells us that man is to rule over all animals because man is made in the image of God. Can animals make moral choices, enjoy poetry, appreciate music, worship God or recognize the beauty of the world around them? Humanism reduces man to a machine, but man’s conscience causes him to fell a tension.

As a young man Charles Darwin believed that the world was created by God, and at that time he was an enthusiastic admirer of fine paintings, classic music and Shakespeare. Furthermore, during a trip to Brazil he was do captivated by the beauty of nature that he later recalled how sure he was at the time that God had to be the designer of this grand and wondrous universe. However, later his presuppositions changed and he said, “My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

We are not cousins of apes, and anyone who embraces evolution will be forced eventually to be in a place of tension with the real world if they are consistent. 

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