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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8 Responses to Goldilocks and Evidence for Christian Theism

  1. “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.”

    By your argument, any theist can claim that their religion is as good as yours. Your “subjective reality” is nothing more than your baseless opinion. Believing in fairies is as valid as your god. Your personal beliefs can’t be shown as real so they aren’t just as real as, say, putting your bare hand in molten steel. No matter how much you want to play pretend, you are going to lose your hand. Show this to be true or you are just another post-modernist trying to insist that your fantasies are as valid as reality ” 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.”

  2. rossiroad says:

    I think it’s quite dangerous to form opinions of groups in this way, I as an atheist cannot see at all how I or anyone I know at all can fit into these two groups, especially in the extremes that you give. Classifying people in this way can alienate people and get in the way when your trying to communicate your message to them. We are all individuals.

    I myself believe strongly in science because it works and can be shown to work repeatedly. Yet that doesn’t mean I believe in objectivity, especially in terms of morals, where I believe that even with a God they can only be subjective. So here’s a person who could fit in either group. I think it’s better to address specific arguments themselves than group people like this.

    The most widely accepted Atheist stance that I’ve seen, and I follow, is “I’m looking at the same thing you’re looking at, and honestly I’m unconvinced” – simply I say “can you prove God”, you say “no”, I say “Well I don’t believe you then” Atheism doesn’t claim to have all the answers, I look at is more of an “I don’t know, but neither do you” kind of thing.

    The Goldilocks principle is in effect because without it we wouldn’t be around. Life could only happen on a planet in the Goldilocks zone, and animals without Homeostasis would struggle to exist, meaning that through natural selection the ones that could regulate their bodies would survive, meaning in the future we would all have homeostasis. Evolution is not random, it works by allowing the animals best suited to their habitat to survive, slowly improving in their nature and generally becoming better.

    It’s easy to say “Look at how perfect we all are” while forgetting that it took over 4 billion years to reach this point in time, that’s a heck of a long time to get better.

    Nobody can claim God’s existence as fact. Therefore I refute your idea of Christians living in both subjective and objective reality, it is your subjective reality that believes your also in an objective one.

    From what I’ve seen we don’t get sucked into deep forms of objectivity or subjectivity, it honestly has very little impact over your life. These are just interesting questions to ask yourself and look for, and whichever side you tend to come out on (most people tend to have a mix) it effects your life very little. Nobody is getting sucked in and having it drive them crazy.

  3. William says:

    Atheists aren’t divided between “scientism” and “postmodernism.” That is a caricature of the wide variety of views held by atheists.

  4. TFBW says:

    @William: I disagree. There is a bifurcation in atheism which first became visible between the 2012 and 2016 Reason Rallies. Atheism rallies and conferences were quite in vogue at the time, and there was a feeling of united purpose in the arena. “Atheism plus” emerged in the wake of 2012: based on the success of political atheism (it’s no accident that the Reason Rally was held in Washington DC during a presidential election year), some atheists felt that it was no longer sufficient to simply lack belief in the supernatural, but that there had to be some positive set of values that went along with the package.

    When this happened, there was a near-instantaneous bifurcation of atheism. What had seemed to be a monolithic bloc of Scientism and Modernism turned out to be largely dominated by something else entirely: the radical social justice camp, characterised by Postmodernism and Subjectivism (but still insisting that “science” was theirs). The former appearance of unity was held in place because the dominant figureheads of the movement were all like-minded, and both sides were united by a common antipathy for Christianity. The change-over was quite precipitous, however, and the 2016 Reason Rally was dominated by the Social Justice faction. Whereas Dawkins was the keynote at 2012, he phoned it in for 2016. Instead, you had the likes of Bill Nye and his whole “science says gender is a spectrum” shtick. Lawrence Krauss was at both, but he was persona non grata with the SJW crowd by 2018, and has been excommunicated. Sam Harris suddenly found himself without an atheist chat circuit to ride on, and so hitched his wagon to the success of Jordan Peterson for a time.

    I could go on, but I won’t. My summary point is that while it’s true to say that atheists hold a wide variety of views, it’s also true to say that the vast majority of them either identify with the Leftist, Feminist, Social Justice, Trump-is-a-Fascist, Constructivist, “everyone who disagrees with me is a Nazi” branch of atheism, or they are more the old school Dawkins-style “science uber alles” types. Given the penchant for excommunication and ostracism that the dominant Social Justice faction has, however, this bifurcation may well be a passing phase. I expect that unity will be restored through the marginalisation of all atheists who aren’t on board with the Atheism Plus programme. They’ll still be able to hold to politically unapproved ideas privately, but there will be no public space for them: no representation at Reason Rallies; no figureheads.

    I look forward to 2020 with interest: being another presidential election year, it should throw the social landscape into sharp relief, giving me a clearer view of whether my expectations match reality.

  5. nsr says:

    I get the impression that in the US with Trump getting the presidency and in the UK with Brexit, there’s a perception among the liberal secular-minded (and some of the more liberal religious-minded) that This Is Not The Way Things Ought To Be, and that they see themselves as engaged in some sort of cosmic struggle to Put Things Right. It’s gone beyond mere politics and become almost religious in its fervour.

    As has been pointed out on here before, of course, when religion is removed or stripped of all meaning, something has to take its place in the human heart.

  6. Dhay says:

    clubschadenfreude > “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.”

    This quotes Michael’s OP, and then came your comments on the quoted passage, some parts of which I’ll critique.

    > Your “subjective reality” is nothing more than your baseless opinion.

    This demonstrates you have misunderstood what Michael is saying regarding balancing objective reality and subjective reality. What he’s saying in the OP is clear enough, so anyone with reasonable reading comprehension should understand it — but as you seem to have had difficulty I’ll briefly quote the rather similar view expressed by a certain Sam Harris ** :

    … consciousness exists in a realm of irreducible subjectivity with which science isn’t always comfortable. That’s because scientists strive to simplify visible subjects into information. It’s a “seeing is believing” sort of approach that butts up against the fact that consciousness is not a visible entity. Half of reality, says Harris, is qualitative experiential. The assumption that the entirety of reality can be seen and quantified is a facile one.

    https://bigthink.com/think-tank/the-subjectivity-of-consciousness-with-dr-sam-harris

    > Your personal beliefs can’t be shown as real so they aren’t just as real as, say, putting your bare hand in molten steel. No matter how much you want to play pretend, you are going to lose your hand.

    Again, this demonstrates you have misunderstood what Michael is saying regarding balancing objective reality and subjective reality. The OP denies neither, it asserts both.

    > Show this to be true or you are just another post-modernist trying to insist that your fantasies are as valid as reality ”

    See above regarding your misunderstanding what Michael is saying. You seem to be clueless as to what Michael actually said, and seem to be trying to insist that your fantasies about the OP are as valid as reality.

    > 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.”

    This, too, quotes Michael’s OP, though you make no comment on this second quote, hence there’s no comment of yours on this second quote to respond to. Was the quote left in in error?

    *

    ( ** Yes, I know you are not a fan of Harris, and that your blog ignores him bar one mention in passing and one very sarcastic update:

    11/28/2015: just to let you know, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are quite the dickheads recently. Hitch was a dickhead a long time ago. those theists who want to claim that atheist somehow worship these guys are so wrong.

    https://clubschadenfreude.com/2015/09/16/what-the-boss-likes-im-stand-with-ahmed-too/

    Odd that, for it seems to me that of those atheist visitors to this Shadow To Light site who are especially vitriolic, and if there’s any rationality it’s hidden in their incoherency, a quite substantial proportion of them are openly Sam Harris fans. I expected you to be one, too – as you can see I checked – but was so wrong.)

  7. Ilíon says:

    Well, you know, when you look closely at the matter, ‘scientism’ is just a species of ‘post-modernism’; ‘scientism’ is a way to put some camouflage between oneself and the core ‘post-modernist’ assertion that “There is no truth“.

  8. Ilíon says:

    Moreover,
    That is a caricature of the wide variety of views held by atheists.

    it is a distraction to protest about the many “views held by ‘atheists‘”; what is pertinent is what logically follows from ‘atheism‘. Most of the “views held by ‘atheists‘” are contrary to ‘atheism‘.

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