... an appeal to god is a science stopper. Once you conclude that god created life, why explore naturalistic mechanisms? If god created the universe, why explore cosmological theories of the origin of the universe, like the big bang theory? Inferring a “personal cause” is a separate issue. Also, what does he mean by “creation?” Is he assuming creationism, or does he simply mean the natural world?
Nonsense. First of all, no scientist I know makes that argument that 'since God did it, there's no reason to explore natural mechanisms'. There is no incongruity in the belief that God created the universe and in the scientific exploration of nature. In fact, throughout history most of the best scientists have been devout Christians: Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Lavoisier, Linnaeus, Faraday, Maxwell, Sherrington, Penfield, Eccles, Libet, Collins, etc. They all believe(d) "God did it". And they made extraordinary discoveries in science.
On what possible basis could Novella claim that belief that God acts in the world precludes science? It makes no sense logically, and there is massive historical evidence that the opposite is true. Belief in God is highly associated with the best scientific work.
Here's my question: just what impetus does "God doesn't exist" provide for science? In what way is the atheist inference that there is no intelligent cause of nature an impetus to science? It seems to me that atheist scientists implicitly use the inference to theism. Otherwise, why look for rationality in nature?
So why does this silly God of the Gaps argument has such purchase with atheists? I believe that it is a way for atheists to preclude inferences to Divine causation in the philosophy of science. It is of a kind with the pervasive censorship of theism in modern science. Atheists want to utterly expunge God from science, by censorship, by litigation, and by sophistry.
So here's my reply to Novella: you're damn right I think God did it. The best scientists in history thought God did it. The conviction that God did it is a powerful aid to the rational investigation of nature.
More on Novella's silly post to come.
"Belief in God is highly associated with the best scientific work."ReplyDelete
And your evidence is?
Newton, Kepler, Boyle, Pasteur, Maxwell, etc. Didn't you read the post?ReplyDelete
Novella is probably projecting. Just because he would lose all motivation to get anything done if he thought God existed (I suppose it would destroy his reason to live, or something), doesn't mean any reasonable person would.ReplyDelete
It amuses me no end, this type of argument, which boils down to: Those who acknowledge First Causes are rendered incapable of understanding Second Causes.
The real situation is somewhat different: those who refuse to acknowledge First Causes will soon be rendered unfit to employ reason in general.
You misrepresent Novella's argument. Nowhere does he say that belief in God is deleterious to science. Relying on a God-of-the-gaps argument is not synonymous with being religious. There are plenty of Christians who think that such arguments should not be used.
Why do they say that? Because God of the gaps is bad for religion first and foremost. Here is an article at Biologos explaining why.
Did you know that Georges Lemaître, a priest and the father of the big bang, objected to the Pope's attempts to claim the big bang as evidence for Christianity? I bet not.
Lastly, you assert that belief in God somehow helps to do science. What is the basis for asserting that? There is no point in arguing that the best scientists of the old times were Christians. Everyone was Christian back then. Atheists in the modern sense only appeared in the nineteenth century.
But let's look at the current situation. Scientists are mostly atheists, whether you sample them broadly or at the very top. Does that mean atheism now helps to do great science? Or maybe it is completely irrelevant? You can't argue that modern science is somehow inferior to the science of the past. Take quantum electrodynamics. It makes extremely precise predictions that agree with experiments. Among its founders were Richard Feynman (an atheist) and Freeman Dyson (a Christian). In my view, the religious affiliation (or lack thereof) is tangential to success in science.
No one makes a God of the gaps argument. I've never heard a scientist say that. If you have, give me the reference.
As Matteo succinctly noted, those who acknowledge First Cause can acknowledge Second Cause as well.
The G of g argument is a red herring. The purpose is to shut Christians up.
All Christians believe God did it. And historically, Christian culture has proven to be the basis for all theoretical science.
I'm sick of atheist bigotry and lies.
God did it, and science is a wonderful way to explore nature.
I'm sick of atheist bigotry and lies.ReplyDelete
So am I!
Mike wrote: No one makes a God of the gaps argument. I've never heard a scientist say that. If you have, give me the reference.ReplyDelete
Gladly. David Snoke, a physicist from the University of Pittsburgh, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church in America, wrote an article entitled In Favor of God-of-the-Gaps Reasoning. It begins thus:
For more than fifteen years, I have read the ASA journal and participated in discussions of science and Christianity. During this time, I have found that while ASA members disagree over many things, certain unquestioned points of agreement flow through all of our dis cus sions. In particular, I have found that no matter what the topic, one common premise seems to reign supreme. This is the universal condem nation of God-of-the-gaps arguments. A person might present all manner of impressive reasoning about something, but if his opponent says “that is a God-of-the-gaps argument,” even the stoutest evidentialist wavers. Why is this so? In this communication, I wish to take a heretical position
within the ASA and argue in favor of God-of-the-gaps arguments.
Your own Discovery colleague Jay Richards agrees that Newton applied God-of-the-gaps argument in regards to the motion of planets in the solar system.
It's truly mind-boggling that you are unaware of these.
["Did you know that Georges Lemaître, a priest and the father of the big bang, objected to the Pope's attempts to claim the big bang as evidence for Christianity? I bet not."]
I'm very much aware of that.
[Lastly, you assert that belief in God somehow helps to do science. What is the basis for asserting that? There is no point in arguing that the best scientists of the old times were Christians. Everyone was Christian back then.]
Not true. There are 4% of the population now who are hard atheists. The numbers back then are hard to estimate, but probably not fewer. The fact that the majority of people back then were Christians, and that theoretical science arose only in Christian culture from Christian scientists, makes my point, not yours. Even atheist scientists today work in a deeply Christian milieu. Atheists in the West have always been parasites on Christian culture. You have your culture, in North Korea.
[Atheists in the modern sense only appeared in the nineteenth century.]
Wrong. 18th century. You forgot the reign of terror and the guillotine. Why do you atheists always get amnesia about your atrocities?
so Newton is your example of a scientist who failed by using the God of the gaps argument? I'll accept that failure on my side of the ledger.
And can you think of any since Newton? After all, the G of G argument is supposed to be such a threat to science. Can't you think of one example in which a scientist has invoked it, say, in the last four hundred years?
What about David Snoke, Mike? Is he not a scientist?ReplyDelete
Not true. There are 4% of the population now who are hard atheists. The numbers back then are hard to estimate, but probably not fewer. The fact that the majority of people back then were Christians, and that theoretical science arose only in Christian culture from Christian scientists, makes my point, not yours. Even atheist scientists today work in a deeply Christian milieu. Atheists in the West have always been parasites on Christian culture. You have your culture, in North Korea.ReplyDelete
Mike, you truly astound me. You make one unsupported assertion after another. I feel like shooting a fish in a barrel. Get some facts straight, will you?
Widespread criticism of Christianity began to appear in the eighteenth century. The critics, however, were not atheists. They were deists. The word atheist had a strictly derogatory meaning and no one wished to call themselves atheists. Atheists in the modern sense of the world appeared in the nineteenth century. Maybe in the late eighteenth. This isn't just my opinion. I just finished reading A History of God by Karen Armstrong, who is quite knowledgeable about the subject.
The cult of reason in the french revolution was atheist.
Which is the unsupported assertion:
1) There are 4% of the population now who are hard atheists. (from Rodney Stark-- http://www.amazon.com/Americans-Really-Believe-Rodney-Stark/dp/1602581789)
2) The numbers back then are hard to estimate, but probably not fewer.
3) The majority of people back then were Christians,
4) theoretical science arose only in Christian culture
5) from Christian scientists
6) Even atheist scientists today work in a deeply Christian milieu.
7) Atheists in the West have always been parasites on Christian culture.
8) You have your culture, in North Korea.
Do tell me which assertion are incorrect.
And go easy on reading Karen Armstrong. She's a fool.
1 and 3 are correct, 2 is pulled out of thin air. 4 and 5 are demonstrably wrong. You have asserted 6 but so far have not advanced any argument in support of it. 7 and 8 indicate that you are a bigot.ReplyDelete
The 'God of the Gaps'?ReplyDelete
Is He the one with the irritating Christmas Commercials? JK
What a fascinating exchange between between Mike and Oleg. Mike's point seems to be the argument is irrelevant, nobody buys it, and it is designed to 'shut up' Theist positions. Oleg seems to be trying to shut him up, rather unsuccessfully.
Oleg seems to have spent a lot of time studying this superstition.
But... As interesting as it may be, it is like studying one of Tolkien's religions, Oleg. The 'Gaps' are an Atheist fairy tale, or bed time story. You know like the Theist 'Santa'?
As Matteo noted, this is a projection.
This little myth about safe little 'gaps' of materialism is not designed to help creationists, theists, and Christians sleep better at night.
In fact, the only bed wetting that is prevented with this little song, is when it is sung to the choir: The Atheists.
I would take it a step further again.
Atheism IS the 'Gaps'.
The 'Gaps' are all it has.
What are these 'gaps' anyway.
They are really just question marks - not 'holes' in anything; not proper 'gaps'.
No need to 'mind the gap', at all really. Unless you like a good story...
Maybe we could call them very small depressions in the history of philosophy, art, religion, and science. A few discoveries here and there that have caused a pause, reflection, and even reformations of thought. Ripples in the psyche of our civilizations.
In these moments of conflict between reason and tradition, the Atheist takes his position - in his 'gap'.
He needs the 'gaps' to be connected, desperately. But his doctrine of promissory materialism gives him hope - allows him to be 'fulfilled', as Dawkins would put it.
The Atheist resides in the 'Gap', hoping that one day 'science' (like some channelled spirit)will deliver a final proof of the meaninglessness, directionless chaos and futility of life and the universe.
It is a dark little 'gap' in there, I know it all too well.
But what of promissory materialism and the 'coming' proofs?
A few examples then:
*A promised 'link' between some series of fossils; animals which may have never reproduced, and that lived and died millions of years ago. Several 'links' have been found, but they must not have been the right ones...YET!
*A promised particle that can account for ALL the universe between the 'gaps.'
*A similar kind of magic / invisible gene.
*Something that will make quantum physics go away. Maybe we could come up with an extra universe or two?
*Ditto for the Cambrian explosion!
*Philosophy and art should probably be explained away too; evolutionary psychology anyone?
*The coolest: A promised coming of cynical, nihilistic non-humanoid materialist aliens who FINALLY prove Star Trek is more or less the real deal.
*ANYTHING that will make for a good argument against a creator, and turn a few people off God.
Such is life within the 'gaps'!
Promissory Materialism is the Atheism of the Gaps. It hopes to make a decent argument that will one day join all their little 'gaps' together to make a BIG hole of an argument.
A hole in who or what you might ask? That is the interesting question to my mind.
The simple truth is: Theism has no need for 'gaps' and have been reconciled with scientific reasoning for centuries.
As Dr Egnor noted several times, Christianity has been a motivating force in much of modern science.
The 'God of the Gaps' is a straw man argument engaged by way of projection from those very people who believe (have such FAITH) in the 'gaps'.
It is curious that you don't respond to the sciency part of Stevens post. Makes me wonder if he knows more about the brain than you do.ReplyDelete
It's in the queue. The post goes up tomorrow am.
Matteo, list of names is not evidence. It's just a list of names.ReplyDelete
Newton was also an alchemist. Does that mean that Alchemy is the basis of good science?
There was a time when religion and the church were in absolute control of society. That time we now call the Dark Ages.
A list of names of some of the giants of scientific history, each of whom believed in God, is not evidence against the asinine proposition that belief in God is a "science-stopper"?ReplyDelete
What, sir, is your major malfunction?