Category Archives: Science

Is There REALLY No Evidence for God?

I know every atheist reader is simply going to say “YES” when they read my title and move on.  So be it.  For those of you still here, I think that Seth Dillon of Logical Faith sums things up nicely:

Atheists . . . have adopted a naturalistic worldview, which means they believe that every event, no matter how supernatural or miraculous it may seem, can be explained without appeal to the supernatural. Thus their disbelief is not the result of a lack of evidence that God exists, but of a philosophy which, from the outset, denies the possibility of any such evidence. In other words, they’re bringing a ready-made conclusion to the evidence, rather than drawing a conclusion from it. Such backward thinking is begging the question, and is neither reasonable nor scientific.

Despite what atheists would have you believe, Christianity is a self-proclaimed evidence-based faith, with Jesus being the supreme piece of evidence.

Keep Reading Seth’s Excellent Post >>>

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And Now the Double Standard

Tuesday, I posted that truth is not relative.  Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.

I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false.  At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it.  I posted the reply on Wednesday.

Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.”  Our knowledge base is growing rapidly, and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.

Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data.  We expect to revise theories as more data become available.  With that in mind, those five points I made become simplistic and silly.

Now then, why does that create a double standard for theists?

Because our critics expect us to be right from the outset and never change.  However, when I criticize science for reversing itself, I’m rightly called ignorant.  I’m making an overly simplistic statement that totally misses the mark.

By the same token, as more information becomes available, people revise their opinions and theologies.

For example, despite Matthew Bellasario’s bellowing, the early church did not accord Mary the special place that Catholic theology does.  They brought Mary into their liturgies because they felt that she deserved a place on account of her role in Jesus’ life, which eventually evolved to a Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces role.  Catholics pay her hyper-dulia, a high accord indeed (higher than the saints, but lower than God).

One can even see evolving theology in the New Testament.  The letter to the Hebrews was likely the latest document prepared, and it is rich in theology.  The Gospel of John was the last of the Gospels and (again) it is rich in theology not present in the earlier Gospels.  We can deduce John’s theology from the earlier Gospels and Paul’s letters, but it isn’t codified in either.

The Trinity was codified in the Athanasian Creed, the third of the three ecumenical creeds generally agreed upon by all Christians.  We see an evolution in the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and finally the Athanasian Creed — each becomes more intricate as we gain greater insight and understanding.

Why, according to the critic, must all Christian belief be found all at once and never change; a progressive evolution indicates falsehood?  I don’t discount science as false merely because scientists revise their findings later.  Therefore, theology shouldn’t be discounted as false merely because we have revised it as time went on.  All of the revisions were made for good reasons, like the revisions to various scientific theories.

One thing hasn’t changed: Salvation by the grace of God, effected by our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant: we all unite under that banner.

And now you may comment on the entire series.

Why Yesterday’s Post Was (Only Partly) WRONG

I meant to post this a couple of hours ago, but life sometimes gets in the way.  I had a lot of work to do around the house.

Yesterday, I posted that truth is not relative.  Truth is truth, and if it’s the truth, it isn’t going to go back and reverse itself, as science so often does.

I spotlighted 5 things I was taught in elementary school science class as irrefutable fact, all of which are now considered false.  So much for irrefutable scientific fact, right?

At the end of the post, I stated that I already knew the reply to this and I agreed with it.  So let’s discuss that reply.

Science is great at discerning cause-and-effect, but I’m not so sure that I’d classify the findings as “irrefutable truth.”  Ever.  Which means that we are going to expect to find things we previously established through the scientific method to be false, because we might not have the entire picture.

It means our knowledge base is growing — more rapidly now than ever before — and so we will find out that we occasionally missed the mark with previously held scientific theories.

When a new CEO walks into a company, he can’t find everything out about everything in the company before he starts making decisions and changing the company around.  At best, he will make decisions with 70% of the data he needs.

Considering the vastness of the universe, the average scientist is likely formulating theories with 10% of the necessary data.

So that science is wrong isn’t a problem.  We expect to revise theories as more data become available.

With that in mind, those specific points I made become simplistic and silly.

Nothing ever suggested that the speed of light was the maximum attainable speed.  It looked that way for a long time.  Though we were confident in that conclusion, the universe is still quite mysterious to us and therefore finding something that moves faster than light should be exciting rather than garnering an “I told you so.”

If it’s possible to break the light barrier, then interstellar travel becomes a distinct possibility, and that would be cool.

The senses by which we perceive the world are varied, and scientists don’t officially agree on how many we have.  The do agree on the core five of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.  So it’s too simple to just say, “I learned about five senses, now there’s more?  Scientists are wrong!”  It’s more along the lines of discovering new ways we perceive the world.  Again, excitement and wonder should be the response, not “I told you so.”

Similarly, “planet” is a category that was never defined.  Now it is.  Pluto is no longer a planet and four asteroids are no longer asteroids because of semantics.  Changing these definitions was necessary because the solar system is far more complex than we thought it was.  After all, it’s weird to have moons larger than Mercury and asteroids roughly comparable to Pluto.  Even Pluto’s own moon is roughly the same size as its parent.

Revised definitions help keep things more consistent.

The brain is more complex than a Cray supercomputer and is far more compact.  It’s faster with its computations and it controls the body so seamlessly we barely know it’s there.

So it was overly simplistic of the scientists to ever postulate that the left hemisphere is cold logic and the right hemisphere is creativity.

Finally, I have no idea where that taste bud diagram ever came from.  I knew that was false the first time I saw it, because I tried liking an ice cream cone with different parts of the tongue.  I tasted it just fine.  For some reason, my teachers all tried to defend the diagram, but I think privately every student in that room knew better.

Revising conclusions in the face of new data is a staple of science, and I agree it is a valid reply to my over-simplified statements yesterday.  However, this is a serious double standard toward theism, and tomorrow I will explain why.  Then, you will be able to comment!

On Science and Being Called Ignorant

For the record, I love science and I excelled in it at school.  I took some of the advanced classes — microbiology and anatomy & phisiology.  I couldn’t get into the marine biology or genetics optional courses that only the top 1% of science whizzes get into, unfortunately.  In other words, I’m not ignorant of science so please stop saying I am.

— Cory Tucholski

5 Truths I Learned in Science Class that are Now WRONG

Truth corresponds to reality.  This means that truth doesn’t change.  If it was true in 4000 b.c., it is still true now.

Atheists frequently insist that only science can discover the truth.

If truth is truth, then that means if a truth is uncovered by science, then it’s always true, right?

Nope.

Allow me to present 5 truths taught to me in grade school science class that have been proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry

Clearest Example of the Unforgivable Sin

On this very blog, we have a clear example of the Unforgivable Sin.  In fact, the clearest ever offered here.  Alex said this:

It needs to be mentioned that the definition of nature is what science can measure and the reason we call your god’s being and doings supernatural is that when we measure, there is no god there, only natural explanations such as physics and chemistry. (source)

The Unforgivable Sin, from Mark 3:22-30 or Matthew 12:22-32, is the denial of the Spirit moving in our world.  It is through the movement of the Spirit that we can see evidence of God acting in our world.

So, a little context.  I deny the categories of natural and supernatural.  Alex is saying that when we measure the doings of God, we find no God, just natural movements.

The first problem is that our instruments aren’t going to measure or detect God, who exists outside of the time and space we know how to measure.  Instead, what we’re going to see are the effects that God creates, which are accomplished by the Holy Spirit.  This is the evidence of God.

Denying that what we have seen is the movement of the Spirit is the Unforgivable Sin.

For example, Alex looks at biochemistry.  The amazing complexity and well-oiled interactions of the various systems of our bodies, the ability of our bodies to obtain the raw ingredients our cells need to produce energy in the foods we eat and the drinks we consume all bear evident marks of design.  The well-defined stages of growth humans go through, the inherent curiosity to learn and flourish, shared ability to define morality, to know what is is not what ought to be; these are the hallmarks of a being who can impart these things to us.

Alex, however, looks a this design and says, “Nah, random mutation acted on by natural selection — not a personal, intelligent force — created this.”

And that, my friends, is the Unforgivable Sin in a nutshell.  The Pharisees saw the work of the Spirit in Christ as he drove out demons and cured disease, and they attributed it to Satan.  Alex sees the work of God in chemistry and biology and attributes it to chance and natural laws.  Both deny the Spirit’s efficacy, and both have severe eternal consequences.

Comment Round-up! (part 2)

The second part where I reply to Doc’s comments is much shorter.  Only two comments remain, and they aren’t as long as the previous.

Context: Doc echoes some sentiments from Alex in my much-derided post on methodological naturalism vs. metaphysical naturalism.  Alex had previously stated:

the implications for just how loud and clear your god’s message in the bible really is, needing an army of theologians to explain and ponder and postulate and theorize and channel and project and often just make up stuff in order to make sense of the bible

Now, to Doc’s comment:

Exactly this. What kind of God would rely on an ancient text that he knows (if he is truly omniscient) will be doubted, misinterpreted, and only followed properly by a fraction of believers (since only one religion, or none, would be right; whichever one follows his exact message exactly as he intended) and argued for centuries by people who clai to know the truth and disagree among each other on the message’s details?

This would either be a sadistic god (sending to hell all those who innocently believe in a different interpretation of his message) or an incompetent god (relying on an unsuccessful game plan if he wants to keep believers).

Of course, the easy answer is that it’s all BS.

Nope.  It’s not BS.  But I hardly think that disagreement on exact interpretations qualifies all of Christianity as BS.  Scientists often disagree and debate, sometimes for decades.  Does that mean science is BS?

Nope, and neither is theology.  At the end of the day, God’s grace alone saves you, which is actuated by your faith.  The denomination of Christianity matters little, I think.  Knowledge of the person of Jesus may not even be necessary, so long as you make that step in faith with enough knowledge of God (and that is easier to come by then you guys like to think; see Rom 1:19-20, 10:5-21).

C. Michael Patton has some thoughts on that topic as well.

A few comments down, he makes the following statement:

You make a charge and then back off from it when I call you out on it.

You KNOW I was focusing on how you said, ” Evolutionists, the honest ones, admit that evolution only explains what happens to life when it’s already here. ”

You are implying here that Evolution is used as a way to cover up the question of the origin of life, and the *honest* ones will “admit” that it doesn’t.

This is loaded language, and by backing off of it and saying, “Oh I was just saying that evolution does not explain the origin of life, that’s all!” Is being purposely dishonest.

I used the “gravity” example to illustrate that it’s not “admitting” something. It’s not claiming it to begin with. Nobody “admits” that evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life in the same way nobody “admits” that evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life; they don’t need to, because that’s not what evolution is about. You plainly did not see the analogy I was making and replied with the snarky, “Um, good for them?” Because it went right over your head.

And during this retreat from the loaded statement you made, you actually have the nerve to try to play it off like *I’m* the one who lacked understanding of what you were saying.

No wonder you people are less respected every day.

One potential explanation for the origin of life is that it was gradually assembled from single molecules, then diatoms, then … etc.  Eventually, an entire cell (a bacterium, most likely) was the result.  These cells eventually began to specialize, and thus formed more complex organisms.  This gradual assembly of life from molecule up to a cell, and then diversifying from there is an extrapolation of evolutionary theory.

Now, this explanation for the origin of life probably isn’t a very good one.  But, the fact remains that some scientists regard evolution as capable of explaining the origin of life.  However, most do not.  So I will admit my use of “admit” wasn’t the best choice, since that particular theory isn’t in wide acceptance among evolutionary scientists.  However, I was not wrong to imply that evolutionary theory could attempt to explain the origin of life.

That concludes us for now.  I have some great posts in the draft stage, so don’t go too far!

Comment Round-up! (part 1)

I’ve decided to respond to all comments from the user styled “Doc” in this post because I’ve taken so long to get to answering them that my 30 day window is drastically narrow.  With this, Doc has another 30 days to reply (should he choose to do that).

First up, my post on fallacious arguments for homosexuality, here’s Doc’s reply to my previous comment:

“Since we’re on this topic, let me ask you a question that I promised myself I would ask the next idiot that said homosexuality is okay because animals do it: ”

I didn’t say that. I asked you if “done in nature” is your definition of “natural.” If it is, then “It’s unnatural” doesn’t hold up, since it is done in nature. Of course, like a typical theist, you twist that into, “If animals do X, it’s okay for humans to do X,” because you’re a theist, and logic is hard.

So, no answer forthcoming.

“There’s no broad definition of natural that’s going to work for everything.

No, you can’t run away from your own charge. You say homosexuality is wrong because it’s unnatural. In order to make this claim, you must define what you mean by unnatural.

It’s true, though: there isn’t a broad definition that’s going to work for everything.  As I apply below, common sense is going to have to apply.  Unfortunately, I gave an answer that a utilitarian would be proud of, and I think that school of thought is totally bogus.  Which means that we’re going to have to refine things a bit. Read the rest of this entry

More Philosophical Ignorance

Knowledge of all types takes time and effort to understand.  More than that, it helps to take a moment to study epistemology to understand why we believe what we believe.

And if people had a basic understanding of epistemology, then stuff like this could be avoided:

I’ve discussed Monica’s ignorance before (on both tweets and longer posts 1 | 2| 3).  We have some more ignorance right here, and more proof that it is not substance that brings you followers and friends.  Having good traffic ratings, subscribers, fans, friends, and followers is a reflection of marketing skill.

Now, on with the real point of this post: Monica fails to make two important distinctions, and that is why her tweet fails.  The first distinction is between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism.  This is a mistake most atheists make.  The second is a distinction between what science is best equipped to answer, and what metaphysics is best equipped to answer.  Of course, making the first mistake means that she won’t even consider metaphysics as a way to answer anything, so the second mistake is inevitable.

Methodological naturalism means the scientist carries a presumption that an effect will have a cause within the system it appears.  For example, if I win the  lottery, I assume that I was just the lucky recipient of a fortunate combination of statistical laws and probability–someone had to win, right?  I don’t assume that God granted me the money, though (to qualify) I would seek his will in what I did with the money.  Others, however, don’t make the same assumptions.

Metaphysical naturalism is a bit contradictory.  The metaphysical naturalist doesn’t believe in anything outside the system.  In other words, the system is all that there is, so all causes by definition will be found in the system.  Metaphysical naturalism is contradictory because it denies metaphysics, while remaining a valid metaphysical position.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can see why this is so ignorant.  The subjects Monica mentions provide real knowledge on how something occurs.  Evolution demonstrates how life changes over the years.  Astronomy provides insight into the motion of stars and planets.

None of these, however, provide an answer to why these things occur.  Evolutionists, the honest ones, admit that evolution only explains what happens to life when it’s already here.  It never speculates on an origin.

Astronomy can chart a star’s motion through the sky and provide us with an understanding of the size of the universe and our general location in it, but it can’t tell us where any of it came from.

That brings us to the second, and related mistake.  Science answers how, which is why the scientist must necessarily be a methodological naturalist.  A metaphysical naturalist precludes even asking why something is, because there is no why by definition.  The first scientists were Christians, and were not scientists despite being Christians as is so often claimed.  They were scientists because they were Christians–they wanted to figure out how the world worked, figuring (correctly) that religion has already established why.  Indeed, only theology is capable of establishing why.

 

Good Reading Skills

Over at Jennifer Fulwiler’s NCR blog, we have an atheist who styles himself Duke York that has demonstrated his extremely careful and meticulous reading skills when he says this:

You don’t really think about your beliefs; you just assert them as a tribal marker. If you claim to believe these ridiculos things, you have the safety of being in a majority and license to condemn an out-group (atheists now, although you Catholics got plenty of mileage against the Jews. How did that work out again?.)

Since it’s Jen’s blog, then I assume he’s addressing her directly. This is absolutely laughable.  Asserting that Jen doesn’t think deeply about her beliefs can only mean one thing: York read the article, but never tried to figure out who wrote it.

This is laughable for one reason: Jen used to be an atheist!  She has written about how she thought through the issues and realized that belief in God is warranted and rational.  Evidence and logic brought her to that conclusion! (summary of that journey)

But, you can’t tell the Duke anything about Christians.  When people in the thread sarcastically find it amazing that Duke knows exactly what they think, he replies:

I know what you think because you’re a Christian. If you’re a Catholic, you literally have no choice about what you believe. That choice would make you a heretic, which, after all, comes from the Greek for “choice”. If you’re choosing, you’re doing it wrong.

In other words, “I’ve made up my mind and I’m not listening anymore.”  Can’t argue with that.  Fortunately, as has been proven again and again, my atheist readers aren’t this close-minded and ignorant.  Thank God for that.

Question: Why do some atheists think that by virtue of being an ex-Christian they know everything about Christianity, Christian thought, and orthodox theology? I’m an ex-Catholic, and though I know quite a bit about Catholic theology, I’d never claim that I know everything.  There’s quite a bit I don’t know, and I’m willing to learn (I have a few hardcore Catholic friends on Facebook that help me learn; thank you Sean Hutton and Ross Earl Hoffman!).

But certain atheists are unwilling to learn about Christian thought and theology.  They know what they know, and what they know is “right.”  When the Christian points out where the atheist is mistaken, the atheist just puffs his chest out and asserts that the Christian is wrong–without explaining why.

When I used to be an assistant manager at Burger King, customers would occasionally lecture me on BK policies and procedures.  Usually when they didn’t like whatever had just happened.  The customer’s “expertise” on BK derived from working at a BK in a different state for six months–20 years ago.  He would have a shallow grasp of procedures at best, and based on his current age, would have been 15 at the time of employment. I seriously doubt he cared a lick about learning BK policies in the first place.  In other words, he wouldn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

It’s the same thing here.  Atheists who are ex-Christians usually had a shallow understanding of Christian issues to begin with, but as far as they’re concerned this flawed understanding is right while my deeper and more studied application of Christian thought is wrong.  If I say otherwise, they yell some random logical fallacy at me (which never applies, by the way: and the top 3 are ad hominem, special pleading, and no true Scotsman) and I never hear from them again.