You should at least be an agnostic

Posted: October 6, 2009 by Daniel in Uncategorized

I appreciated these points by Roberta Kwan. Atheists have no legitimate right to lay claims on any scientific evidence as proof of no God:

1. Modern science developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from Christian convictions.In particular, science arose from the belief, grounded in the Bible, that God is orderly, rational and trustworthy, and that his creation reflects his character. It is this belief that opened the way for the experimental, systematic study of God’s natural world, primarily by Christians, called ‘science’.

2. It is possible to be a respected scientist and a Christian. Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, John Polkinghorne and Francis Collins are prominent examples from today and yesteryear.

3. By definition, the study of the supernatural is not an activity of science (which is the study of the mechanisms of the natural world). It’s not the task of science to prove or disprove the existence of the supernatural.

4. Atheism is not the inevitable conclusion of evolutionary theory. The theory of evolution does not discredit or destroy belief in God and, specifically, Christianity. (Indeed, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, Christianity stands on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and will only be destroyed if it is proved that Jesus did not rise from the dead. ‘… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.’ (1 Corinthians 15:17))

5. Atheism is arguably a religion. The third definition of ‘religion’ in the 2007 edition of The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus is ‘a pursuit or interest that is very important to someone’. In this respect, the New Atheism could be called a religion as it is very important for its proponents to convince others to adhere to their pursuits. As Dawkins says, ‘I’m quite keen on the politics of persuading people of the virtues of atheism’ . The language of New Atheism is that of religious rhetoric. Here is part of the highly-charged exhortation from their web site:

‘Wake up people!!  We are smart enough now to kill our invisible gods and oppressive beliefs. It is the responsibility of the educated to educate the uneducated, lest we fall prey to the tyranny of ignorance.’

The use of science to argue against religion has, in more ‘extreme’ cases, moved from a scientific argument to a religious one. John Lennox puts it succinctly:

‘I see the conflict as not between science and religion at all, it’s between two world views: atheism and theism …’

Comments
  1. Kim Howe says:

    Let me just respond to this article by Roberta Kwan.
    1. Her first point was that modern science developed out of certain Christian beliefs. In general, I agree with what she says, but I’d like to go a little further. The Christian worldview provides the preconditions, or environment necessary for science to make sense. Other worldviews do not.
    2. Her second point was that “It is possible to be a respected scientist and a Christian”. I’d just like to tighten up the reasoning here a little. I would say that it’s possible to be a good and successful scientist and a Christian. (Successful in the sense of doing good science, making useful discoveries and reasoning accurately.) As the weather that scientist would be respected is another question. We have to be realistic here – those who hate God hold power in the halls of academia and the scientific journals. Respect will depend of the views of those doing the respecting.
    3. Her third point, that the supernatural is not part of what science studies, actually tends to contradict her first point. Many hold to the belief that there are two realms, a supernatural non-material realm where God is active, and a material realm where God is not active. This is not Biblical Christianity or the reformed faith. God’s sovereignty in providence is the foundation of science as in point one. The hairs of our head are numbered sparrows don’t fall to the ground by chance, and even games of chance have their outcomes determined by God. We cannot exclude God from our science, by definition or any other means.
    4. I am saddened by Roberta’s fourth point. It makes me sad when I see the state of reasoning that takes place in our Christian community. This paragraph is an example of really bad reasoning, and yet none of the sixteen comments on her article, nor anyone here seems to have seen it. Allow me to explain. She states that “Christianity stands on the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and will only be destroyed if it is proved that Jesus did not rise from the dead.” Quoting 1 Cor 15:17 as support.
    Paul says, “if Christ is not risen, your faith if futile”. It is logically fallacious to turn this argument backwards and twist it until it becomes “for your faith to be futile, the only reason could be that Christ was not risen”. Paul says no such thing.
    If the evolutionary hypothesis of origins were true, and the Bible presents a different views of origins, then the Bible must be false. If the Bible is false, our faith in it is futile too. Paul wasn’t laying out an exclusive condition, just one particular condition.
    The battle lines are drawn. If the evolutionary hypothesis of origins is true, the Bible is not and if the Bible is true, then the evolutionary hypothesis of origins in not. Many Christians have tried to have it both ways, but it just doesn’t work. Of course, the evolutionary hypothesis is utter nonsense anyway.
    5. Roberta Kwan’s final point was that atheism is arguably a religion. Again, I’d just like to tighten up the language a bit. Evolutionary atheism is a worldview, and Christianity is a worldview. Both have distinct views what things are real, how we know what we know, and how we should live our lives. (Metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, to use the philosophical terms.) In this sense they are both religions. John Lennox was absolutely right. We are in a conflict of worldviews.
    Grace and peace to you.
    Kim

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks Kim.

      Sorry for not replying sooner. Yes, now that you mention it, I do see some contradiction with her third and first points. Also, I have some concern over the point that “creation reflects his character.” Doesn’t creation only reflect (and reveal)his divine nature and power? Character is a bit more specific and personal. Its only Scripture that reflect (and reveals) his character.

      I gave this extract the controversial title ‘you should at least be agnostic’ because of it’s thrust to show that Science is the study of the natural world and can, therefore, never be useful in disproving the existence of a supernatural God. Thanks for showing this to be a bit messy.

      Daniel

      • Alistair Bain says:

        I don’t know. I think that the creation does reflect his character. In a general sense at least. Beautiful, powerful, ordered. Don’t you think?

        I guess the problem is that we read the wrong way round – we read back into God nice things that we see which means that we can see God’s character in just about anything we like. But that doesn’t mean that we should dismiss the idea of general revelation altogether.

      • Daniel says:

        *unfinished thoughts:

        Yeah Al, I might be over playing semantics, I guess I see things like beauty and power as physical/spiritual/mental attributes and character as personal qualities. Our character determines/initiates our application of our attributes.

        In human terms, I am thinking of the fruit of the spirit as character and the gifts and graces of God as attributes.

        I need to go have another read of Romans 1.

  2. Daniel says:

    Just reading about one Australian Christian who is a respected and published scientist @LesLumieres

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