RFG: SIX: Science Has Disproved Christianity

“The Reason for God” (Keller) Book DiscussionPart 1: The Leap of Doubt
SIX: Science Has Disproved Christianity

Dr. Francis Collins is mentioned in this chapter and is head of the Human Genome Project. He lectures on ‘faith and reason’ and theistic evolution at a Veritas Forum at U.C. Berkeley, recording found here: http://www.veritas.org/berkeley/recordings. One thing he mentions is that there are two alternative assumptions – that something which had a beginning just popped into existence … or that God (with no beginning) made that something pop into existence… and both require faith to assume them. The first assumption is just as ‘miraculous’ as the second. So – the belief that something which had a beginning just popped into existence is an implicitly religious faith assumption which is not provable by science, but also does not conflict with science. This in itself shows how science and faith are not necessarily in opposition. Science is simply restricted to natural phenomena and can say nothing of how natural phenomena came to be, or what its overall purpose is (without committing the is-to-ought fallacy). It can merely describe natural phenomena, it cannot prescribe. Feel free to give feedback.

“In chapter 6, Keller looks at the argument that science has disproven such things as a creator, an afterlife, and supernatural intervention in the universe. To counter this argument, he writes: ‘When evolution is turned into an all-encompassing theory explaining absolutely everything we believe, feel, and do as the product of natural selection, then we are not in the arena of science, but of philosophy’ (p. 87). In other words, believing that evolution rules out God and his intervention in the universe is a departure from science, and instead a decision to substitute one belief (evolution) for another (faith in God). How do you respond to this argument?” – Penguin, found here:
http://download.redeemer.com/sermons/Penguin%20Reader%20Guide.pdf Throw in Dawkins’ insistence that the ‘scientific mind’ embrace ‘physicalist naturalism’ and Nagel’s response quoted in the chapter. Also consider this quote from Dawkins’ “Out of Eden” – “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other god. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music,” [Richard Dawkins, “Out of Eden” (New York: Basic Books, 1992), 133.] This supports the idea that nature cannot prescribe and that our moral sense that there is truly right and truly wrong is a pointer to God. Freely discuss.

There is a lot of discussion on evolution and miracles in this chapter. Keller thinks evolution is a real process compatible with both atheism and other faith assumptions, a process that does not tell the whole story (and that this is not one of the important issues to consider when weighing the central claims of Christianity), and that science cannot rule out supernatural phenomena since it is restricted to studying natural phenomena. I am not prepared to discuss evolution/creation (apart from agreeing with Keller), but if you want to discuss miracles more, go here or copy/paste from here into the current discussion:

I could agree with the compatibilist, synthetic view that he took in this chapter. I was reminded by both points that Ned Flanders has raised on this forum as well as trends that I’ve noticed myself. The first is that there are groups of Christians that go out of their way to hold on to silly beliefs, to reject progress and that this hurts Christianity a great deal. While their zeal is to be commended, they end up making Christians look downright silly. Keller is wise in both avoiding this path and demonstrating that such a path is not necessary for the faithful. The other thing that I was reminded of is my own anecdotal experience (and admittedly limited) exposure to modern ‘Christian’ pop-art. You know, movies, music, and so on, all aimed at a built in Christian audience. While I’m sure some exceptions could be named, they are usually pretty terrible. Again, this hurts Christians since they create a demand for schlock that causes some people to think Christians have no taste. I mean, come on, this is the religion that inspired the Sistine Chapel and the ante nowadays is “The Thr3e” and Creed. Keller likewise avoided and discouraged the notion that, “Christians should like Christian-things, because they are Christian.” While he stuck to science in this chapter, I think that idea can be carried over into other areas.

Good stuff, no real objections. I do find it ironic that skepticism has become a powerful tool in the apologists arsenal – the whole, “but that doesn’t explain everything!” line, but since revealed religions do have answers to those sorts of questions ready, I can’t argue with the tactic.

I would be interested whether you had read Collins’ book? I’d be curious to see what you thought of it. I’ve skimmed it, seemed interesting. For those interested, here are the premises, as per wiki:

While I outright disagree with #6 and I think #2 is a cop-out, I do think he does a good job presenting the case that religion and science needn’t conflict. I think most people will agree with that broad statement, since many of the questions dealt with by religion can’t meaningfully be asked by science. Insofar as their basic metanarratives are concerned, they needn’t conflict. It is only when they start stepping on each others toes that both start to look rather silly.

So it should come as no surprise that I was happy to see some talk of non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA). Though I do think NOMA runs into the problem of making God ever more distant from the subject at hand, reducing his role from that of a Watchmaker to a sort of disaffected CEO. But, Keller does do his best to step up and show other areas where God would be relevant to the believer.

Much of the discussion of religion vs science is mistargetted.

When a scientist examines something, they generally start not only with a thesis to be proved or disporoved, but also a set of condtions which they believe will or will not show the thesis true. But the truth in Quine’s confirmation holism when applied to scientific practice is not to be doubted - the thesis can only ever be confirmed or disconfirmed within an established set of beliefs which dictate the confirmation conditions. For example, imagine a scientist wants to know whether a reaction occurs when hydrogen is exposed to a flame. Scientist A might believe that seeing and hearing an explosion is sufficient confirmation for there being an explosion. However, Scientist B might alternatively believe in phantom explosions - some kind of mental apparation that sometimes occurs which causes you to falsely believe that there has been an explosion. So Scientist A and Scientist B may have precisely the same thesis and experiment procedure, but come out with different results. Importantly, the results of BOTH scientists is a result of their belief structure and the confirmation conditions that they deduce from their beliefs. This is why science offers no such thing as proof.

The point is that evangelical Christians takes Creationism to be true. So their method of confirmation runs a little like this: If a theory conflicts with Creationism, then the theory must be false. So, say the Evangelical scientist carbon dates a rock and discovers that it has indications of being 2 million years old. He might say that because carbon dating process says its 2 million years old, the confirmation conditions must be wrong. He might suppose that all fossils were created 5000 years ago in various states of radiocarbon decay - and that therefore the correct confirmation conditions are that any rock carbon dating from before 5000 years ago was deliberatly created around 5000 years ago in a specific state of decay. There is no inconsistency or incoherence in this perspective (even if it isn’t one that I agree with), neither does it allow any chance whatsoever of being proved wrong by science.

The true conflicts between science and religion only occur in people who accept the general soundness of scientific principles and are also religious (I class myself in this group). We must account for the fact that we accept that evolution can and has been proved, that creationism is a disprovable physical reality and all the rest whilst maintaining that the Bible is an authority of truth and that God is real. These conflicts are solveable mainly by highlighting the metaphorical nature of the bible whilst denying that it tries to accurately portray the physical universe as we see it (with good reason - our scientific perception of the physical universe completely changes every few hundred years - the bible s supposed to be full of timeless truths).

My point is that most discussion of science and religion is aimed at scientific positivists aim their anti-religious arguments in the wrong direction - to people on whom they have no bearing.

(please - forgive my lousy portrayal of confirmation holism. I realise I described an extremely weak version of the thesis - but I believe that was all that was necessary to make the point in hand, and trying to defend Quine’s much stronger versions of meaning holism would have been an unnecessary digression here)


Don’t really have a reply for anything you said but this:

I haven’t read Dr. Collins’ book (want to), but googled non-overlapping magisterial (not discussed in the chapter by that title). Keller rejects it, and so does Dr. Collins. Was that a trick question, lol?


When a scientist examines something, they generally start not only with a thesis to be proved or disproved,


The point is that evangelical Christians take Creationism to be true.

Regarding the version of Creationism you went on about (which rejects the theory of evolution), this is from the original post: Keller (an evangelical Christian) thinks evolution is a real process compatible with both atheism and other faith assumptions, a process that does not tell the whole story (and that this is not one of the important issues to consider when weighing the central claims of Christianity) … Dr. Francis Collins (an evangelical Christian) is mentioned in this chapter and is head of the Human Genome Project. He lectures on ‘faith and reason’ and theistic evolution at a Veritas Forum at U.C. Berkeley, recording found here: http://www.veritas.org/berkeley/recordings.

The true conflicts between science and religion only occur in people who accept the general soundness of scientific principles and are also religious (I class myself in this group).

I respectfully request that you read the original post, quote the relevant parts, and reply to that, please.

… account for the fact that we accept that evolution can and has been proved,

See above link on scientific method.

Sure, he rejects NOMA when he talks about it (which is good because NOMA has a lot of problems) but he co-opts a lot of its structure. A strict and absolute divide between science and religion (as Gould originally discussed) doesn’t make sense unless one of those systems is false. But I’ve seen it used since where it basically lets each area specialize independently. More of a ‘rule-of-thumb’ than a strict concept. You know, “The Bible: not a biology textbook” and “Biology: not gonna get you a relationship with God.” Which is more-or-less how I understood Keller’s argument with a few ‘God-of-the-gaps’ bits thrown in – but he didn’t rely on those as proof so I’m fine with that.


The point was that any scientific discovery relies holisitcally upon a set of beliefs already held true. Your link had absolutely nothing to do with this. I suggest:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy … bservation


Or for some real reading, try Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of scientific Revolutions, which has plenty to say about this issue.

“I respectfully request that you read the original post, quote the relevant parts, and reply to that, please.”

The post was about the deabte between reilgion vs science - I was simply giving my views on the topic as a whole. My main point is this - it is impossible for science to disprove anything that is taken as a matter of faith. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be allowed to make this point in this thread. It was more a discussion point than a direct reply to the original message, but seeing as I see nothing wrong with this I would have to, respectfully, forgo your request.

– b_m

It used to be taken on faith (not blind faith, mind you, but… say… phenomenological faith) that the sun revolved around the earth, until ‘science’ (scientific method, wielded by Christians) showed it to be false. A (wo)man of faith is also a (wo)man of reason. “Just say no” to blind faith.

This is interesting:

Xunzian–this is a very interesting topic. I’m not exactly sure where I even stand on it! lol It sounded like Keller was somewhere between two extremes (the two extremes being “total conflict between faith and science” and “total independence between faith and science” which, to me, is like saying, “unless you keep those two dogs apart, they’re gonna fight”). Plus, see my signature. I’m going to work something up and see if we have a conversation. Brb.

Thanks for being a gadfly, Xunzian.

“When evolution is turned into an All-encompassing Theory explaining absolutely everything we believe, feel, and do as the product of natural selection, then we are not in the arena of science, but of philosophy.”

–That sounds like the arenas are independent from each other. (You could say philosophy in this case is like religion in the sense of ‘unprovable faith assumption’.)

Dr. Collins believes in evolutionary science… AND is an evangelical Christian.

–That sounds like science and faith are complementary arenas.

Ian Barbour says science and religion can be in conflict (where you must choose one or the other, because they contradict each other), dialogue (?), integration (?), and independence (you can choose both, because they have nothing to say to each other… seems like this sort of faith has only to do with myth and is not grounded in reality). Keller says Barbour is in the middle, where “science and religious faith recognize their respective spheres of authority” – which doesn’t sound like the ‘middle’ unless you realize that “independence” makes faith into the stuff of fairy tales, whereas “respective spheres” acknowledges faith is grounded in reality, rather than conflicting with it, and science can only study the creation, not the Creator (“science cannot explain everything” – that’s what Keller says Gould and Nagel’s position is).

Now—was Gould’s deal “independence” or was it “respective spheres”? When I googled it, it sounded like ‘independence’. In Keller’s book, it sounds like “respective spheres” – ‘cause Gould says “the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious belief—and equally compatible with atheism” – maybe he ‘was’ for independence, but changed his mind?

Then Keller talks about evolution and the conflict/dialogue/integration/independence thing. He got ‘conflict’ right (young earth clashes with science), but when he tells of the ‘independence’ perspective, it comes off sounding more like ‘respective spheres’—like faith doesn’t clash with science (“God was the primary cause in beginning the world and after that natural causes took over”). The ‘central position’ examples do not seem any different from the example given for independence, as far as not clashing with science (“God created life and then guided natural selection to develop all complex life-forms from simpler ones” and “God performed large-scale creative acts at different points over longer periods of time”). It seems like a better example for “independence” would have included “the creation story in Genesis is totally made up”. But, he didn’t say anything like that. Sometimes people do that—assume certain things are obvious and don’t need to be said. In this case, it should’ve been said.

So, my position, and Keller’s, is “respective spheres”… in the middle… far away from the extremes. More specifically, Keller says, “I personally take the view that Genesis 1 and 2 relate to each other the way Judges 4 and 5 and Exodus 14 and 15 do. … I think Genesis 1 had the earmarks of poetry and is therefore a ‘song’ about the wonder and meaning of God’s creation. Genesis 2 is an account of how it happened. … I think God guided some kind of process of natural selection, and yet I reject the concept of evolution as All-encompassing Theory.”

I like where he talks about Matthew 28:17 and how some doubted what they saw with their eyes and touched with their hands… how the miraculous isn’t something just we modern folk struggle with… but how the apostles all ended up as great leaders in the church, though some had a lot more trouble believing than others. And I like how Keller wrote, “We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. … His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” Unless, of course, we think of the natural world the way the Gnostics did, and totally miss the beauty of creation.

Ichthus - you are right to take issue with my quoted statement. I have so far left ‘faith’ unqualified, hence, the existence of counter examples.

For clarity I would like to summarise everything I have said so far (or, meant to have said):

  1. It is possible for someone to take something as a matter of faith.
  2. Once they have taken it as a matter of faith they can base all empirical observations around this belief (this is the theory of confirmation holism in science - the sub-point was that scientists do exactly the same thing [although my sepration of them was probably confused])
  3. Once someone has a belief of the nature described in (2) falsification of this belief by any method whatsoever is impossible.

(4) [a point I was trying to make, but doing so lousily - perhaps because it isn’t too relevent but is nevertheless interesting] - It is a necessary pre-requisite of any theory making (including scientific discovery) that beliefs of the form (2).

At any rate the argument from 1-3 rides on a definition of ‘faith’ that entails (2). So ‘faith’ is meant to mean ‘taken as irrifutably true’ as opposed to ‘believed without any evidence’. It was entirely my fault that I wasn’t clear about this. Now, in your example about the sun revolving around the earth, it is obvious that it was taken as a matter of faith in the second (non-relevent) sense - had they actually believed that it was irrefutably true they would have been able to explain the ‘evidence’ some other way.

On (4) - This is a point about science and life that is often forgotten (again - I highly reccomend Kuhn for anyone who is seriously interested in a polemic against the supposed veracity of science). All scientists rely upon various assumptions with no evidence to support them (for example - in some form of consistency in universal laws, in the reliability of the five senses to present the world accurately etc etc). Moreover, as such assumptions are necessary to form judgements about anything at all - it is true that everyone living has such unsupported beliefs. This is one reason why I find it primitive on the part of atheists to attack the ‘irrationality’ of religion as they always do. The truth is Christians are simply more open about which irrational beliefs they hold. But like I said - this is indeed fairly irrelevent to the tread (I just enjoy making the point!").

I am a person of reason (I hope), but to me my faith in God is a belief that God irrefutibly exists. There would be no evidence I would accept that would disprove God. When evidence is presented (for example - the argument from evil), I simply change the way I see evil and morality to accomodate the existence of an all loving, all powerful, all knowing being.

I am very, very far from an orthodox theist. But if I were to take the bible as conveyer of irrifutible empirical truths, then the same would stand for my creationism as would stand for my belief in God’s existence. I would accept no evidence to the contrary. However, what I have been trying to highlight is that this need be no more unreasonable, no more irrational or unprincipled than a scientists wholehearted belief in Darwinism.

I am in a sense providing an indipendent argument for Keller’s view that Science does not disprove Christianity. Keller’s argument, I believe, is that science and religion cover different fields and that it is an illegitimate move for science to proport to give truths about non-physical matters:

I agree with him fully, although I think that this is a matter of belief (and thus not the best supporting argument for the claim that science can’t disprove Christianity). After all - what if your a pure physicalist - then science would possible seem capable of solving all problems, would it not? Hopefully, though, I have explained why it is the case that his statement:

“believing that evolution rules out God and his intervention in the universe is a departure from science, and instead a decision to substitute one belief (evolution) for another (faith in God).”

holds true.

Xunzian - I look forward to further contributions. I too find this topic very interesting! This is my position: Personally I believe the bible to be an ethical and text. Truth about the nature of the physical universe is best provided by science. Like scientists I believe in the laws of consitency and in the reliability of empirical data (actually unlike scientists I have a good reason to believe these things - I think an omnibenevolent God would have willed it no other way - but then that is in turn based upon a belief - held purely in faith - in God). I think this is a better position than creationism because it leads us towards a more reliable and sensible ethical viewpoint, and a deeper appreciation of God’s universe. So for me - there is never a conflict between science and religion. One studies and informs us about the physical universe - the other tells us how to act, how to treat people, how to think. No conflict is even possible. For example, where scientific theories about how the universe is created are put forward - to me they simply explain the physical chain of reactions that God started to form the universe. Basically, seeing as I don’t believe the bible means to inform us about science I don’t believe that it’s information on the subject can be contradicted.

Here is a quick review that I think might shed some light on the issue:

So while Gould doesn’t (insofar as I am aware) ever purely frame NOMA as a linguistic argument, that is essentially what it is: you can’t speak religion in the language of science and you can’t speak science in the language of religion. Understandably, Keller rejects this view and does take a middle path, closer to what Peacocke takes. I think the notion of ‘respective spheres’ makes a good deal more sense if one wants to believe in both religion and science and I think a means of integration is the best path to take.

But, of course, as soon as ‘respective spheres’ are recognizes and contact between those spheres is legitimated, conflict becomes possible. Genesis is a fairly easy account since it is pretty clearly a song of some sort. There are allegorical interpretations of Genesis that are older than Christianity, so allowing for wiggle room there is incredibly easy. Though I think grafting God onto the subject also becomes problematic. If God is ‘guiding’ natural selection, it seems a rather silly way to go about it. Billions of years for the oyster to make its pearl? I don’t think such a path can really be said to make much sense. Granted, that is an argument from incredulity, which doesn’t really stand. But I do find it a rather nasty fly in the ointment, personally. Here is an old thread that deals with some topics that might be of interest to the present discussion.

The problem I have with Keller’s integrationalist approach is that it still seems, to me, to be a “God of the Gaps” argument. A different sort than the one employed by theologians back in the day that lead to the current Creationism clusterfuck, but an argument of the same kind. God had to intervene somewhere. If God didn’t actively intervene at anywhere, then I don’t see how the argument is actually different from Gould’s. Right? If God’s ‘intervention’ occurred in some noumenal manner, then doesn’t it follow that the language being spoken is, again, unintelligible across the boundaries?

I find the suggestion that religion and science be different languages - two different spheres which do not conflict with each other at all, intriguing. But ultimately, I would have to say that I have a deep and resounding problem with it. To me, God is not just a concept or theory - he is the physical creator of the world. His presence is real as anything we see before us. And, I believe, the physical world is important to religion. My ethics don’t rely upon thinking nice thoughts, but are based upon doing things in the real world (and I wholeheartedly believe my ethics are in line with Jesus). An accurate sceintifical approach is therefore essential to serving God. (I base my approach to theology largely on Karl Barth - but I believe that this is also broadly the post Vatican II approach ).

The reason the physical universe is so important is that it has been created by God. This is one of the most important lessons of Genisis, I do not think it can be ignored. Trying to remove God from explanations of creation runs the danger of making the physical world look trivial - a mere scientific coincidence. I fear, more than anything, a faith that believes that this is so. Physical pain, suffering, dessication of the physical world and lack of physical freedoms are the primary evils that should be fought against.

I do not mind, though, people who simply believe the science and don’t question it’s realation with God. So long as they don’t argue that the physical world is somehow seperate from Him. That He has no bearing on it - and it no bearing on Him. Thats all.

brevel monkey–I think we do interpret new data within the context of certain frames (beliefs) and different frames will see the same data differently. But it isn’t impossible to change those frames to adapt to data which conflicts with them.

And now I will ask you–do you have any reason to believe you do not have a biological mother? Your faith in having a biological mother is as strong as my faith in God. I’m not saying that to boast, because my faith is not blind… I don’t have to “muster it up” or something… no more than you have to “muster up” faith in having a biological mother. There ‘could be’ evidence to the contrary–maybe you’re artificial intelligence? That’s why it’s called faith. You can’t have epistemological certainty, you’re not God.

I had difficulty following a lot of what you were saying.

Thanks, that was an awesome essay, Xunzian.

In order to avoid the is-to-ought fallacy I must necessarily hold a “separate spheres” position, but that our moral sense is part of the physical universe puts me in the ‘integrated’ camp.

Since God prob’ly belongs in the ‘magesteria’ of religion (puh!) according to Gould, then I guess He gets no say in “how” the universe works (its design) or whatever? He only gets to say “why” it is working? Isn’t that kinda… silly? I totally agree there’s a difference between “why” and “how” – but if the “how” CAME from the “why” then… they aren’t separate. There would be no “how” without the “why”. But, granted—you can study the “how” without even thinking of the “why”… but… wouldn’t the same thing driving you to study the “how”… drive you to wonder about the “why”…? Isn’t it really the “why” that drives you to study the “how” in the first place? How? Why? Why? How? How why? Why how? Hiawatha! Too much coffee.

–Did you just tell me to eat a candy, Mr. Ruse?

I must know more about this Mr. de Chardin. Is he legit? It wasn’t alchemy, was it? Tell me it wasn’t alchemy.

I should read Augustine more. But I’m going to forget that as soon as possible so my brain doesn’t explode with the weight of books on my to-read list. I have an eternity. If I can’t read him now, I’ll chat it up with him in the hereafter.

Yeah. The problem goes away if you don’t ‘have’ to graft Him onto it, ‘cause He is already in it. Like what Augustine said. It was complete before it started. He sustains what is not “now” to us (He also sustains ‘now’ of course). So—just by ‘sustaining’ – He’s in it. I don’t think having a hand in evolution is any different than taking an active role in history, personally—unless you have to “rewrite history” to show His role in it (graft Him in). But, let the record show—that isn’t necessary. I’m not going to argue in favor of any particular way He could’ve been involved in evolution. To me, that is a non-issue. It was complete before it began. That’s the only way prophecy can be given and fulfilled.

ahem what? Hopefully my above paragraph answered you, but… I’m not sure I even understood what you just said. Maybe we’re speaking two different languages? lol

Indeed - but my point was that it is also possible not to change them without any contradiction. If your frame of belief is that evolution is true and any evidence against it was put on earth to challenge our faith, then what piece of evidence could possibly conflict with that?

Then we each have a different type of faith. I believe that ‘God is true’ is irrefutable. I would accept no evidence to the contrary. My faith is blind - and proudly so.

I have no reason to believe my mother is not biological. To be honest, I’m not sure there would be any evidence I would accept that this was not the case. If, for example, someone pulled her apart and showed me she was full of wires I would simply assume that it was an illusion, that they had stolen my real mother or possibly that I had even gone mad. I would even consider a doctor who type theory that I had somehow switched dimensions. But I very much doubt I could ever believe my mother was and always had been a robot - no matter what evidence was put on the table.

This might seem crazy - but it isn’t. Someone who would accept the evidence that their mother was a robot would have an equally blind faith that they hadn’t gone mad or switched dimensions. They also have a blind faith that sensual evidence is reliable (as do all scientists, in fact, and most functioning humans!).

Again, I can only reccomend some reading on the theory that isn’t my writing:
(try en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_holism, maybe), perhaps it’d be clearer. In fact, reading Donald Davidson’s ‘on the very idea of a conceptual scheme’ would make the whole issue a lot clearer. But I fear you lie more on the theology than the philosophy side of things - you might actually find them uninsteresting. Anyway - I think the estoling virtues of the dogmas of analytic philosophy are exhausting fast. But it was a worthwhile discussion, it seemed to me.

Teilhard is pretty neat. Sort of a modern Aquinas, in that the Catholic Church loves about 25% of what he wrote and thinks the other 75% is downright heretical. I’m only passingly familiar with him through secondary sources, but I’d check him out if I were Christian. The Omega Point is certainly an interesting idea, though I think the teleology is reversed. No surprise there :wink:

As for God being there and sustaining it. Sure, I can understand how a believer would think that. Makes perfect sense. But how is God doing that? Modern science owes Christianity a great debt. Many of the first scientists were either monks or religiously motivated Protestants trying to understand God through the world he created. But they kept running into the same problem that Gould discusses: God kept not being there. There was always a clear efficient cause, which also dovetailed with the material cause. So there are two options left, insofar as I see it: God of the Gaps or formal/final cause.

Now, God of the Gaps is a bad argument because a) it is an argument from ignorance and b) the state of ignorance is a temporary one and it usually makes the people putting that argument forth look silly.

The other idea is that God is either the formal or final cause. If he is the formal cause, that is fine. But it does seem to encourage a NOMA since his implementation would be through the other elements. So God would be pretty much removed from the situation, only able to answer a ‘why’. If God is the final cause, you’ve got Teilhard’s Omega point. But the entire notion of final causes is problematic and has been pretty much rejected. And if God is the end and not the means, it would also make the whole ‘alpha’ part of the equation rather difficult to deal with.

[This is a recording, please stay on the line; do not hang up.] Thank you Xunzian and brevel_monkey for participating in this chapter of the book discussion. All are invited to continue discussion of the chapter, but this reply concludes my participation in this chapter, as I must now turn my attention to the remaining chapters of the discussion. Thanks again.


Omega point… hm. But nature cannot do such things on its own. And if it requires free will to be formed into the original point (image of God; love) (and nature is just the setting in which all of this is enabled), a will which does not leave everything to nature but takes nature by the reigns (sp?), then the omega point is false.

Hm. This is from my paper… maybe you’re wanting to discuss it?..

God is within and beyond His creation, distinct from it and yet intimately interacting within it.

“God of the gaps” is something I have yet to fully understand… I read stuff about it that goes way over my head. Basically I’ve heard it is erroneous to explain away some question as-yet unanswerable by “science” with “God did it” (God fills in the gaps left by “science”). One example of something God does not do is our freely willed actions–and the goings-on of nature could be another example… HOWEVER (not yelling, just weird)… like I already said… He is already in it, sovereign over all of it, as He sustains it; He has taken an active role in it, interacting with humans in many ways, including becoming one (‘becoming’ only having meaning in a temporal setting, set within the eternal)–and so, it seems to me that He could do the same with the goings-on (smaller or larger scale) of nature. Seems like the opposite of “God of the gaps” would be “No room for God.” Hence, the manger. Jk.

We’ve gotten a tad off-topic (not ‘hopelessly off’), however it is one of the subjects that fascinates me most. Not sure I can go much more into it, though…

Alpha and Omega… beginning and end… the eternal point (not necessarily connected to “the last will be first, the first will be last,” but I like the connection). I am uncomfortable discussing that further in this thread. I must turn my attention to the remaining threads.

Some of your thoughts were mixed up again. I think you’re doing that on purpose. I don’t know why.


Basically, you are saying that “real contradictions” to faith are “put here” to challenge faith. This is my answer. If the contradictions are real, the faith is in an illusion. Such faith should be abandoned and genuine faith should be adopted in its place. God is not anti-nature, is not anti-reality, is not anti-reason, is not pro-delusion. He is not the author of confusion, and demanding we have faith that contradicts reality is “confusion”.

I don’t have time right now to follow your link, but thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn more. I am doing that, but can’t do it all at the same time.

[This is a recording, please stay on the line; do not hang up.] Thank you Xunzian and brevel_monkey for participating in this chapter of the book discussion. All are invited to continue discussion of the chapter, but this reply concludes my participation in this chapter, as I must now turn my attention to the remaining chapters of the discussion. Thanks again.

science has not proved that christanity or religon is not real it has done the opposite. plus the scentific theroy is the world just came from this big bang theory right? well the start off you say all the matter and atoms came together and exploded. what was this mater? and isnt matter just somthing that takes up space so really there was a big bang of nothing. then after millions and millions of years we evole into humans and thus we are here today. well what came out of this big bang of nothing? after milllions of years there just happen to be lava and magma. that heat up rocks where ever they came from that the rivers or water that came form who knows where to cool down teh rocks and eventually make it into an animal which eventually makes it in to a gorilla over millions of years and then years and years later human came and now were here. wow do i need to say much more?

Thanks for replying, caveman.

My mom forwarded this… she got it from my grandma… one of the few chain mails that ain’t junk… not that I’m ‘reactivating’ my activity in this thread… but feel free to further discuss it, if you like. I wonder who wrote it, who started it?


False dichotomy. The recently formulated ekpyrotic model hypothesizes a Big Bang which is the result of an eternally existing Brane-type-Universe (pretty esoteric, huh?). Since there is nothing logically inconsistent in this idea, and its possibility of being tested (in the practical sense) is being seriously discussed in scientific discourse. To compensate for an enormously simplified way of dealing with the results of science, religious people have taken the standard Big Bang model with the additional premise of “something came from nothing” as the only weapon in the scientists’ arsenal in cosmology.

Well, to call the ekpyrotic model, or belief in it, “faith” would be an equivocation. Usually, we assign the word “faith” to those things which we see as not only being untestable in practical terms, but in principle as well. If “faith” is being used here differently, then it needs to be stated. Otherwise, the statement is false.

Science and religion are still in opposition. If you asked a religious person “Where did the universe come from?”, the religious theist would assuredly say “God”–if you asked a scientist, on the other hand, they’d tell you “I don’t know”. Thus far, the attitude of scientists is that of agnosticism as far as the origin of the Big Bang goes. And it will be so until they can figure out ways to test the various alternative hypotheses (none of which will likely include a God-hypothesis – sorry Bible Thumpers!).

I agree here. Scientists need to say evolution is untestable against the God-hypothesis (and, of course, vice versa). The important thing for evolutionists is that they are able to empirically test different evolutionary “stories” of how certain species and organisms came about.

Though I genuinely enjoyed reading that paragraph by Dawkins, I am in sympathy with Collins that this view that Dawkins supports is NOT a bonafide scientific one.

This dialogue displays a COMPLETE lack of understanding of scientific reasoning. Testability isn’t contingent upon directly observing the objects which the theory being tested countenances. It is contingent upon directly observing observational consequences of a theory that countenances those objects. So you can refrain from that little rhetorical pat on the back you gave that crummy dialogue. It’s a prime example of strawmanning.

Is that the straw man you are referring to? You’re saying it’s a weak version of what the professor should have actually stated? How would you have put it, in a way that pits Keller’s reasons in favor of God (Christian) against (at odds with) scientific reasoning? [edit: to be clear, “directly observing observational consequences of a theory that countenances those objects,” doesn’t cut it. Nothing Keller states is against any observed consequences, and some of his reasons are observed consequences. Are all of them? No. Should we limit ourselves in that way? We’re in a philosophy forum–not a science forum.]

I’m such a fickle flake! I can’t even refrain from replying to threads I’ve bowed out of!!! But, that’s okay.

This tentatively concludes my participation in this thread.