Science and Religion

A Conversation With Rodney

Hi all—I am quite busy today and will not have time to write a post.  However, I invite you all to a discussion.  Months ago I wrote a post called Can’t You Atheists Keep Your Opinions to Yourself?  No I Cannot.  This post still receives several hundred reads per day and occasionally people still leave comments.  Yesterday and this morning a fellow named Rodney left a few comments that are worth discussing.  I feel his comment is worth addressing, as a separate post because his points are ones that I often encounter when discussing science and religion with theists.  I responded briefly to his first comment, but honestly do not have time right now to get into greater detail.  I am going to post the exchange we have had so far.  I invite you all to discuss.  To Rodney—I will make my best effort to try and respond as well tonight.

Rodney: The unfortunate circumstance — to no fault of your own — is that the only religions an atheist like yourself can use or have really experienced are your garden variety Western religions/applications. Which, to say the least, are highly unphilosophical, obnoxiously dogmatic, and dramatically sentimental. There are definitely a few points I would have to disagree with in your statements/opinions which are not philosophical arguments for the existence or non-existence of God. However, for the sake of time, I will just stick with number two. Science is just as faith-based as religion — if not more because they claim to be based on facts. And the fact of the matter is, there are so many things that Science claims to know, and because the faith in Science has become so strong that they are no longer able to see past their blind spots. Science only makes theories, and the process by which a theory is proven is to disprove all opposing theories. However, it never is actually is able to prove the main theory that is in place factually using the very method they claim religions don’t acquire knowledge. The “scientific” method is to formulate a question, hypothesis, prediction, TEST, RESULT. How many of these so called scientific facts (evolution, abiogensis, big bang, etc.) have actually been proven by a repeatable experiment in a laboratory. The answer is absolutely 100% zero. Science says they can create life from matter. How many times has that happened? 100% zero. However, everything a scientist beliefs in is fact and not based on faith.

So then you ask the sincere honest question, well how does that prove a God or Intelligent Designer? It completely doesn’t, but that is not what I am arguing to prove. That would be a different discussion. I merely want people to see that Science does not have it figured out, and garden variety Western religions are merely sentimentalist philosophies to make people feel good. Btw, just in case you were wondering what the definition of a theory was: A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be…: “Darwin’s theory of evolution”

I could go on and on, however, I think that you should take time to reflect, and not be a garden variety Atheist with no philosophical understanding of empiricism, atheism, or naturalism. And then, go on to understand the limitations of holding such views. Because in a very big way, atheism today and so -called scientists are just as philosophically diminished and sentimental as the religions they argue against.

Me: Rodney—I find your comment quite interesting and to be honest, typical apologetic styled silliness. First you patronize me pretty well with the ‘unfortunate circumstances, no fault of my own” stuff, then proceed to be pedantic and condescending throughout the rest of your comment. It is typical, but not going to work here, particularly when you are either dishonest in your statements or clueless as to what you are talking about. Your statement about atheists “like me” only having a use for Western religions is pure nonsense. I dislike all religion, but write mostly on the religion that is dominant in my country–Christianity. In no way does that fact imply that I dislike them any more than I dislike some Eastern religions. Further your selecting the word “use” is quite interesting, and even implies something sinister. Probably, through “no fault of your own” of course….see how nasty that little phrase can be?

Your treatment of science is what most concerns me. You either have no idea how science works or are dishonest in your presentation of it. To even write the phrase, “science is just as faith-based as relgion–if not more…” is perhaps the most ignorant statement that has been left on this blog. However, it is a common argument among the seasoned apologist. You go on to give a nonsensical justification for that statement full of logical fallacies, and then use the absurd statement, “science only makes theories”. Again you either do not know what a scientific theory entails or are are misrepresenting it. You then interject some god stuff into the middle and a foolish attempt to justify your previous statement on theories. You then mostly accurately quote, probably from a dictionary, part of the real definition of a scientific theory. Very interesting and either quite ignorant of your own mistake or quite a devious and quick slight of hand apologetic trick. You create a straw man version of science, attack it to shreds (which is fine because your portrayal of it in no reflects how science works), then you come in at the end and imply two things a) that I do not know what I am talking about and b) a fairly comprehensive definition of a theory, but you leave out the fact that once something is at the level of a theory, it is basically factual. It can and must make predictions.

Lastly, you go back to the patronizing nonsense. In short Rodney, I think–though cannot prove, that you just wrote a comment that would make the likes of William Lane Craig or Lee Strobel proud. It sounded intelligent, sounded sincere, but really was nothing more than a dishonest slight of hand trick to discredit atheism and science in one fell swoop. That won’t work here.

Rodney: I apologize. You are right my statement was very condescending. My intent is not to completely discredit science or atheism, but merely to express the limitations of holding such philosophies in an absolute way. My sentiment is that Science has become a very broad overarching term that has come to incapsulate all reason or reasoning, therefore; everything a Scientist has said is somehow conclusively proven or should be believed with an extremely high regard while anything a religious person (not your garden-variety Christians or confused Catholics) says, is completely false and faith-based. There is a lot of faith that exists within a Scientific philosophy as well, and really just to live life in general. This is not apologetics. This is fact. And to quote the godfather of naturalism/athiesm himself.
“With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” – Charles Darwin

Therefore, with that said, please conclusively show me a few things that would make me a complete naturalistic athiest and resolve my doubts.
1. Show me an instance where Science has created life (consciousness) from chemicals.
2. Show me conclusively proof for macroevolution and how it started with a single-celled organism and evolved to the very beings that we are today
3. Show me the principle of falsifiability for a natuarlistic philosophy
My personal belief is that since Science claims to have it all figured out, atleast to the extent that they feel the neccessity to discredit any sort of notion of God (this is different than religion or practical application), these questions should be easy. Otherwise, my contention is that if you can not answer these questions, then you hold a philosophy about the origins of these things that are just contenders to make sense of natural world.

Please have a great discussion while I am tied up today/tonight.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-John

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3 thoughts on “Science and Religion

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    What Rodney appears to be doing is arguing a variation on the "god of the gaps" business. Now I'm an engineer, not a biologist, so I haven't a whole lot of expertise in this arena, but I can say this:

    Micro-evolution has (to my knowledge) been demonstrated. If I am not mistaken, it is a common phenomenon, occurring in nature and used in the laboratory to develop and manipulate a given strain of cells, viruses, and so on. The difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution is TIME. In the case of the latter, the time scale is on the order of tens, or hundreds of millions of years, if not billions. If laboratory experiments cannot replicate this process (I personally haven't quite THAT much patience!), then we can see it in the fossil record, possibly in DNA traces of a given family of animals as they evolve. Again, this is not my field and what I'm reporting is more anecdotal from my point of view than it is based on any specific knowledge I may have. It may be that there is a reader of this blog who is more informed on this topic and can fill in the details.

    As an electrical engineer and a troubleshooter, though, I am insulted with the idea that I EVER take any of the learning I employ on a daily basis on "faith." As I have stated elsewhere in comments to this blog, if I TRUST the principles brought forward by Ohm and Faraday and Oersted and Volta, it's because they have been tested and confirmed so many times as to be virtually beyond question. I say "virtually" because, as the saying goes: "For every rule, there is an exception … and for every exception, a rule." As an example, Newtonian kinematic physics work just fine … until you accelerate to an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, and relativistic effects must be taken into account. I shouldn't be at all surprised that a biologist could cite a similar example from his field.

    The point is that scientific discipline is a constant, whether you want to talk about magnetism or mitochondria. That same rigor is applied, MUST be applied if we are to treat what we learn from science as reliable. To say that we depend on faith is to gloss over a process which struggles mightily to take a new hypothesis and DEMOLISH it when it is first presented, to be certain of its verity. And when that process fails, then we have learned something new.

    Science and faith remain antithetical to each other … period.

    Reply
  2. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

    I want to know where you are going with this Rodney? You mentioned that "this is not apologetics" but that is exactly what it is. Problems I see with your comment:
    a) not everything a scientist states is factual, and no one claims it is (that is a red herring argument),
    b) religion is faith-based as there is no evidence for any religious claim (It's your burden of proof to present that here if you disagree)
    c) Science involves absolutely zero faith. Faith is belief without evidence. Science discards hypotheses or claims "we don't know" when it lacks evidence. It does not hold things to be true when there is a lack of evidence. Faith is the opposite of science.
    d) your three questions are typical for apologists and are absurd (note I am referring to the common questions here and not to you) by their nature.

    1) Who cares? If you think god did it, you must prove that. I (or anyone else) need not prove how it was done. That is just a god-of-the-gaps fallacy and argument from ignorance fallacy The god-concept does not win by default, but like all other hypotheses must be proven. So far there is zero evidence for it. One could be completely ignorant of what abiogenesis even means, and still be atheist.
    2) There is no such thing as micro or macro evolution. There is just evolution. The terms micro and macro were adopted by creationists. You will not find a non-creationist biologist using them, nor will you find those terms in any scientific literature…thus the question makes no sense. However, I do know what you mean by it. The evidence for how evolution works is available, by the bookshelf, at your local non-Christian book store or library.
    3)Natural philosophy has been dead for quite some time. It was the precursor to modern science. How does that even fit into this discussion? Also, I assume you aren't asking how modern science is falsifiable.
    e) science in no way, shape, or form, has claimed to have it all figured out. In fact, they aren't even done asking questions, let alone claiming to have all the answers. (straw man fallacy)
    f) the god idea is not taken seriously because there is no evidence for it. None, zip, zero.
    g) your questions aren't even worth taking seriously, let alone a reason for you to claim a victory if they are unanswerable. They don't even make sense.

    My recent post Catholic Health Initiatives Fetus Hypocrisy

    Reply
    1. Rodney Bowles from Long Beach, CA, United States

      1) I agree that because Science has absolutely no idea what consciousness (the essence/origin of life), which just so happens to be what we are arguing about, that it does not mean God did it. You just seem so confident that Science does know, and that God is 100% wrong. I can give you a process by which to understand and experience God. Just like you can give me a process by which to mix two gases together and create a liquid. The question is whether or not you will try the experiment.

      2) I just find it so odd that when I say evolution is not a fact that I always get shoved down my throat that it is. It is has not been proven. However, again, you will say well there is enough evidence that it might as well be a fact. It is either fact or not a fact. It is a fact that the earth goes around the sun. This is observable, testable, measurable, repeatable, and the works. This is Scientific. Evolution over any sort of long period has not been proven. Period.

      3) I guess I don't really understand the goal of science. I mean I guess it is to figure out the natural world, but some how a Scientist in a heart beat with vigilantly argue for the non-existence of God. It's improbable! It's impossible! Yet somehow with in all their reasoning, and so-called lack of understanding, they will firmly stand on the grounds that they know 100% their is no such thing, being, or otherwise, greater than the humans ability to perceive and understand this world. And its just ironic to me, that if you are going to write off 90% of the population or more that believe/experience God (which I know you are going to say is a fallacy, and provides no proof), and then say that they are all wrong. Quite honestly, your philosophy has provided no more answers to the origins of life than you assume religions have. Out of sincere curiosity, I just wonder why you have so much "Faith" in Science. When I ask about evolution, the excuse is time. When I ask about consciousness, you say it doesn't matter or it has just yet to be figured out. That sounds like faith, there is absolutely 100% no evidence that consciousness comes from matter. They have never even got remotely close to producing anything that looks life. But somehow, your thought is rational, and my completely factual observation is based on faith…. How does that work?

      Ultimately, people do experience God on a daily basis. And although I truly do believe that God is horribly abused to justify peoples materialist purposes. For people that are seeking to truly understand or have any spiritual depth/realization in this world, those understandings are there and you can see the bi-product of such realization in their actions. I also agree, the horrible atrocities that have happened in history because of materialist religion is horrible, but I think no more horrible than the atrocities that have happened because of racism, sexism, classism, nuclear weapons, oil, and the list goes on and on. How does religion some how get the blame for all this and people just being idiots gets none? My personal philosophy is that an idiot is an idiot no matter what veil they cloak themselves with, and just like any power, irresponsible greedy people will abuse things for their own self-interest. That is not God or a religious problem, that is about 6 billion individual problems.

      Lastly, to your first point about faith. I know countless scientific theories that are taught as fact until they are once disproven. That is the Scientific way of things now-a-days. If tomorrow someone discovered that evolution was 100% wrong, you would be getting on the blog speaking about some new process with no remorse. I think the confidence that science has is in their realizations up until that point is a little overkill especially when Science obviously has an unlimited ocean of things they have yet to figured out. When Science doesn't know, they don't say they don't know. They say they are extremely close, and some how that is factually valid.

      I challenge you though…what would you constitute proof for God. And if given that proof: 1. Would it be good enough 2. Do you think proof merits a qualified audience?

      Reply

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