“We know that Jews have won a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes: over twenty per cent of them from a group that represents 0.2 per cent of the world population, an over-representation of 100 to one. But the most striking disproportion is in the field of economics. The first Nobel Prize in economics was awarded in 1969. The most recent winner, in 2017, was Richard Thaler. In total there have been 79 laureates, of whom 29 were Jews; that is, over 36 per cent.”
Jews and Economics, Rabbi Lord Sacks, rabbisacks.org, 2017
Only 1 in 500 of the world population is a Jew, and yet in the century or so since we have introduced measurements and awards of genius, Jews have earned perhaps more international intellectual awards than all the world’s Christians (about a third of the world population). And this is despite the enormous suffering of Jewry in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and indeed in Israel (which is surrounded by ultra-violent and brain-dead Jihadists whose only goal, as a result of brainwashing since childhood, is the obliteration of Israel).
By contrast, in the past century, Islam – which traditionally revered the Intellect – seems to have eschewed the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom altogether. Muslims who have tried, or are trying, to reform Islam and bring it into modernity and good education and knowledge, quickly find themselves subject to lethal fatwas, even if they live in the West. The problem, for the Muslims, and therefore for all of us, is top-down: as I wrote in my piece last week, all the leading scholars and de facto ‘popes’ of Islam, Sunni and Shia, now encourage Muslims to find their meaning in the destruction of Israel, which, contemporary Islam teaches, is the very metaphysical enemy on Earth. Antisemitism is now stupefying the Muslim world in much the same way that it stupefied Christian Europe until Great Britain, the USA and Allies defeated the philosophical-theological source 75 years ago, at least in Western Europe, which escaped the brainwashing into Stalinism and other forms of Socialism (much of which, it has to be said, was the product of misdirected Jewish intellect, from Marx to the Bundists to Trotsky).
Islamic scholars seem to have convinced themselves that the way forward for Islam is ‘purity’ through ever-stricter jurisprudence and through the ethnic cleansing of the Arab nations not only of Jews but of Christians, Sufis (i.e. thinking Muslims) and other infidels and heretics. Everwhere in the world the mullahs want to ‘purify’ the world through an increase in disgustingly cruel corporal punishments, including death, amputation, public flogging and even crucifixion (particularly in Saudi Arabia, where cruxifixion is used as punishment for anti-government protesters). In all the Muslim nations today, the absence of human rights for females is appalling by comparison to any age, let alone our times.
The British Government last year was forced to acknowledge that the persecution of Christians in the Middle East – who have dropped from 20% to 4% of the population, largely since the turn of the millennium – is now “near genocide”. Christians, some of whom are of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, are suffering murder, expulsion, kidnapping and imprisonment. Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who commissioned the report on Christian persecution, admitted that it is “political correctness” that prevents knowledge of the situation being transmitted in the West. He is right of course, but it is not only political correctness, it is – to repeat what I have written in other pieces – the West’s addiction to Arab oil money.
Not surprisingly, then, whereas Arab Muslims were once, for several centuries, the great enlighteners of mankind, today Muslim Nobel Laureates are so scarce that you can count them on one amputated hand. Whereas today the Madrassas are where Muslims go to get brainwashed into the Seventh Circle of Hell, they were once the model for the first of Europe’s universities, not least the University of Paris, the intellectual home of the Italian Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas (or Tommaso d’Aquino). Even the great 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides – whose work has near-canonical status for Jews to this day – drew heavily from the genius of the Arab Muslim thinkers and Arab monotheistic interpretations of ancient Greek philosophy. And Thomas Aquinas, whose work has near-canonical status for the Roman Catholic Church, is equally indebted to the Muslim Arabs, and he also overtly drew from Maimonides.
Perhaps, who knows, Islam will bring forth once again great thinkers to bring Islam back to civilisation. Christian Europe, after all, is quickly recovering from the mudererous Fascism, Anarchism, Nazism, Communism and Socialism that overwhelmed it until the 1990s and the collapse of the Socialist Bloc (which included the re-education and rehabilitation of the East Germans, not least Angela Merkel who started her political career under the murderous Stasi, if not, as Boris Johnson has questioned, within it).
The best of times and the worst of times
Perhaps the 12th and 13th-century period of philosophical renaissance (scholasticism) – as Thomas d’Aquin at the University of Paris attempted to synthesise and abstract the best of the world’s intellect – was a cosmopolitan hint at what I envision as the ultimate turn of the kaleidoscope as God Almighty, God of Israel, brings History into its glorious fulfilment through Israel, in what Maimonides called the “messianic era”.
We must not romanticise this period at the birth of Parisian scholasticism however. Yes it brought forth Europe’s first universities, and the great French cathedral-building era, and science, but all was not at peace between the religions. Western Christianity was particularly cruel and barbarous: Western monks on Crusade, including from England, would say their Hail Marys in the morning and then, literally, murder and disembowel Jews, Muslims, Pagans and the wrong kind of Christians (east of the “Great Schism”) in the afternoon. In fact Thomas Aquinas’ own siblings joined the Crusade, and his brother Dominicans invented the dogma of torture and Inquisition.
The 12th/13th century, like the 21st century, was one of the periods of history in which the world was obsessed with Israel and Jerusalem. For most of the history of the past 2000 years, Jerusalem has been the derelict outpost of this or that Christian or Islamic empire. When the British took Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire in 1917, it was one of the most derelict and diseased and forgotten cities in the world. But today the world is once again obsessed with Israel and Jerusalem. This obsession is generally negative not despite Israel’s being a thriving nation, but because Israel is a thriving nation. Christian obsession and secular obsession (such as in Sweden, the most secular nation of all) with Israel is generally negative and antisemitic, and Islamic obsession with Israel, in all 57 formally Muslim nations, is pathololgical, and the reason that Islam has dropped out of civilisation altogether (indeed, the Arab nations have regressed to the child sacrifice – or ‘martyrdom’ as the Muslim scholars now call it – that dominated the region before the advent of Islam).
There are some Christians and secularists who support Israel, and there are even some Muslims who support Israel, but those of us in the world who have a positive dedication to Israel – and her Jewish restitution – are very much in the minority. Even many Jews hate us. But we will win. “Keep Attacking”, insists Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, who recently described himself (in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle) as a “Christian and a Zionist but not a Christian Zionist”.
I am optimistic, or “Hope-full” as we Christians prefer to say. There is a reason for the world’s obsession with Israel.
In a recent essay on this blog, titled, The Jews Must Lead us to the End of Time, I wrote:
Somehow, the world’s negative obsession with Israel needs to be turned upside down, into positive obsession and encouragement. The ship of fools we call mankind must accept its navigator: the Jews. And, frankly, contemporary Jews, especially of the diaspora, must not forget Jerusalem and must make a better fist of navigating us towards the goal.
In that essay, I wrote about the political self-identifying Jews (generally atheists) who in the UK not only formed the “Momentum” cult to put the antisemitic/anti-Israelist Jeremy Corbyn into power but tried to protect Corbyn and the Labour Party from charges of antisemitism. And as I wrote in my essay last week, the same thing is now happening in the USA, as anti-Israelist and “proud Jew” Bernie Sanders makes his bid to become the “leader of the free world”, God forbid.
God gifts all peoples, but God gifts the Jews disproportionately. All gifts – by definition – are from God. Despite antisemitism, and despite Jews being so few in number, and despite the many ultra-religious Jews who have shut themselves out of society altogether (much like the Amish Christians), we find Jews at or near the top of every intellectual endeavour: politics, economics, philosophy, the sciences, the humanities, the arts, chess, mathematics, business, technology, medicine, warfare… and, of course, music. What makes this all the more remarkable is that for almost the whole of the history of Christianity and Islam, Jews have been reduced, at best, to second-class citizens, denied land, denied arms, denied access to the universities, denied access to the professions, denied access to politics, and even denied access to golf clubs. Denied freedom of movement and invariably ghettoised, Jews had few opportunities to thrive or reveal their talents. Even when Einstein reached the USA having fled Berlin in 1933, Academia was reluctant to let him in. The American universities had a “Jewish Quota”, which the great physicist Richard Feynman later fell foul of, being turned down by Columbia University in New York City. (Feynman did get into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and went on to play a key part in the Manhattan Project, helping to ensure the USA invented the atomic bomb before the Axis powers, and, like a remarkable number of other well-known Jewish physicsts of the period, went on to win the Nobel Prize for physics.)
Just as “Einstein” comes to mind when we think of scientific genius, the word “Jew” or “Yehudi” is almost synonymous with musical excellence, in composition and performance, from classical to the American Songbook to the world’s favourite pop music. (Yehudi Menuhin, by the way, is one of several leading Jewish musicians who were or are ardent anti-Israelists to the point of being antisemitic; Daniel Barenboim is another, blaming Israel for Palestinian Jihadism, which is in fact no different to the Arab Jihadism that now extends right across the Middle East and North Africa, and the Jihadism now spreading throughout the world.)
Not only are Jews vital to classical and contemporary music, but music has always been vital to Judaism. The Jerusalem Temple was a temple of music. King David, King of the Jews, was the musician king, and songwriter par excellence. Surely, no songs ever composed have been performed as often, and is an many languages, as the Psalms. And according to the Gospels, there is no part of Jewish scripture that Jesus quoted more than the Psalms, the songs.
In Psalm 137 we read that the Jews in captivity in Babylon lamented so deeply for the Jerusalem Temple and its music, that when mocked by their captors to sing “a song of Zion” they hung their lyres on the trees, and sung instead to God that if they failed to set Jerusalem above their highest joy, they should lose their gift to play instruments and to sing at all.
Alas, Israel – despite being surrounded by godforsaken Arab lands locked in internecine conflict and entrenched Jihadist ideology – is now enjoying its restitution, and is now home to half the world’s Jews, largely because many Jews did not forget Jerusalem. And this number is likely to increase as we see a resurgence of antisemitism in Europe and even the USA. As noted, I am optimistic that God is working out His plans for the destiny of the nations through the nation of Israel. And as I have written in other pieces, we should not be surprised by the death throes of antisemitism and rebelliousness against God of Israel, be it from atheists, secularists, politicians, nations (and blocs of nations such as the UN, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Communists, and the EU). And we should not be surprised that we now see so much anti-Israelism from Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Those of us who support Israel must fight like never before, because global anti-Israelism is more intense than ever before. It has even now invaded the USA – once Israel’s staunchest ally – aided by Bernie Sanders and “the Squad”: the Red-Green alliance (see the essay I wrote last week). American universities have been taken over by novel philosophies of “progressivism” that are quite insidious, and inevitably gravitate to anti-Israelism and campaigns to unleash the “Palestinians”, who are today amongst the most deranged Jihadist-supporting Arabs in the whole Arab world, so deranged that even Egypt locks them out.
In previous pieces my main targets have been Christian, Islamic and Socialist antisemitism/anti-Israelism. I now want to focus on intellectual anti-Israelism, a more insidious form of anti-Israelism, much of which happens to come from Jews who, we have established, are amongst the most gifted intellectuals and entrepreneurs in the world.
What I call anti-Israelism is not only overt attacks on Israel, but the attempts to point mankind to a goal or destiny other than the goal of all nations arrayed on Israel by God of Israel.
It is even time to challenge what I call the Einsteinian paradigm, an atheistic paradigm that has been with us for about a century (see my essay, 1919 Vision: Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Lens). I do think the Einsteinian paradigm had to unfold as it did, to get us where we are, which, most of us would agree, is a better place than where we were a century ago. I think our Einsteinian paradigm was inevitable. In any case, had God willed that Albert Einstein believe in God, Einstein would have believed in God. (Einstein was an atheist, or, at best, a Deist.)
[ I do, by the way, believe there is a reason for the dialectic of monotheists and atheists. I was talking about this very recently with a Roman Catholic priest, who pointed me to the work of the Czech priest and philosopher Tomáš Halík (whom I have not yet read, but intend to do so). Apparently, Halík believes that theists and atheists are in “partnership”. This makes sense to me, especially because I was myself a deep thinking atheist until my early 30s (I’m now in my late 50s), and feel that I have grown through this internal struggle. I thank God that He allowed me the space to be a thinking atheist, even though, looking back, they were far from easy years. ]
Einstein himself was anti-Israelist. He wasn’t overtly anti-Israelist, he was after all a personal friend of the de facto leader of world Zionism, the scientist Chaim Weizmann, who went on to become the first president of Israel. Rather, Einstein was anti-Israelist in the sense that he was pointing the world away from God Almighty, God of Israel, to a novel and pagan way of understanding the Creation that cosmologists and mathematicians now call “Mathematical Platonism”.
“The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses […] the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. […] I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about [the Jews]”.
Einstein’s letter to Erik Gutkind, 1954
Einstein famously said that, “God does not play dice”. By this, Einstein was protesting that there is no God who has power over the laws of nature, which are themselves the product of mathematics (i.e. Mathematical Platonism). Einstein could not tolerate ideas from fellow scientists who were beginning to suggest that there are irregularties in Nature which might better be explained by mathematical probabilties than mathematical rules and certainties. These new scientists, the quantum physicists, were not necessarily interested in God of Israel, in fact many turned to the pagan and pantheistic religions and philosophies of the East. Perhaps this too was inevitable. Western science was never easily going to step back to the Judeo-Christian monotheism that it had claimed to have outgrown with the mechanistic science that had dominated it since the 18th century, until Einstein and quantum physics.
We monotheists will win the battle with the atheists at the time of God’s deciding. God of Israel is Almighty. In the end, atheism will become incredible and irrelevant, until then we must each play our part, as hero or villain. All the world’s a stage.
As for God’s playing dice. Yes, He can play dice, and load them too. There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…
Rabbi Sacks has written and spoken often about the exceptionality of the Jews, but he seems to me to be very reluctant to criticise Jewish geniuses who have forgotten Jerusalem, and are pointing the world to “other gods”. Indeed, in Sacks’ list of Nobel economists are the atheists Alan Greenspan and Milton Friedman, who laid the foundations for a whole new belief system called “Monetarism”, which fooled much of the West until 2008, and is of course yet another of mankind’s experimental workarounds that avoid centring things on God.
I do by the way see an inevitably to all the great trials and errors resulting from human ideas that have buffeted mankind through history. We are God’s children, and like our own children, if you tell them not to touch something because it is hot, the command is meaningless until the child does actually touch a painfully hot object for first time.
I wonder if, perhaps, Rabbi Sacks is so attracted to and awed by genius, particularly the celebrity genius with which he hobnobs, that he cannot bring himself to properly discern it. For instance, on the death of Stephen Hawking a year ago, Sacks tweeted:
“Stephen Hawking, who died this morning at the age of 76, was a man who changed our understanding of the universe, demonstrating that the greatest human power of all is the power of ideas.” Rabbi Lord Sacks, Tweet, 14 March 2019
But Rabbi Sacks knew full well what Hawking’s militantly atheistic ideas were. And surely Sacks should acknowledge the human power of bad ideas. Hawking famously said:
“the human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies”.
And Hawking made many philosophically-absurb claims such as that “the laws [sic] of science” reveal that “God is not necessary”.
Rabbi Sacks – whose job it is, surely, to teach about the sanctity of human being – knows that Hawking often spouted such philosophical non seqs. Furthermore, the former Chief Rabbi surely knows that Hawking joined the academic boycott of Israel, despite the fact that Israeli and Jewish gravitational physicists contemporaneous with Hawking achieved far more in the field than Hawking. Hawking didn’t actually change our big ideas on anything, apart from encouraging his readership to atheism. His fame was due to the fact that he lived in a wheelchair and spoke through a microprocessor, which happened to have been designed in Israel, and without which Hawking would have been “locked in”. Hawking is a famous scientist not despite his terrible illness but because of it.
Amongst Hawking’s other bad ideas is that we can upload our ‘brain’ (with which Hawking fully identified his person) to have a form of eternal life. Theoretically, said Hawking (several times), this form of ‘eternal’ life is possible. (Naturally, in believing that human being is “chemical scum”, Hawking had no concept of the human soul.) This idea is now being advanced by the computer scientists and entrepreneurs in California’s Silicon Valley, the leading proponents of which are Halachically Jews, who have turned their back on Jerusalem.
Google Life and the Frank Einsteins
The Internet and social media are good things and inevitable things. They have always been potentially there in God’s Earth. It was as inevitable that we would find a World Wide Web as it was inevitable that man would learn how to make fire, and invent the wheel. But like fire, and like the wheel, we must keep it safe, and use brakes.
There are some in the computer sciences, including the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (both Jews), who claim they will create a world run by the next generation of artificial intelligence, or “Superintelligence”, into which you can upload your “brain” into a virtual world of eternal fun. (Google has set up a new company called “Calico”, whose mission is to “Solve Death”.) These people call themselves “Transhumanists”. You will find them at the head other IT giants too, including Facebook. Most of them are Americans, but they are well supported by Oxford University in the UK (led by a philosopher called Professor Nick Bostrom) and by a computer sciences company called “Deep Mind” in London.
And so you can see that, yet again, man has dreamed up an alternative goal or destiny of things, but this time arguably even worse than the goals of Socialism/Communism, which at least only caused godless and godforsaken misery in the human lifespan, rather than in an ‘eternal’ transhuman lifespan!
Throughout history, many theologians have doubted that God would create an eternal Hell. It appears that God doesn’t need to: misdirected genius at Silicon Valley, and “Deep Mind” Cambridge, UK, is aiming to create a Hell in which you will find the soulless manifestations of Nick Bostrom (and a few other philosophers at Oxford University), Larry Page, Simon Cowell, and Paris Hilton (and, apparently, her pet dogs), who have paid the deposit and booked their place to be mummified in a cryonics waiting room in California, to be released and resurrected at Earth’s “technological maturity” (Bostrom’s words) into the new world: the “Hell Hilton”: you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.
The “Superintelligence” of this man-made eternal world is, of course, a kind of god.
The idea is that Artificial Intelligence, now evolving exponentially, can itself create the Superintelligence, which in turn works out how to run and sustain the new and virtual-reality world. The human brain is then to be mapped, or 3D-printed, into this virtual reality, potentially for eternity, when Larry Page and Google have “solved death”.
This Superintelligence would decide what is best for man, including what the world would look like. What birds and animals and plants would you see, hear, touch, feel and smell? What would be the length of day and night? Which days would have high winds and waves for the windsurfers, and which days would be calm for people who don’t like the wind? Would you need sleep, and food? Sex? Would there be any dangers? Would man get bored? Could there be such a thing as exhilaration without any danger? Could sadness be allowed? Could transhuman being exist in a permanent state of happiness, and if so, how would he know he is happy? What moral code would the transhuman beings follow? How would the Superintelligence punish the trangressors? How would the transhumans remain intelligent? What problems, if any, would the transhuman need to solve?
Who is going to agree what the virtual paradise is like? After all, no two humans could agree such a thing, let alone a whole population. Or perhaps you can choose your eternal ‘life’, from a commercial market of Frankenstein entrepreneurs, such as “Google World”, “Zuckerbergarama”, “Golem Heights, or “Eternal Disneyland”, whose Superintelligence works along the lines of the entrepreneur’s vision. But as Professor Nick Bostrom admits, it would be impossible for the transhuman being to know if this Superintelligence, or this god, were not dissembling, whilst assuring the transhumans it is always acting for the common good. It would be impossible to know if the Superintelligence had decided to sell you an eternal heaven which turns out to be an eternal hell. Even if Google does “solve death”, it will not solve Love.
With all these ideas and other fast-moving “progressive” ideas abroad it should not surprise us that “the Internet” seems to be stacked against Israel, because those who most influence the World Wide Web’s content and data and Artificial Intelligence (that determines what and whom we see, even within our socials networks) are attracted to, attached to, and pointing to goals for the World that are not Israel, and not God of Israel.
Page and Zuckerberg are Jews, but I don’t trust them because they do not trust God of Israel, and have forgotten Jerusalem. They think they are “Progressives”, but they are facing the wrong way, to something infinitely less than the Almighty. Rather than yearning to “solve death”, the Frankensteins in California should be asking, “what is life?”
Life Sciences and Theology
“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.”
In my piece on Einstein 1919, I suggest that we are on the cusp of overthrowing the atheistic Einsteinian paradigm, which threw out God and led to the relativity and subjectivism of almost everything. It led to Stephen Hawking teaching that human being is nothing more than “chemical scum”, and it has led to people grasping at all kinds of queer philosophies in the hope of living an “authentic” life of subjective choices, because there is no way to be objectively human, based on God’s choices and binary divisions of everything in Nature, from day and night, life and death, man and woman…
We will see an overthrowing of the atheistic Neo-Darwinist paradigm too. Just as the first book of Genesis gives us an understanding of the Cosmos and of life in Earth in the same breath, we will come into a paradigm in which we too understand all things, and how they relate to God, in the same breath.
Indeed, we will come to see our life – and our soul that Larry Page, Nick Bostrom, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Hawking insist we do not possess – is the breath of God.
We are not merely our material brain (which is in fact merely acids, mucus membrane and earwax), no more than we can say that our material TV set is images of the world that it is demodulating from this or that signal in the ‘ether’.
We might call our new way of seeing and knowing “holistic”, or better, “Holy”, complete: a wholeness of knowledge that comes out of our great long history of inevitably fumbling in the dark, and trial and error, with partial knowledge. This is why I like the kaleidoscope analogy. Nothing is properly seen until everything is properly seen. Everything illuminates everything else. But perhaps music is an even better analogy, and it is Biblical: the world comes into music, just as the Sabbath of History – the messianic age – is represented by the 10-stringed lyre of King David. It is as though we are a great orchestra in the warm-up period before the conductor walks on. We are all expert musicians, with a long history of developing skills and knowledge, but all is jumbled up, and we are hearing only snatches and hints of what is to come when all people of good will are playing as one.
At an appearance at a Cambridge Film Festival in 2013, Stephen Hawking said: “I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer … so it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain on to a computer and so provide a form of life after death”. And in an interview with a science correspondent for the Guardian in May 2015, Hawking again affirmed his philosophical materialism, in effect saying, “I am my brain”, saying, “there is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers”.
Hawking’s computer analogy is a poor one indeed to teach death after life. Why? Because computers are essentially disposable vessels. Our digital ‘life’, our digital memory, is held in a “cloud”. (And consider all the religious connotations of the word “cloud”.) Therefore if our computer breaks down, we simply need to obtain a new computer, which can be “re-imaged” to make it exactly like the old one, and able to access the same memory (cloud) on recognition of our name and password (or biometrics). Of course, if we have been foolish virgins rather than wise virgins, and have not backed-up to the eternal cloud – keeping the spiritual light burning by maintaining the eternal I-Thou – then of course we are indeed effectively lost souls when our computer breaks down.
To reinforce my point, we might look at the theory of the brain (or “quantum mind” and “wave function”) of Hawking’s main partner in physics, Sir Roger Penrose, with whom Hawking came up with the Penrose–Hawking singularity theorems.
Professor Penrose, who unusually for a gravitational physicist takes an interest in human consciousness, says (my highlighting):
“My claim is that there has to be something in physics that we don’t yet understand, which is very important, and which is of a non-computational character. It’s not specific to our brains; it’s out there, in the physical world.” (Roger Penrose, *Edge Conversation, Chapter 14)
In other words, Penrose’s view seems to be closer to philosophical idealism than Hawking’s philosophical materialism, i.e. that human memory is not in the computer, but in the non-local and omnipresent “cloud”. Science has never found any memory in the human brain, or in the brain of any mammal. In other words, human memory is not stored in the brain (or at least, if it does exist in the brain, it has not been found despite many decades of searching). And when we talk about human memory and human consciousness, we are perhaps talking about the same thing (an idea that there is not space to explore here).
By a stroke of luck – considering my interest in philosophy – I do have some recent exposure to the life sciences in my professional life:
I am a Technical Writer – with a 30-year background in electronics, avionics (aircraft electronics) and the computer sciences (IBM-certified developer) before I started writing for a living. I was surprised, when, in 2012, my agent phoned me, wanting to put me forward for a contract as “Scientific Technical Writer” for an Anglo-American life sciences company (called “Waters”). I pointed out that I have no experience or formal education in the life sciences. I got through the interviews and was offered the contract, and soon came to see why my background in the computer sciences is relevant: biology (or at least “systems biology”) has in our times become a computer science in its own right, called “bioinformatics”.
The data problems in the life sciences are now phenomenally huge. Biology, including in medical research (both Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine), now works with “Big Data”, and the life sciences are now very inter-interdisciplinary, hence the increasing need for technical communicators. Just as the Human Genome project coincided with the advent of an “internet” (without which the project would have been impossible), the new sciences – the new branches of “omics” spawned from genomics – would be impossible without today’s more-powerful Internet, or “World Wide Web”.
This internationally-collaborated Big Data (curated in huge Internet ‘libraries’) is interrogated through the World Wide Web (often through Artificial Intelligence) and is being used for many things, such as drug-testing in sport, water security, food security (such as detecting harmful pesticides and other residues), detecting fake pharmaceutical drugs, understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine (sorting the good, which has worked for thousands of years, from the fake or harmful, including harmful to endangered species). And the dream, for medical researchers, West and East, in systems biology, is to better understand cancer, and serious degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Motor Neurone.
It would be good if we could tackle more serious diseases than we already do, especially those that afflict children. Of course, we all need to die back into our Creator of something. We must praise God for life forms such as killer bacteria, viruses, fungi, diseases, and for the general degenerative process of ageing that we share with all mammals.
Like Judaism, Christianity, as we hear in the very first line of the Lord’s Prayer taught to us by Jesus (and based on his own Jewish faith), works out from the parent-child paradigm. We learn about God largely through the parent-child paradigm, which of course would not be possible without birth, childhood innocence, and death. It is through these things that we come to know what parents are: through our own parents, and more so if we become parents ourselves.
But, pray, as life-expectancy has increased in recent decades, God will allow us to treat Alzheimer’s and Motor Neurone Disease and other such horrors. And, pray, God will allow us to better tackle serious diseases that can afflict children. Having said that, most severe childhood illness – such as diarrhoea, the biggest killer, with malaria, of children under 5, due to lack of access to potable water – is most often caused by mankind’s lack of will to effect universal care. We already have the technology to tackle this scandal.
“Darwinian evolution” can hardly be avoided in modern theology. And yet shortly after my introduction to the life sciences, I soon came to realise that contemporary biologists are not interested in “Darwinian” evolution or even Neo-Darwinian evolution (which synthesises Darwin, molecular biology, and genetics), which is far too abstract, out-dated, metaphorical, and absurdly reductionist.
Darwin’s metaphors, and Richard Dawkins’ metaphors, can offer you a world view, if you really do want to see everything as Nature “selecting” what Nature thinks is good from bad, or if you want to explain everything as the will of the “selfish gene”.
Let us look at what Charles Darwin said:
“In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a false term; but who ever objected to chemists speaking of the effective affinities of the various elements? – and yet an acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it in preference combines. It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to the author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets? Everyone knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions […] With a little familiarity such superficial objections will be forgotten […]”
“It may metaphorically be said that natural selection is the daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, the slightest variations, rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good […] “
Charles Darwin, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” (1859)
In my three years working with PhD life scientists, I did not meet one who had read “On the Origin of Species …”, and “The Descent of Man”.
Think seriously about what Darwin suggested: Nature is “hourly scrutinising”. This is what Darwin means by “Natural Selection”. Nature selects, perhaps not every minute, but every hour. He says “Natural Selection” is a metaphor, but then elevates the metaphor to an explanation, which is not science at all.
Darwin was a pigeon fancier, and therefore he selected the best of his pigeons to breed in his loft at his home in Kent, England. And this is where he found the “selection” metaphor. Just as Darwin selected his best pigeons to breed, surely, he thought, this is what Nature is doing (as though Nature is a person). But, of course, Darwin could not have selected his best pigeon to breed with his best dog, or he could not have selected his dog to breed with his cat, just as we cannot breed a cat with a dog today, at least not without doing some very unnatural and dangerous things with our knowledge, and barking up the wrong tree.
Richard Dawkins has obviously realised that we cannot be satisfied with Darwin’s idea that “Nature” is, at the end of every hour, “scrutinising” how things should evolve into the next hour. And so Dawkins transferred some of Darwin’s personification of Nature to the personification of the gene: the “Selfish Gene”, and wrote a popular book of that title.
Dawkins work is based on the neo-Darwinist dogma proposed by Francis Crick: the so-called “Central Dogma of Molecular Biology”. This dogma claims that at the centre of every cell (including the first fertilised cell of our being), DNA provides instructions to tell every cell how to fold our proteins into the 3D form they need to be (be it a cell in an eye or a toe nail: it all comes, according to the Central Dogma, from instructions from the DNA at the centre of the cell).
Discounting water, most of our body mass is protein, much of which needs to be constantly re-nourished (which is why we die if we don’t eat protein from other life forms, animal or vegetable). The Central Dogma claims that information from the DNA nucleus of our every cell (we have about 100 trillion) to the proteins (tens of thousands) in each cell is linear and uni-directional.
But the money (literally) in the life sciences is now going on a more holistic and “non-linear” understanding of organisms, including the human body. We have realised that the Central Dogma can’t explain the statistics, and that there is a protein-to-protein networking going on that we call “Proteomics”. (Proteomics is the field in which I was employed as a writer.)
Contrary to the Central Dogma, which claims that the DNA at the centre of every life cell instructs the proteins in every cell on how to “fold” into, say, an eye or a finger or brain, it is now evident that proteins in any part of the body can communicate with any other part, bypassing the molecular centre/DNA of the living cell. Indeed, our bodies grow and regrow with no apparent central control. How our proteins fold themselves into the correct and upright 3D structures – rather than an amoebic slime of “chemical scum” – is still a complete mystery to science!
As noted, the data problems in life sciences are now huge. Biology has entered the world of “Big Data”, or “Bioinformatics”. What fascinated me, after my introduction to the field, is that the algorithms used for interrogating this Life data are what we call “attractor algorithms”, and that we also often use a statistical technique known as “top-down hierarchical clustering analysis”. Great metaphors indeed!
Yes, the evolution of life involves (“Darwinist”) random mutations, and constant adaption to the environment (that we might call “bottom up”) but, it seems to me, Life is always being “attracted”, as if evolution is goal-oriented.
I think we will return to, in some form, the “Vitalism” of pre-20th-century biology. I think it will become obvious that we cannot observe the behaviour of chemicals (or “bio-chemicals”) to explain life, but rather we will need to simply accept “Life” to ‘explain’ the biochemistry.
What I find interminably boring, when I’m appreciating the beauty in Nature (and thereby the Beauty of God in created things), whether observing a seahorse in an aquarium or a kingfisher in the British countryside, is the guy who thinks he’s got a “Darwinian explanation” why a seahorse is like a seahorse or a kingfisher is like a kingfisher, or the song of the skylark is like the song of the skylark. As Mark Twain is often quoted as saying: if your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
I encourage people to see things in a different way. Yes, there is an apparent randomness in species, which seems to be responsible for great diversity and variety, and, often, beauty (that can hardly be a product of randomness alone). And yes, species adapt to the environment (and the environment itself, on Earth, has great randomness and diversity and beauty), and yet we have no good reason for believing that, say, the skylark or the homing pigeon, are not goals of evolution, willed by the Creator, bringing His Earth “home” (and, who knows, perhaps billions of “Earths” home).
As noted, Darwin was a pigeon fancier. What attracts people to pigeons? It is, of course, the homing instinct, the attraction to home of the pigeon that can navigate, totally mysteriously, from hundreds of miles away, and, suddenly, after several days, drop out of the sky on to the roof of the pigeon loft, like Noah’s dove on the Ark. And what is attraction if it is not Love? And what is a dove if it is not a divine metaphor for Love, and Peace, and Shalom, and the Eternal Spirit of God.
In the French language, the categories/kinds of animals are different than they are in the English language. For instance, what we call “terrapins”, “tortoises” and “turtles” are all, to a Frenchman, “la tortue”.
In French, “heaven” and “sky” are the same word: “ciel” (plural “cieux”). Notre Père, qui es aux cieux, que ton nom soit sanctifié… And in the French language, a pigeon fancier is a “colombophile”. And a “colombe” is both a pigeon and a dove.
Come down O Love divine […]
till Love create a place
wherein the Holy Spirit
makes a dwelling.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
Related Blog Pieces:
1919 Vision: Albert Einstein’s Gravitational Lens (10th December 2019):
Bernie Sanders spouts the anti-Israel and antisemitic libels that the UN inherited from President Idi Amin and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2nd March 2020):
* Sir Roger Penrose on human consciousness: