Before you read this post, let me make one quick point. The analogy that I have used here is obviously not perfect. Every analogy breaks down at some point. So it is not necessary to critique the finer details, like how there may actually be a zoo in Nebraska with polar bears. If there is, great. If not, all the better for my analogy. Thanks!
If a forensic investigator decided at the outset of his career that, "Polar Bear attack", could never be a possible cause of death, then it could be argued that he would not be doing his job to the fullest extent. Sure, maybe he lives in Nebraska and the nearest polar bear is thousands of miles away in a zoo somewhere. It is not unreasonable to think he could go his entire career without facing such a bizarre scenario. But what happens if one day all of the evidence clearly points to "death by polar bear"? Evidence like claw marks, fur samples, footprints etc. He would have to either: A) reject the evidence to maintain his original assumption (defeating the purpose of his job) or B) reject the original assumption in light of the evidence.
Unfortunately, many Atheist/Naturalist/Materialist scientists have taken this same approach. Before they ever began their research, they determined that God could never be a possible cause or explanation. Sure, they live within the finite constraints of time and space and have never been able to test God in a laboratory. It is not unreasonable to think that nothing exists that cannot be tested or doesn't fit within those same boundaries. But what happens if one day all of the evidence clearly points to, "caused by an intelligent, transcendent creator"? Evidence like specific and purposeful complexity, the incredible fine tuning of the universe for life on Earth, the laws of thermodynamics, recent discoveries that demonstrate the universe had a definite beginning etc. From there the rest of the analogy is the same as above. That begs the question, if the scientist is forced to reject evidence to uphold his premise, is he really doing science? In reality he is just as bound to a theological position (albeit a negative one) as the person who believes in God. He accuses the believer of ignorantly dismissing any evidence that seems to be against God while at the same time dismissing all evidence that seems to be for the existence of God.
The reason I use the example of the forensic investigator is that he actually has a lot in common with a person trying to understand the origin or space, time, life etc. Unlike the operation scientist in a lab performing tests that can be duplicated and analyzed, the forensic investigator must analyze evidence and determine the most likely explanation. The same holds true when trying to understand the nature of existence. If God exists, he must by definition be immaterial. That is to say that since he existed before time, space, and matter, he cannot be made of those things. Therefore, it is a misunderstanding when an Atheist argues that since God cannot be observed by science that he cannot exist. The truth is that nothing immaterial can be observed, measured or tested by traditional operation science. For example, the past is immaterial and cannot be observed. The existence of the past can not be proven. For all we know, the entire universe spontaneously came into existence five seconds ago with all of our "memories" built in. To determine what actually happened in the past, the historian is forced to draw conclusions based on the best interpretation of the evidence. The human consciousness is immaterial. I cannot prove that I am not the only real person and that everyone that I meet is not actually an artificially intelligent and biologically accurate robot. Yet, the evidence against both of these hypothetical scenarios makes their conclusions very unlikely. Morality is also immaterial, and yet ethicists can study it by obersving it's effect human existence. To study the origin of the universe and/or first life, the same principals must be applied. And if the best interpretation of the evidence is that God created the universe and is the source of life, morality, creativity, love and everything else, then it would not be a ridiculous or anti-scientific conclusion. It could not be said to have been technically proven and therefore would need to be ultimately taken on faith, but I believe I have demonstrated how the same is true of the opposite conclusion as well.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
An Atheist worldview must be based on naturalism. That is to say, the view that there is nothing transcendent of the natural universe (or multiverse as some would argue). The naturalist says that all existence has a natural explanation even if we haven't arrived at it yet. The problem with naturalism is that it is ultimately self defeating. If naturalism were true, it would mean that the cognitive faculties (reason, logic, decision making etc) necessary for determining truth and worldview came through natural selection. If by natural selection, then the main function of the cognitive faculties is survival rather than truth. Granted, many times truth and survival go hand in hand, but that is obviously not always the case. As a result, it becomes impossible to trust ones own cognitive faculties. How would you know that your reasoning was sound? After all, according to naturalism, what is reason but an illusion created by chemical reactions in the brain? Atheists like Sam Harris and Stephen Hawking even go so far as to say that humans have no free will but that all is determined by our biological chemistry. That begs yet another question: even if your cognitive faculties were trustworthy, how would you be able to tell? If your naturalistic worldview is ultimately determined by chemistry then shouldn't the same be true of the man who has a Christian worldview? Why would natural selection produce in humanity so many conflicting points of view unless the survival of the race depended upon its own inability to determine any truth? If you are an Atheist or otherwise proponent of naturalism, you must concede that to be at least a probable scenario. But if that is true, then any claim to scientific knowledge is empty. It is just as likely that your brain is leading you to believe something in order to preserve the human race as it is that the same something actually be true. At that point all terms like truth, reason, choice, etc all become meaningless and the argument for naturalism breaks down. A transcendent explanation is required and I would even argue perfectly reasonable.