…Assuming Homeostasis


Last night, I attended a meeting of the Huntsville chapter of Reasons to Believe, an international organization dedicated to the study and promotion of the classic Rod Stewart song (“If I listened long enough to you …”).

Actually, it’s a “science-faith think tank” that believes that maybe the scientific study of the physical rules of the universe and faith in the God who created them shouldn’t be incompatible. Last night’s session, for example, was telepresented by Jeff Zweerink, author of Who’s Afraid of the Multiverse, which looks at whether or not scientific theories positing the existence of multiple universes preclude belief in God. For example, if the fact that our universe is established to have a beginning proves that it must have causation, would the existence of a multiverse that existed before and outside our universe belie the need for special causation? (Short answer to both questions: No.)

To be honest, I left the talk unsure as to whether it was more simple or more complicated than I expected. Either it glossed over a lot of topics without really delving into them just for the sake of acknowledging them, or it assumed that the audience would already know enough about those topics that they could be mentioned without explanation. I’m either smarter or dumber than I think, but don’t know which. (And said ignorance might imply an answer, huh?)

After the meeting, some of us migrated over to Starbucks for a great, rambling discussion that used the talk as a springboard for some interesting discussions. The best part, though, was possible John’s frequent qualifying of things with “assuming homeostasis.” Basically, he would argue that a lot of scientific theories on the development of the universe or Earth are based on the assumption that certain physical rules or processes are constant, while in actually there may be evidence that they have operated differently in the past. “Assuming homeostasis,” then, is the assumption that things have always worked and will continue to work the way they do now, making it essentially the technical translation of the Southern expression, “The good Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise.” I’m already in love with it, and will be looking for ways to work it into conversations in the near future. So consider yourself warned.

The other interesting part of the evening was that the RTB event was held at Whitesburg, my old church. I don’t believe I’ve been inside there since late June, and even then it was a rare thing.

That same weekend that I last went to Whitesburg, I got my new iPhone. When I did, I hooked it up to my computer, and restored the last back-up from my old iPhone onto it. Even though it was a brand new phone, it now “remembered” being the old phone — text messages received long before it was built, words that the dictionary had picked up from me using them, notes I’d written on its predecessor, etc. It’s not the same phone; it has different hardware, a new name, and has gone on to have its own apps and songs and so forth.

That was exactly how it felt being at Whitesburg last night — like I was someone else entirely, who had memories of the past that had been restored onto me, as real and realized as if they were mine, but somehow a thing apart. Very strange.

But, clearly, that was me who was there …

… assuming homeostasis.

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