Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Very Tiny Place In The Heavens

At our most recent Reasons To Believe local chapter meeting, one of our members showed the video clip above. I have seen it before but as I watched, it struck me how powerful a message this kind of thing holds for anyone who sees it -- and how completely opposite an effect it can have -- depending on the worldview presuppositions of the viewer. Because of that "aha" moment, I decided I would devote a couple of posts here to addressing the impact of presuppositions, especially as, in this specific case, they relate to the Copernican Principle.

[This is a topic that is covered in depth in Gonzalez & Richards, The Privileged Planet if you want to delve into it more deeply]

Looking at evidence like this Hubble Deep Field 3D image, and following the trend of more than three centuries of naturalistic presupposition, physicist Steven Weinberg once offered the following assessment of our place in the universe when he lamented:
It is hard to realize that [life on Earth] is just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is even harder to realize 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 (emphasis mine).
Because it would seem that incomprehensibility would be more apt to lead one toward a pointless assessment of some condition, Weinberg’s conclusion is paradoxical. But for Weinberg and his naturalistic colleagues, the roots of this appraisal go back to Copernicus himself. They rely on a gross misunderstanding of the Copernican emphasis on the Earth’s location as it relates to man’s existence.

As the video ends, it seems to support the naturalistic view that our "very tiny place in the heavens" renders man's existence inconsequential. But a closer look at what Copernicus himself said, and at what really defines the significance of man's cosmic location, leads the Christian theist to a completely different conclusion.

More to follow ...

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