A couple of friends that I work with turned my attention to a story in the news a few weeks ago (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-declares-evolution-and-big-bang-theory-are-right-and-god-isnt-a-magician-with-a-magic-wand-9822514.html). It is regarding the pope’s view on the universe and origins of life. My response below:
You both told me about what the pope said regarding evolution and I think it deserves discussion. It is interesting news if you are a catholic but even more interesting if you do not believe that God exists. I think atheists see this as an admission and that soon reasonable people will traverse the gulf between religion and science and religion will eventually erode. This prediction has been predicted for the last 200 years however, religion is growing throughout the world. There are many misconceptions about what religion and science are. For example, one could say, “only what science says is true” however, that statement cannot be examined by physical science and so by its own definition is wrong. The statement is a philosophical statement. Scientists observe (what is observable) and present data to be examined. However, you cannot examine in a test tube things like “justice”, “morality” etc… Science can describe what “is” but not what “ought” it can attempt to say “how” but not “why”. There is not a huge gap between science and theism. Christian theism predicates that humans are rational beings able to search for and find truths out about the universe. Atheism predicates that we are an accident and that truth is subjective to individuals. Science presupposes truths and is the same in that sense with Christianity. It understands that through transcendent logical rules we can apprehend truth about what we observe. Logical truths and reason transcend the natural world (supernatural) and existed before humans were here. This might be why modern science started in the Christian west in Europe as opposed to in other parts of the world where religious and cultural restraints inhibited research into the natural world. Atheists claim to be the epitome of reason. However, their own worldview cannot make sense of reason as a natural process.
We can have knowledge about something without science “proving it”. it is nearly impossible to prove anything. All we can do is make an inference to the best explanation given the information and data we have available. Naturalists cannot do this because before any data is looked at they presuppose that no supernatural explanation is ever acceptable. This really impedes them from drawing logical conclusions. They are closing themselves off to a lot of truth. Knowledge is a representation of reality (the way that it really is) based upon thought/reflection or experience on the basis of adequate grounds (jp moreland “the soul”). What do we have adequate grounds to believe? Only things that are scientifically proven? No.
One big Achilles heel in mainstream science is philosophical and methodological naturalism. This is the idea that the universe is causally closed and that everything to be explained must have a physical or natural explanation. This bullies pressures scientists who want to think freely into joining the “crew” or else they might be ostracized in the community. This overlooks the fact that a thinking rational being (humans) cannot arise from natural causes (this can be debated). The brain is not about or for anything and does not have any intentionality, purpose, rationality, or unity of conscious thought over time (in fact, all of the physical parts (cells) of our body are recycled about once every 7 years, yet we are the same person we were 7 years ago). But we do have all of those attributes as humans and so we are an embodied mind. Some argue that our mind used our body to think just like a pianist uses a piano to create music (Dualism interactionism). On naturalism or materialism there is no irreducible person or agent in charge of ourselves. We are just passive agents and have no active power. This seam contrary to my ability to lift my arm or write this essay right now. Physical objects do not have free will. Atheism cannot make sense of this small example, which leads me to my next point.
Ideas have consequences and ideas that we have about the world shape the way we live and interact with others. My question to you both is: excluding the exciting conversation about evolution (which we should have), does atheism or theism describe the reality better? In other words, how does each position, when compared side by side answer the questions about good and evil, morality, pain and suffering, rational agents (awareness of the soul in humans), why anything exists at all (not how), etc… Every worldview tries to answer these questions and in my opinion atheism is inadequate.
If someone concedes that God exists, my next question is related to the quote below:
What do you think of this quote?
“The 19th century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach made this point when he wrote the following: : “A being without qualities is one which cannot become an object to the mind; and such a being is virtually non-existent. Where man deprives God of all qualities, God is no longer anything more to him than a negative being. To the truly religious man, God is not a being without qualities, because to him he is a positive, real being. The theory that God cannot be defined, and consequently cannot be known by man, is therefore the offspring of recent times, a product of modern unbelief. . . . On the ground that God is unknowable, man excuses himself to what is yet remaining of his religious conscience for his forgetfulness of God, his absorption in the world: he denies God practically by his conduct, – the world has possession of all his thoughts and inclinations, – but he does not deny him theoretically, he does not attack his existence; he lets that rest. But this existence does not affect or incommode him; it is a merely negative existence, an existence without existence, a self-contradictory existence, – a state of being, which, as to its effects, is not distinguishable from non-being. . . . The alleged religious horror of limiting God by positive predicates is only the irreligious wish to know nothing more of God, to banish God from the mind. ( Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 1841)” (quote found at- http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s3-1)
J.P. Moreland (2014) The Soul: How we know its real and why it matters. Moody Publishers