Al Mohler On Why He Doesn't Believe Facts

As I have stated repeatedly, I accept without hesitation the fact that the world indeed looks old. Armed with naturalistic assumptions, I would almost assuredly come to the same conclusions as BioLogos and the evolutionary establishment, or I would at least find evolutionary arguments credible. But the most basic issue is, and has always been, that of worldview and basic presuppositions. The entire intellectual enterprise of evolution is based on naturalistic assumptions, and I do not share those presuppositions. Indeed, the entire enterprise of Christianity is based on supernaturalistic, rather than merely naturalistic, assumptions. There is absolutely no reason that a Christian theologian should accept the uniformitarian assumptions of evolution. In fact, given a plain reading of Scripture, there is every reason that Christians should reject a uniformitarian presupposition. The Bible itself offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena, with explanations that should be compelling to believers. In sum, there is every reason for Christians to view the appearance of the cosmos as graphic evidence of the ravages of sin and the catastrophic nature of God’s judgment upon sin.

Al Mohler

  • zach

    Dear Al Mohler,
    The presuppositions underlying science gave us antibiotics and jet planes. What did the supernatural presuppositions of ancient Mesopotamia give us?

    • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

      Belief that mental illness was really demon possession?

      Belief that illness of any kind was demon possession?

      Belief that STDs were God’s punishment for sticking your ding ding in a used/non-virginal hoo hoo?

      Belief that eating sea food was dirty?

      Belief that eating milk and meat together (aka a cheeseburger) was dirty?

      Belief that dipping yourself in stagnant water was clean?

      Shall I go on with what ridiculous ideas supernatural beliefs result in? I mean, really Al! You. Are. Stupid.

      • zach

        Not stupidity so much as irrationality. Many intelligent people become intensely irrational when it comes to challenges to their religion (meaning culture, family, community, personal meaning, etc). That included me not long ago. Sad that. Evolution is such a beautiful concept when you don’t fear it with every cell of your being. To the theist, our evolution is terrifying.

        • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

          Bah… if he would think through what he’s saying… I dunno. Maybe I’ve been in academia too long. I have to defend with evidence my every word. It would be a luxury to just state some presumed idea and get away with it. I’ve lost patience for people who aren’t held to that standard.

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            BTW, these types of people mean that supernatural assumptions are ok as long as they are their brand of supernatural assumptions. They won’t accept other people’s supernatural assumptions, which makes them hypocrites as well as (imo) stupid/ irrational.

        • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

          Well. . . I’m a theist and I find evolution fascinating. But, I’d wager this has more to do with my own views on the divine than an either/or argument, as most might tend to phrase the discussion.

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            Well… how exactly is it either/or when science has mountains of evidence and religion has…. circular arguments as well as logical inconsistencies and contradictions, unsupported claims, stories in which horrible things happen regularly (that are regularly condemned today by people of “faith”), and ultimately, the threat of hell if one doesn’t comply…

            • zach

              well, you know, it’s all presuppositions, right? it’s your presuppositions about god that influence the way you understand all of radiometric dating, species distribution, feathery dinosaurs, dinosaury-birds……

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              well, if you let your unsupported presuppositions win out over solid evidence…..

              not good

            • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

              Well… how exactly is it either/or when science has mountains of evidence and religion has…. circular arguments as well as logical inconsistencies and contradictions, unsupported claims, stories in which horrible things happen regularly (that are regularly condemned today by people of “faith”), and ultimately, the threat of hell if one doesn’t comply…

              I meant either/or in the sense that one either believes or one does not. I was not advocating for any one faith over any other, nor over the absence of faith (if, in fact, that’s the proper turn of phrase to describe an atheist. Apologies all around if I am incorrect. I’m learning, which is why I am here in the first place.)

              As to the “circular arguments as well as logical inconsistencies and contradictions, unsupported claims [...]” etcetera, I agree wholeheartedly. Which is why I view the divine (note, please, I didn’t say religion) the way I do.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              How do you know anything about the “divine” if you don’t get it from religion? Unless, of course, you speculate it for yourself.

            • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

              How do you know anything about the “divine” if you don’t get it from religion? Unless, of course, you speculate it for yourself.

              Actually, my methods are not unlike a scientists when it comes to such matters. A careful weighing of available data, the exploration of ideas to their logical conclusions, and the recording of data for further study and review.

              As to your first question, religion is the dogma of man. It is suspect, at best, and a careful review of myths and stories usually eliminates upwards to 90 percent of it from consideration.

              As to the rest, I don’t think I could accurately explain it in a way that you’d understand, since you haven’t the same experiences as I do. In short, you’ve not lived my life, seen the things I’ve seen, nor experienced those events as I have, thus you have no frame of reference. Trying to explain them would be like trying to explain the color blue to a blind man.

              In short, knowledge about the divine comes from more than religion. It comes from personal experience and interaction. This is why I said that its an either/or situation; either you have faith, or your don’t.

              And to be clear, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, or threaten anyone with eternal damnation. What choices we make in this world are ours alone. That’s the only real freedom any of us have.

              Kindest Regards,
              Goon

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              “Actually, my methods are not unlike a scientists when it comes to such matters. A careful weighing of available data, the exploration of ideas to their logical conclusions, and the recording of data for further study and review.”

              Well, your methods *are* unlike science because science doesn’t progress on individuals and their findings. It requires the few next steps to actually be science: peer review, repetition of experiments/findings, and consensus.

              So your personal speculations are just that: speculations.

              “And to be clear, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, or threaten anyone with eternal damnation. What choices we make in this world are ours alone. That’s the only real freedom any of us have.”

              That’s cool. I’m just debating because I like to hash through this stuff. I like to think about it. I enjoy it.

          • zach

            i have christian friends who accept evolution. but only a few. and evolution was a terrifying prospect for me when i was a believer. my church made it a point to fight the lie of old earth creationism. so i appreciate your openness.

            • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

              To be clear, I do not practice Christianity in any form. While I find the Bible fascinating from an academic and literary view, as a religious work it leaves something to be desired. ;)

              That said, I thank you for the comments.

            • zach

              Well then, I apologize for assuming your theism as Christianity! My mistake, I blame living in America.

            • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

              I take no offense, for life is too short for such nonsense. Let us discuss with openness and rational discourse. If you’ve questions, ask them.

              Regards,
              Goon

            • Peter Cross

              What is the air speed velocity of a swallow?

          • DG Graham

            Amazing how religion can pick and choose sciences that are real or the ones that are “hand of god”…it is truly an uphill battle bringing rational thought to those that have no need for it

    • Sunny Day

      What did the supernatural presuppositions of ancient Mesopotamia give us?

      It took away the fear of Death and replaced it with the fear of Sin & Death.

    • trj

      Witch burnings.

    • Sam Dallas

      Wow, I got to the first comment, and already what I find is hopelessly wanting…

      Congratulations, Zach, you’ve committed the “Straw Man Fallacy” on two different occasions in just TWO sentences! First, the naturalistic presuppositions underlying science are not responsible for antibiotics or jet planes or any other wonderful things. Nope – just an evolutionary paradigm lacking in explanatory power and all kinds of other skewed views of the world (e.g. anthropogenic global warming). Second, the supernatural presuppositions of Mesopotamia are irrelevant to Christian theism (which is Mohler’s position). So good job defeating an argument no one was making! Naturalism is truly the “unreasonable faith.”

      • trj

        You never mention what then actually is responsible for antibiotics, jet planes, and other things which we normally characterize as scientific accomplishments. The only thing you seem to be saying is that you don’t think it was science, and your reason for saying this appears to be mainly that you don’t agree with certain scientific findings or you can’t accept that science doesn’t have all the answers.

      • Yoav

        Actually a naturalistic approach is responsible for scientific development. If you don’t assume a naturalistic world then doing research become pointless since you can’t assume constant rules. In a naturalistic universe it is possible to determine that if you shape a wing in a certain way a plain will fly while if it is shaped differently it won’t. In a world governed by the supernatural this can’t be assumed since the laws are subject to change and therefore trying to understand them become futile.
        You should read more on evolution, you will be amazed at how much explanatory power it has.
        How did AGW got here?

        • Sam

          Actually, it is Christian theism that gives you the existence of truth, the rational, orderly nature of the world, the adequacy of our sensory and cognitive faculties as tools suited for knowing the external world. Consciousness and even free will are inexplicable according to a naturalistic framework, so you have it exactly backwards.

          • Custador

            Rofl! Even the spam-filter thought you were too full of crap and stopped you. But I thought I’d be nice and let the guys rip into you over your baseless assertions.

            UFers, you may commence firing when ready.

            • Sam

              So far I’m bored.

            • Custador

              Sam, if your comments don’t show right away, please don’t think we’re trying to censor you. For some reason the spam filter has taken a liking to you and is making us approve all of your comments before it’ll let them through. I don’t know why; I personally disagree with your point of view, but I can’t see that you’ve done anything that deserves censure. Just telling you up front so you don’t think we’ve banned you or something.

            • Custador

              Ah; I think it might be because you posted with the same email and IP addresses but under two (slightly) different names in quick succession.

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            Huuuu, boy! You done stepped in it now!!!

            • Sam

              Yes, as I’ve been reading more comments, I realize I’ve stepped in something alright…smells a bit like “irrationality” with just a sprinkle of “group think.” ;)

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Nope! Wrong.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Oh, wait. You were referring to yourself. My bad.

              :P

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Actually, it is Christian theism that gives you (one of many theories on) the existence of truth, the rational, orderly nature of the world, the adequacy of our sensory and cognitive faculties as tools suited for knowing the external world
              (as does Hinduism, Buddhism, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Enlightenment Philosophy, among others).

              Consciousness and even free will are explicable according to a naturalistic framework via cognitive neuroscience and psychology.

              There, fixed that for ya!

            • Sam

              So you believe consciousness (the mind) IS the brain, which is purely physical? If you do, then you logically cannot hold to a free will. Try again.

            • Custador

              That doesn’t follow logically at all. Please lay out the steps from premise to conclusion which lead you to that, because I can’t see any way.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Sam, your understanding of *determinism* here is limited. Try again.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              And for the record, I think free will is limited by many things, not just our physical make up (ie socioeconomic status, level of education, country in which we are born, etc).

              That being said, certainly we make some choices. That is obvious. But the notion of a “will” is complicated because it generally leads into praise-worthiness and blame-worthiness and that goes into morality (of which there are multiple theories, the classical three being: virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism– which is a whole ‘nother can of worms.)

          • trj

            Consciousness and even free will are inexplicable according to a naturalistic framework.

            I seem to have missed the article in Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience which concluded this. Could you point us to anything actually supporting this claim, other than just your fervent belief that it must be so because you feel it would otherwise undermine God’s importance?

            Additional question: are apes, elephants, dolphins and certain birds that display signs of being self-conscious just faking it?

            • Sam

              Um…I’m not denying consciousness. Your worldview (matter and motion) cannot account for the existence of consciousness.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Actually, it can. Of course, it depends on what you mean by consciousness.
              Furthermore, philosophy of mind speculates on consciousness without any reference to Christian theism at all.

            • Bender

              Your worldview (matter and motion) cannot account for the existence of consciousness.

              As opposed to your worldview (matter + motion + god + jesus) which totally does, right?

            • trj

              I never said you were denying the existence of consciousness. I merely asked you to back up your assertion that it cannot arise naturally.

            • Custador

              For information, Sam’s latest slew of comments also hit the spam filter but were this time variations on a theme of contentless spam and general fuckwhittery. Consequently, I did not let them through the filter.

            • Mike

              Yes it can – and what ‘s more it is on the point of doing so. This idiotic approach to ‘proving’ the existence of god (“Science can’t explain it, it must be god”) has been defeated time and time and time again, and the ‘conciousness’ objection is about to go the same way. Then, no doubt,the theists will cling desperately to the next thing which science cannot (yet) explain. Pathetic.

            • http://www.icyclist.blogspot.com Dave Wyman

              “Your worldview (matter and motion) cannot account for the existence of consciousness.”

              It’s easy to account for consciousness. It arose as a survival mechanism. In that sense, consciousness is no different than the evolution of phototropism or locomotion.

      • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

        Sam Dallas, you are straight up wrong about science. Please educate yourself:

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pseudo-science/

        • Sam

          I perused this. The article accomplished exactly what for your point?

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            If you don’t see the point, then your “perusal” failed. Next time, try reading for comprehension and detail, ‘K?

            • Sam

              Why don’t you just state your point? I’m stating my point HERE.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Oh, I see. You’re too lazy to read an entry from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that clearly explains the difference between science (evolution) and pseudoscience (creationism). Gotcha.

            • Len

              Sam said he perused it. I’m guessing he or she doesn’t know what peruse means either.

      • Olaf

        “First, the naturalistic presuppositions underlying science are not responsible for antibiotics or jet planes or any other wonderful things.”

        So tell me who made the technology to develop antibiotics and jet planes?
        You say that scientists did not have a part in it? End engineers just invented the maths and took the materials out of nature without need of scientists?

        • Sam

          “You say scientists did not have a part in it?”

          What a weird question. Who said this now? Certainly not me. My guess is you don’t understand what naturalism/materialism is. This is the philosophy that ALL that exists is matter. This is what Mohler (and myself) find to be the true “unreasonable faith.” Where we do disagree is that I hold to an “old earth” and he does not.

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            And you clearly don’t understand the difference between philosophical naturalism and methodological naturalism. Again you might want to actually *read* the link I posted.

            • Sam

              You are a philosophical naturalist who believes science is limited to methodological naturalism. Voilà! Now your methodology proves your philosophy. You should all form a website together and pat each other on the back now. Oh wait…

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              My being a philosophical naturalist has nothing to do with it. Kenneth Miller is a Christian theist who holds to methodological naturalism because he understands what *falsifiability* means and why it is important to science’s epistemology.

          • Francesc

            Matter and energy. Perhaps antimatter too. But I will show you with an example the differences between a naturalistic approach and a supernaturalistic approach to disease:
            Naturalistic: Hey, those kids are dying because of something, let’s look at what they have different from other healthy children.
            Supernaturalistic: Hey, those kids are dying. It must be God’s will. Maybe they or they parents where sinfull.

            Now… wich one do you think got us to antibiotics?

    • Venture Free

      What did the supernatural presuppositions of ancient Mesopotamia give us?

      A simple and effective solution to the prisoners dilemma, maybe? It clearly does more harm than good now, but back in the day it may have been an effective population-level solution to the problem of selfishness profiting the individual to the detriment of the population as a whole.

      I wonder what, if any, other solutions might have been found had a different accident of history occurred at a key moment. Or do you suppose religion is very nearly mandated by the emergence of intelligence much like eyesight is very nearly mandated by the presence of light. Perhaps it is a form of evolutionary scaffolding which makes it possible to reach a new maximum in the “fitness landscape”, but which then becomes vestigial, slowly fading into history as it’s negatives begin to outweigh it’s positives.

  • Bodhisvaha

    *facepalm*

  • Kodie

    there is every reason for Christians to

    Specifically, which are these every reasons. Let me guess, the shape of it is round. Some might even call circular.

  • J.Allen

    We are all now dumber for having listened to you

  • Balstrome

    Before any religious person can join a debate in science vs religion, they have to show evidence for their gods. No, they really must do this, otherwise we can reject anything else that they say about religion. Science supporters will understand this need for evidence, the trouble is getting the religious to buy into it. They expect a free ride with no questions. No going to happen, and from what I have seen, it will never happen.

    • Sam

      What an interesting personal philosophy you have! So do you believe that we should ONLY accept that which can be “scientifically” proven?

      • Bender

        It’s called “reason” and it’s hardly personal. But don’t worry, you don’t have to accept it. You have the right to remain a gullible moron.

      • http://malvond.wordpress.com/ Malvond

        Naturally, we live our lives using a lot of assumptions about things that may not have been proven, but key is that those assumptions be tentative and open to new information, subject to change. More importantly, it’s one thing to act as though one thing is true while we lack any evidence to tell us otherwise; it’s quite another, demonstrated by Mohler and lots of other religious talkers, to accept something as truth when available data and research suggest the contrary.

      • Len

        “So do you believe that we should ONLY accept that which can be “scientifically” proven?”

        Yes. If something can’t be scientifically proven, then it could very well be untrue and I’d have no way of knowing.

  • Sunny Day

    What a long-winded way to say, Garbage in, garbage out.

  • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/ Uzza

    In fact, given a plain reading of Scripture paycheck from the Southern Baptist Convention, there is every reason that Christians should reject a uniformitarian presupposition.

    • Custador

      Did nobody else spot the “enterprise of Christianity” bit? At last, a confession that religion is a business that’s all about extracting money from the masses!

      /quotemine

  • Balstrome

    As I have stated repeatedly, I accept without hesitation the fact that the world indeed looks old.

    That is all you needed to say, anything else does not matter.

    Armed with naturalistic assumptions, I would almost assuredly come to the same conclusions as BioLogos and the evolutionary establishment, or I would at least find evolutionary arguments credible.

    So you have a problem with reality, why? are you religious or something.

    But the most basic issue is, and has always been, that of worldview and basic presuppositions. The entire intellectual enterprise of evolution is based on naturalistic assumptions, and I do not share those presuppositions.

    The whole of the intellectual community accepts reality, but you do not. Fine, I get you now.

    Indeed, the entire enterprise of Christianity is based on supernaturalistic, rather than merely naturalistic, assumptions. There is absolutely no reason that a Christian theologian should accept the uniformitarian assumptions of evolution.

    Correct, you are into wooly thinking, there is no need for you to think clearly about reality.

    In fact, given a plain reading of Scripture, there is every reason that Christians should reject a uniformitarian presupposition.

    Killed with circular logic here, who says the bible is correct, etc.

    The Bible itself offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena, with explanations that should be compelling to believers.

    Yes, it does offer nothing like what is the truth.

    In sum, there is every reason for Christians to view the appearance of the cosmos as graphic evidence of the ravages of sin and the catastrophic nature of God’s judgment upon sin.

    You are supposing that the universe has a purpose, ain’t you?

  • mikespeir

    I accept without hesitation the fact that the world indeed looks old. Armed with naturalistic assumptions….

    First, he admits the world looks old, even, apparently, to one with supernaturalist assumptions. Surprisingly, then, he can’t seem to see that our naturalist assumptions are the product of how things look, not the reason they look that way to us. His assumptions, by his own inadvertent admission, are the ones that fly in the face of the obvious.

  • Pingback: Why is Hermeneutics so Important? | Beginning Barth

  • nazani14

    *tilts head like a pug*
    So, the ravages of sin are responsible for the dynamic beauty of the observable cosmos? Damn, I’d better work harder at sinning. Hit me with that ravage stick!

  • CriticalEyes

    I believe in “MAGIC”……………………………….. la-la-la-……..la-la.

    • Sam

      Actually, you DO believe in magic “critical”eyes…you believe everything came from nothing by nothing while using nothing. This is actually worse than magic though, because your worldview lacks the magician, the wand, or the hat…just *poof!* = a rabbit!

      • http://malvond.wordpress.com/ Malvond

        Explain how existence originating from nothingness is logically inferior to infinite existence.

      • Mike

        Again, Sam, your lack of comprehension and ignorance of physics and cosmology is no argument for the existence of your Bronze-age invisible friend.

      • Len

        “…just *poof!* = a rabbit!”

        You mean like poof – Goddidit.

      • runty_cactus

        So a god can just appear ex nihilo, but the universe can’t? Odd standards.

  • Peter Cross

    The Bible itself offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena, with explanations that should be compelling to believers.

    One for two. The Bible indeed offers a very different understanding of natural phenomena. Example: that insects have four legs. (Lev 11:21-22). However, these explanations should not be compelling to anyone who is sane.

  • Peter Cross

    The entire intellectual enterprise of evolution is based on naturalistic assumptions, and I do not share those presuppositions. Indeed, the entire enterprise of Christianity is based on supernaturalistic, rather than merely naturalistic, assumptions.

    Presuppositions in science: the fewer, the better. And even then, your presuppositions must be open to question. Consider the Michelson-Morley experiment. M&M went into this experiment with the presupposition that the “ether” exists; the whole point of their experiment was to establish its direction and effect on the speed of light. However, the data they obtained demanded a re-evaluation of their presuppositions, and the M&M experiment is now considered the first major result supporting the conclusion that the “ether” does not exist.

    Presuppositions which are not open to question, i.e. dogma, have no place in science.

  • timothy mark

    It’s been a while since I have viewed thoughts shared here. It challenges an individual to encounter provocative arguments, yet they serve as a catalyst to do more research. I believe it unfortunate discussions are sometimes absent of rational and respect but such is how are culture has evolved. Dr.Mohler’s fears that science is a threat have echoes from the past resounding in my mind. I do not believe that the potential for harmony is hopeless between faith and science. But as it stands this day rhetoric form each side makes it appear unlikely. One is drawn to two thoughts, ” Can faith in a loving God be built on a foundation of lies about nature”? and to paraphrase Jay Gould, That science simply cannot, by the legitimate application of it’s method comment on the God question.

    • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

      No one says science does comment on God. Science, by definition, is an exploration of the natural world. Its process is methodological naturalism. Some scientists, philosophers, and humanities folks have adopted philosophical naturalism. They use the evidence from science to support their philosophical claims. Methodological naturalism =/= philosophical naturalism. Yet, fundies don’t understand that, so they attack methodological naturalism when they should be attacking philosophical naturalism. If fundies only attacked philosophical naturalism, I’d have nothing to complain about. But since they are hell-bent on attacking science, I’m gearing up to fight them off (by going into science studies as a career).

      • Yabo

        I love you.

        • UrsaMinor

          Beauty and brains and always a winning combination. We have LRA, they have the Pope.

          Go our team!

          • UrsaMinor

            Er…that second “and” should be “are”.

            Does this make me an honorary Texan?

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              D’awww!!! Shucks!

              Thanks y’all!

              Yes, Ursa, you can be an honorary Texan. :D

            • UrsaMinor

              Cool. Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve always loved the drawl.

              Gonna git me a English-to-Texan phrase book.

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA
            • UrsaMinor

              Thank you, ma’am!
              (dons cowboy hat)
              (flips pages)

              Y…uh, yuh…yi…yee-HAW!

              Did I say that right?

            • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

              Not plumb, but pert near…

              (LOL!)

      • trj

        No one says science does comment on God.

        Well, science can’t and doesn’t refute the general concept of God, but it does implicitly comment on certain specific ideas about God, as it shows that a lot of the stuff in the Bible (esp. Genesis) is myths that didn’t literally happen.

        I don’t see it as a philosphical viewpoint to state that someone’s image of God is false if it doesn’t conform to objective reality (and I don’t think Mohler and other fundies who choose to just deny reality are making a philosophical point).

        • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

          Yes, the epistemological claims made in religions are refutable. For sure. Of course, how do we access “objective reality” if all we have are our senses (empirical observation)? How do we go beyond our senses (empiricism) to record “objective reality”?

          Science is a human construct, like religion. However, religion generally relies on non-empirical statements (and when it does make empirically testable/observable statements, of course they are refutable by actual empirically observed facts). So, because religion relies on these non-empirical statements, it falls in the realm of philosophy/humanities, and those areas are pretty much speculation and attempts at rationalization via arguments/counterarguments.

          If fundies limited their tiffs to philosophy/humanities, no problem. But what they’re doing is trying to drag science into the fight by questioning the philosophical underpinnings of science– that methodological naturalism is a world view rather than a default position necessary because of the need for falsification in order to proceed with some confidence in the findings, that science’s empiricism is flawed even though science proceeds by empiricism. They are attacking science at its roots to change it fundamentally. They are trying to destroy one of the greatest and most powerful constructs humans have ever made because they can’t accept the fact that the epistemological claims made within their specific religion can be demonstrated as wrong.

          But, of course, none of that is science’s fault. Science cuts across cultures and biases (at least the hard sciences do, the softer sciences have a harder time finding facts common across cultures and times) to reflect what humans have found to be true by repetition, peer-review, and consensus. Note here, that while I’m talking commonalities across cultures, I’m not suggesting universals or “objective reality”.

          • trj

            Heh, I knew I shouldn’t have used the phrase “objective reality” with someone like you who is philosophically inclined. Perception and cognition are sure to be immediately dragged into the discussion.

            But anyway, I agree with you that it’s a sad state of affairs how many fundies react with a destructive approach to science (and education) because the specifics of their faith don’t stand up to any actual scrutiny. It annoys and saddens me whenever I hear them dismiss science as another faith or an unfounded belief system.

    • Peter Cross

      and to paraphrase Jay Gould, That science simply cannot, by the legitimate application of it’s method comment on the God question.

      Stephen Jay Gould was wrong about that.

      First of all, which god are you talking about?

      Any of the gods who live on Mt. Olympus? We’ve been there, science can say they don’t exist.

      The God who created the world in a week 600 years ago? Science can say He doesn’t exist.

      The God who flooded the entire world with 40 days of rain? the science of geology tells us it didn’t happen.

      The God who heals people who are prayed for – once again, science tells us that He doesn’t exist.

      Only the most distant, nebulous – and irrelevant – gods are immune to scientific exploration. I.e. gods who don’t matter.

      • Peter Cross

        I meant 6000 years ago. Same answer.

      • Paul

        So… god is nebulous, distant, and doesn’t matter; implication: god is dark matter.

        • timothy mark

          Clever!

      • timothy mark

        I believe he was referring to the fact, (Gould), that some questions are beyond the ability for scientists to empirically qualify. The reference comes from a discussion, “evolution has triumphed over supernaturalism of any sort” Pure facts are limited by what science can observe, so the unobservable, unmeasurable. remains potentially viable. Serious thinkers have argued for centuries, articulating plausible rational thoughts for and against the existence of a God. As, for which God, 1 of the 4 I would agree with. The two with timelines, not so much. Does the doubt raised about the accuracy of a story give you the empirical ability to say He doesn’t exist? They say George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Potomac, using your logic the Father of our country didn’t exist. Regarding medical miracles, we have still more to learn about the recuperative self healing capability of the human body but how, when not knowing the exact source of a cure, can one unequivocally deny the hand of a God? You can doubt it speculate against it offer alternative but absent proof? I believe your discussion highlights the specifics that Gould elaborated on.

        • Michael

          The thing is, the idea of “God” is so vague, nebulous, and malleable that it can always be morphed into something science has not yet or cannot disprove. That doesn’t mean we should believe in it.

          But as was pointed out, many people still cling to ideas of God that are easily tested and disproved by science, so we can at least debate them.

        • Peter Cross

          timothy mark: … can one unequivocally deny the hand of a God?

          Sure, I’ll get right on it – just as soon as you unequivocally prove that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

          • timothy mark

            I didn’t think so!

            • Custador

              Are you seriously going to claim that as some kind of point for yourself? That’s quite some self-delusion you have there…

            • timothy mark

              Your contribution would be what? Is that what is considered a drive-by attack? I have shared a point of view somewhat rare apparently from comments I have seen. Individuals of faith can be open, in fact are open to scientific discovery. Even in the face of that perilous slippery slope it represents to Jewish Scripture and the New Testament,(so often talked about by individuals who agree with Dr. Mohler). I do not seek vindication of my faith, am far from adequate to carry evangelical water so to speak. Confrontation I suppose is necessary it helps me encounter ideas not previously considered. I am certain pat questions exist in the repetoires, honed arrows from the quiver intended to silence will come my way. Other times if I share something warranting consideration, perhaps dialogue will ensue. For the most part I browse topics, impressed by the knowledge intrigued by the arguments, evaluating opinions and respectful of individuals.

            • Custador

              You asked for unequivical proof that God does not exist (which in itself is a failure to grasp that it’s not our job to disprove anything – it’s for theists to prove their various versions of the truth if they want to engage in this debate). The response you got from Peter Cross pretty much said exactly that, albeit in very simplistic terms.

            • Michael

              If you don’t understand his point you naturally won’t understand mine, either.

            • timothy mark

              I feel like I do get your point. There was an Jewish rabbi when confronted by Roman Emperor Hadrian with needing visual proof of God. so he took the Emperor outside and asked him to gaze at the midday summer sun, That’s impossible he declared, to which Rabbi responded, “If you cannot look at the sun how much less can you behold the Glory of the God who created it”?
              Personally I have poor ability imagining what forms God is capable of.
              I don’t recall asking anyone to believe in anything. That would be totally presumptuous. I would not surmise individuals here, come by their convictions in a casual manner. Nor do I think religion is playing; “which shell is God under now and what does he look like”.?
              As far as ideas you mention some of faith might be holding on to that need to be put to bed? Could have already been there done that and remain, so far unscorched to discuss them.

            • timothy mark

              Custador,
              I am not sure what happened to the reply tab on your second post, so I will slip this in here.
              If Paul doesn’t have the proof he should not state that he does. Quote “science tells us he doesn’t exist” Science deals in absolutes. I had my doubts but thought he might very well have some reference material citing medical miracles. I would not have asked for had it not been offered.

            • Paul

              Peter, not me. And you’re correct about science not being able to make claims about god (though, I cannot comment on Gould saying that personally), simply because any god that exists is supernatural while science aims for understanding the natural. If god did interfere with the natural, then we would be having a different discussion, and I think that is where Peter Cross was coming from.

              We simply see no evidence that any god exists by looking at the natural world, there is no reason, as far as we can tell, to require a supernatural presence. Although this does not prove that god does not exist, people certainly are able to suspect the absence of a deity from the lack of evidence. This would constitute a personal conclusion from an indirect measure of the data, and even though it is not completely logical, does have some logic to it (consider the difference between the approaches taken by mathematicians and physicists).

    • Len

      “and to paraphrase Jay Gould, That science simply cannot, by the legitimate application of it’s method comment on the God question.”

      Correct. There is no God => there is no question.

      • timothy mark

        So as to make sure you have not, by accident misinterpreted Gould. ” To say for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth time: “Science simply cannot by its legitimate methods adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists”

    • Bender

      I do not believe that the potential for harmony is hopeless between faith and science.

      It is, since faith and science are opposite concepts.

      • timothy mark

        Albert Einstein, a deist I believe, not necessarily a believer in God of the Bible. Yet he recognized the potential emptiness of a purely naturalistic point of view with this quote, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.
        People of faith should not view science as a threat. He is the God of the quark and the genome never intending they would remain hidden forever.

        • Yoav

          This is the quote in context:

          Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

          To me it look like Einstein was using a definition of religion that is significantly different from the traditional one and is more in line with the way he used the word god as a way to express a sense of wonder at the universe rather then a supernatural entity.

          His views of traditional religion were clearly not good.

          “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this”

          Einstein in a letter to Eric Gutkind, in response to his receiving the book “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt”. The letter was written on January 3, 1954

          • timothy mark

            Thank-you, I didn’t have access to the entire quote, I sincerely hope it didn’t seem there was attempt to misrepresent his thoughts. As I indicated his views were not aligned with the Christian Bible.

            • Francesc

              It wasn’t your attempt to misrepresent his thoughts, it was your source’s attempt. Everytime I see an Einstein’s quote I wonder if it is a real one. Even the stupidest idea seems to deserve some respect if Einstein said it.
              Oh, and I’m with Yoav or even more, I doubt even if Einstein was being deist here. It has sense if it says that everyone -including scientists- needs a purpose on life, and that purpose is kinda a “religious” thing. In a very broad sense.

          • Paul

            I’ve always been wary of that quote, thanks for taking the time to look it up and put it into context; this is going into my quote collection.

        • Bender

          I doubt Einstein ever said that, but even if he did, that doesn’t make science and faith compatible. Faith’s definition is “belief in absence of evidence”. Science works by no assuming anything is true until it’s backed by evidence. The two concepts are mutually exclusive.
          Your comment is very ilustrative: you’d feel “emptiness” if there was no god, so chose to believe in it. I’m sorry, but that’s wishful thinking. I don’t feel any emptiness. The actual universe is a lot more awesome and fascinating that any myth, and I find understanding it is a lot more fulfilling that believing a deity has a plan for me.

          • timothy mark

            Am curious as to why you begin with a statement of doubt and would refute the context has value, even if true. As if to say he doesn’t matter? Are we so predisposed, only influenced by thoughts in agreement with “our” previous conclusions.
            A somewhat limited definition of “faith” presented gives that indication. Is it a contention that belief in God is totally irrational?
            As far as emptiness; I understood it (even without the help of the recently added context) to mean without the depth,a religious based, spiritual and moral compass provides as foundation.

            • Francesc

              Are we so predisposed, only influenced by thoughts in agreement with “our” previous conclusions.

              That’s what some studies conclude. That’s why child indoctrination is so important.
              Luckily, we only heard about religion when we were old enough \sarcasm off

              The definition of religious faith as “belief in absence of evidence” doesn’t seem limited to me, but I’m open to hear your definition.

        • Peter Cross

          timothy mark: Albert Einstein, a deist I believe…

          Wrong. Probably agnostic/atheist, possibly a pantheist. Most certainly not a believer in the God of the Bible.

          The full piece:
          Science and Religion

          I agree with Yoav that Einstein used words such as “religion” in ways that most other people don’t. He also said things on the topic of science & religion that were just plain wrong. Consider:
          Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other…

          WTF? Since when? When have religious people ever respected this imaginary line between the two magisteria and stopped making religious claims about natural events? It is simply ridiculous to say so, whether teh comment has only your own name on it, or whether you draft Einstein and Gould in your cause.

          But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion.
          Once again, this statement is ridiculous. “An aspiration towards truth and understanding” is present in most scientists, and yet scientists are notably less religious than the general population. This is what Richard Feynman called “the pleasure of finding things out,” and what Carl Sagan and others called “a sense of wonder.” Neither of those scientists felt any need to attribute it to religion. Einstein was dumb for having attempted to do so. And his blind & lame quote is built directly on top of this poor soil.

        • Peter Cross

          People of faith should not view science as a threat. He is the God of the quark and the genome never intending they would remain hidden forever.

          Certainly people whose faith requires them to believe in a 6000 year old universe and a global flood should view science as a threat. But I guess you mean people of “true” faith, i.e. a faith just like yours.

          • timothy mark

            http://www.deism.com/einstein.htm
            Not much good at this tech stuff but I try. Thanks for the articles read one and feel it confirms my original supposition.
            As to when has religion respected science. Religion can’t speak, people do as imperfect as we are prone to mistakes and self serving ideals. The example may be few but I will share one with you.
            Benjamin Warfield at the turn of the 19th century wrote
            ” We must not, then as Christians, assume an attitude of antagonism towards the truths of reason, or the truths of philosophy, or the truths of science, or the truths of history, or the truths of criticism. As children of the light, we must be careful to keep ourselves open to every ray of light. Let us, then, cultivate an attitude of courage as over against the investigator of the day. None should be more zealous in them than we. None should be more quick to discern truth in every field, more hospitable to receive it, more loyal to follow it, whithersoever it leads.
            Those scientists mentioned in the Einstein article? those that followed a passion for the truth, Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, all strong believers in God of the Bible.

            • Francesc

              “all strong believers in God of the Bible”
              Surprising, living in an era when everybody had to be a believer, and when every university was religious. Also, all of them where men, so it must mean that women are not able to do science.

            • timothy mark

              There was no requirement for “belief” that I am aware. There were national baptisms and entire populations deemed by edict to be Christians if memory serves. But certainly women’s role in the professional, and scientific arenas was too long in coming. Seems a strange to throw out such a statement but certainly a bone to pick. But that aside certainly strong prejudices, heavy indoctrination and institutional control existed which in some ways makes all the more remarkable, clandestine research in what would be considerd heretical subjects endured. When every University was Religious? Not even sure if any universities began as secular, prior to the 19th century not many would be my guess. Would you rather no universities had been founded?

            • Peter Cross

              Thanks for the articles read one and feel it confirms my original supposition.

              Not so, since it points out the unusual definition of “religion” Einstein was using in your out-of-context quote.

              Benjamin Warfield at the turn of the 19th century wrote…

              So what? Is the the designated spokesperson for Christianity? Currently about half of Americans believe in Young Earth Creationism, and they do so for religious reasons. And when you take away all the scientific errors, historical errors, etc. of Christianity – what’s left?

              Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, all strong believers in God of the Bible.

              Those are your pillars of science? Not a single one of them accepted the theory of evolution, or the theory of relativity. Because they’ve been dead for centuries! And if any of them had expressed atheistic thoughts, they would have been burned at the stake.

            • Yoav

              Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, all strong believers in God of the Bible.
              Newton was also really into alchemy but the respect I have for his monumental contribution to the understanding of physics and mathematics doesn’t mean I’m going to invest in lead because Newton believed it can be turned into gold.

            • Michael

              You might want to respect his alchemy a little, though, since it was as close to an experimental science as you had at the time.

            • Custador

              Kepler, Copernicus and Newton all had beliefs which reflected the state of knowledge that existed during their times. We now have more knowledge – the average 14 year old GCSE physics student could give you more mathematicaly accurate models for the motion of a falling body than Newton could have. I’m not sure I see the point of your appeal to authority.

            • timothy mark

              The point I was making, scientists past and present,who have held and hold strong religious convictions, were and are willing to search for truths in science and nature. The punishment, upon discovery for such heretical ideas was severe. Kepler, a Deacon of the RCC, I believe kept his ideas very private and I don’t think they were disseminated until after his death. Einstein’s thoughts I feel, reflect the compelling desire for truth his (Kepler’s) religion may have provided in his life. I am not saying all scientist have this same motivation, but is Einstein? All this stemming from a quote from Einstein I took out of context? You might want to revisit the quote. Are we putting down great historic thinkers and comparing them to today’s 14 year olds, really? Could they do so without their handy HP calculator? Would they know where to begin without those who had gone before? Who is to say some of history’s great thinkers would not have been strong proponents of Darwin’s theory given their proclivity for thinking outside the box. I bring their faith into the discussion as Einstein indicated in another area of the quote “the source of this feeling stems from the sphere of religion” Are the voices for reason which encourage open conversation and discussion, as loud and vociferous as those that would shout down discovery? No, I didn’t mean to imply they were, but nevertheless they do exist. Will they remain a minority? I hope not. Are there scientist today or from the past with a compiled body of work worthy of your respect also known to you as men or women of faith?

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    I accept without hesitation the fact that the world indeed looks old.

    This is the sentence that frustrates me the most. Strictly from the perspective of being intellectually honest, he should be called upon to define when and why scientific observation — particularly when there’s so much consensus — should be doubted. Appealing to his own metaphysical assumptions doesn’t cut it, and as a Christian who strives to be intellectually honest, this just pisses me off.

    • Michael

      I felt the same way. If your beliefs seem unreasonable even to you, why hold on to them? This isn’t just the blatant disregard of reason we see of many people who find their way into this blog’s articles, it’s an intentional and proud contradiction of observation for no clear reason.

      This is especially annoying since here it concerns a definitive and important scientific topic (rather than, say, a difficult and controversial moral topic).

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        it’s an intentional and proud contradiction of observation for no clear reason.

        That’s a very simple and good way of putting it.

      • Elemenope

        If your beliefs seem unreasonable even to you, why hold on to them?

        Many people, from a very young age, are taught to be utterly terrified of being wrong. Especially publicly wrong, out amongst friends, family, co-workers and the wide world. Some people even have trouble conceiving of something they’d less like to be (except dead) than wrong in public.

        Dogmatic thinking preys on this fear in an insidious way. Since most of what can be known about the extranatural claims of religion cannot be known while alive, nobody is an authority on what is right, but everyone has an opinion. Thus, the claims to authority are bare, and thus fall on purely social lines; the religious opinions of those who have power over you socially (for whatever reason) are those against which yours will be judged, by those very same people. This is why opinions can easily be socially reinforced in a more powerful way than any contrary evidence could possibly muster.

        This is not really the fault of religion, but more simply a social dynamic that comes into play anytime there are claims for which evidence is scarce and a prevailing social pressure (as there is in our culture) to never appear wrong. It is hard (but obviously not impossible) to throw off this pressure, but the nature of it is such that it never comes without cost.

    • Francesc

      I respect your way to believe, as I think it is all the rational it could be. Your God doesn’t interphere with the way you look at physical reality but…
      In a creepy way, he is being more consistent with his beliefs. Of course, to be more consistent he should state that the earth is flat and space is filled with water, not hydrogen.
      You believe in the christian God, not simply an undefined God. And your only source for that is the Bible wich you believe to be, to some extent, godly inspired. But you choose and pick wich statements of the bible are real, wich ones are metaphoric or wich ones to plainly ignore. There is not any author’s footnote saying “hey, I invented that to fill the gaps of what God said me”.

      So, it is consistent to believe in the christian God and ignore part of his holy book?

      BTW, we could live in a flat earth wich magically appear to be round, with God (or his evil counterpart) playing tricks with our minds. With sails disappearing on one border and reappering on the opposite. That’s the problem with supernatural beliefs, how you know where to stop believing?

  • http://malvond.wordpress.com/ Malvond

    People like him are experts (unwittingly) in truism: I don’t believe in evolution because that’s not my worldview. Christians should believe the Bible because Christians believe the Bible. I don’t accept that the world is so old because my beliefs tell me that the world is not that old.

    Incidentally, this was what surprised me so much when I went to visit the Creation Museum. Their whole thing is “different starting points”, which makes argument essentially moot. And frustrating.

  • gawd

    Al – This is the one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling incoherent statement were you even close to a rational thought. Everyone on this forum is now dumber for having read it. I grant you no points and may I have mercy on your soul.

    • Michael

      I hate to say it, but that quote is becoming a little overused on this blog.

  • Tina

    Bah! Scripture, come on! Isn’t the Old Testament the Jewish bible? The Torah? Don’t the Jews say that it was never meant to be taken literally?

  • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

    @Peter Cross: It would depend on whether it is coconut laden and its particular genus, African or European. ;)

  • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

    @LRA: Goon said: “Actually, my methods are not unlike a scientists when it comes to such matters. A careful weighing of available data, the exploration of ideas to their logical conclusions, and the recording of data for further study and review.”

    LRA said: Well, your methods *are* unlike science because science doesn’t progress on individuals and their findings. It requires the few next steps to actually be science: peer review, repetition of experiments/findings, and consensus.

    So your personal speculations are just that: speculations.

    Sorry to nitpick, but what I said was: my methods are not unlike a scientists. What I mean is, I record my observations, study them in different ways, and weigh any such data for its merits and its merits alone.

    I agree that it is not fully science, as you pointed out, but only for the fact that peer review, repetition of experiments/findings, and consensus are impossible based on the fact that each person approached divinity in their own way. Of course it’s going to be different. Each of us are different. To expect the same result for different people in matters of faith is not logical.

    I’m a fan of this particular quote: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    As to it being speculation, well, from my point of view, (which is equally as valid as yours), it’s not speculation. But I can certainly understand why you’d think that way. ;)

    Goon said: “And to be clear, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, or threaten anyone with eternal damnation. What choices we make in this world are ours alone. That’s the only real freedom any of us have.”

    LRA said: That’s cool. I’m just debating because I like to hash through this stuff. I like to think about it. I enjoy it.

    As do I. I mean no disrespect in any of this. I am here to learn about your viewpoint. Observation, you know. ;)

    • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

      Well, I think we’re pretty much in agreement there. My speculations are mine, and yours are yours. We all have our own philosophies and opinions, for sure!

      What I’m trying to point out is that we don’t all have our own facts. Science is the activity of fact-making, and so as the sub-fields of science progress, new ideas get tested and tried and found to be consistent over time or else lacking and rejected. When creationists try to say, “science is just a worldview,” I say, “not even close!”

      :D

      • http://wondergoon.wordpress.com WonderGoon

        First, let me apologize for not responding sooner. I was in the midst of another discussion, albeit not one related to theism/atheism. Sadly, it resulted in the ending of three friendships. *sigh*

        But, that aside, let’s continue, shall we?

        You said: “What I’m trying to point out is that we don’t all have our own facts. Science is the activity of fact-making, and so as the sub-fields of science progress, new ideas get tested and tried and found to be consistent over time or else lacking and rejected. When creationists try to say, “science is just a worldview,” I say, “not even close!

        I cannot express, in my meager grasp of the English language, how much I agree with this! I’m glad we are in agreement here.

        The only thing I would contest is the part about facts. And I’m not talking about ignoring things like gravity, now. I’m talking about faith as fact. For the saved, for example, their salvation is fact (to them). Do you see what I’m getting at? It may be totally, and provably false, but to that person, fact is fact and that’s that. Faith, you know. ;)

        Again, I offer my apologies for not responding sooner. This conversation has been on my mind, and, indeed, has been a welcome diversion from dealing with those other matters I mentioned before. I will make every effort to respond faster than (now) four days after the fact.

        Kindest Regards,
        WonderGoon

  • Thin-ice

    Al said this:
    “I am willing to accept the authority of science on any number of issues. I am fundamentally agnostic about a host of other scientific concerns — but not where the fundamental truth of the Gospel and the clear teachings of the Bible are at stake.”

    This guy is clearly not able or willing to approach real-world science in any kind of objective or dispassionate way, but always through the lens of Bible science, which we all know is an oxymoron.

    • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

      Bingo!

      It is complete nit-whittery.

    • Mike

      In other words, he’ll accept facts when it suits him and reject them when they threaten his fairy tale. That’s mature.

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