Monday, August 29, 2011

God: The Evidence by Patrick Glynn

I LOVE this book! God: The Evidence. The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World by Patrick Glynn is exactly the kind of book I can devour in a few days.

To the extent it's possible, Patrick Glynn sets out to prove God's existence. If he doesn't quite provide absolute proof, he asks some tough questions that atheists are hard pressed to answer. He basically comes down to the conclusion that there HAS to be a God. No God, is not only devastating to our psyche and culture, but science itself is lost without some kind of Intelligent Designer.

He first jumps into the fray with the world of science. Of course this sucked me in right away. He begins with his religious upbringing, a turn towards atheism upon reaching college, a general disillusionment with a worldview devoid of ultimate justice, finally to a discovery that while he was divesting himself of God, serious scientists had begun to wrestle with the impossibility of a totally random universe.

In fact, in 1973, cosmologist Brandon Carter called attention to something he called "the anthropic principle." It basically states that from the very first nano seconds of the universe' formation, life was its destination. Everything had to have been planned and coordinated to arrive at where we are today. In effect, the universe "wanted" to create man. This shocking theory and the various unconvincing attempts to debunk it slowly led Glynn to a belief that something must have designed the universe for life - if not God as we understand Him, a god of some sort.

Psychology being an especially important idea to Glynn also led him to some disturbing insights. Although modern psychology had banished God and delved instead into the Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego, subsequent studies showed those with faith, living faith-centered lives, were generally happier and healthier. He contrasts the lifestyles of believers with a value-free lifestyle and makes a powerful argument, not necessarily for God's existence, but for the need to believe there is a God. In fact,
"modern research tends to bear out the observation that sin breeds misery. It turns out that the Ten Commandments... are not just an arbitrary set of divinely ordained taboos or a path to a happy afterlife; they are also a very reliable guide to happiness and health in this world." Physicians are also beginning to understand the importance of a vibrant spiritual life to physical health, and while prayer is not "magic" and God is not a genie, the faithful tend to be physically healthier.

He dives into some fascinating stories when he explores Near Death Experiences (NDE). He describes researcher after researcher moving from intense skepticism to belief after interviewing people who experienced NDEs. Many times, they would attempt to debunk the accounts by attributing the details of the stories to previous knowledge, physical sensations, lack of oxygen, good guessing, wishful thinking, or some other scientifically explainable phenomena. Yet time and again the people would confound the skeptics with vivid details they could not have possibly known. All scientific attempts to replicate these experiences fell short with the exception of one. Patients were deprived of oxygen and given excess carbon dioxide. The NDE-type experiences they felt turned out to probably be actual NDEs!

A few stories in particular stood out. One man describes a defibrillator used on him when he was flatlining. He knew so many details of how the machine worked and how the workers used it, researchers were stumped as to how to provide any other explanation. One particular area of interest for a scientist was studying the NDEs of children in car crashes. The children have less prior knowledge of hospitals and medical procedures and are therefore less likely to embellish their stories with realistic-sounding details. Also, coming out of a car crash, they are rarely aware of the fates of the other passengers. After one horrific crash in which his mother was killed, a boy was thrown into a coma. He briefly awoke, as is not uncommon to other near death comatose patients, to state he was fine. His mother and Peter were waiting for him on the other side. The mother part was understandable if the boy had an inkling that his mother was dead, but Peter, though badly injured, had survived the crash. After exiting the boy's room, the researcher was told that Peter had just passed away moments before. These kind of details are chilling. Even the stories of those who did not experience the peace, light, love, and joy of eternity, but rather the sense of dread and horror were fascinating. One person stated that after sitting with Jesus and watching his life flash before his eyes, he condemned himself to hell.

Philosophy without God has fared no better than science, psychology, or physical health. The modern thinkers who championed the death of God led to a nihilism ultimately resulting in the horrific death statistics of the 20th century. No matter how hard moral philosophers tried to push a moral philosophy, devoid of a spiritual foundation they could not square the circle. They condemn an Auschwitz while recognizing they have no basis to do so. They attempt to promote the values of Christianity yet reject its core belief in Christ. Glynn discusses with true intellectual passion that religion has been trying rather successfully to accomplish what the post-modern philosophers can only dream of. While religion is a human institution and therefore vulnerable to human foibles, no other mindset has seen the tearing down of the tribalist/materialist bent as Christianity has and the introduction of a moral revolution.

I loved his discussion of the Enlightenment as he trace the "good" and "bad" paths taken by its adherents. The rejection of God, combined with enlightenment thinking led to the terrors of Robespierre, while a belief in God and reason created America. "Reason rediscovers and reconstructs in slow, cumbersome, linear and partial fashion what the Spirit already knows."Modern humanity is painstakingly discovering what Jesus already knew. Glynn states uncategorically that the worst horrors of the 20th century can be traced to reason devoid of God.

This final section is so uplifting and encouraging, it would be worth it to read the book for that chapter alone. Nevertheless, I found the whole book delightful and compelling. Loved it!

No comments:

Post a Comment