Sunday, June 23, 2013

I am a scientist and a Christian

There is a false dichotomy that most people believe in without even thinking about it: that either science is true, or religion (i.e. Christianity) is true, but not both.  For example, according to reviews of "The Unbelievers," that movie implicitly assumes this false dilemma and rides that assumption throughout.

But that doesn't hold water.  I am a scientist and a Christian, and far from internally being at odds with myself, the scientific (and engineering) knowledge I have strengthens my belief in God.

What's interesting is that oftentimes, atheists maintain their lack of belief in any god not for scientific or logical reasons, but for non-rational (emotional) reasons.  Take the oft-quoted Aldous Huxley on Christian morals: "We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom."

Or infamous atheist Thomas Nagel: "I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope that there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that."

(Incidentally, these quotes support what I was saying a few days ago in regard to Objection 4.)

For more, see this post on the Christian Apologetics Alliance webpage.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A response to "Dear Believer, Why Do You Believe" part 2 of 2

Last time, I began a critique of the popular YouTube clip titled, "Dear Believer, Why Do You Believe".  The thing to keep in mind is that the main premise of this video is that no religious person has adequate reasons to believe.  If this premise were true, then the objections raised in this video actually hold some weight.  However, in that case, the objections would essentially be moot: if no religious person has good reasons for their belief, what is the point of raising more objections.

But instead, religious folk, and Christians in particular, have many reasons to believe!  If you follow my blog, you'll find some of those reasons.

As for the rest of my critique of the video, I have identified six common objections to religion in general, and Christianity in particular, and I offered a response to the first three last time.  Here I will go through the three remaining objections raised in this video.

The problem for the atheist who espouses the views in this video is there are not only many adequate reasons to believe in a god in general, and the Christian God in particular, but these reasons are also immensely compelling.  But even if they were only moderately compelling, the existence of such reasons would totally dismantle this video.  In a way, the narrator is underhandedly delivering a stinging insult to religious people worldwide, saying they live in the dark ages.

Objection 4: “Religions are just crutches to help us feel better.”

I wonder if religions aren’t just ancient constructs, in an attempt to explain unexplained phenomenon.  Though irrational in content, they are not irrational in their emergence.  But we no longer live in the dark; science is ablaze in our world, we no longer live in the cave!  We no longer require comforting stories that make us feel safe, comforted or valued.  Isn’t it time our faith matches our discoveries?  Our ideas our new perspective?  Greater awe in reality rather than in fantasy?
This has many problems, first and foremost that atheists may hold their lack of belief in any gods also as a crutch.  If there is no cosmic being, then who am I held accountable to for my immoral actions?  No one.  OK, not every atheist feels this way, but certainly some do.  In the same vein, not every Christian feels like God is a crutch.  Sometimes, I wish God's influence on my life would just go away so I could be autonomous.  I mean, who doesn't like the idea of being their own master?  Who wants to submit to someone in higher authority than themselves?

On the other hand, again, if there are reasons to believe in God, then crutch or not, it is something to consider.

Objection 5: “It's arrogant to think you have the right religion”

Isn’t it time to stop thinking that we are somehow the reason why this universe was made?  That our culture is somehow better than other cultures?  It’s time to learn how the universe really is, even if that deflates our conceits, and forces us to admit we do not have all the answers.  You must confront these fundamental questions.  
I wonder why this is arrogant?  I've posted on this before, but it bears repeating: ideas aren't arrogant.  If you follow the evidence where it leads, how is that arrogant?  Furthermore, taking the position that the narrator does, how is his position not arrogant? Saying believers live in the dark ages?  The narrator surely thinks he's in a position of privileged knowledge.

Objection 6: “It's arrogant to think we occupy a privileged place in the universe.”

Isn’t it time to stop thinking that we are somehow the reason why this universe was made? That our culture is somehow better than other cultures? It’s time to learn how the universe really is, even if that deflates our conceits, and forces us to admit we do not have all the answers.

Last point, but it's beginning to sound repetitive: this would be valid if there were no evidence that we do indeed occupy a privileged place in the universe (in terms of importance).  But there is evidence.  Perhaps there is still debate going on about that, but the scientific data are fairly clear: there are only a handful of places and times in the universe that intelligent life could exist (and maybe only one unique time and place).  If that is what the data say, then again: how is this arrogant?


Every point made in this video seems nice on the surface, especially if you are already indoctrinated to the ways of the new atheists.  Especially if you accept without question the assumption that science and reason are on one side, and faith (which is blind) on the other.  But just for a moment examine your assumption.  If there are good reasons to believe in Jesus as Lord, then nothing this video says makes any sense.  There are no salient points made.