|email - January 2016|
Did Michael really say that?
Joseph thought we misrepresented Michaelís position in our last newsletter. He wrote to say,
In "Anti-science," you wrote, "He thinks there have been scientific experiments which prove all known gods donít exist."
I think you are misrepresenting his position, since what he wrote is, ". . . it is the sicentific [sic] method that can prove that all known Gods (if they can be precicely [sic] defined) are just myths."
I think he is saying that, if you can define a god precisely enough, then the scientific method could prove its existence or lack thereof. Even if he is wrong, I do not think he means that we have done experiments to prove that thus and such god does not exist.
Joseph might be right; but rather than argue with Joseph about it, we asked Michael. We forwarded Josephís email to Michael (with the address headers removed for privacy) and added, ďIs he right? Or am I?Ē Here is his complete response:
I don't know if†God/s have been put to thorough scientific analysis as this could only be done after we define what God is.† i.e. what are the characteristics that can be tested?
Most atheists have in fact put God (as they understand him) to a loose scientific analysis (along the lines of my previous email) and have come to the conclusion that he is just a myth.
I personally would love for a God to exist, and for Him to bring justice and fairness to this world, in our lifetime rather than after we die (the later of which can't be tested).
Most (if not all) atheists including myself (Greek Orthodox) started of [sic] as Christians/Muslims/etc, due to parental indoctrination, but after growng [sic] up and thinking for themselves, come to the conclusion that†what they were told was just a myth.
The reality is that all animals (including humans) survive by killing other animals, sometimes of their own kind.† What sort of†justice is that?
Is that the perfect design of a powerfull [sic] loving God?
Think about it and see what conclusion you reach.† Don't just blindly believe what is in the Bible or the Koran or whatever.
His first paragraph seems to agree with Joseph, but his second paragraph seems to agree with me. So, just to be perfectly clear, I wrote back, ďSo, you think there COULD be scientific experiments to prove no gods exist; but they havenít been done. Is that correct?Ē He replied,
I am saying that if the characteristics of†a God can be precisely defined [bold emphasis is his] then the scientific method can be applied to†see if†such characteristics are supported by real life observations (evidence).
eg: 1. The Christian God† suposedly [sic] created the world in seven days.† But what solid evidence is there to verify that (other than words in a book)?† None.† Hence FAILs on this proposition. [Color emphasis is his.]
2. God created the world for us and loves us and is powerfull [sic] (can do anything). But just look at the real world:†† We live on a crust (plates) that are in constant motion, leading to earth quakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.† Thousands of inocent [sic] people die every year and God is overseeing all this mayhem and is doing nothing about it.† Hence FAILs on this proposition. [Color emphasis is his.]
If you can define God's characteristics and†put†them to such scrutiny,†my guess is that he/she will fail and be proven to be a hoax.† Unfortunately many good people have†fallen for this hoax which is self pertpetuating [sic], because one of the duties of any Christian (or Muslim/Hindu? etc) is to†spread†their beliefs to others.
I am sure you are a very good person and genuinely believe in your God,†but that is only because you have not put your beliefs to scientific scrutiny.
I can also tell you that if you accept reality and come to the realization that there is no God, you will continue to ge [sic] a good person (maybe even a better person), and you will not become a savage or go to hell.† You don't need the fear of God to be a good person.
He guesses the experiments could be done, but probably havenít been done. But that doesnít really matter because he thinks he knows what the results of the experiments would be if they were done. If you know what the result of the experiment will be, you donít really need to do the experiment, do you? Thatís what passes for ďscienceĒ these days. Experimental proof isnít necessary if you have enough faith.
Michaelís email brings up two other issues we want to discuss. If we eliminate all the religious aspects of his argument, it boils down to just two things. First, how can you prove or disprove something you canít define? And second, how can you prove or disprove something you read in a book?
We are all too familiar with the problem of trying to disprove something with a slippery definition. What is evolution? Is it Darwinian evolution, Neo-Darwinian evolution, Punctuated Equilibrium, Context-driven Actualization of Potential (CAP), Self-organization, Natural Genetic Engineering, Lamarkism, Neo-Lamarckism, Symbiogenesis, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Neutral Evolution, or Facilitated Variation? Weíve dealt with aspects of all of these various evolutionary theories to one degree or another over the years.
To prove evolution is false, must we prove all of these different, contradictory evolutionary theories are false? No, the burden of proof is on the evolutionists. If one wants to teach children in public schools that ďevolution is a fact and has been proved,Ē then one must prove which one of the contradictory evolutionary theories is correct. Evolutionists canít do this, so they censor the science curriculum and omit any valid scientific criticism of any evolutionary theory.
Furthermore, proving any particular evolutionary theory is wrong does not prove any of the other evolutionary theories right. Nor does it prove any particular religious belief is correct. Thatís why we never try to prove any particular religious view is correct to disprove evolution, and never claim that any religion is true because evolution is false. We examine all the various evolutionary theories to see if they are consistent with scientific observation. So far, we havenít found any evolutionary theory that stands up to scientific scrutiny.
Michael raises a valid point when he says, ďWhat solid evidence is there to verify that (other than words in a book)?Ē Letís address that issue, leaving religion out of it, by rephrasing Michaelís point this way:
Columbus supposedly discovered America in 1492. But what solid evidence is there to verify that (other than words in a book)? None.
Can the scientific method prove that Columbus discovered America? No, it canít, regardless of whether he did it or not. There is nothing anyone can do in the laboratory that can replicate the discovery of America. Nor can the scientific method say anything about what must have motivated Columbus. You either have to accept or reject what the books say about Columbus by faith.
The scientific method can be used to discover natural laws, but it canít be used to prove historical narratives. You can make a compelling case that Columbus did sail to America in 1492, but you canít do it using the scientific method.
The scientific method can only be used to determine plausibility of historical narratives. The classic example is described in the book Kon-Tiki.
Kon-Tiki†is the record of an astonishing adventure -- a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage.
On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five other adventurers sailed from Peru on a balsa log raft. After three months on the open sea, encountering raging storms, whales, and sharks, they sighted land -- the Polynesian island of Puka Puka. 1
Heyerdahlís experiment proved that his theory about the origin of the Polynesia people is plausible, but his experiment did not prove his theory is correct.
The expedition came perilously close to failure several times. If it had failed, it would not have proved that the Polynesian people didnít come from South America. The Polynesian people could have been better raft builders and sailors than Heyerdahl.
Heyerdahlís successful experiment proved that the Polynesian people COULD have sailed there from South America; but that doesnít prove that they did. They could have sailed there from some closer location much more easily.
Hereís the important thing to recognize about the scientific method: It can prove or disprove natural laws; but it canít prove or disprove history. Historical accounts have to be accepted or rejected by faith. The scientific method is simply useful for discovering natural laws that help one evaluate the plausibility of historical accounts.
The theory of evolution seeks to explain the origin and diversity of life through natural laws. Scientists have investigated the plausibility of the theory of evolution, and have found the theory implausible. Scientists have discovered no plausible explanation for the origin of life. Scientific comparisons of the genomes of living things contradict the previously accepted evolutionary relationships. Scientific measurements of the ratio of uranium 238 and uranium 234 isotopes are inconsistent with a planetary age older than 2 million years, casting serious doubt on the time available for the origin and diversity of life to happen as proposed by the theory of evolution. The more science discovers, the less plausible the theory of evolution becomes.
In Michaelís second example, he tried to use science and logic to disprove a commonly held misconception about the character of God. If he had known more about the Bible, he could have done a much better job of disproving that misconception using Biblical texts instead of science. Since the purpose of this column is not to expose Michaelís ignorance of Christian theology, letís suppose that in his second example, he actually did use science to disprove an actual Biblical doctrine. As we have already said, disproving Christianity does not prove that Buddhism is true. Nor does it prove that Evolutionism, Hinduism, or any other religion is true. Disproving an erroneous belief about Christianity certainly doesnít prove evolution is true.
Thatís why it is important to evaluate the theory of evolution from a purely scientific viewpoint, and not allow religious misconceptions to influence the conclusion. The theory of evolution fails scientific evaluation.
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