Reason or Unreason, You Decide

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All of us, at one time or another, have had it impressed upon us that there are certain things one does not speak of in polite company. Here at politicoid, it is fair to say that we are quite opinionated. Naturally, we consider the aforementioned opinions to be almost 100% correct. It is therefore advisable that under no circumstances are we ever let loose on polite society. To inappropriately paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, there are some things of which I am proud to be impolite.

In the interests of clarifying our position on various political and philosophical issues, it would seem that a series of comment pieces on some enduring controversies would be expeditious. These questions have defied humanity’s talent for solving problems, despite the answers’ being blindingly apparent to the rational mind. They prey on another side of human nature – a metaphysical and insular nature, a tribal mentality that yearns for stability and the status quo. The philosophies of science and religion, politics and economics all fall within this remit.

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Why not begin with the most contentious of all? Yes, you guessed it – science versus religion. Where in times past we quarrelled over scriptural interpretation (and many still do), for the last several centuries the real battle has been the dichotomy between religion and science, and the heart of the debate comes down to this: is it possible to hold both a scientific and a religious worldview at the same time? As with so many questions, there are semantic issues to contend with, the first and most pressing being the definition of ‘religious worldview’. For the sake of brevity, I shall limit the definition solely to the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Now, clearly one can hold both positions at the same time, as some scientists do claim to be religious, although they constitute a pitiful minority of the whole and I would argue that they are not being intellectually honest with themselves (more on that another time).

So, perhaps the question should be whether it is reasonable to hold both positions simultaneously. If we use a literal definition of the word reasonable, then we rapidly arrive at the true contention. The question now becomes one of whether both positions are based on reason; if one or both proves to be irrational and thus unreasonable, then the proposition must therefore be false. It should be self-evident that science is reasonable – it is arguably the most reasoned process that we know of.

But what of religion? Apologists may argue that the application of reason leads them to interpret their experience of cosmic complexity as having some divine, supernatural cause. This, they name God. While this interpretation may well have been perfectly reasonable at a time when our mechanistic understanding of nature extended to leech-bleeding and witchcraft, the notion has been wildly outdated by subsequent discoveries. Let me explain further why this notion is both ridiculous and incompatible with a scientific understanding of nature.

science-religionThe scientific axiom of uniformity states that the laws of nature should be the same everywhere in the universe and at all times. This basic assumption has allowed the scientific method to exist and has led to an understanding of our universe the likes of which we have never before known in all of history. By invoking the supernatural, one immediately assumes the existence of that which operates under rules that are somehow different. If that is so, then either the axiom is incorrect or God exists outside our universe and is thus unable to influence anything within it. If God exists outside our universe, operating under entirely unknowable laws then no amount of scriptural interpretation can give us any insight into his will. It is therefore pointless to attempt to satisfy him. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that uniformity is incorrect; science has continued to progress rapidly under this assumption. Ergo, belief in God is both unreasonable and completely pointless.

Now, before the religious sophists get their panties all messed up, I am not trying to deny the existence of anything outside of science. Science is not nature and there exists much which it has not or cannot explain and to state otherwise is to misunderstand the limits of the scientific method. What I am saying is that religion, if it is to co-exist with science and reason, must understand the space which it inhabits. That space is also occupied by science, and hence religion must understand the limitations which our tried and tested understanding place on what is and is not in its remit  - in a similar way that science has its limits. In short, it must be bound by reason. If it is not – as is presently the case – then truly science and religion will remain mutually exclusive and the faithful should proudly exclaim their unreason, in opposition to the rational world. For my part, I would then disagree with them no less, but respect them far more.

 

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11 thoughts on “Reason or Unreason, You Decide

  1. Hmm…

    Firstly, thanks for reading and commenting on my post. It means a lot.

    While I am Christian and was thus raised by my father, I’m not afraid to take in information which disagrees with my worldview (can I say weltanschauung PLEEEASE?!?). One aspect of Christianity is the willingness to be made a fool, to “suffer for His sake”. Admittedly, I’m not up on every detail inherent to the bleeding edge of science as it presently stands. I have read of late that my freewill is merely an illusion, a product of my neurons and synapses doing their thing (I haven’t ever seen my brain, though!). I’ve thought through this and while it does make sense in a wound-up, clockwork sort of way, I continue to choose to believe–in a soul and spirit, in my will and agency, in God. While I could state my experiences and tell you where and how and what it feels like to interact with the Lord, it does boil down to my subjective story, my “testimony” as I would refer to it. I appreciate the respect you’ve expressed.

    I’ve been writing my blog for quite a while and with unbelievers in mind and not afraid to exchange with them one bit. All I’ve ever asked is that it be done respectfully.

    Thank you and I wish you the best. Josh, Medford, Oregon

  2. I did have a read and I ascertain that you are perhaps on the science side of things? I previously replied to your comment and upon submitting it for post I found that it happen to disappear. One would think that the last time this happened I would have learned to copy them before submitting but as you read this, it is apparent that I did not learn. I think you make a valid point, science and religion are unable to be friendly neighbors; however, it is the very nature of both that create a high amount of tension and hatred between each other. I think science is a wonderful thing and it helps individuals understand how some things work but I am unable to allow it to explain my existence for a few reasons. One, science must produce the same results consistently from something to be dis-proven thus eliminating the error for margin. This can find applicability in obvious things such as gravity (throw it up, its going to come down), touch fire (your going to get burned) etc… Second, science takes a stance on assuming the only law that is relevant (e.g. if it is unable to be proven by science it must not be fact), again I have an issue with that as there has been plenty of phenomenon or miracles that have no scientific explanation. Last and probably the most inconsistent is the scientific explanation of existence. This is generally labeled as evolution or humanism. Inconsistencies to these theories are in themselves unable to hold scientific proof. Thus I am logically unable to accept the aforementioned just as a scientist would be incapable of accepting creation literally.

    At any rate I think you for being open, honest, and pleasant as that is a rare commodity less afforded as the days wear on. Thanks again.

    • On the points you made, I’m not sure I understand your objection to the scientific method being able to explain your existence – I think it does a pretty good job of that, whilst a literal interpretation of scripture seems somewhat inadequate (man from mud, woman from rib etc.) As for scientists believing that only it can be true, I would suggest that is a misunderstanding/misrepresentation of what science is – any scientist who thinks that does not understand the philosophy of science. Science does not define what a fact is. Facts ARE, independent of science. Science attempt to explain facts. On that note, an example of this is that evolution is a fact, explained by a theory. That evolution (the change in genetic population dynamics over time) occurs is irrefutable, both historically and in the present (despite what some may say, it has been seen directly). The theory of evolution is an (extremely effective) attempt at explaining this fact.

      I am unaware of the logical inconsistencies in the theory that you speak of. Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. On the topic of unexplained phenomena, this again is a misunderstnding of what science is. Just because something lacks an explanation, does not mean that it is beyond explanation, just that noone has worked one out yet. Take the lunar librations as an example.

      I am a spiritual person, but my spirituality is bounded by what is reasonably plausible. This was largely the point of my article. One last thing… Science and evolution do not require faith, and are therefore not religions even in the loosest definition. Faith implies belief in the absence of evidence, which is quite the opposite of science.

      Finally, I am grateful for your response, and your politeness, and I hope you are not offended by my position. You have a right to your beliefs, and I would not attempt to disabuse you of them

  3. Your Statement:

    “…some scientists do claim to be religious, although they constitute a pitiful minority of the whole and I would argue that they are not being intellectually honest with themselves (more on that another time).”

    My Response:

    Contrary to popular belief, this is simply untrue. For example, take a look at this very short article, which gives a quick summation of Elaine Howard Ecklund’s book, Science vs Religion: What Scientists Really Think. Ecklund is a sociologist from Rice University, and her survey includes scientists from Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Penn, U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, U. of Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, U. Michigan, U. Minnesota, UNC Chapel Hill, U. Washington-Seattle, U. Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.C., Washington University, and Yale. Here is the article:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/04/13/are-top-scientists-really-so-atheistic-look-at-the-data/#.URnJ52dS6Yk

    Your Statement:

    “The scientific axiom of uniformity states that the laws of nature should be the same everywhere in the universe and at all times. This basic assumption has allowed the scientific method to exist and has led to an understanding of our universe the likes of which we have never before known in all of history. By invoking the supernatural, one immediately assumes the existence of that which operates under rules that are somehow different. If that is so, then either the axiom is incorrect or God exists outside our universe and is thus unable to influence anything within it. If God exists outside our universe, operating under entirely unknowable laws then no amount of scriptural interpretation can give us any insight into his will. It is therefore pointless to attempt to satisfy him. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that uniformity is incorrect; science has continued to progress rapidly under this assumption. Ergo, belief in God is both unreasonable and completely pointless.”

    My Response:

    Honestly, this is completely incoherent to me. I’m not trying to be mean, but I think you have a very shallow understanding of both classical philosophy and theology. It sounds like you also have a misguided understanding of the history of modern science. First, the law of uniformity, which you speak of, stems from Christian scientists like Isaac Newton and Galileo from the enlightenment period. Also, the modern scientific method itself stems from Francis Bacon, another Christian scientist. None of these Christian men believed that science and religion were in conflict with one another. In fact, each of them wrote about this very issue and argued that science and religion are fully compatible with one another.

    Overall, the scientific enterprise was constructed from a Judeo-Christian worldview. It is Christianity that gave rise to modern science as we know it. Christians believed in the efficacy of scientific observation and experimentation because they came from a worldview that affirmed the trustworthiness of the human mind and the five senses. More than that, they also came from a worldview that affirmed the intelligibility of the universe and the contingency of creation. Christians could trust their minds because their minds were carefully crafted by a rational being; Christians believed in the intelligibility of the universe because they believed that it was a coherent cosmos, created and ordered by a rational mind; and Christians believed in the importance of experimentation and observation because the universe was contingent and thus needed to be explored in order to be understood. Thus, Christian presuppositions, not atheistic ones, are the bedrock of the modern scientific enterprise.

    For whatever reason, you assume–and it is definitely an assumption–that God cannot “influence” anything within the universe if God exists outside the universe. Though this is not a new, or original, proposition–as many enlightenment deists, pantheists, and rationalists affirmed the same basic idea–it is mistaken and entirely unnecessary. Why can’t a God who created space-time, and who exists outside of space-time, influence what happens in space-time, if he so chooses? To say that the Transcendent Creator cannot work within space-time simply because he exists outside of space-time is to impinge an arbitrary law on the maker of all laws.

    The point that you seem to be missing, which is why I stated above that your overall understanding is both philosophically and theologically shallow, is that if God exists, then he is the creator, or designer, of the various natural laws and physical constants that undergird, support, and sustain our universe. Furthermore, these laws that he created are not arbitrary constructs. Instead, in accordance with classical Thomistic theology, which is founded upon the philosophy of Aristotle and is embedded within the various ideologies of the Early Church Fathers, these laws are an analogical reflection of both who God is and what God values. Everything that exists within creation is an extension of universals, or Platonic Ideas, that subsist within the very mind of God, which means that there is an intimate connection between creator and creation. Because of this, nature and creation as a whole reveals something of the creator.

    This overarching view is called theological realism, and it has been the dominant view in the Christian church for centuries upon centuries. Those who adhere to this view usually partake in what is called “natural theology.” In natural theology, one argues from second cause (creation) to first cause (God) since the effect (creation) tells us something substantial about the cause (God).

    Two famous arguments form natural theology are as follows:

    THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

    “One of the most dramatic paradigm shifts in the history of physics was the discovery that space and time are not two independent entities but a single entity woven together and completely interconnected (Wood, God and History, 278). This understanding of space-time was one of the major consequences of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The idea that space-time had a beginning was more recently confirmed by two Oxford University physicists, Stephen W. Hawking and Roger Penrose (Wood, God and History, 277). If true, then one can no longer rationally posit an infinite regress of events, or an unlimited causal chain, in infinite time since, according to modern physicists, the universe, and thus time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. Because we now believe that there was a “time” when space-time was not, and because we understand that something cannot possibly come out of nothing, we can now rationally posit the existence of an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary Being. For since space-time had a definite beginning, and since “nothing comes from nothing,” by necessity, there must be an “Uncaused Cause,” a Supreme Being that is not contingent upon anything else for its existence, who dwells outside the boundaries of space-time, and who brought space-time into existence out of nothing. This description is congruent with the orthodox Christian understanding of God, who is rightly said to have created the universe “ex nihilo” (out of nothing).” [This is from an essay I wrote awhile back]

    ANTHROPIC TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

    “On the basis of modern physics, astronomy and chemistry, one can also make a compelling case for the existence of God based on the fact that the universe seems to be remarkably fine-tuned for the existence of life–specifically human life. According to Gingerich, the “classic example” of the fine-tuning principle revolves around the immensely critical moment of singularity, when the entire visible universe began with a mighty burst of energy known as the Big Bang (God’s Universe, 49). Within the context of such a monumental explosion, the incredible balance between the outward energy of expansion and the gravitational forces trying to pull everything back together again had to be extraordinarily precise (to be exact, the initial balance had to be accurate to about one part in 10[to the 59th power]):

    ‘Had the original energy of the Big Bang explosion been less, the universe would have fallen back in on itself long before there was time to build the elements required for life and to produce from them intelligent, sentient beings. Had the energy been greater, it is quite likely that the density, and hence the gravitational pull, of matter would have diminished too swiftly for stars and galaxies to form’ (Gingerich, God’s Universe, 49).

    In addition to this classic insight, the curious omission of mass five within the lengthy and highly tedious developmental process of stars, which allows for the pivotal accumulation of a substantial abundance of oxygen and carbon in the earth’s atmosphere, along with the seemingly perfect spacial location of the earth in relation to the sun, and the improbable and virtually unrepeatable evolutionary development of complex organisms that has taken place at the biological level through the process of natural selection are all examples of the fine-tuning principle, which has made the formation of intelligent life forms possible. When examined in full, this principle seems to evoke belief in an intelligent Designer who has thoughtfully and carefully constructed the laws of nature in such a way that the arrival of the human race was practically inevitable.” [From the same essay that I wrote awhile back]

    So, if God exists, the dominant Christian view is that God does not “operate under entirely unknowable laws.” When God acts within space-time, he graciously accommodates himself to human understanding and conforms to the various laws of nature that he has created–most likely because the laws that he created (both moral and natural) are accurate representations of who he is and what he values, which again, is the overwhelmingly dominant view of the Christian church. Christians believe that God faithfully reveals himself through his actions within human history. We call this “special revelation,” and it is recorded in our sacred text, the Bible. Christians believe that God’s actions are an accurate representation of who he is. Why? Because the will of God is an expression of his nature and character. Christians believe that God is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ–”the image of the invisible God.” That is, the life, teachings, and ministry of Christ are the most full, clear, and explicit representation of the nature and character of God.

    The axiom of uniformity and the existence of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the only reason why enlightenment scientists like Isaac Newton and Galileo believed in the axiom of uniformity is because they believed in God. Uniformity is exactly what we would expect if a rational, intelligent being carefully ordered and designed the universe. Uniformity, just like the apparent fine-tuning of the physical constants, makes far more sense within a theistic worldview. If the universe was simply a product of a purposeless, blind, random, non-rational process, then we probably wouldn’t expect to see the kind of order and uniformity that we surely do see within our universe. At any rate, like Newton and Galileo, Christians believe that it is actually God who both ensures uniformity and who has made the universe intelligible, thus making the discipline of science possible.

    Finally, other than one paragraph, which I just responded to and critiqued, your entire post seems to beg the question; you basically assume that science and religion are incompatible. If you are truly interested in the topic, I would encourage you to look at the following books: Religion and Science by Ian G. Barbour, God’s Universe by Owen Gingerich, The Language of God by Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith by Karl W. Giberson, and pretty much anything from John Polkinghorne. There are many scientist-theologians, or theistic scientists, who would adamantly disagree with your viewpoint. In fact, in a debate between Alvin Plantinga (a famous Christian philosopher/logician) and Daniel Dennett (a famous atheist philosopher/cognitive scientist) entitled, Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? (Point/Counterpoint), Dennnet basically concedes the point that science and religion are indeed compatible.

    Your viewpoint has mainly been perpetuated by the New Atheists. Many of the representatives of the so called New Atheist movement like to make the claim that science, and evolutionary theory in particular, is inherently naturalistic and materialistic; that is, one cannot believe in evolutionary science and not believe in philosophical naturalism and reductionistic materialism. However, this understanding entails an enormous categorical mistake. For to claim that science necessarily implies philosophical naturalism, is to claim that a metaphysical proposition can be substantiated by empirical investigation. This naive understanding confuses science with metaphysics and, in doing so, does not account for the clear limits and boundaries of the scientific enterprise.

    Science involves a kind of “methodological naturalism;” it seeks to ascertain natural causes for natural phenomena through empirical observation and experimentation. The empirical realm makes up the playing field for valid scientific investigation. As soon as the scientist goes beyond these established boundary lines, the scientist is no longer doing science but rather metaphysics, which literally means “beyond the physical.” Contrary to New Atheist naivety, philosophical naturalism is a metaphysical idea, not a scientific one; the denial of God’s existence cannot be empirically verified. There is something incredibly dishonest about making subjective metaphysical claims under the banner, or heading, of objective science. This is exactly what the New Atheists try to do.

    In actuality, evolutionary science is intrinsically indifferent about theism and atheism; it is completely neutral towards all things metaphysical. If science did necessarily entail atheistic naturalism, then the integration of science and Christian theism would be impossible. However, because science does not necessarily imply atheistic naturalism, scientist-theologians are free to step outside the empirical boundary lines of the scientific enterprise and, as metaphysicians, formulate an integrative system whereby science and Christian theology are synthesized within a holistic metaphysic. Thus, integration is more than possible.

    Your Statement:

    “Science and evolution do not require faith, and are therefore not religions even in the loosest definition. Faith implies belief in the absence of evidence, which is quite the opposite of science.”

    My Response:

    In my opinion, this is a very archaic, outdated way of thinking. Read Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy by Michael Polyani or any critique of enlightenment thought to see why I believe this. The scientist and the theologian alike utilize faith. All knowledge is faith-oriented. Faith is not “belief in the absence of evidence” (is this a quote from Richard Dawkins?), faith is belief in the absence of certainty. Certainty implies epistemic perfection; it requires a perfect mind. Unfortunately, humans don’t own perfect minds. we are fallible, finite creatures. Thus, whenever we come to knowledge, we must have faith. Faith is a precondition for knowledge; it is a requirement for knowledge. I must have faith in my senses, my mind, in the intelligibility of nature, in the working correspondence between nature and mind, etc….

    Ironically, only the theist actually possesses good reason to have faith in these things, particularly faith in the reliability of the mind. On the other hand, the philosophical naturalist cannot trust her mind. Oddly enough, this means that naturalism and science are incompatible, not theism and science. Take a look at my write-up on Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism to see exactly why I believe this:

    “Within the broader framework of Plantinga’s debate with Dennett over the topic of the compatibility of science and religion, Plantinga’s ‘evolutionary argument against naturalism’ is one of the major focal points. Plantinga utilizes this particular argument in order to completely flip the debate on its head; instead of science and religion being in conflict with one another, he argues that the real discordance is actually to be found between science and naturalism. More specifically, Plantinga claims that “naturalism is incompatible with evolution, in the sense that one can’t rationally accept them both” (Science and Religion, 17). Plantinga’s argument is extremely crucial since, if true, naturalism is rendered completely incoherent, and its adherents are forced to retreat from the overarching debate in silence and shame. Therefore, the goal of this particular essay will be to carefully and precisely summarize Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism and, in doing so, display its overall effectiveness in quieting the naturalistic cause. In order to accomplish this, I will first briefly define what Plantinga means by philosophical naturalism and then I will prudently break down Plantinga’s EAAN.

    Plantinga defines naturalism as simply the denial of God’s existence, which thus necessarily entails the denial of divine design and creation. Within the context of this specific argument, Plantinga assimilates naturalism to materialism and thus uses these two terms synonmously. He also characterizes naturalism as a kind of ‘quasi-religion,’ in that it deals with some of the central themes of religion—origin, future prospects, significance and meaning, the issue of life after death and the like. Of course, in referring to naturalism as a quasi-religion, Plantinga contends that the science-religion conflict is more appropriately identified as a science-quasi-religion conflict since it is science and naturalism that are actually incompatible with one another, not science and theistic religion.

    Plantinga’s EAAN is based on the following premise: If naturalism and evolution are both true, then the probability of the human mind being reliable is low. In a naturalistic worldview, the evolutionary process itself is not guided by reason, or rationality; it is not directed by a mind, or an intelligence, that is able to thoughtfully choose between a range of options, or possibilities. In other words, in a naturalistic evolutionary model, the mutations, or variations, that are ‘chosen’ within the process of natural selection are purely adaptive and thus non-rational. In the evolutionary development of Homosapiens, this goes for both physical properties and cognitive properties; both the human anatomical structure and the human mental structure are purely adaptive. Thus, the naturalistic evolutionary process as a whole has absolutely no concern for truth; it is completely indifferent towards both truth and falsity alike.

    This of course means that the thoughts or beliefs of the human mind are simply the product of an unintelligent, non-rational process of evolutionary adaptation. There is no link between beliefs and intelligence; human propositions, and the beliefs that make up those propositions, are purely adaptive and non-rational and thus are inherently neutral towards truth. If a particular belief happens to be true, that is great; if it is false, then that is just as good—its falsity in no way compromises the adaptivity of the belief. This worldview renders the human mind completely untrustworthy. Naturalism is intrinsically self-defeating since a naturalist cannot trust her own mind; in a naturalistic worldview, the belief in naturalism itself is unreliable because the mind of the naturalist is unreliable. The same principle applies for any belief in a naturalistic framework, not simply the belief in naturalism. Anytime naturalism is conjoined with something else, the conjunction itself cannot be rationally accepted since naturalism does not permit rational belief in anything. Naturalism and evolution are incompatible; both concepts cannot be rationally accepted at the same time. Thus, in the final analysis, because evolution is a ‘pillar of contemporary science,’ naturalism and science are incompatible with one another.” [from another essay I wrote awhile back]

    Lastly, something also needs to be said about the subject-object problem. Epistemologically speaking, we are not autonomous beings who freely apprehend knowledge in a purely detached, passive, and unimpeded fashion; we all have our biases, and thus we all come to the text (whether that “text” is a book or a laboratory test-tube) with certain culturally-conditioned, geographically-conditioned, and historically-conditioned presuppositions that are formed by our own subjective experiences. It does not matter whether you are a scientist or a theologian or both, we cannot get away from this; none of us think and reason in a purely objective fashion. Contrary to the optimism of enlightenment epistemology, this is simply not a human possibility. This means that knowledge is relational; it involves a relationship between subject (the subjective interpreter, or observer) and object (the thing being observed). Whether you are a scientist or a theologian, human beings do not apprehend a given object objectively, or as it truly is in itself. Instead, when we come to knowledge, we apprehend a synthesis of ourselves–that is, our desires, our needs, our senses, our subjective modes of understanding, our cultural/historical/geographical biases, etc…–and the object in question, but not the object alone.

    • Originally, I didn’t respond to this comment because it was sooooo long that I just didn’t have time to read it. Now I have read it, and feel sad that I have wasted my time on a re-hash of old philosophies that are logically inconsistent (‘space-time’ did not exist at some point, therefore God), or merely state that Christians came up with science, therefore God.

      Whilst I applaud the fact that you have done your reading, do not think that I have not considered all these arguments – KALAM for example. Even TAG (which I am glad you didn’t fully go into). I actually agree on a number of points you make, but some of your logic is self defeating. For example, if human minds are ‘inherently untrustworthy’, then how can you tell that God is morally superior? To make a moral judgement about something when one’s own ability to moralise is in question makes no sense.

      Other arguments that you make are simply semantic. Plantinga et al. base their arguments on their own definitions, and as such any discussion succeeds or fails on the definition of ‘naturalism’, or whether it is philosophical or methodical.

      Further, you make a deistic argument when you argue that God acts in space-time in a way that is consistent with physical laws. This argues against the direct interference of God in reality (and so against miracles), although it does not argue against a ‘plan’. If God is incapable or unwilling to interfere in reality, then it is moot to believe in him or not.

  4. Being a believer in God & Jesus..but not a great believer of organised religion, I really enjoyed reading your article..Good points were raised…and much food for thought!
    In my humble experience, I feel if one is secure in one’s belief then one can be happily open to different opinions without one’s faith being shaken.
    I look forward to reading more…:-)

  5. I don’t believe there has to be a battle between science and religion. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, writes: “The mariner will have dominion over the atmosphere and the great deep, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed.” Eddy published her book in 1875 – almost 100 years before man landed on the moon – yet she seemed able to foretell some of the advances in science that we have come to see. Pretty cool, ay? (Piece of trivia here: The wife and the mother of Alan Shephard, the first guy NASA shot into space, were both Christian Scientists.) I’ve written a blog post in praise of science and technology:

    http://madcapchristianscientist.com/?s=science+and+technology

  6. Politicoid,

    I finally got around to reading some of your posts. “Death of a Marxist,” contains some good information. The PKK organization is mentioned though they weren’t responsible for this bombing. Turkey’s trouble with the PKK is one of the problems that has interfered with the search for the remains of Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat. I’m going to try to write something about that search shortly.

    Overall, I disagree with “Reason or Unreason,” though I think the graphic with the face of Einstein merged with that of Jesus is very interesting. I recommend that you read the book “The Rage Against God,” by Peter Hitchens, the brother of Christopher Hitchens. It has something to say that relates to some of the things you’ve written.

    I believe that we have made a mistake in our definition of “supernatural,” and that the supernatural is only that which we don’t yet understand scientifically. In other words, there is no difference between the natural and the supernatural except for our knowledge of them.

    Historical knowledge, and futuristic foreknowledge, contained in the Bible are proof of God’s existence. In John 1:1 in the New Testament, Jesus is called “the Word,” but the original Greek word “Logos” in that passage can just as easily be translated “Logic,” or “Reason.” Our problem isn’t as much about reason versus”unreason,” as it is about the way human reason, or logic, should relate to that of God. That’s what the deal concerning the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden was all about; whether man would trust his own limited knowledge, or that of the creator (Genesis 2:16-17).

    I believe the Bible because I glimpse in its pages a logic greater than man is capable of. None of us who believe it seem very capable of communicating it. That’s why it seems unreasonable to so many.

    The gospel of John 1:1-14 tells us that God became one of us, in a struggle to show us who he really is, so that we could know his heart. In a sense, all of our faces merge with that of Jesus, and each of us mar his visage in some manner (Isaiah 52:13-15, and chapter 53 foresee the suffering of Jesus). That is his cross to bear, but he bears it because he loves his creation.

    Love in the thing that should guide reason, and govern our desires. Sacrificial love sometimes seems to defy logic, but it’s something we should not exclude from the big picture. Love is the reason behind it all. The sad thing though is that love is often hard to see. The suffering caused by our careless exercise of God-given freedom of will can render love invisible.

    I copied this to my post to answer your comment there.

    • Thanks for a more sensibly lengthed response. First:

      “Turkey’s trouble with the PKK is one of the problems that has interfered with the search for the remains of Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat.”

      I’m not convinced that the main obstacle to finding Noah’s Ark is the PKK. I think there are much deeper logical reasons why you’re not finding the Ark. Second:

      “I believe that we have made a mistake in our definition of “supernatural,” and that the supernatural is only that which we don’t yet understand scientifically. In other words, there is no difference between the natural and the supernatural except for our knowledge of them.”

      It’s very convenient to change the definition of supernatural to natural. you’re saying “Can’t you see they are the same thing if I change the definition so they are the same thing”. You can change the definition to whatever you want but then you are changing the nature of the debate. I posit that ‘supernatural’ means ‘over or above nature’ as its etymology would suggest.

      “Historical knowledge, and futuristic foreknowledge, contained in the Bible are proof of God’s existence.”

      No it isn’t. Some historical knowledge exists in the Bible, in a mountain of demonstrably untrue tales. As for foreknowledge; how do you know it’s foreknowledge if you don’t know the future yourself? That is an assertion and anyway, why does historical knowledge/foreknowledge imply God? It could have come about through any number of fantastical means, including communication from the red pig that circles the sun around Uranus.

      You follow with the implication that because Jesus’ name could be translated as ‘Reason’ then that must mean that your faith is ‘reasonable’, which is clearly an absurd non-sequitur. As for this:

      “That’s what the deal concerning the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden was all about; whether man would trust his own limited knowledge, or that of the creator (Genesis 2:16-17).”

      How is man to make a judgement regarding the superiority of God’s knowledge when his only knowledge is so limited? Why trust in the creators knowledge when you can’t possibly know what it is?

      Then more about how there is a grand logic in the bible thats ‘greater than man is capable of’. Except you apparently. If ‘grand logic’ consists of constant contradictions, demonstrable falsehoods and wicked immorality, then I have to give it to you, but its hideous and repugnant.

      Then some preaching, which means nothing to me seeing as I regard your book as historical fiction, at best. Then “Love is the thing which should guide reason” – um, no actually that is definitely not the case. Rules your desires, maybe. But reason???

      You don’t win these debates by making assertions about how your contradictory, historically innaccurate book claims a thing therefore it is true therefore the Bible is true therefore Love is the cradle of reason. God doesn’t screw up, so something is amiss.

      • Politicoid, Actually, I didn’t say that the PKK was the main obstacle to finding Noah’s ark, but only one of many. I like your sense of humor though. Noah’s ark is just a side issue in the far greater search for truth. The things which seem contradictory about the Bible are almost always a simple misinterpretation of verses. We just need to look a little closer.

        You brought up a couple of good questions. “How is man to make a judgement regarding the superiority of God’s knowledge when his only knowledge is so limited?” “Why trust in the creator’s knowledge when you can’t possibly know what it is?”

        Those are the kinds of questions that first Eve, and then Adam, pondered at the tree of knowledge. Even if we were in God’s presence, as they sometimes were, those questions wouldn’t necessarily just go away.

        The suggestion was made to Eve that by knowledge we could become like God, even become gods ourselves, deciding between right and wrong on our own. The fall of man shows that even if we were in the direct presence of God, trust would still be needed.

        The Bible says that if we understand all knowledge but don’t have love, we are nothing (1st. Corinthians 13:2). By his sacrifice Jesus attempts to persuade us to trust his heart. Knowledge, though it reaches to infinity, or perhaps because it does, would never quite reach across the divide.

        We must trust God precisely because we can’t possibly know more than he knows, and our trial and error ways of learning are the cause of all our problems. According to the common definition of supernatural, the Bible can be called a supernatural book, because it holds knowledge of the future.

        The computer is a wonderful tool for processing knowledge, but governments are moving toward using the computer for all our transactions. This is setting the stage for the biblical Antichrist. Our inability to control knowledge is leading us to our final downfall.

        This is what the Bible predicts, and it can be observed as it’s happening. I don’t have much time for writing, and there’s a lot to write about so I must focus on my blog. May God bless you.

  7. More preaching…. you fail to understand that you are talking to a person who doesn’t believe in the ‘truth’ of your book. First you must convince me that there is any good reason to believe in your book as opposed to any other book ever written. Until then your preaching just makes me yawn…

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