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.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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