Do We Need God To Do Science?

Premier Radio, one of the UK’s leading Christian radio stations, has been featuring several interviews/debates in recent weeks on matters related to ID, some of which have been flagged here and here.

The most recent one bears the title of this post and was aired last weekend (6th Feb), in which I debated the question with the historian Thomas Dixon, who basically holds that while we may have needed God to do science, we don’t need the deity anymore. My own view is that if we mean by ‘science’ something more than simply the pursuit of instrumental knowledge, then that quest still doesn’t make much sense without the relevant (Abrahamic) theological backdrop.  I continue this line of argument in a new book, due out this summer.

Here is the link to Dixon and me in action with Justin Brierley, the genial host. (Unlike some of the previous debates, which took place over the phone, Justin, Tom and I were all huddled in one room over a couple of mikes in London. Luckily we are all on friendly terms!)

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44 Responses to Do We Need God To Do Science?

  1. This is actually an extremely interesting philosophical question that touches on both the true nature of science and the true nature of man.

    Everyone is capable of considering the reality of ultimate causation which deals directly with the origin of everything- and hence there is nothing in secular materialistic science that can deal with the most fundamental and ultimate question of origins. Hence everyone- those of faith and those who claim to be purely secular in mind are left with an incomplete understanding of reality- naturally.

    Hence, as literary Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson noted

    “A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”

    It therefore should be no surprise to Christians and Jews – and even secular conservatives today that there is a great move afoot among those who claim to be opposed to religions (particularly Christianity) because of supposed mythological elements or oppressive morality- that those same people are also trying to combine science with a universal spiritual and religious doctrine themselves.

    People should be very skeptical and weary of the idea that religion and religious mentalities can be just exterminated and removed from science in general.

    For example you have most notably the environmentalist on a crusade against Christianity and individual liberty in the name of a pantheistic Earth spirituality or religion. These same anti-religious – yet pan-religious zealots are working to force through actual global and nation legislation imposing their dogmatic beliefs on all people.

    For those who are not familiar with GAIA

    http://contenderministries.org/UN/gaia.php

    And those who do not know about the UN Earth Charter.-

    http://www.discerningtoday.org.....harter.htm

    Is it any wonder why Thomas Jefferson wanted governmental restriction on the control over religious freedoms and yet at the same time strong limits on religiously provacative LEGISLATION? He knew that religion was easily and naturally abused by man to control and take advantage of the people because of the nature of dogma and of government- and the opertunistic nature of man.

    It appears man indeed always worships something- even if and when he claims to be an agnostic or an atheistic. SO if man cannot seperate himself and his actions from religious fervor than why should we suppose that the domain of science (a supposedly man made convention) could be any different?

    Incidentally I write this while my area is experiencing the biggest mid Atlantic snow on record.

  2. I like Steve Fuller because he’s courageous in an environment where that is the rarest of qualities—his 2008 Dissent Over Descent: Evolution’s 500-Year War on Intelligent Design is a worthwhile read.

    And Frost122585—you put it well—in spite of the frost.

    I often say, only partly to shock and annoy, that the purpose of science is to find God. That surely was its purpose for most of its founders, as I’d guess even Richard Dawkins might agree, while happily thinking that the answer science delivered was,

    There is no God but Materialism,
    and Darwin is its apostle.

    But I would suggest that modernism (which said forget God and pursue material knowledge) easily begets postmodernism (which says forget pursuing knowledge, period). Science has always fascinated me, but should I think that it has vindicated an ultimate nihilism I would find it all meaningless and therefore boring.

  3. No

  4. With that out of the way, here’s another question:

    Do we need science to do religion?

  5. I enjoyed the debate Steve and broadly agreed with you. You made a convincing case about the need for an understanding of man made in the image of God in order to do science properly and effectively. Plantinga has also noted that in order to do science we need to begin with a belief in the ‘design plan’ of the mind that is geared towards seeking truth – that would not be likely under neo-Darwinism, but it is likely under ID.

    But the imago dei concept is not one that many ID people openly subscribe to where the designer is unspecified and may be considered embodied, or an unknown spirit, Platonic force etc.

    How might ID proponents seek to address this difference of opinion?

  6. Recognizing I am taking this question in a different direction, nevertheless I find it ironic the way science is being so desperately undermined by dishonest practice (the IPCC especially) at the same time scientists are saying God gets in the way of good science. What greater encouragement toward honesty is there than belief in the God of truth?

  7. “Do we need God to do science?”

    Some (many?) would argue that without “God” there wouldn’t be science to do and besides there wouldn’t be anyone to do it.

  8. Do We Need God To Do Science?

    No.

    (StephenB scolded me for being too long-winded)

  9. If God is good for science, then can someone give a practical example of how this would work ?

    No more theory now, a practical example.

  10. A_MacNeil at #4

    Do we need Allen_MacNeil to discuss this topic ?

    No

  11. Graham wanted a practical example why God is good for science. For me God gives hope that we are living in a rational universe where doing science is possible. The question I ask my self is how it would be possible to do science in a reality where non-caused events occur and matter can come out of nothing caused by nothing?

  12. To Innerbling: Thats nice, but not exactly a ‘practical’ example.

    What Im getting at, is how would it work ‘in the lab’ ?

  13. First, what is the “meaning of science” in a world (view) devoid
    of God?

    Evolutionists and materialists are advocates of the theory that the univers, our lifes and everything has no sens, purpose or higher meaning – no metaphysical significance.

    How a materialist or evolutionist can ultimately explain the sense, meaning, purpose of science (endeavour) within a world view where there is no meaning, sense or purpose.

    It is surprising, how such a materialist scientist expects a meaningless univers to manifest in an oderly and regular ways, conforming to particular invariants, rules or laws. More
    specifically isn’t ultimately nonsensical that a meningless
    univers contains “pockets” or “traces” of meaning? Is this
    implicit belief rational, consistent with his world view?

    A materialist world view is consistent with a univers “governed” by chaos, absence of any invariants, rules, order and harmony. Such an univers would be amorphous, dark, unstructured, a collection of unrepetable accidents and hapenings, and seriuosly
    meaningless.

    If a materialist scientist observes though in our universe such invariants, repeatable behaviors, consistent phenomena, than he
    must ask himself some serious questions:

    1. How come that there are such structures, invariants, rules, repeatable phenomena and occurrences in a univers ment to be meaningless and purposeless?

    2. What is the “source” and the “origination” of such invariants, repetable behaviors, rules, laws, structure? Aren’t they together a solid demonstration that there is an overarching order, structure, harmony and sens and significance in our univers?

    2. Shouldn’t an omnipotent and omiscient God be a proper name for the origin and the source of these rules, constancy, harmony and rationality observable everywhere in the univers and more so on our amazing planet?

  14. There is no God but Materialism,
    and Darwin is its apostle.

    Supposedly Heisenberg said

    There is no god, and Paul Dirac is his prophet.

    LOL!

  15. Graham ask in 12 how that would work in a lab?

    It is really simple really if there exists a non-caused events in this reality scientists could spend millions of years in a lab trying to find a rational theory (i.e. a cause) to explain non-caused event X, but that would be useless wouldn’t it?

  16. Mr InVivoVeritas,

    How a materialist or evolutionist can ultimately explain the sense, meaning, purpose of science (endeavour) within a world view where there is no meaning, sense or purpose.

    All the evolutionist has to do is argue that an impulse to explore has survival value. A desire for scientific discovery is an exaptation of looking for food.

    I listened to the complete discussion of Drs Fuller and Dixon last night. Dr Fuller is defining ‘science’ as a multi-generational program of organized efforts to discover and share knowledge. He made an argument that Abrahamic, ‘imago dei’ religions (not the reality or unreality of God) were important to motivating individual scientists. He certainly did not succeed in arguing that this motivation was a necesity. He argued (I think) that instutional religion was good at supporting a multi-generational project, but I think institutional religions are better at building cathedrals than they are at building supercolliders.

    Even if science has been incubated in religious settings and motivations, is it a necessity? No. As an example, take intelligent design. Sure ID has religious roots, try pronouncing cdesign proponentist. Is it possible to transcend those roots? That is what has been argued. Trying to argue at the same time that all science needs God and is in fact a religious enterprise (a la the rhetorical position of Dr Cornelius Hunter until recently) is somewhat contradictory in my view.

  17. I think there are two questions that need to be answered here.

    Can a person do science without a belief in God?

    and

    Is science possible or rational if there is no God?

  18. “Do we need science to do religion?”

    There is no accepted definition of the word “science.” So it may be difficult to answer that question.

    One person said on a blog that science was inference based on observations. I like that definition but it is very general and may need some tweaking. For example, we might want to add the word “continual” in front of “observations.”

    Given that as a possible definition then we do indeed need science or reason to do religion. Otherwise it is arbitrary without some sort of observations and logical inferences from these observations.

  19. “Do We Need God To Do Science?”

    Allen MacNeill replied with one word, “No.”

    LaPlace said I have no need of that hypothesis.

    Lagrange replied

    “‘Ah! c’est une belle hypothèse; ça explique beaucoup de choses.’ (‘Ah, it is a fine hypothesis; it explains many things.”\’)”

    Science does very well in some areas and we can get blinded by its continued success in these domains. But in one area, it is a “miserable failure.” And that is in the origins of complex things. So Lagrange had more insight than LaPlace and apparently Allen.

  20. InnerBling at 17 asks,
    “Can Can a person do science without a belief in God?”

    Yes. However, eventually, the larger philosophical question of God’s existence will come into play.

    “Is science possible or rational if there is no God?”

    Given the mathematical impossibility of life beginning by chance, science would be impossible without God (or a designer).

  21. Hey Steve I’m about a third of the way through and I’d just like to thank you very much for doing this. You have a great perspective on the history of science and demonstrate a lot of independent thought. Great interview and thanks for doing it. After I finish this I’ll be heading to amazon.com and putting some of your books on my reading list.

  22. 22

    Graham:

    “If God is good for science, then can someone give a practical example of how this would work ?

    No more theory now, a practical example.”

    God has already been good for science. Why are you asking how this would work? Why aren’t you asking how it is working?

    Practically speaking, a moral law is needed for integrity in science. All good scientists appeal to the moral law as far as it pertains to doing science. It’s true that both believers and non-believers who do science, appeal to this law if they are doing good science. What is thaislaw as it pertains to science? Telling the truth, as opposed to lying, or covering up evidence, etc. Not making assumptions without evidence. The application of the law of non-contradiction. I’m sure there are many more examples.

    One could argue that these laws are produced by the community of scientists, but I would argue that the fact that the community of scientists agree on these laws indicates that there is a higher source for them, which transcends the community of scientists.

    So God directs the process of science without our even knowing that He is involved. We could not do science without His involvement, because without Him there would be no moral law directing what should and what should not be done scientifically. We could not appeal to reason, because there would be no reason.

    Laplace has no need for that hypothesis, but He could not have made the statement and have it make sense without the hypothesis.

  23. Graham,

    Is the question, “Do we need God in order to do science?” or is it, “Do we need belief in God to do science?” I think the answer to both is yes: an unqualified yes to the first, and a qualified yes to the second.

    The latter was probably the sense in which the question was intended in the original post, and its answer will have nothing to do with the narrow kind of “in the laboratory” practicality you have spoken of. It has a lot to do, however, with the beliefs and attitudes that originally brought scientists into the laboratory.

    Today we know that science is a worthwhile pursuit. The original pursuers of science did not have our centuries of experience to prove that to them. For them, the difficult disciplines of science were motivated by something other than knowledge that science was proved to be fruitful. Their motivation came from the conviction that the world was rational and worthy of study, both of which convictions are directly traceable to Christian theology.

    Now it has become possible to bypass Christian theology and go straight to “we know this works because we’ve seen that it works.” Many scientists are content to go there, without pondering what it is about the deep nature of reality that actually makes it work as it does.

    Which brings us back around to the first question: do we need God to do science? I would suggest that we do need God to do science, because without God, there would be no creation to study! Of course that is a Christian theological position, but it also happens to provide a good basis for answering the question asked just a moment ago: why is the universe rational?

    Note now that when we ask the question this way, “Do we need God?” (rather than, “Do we need to believe in God?”) your question translates to, “what could we do in the laboratory with God that we couldn’t do without God?” It’s a non-question. If God exists, then we can’t do anything in the laboratory without him. If he doesn’t exist, we can’t do anything in the laboratory with him. We certainly couldn’t set up an experiment where in Condition A God exists and in Condition B God doesn’t exist.

    So now maybe you see where I’m heading. Asking the question one way, “Do we need God…” it’s a non-question. Asking it the other way, “Do we need belief in God…” it’s a good question, but it’s not an in-the-laboratory question.

    You asked it so triumphantly:

    If God is good for science, then can someone give a practical example of how this would work ?

    No more theory now, a practical example….
    To Innerbling: Thats nice, but not exactly a ‘practical’ example.

    What Im getting at, is how would it work ‘in the lab’ ?

    Your triumphalism was, shall we say, premature at best. You implied that if it didn’t make a difference in the lab, it didn’t make a difference to science. What you failed to recognize is that there are things that make a difference, even in science, that don’t always happen in the lab.

    Good logic is one of those things.

  24. Do We Need God To Do Science?

    One answer to the question could be, yes, we do because He would do it a lot better than we do. On the other hand, since He already knows everything He has no need to do science to find things out.

    More seriously, for me, the more interesting questions are the simpler “Do we need God?” and “Why do we need God?”.

    Plainly, some people have a great need for God. A lot of the posts on this blog make that quite clear. In fact some of the posts give the impression that if the authors were somehow deprived of that belief it would induce a tantrum or even breakdown akin to that of a child whose beloved favorite toy has been taken away. That is not to belittle those beliefs let me hasten to add. I have seen first hand how much comfort and strength can be drawn from them in time of extreme personal crisis. But that does not make them true.

    In fact, many believers will attack the theory of evolution on the grounds that the evidence for it is fragmentary at best while clinging to a belief in their God with a grip that no force in the Universe can break in spite of there being no evidence for it at all.

    The question, therefore, is why?

    Is it really because, as has been suggested before, that the alternative – a blind and purposeless Universe that has no special place for humanity, that is utterly indifferent to our existence – is simply intolerable? Have believers here ever practiced the scientific detachment that they preach and tried to imagine how it would be if they were convinced that there was no God?

    I was raised a Christian and gradually became and agnostic/atheist but it would not be an intolerable blow to my self-esteem to find that I have been wrong and that there really is a God. I have the impression that some of the believers here would not find it nearly so easy to move in the other direction.

  25. 25

    Seversky,

    Re post 24:

    Thanks for the assessment. Some criticism: You make it sound as though theists are like little children who need a God to pacify them, and that theism was your belief as a child, but you somehow grew up and out of it.

    Frankly, I don’t see anything in your responses that indicates you had any grounding in sound theological understanding. I say this as a theist who was also once a non-believer.

    You are right that to the believer, God is necessary. This is so not because the believer needs God for emotional stability, but simply because in their understanding of reality, God is necessary. He is a philosophical and logical necessity as much as He is a life-sustaining and aesthetic necessity. Philosophically and logically because there needs to be an unmoved mover (Uncaused cause) for everything that exists, and aesthetically because there do not appear to be any aesthetic rationality behind naturalism. Beauty and joy are coincidences, which are explained by chemical processes in the brain, but not because there truly is something called beauty. I place emotional well-being in the area of aesthetics as well. We are at peace with ourselves because we understand that there is true meaning and purpose to life – not when there is not.

    I’m not a terrific philosopher, and don’t have a degree in this area, so my ability to articulate is somewhat limited. However, I have been a believer for some 30 years, and have spent my life as a Christian developing my understanding of these things. I don’t think I do this out of some sort of emotional need, but out of a need to make sense of life and the world we live in.

    So for me (and I’m not a scientist either), God is necessary. Belief in God is not necessary to do good science – good science gets done all the time without reference to a deity. However, God needs to exist for the enterprise of science to exist. This I think is the point of most of the theists on here. You may not agree with this assessment, but to the theist, God is not simply a concept, but a reality, who sustains all other realities. If science is a real endeavor, then God is real. If God is not real, then there cannot be science as a real endeavor. There are other in-between steps to this conclusion, but I am not the best person here to articulate them.

  26. Seversky,

    I was raised a Christian and gradually became and agnostic/atheist but it would not be an intolerable blow to my self-esteem to find that I have been wrong and that there really is a God. I have the impression that some of the believers here would not find it nearly so easy to move in the other direction.

    Again, another essay from C. S. Lewis to clear things up a bit I hope.

    http://www.philosophicalturn.n.....tinacy.pdf

  27. Seversky, to a believer, losing God would be more akin to losing your best friend rather than anything involving ego or self-esteem. Why would anyone want to lose their best friend?

    Here’s something to think about: should you live your life as though there is or is not a God? A moral judge to whom you must account?

    Here’s something else to think about: The nice thing about ID is that when someone who is an atheists starts mocking a believer implying the evidence is on his side, the believer can gently correct him and point out that the evidence is strongly on the believer’s side.

  28. To tribune7: You are repeating the tired old claim that believers are somehow more moral than non-believers. Do you have any evidence that this is true ? Are the gaols filled with Atheists ?

    There is a whole generation of Irish Catholics that dont agree.

  29. One could argue that these laws are produced by the community of scientists, but I would argue that the fact that the community of scientists agree on these laws indicates that there is a higher source for them, which transcends the community of scientists.

    I think the community of scientists would agree that Hannah Montana is juvenile pap. What was the Higher Source that told us this?

  30. Seversky answers to me(?) and others in 24 that he perceives our belief in God as something of a crutch a favorite toy for a childish mind. However it could also be said that agnosticism/atheism is just a childish and egoistic crutch against responsibility, rationality, love and humility. But as Seversky said: “That is not to belittle those beliefs let me hasten to add.”

    But Seversky’s or my bit sarcastic assertion really doesn’t take us anywhere now does it?

  31. 31

    The more important question is whether we need science to know God.

    There is certainly nothing scientific in the teachings of Jesus. Furthermore, there is precious little in them that is rational. Yet anyone who opens himself will recognize immediately the truths in Jesus’ words. The New Atheists are wrong to criticize this recognition as irrational. Buddhist atheists correctly understand it as a-rational rather than ir-rational. (And the teachings of Jesus are much more like those of Gautama Buddha than those of the Apostle Paul. See Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings.)

    Nietzsche, who hugely admired the teachings of Jesus, was the first to elaborate on the emergence of a sick pastiche of religious and scientific belief. Knowing this helps enormously in interpreting “God is dead, and we have killed him.”

    I know precisely what it is to kill God with science and reason, having done it myself. The process began when adults persuaded me, as an adolescent, that “good” science supported our religious beliefs. In college, I began stripping away beliefs that I could not justify, sure that I would end up with a bright and shining kernel of Absolute Truth. It was a horrendous shock when I realized that I had stripped away everything.

    What had I lost? Having passed through the Dark Night of the Soul, and having spent years seeking courageously the truth that sets me free, I tell people that it was my security blanket. It’s interesting to see Seversky identify it as just that. My arrogant belief that my intellect would enable me to prove to the world that I was right in my religious beliefs was entirely adolescent. Again, Seversky is spot-on. When I tell my family members that they will not get me to return to beliefs that I outgrew, they are of course offended by the implication that they stopped growing prematurely. The offended responses to Seversky have quite a familiar ring for me.

    My present knowledge of my relation to the Absolute is utterly private, and is of a higher order than knowledge that corresponds to consensus of social groups. That is, science is irrelevant to the most important things I know.

    Fuller writes:

    My own view is that if we mean by ’science’ something more than simply the pursuit of instrumental knowledge, then that quest still doesn’t make much sense without the relevant (Abrahamic) theological backdrop.

    My view is that it is spiritually pernicious to regard science as anything but pursuit of instrumental knowledge.

  32. Barb answers to me in 20 by stating

    Given the mathematical impossibility of life beginning by chance, science would be impossible without God (or a designer).

    In my opinion “Paleysian” argument for a designer is weaker than kalam’s cosmological argument, moral argument and many other arguments. If someone doesn’t believe in kalam’s cosmological argument or moral argument she won’t believe in any other argument you can present.

  33. 33

    Sooner Emeritus,

    This is perhaps way off topic, and I apologize in advance, but I had to respond to this:

    “There is certainly nothing scientific in the teachings of Jesus. Furthermore, there is precious little in them that is rational.”

    I’m not going to get into a discussion on religion except to point out the following:

    What is irrational about “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s,”

    or

    “Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the Kingdom of God,”

    or

    “Many will come in my name and say ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many,”

    or

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whosoever believes in him will not parish but have eternal life,”

    or…….. all of the parables, sermons, statements to the disciples and apostles, to the pharisees, and to other officials and acquintances, they are the sayings of a rational, yet extraordinary man. Precious little? I cannot disagree more.

    The gospels are filled with the sayings of Jesus, which, while speaking of spiritual things, are highly rational. It doesn’t take a special initiation in a super spirituality to understand them, because they are rational. And this was one of the main disputes between the more orthodox believers of the 3rd Century and the Gnostics.

    Furthermore, while Paul expounds on things which follow the gospel narratives, there is nothing in Paul’s writings indicating that he is in disagreement with Jesus’ teaching. Paul is in complete harmony with the teachings of Jesus.

  34. To each his own, of course.

    However, from some of the responses on this thread, it does sound very much like an unwitting returned to that which some may have sought to leave behind.

    Common stock pompicity, in a new hat.

    I wonder if the great apes have an issue with humility as well?

  35. Correcttion to #34:

    pompicity = pomposity.

    In any case, the answer to the question “Do we need God to do science” is probably “no”.

    If there is a Creator and we can believe the evidence before us, then it would seem that the Creator did not simply poof a universe into existence. We do not seem to be in a false membrane, one that does not reveal itself if we ask. It seems that there was a beginning, and an unfolding that follows. All of which, or much of which, we can know.

    I am certainly no theologian, but it would seem to me that the God that I am most familiar with (living in the West) does not require us to believe in Him in order to accomplish metabolism – or whatever pursuits we might have while we enjoy it.

    I believe “life” has been referred to as a gift given. Our pursuits are up to us. We would be born, live, and die all the same. We have, as I understand it, been given the responsibility of a choice in belief, not an edict.

    If there is no prerequisite to believe, then it might follow that there is no prerequisite necessary to do science.

    Actually, the question may not be the more practical iteration of “Do we need God to do science?”, but instead, a much more fundamental version: “What do humans seek?” or “Why do they seek it?”

    Trying to cram that question into a material framework is futile. It would be saying that purely material processes can end in a phenomena that is something more than material because it requires something more than material – either a faith that God exist or a faith that He doesn’t.

    Perhaps the flipside of our barter with creation is that we ultimately seek what science itself cannot answer.

    - – - – - -

    In any case, as Dr Fuller and I have discussed before, none of this has anything to do with the science of ID.

  36. Sooner answers to me and others by basically pointing out how he think skepticism in it self is sign of maturity and belief in absolutes (i.e. Christianity) is a sign of immaturity. However I don’t know if he understands that skepticism
    will necessarily and ultimately lead to abandonment of all induction and deduction and thus abandonment of all reason.

    He also points out how God is a “security blanket” for believers. I can only speak for myself on this issue and I have no shame to say that it is.
    It is a security blanket for:

    1. Hope for a meaningful existence

    2. Hope for rational reality

    3. Hope that there is truth to be discovered

    As far as I can see materialism or skepticism offers no hope for individuals or for the entire human race. In the end nobody would remember us and all of our invented hopes and meanings would end up into the abyss.
    I think I have good inductive and deductive reasons to believe that the hope I have is not just wishful thinking but well grounded in reason.

  37. My view is that it is spiritually pernicious to regard science as anything but pursuit of instrumental knowledge.

    Sooner, you are absolutely right.

  38. 38

    Innerbling (36):

    If you were sure of yourself, you would not have to reword and misconstrue my comments. And if you were behaving rationally, you would not irrationally transform my description of how I have made my way through life and make it into a prescription for others. What I see in this is projection of the proselytizing personality onto me.

    Sooner answers to me and others by basically pointing out how he think skepticism in it self is sign of maturity and belief in absolutes (i.e. Christianity) is a sign of immaturity.

    What I actually said was that reason and science do not provide knowledge of the absolute. I indicated that knowledge of the absolute is a-rational. In my personal experience, the “I can prove I’m right” approach to knowledge of God amounts was idolatry of science and reason. I believe that many of the ID-sympathetic are experiencing the same problems that I once did, and I hope that I can get at least one of them to understand, as the owner of this blog does, that science does not prove anything. (If Barry Arrington’s understanding of epistemology and its consequences for science were common in the ID movement, I would have little to say about ID.)

    However I don’t know if he understands that skepticism will necessarily and ultimately lead to abandonment of all induction and deduction and thus abandonment of all reason.

    Thirty years ago, I often said that a thoroughgoing negation negates itself. That is not a defense of reason. I am faced with existence, and must make decisions without rational justification.

    He also points out how God is a “security blanket” for believers.

    Hardly. I would appreciate it if you read more carefully. I said that the beliefs that adults programmed into me as a child were no more than a security blanket. I do believe in God the Creator, and I know that what grownups told me justified that belief was utterly inadequate. The difference between them and me was that I followed their way of reason courageously. When it took me into the abyss, I did not lapse into denial.

    I can only speak for myself on this issue and I have no shame to say that it is.
    It is a security blanket for:

    1. Hope for a meaningful existence

    2. Hope for rational reality

    3. Hope that there is truth to be discovered

    As far as I can see materialism or skepticism offers no hope for individuals or for the entire human race. In the end nobody would remember us and all of our invented hopes and meanings would end up into the abyss.

    Why are you trying to tag me with philosophical materialism? Why do you care about being remembered?

    I hope that you 1) mean, 2) reason when appropriate, and 3) explore the Kingdom of Heaven within you. Of course, unless you change and become like a little child, you will not enter into the Kingdom.

  39. 39

    Upright BiPed:

    We do not seem to be in a false membrane, one that does not reveal itself if we ask. It seems that there was a beginning, and an unfolding that follows.

    Neither the seeming of reality nor the possibility that the seeming is illusion can be denied. In science, we make assumptions and follow through.

  40. “Neither the seeming of reality nor the possibility that the seeming is illusion can be denied”.

    Denial of possibilities is hardly an issue. If this comment says anything meaningful inside this universe, it’s surely more about torturing rational thought than rationale thought itself. Why bother to think anything at all?

    “In science, we make assumptions and follow through”.

    Thank you for that brilliant clarification.

    I now wonder why in science we should place assumptions prior to evidence which are themselves based upon non-falsifiable non-scientific conclusions – particularily when we don’t have to.

    My modest 30 years experience as a research director leads me to conclude that this is ass backwards in structure, and with little or no effort at all, it builds an echo chamber where one can quickly forget that the fondness for unneccesary assumptions is under full assault by the evidence.

  41. “In my opinion “Paleysian” argument for a designer is weaker than kalam’s cosmological argument, moral argument and many other arguments. If someone doesn’t believe in kalam’s cosmological argument or moral argument she won’t believe in any other argument you present.”

    If they don’t believe in the arguments, that’s fine by me. But then they have to explain why they don’t believe in them.

    Behe correctly stated once that nobody had ever disproven Paley’s argument; they just ignored it in favor of undirected, mindless processes like evolution.

  42. Response to sooner in 38 and further comments about Seversky’s earlier post.
    First of all I am sorry for lumping you with the skeptics and materialists i.e. the people of “critical thinking” who criticize other peoples worldviews without providing any rational justification for their own.
    For this “critical thinking crowd” it’s trendy to make blanket statements like this: “…clinging to a belief in their God with a grip that no force in the Universe can break in spite of there being no evidence for it at all” with a closer look if Seversky is speaking about truth value of God’s existence the sentence translates approximately to “there is no evidence for rationality why do these people still cling to it?”.
    It seemed to me that you agreed with that statement but apparently I was wrong and you agreed with second meaning which is:
    Truth value of someones idea of God.
    I do as well agree with the second meaning in a sense that the idea of a god that we hold in in our minds is at best approximation of who God truly is.

    Its indeed foolish to cling to an idea of a god because it usually as was/is in my case is something of abomination of God.
    In our lifetime we can perhaps get closer approximations but they only remain as approximations.

    If I would however stop believing or “clinging” in the truth value of God’s existence I would immediately end up in the bottom of abyss where no rationality is possible.

    I have some problems with your concept of arational sentences, words or things and find the idea to be quite meaningless. Perhaps you could clarify the meaning of arational sentence?

    Let me illustrate my problem with arational things. In my worldview the sentence “I love you” is rational wherein in materialism it is irrational.
    That is because we can assign truth value to each word and see if they are consistent with each worldview. In materialistic worldview “I love you” should be something like “self-replicators chemical reaction caused by sensory perception” or perhaps a mathematical equation which shows how matter is moving in the brain. Meaning that the truth value of the word “love” in materialism is false i.e. love doesn’t exists. For each sentence and parable in the Bible I can assign a truth value which is dependent on my worldview so for me there is really no need to take arational stance.

    But lovely valentine or chemical reactions. :D

  43. Barb answers to me in 41:

    If they don’t believe in the arguments, that’s fine by me. But then they have to explain why they don’t believe in them.

    If I was a materialist I could always say that the reality is irrational and inherently incoherent which is basically what some atheist are saying when they are backed into a corner in a debate and have to say for example how things got started in a finite universe. More specifically statement “reality came from nothing caused by nothing.” is appeal to irrational reality.

  44. Barb @ 41

    If they don’t believe in the arguments, that’s fine by me. But then they have to explain why they don’t believe in them.

    Behe correctly stated once that nobody had ever disproven Paley’s argument; they just ignored it in favor of undirected, mindless processes like evolution.

    If Behe did state something like that then he really should have known better.

    The burden of proof requires that whovever makes a claim, if they want to persuade an audience that it is true, should provide the arguments and evidence to support it. In other words, in Paley’s case, it was his responsibility to provide evidence not for opponents to try and disprove it. This parallels the situation in the criminal courts where it is for the prosecution to prove their case. The defendant does not have to say or do anything if he or she so chooses since their innocence is the initial presumption.

    In fact, as Richard Dawkins concedes in The Blind Watchmaker, the case argued by William Paley in his Natural Theology was so persuasive that it was almost the default position at that time. It was not until Darwin published his theory in 1859 that an even more persuasive and intellectually-satisfying alternative became available.

    Darwin’s work and that of all the other scientists before and since have revealed a Universe of unimaginable size and complexity. So far, science has been able to construct coherent naturalistic explanations of at least some of what we observe without having to invoke the concept of a god. And the rationality of those explanations stands regardless of whether or not there is a theory of origins.

    The fact is no one has a satisfactory theory of origins. There are no physical theories which describe what happened at the moment of the Big Bang or what initiated it. But simply saying “God did it” doesn’t tell us any more. We seemed to be faced with either accepting an infinite regress of the chain of cause and effect or with arbitrarily cutting it short by fiat, by saying that at this point there is the uncaused first cause or God. Neither answer is particularly satisfying although, as an atheistic materialist, I have to concede that there is no reason to expect that the Universe would be arranged for my personal convenience.

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