Science requires a Christian world view

In years of blogging I’m not sure I’ve ever come across something this dumb.

Justin Holcomb, a member of the Mars Hill pastoral team led by Mark Driscoll (you know, the one who says masturbation makes you gay), has posted a bit explaining why science requires the Christian world view.

Not joking.

It should be remembered that non-Christians do science (and usually do so very well), but they cannot give an account for the very science they are doing without relying on the “borrowed capital” from the Christian worldview. According to Cornelius Van Til, unbelievers use the good gifts of God, which are spread throughout creation and on which they unknowingly depend in their thought and life, without giving God the glory.

Yeah, it’s that inane.  This is the kind of thing that would make Richard Carrier double over in agony.  I think I’ll email it to him as a practical joke.

Alright, what are these borrowed elements from Christianity?

#1  The laws, properties, or characteristics of objects and phenomena of a particular class do not vary over distance or time. Nature should be regarded as uniform.

True.  For instance liquid, like water, is always permeable when not frozen.  This would prevent, say, a Canaanite Jew from walking on it.

You don’t get to believe in miracles, which are suspension of the uniformity of the universe by definition, while at the same time saying the uniformity of the universe is a Christian value.

What’s more, even without the obvious dissonance between the two, even if Christianity were to note that grass is green, that doesn’t make green grass a Christian value that everybody else is using.  It just means a religion noted the way the world was.  It says nothing to the truth of the religion.

#2  Since nature is considered uniform, one may, from a limited number of objects/phenomena of a class, properly induce generalizations about all objects/phenomena of that same class.

Where the hell in the bible is this?

And yes, we can generalize how other objects will behave by watching how the laws of nature affect other objects.  For instance, we can determine how water affects soil to determine that a global flood never occurred.

#3  Nature has an objective existence as an interdependent system, and is both intelligible and accessible to the human intellect.

Yes, nature is accessible to the human mind.  In fact, it’s all that’s accessible to the human mind.  Even if god exists he created us with eyes, ears, tactile response, a nose for smelling, etc.  We have used these natural receptors to produce the ideas/models that allow us to survive the scarce food, diseases, natural disasters, and other threats to our well-being that the god who loves us put down on earth.

Then he made the escape of hell dependent on belief in him but he hid his existence from all those natural receptors that are undoubtedly our best way to unmask the nature of the universe literally everywhere else.

Dick move, god.

And somehow we’re supposed to think this is a uniquely Christian value.  Gag me.

#4  Nature can be described accurately by the use of mathematics.

Math: a Christian value.  Now renaming Pythagorean Theorum to Trinity Plus, and renaming Pi to I Kings 7:23-26.

#5. … some methods constitute good science, others bad or pseudo-science; good theories have certain characteristics; and scientists ought to report accurately and honestly.

Good theories have certain characteristics: they are supported by evidence, they do not require the laws of nature to be suspended, etc.

Consider how these apply to, say, a Canaanite Jew rising from the dead.  Yet we are supposed to believe that good experimentation is a Christian value.

I wonder how Justin would go about explaining why bad/pseudo-science is the only type being employed as evidence of god.

#6  The human mind and senses “fit” the natural world, and the use of the laws of logic aids discovery of truth and tends to falsify error.

These are so fucking redundant.  He could’ve just said “The universe is consistent.”  Boom!  One easy step that is still a shitty way to argue that science borrows from Christianity (or to argue that Christianity is true), but it would save anybody reading through this bullshit a lot of time.

Evolution explains how life adapts to its environment, which explains perfectly why we “fit” on the earth.  However, if you’re arguing that humans fit the natural world, you’re largely mistaken.  How many die from disease every day?  From lack of food?  From drowning?  Hell, take humans off this planet and put us anywhere else in the universe and you’ll see just how snugly we fit into its design (hint: we don’t).

Or, if you’re just talking about our mind fitting into the natural world, why all the ways in which our senses can delude us?  Why so many religions all equally likely to be false given the evidence on hand?  Why do our minds allow us to bury the deceased without any worry they will reanimate, yet god demands we believe in someone reanimating based on nothing more than faith?

And perhaps the most pressing question; WHY IN THE BLOODY HELL IS OUR ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE THE WORLD MENTALLY A CHRISTIAN VALUE???

Observed phenomena and entities are defined a priori by known classes such as objects, facts, events, etc. and are construed in a scientific tradition as planets, waves, species, etc.

Defined a priori?  Says who?  You don’t think we came up with these categories as well as the terms that define them?  Even if Christians came up with them (which they didn’t), why the fuck would that make the existence of categories a Christian value?

I swear I could swallow the the paperback version of Twilight and vomit a more sensible argument.

Eight and nine are more equally transparent bullshit I’m not even going to bother with.

So here’s the big reveal.  Why are all of these things Christian values even though they seem to conflict with the things you must believe in order to be a Christian?

My argument is that only the Christian description of the world offers these presuppositions necessary for scientific inquiry. The philosophical preconditions for science are in the pages of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. According to Scripture, God is the transcendent and almighty Creator of heaven and earth, and everything owes its very existence and character to His creative powers and definition (Genesis 1; Nehemiah 9:6; Col. 1:16–17).

Checkmate!  The bible says god created everything in existence and defined them.

Bear in mind that the schematics for, say, a telescope are not in the bible (god needed room to tell people how to cure leprosy…hope you have some live birds and some cedar wood on hand), human beings later figured it out all by themselves.  Don’t you see?  God gets the credit for all the shit human beings figured out – the bible says god gets the credit!  Godless scientists have to borrow math, logic, and the scientific method (y’know, shit humans came up with without any help from scripture) because the bible says god has the patent on them.

Of course, that means god gets credit for AIDS (asshole), homosexuality (just ask your local priest), cancer (but he loves us), hell (sadistic jerk), tornadoes (ain’t god a kidder?), etc.  And if god gets the credit for all the human inventions, like math, the scientific method, etc., then he also gets credit/blame for Islam, Hinduism, Communism, Marxism, Satanism, Limp Bizkit, and Scientology.  If these things are dangerous/misleading, now we know who to blame.

What’s that?  You want proof the bible is true?  Justin doesn’t seem interested in giving any.

The atheist worldview cannot account for the uniformity of nature on which to base the scientific process.

It doesn’t have to.  We just notice that the universe seems consistent and that’s good enough.  If there’s a reason it’s uniform, we layman atheists just admit we don’t know it.  It’s honest of us.  But just because we don’t know doesn’t mean Justin Holcomb or anybody else does.

Only through Christianity can people wholly ignorant of cosmology think they know more than every cosmologist on earth.  Justin probably thinks humility is a Christian value too.

The problem is that without a basis for the uniformity of nature there is no basis for induction.

Well, yes.  Justin wants us to accept that god gave us the means to induction, but he has no evidence for this.  What’s more, he has failed to follow that idea through to its logical conclusion.  Through the consistency of the universe all of us have deduced that the dead do not rise, that nobody can walk on water, etc.  These things are called miracles because they’re physically impossible.  The universe must have stopped being consistent for them to have occurred.

Then god makes escaping hell dependent upon us abandoning our induction, this after making our ability to understand the world dependent on it.

Justin Holcomb’s god clearly wants people to wind up in hell.


If you really want to see someone twist these arguments into an unsolvable mess, boot them into the stratosphere, and then detonate them with all the force that reason has to bear, you should know that Richard Carrier is probably the most equipped person in our movement to thrash this nonsense and has already done so.

He has a chapter on it in The Christian Delusion (“Christianity Was Not Responsible for Modern Science”).  You should also check his critique of Victor Reppert if you want direct engagement with Holcomb’s philosophy and some background to where this guy got this stuff (coughCSLewiscough).  Also be sure to check out the preceding section to that critique.

  • http://blackfingerssmithy.wordpress.com/ BaisBlackfingers

    Then god makes escaping hell dependent upon us abandoning our induction, this after making our ability to understand the world dependent on it.

    Justin Holcomb’s god clearly wants people to wind up in hell.

    New theory: heaven has limited seating. In order to be just, God has to make enough people disbelieve that there is space in heaven for every believer. That must be what is taking the rapture so long. He’s trying his darndest, but people just go right on believing.

  • B. Andrew

    jt, this is 1/3 of the wobbly christian apologetic that goes under the name presuppositionalism. Van Til is one of the names connected to this idea. Typically put forward by pseudo-bright calvinists; calvinism being a basically correct classification of Mars Hill. For a good laugh see proofthatgodexists.org which forces one through the full ‘proof’ of presuppositionalism.

    B

  • http://iamaperture.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger

    God created the universe, so there would be nothing to do Science in without Him! Checkmate, atheists!

  • Chris

    hmm, Maybe this has deeper philosophical ramifications. Maybe that’s how Christians deal with the problem of induction. If you can just say induction is possible because of god, then you’re off the hook. Induce away!

  • Gregory

    I don’t remember if you mentioned it, but The Stranger (an alternative weekly in Seattle) did a recent series of articles, starting with Church or Cult? about how they take over literally every aspect of members’ lives. Follow-up posts are here and here, with a response from the church here.

    They just get creepier and creepier.

  • mercurianferret

    Seems like all of those things can also be due to the Flying Spaghetti Monster…

    Why are all those Christians trying to take the credit for the accomplishments of the FSM?

  • SpaceGhoti

    Isn’t Holcomb just engaging in an elaborate justification of the logical fallacy called Begging the Question?

  • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

    Let’s see how succinctly I can describe this.

    We don’t need an explanation for why sight is properly basic to use it and test it.

    The fact you (Holcomb) invented a fairy tale to explain the foundation of logic/knowledge/categorization doesn’t mean that you are correct – by mere fact that you have an explanation.

    Now you have the burden to prove that this assertion is actually true (aka prove God). If you can’t prove God, the whole framework of the asserted foundation of this epistemology is literally fantasy.

    Ready! Go!

  • http://jbzero.blogspot.com J.B.

    These Mars Hill yahoos make me embarrassed to be a Seattlite.
    Even in my more Jesusy days I would have considered them creepy, culty, and more than a little frightening.

  • lordshipmayhem

    Mark Driscoll, if masturbation makes you gay, then I’m deeply in touch with my inner lesbian. If masturbation does not may you gay, then Mark, you must be deeply out of touch with reality.

    This whole screed of Justin Holcomb’s is so full of twisted logic, it’s like trying to reason a pretzel. I’d go into more detail, but frankly JT’s efforts above are quite devastating enough. JT, you’ve got more patience for this addle-pate than I.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    Science requires a Christian world view…

    for me to poop on! [/triumphvoice]

  • The Lorax

    *crosses off “Claim Science can’t exist without God”*

    Bingo!

  • cafeeineaddicted

    The thing I like about this argument is that it showcases that at least some believers have understood that rational inquiry doesn’t do their beliefs any favors, so their best bet is to try and shoehorn them in before speaking of reason. Then, the rest of the believers can exempt themselves from thinking rationally about their beliefs.

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    These are so fucking redundant. He could’ve just said “The universe is consistent.” Boom! One easy step that is still a shitty way to argue that science borrows from Christianity (or to argue that Christianity is true), but it would save anybody reading through this bullshit a lot of time.

    He could have just said that but it wouldn’t be as gripping an argument. These are often enough more to keep current believers on the wagon than to get new people on it. Most likely a believer reading this would notice the redundancy of some of the points but, as their training dictates, place the blame on themselves for not getting the nuance. This makes it even harder for them to really question from a place on the inside.

  • J*

    Then he made the escape of hell dependent on belief in him but he hid his existence from all those natural receptors that are undoubtedly our best way to unmask the nature of the universe literally everywhere else.

    Dick move, god.

    This is precisely why I quit believing. That God doesn’t love us, and without that it just all falls apart.

  • N. Nescio

    Why do websites posting the absolute stupidest of theist articles always seem to feature no comments, have the comments turned off, or have commenting strictly moderated?

    I never understood why people who believe they are on the side of the most powerful being in the universe EVER are so afraid of people responding to them?

  • anteprepro

    I never understood why people who believe they are on the side of the most powerful being in the universe EVER are so afraid of people responding to them?

    Because this most powerful being in the universe EVER that is on their side also has a well-known track record of “testing” people on his side by either doing jack shit or actively throwing misfortune their way. It’s just how he rolls.

  • Seattleite

    I hope you realize your arguments are equally circular, and your writing is certainly not as philosophical but more “trolling” in nature. If there was a fallacy for using humor and irony as the majority evidence for your argument, you used it (appeal to ridicule, perhaps?). A lot. And it does nothing to add to your argument. But, it certainly helps your tweets and facebook statuses, which adds to your market value and popularity. So, at least that makes sense.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

      Please, point out one of these circular arguments you speak of so we can discuss it. Unless you’re a drive-by troll.

  • Jon of Brisbane

    Sigh.

    I was a hardcore VanTillian back in they heyday of the “Vantil” list in the late 90s. If anyone cares to check James Andersons’ archives (http://www.vantil.info/lists.html), they will find that the so-called TAG (transcendental argument for god’s existence) was totally rubbished by Christians themselves, viz, James Anderson, Michael Sudduth, David Byron, Greg Wetly , and Sean Choi.

    I haven’t seen it recover since.

  • http://aigbusted.blogspot.com Ryan

    “We just notice that the universe seems consistent and that’s good enough. If there’s a reason it’s uniform, we layman atheists just admit we don’t know it.”

    We don’t fully understand the reason that there are generalizations that constantly hold true. However, there are plausible suggestions about why:

    (a) Just as 1 plus 1 always equals 2, the reason some statements are always true may be because they are logically or mathematically necessary. It may not always be obvious to us that these laws are mathematically necessary, but so what? Off the top of my head, it isn’t obvious that the sum of 698 and 497 is 1195, but that doesn’t mean the answer to the equation is not mathematically necessary.

    (b) Scientific laws are statistical averages from a large number of chance outcomes. The behavior of atoms and subatomic particles appears to be very chaotic and random. If atoms and subatomic particles are governed not by laws but by sheer chance, then we could expect to see laws of nature at the macroscopic level. It’s like a casino: what happens in any one game or any individual player is unpredictable, but if you look at all of the players and all the games, things are much more predictable, which is why casinos can turn a profit. Regularity at the large scale is something we could predict statistically from fundamental randomness happening at the small scale.

    If you go to books.google.com and search for “Laws of Nature” the first book result, on pages 310-312, makes the same suggestions I do. I’m writing a book about all of these types of claims, and when it is done it will be a tour-de-force.