Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Evidence of Atheists, Humanists, and Creationists

Put simply, we just all have to find a way of getting on and it isn’t getting easier. This is largely because there is much in what is perceived to be the “religious” sphere that is causing concern at the moment. The main problem is that it really isn’t possible to have an umbrella term for Religion. This is because religions vary wildly in their definitions so that even Atheism becomes a religious belief using some version of “Science” as its holy scripture.

I read that one atheist believes that atheism is as much of a religion as not-playing-tennis is a sport. The trouble is that, once you respond to the question “do you believe in God?”, you’re playing the game regardless of your answer. Is there evidence for the existence of God? Of course there is! Is it “scientific”? Well, yes. There are lots of arguments that appeal to evidence from the Scientific Community – the Big Bang, the process of Evolution, the fact that things continue to exist rather than just winking out of existence. The Kalam Cosmological Argument is convincing in its simplicity.

1)      Things that begin to exist have a cause.
2)      The Universe began to exist.
3)      Therefore the Universe has a cause.

From there, apologists such as Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig build up a philosophical integrity for belief in God.

However, the question of whether the Universe began to exist is itself a belief in the power of the scientific observation and scientific explanation. Science itself is not immune from changes and challenges.

Consider the old argument from Aristotle:
The heart beats faster when we’re in love, or angry, or upset. Therefore the heart must be responsible for our passionate emotions.

Now compare it with:
This part of the brain becomes active when we’re in love, or angry, or upset. Therefore these areas of the brain must be responsible for our passionate emotions.

It’s established science that the emotions affect the heart and not vice versa. Yet, it’s established Neuroscience that the brain is responsible for our consciousness. Personally, it can only really be a belief that this is cause rather than correlation. It is my belief that the mind is neither a material thing, nor a Ghost from the Machine, but a causal entity in its own right. The only evidence that I have for this belief is me and my experience of being me. This is not sufficiently empirical for Science to work.

This is the problem. Science tends to rule as inadmissible evidence that doesn’t fit. Just as many people reject the existence of Jesus of Nazareth because there is scant evidence for Him outside of Holy Scripture, Science cannot accept the existence of the supernatural on the grounds that “there is a scientific explanation for everything”. The fact that the New Testament consists precisely of the historical record of Jesus of Nazareth and attests to His life, death AND resurrection in an historical manner makes it difficult to see why it’s disregarded on the grounds that it’s a “religious text”. Again, Bart Ehrmann and his whole idea that the New Testament is embroidered with mythology presupposes that the scientific worldview is correct.

But there is a flip-side to this. The British Humanist Association have been rejoicing that another private school has been forced to teach Evolution as scientific fact over Creationism. I’m actually in agreement here largely because the early chapters of Genesis are neither scientific, nor historical. The only evidence for Creationism are those early chapters of Genesis, yet the Universe displays evidence of thousands of millions of years of history.

This in itself doesn’t rule out the possibility that the record in Genesis is correct. It is entirely mathematically possible for a system to begin at an arbitrary point in time and yet have a history that can be projected back before that point. We’ve no idea whether that’s likely or unlikely, but it’s possible. But it cannot ever be verified scientifically. In my eyes, Young Earth Creationism also goes against Psalm 19 (The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.) and St Paul (For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Roman i.18-20)

The fact is that the scientific method works insofar as its remit allows. Like mathematics, Science builds up a picture of all the reality that it can, but there are questions that it simply does not have the machinery to answer. One solution is to declare that “all things have a scientific explanation” and thus rule out anything that doesn’t present evidence in concordance with these principles. Another solution is to make sure that the people who ask such questions or who follow a slightly off-beat path do not receive the funding or opportunities to carry on their work.

While suppression of Creationism may preserve the Scientific standing in Society, that suppression does not allow for what may be legitimate challenges to that standing. It now appears that Modern Science is as much as an established religion as the Church of England.

For me, the fact that I exist when once I didn’t points quite clearly to God. Yet there is something more in my existence, and indeed in ALL existence, that seems to be utterly ungraspable, utterly nameless, utterly beyond form, function, essence, and the void. Something stalks being at its very heart and I have no other way of describing It other than using three letters – GOD.

I still have no idea how Atheism can cohabit with Theism. That is often the topic of some of my conversations with God.

No comments: