Hasn’t Science disproven the Bible and Christianity?
I am sure you have heard that science has done away with religion and that to believe in God is a delusion!? Well, is it? the short answer is no, but the long answer is necessarily more complex and requires explanation in different subjects.
What is science?
Science can mean different thing, in one sense, science is just the search for truth, by formulating hypotheses and testing them against the evidence. If the hypotheses are repeatedly found to be consistent with the evidence, this may give one to claim it is true. If, however, it is inconsistent with the evidence, then the hypothesis needs revision or rejected altogether! This is called empirical science, at some level we are doing this at some level, we all in our daily lives compare our ideas with experiences.
A second sense of the word, we can mean the science used in medicine and technological advances, which has undoubtedly been a net positive to all our lives. This is achieved by a process of human ingenuity and design by intelligent agents as well as the aspects of empirical science, let’s call this technological science.
A third sense, science refers to the scientific establishment, which consists of highly trained, employed individuals to conduct research in an array of different areas. Let’s call this the establishment. This is often referred to “the scientific consensus” or “all scientists agree". The consensus view has often proven unreliable, and history is replete with theories that didn’t work out. The scientific consensus held in 1500 that the sun revolved around the earth, not overturned till Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei. In 1750, the consensus was that some living creature e.g. maggots, flies, rats originated by spontaneous generation, not overturned till Francesco Redi and Louis Pasteur.
The fourth view and prevailing worldview for many scientists is Methodological naturalism or materialism, which requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based on what we can observe, test, replicate and verify. It is a self-imposed convention of science (1). The issue with this, is that it limits any investigation to purely physical explanations and not metaphysical ones meta (outside or beyond) physics (Nature or matter). E.g. If you never saw Mt. Rushmore (figure 1.1) and had to explain it in purely naturalistic means, the only explanations would be wind, erosion over long periods of time. However, on a metaphysical view, it is possible to say this looks like the work of an intelligent agent as wind and erosion are not known to produce sculptures of known former presidents of the United States of America. In principle, Methodological naturalism is not a claim about reality, but a limitation of method, it is an equivalent to materialistic philosophy, which regard material objects and physical forces as the only reality, it also follows from that others principles like there is no ultimate purpose to the universe or life. “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
Figure 1.1. Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Not all scientists today are materialists, and indeed modern science was launched primarily by European Christian theists. Nevertheless, science today is dominated by materialistic philosophy.
As a result, the word science is used interchangeable, referring to science in the empirical, technological, the establishment or naturalistic way to try and manipulate the debate, so if you question say evolution, you are accused of holding back science in the technological sense of the word, Or just plain stupid. (Figure 1.2 and 1.3)
Moreover, in the scientific community, scientists that dare question the status quo are being bullied. ‘It is in our own time that scientific research faces repression — but it’s coming from the scientific establishment, not from religion. Scientists such as Richard Sternberg and Günter Bechly, Scott Minnich and Eric Hedin, Dean Kenyon and Granville Sewell — they know this well. They challenged materialism, and faced severe pushback, the kind that can ruin your career and reputation.’ (2)(3)
Although it is not strictly the case that Atheism is equivalent to Materialism, it is the case however, that the two work well together, if one is committed to materialism, it doesn’t mean you have to be an Atheist, but it definitely doesn’t allow you to be a Deist or Theist. Loosely speaking, an Atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in God or gods, some claim it is only the lack of belief in God or gods. A Deist is someone who claims a God or gods exists, but has insufficient evidence to claim further. A Theist is someone who claims God exists e.g., Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Another term Agnosticism is the claim they do not know if God or gods exists. You can see that the claim materialists make about the universe lends itself to atheism very well and loosely speaking with agnosticism, it however, is incompatible with Theism, Deism & Polytheism, as one cannot assert an immaterial agent(‘s) exists whilst affirming nature is all there is. Polytheism is the view that many gods exist and are typically in nature, that is they are not transcendent like in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Why is a purely naturalistic worldview such an issue?
There are two arguments I know of, which deal with this the best, the first:
If it is true, that nature is all there is and only blind, undirected events occur, from the beginning at the big bang to the present is only matter in motion. From the formation of the first stars and galaxies, which subsequently exploded to make heavier elements to subsequently make our galaxy and our tiny, unremarkable solar system and our tiny blue dot we call earth is only a conglomerate of atoms. On our planet, ‘simple’ chemistry eventually formed and produced simple cells, which then evolved and produced more complex life, eventually ape-like creatures evolved, over millions of years slight, gradual mutations made a set of beneficial mutations causing our species and now here we are! Our brains, every thought, every action, is a product of undirected processes from a long causal line of cause and effects, we are nothing more than predetermined biological machines. Freewill is nothing more than illusion. https://youtu.be/__IhlhAbK7E
As C.S. Lewis writes
‘It follows that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe that our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory would itself have been reached by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument which proved that no argument was sound—a proof that there are no such things as proofs—which is nonsense. Thus a strict materialism refutes itself for the reason given long ago by Professor Haldane: ‘If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.’ (Possible Worlds, p. 209)....Unless our conclusion is the logical consequent from a ground it will be worthless and could be true only by a fluke. Unless it is the effect of a cause, it cannot occur at all. It looks therefore, as if, in order for a train of thought to have any value, these two systems of connection must apply simultaneously to the same series of mental acts.....But even if grounds do exist, what exactly have they got to do with the actual occurrence of the belief as a psychological event? If it is an event it must be caused. It must in fact be simply one link in a causal chain which stretches back to the beginning and forward to the end of time. How could such a trifle as lack of logical grounds prevent the belief’s occurrence or how could the existence of grounds promote it?’ (C.S. Lewis ‘Miracles’) "With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy." (Charles Darwin)
“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” (J.B.S Haldane)(4)
Our thoughts, our behaviours are predetermined by chemical and electrons in the brain from blind undirected processes, even to the point of you accepting or denying this statement, this means rational thought is nothing more than a undirected processes , not from reason or logic. Thus it is not rational to accept as a worldview.
Is an argument formulated by renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. (5)(6)(7)
Plantinga’s argument can be simply formulated as follows:
1. The probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable, given naturalism and evolution, is low.
2. If someone believes in naturalism and evolution and sees that, therefore, the probability of his cognitive faculties’ being reliable is low, then he has a defeater for the belief that his cognitive faculties are reliable.
3. If someone has a defeater for the belief that his cognitive faculties are reliable, then he has a defeater for any belief produced by his cognitive faculties (including his belief in naturalism and evolution).
4. Therefore, if someone believes in naturalism and evolution and sees that, therefore, the probability of his cognitive faculties’ being reliable is low, then he has a defeater for his belief in naturalism and evolution.
Naturalism and evolution cannot be rationally accepted.
The force of this argument is based on the premise of naturalism being true. If it is the case naturalism is true, there is no truth value in atoms, for they just obey laws of nature and so too do chemicals. Moreover, evolution by natural selection only selects for survival value, not for truth. Furthermore, if our brains are predetermined by a causal chain of electrochemical brain states, it too is not selecting necessarily for truth. Thus, we have no good reason to think, given naturalism and evolution our cognitive faculties are reliable.
Does all this disprove naturalism? No, but it makes it irrational to accept. Any worldview needs to explain the world around us, if our worldview doesn’t comport to reality as we see it, it needs revision or a better one put in its place. Holding to naturalism also proves difficult when discussing moral issues of good and evil (which I will discuss in another topic)
So, what’s the alternative?
Let’s be clear, science as an enterprise has undoubtedly been one of the greatest achievements of mankind in the empirical and technological sense of the word. I would add the goal of continuing to seek out explanations of the laws of physics and nature is a honourable goal and has enhanced our knowledge. However, the founding fathers of science like Sir. Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler believed in a causal agent who made the universe intellectually, and reasoned that the universe and nature was discoverable(8). This fundamental difference, that an intelligent agent made the universe, its laws that govern it, life and ultimately intelligent agents like us to discover the universe means, that we have some ultimate reason and purpose, and a ground for reason and logic, because a supreme intellect was behind it all.
“A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. "This circle is square" is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself….”(9)
Is intelligent design (ID) scientific?
Is Designed detectable by science? well yes, we do it all the time, every time we read a book, turn on the radio, watch a T.V show or YouTube clip is a result of intelligence, William Dembski writes ‘Think of the signal that convinced the radio astronomers in the movie Contact that they had found an extraterrestrial intelligence. The signal was a long sequence of prime numbers. On account of its length the signal was complex and could not be assimilated to any natural regularity. And yet on account of its arithmetic properties it matched an objective, independently given pattern. The signal was thus both complex and specified. What's more, the combination of complexity and specification convincingly pointed those astronomers to an extraterrestrial intelligence. Design theorists contend that specified complexity is a reliable indicator of design, is instantiated in certain (though by no means all) biological structures, and lies beyond the remit of nature to generate it.’ (10). In other words, the signal received in the film contact, the letters in the book, the sounds you hear on the radio, TV or Internet, are all sources of information. If we take my last sentence, you will notice that the arrangement of letters was in a highly specific arrangement in order to convey meaning, if the letters were jumbled in another order, the intended meaning would be lost.
For example; ‘oihwtnorodssignhealinreceheficilmvonhtealcettiarsebtsooheonsykdohuotrtehaeradvioointrentreaeasoirllorfnmatcesufrion’ is the last sentence jumbled up, all though it holds the exact same number of characters and letters as the above, it conveys no information, as it hasn’t been set out in the agreed convention between recipients, the arrangement of letters is key in the imparting of information.
Stephen Meyer when trying to seek a rigorous way to detect design in nature, recognised in one of Charles Lyell's book titles, “By Reference to Causes Now in Operation,” “..a light came on for me. I immediately asked myself: What causes now in operation produce digital code or specified information? Is there a known cause—a vera causa—of the origin of such information? What does our uniform experience tell us? As I thought about this further, it occurred to me that by Lyell and Darwin’s own rule of reasoning and by their test of a sound scientific explanation, intelligent design must qualify as, at least, a possible scientific explanation for the origin of biological information. Why? Because we have independent evidence—“uniform experience”—that intelligent agents are capable of producing specified information. Intelligent activity is known to produce the effect in question. The “creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.”(11)
Where do we find information in nature? Watson and Crick, The co-founders of DNA double helix structure. Crick himself put it this way thirty-five years after he and Watson discerned the structure of DNA, biologists must “constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” (12) “But due in large measure to Watson and Crick’s own discovery of the information-bearing properties of DNA, scientists have become increasingly and, in some quarters, acutely aware that there is at least one appearance of design in biology that may not yet have been adequately explained by natural selection or any other purely natural mechanism. Indeed, when Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA, they also discovered that DNA stores information using a four-character chemical alphabet. Strings of precisely sequenced chemicals called nucleotide bases store and transmit the assembly instructions—the information—for building the crucial protein molecules and machines the cell needs to survive” (Figure 1.4)(13). So Crick a World War 2 code breaker discovered that the DNA structure acts like a code, and the bases are like letters in written word. Richard Dawkins notes, “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.”(14) Software developer Bill Gates goes further: “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”(15). So it seems like we have Good reason to associate the DNA with code, which is an information source, what’s more we have seen that information has habitually known only to arise with agency, moreover it requires a specific arrangement to convey meaning!
Figure1.4. p. 5 from Crick’s letter to his son, March 19, 1953.
Do we find such meaning in the DNA code, or does any arrangement make proteins?
The simple answer is yes, we see that DNA acts like information and the arrangement does matter, but this is a complicated subject and requires a separate topic to give it justice. However, I will give a short defence of my claim.
In 2004 Douglas Axe assessed the likelihood of a functional protein fold, that is, of a chain of amino acids successfully fold into a functional protein.
‘The prevalence of low-level function in four such experiments indicates that roughly one in 10^64 signature-consistent sequences forms a working domain. Combined with the estimated prevalence of plausible hydropathic patterns (for any fold) and of relevant folds for particular functions, this implies the overall prevalence of sequences performing a specific function by any domain-sized fold may be as low as 1 in 10^77’(16)
This is 10 with 77 zeros at the end of it! A big, big number!
This isn’t a surprising finding, as multiple studies which have looked at this subject have come to similar figures. (17)
‘obtaining a functional sequence for RecA in a single sampling is approximately 1 chance in 1 with 250 zeros after it. Evolutionary biology, contends that there were a vast number of evolutionary samplings. Using published estimates for fast mutation rates, total number of individual life forms on earth, length of genomes, and so forth, we can estimate that the total number of different sequences possible in four billion years was not more than 10^42. This makes the very generous assumption that no sequences were ever repeated. A published, ‘extreme upper limit’ puts the maximum number of samplings at 10^43. To put this in perspective, we have only 10^43 opportunities to find something that, on average, would require closer to 10^250 trials. In other words, the entire sum of mutations, insertions and deletions, operating over four billion years, would fall short by more than 200 orders of magnitude of producing a functional RecA sequence’ (18)
Furthermore, in 2019 an article was posted making more explicit the problems faced, based on Douglas Axe's 2004 work, ‘There have been about 10^17 seconds since the beginning of the universe. If there was one try for this protein every second since the beginning, the chance would be one in 10^77/10^17, which is one in 10^60. This is still hopeless. What if we had a billion tries every second? We get one in 10^51’ (20)
So, we have seen that the sequence sizes and probability of obtaining a functional protein fold is exceedingly low at the amino acid level. But what about the larger picture at the protein level, can individual proteins make a difference? In 2006 a study was completed in the protein sequence in a flagella.
‘Contrary to this expectation, Dup-2 [DUP-(−15 to −19)] inhibited FljB-dependent motility. This behavior was seen in strains that carried Dup-2 in combination with the insertion mutation fliC::MudK, which forms the fliC-lacZ gene fusion described above (Fig. 6 B). WT cells in the FljB-(FljA) phase express FljB flagellin (and inhibit FliC production) and are motile. In this phase, cells with the Dup-2 mutation at the fliC::MudK insertion are expected to be motile (because of FljB) and express the FliC-LacZ fusion protein but not functional FliC protein. Surprisingly, the Dup-2 mutation impaired the expected fljB-dependent motility. Thus, a mutation near fliC appeared to act in trans on the expression of fljB.’(21)
So, we can see that changes at the protein level, can cause proteins not to be expressed upstream later on.
It seems then, based on this brief summary, ID is falsifiable and detectable. Moreover, it seems materialism given its limitations and its absurd conclusions it leads to, shouldn’t be accepted and ID should be adopted if you wish to logically consistent and follow the evidence where it leads.
(11) Signature in the Cell - DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design – Harper Collins. Stephen C. Meyer pg141.
(12) Crick, What Mad Pursuit, pg138.
(13) Signature in the Cell - DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design – Harper Collins. Stephen C. Meyer pg12.
(14) Dawkins, River out of Eden, pg17.
(15) Gates, The Road Ahead, pg188.
Recommended Further Reading: