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The modern world’s reverence of science has gone too far

April 30, 2013 4 comments

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a long time, but somehow just never got around to it. I think a lot of people have never really taken the time to think about this. In today’s world, science’s place as the ultimate truth-finder in the modern world is taken as a given. I think this can have some dangerous and foolish consequences.

What does the Bible have to say about worldly wisdom? Here’s just one passage (1 Corinthians 1:18-25):

19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

I was going to highlight or bold certain parts, but I think pretty much all of it sends a strong point across to the reader. Please take the time to digest it on your own, and maybe apply it to what we’re talking about here.

Before people start accusing me of “bashing” on science, let me make something clear. Science has made amazing contributions to this world, and I think that was an intentional part of God’s design when He decided to share dominion of Earth with us. I am all for taking medicines to help cure illnesses, and knowledge of the human body has helped doctors make proper treatments all across the board.

I am also relatively supportive of technology. I could not write this blog without it, nor enjoy many of the creature comforts I take for granted every day. AIR CONDITIONING! (Sorry, just had to get that in there.)

But what I’m talking about is a more specific realm of science; the part that purports to tell us about the universe and its past. I am talking about scientific “facts” such as naturalistic evolution, archeology that seemingly contradicts the Bible, and other such fields. Much of this science is based on theory and speculation rather than repeatable, testable results. I am not talking about science that we see and use on an everyday basis (and therefore can easily find faults with over time). A big bulk of science cannot be contained in a laboratory and “proved,” but this doesn’t stop people from swallowing these “truths” wholesale and allowing them to dictate their beliefs.

Here are three primary reasons I do not place science on the same pedestal as other people.

1. The scientific community is not as truth-driven or open-minded as some people assume.

In a perfect world, the scientific community’s sole purpose would be to find truth regardless of logistics, politics, and greed. But the fact of the matter is, real truth is often not the sole (or even primary) aim. There are often strong competing factors at play that cannot be ignored or brushed off as something on the fringes.

For instance, a lot of science is driven by the need and desire for funding. Where there is money, there the scientists will flock. Can we blame them? They need to pay their bills and make a living just like we do. This often means that they will do the kind of work that interests rich philanthropists or the public eye at the time. This also means results could be tweaked or pushed in a particular direction to keep the money flowing.

As C. W. Adams puts it: “In the real world, research is not the rational pursuit of knowledge many might imagine it to be. Rather, it is a system riddled with competitive forces; greed; profits; the pursuit of personal recognition; and quite simply, survival issues for the individual researcher.”

Furthermore, there is a strong pressure toward conformity in the scientific community to avoid being ostracized by one’s peers. Breaking from the mold requires a strong sense of purpose and conviction, for this is often considered to result in career suicide. C. W. Adams calls this “peer-control.”

“…it must be understood that the range of study, and the ability of these professors to travel outside the box, is also severely limited by the educational institutions that employ them. Maintaining job security in these institutions usually requires some sort of peer control process that research scientists undertake when determining hypotheses. Although speculation is obviously encouraged, the topics and range of speculation are thoroughly restricted.”

Remember that Satan is referred to as the “god of this world,” so wouldn’t you think that he’d do anything to keep the true God out of the picture as much as possible? Do you think he’d push the tides of academia toward biblical truth or away from it? You be the judge. Remember also that true scientific facts never contradict the Bible nor render God obsolete. They are simply observations of His creation at work, and His fingerprints remain on everything. For instance, learning how lightning forms does nothing to disprove the God who put those forces in place to begin with.

2. Science is continually changing and amending prior “certainties.”

Nietzsche once said that “madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.” This aptly describes why so many of the world’s brightest minds can often be in complete agreement on certain “truths” that later end up being completely (and sometimes hilariously) wrong. A scientific consensus is far from a sure thing, as history would teach us.

Carl Sagan once wrote: “Even a succession of professional scientists–including famous astronomers who had made other discoveries that are confirmed and now justly celebrated–can make serious, even profound errors in pattern recognition.”

The bottom line is that just because you throw more people into the mix doesn’t mean that you can prevent blindness. What often happens is a phenomenon that Yale psychologist Irving L. Janis terms as “the groupthink syndrome.” There are three main symptoms of this:

1. Overestimate of the group’s power and morality, including “an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their actions.” [emphasis added]

2. Closed-mindedness, including a refusal to consider alternative explanations and stereotyped negative views of those who aren’t part of the group’s consensus. The group takes on a “win-lose fighting stance” toward alternative views.

3. Pressure toward uniformity, including “a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgments conforming to the majority view”; “direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes”; and “the emergence of self-appointed mind-guards … who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.”

Think about some of the failed assumptions and certainties of the past: the world is flat (bogus); the atom is the smallest building block of matter (false); the universe is necessarily infinite (now we know of the Big Bang)…the list goes on and on.

Did you know that there have been a large number of prominent scientists and experts who have published material “proving” that the Bible wasn’t factual? That certain people-groups mentioned in scripture never existed? And usually what happens is that years or decades later, some archeologist will unearth new evidence to validate the claims of the Bible, not those ever-sure experts.

If science ever seems to run counter to what God’s unchanging and eternal Word says, I’m hitching my wagon to the source of truth that has never been proved wrong.

3. Scientists are made up of faulty and biased people just like you and me.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the word “scientist,” I am not immediately struck with reverence and awe. Respect, sure…many of them work very hard and are gifted with relatively bright minds. But at the basic core, they are people just like us who deal with insecurities, fight against stubbornness and pride, and are shaped by the influences around them.

I suspect that people who look up to scientists as the end-all-be-all have never really known a scientist (or at least one from a “respectable” school). Guess what? They range from academic hermits to clumsy goof balls. Many of them, due to their narrow focus on studying, lack common sense in important areas that some of us take for granted. They are sometimes unsuccessful in love due to a basic misunderstanding of human interaction. Sometimes they are great at it. I would no sooner take advice from someone who works in the sciences than a trusted friend.

(Be honest: don’t we all laugh at Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory because we can relate to the brilliant-at-something guy who is seriously lacking in other common areas? I alluded to his difficulty in grasping sarcasm in an earlier post.)

The point is, they are no more reliable as finders of the truth than the average reasonable adult. It is easy to see how these people could be swept away in a cool and exciting new idea, rather than putting on the brakes of common sense…especially if being at the forefront of this thinking puts them in a superior intellectual position.

* * *

The point of this post was not to bash on science or scientists, but rather to give a reminder/reality check that man is just man. We are fallible creatures and our systems are bound to be flawed as well. To be sure, we have been given great power and authority over this world, but there is always One who is supremely higher. Let’s not make the mistake of getting so full of ourselves that we miss the fact that we are His creation. The creation cannot be greater than the Creator, can it?

And that very thought was what drove Satan to rebel in the first place…isn’t it funny how it all naturally fits into this world, his current domain?

YouTube: “How to prove God doesn’t exist, in 3 minutes or less!”

April 29, 2011 6 comments

Today, I’ll be addressing this fun little YouTube clip, made by a guy who apparently loves to use big words in all his videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KxHD6o259I.

Now, atheists will differ on what they consider to be the “greatest proof that God doesn’t exist,” but here’s one such claim. According to the maker of this video:

“I have come to the realization, that this may be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest argument for the non-existence of not just the Judeo-Christian God, or Creator Gods, but ALL Gods!!”

Wow, juicy claim. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype! I’ll type out his words in bold/italics, then respond afterward.

0:23: Is your God infinite?

Yes, but not in a mathematical sense. He is not infinite in number, space, weight, or any other measurable quantities. He’s not even technically infinite in TIME. What I mean by that is, God is time-less. He is outside the bounds of time since time itself didn’t exist before the big bang about 14 billion years ago. So it’s not entirely precise to say he’s infinite in this quantitative sense, but rather qualitatively.

This is admittedly hard to wrap our minds around…something before time. But logically and scientifically, that’s precisely what there was.

0:48-1:26: [If God is NOT infinite, he could not be the creator of the universe.]

I agree with this part…that God must be “infinite” in some sense to qualify.

1:27-1:36: “If they say ‘yes,’ that their God IS infinite, then their God does not exist, since actual infinites cannot subsist within this universe.

Mathematical infinites do not exist, that is true. For instance, there cannot be an infinite amount of time in this universe because scientists know that within a finite time, our entire universe will die a “heat death,” which describes a state of maximum entropy (based on laws such as the second law of thermodynamics). If there had been an infinite past, then our universe would have reached that point by now. Or even logically, it’s impossible. Tomorrow will amount to a greater number of days that this universe has existed, but if the number of days leading up to today is infinite, how can anything be greater than infinity? If you concede a finite past and count from there, you will always have a countable number of days and never reach infinity in the future.

Infinite quantities of anything cannot exist. Hilbert’s paradox of the Grand Hotel is a great illustration of this.

But as I stated before, God is not infinite in this quantitative sense.

1:37-2:00: “They will likely offer up three predictable rebuttals. 1) God is spiritual and therefore not bound by the realities of non-spiritual entities; 2) God created the universe, so he is not bound by the laws and limitations of it; and 3) God is outside the universe, and is therefore not bound by the realities that being inside the universe, would be subject to.”

I actually agree with all of these rebuttals (#1 is the weakest one of the bunch, though). He took the words right out of my mouth. Let’s see how he attacks them.

2:05-2:16: “This rebuttal (#1) fails since it’s irrelevant whether [God] is spiritual or nonspiritual. If their spiritual God is real, then it does not and cannot exist in the universe.”

Huh? I don’t see an argument in here, just a statement of fact that is unsupported by any proof. How does this YouTuber know the properties of a spiritual being and whether it’s bound by the realities of non-spiritual entities? For instance, gravity is a law of the universe, yet no one would claim that spiritual beings—if they exist—would necessarily be subject to this force.

Does he know this by science, which is specifically designed to observe the natural, observable world? Who proved anything about the spiritual realm?

Weird. But for the sake of argument, let’s move on and pretend like what he said was true.

2:17-2:28: “This (#2) fails because anything that exists within the universe is logically bound by the limitations of it, and positing otherwise, will violate the law of non-contradiction.” 

This statement fails for a number of reasons.

First, as mentioned already, God is not quantitatively infinite, so his existence or properties don’t violate any known laws or limitations of the universe, other than the fact that he’s wholly unique in his infiniteness.

Second, why would God—the creator of the universe—suddenly become bound by its limitations? That’s like saying if I were to create a world inside a box, made entirely of red objects and nothing else, I would suddenly be bound to being red myself. I’m the one who decided what the properties of that box world were, so why am I somehow prohibited from wearing a blue shirt? Plus, even if I can step into the box world to become part of that “universe,” I also have the ability to step outside of that box. I don’t magically become bound to the box rules (i.e., only red) when I create or step into it.

In the same way, God can be in this universe, but can also exist outside of it. Omnipresence entails existing in both the natural and supernatural realms. An obvious example would be heaven, which is not an observable place within our physical universe.

Third, I don’t think this guy knows what the law of non-contradiction is. There’s nothing contradictory about the necessary cause of the universe being outside of it. BTW, in his description section, he addresses this point:

“To say that something can exist outside the Universe, is to commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. The Universe is that which contains existence(things that exist). To claim that something exists outside of the Universe, is to steal the concept of existence, and apply to something external to itself. Which is
fallacious, since one could only appeal to existence again, REDUNDANTLY!”

Toss around more terminology if you want, like “stolen concept,” but they are completely irrelevant and misapplied here. “Something” cannot exist outside the universe, only God can because He existed before the universe was even created…so by definition, he existed and can exist outside of it. I don’t understand what is so hard about this concept.

2:29-2:42: [Addressing #3] “There IS no outside the universe! The universe IS existence. This rebuttal fails because it’s trying to basically assert that God exists outside of existence. Something that exists outside of existence doesn’t exist.” (*Oops, this is basically the same as #2, just a different part of it…so I apologize for overlap.)

This is his refutation? Something that sounds like a bad application of Webster’s dictionary?

Universe = existence? Since when? The universe is all matter, space, and time. It is not somehow metaphysically equivalent to the state of being. Whether you believe in the creator God, he is by definition (and the cosmological argument) immaterial, spaceless, and timeless. What do the rules of the universe have to do with him, really?

Even if this were the definition of the universe/existence, it might only be true in 99.9999999(…) percent of cases. There could be one possible exception (i.e., God), and it would still be a valid definition. But definitions or laws based on observation don’t have any actual power over what can be, only what is—as far as we know. These are separate from rules dealing with logical consistency (e.g., it’s impossible for a bachelor to be married).

For instance, say that throughout all history, someone had observed, “No one can jump straight up and stay in the air for more than one full second. Gravity will pull them down too quickly.” They call it the Law of One-Second Vertical Limitation. It holds up perfectly for thousands of years. Then modern times come upon us and someone can jump straight up (and float) on the moon for more than a full second. Or some amazing shoes enhance vertical ability. Can observations and “laws,” in and of themselves, actually enforce what can be possible? No, they cannot. If exceptions or unforeseen conditions arise, definitions and laws must be tweaked accordingly.

Or imagine a world where Superman exists. It would be equally invalid to say, “Because nothing can fly without wings, and Superman over there is flying without wings, he does not exist because he contradicts the Law of Must-Have-Wings.” You must tweak the observational law to state that nothing besides Superman can fly without wings (or drop the law altogether, depending on whether it is still generally true enough to be useful in application). Maybe Superman is the exception.

Maybe God is one, as well. After all, if there is a God, wouldn’t he be the sole exception to a LOT of things? If we have other reasons to believe he exists, common definitions or probabilities don’t have any way of magically stopping that reality. You can’t use a rule that “nothing exists outside of the universe/nature” to prove that God doesn’t exist because it presupposes his nonexistence. If God exists, then he can exist independently from the universe, which was created.

Using big words, misapplying terminology, and failing at basic logic do not make the “greatest proof that God doesn’t exist.” Sorry, but nice try.