Clash of the Pseudosciences: Anti-Faith versus Creationism

Opposing points of viewAs a lifelong Christian I reject Creationism in all its evil pseudo-scientific forms.  I recognize that there was no Bible when the Book of Genesis was composed, probably sometime after 1000 BCE, and that the Bible itself did not exist in Jesus’ day.  Creationists go out of their ways to distort truth and fact, and that is surely not the fruit that Jesus wanted his tree to bear.  If you cannot be honest about the age of the universe and how it works then how can I trust you to be honest about what God wants from us?  A spring cannot send forth both bitter water and sweet, and lying to people to promote a clearly unsustainable idea (Young Earth Creationism, 6-Day Creationism, etc.) is just not exemplary of the kind of behavior that Jesus and his disciples asked us to aspire toward.

Of course, none of us is perfect and that is why we Christians believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was real and sincere: we’ll never prove our worth on our own because we all do wrong in some ways.  Catch me in an angry moment and I prove the fallibility of the human spirit easily.

But as someone who loves and follows science (and I have for decades) I also eschew all the false pseudo-scientific pedantry that some atheists shovel out by the barrel full.  Science does not reject God any more than one should expect God to reject science.  Science is simply our reasoned interpretation of the universe, and science is constantly changing and growing.  If God comes and stands on a mountaintop for all to see in the next seven days, science will not suddenly fail or be disproven.

Many of the ideas that evolutionists teach when attempting to disprove the existence of God were themselves first proposed by people of faith.  The idea of evolution itself is quite ancient, although earlier meanings for the word evolution that are inconsistent with today’s scientific theory have long since been abandoned by the scientific lexicon.   There is no one person to whom we can trace the concept of a changefulness in things (and in animals) because it goes back thousands of years.  Men would never have bred horses, cattle, dogs, cats, and other animals for domestication if they had not believed they could change those species.

Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, considered by many to be the father of modern evolutionary thought (although his idea of transmutation of species was eventually replaced by Charles Darwin’s common descent of species), is believed by historians to have been a Deist (as were many great thinkers of the 18th century).  A Deist assumed that God exists but he chooses not to interact with the universe.  A Deist is therefore a Theist but not a Theist who appeals to God for constant intervention.

The notion of intervention from on high is quite ancient, but as many theologians have noted, people often ask for things God simply won’t grant them.  You can ask for long life today and die tomorrow.  That doesn’t prove there is no God because there is no contract between you and God that guarantees you get what you ask for.  Nor does the presence of evil in the world disprove the existence of God; by what reasoning are we to assume that God would not allow evil to exist?  In fact, in our universe as we understand it, how could we possibly have good (and know it for being good) without evil to which we compare the good?  The existence of evil is proof of neither God’s existence nor his non-existence, at least according to our present understanding of the universe.

Somewhere along the way the messages have become crossed, mixed with insensible vitriol, and packaged with pseudoscientific babble.  To argue that God cannot exist because the universe was “born” in a microscopic moment as a burst of matter that expanded outward is to disregard the origins of that idea (formally proposed and popularized by a Roman Catholic Jesuit scientist, Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître).  Sorry, atheists, but you can’t steal the idea any longer.

Theism and atheism are both unscientific.  There is no more scientific proof that the universe can exist without God than there is that it must exist because of God.  We don’t have a scientific definition for God, so we have nothing to falsify (disprove) and we have nothing to theorize about.  God remains in the purview of Theology only because science has devised no means for finding a God if such a being exists.

The insufferable smugness that one finds in the constant arguing between Creationists and atheists is typical of extremist points of view.  Science has no opinion on the matter and therefore is really not part of the debate.  But both sides appeal to science as a voice of authority in the question of whether God exists.  Such baseless appeals to authority exemplify the totally unscientific nature of these points of view.

Today belief in God or anything comparable to the Christian view of God is purely a matter of choice, just as disbelief in God, gods, and other things “of faith” is also purely a matter of choice.  Gross ignorance prevails on both sides of this argument not only because people are unwilling to change their views in light of the known facts but also because both sides have public advocates who are dishonest.  For an atheist like Neil degrasse Tyson such dishonesty may seem perfectly acceptable (he was widely criticized by the scientific community for completely fabricating conflicts between the Church and science for his show Cosmos) because he wants to teach people to reject what he feels is a belief in a non-existing God.

For someone who claims to be a Christian, however, to embrace deception as an appropriate tool for arguing the existence of God is to reject what Jesus and the apostles taught us.  In fact, the writers of the New Testament letters (epistles) and stories (the Gospels and the Acts) warned their readers to beware of false teachers who would lead them astray.  When you look at the stories about the apostles preaching about Jesus and his death, they don’t offer any arguments in favor of the existence of God.  They don’t attempt to argue about the existence of God with atheists.  And there were indeed atheists even 2,000 years ago.  Disbelief in higher powers is nothing new.

You cannot be teaching the values Jesus and the Apostles wanted to pass on to future generations if you ignore truth and propagate lies.  Loyalty to churches, church leaders, and obvious pseudoscientific nonsense is inexcusable because as a Christian you’re supposed to be placing your faith in God to take care of his own place in the universe, not in the irrational nonsense that men dream up because they want the Earth to be no more than 6,000 years old.  The God whom Moses worshipped disapproved of lying; Jesus and his followers wanted people to embrace truth, not reject it.  How can you feel like you are being faithful to God if you are being completely dishonest?

The Creationist point of view tacitly implies that God created a universe that is false and deceiving.  This is completely inconsistent with what the writers of the Old and New Testament said of God.  Why does God need to be dishonest?  If the Earth were only 6,000 years old we would have clear scientific proofs of that, and no such proofs exist regardless of how some people point to geologic formations and say they prove there was a worldwide flood.

Yes, large portions of the once-dry world were indeed inundated (and remain so today) thousands of years ago.  Our ancestors remembered echoes of these great floods thousands of years later and in some cultures wrote them down.  The worldwide flooding of the coastlands as the glaciers melted over the past 10-15,000 years is scientifically established and should not be doubted; but that science disputes the idea that the Earth was made only 6,000 years ago.  The people who wrote what became the Bible were not witnesses to the events they described and they did not understand the events they wrote about the way we understand them today.

But science has also learned that we really do want to believe in God.  Most people believe in some higher power.  Half of all scientists do, too.  It is reasonable to ask why the other half reject what is natural and assume there is no God, but that choice is itself proof of nothing in the scientific sense.

We don’t know what human consciousness is.  People of faith call it a soul, and we hope and believe that the soul exists in spite of the body.  Those who reject this belief therefore say that consciousness is an ephemeral aspect of the biology we see around us.  Until we understand consciousness better it cannot be used to prove one side of the argument over the other.

If consciousness continues to exist after the body ceases to function then one day the “living” may discover that “souls” exist in a state completely unlike any previously imagined or proposed.  Of course, we suppose that when you die that question is answered for you individually.  The atheist simply chooses to believe that he or she will never be cognizant of the answer; the rest of us assume that we’ll figure it out once we’re past the point where our bodies cease to function biologically.

The arguments are not aided in any way by the bad behavior of both sides.  Atheists point to all the wars started by religion as evidence of the evilness of religion.  But religious wars in recorded history only account for 7% of all documented conflicts.  93% of all documented wars are therefore based on secular reasons (not necessarily secularism).  The First and Second World Wars, the two most deadly wars in known human history, were not religious wars.  Neither were the Napoleonic Wars nor the American War of Independence, all of which had global implications.  If atheists really want to engage in this pissing contest I’m afraid their stream of character assassination falls far short of the mark that religionists could fire back in response.

Facts and opinions make poor bedfellows at best, but the overt dishonesty that you find in Web discussion after Web discussion about how God (does not) exist(s) should cause most people to recoil in disgust.  Why would any reasonable human being want to cast their lot with either side?  It makes no sense to me.

Then again, there are also appeals to false logic.  If co-opting scientific ideas propounded by people of faith, rewriting the history of the church and science, and misrepresenting the number of conflicts that were started for religious reasons is not enough many argumentative atheists toss in clearly ignorant references to Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor simply states that you should not make things more complicated than is necessary to understand them.  How people manage to ignore that and jump to “Occam’s Razor says the simplest explanation is usually the correct one” has been debated many times over, and no one really knows how this misunderstanding became so popular.  Someone who did not know what they were talking about said it and it just took off from there.  And that probably happened over and over again in many independent events.

The False Occam’s Razor is often used by people to disarm or derail opposing points of view in all manner of arguments; it’s certainly not the private toy of atheists.  I am sure some Creationists have tried to use the False Occam’s Razor in their own rebuttals and propositions.  So if you find an online argument where you see someone invoking Occam’s Razor you can take that as a sure sign they appeal to pseudoscientific nonsense because they feel outgunned and have nothing of value to contribute at that point in the discussion (maybe they made better points earlier, maybe they make better points later, but when you invoke the False Occam’s Razor you allow ignorance to speak for you).

Use of the False Occam’s Razor is probably another trigger for Godwin’s Law, which says that any productive Internet discussion has effectively come to an end as soon as Hitler and the Nazis are invoked in some way.  Of course, there are appropriate discussions where you can compare something to Hitler and the Nazis, but when people simply start comparing each other to historical monstrosities out of frustration, that is a sign that useful discussion has ended.  So it is with attempts to debunk ideas by invoking the False Occam’s Razor.

False logic also enters into these discussions when one side or the other deliberately ignores what the other side is saying and starts constructing straw man arguments.  Someone once suggested to me that people may do this simply because they are so convinced you would say something a certain way that they go ahead and assume you said it (subconsciously, not willfully with intent to defame you).  Maybe, but that kind of mindset is unsuitable for reasoned debate.

I was drawn into some questions on Quora last year where atheists were running amok using false logic, ignorant appeals to history and pseudoscientific babble, and brazen lies.  When I pointed out the unscientific nature of their points of view they simply changed tactics and started dismantling straw man arguments they attributed to me (I never raised the points; they just acted as if I was trying to support the Young Earth argument).  You cannot “win” an argument by pretending the other guy said something he didn’t.  You just look like an idiot.

Idiots give atheists a bad name just as much as they give theists a bad name.  Either way, you really don’t want to be associated with arguments based on lies, ignorance, and defamatory behavior.

I doubt this argument will go away any time soon.  I certainly don’t want to be a part of it but every now and then someone tries to drag me into it, or at least brings it to the periphery of my life and shows me in some smug way that he or she is convinced of his or her own correctness.  And from such behavior I deduce that mankind in general has little to hope for from these extremist points of view.  Whatever truths they might unearth are lost in a tumble of misplaced faith and belief.

Yes, atheists are people of faith, too.  They simply don’t place their faith in God.  A couple of atheists recently tried to argue to me that they don’t use faith but they clearly don’t want to accept what the word actually means in common usage.  Faith is something we use every day without regard for God, and it is something that we theists also use in our lives with respect to whatever higher powers we choose to believe in.  To reject your own self-placed faith in everyday things because you reject theism is another sign of ignorance; there is no reason to fear the correct use of a word that describes a basic human behavior.  Even animals place some level of faith in mundane things, for they could not function otherwise.

You cannot live your life without faith even if you choose to live without putting your faith in God.  But neither can you prove that a God (whom you believe wants honesty above lies) should have created a universe that deceives us. If you reduce your arguments to semantic wiggles then you undermine your appeals to rationality.  You should not be surprised that your arguments fall on deaf ears.

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