REPLY #25e TO|
Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).
This is the last of a five-part reply.
(R) Because you can't solely claim science to be on your side, as
much as you try. Science makes no statements on the existence of
God. You're on your own on that.
(MB) How can I not claim that science is on my side when my evidence comes from
the knowledge afforded us by science? Science is not out to prove or disprove
the existence of God. That conclusion derives from the naturalistic
explanations for the universe that science does provide.
If that was so, you would understand the scientific
method of inquiry and would be more familiar with basic
(R) I understand the scientific method perfectly well.
(MB) Not if you argue that any unsupported position is valid or is anything
other than meaningless.
You also seem to define a "valid" scientific theory
solely on the basis of whether or not it agrees with your belief
(R) There are no scientific theories which disagree with my
belief in God. Name one.
(MB) Any of the various theories which postulate the mechanics for what is
sometimes called "Creation ex Nihilo" -- creation without God. Quantum theory,
in particular. Your beliefs say that there are no effects without causes.
Quantum theory shows us otherwise.
You've said that you don't support Creationism, but
you've certainly sounded like a Creationist.
(R) Are we talking about creation science here? Or do you
view everyone who believes God created the universe to be a
"Creationist." If so, then yes, I am a Creationist
(MB) There are different flavors of theistic Creationism. You would seem to
fall into the category of "Old Earth Creationism". It's not so much the beliefs
themselves as the arguments and tactics used to support them or to denigrate
Despite your protestations that my statements only reflect
the views of a small minority of religious individuals, those
protests aren't supported by facts.
(R) Oh yes they are. As I've said before, 85 percent of
Americans are Christians, which broken down, reveals 18 percent
to be Conservative, 47 percent Moderate, and 17 percent Liberal.
(MB) Those numbers don't add up. Also, the categories seem extremely arbitrary
and are all undefined. What, for example, differentiates the views of
"conservative", "moderate", and "liberal" Christians?
(R) Only the members of the Conservative group are likely to adhere
to the narrow-minded views on such things as Bible inerrancy, the
creation stories, tolerance for other beliefs, etc., which you've
attempted to paste on all Christians, and by association, all
(MB) Can show me an example of any major church or denomination that teaches
that the Bible is errant or is not the inspired Word of God, that the creation
stories are conflicting, erroneous and non-scientific, or which would willingly
accept other Gods and beliefs (or non-belief) within their congregations? If
not, then you have no evidence with which to dispute my statements.
Also, you need to explain why views on Biblical inerrancy or any other specific
Christian dogma would extend "by association" to any other religion(s).
(R) For example, here's some statistics on the subject of Bible
inerrancy: In a poll (in 1987) of 10,000 American clergy, who
were asked whether they believed the Scriptures were inerrant, the
following percentages said no:
95% of Episcopalians 2.5 (million)
87% of Methodists, 14
82% of Presbyterians, 4.1
77% of American Lutherans, and 8.3
67% of American Baptists 36
(MB) How was the poll question phrased? If it was simply "is the Bible
inerrant", the only honest answer is "no". That makes it astounding that *any*
percentage of educated clergy could say otherwise. If the question was more
along the lines of asking whether or not any potential errors in the Bible have
any effect upon Christian teachings, it is hardly surprising and far more likely
that the answer from the clergy will be "no". Also, one must consider that
Christian clergy might not have too many problems with errors in the Old
Testament while the New Testament (especially the Gospels) would be more
staunchly defended. Therefore, any admission of errors might only apply to the
(R) Considering that it is unlikely the laity of any sect would be more
conservative than the clergy on this issue, and averaging the
percentages (with appropriate weight given to the larger
congregations) the overall percentage of Christians who do not
believe in Bible inerrancy is calculated as 89 percent.
(MB) Interesting rationale. First, it should be fairly obvious that the clergy
of a "liberal" Christian sect would be more liberal than the laymen of a
conservative sect. Therefore, you cannot claim that it would be unlikely that
the laity of any sect would be more conservative than "the clergy" -- which
includes all sects.
Second, there are some bogus mathematics and slippery definitions being employed
here. If we accept your definition of "conservative" and the percentages you
listed earlier for the Christian population of this country *and* if we further
accept the dubious notion that exactly *0* percent of "moderate" and "liberal"
Christians believe in Biblical inerrancy, then your 89 percent figure listed
above is impossible to justify. Discounting the clergy entirely, the number
could be no higher than 83%. Including the clergy reduces the number to below
80%. And this number is likely to be *far* too high if we understand that
"moderate" and "liberal" involve much more than a simple belief or disbelief in
Biblical inerrancy. The percentage goes down even more dramatically if, as you
seem to argue in the next paragraph, Catholics are not included among "American
(R) It would be interesting to know what percentage of the 60
million Catholics in American don't believe the Bible is inerrant --
I doubt it would be any lower than in these mainstream Protestants
(MB) There's likely to be a higher percentage of Catholics who believe in
Biblical inerrancy if the evidence provided by their Biblical study guides and
the indoctrination of Catholic schools are any indication.
(R) I am led to conclude that only about 10 percent of
American Christians are the "bible-thumpers" you've tried to
portray us all as.
(MB) Do the math properly instead of rationalizing arbitrary terms and you'll
come to a much different figure.
In 1991, a Gallup survey found that 87 percent of
Americans believe that God is responsible for the creation of Man.
However, 99 percent of scientists surveyed believe that Man
evolved via the naturalistic processes I have been mentioning.
There is no other issue where educated people are so
overwhelmingly at odds with the general public.
(R) You're comparing apples and oranges.
(MB) Am I? I am comparing those who believe in the special creation of Man by a
theistic God to those who do not believe in such a thing. What's the problem?
(R) What percentage of
the general public believe that the method God used to create man
was these naturalistic processes?
(MB) Apparently, no more than 13% (100% - 87%). "Special creation" is not a
(R) What percentage of scientists
believe these naturalistic processes are directed by a higher
intelligence (i.e. what percent believe in God.)
(MB) That's a different question. There are scientists who still believe in a
God of some form without believing that Man was the special creation of that
God. Also, "higher intelligence" does not necessarily mean the theistic God
that you support.
(R) Unless you can
demonstrate a significant deviation between the percent of people
in the general population who believe in God and the percent of
scientists who believe in God, you can not say the two groups are
(MB) That's not the point that I raised. Disbelief in special creation is not
the same thing as atheism. It is the rejection of one tenet of theism.
(R) You may think all scientists are atheists, but the following quotes
certainly don't seem to indicate any such thing:
(MB) First, I have never said that all scientists are atheists. Such a
statement would not only be incorrect, but it would also be foolish.
you are going to base a major argument upon quotations, it would be proper for
you to cite the source of the quotations so that those sources can be examined.
It is common practice to pull quotes out of context or even to misattribute
quotations. The only way to clear up any doubts is to provide proper citations
for such quotes. For example, your quotation from Paul Davies shows indications
of potential misuse.
(R) Paul Davies (Professor of Theoretical Physics & author):
"Every thing and every event in the physical universe must
depend for its explanation on something outside itself. When a
phenomenon is explained, it is explained in terms of something
else. But if the phenomenon is all of existence the entire
physical universe then clearly there is nothing physical outside
the universe (by definition) to explain it. So any explanation
must be in terms of something non-physical and supernatural.
That something is God. The universe is the way it is because
God has chosen it to be that way. Science, which by definition
deals only with the physical universe, might successfully
explain one thing in terms of another, and that in terms of
another and so on, but the totality of physical things demands
an explanation from without."
(MB) This quotation cries out for a proper citation. In Davies' 1992 book, The
Mind of God, he clearly and specifically makes statements in his preface to the
effect that he is not a member of any religion and that, to him, "God" is not
the same thing as the theistic God of Christianity. The title "The Mind of
God", as used by Davies, was drawn from Stephen Hawking's use of the same phrase
in "A Brief History of Time" and applies as a euphemism for the orderly workings
of the universe in the same way that one might refer to "Mother Nature" when
marveling at the wonders here on Earth. This is a common usage among
(R) George Greenstein (American astronomer):
"As we survey all
the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some
supernatural agency or, rather, Agency must be involved. Is it
possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled
upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being?
Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the
cosmos for our benefit?"
(MB) Greenstein presupposes that the only explanation for what we see is to be
found in the supernatural. There is no evidence to support such a claim.
(R) P. A. M. Dirac (physicist and mathematician): On why the
universe is constructed the way it is:
"One could perhaps
describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of
a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in
constructing the universe. Our feeble attempts at mathematics
enable us to understand a bit of the universe, and as we
proceed to develop higher and higher mathematics we can
hope to understand the universe better."
(MB) Dirac is not stating a belief that God exists. He speculates only about how
one "could perhaps" describe the nature of the universe. He also states that
improved levels of mathematics will allow us to better understand the universe.
While correct, this is also fairly obvious.
(R) Steven Weinberg (physicist, Nobel Prize winner, author):
seems to me that if the word "God" is to be of any use, it
should be taken to mean an interested God, a creator and
lawgiver who has established not only laws of nature and the
universe but also standards of good and evil, some
personality that is concerned with our actions, something in
short that it is appropriate for us to worship. This is the God
that has mattered to men and women throughout history."
(MB) Weinberg is not stating a belief that God exists. Rather he appears to be
musing about the qualities that a theistic God should possess. Without a proper
citation and context, it is impossible to say what elicited this quote.
(R) Owen Gingerich (eminent science historian):
"The Big Bang
makes a thrilling scenario... of everything springing forth from
that blinding flash, [which] bears a striking resonance with
[the] words of Genesis 1:3: "And God said, Let there be light."
Who could have guessed... a hundred years ago... a thousand
years ago that a scientific picture would emerge with
electromagnetic radiation as the starting point of creation!"
(MB) There are several omissions in this quotation. Without a proper citation,
it is not possible to evaluate what might have been left out and how that might
affect the real meaning of his statement. As to the last sentence, "Let there
be light" was the only "scientific" theory around until real science emerged.
Since life on Earth is made possible by the light of the Sun, why not surmise
that the universe itself was made possible by a blazing flash of light?
(R) Arthur Eddington (British physicist):
"...Religion first became
possible for a reasonable scientific man about the year 1927....
(because of)....the final overthrow of strict causality by
Heisenberg, Bohr, Born and others."
(MB) Here's another quote that requires a proper context before it can be
properly evaluated. In any case, it would seem to be contradictory to the
tenets of religion. The overthrow of strict causality robs religion of a major
argument supporting divine creation of the universe, i.e., that the Big Bang
event must have had a cause and that cause must have come from God.
(R) Freeman J. Dyson (physicist for the Institute of Advance
"What philosophical conclusions should we draw from
the abstract style of the superstring theory? We might
conclude, as Sir James Jeans concluded long ago, that the
Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a Pure
Mathematician, and that if we work hard enough at
mathematics we shall be able to read His mind."
(MB) Here's another use of the "Mind of God" euphemism applied from a more
Deistic perspective. Also, it seems that there is more to this quote that was
left out. Surely, Dyson's thoughts don't begin and end with his rehashing of
Sir James Jeans.
(R) And my favorite:
Max Planck (the father of modern physics):
"That God existed
before there were human beings on Earth, that he holds the
entire world, believers and non-believers, in his omnipotent
hand for eternity, and that he will remain enthroned on a level
inaccessible to human comprehension long after the Earth and
everything that is on it has gone to ruins. Those who profess
this faith and who, inspired by it, in veneration and complete
confidence, feel secure from the dangers of life under
protection of the Almighty, only those may number themselves
among the truly religious."
(MB) Planck is not saying that he believes in God. He is only stating the
nature of such a belief. Once again, without a proper citation, it is
impossible to determine the context of this quote. I'm sure that Planck was
making a larger argument from which this quote was drawn.
(R) Notice that many of these eminent scientists support a
number of the notions I've postulated during this discussion,
such as the concept of God as the Great Scientist, or the idea
that the physical laws of the universe work because God
designed them to.
(MB) On the contrary, the quotes only state that such notions exist. They do
not state that they are adhered to by those men themselves. In the case of
Davies, his book flatly contradicts what you are trying to attribute to him.
Doing a quick count shows that of the 8 quotes you presented that supposedly
depict scientists who are believers in your theistic God, 4 clearly state no
such belief, 1 appears to believe but presents a dubious argument, and the other
3 are open questions for lack of proper context and supporting material. Since
I must assume that these quotations were carefully selected to make a point, it
would seem that the point has not been made successfully.
I'm curious about your source for those quotes as they seem to be drawn from a
single compendium. What was it? I'd like to examine it for myself. In the
future, please provide proper citations either for the works being referenced or
for the source of the quotations. As examples, consider the following:
"Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe
whatever the Church teaches."
-- St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologica"
"In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a
blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who
can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use the blind, old men
-- Heinrich Heine, "Gedanken und Einfalle"
"The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest
ornaments, of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and
virtue, are complete skeptics in religion."
-- John Stuart Mill, from: Cardiff, "What Great Men Think of Religion"
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from
-- Blaise Pascal, "Pensees"
I do not believe that if there is a God of this vast universe that such a God
would create a hell to torment to all eternity helpless and innocent human
beings. I defend the God of the religionists against the libels of his own
-- Joseph Lewis, "Answer to Preacher Jack Coe"
"Man is certanly stark mad. He cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making
gods by the dozen."
-- Michel de Montaigne, "Essays"
"What is it: is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?"
-- Neitzsche, "The Twilight of the Gods"
It should be said that quotations, in and of themselves, prove nothing except
what the speaker might think. Their appeal lies in the beauty of the
(R) Until you can produce data to suggest that the majority of
scientists are atheists, the insinuation you made above, that 99
percent of educated people don't believe in God, remains
merely the latest in your long series of failed efforts to discredit
(MB) Your failed attempt to distort this statistic is the latest in your long
series of futile arguments in support of your own beliefs.
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