Goldilocks and Evidence for Christian Theism

Let me provide what I consider to be a significant piece of evidence for the truth of Christian theism.

It all begins with the Goldilocks Principle.  Wikipedia describes it as follows:

The Goldilocks principle is named by analogy to the children’s story, The Three Bears, in which a little girl named Goldilocks tastes three different bowls of porridge, and she finds that she prefers porridge which is neither too hot nor too cold, but has just the right temperature.[1] Since the children’s story is well known across cultures, the concept of “just the right amount” is easily understood and is easily applied to a wide range of disciplines, including developmental psychology, biology,[2] economics and engineering.

What fascinates me is how well the Goldilocks principle describes life.  Many are probably familiar with the use of the principle to detect other planets that could possibly support life:

In astrobiology, the Goldilocks zone refers to the habitable zone around a star. The Rare Earth Hypothesis uses the Goldilocks principle in the argument that a planet must neither be too far away from, nor too close to a star and galactic center to support life, while either extreme would result in a planet incapable of supporting life.   Such a planet is colloquially called a “Goldilocks Planet”.

Yet what is often overlooked is that Life itself is built around the principle.  In physiology, the central concept is something known as homeostasis.  The dictionary defines it as follows:

the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.

The ability or tendency of an organism or a cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes.

Wikipedia defines it as:

Homeostasis is the property of a system within an organism in which a variable, such as the concentration of a substance in solution, is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant.[1] Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of body temperature, the pH of extracellular fluid, or the concentrations of sodium, potassium and calcium ions, as well as that of glucose in the blood plasma, despite changes in the environment, diet, or level of activity. Each of these variables is controlled by a separate regulator or homeostatic mechanism, which, together, maintain life.

Now note this – homeostasis, which is near the very essence of life, is basically the Goldilocks Principle.  Think of it this way – you don’t want your blood pressure to be too high.  But you also don’t want it to be too low.  The body is built to correct for each extreme.  The same would true for just about every aspect of your body.  Blood sugar?  Not too high and not too low.  Heart rate?  Not too high and not too low.  White blood cell count?  Not too high and not too low.  On and on it goes.  And it even extends into the very workings of your cells.  For example, there are rather clever mechanisms within your cells to ensure that the intracellular iron levels are not too high (which would generate toxic free radicals) but not too low (which would disable important metabolic enzymes).

In fact, a violation of the Goldilocks principle is typically linked to disease.  Eat too much and experience obesity.  Eat too little and experience malnutrition.  Put too much stress on a joint and watch it tear.  Put too little stress on a joint and watch it atrophy.  And when something goes wrong in the body?  It’s typically because the Goldilocks  principle has been disabled somewhere.  Too much thyroid hormone?  It could be Graves Disease.  Too little thyroid hormone?  Could be a goiter.

What I am pointing out here is not controversial; it is well known that homeostasis is a defining feature of life.  All I am adding is that homeostasis is essentially the same as the Goldilocks principle.

What does Christian theism have to do with any of this?

You can think of Christianity as one of Life’s expressions.  At the very least, it’s a set of beliefs and attitudes that livings beings, known as humans, possess and express.  And Christianity, I would argue, best reflects the Goldilocks principle.

I say this because we humans live in both a subjective and objective reality.  In the objective reality, we live among people that we cannot control or even truly know, since we have no direct contact with their subjective realities.  And of course, we live in a world that is controlled by the laws of Nature that care nothing for our subjective realities.  In the subjective reality ,it’s all about meaning.  Is some aspect of objective reality good?  Is it evidence?  Is it something that makes us happy?  Christianity helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync.  It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of God.   And since both realities are real, the Goldilocks principle can apply, preventing us from wandering too far in living with too much of the subjective or too much of the objective.

Too see this, think of atheism, a set of beliefs and attitudes, that cuts itself away from Christianity in the West.  When this break is made, what happens?   Atheism splinters into the two extremes that Christianity can avoid because of the way it is anchored.

When I look out at the world of atheism, I see two main factions that are anchored to one of the two extremes as a consequence of their God denialism.  One faction is built around scientism, an expression of taking objectivism to its extreme.   From this extreme, subjective reality is denied, as the so-called “God delusion” ultimately becomes delusions about morality and the “special” status of humans which then becomes delusions about free will and individuals as conscious agents.   This extreme then becomes pathological.   Serious thinkers from this school actually insist it is true that we have no free will, yet nevertheless have to admit that they are incapable of living this “truth.”  Despite the fact their philosophy is unlivable, they cling to it as true.  What’s more, they will eventually begin to argue that consciousness itself is a delusion.  The end point is the complete eradication of humans an individual agents and, along with that, the notion of individual rights.  The hive mentality will come to dominate, for the group becomes far more important than the individual, who simply becomes a cog in the machine acted on by impersonal forces.

The other faction of atheism is built around postmodernism, an expression of taking subjectivism to the extreme.  From this extreme, objective reality is denied, and historical, even scientific truths, are recast as “social constructs.”  This extreme becomes pathological, where feelings become truth.  If a woman wants to have a loving relationship with an inanimate object, then as long as it feels like she has one, she does.  What’s interesting about this form of subjectivism is that these subjective “truths” are “validated” through group think.  As such, this faction of atheism reinforces tribalism, such that if enough tribes get together to declare something as true, it becomes truth.  After all, truth is a social construct.   So in its own way, this version of atheism also culminates in the hive mentality, where individuals derive their worth solely from the tribe they represent and individual rights, divorced from the tribe, are non-existent.

As a consequence of denying the existence of God, atheists find themselves being sucked into the deep extremes of either subjectivism or objectivism.  We see it play out every day.  As a Christian theist, I find myself in the middle, anchored to both objective and subjective reality.  And I consider this evidence for the truth of Christian theism, a belief system that echoes the manner in which life itself is built around the Goldliocks Principle.

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4 Responses to Goldilocks and Evidence for Christian Theism

  1. John Branyan says:

    Christianity is homeostasis for the soul. Great post!

  2. Allallt says:

    Given that nature includes positive feedback systems (1), negative feedback systems, and systems without feedback (e.g. the level of water in a lake), what does it matter that the Bible (as you present it here) contains narratives that can — metaphorically — be said to be negative feedback systems?

    It is a positive feedback system that allows mothers to produce the breastmilk to give sustenance to their babies, and a positive feedback system gets them to suckle. If you can find a narrative in the Bible that could also be said (or spun) to be a positive feedback system, you could link it to this amazing and beautiful part of nature — and thus, by your reasoning, call it a clue to the truth of Christianity.

    No feedback systems, like the level of water in a river (in that there is nothing about an overflowing lake that stops the rainfall, and nothing about a dry lake that encourages the rainfall) has an obvious narrative parallel with any narrative about interdependence — which, if you could find such a passage in the Bible, suddenly gets linked to that and, by your logic, is a clue to the truth of Christianity.

    But now we have the problem of two opposing types of feedback and the absence of feedback are all clues as to the truth of Christianity. We’ve created an absurdity following your logic. Where do we go from there?

    (1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_feedback#In_biology

    Last time you posted this (Dec 2017) Ilion described this as being a similar type of argument that atheists use (2). I never did ask, but do you know what he was referring to there?

    (2) https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/goldilocks-and-evidence-for-christian-theism/#comment-21754

  3. stcordova says:

    “they will eventually begin to argue that consciousness itself is a delusion. ” Consciousness is the one thing that is undeniable, especially if one is suffering.

    As student of engineering and computers, it seems to me that no machine could ever experience pain like a human. Sure we can make it mimic sounds and behaviours like saying “ouch” but it can never truly experience grief and pain as a conscious being can.

    I remember once lying in agony from a broken arm. I might have wished at that moment that consciousness were not real, but from the most basic standpoint, I couldn’t reason away my pain nor conscious awareness of it.

  4. Dhay says:

    > … taking subjectivism to the extreme. From this extreme, objective reality is denied …

    Sam Harris, I note, does not ‘argue that consciousness itself is a delusion’; as Harris has several times repeated — and it’s the text of December 2016 Meme #4, he fully ‘owns’ it — “Consciousness is the one thing in this universe that cannot be an illusion”.

    From this extreme, objective reality is denied.

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