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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Without God?

The article basically argues that we don't need religion anymore, now that we have science. Obviously I disagree, although I share the author's disdain for many of the religious views he has come across. But this is the most interesting admission:

Worse, the worldview of science is rather chilling. Not only do we not find any point to life laid out for us in nature, no objective basis for our moral principles, no correspondence between what we think is the moral law and the laws of nature, of the sort imagined by philosophers from Anaximander and Plato to Emerson. We even learn that the emotions that we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet we must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions. At our best we live on a knife-edge, between wishful thinking on one hand and, on the other, despair.

I would really like to hear the author, on rational grounds, try to defend his choice of the word "must" in the penultimate sentence of this paragraph. In a consistently naturalistic world, all human "musts" and "shoulds" are as meaningless as belief in God.

And, I would add, it isn't just emotions that are the mere effect of chemical processes and chance mutations. The same MUST be said for so-called "rational" thought (such as scientific theorizing) itself.


Matthew said...

I find the idea that we don't need God about as silly as the idea that God didn't use evolution to create man.

Science will never have answers to "what is the point of life"; and if that question is important to you then so is religion.

Religion will never have answers to questions like "why are two bodies attracted to each other in proportion to their mass"; and if knowing that answer is important to you then so is science.

Scientific study provides then answer to how God makes the universe hum, because for some people (myself included) "God did it" is an unsatisfactory answer. I believe God did, but I want to know the mechanism. This includes using the very simple and powerful idea that some genetic mixes don't end up with as many offspring as others, and in the aggregate over millions of years, that can change the genetic makeup of a species, especially with a little "random" mutation thrown in (is anything really random to a God who knows everything?)

Anonymous said...

I think the pseudo-war between science and religion will start to improve into a more complete understanding that science is the study of God and that God works through science not against it.

This basic premise is a very great challenge to faith based religion which opposes scientific truth. A challenge too, to atheism it will be.

Mark Swanson said...

Matthew: I agree, except for your first sentence.

Argent: re: "Science is the study of God"- science can only study the material universe. It has no methodology for speaking authoritatively about a Being who created the Universe but is not Himself a part of it.

Anonymous said...

As I suggested Christianity cannot accept this yet.

But I do believe God includes the material universe and that God is not separate. God is with us all at all times and in all ways.

David Haddon said...

Argent: You seem to have redefined God. What evidence do you have for defining God as including the material universe?

Christians have a revelation of the immaterial nature of God from Jesus Christ who said that "God is spirit."

Moreover, Christians have the powerful logical argument (the cosmological argument) that leads to God's being the self-existent (uncaused) cause of all that is including the material universe. Now since the recent and often grudging acceptance of the Big Bang as the discrete beginning of the universe about 14 billion years ago by most astronomers and cosmologists, the Big Bang's implication of a Beginner has proved so convincing to many astronomers and even to a philosopher like Mortimer Adler (U of Chicago, Great Books Program)that they have become theists, even, as in Adler's case, Christian theists.