Define Universe and
Give Two Examples by Barton E. Dahneke
- This book’s 679 pages are contained in nineteen chapters, thirteen
appendices, and a 45-page, comprehensive index. The chapters are divided into
three sections or books entitled (1) Perception of Reality, (2) Material-universe
Science, and (3) Total-universe Christianity. Each of these three books and the
appendices are preceded by a full-bleed (of ink to the page edges) title page easily
seen so that the sections are easily found. The chapters are identified at the top of
each pair of facing pages so that each chapter is easily found. Endnotes and references
are placed at the end of each chapter so that they are conveniently located and also
easily found. Off-white, acid-free paper and a hardcover binding of Smythe-sewn 32-
page signatures provide high quality, strain-free reading, and long life.
- This book addresses discovery of the fundamental nature of reality,
described by universal or absolute truth, and its meaning as provided by a scientific
and a Christian philosophy, paradigm, or system of belief. Inherent limitations and
their consequences in method of both science and religion in general and physics
and Christianity in particular are elaborated. Limitations in philosophy are also
considered, to the (significant) extent to which philosophy contributes to method in
science and religion.
Conflict between science and religion
- Adoption of science has often motivated
rejection of religion. Contention between these two adversarial systems of belief is
real and due to several causes. One cause of confusion and contention is the differing
scopes of the two systems. Science considers only objective facts (and thus considers
only the material universe). Christianity considers all facts (and thus considers the
total universe, primarily nonmaterial). In the skeptical discipline of science, validity
of nonobjective facts is suspect. In the comprehensive view of religion, objective
facts are too restrictive to provide total-universe understanding. Because of these
usually unmentioned differences in considered evidence, scientists tend to regard
Christians as naïve in their acceptance of questionable facts and Christians tend to
regard scientists as blinded by their narrow vision and lack of belief. The matter is
further complicated by awful past behavior of supposed Christians and others,
overenthusiastic declarations on both sides, and the issue of scientists considering
the evidence and deciding versus Christians simply being told what to think and do,
leading to the (false) conclusion that scientists are independent in their thinking
while Christians are not.
- Central to method, and another cause of confusion and contention,
is the vital issue of truth criterion. Both scientists and orthodox Christians generally
utilize an inadequate truth criterion. Invoking philosophy does not help because the
problem of truth criterion is not often treated in philosophy and in the instances
when it has been addressed it remains unresolved. In science (and philosophy) no
adequate truth criterion has yet been identified. Consistency with observation is the
traditional scientific test of truth. But observation is always incomplete and scientific
results are therefore inherently tentative even when they are rigorously deduced
from other scientific results. An adequate truth criterion was used by early Christians
and is prominently mentioned in the Bible as the rock upon which Christianity was
founded.1 But this foundation requires subjective belief in God. Moreover, this
Biblical truth criterion is nearly uniformly rejected in present orthodox Christian
belief and practice. As a result, as a matter of method, neither scientists nor orthodox
Christians possess a reliable basis for recognizing truth and have often failed to
embrace it. No wonder antagonism between scientists and religious believers and
among the latter by themselves is deep, long-lived, and threatening. Despite strongly-
held belief on vital issues only few know what they are talking about and the challenge
is usually mutually frustrating.
- These concepts and their consequences are developed in
“Define Universe and Give Two Examples.” The Biblical truth criterion used by
early Christians, mentioned but not fully elaborated in the Bible but presented in
detail in a source contemporary with the Bible (The Book of Mormon), is quoted,
analyzed, and illustrated. Using this truth criterion for Christianity the methods of
science and Christianity are placed on appropriate foundations. Both win in the
sense that their utility and value are understood at a fundamental level so that they
can be properly used, each in its own universe, without confusion. Science and
religion are presented together in this book because comparison and contrast between
them provide better understanding of both, understanding far beyond what is provided
by the usual consideration of each one by itself.
New scientific results
- New scientific results are derived (in appendices) as
illustrations of scientific method. They provide a new theoretical approach to the
processes of thermal diffusion and thermophoresis and a heuristic theory of gravity.
(A revised version of Appendix F is available here.)
- (1) While scientific method seems at first glance able to provide
truth, careful examination reveals that science is unable to positively identify truth.
Both incomplete lists of possibly-consistent hypotheses and incomplete scope of
evidence presently proscribe positive identification of universal truth by science.
Use of other constraints sometimes imposed to identify truth, such as Ockham’s razor
or aesthetics or symmetry, is not always valid so these constraints provide no generally
useful guidance. Orthodox Christianity and much religion in general also fails
to provide an adequate truth criterion. But the Biblical and Book-of-Mormon
“doctrine of Christ” does provide an adequate universal-truth criterion.
(2) Science by itself (materialism) can be a circular-logic, intellectual trap wherein
one forever seeks universal truth – gratified from time-to-time along the way by
tentative discovery of a new, tentative fact or concept or tentative confirmation of a
tentative theory – but is never able to demonstrate any fact, concept, theory, or law is
universally true. Since every method embracing less than a total-universe scope of
evidence is fatally flawed in its potential to positively identify truth, the same trap
occurs in other systems of belief as well, including religious ones. Such a trap is
reminiscent of Paul’s prediction that in the last days (now) men shall be “ever learning,
but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”2 while Christ said, “If ye
continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.”3 Thus, if one believes Christ, correct Christianity
should contain an adequate universal-truth criterion.
(3) To positively identify truth in science and in philosophy, an improved truth
criterion or direct access to Omniscience is needed. Such a truth criterion is unknown
in science but this capability is taught in some religious systems that generally
indicate that positive identification of truth by direct access to Omniscience is
only obtained following the teachings of those systems. In Christian belief, for
instance, omniscience required for identifying truth resides in One who we must trust
to know truth. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
the Father, but by me.”4 This principle may appear to be exclusionary; but Christ
invites each person to establish a personal relationship with Him. (Any exclusion
will, in the end, be only self imposed.) If one’s goal is truth or method capable of
identifying truth, rather than purity in some traditional method as encountered in,
say, the materialist scientist or orthodox Christian, one will seek truth however or
wherever it may be honorably and morally found.
(4) While objective facts and disinterested analyses are tools of science, subjective
facts and interested analyses found in other potential paths to truth are more complete,
more satisfying, and more reliable. (And one can develop and utilize values in
other methods as I just did.) Other methods, ones that consider subjective facts, are
more independent. Independence in science means individual-person or -situation
independence, i.e., universal, and universal in science involves some concept of a
lowest-common-denominator consensus. But every person is unique and individual
in thought, experience, feelings, understanding of meaning, and faith in God or
absence thereof. Why limit one’s self to a lowest-common-denominator? Herd instinct,
following the crowd, relying only on objective facts one’s peers ratify in some
kind of lowest-common-denominator consensus can hold one back, if one lets them,
from discovering truth, obtaining personal, positive proof thereof, and more perfect
understanding of purpose and meaning of reality. While blindness to purpose5 and
to all but superficial (material) meaning6 of reality occurs in the thinking of many
scientists and, to greater or lesser degree, of many Christians and others, another path
available for the receiving, either instead of or together with science, is not limiting.
And while you follow this other path, narrow but straight, you save yourself in the
process (with essential help from a Gracious Friend). The path of least resistance was
never and is not now the way to truth. Otherwise, where is the challenge and test that
life is intended to present?
1King James Bible, Matthew 18:15-18.
2Ibid., 2 Timothy 3:7.
3Ibid., John 8:31-32.
4Ibid., John 14:6.
5Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes, Basic Books, New York, 154 (1988).
6Steven Weinberg, Facing Up, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 46-47 (2001).