This is the week six in our ‘Christians are wrong about…’ series – see the rest of the series here.

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These are the sermon notes for  ‘Christians are wrong… because Science’

intro

Primarily this sermon aims to show these things:

1. You can have great confidence in God

2. There is no conflict between science and the God of the Bible

3. The difference between scientists and naturalists, who may happen to be scientists.

    – this is a really important distinction to realise, and will help you discern a privelaged/preferred/prior worldview that necessarily impacts the reporting of scientific data.

4. Hopefully a love for science as a way to discover more of God’s phenomenal greatness! (And the great company you’ll be in should you participate!)

Let’s get started… ‘Christians are wrong because.. Science.’

Sam Harris in his book ‘The End of Faith’ describes religious faith as “what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints of terrestrial discourse – constraints like reasonableness, internal coherence, civility, and candor… Ignorance is the true coinage of this realm.”

So what is science?

Oxford – The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The religion that is afraid of science dishonours God and commits suicide.”

Hebrews 11:1 says Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This scripture does not mean that faith is without evidence to support it. Some people seem to think you have to turn your mind off before you can turn your faith on. They seem to agree with what Mark Twain’s once said: “Faith is believin’ what you know ain’t true.”

But we don’t approach the world like that… Rather, like 1 Corinthians14:20 – “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” 

Like Psalm 111:2 (MSG) – “GOD’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study–endless enjoyment!”

and like 1 Thess 5:21(NLT) – “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.”

-Key text:

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Phil Yancey, in his book Soul Survivor writes: “. . . religion, and not science, at least proposes an answer to two questions:

(1) Why is there something rather than nothing? (Or, as Stephen Hawking put it, Why does the universe ‘bother to exist’?)

(2) Why is that something so beautiful and orderly?” The burden of proof is on those who see order and try to explain how it came from chaos; they see intricacy and say there is no Artist; they see design but refuse to admit even the possibility of a Designer; they see beauty and intelligent life forms and say it all came from randomness; they see a world packed with pleasure, goodness and joy and say it was all an accident; they see the sky but do not see heaven; they see a tree but do not see the hand of God.

Where does the science/faith divide come from?

– During the 1600’s, the majority of philosophers, religious authorities, and astronomers alike believed in what is known as a geocentric universe—a universe centered on the earth. However, the scientist Galileo was convinced otherwise. It was his conviction that the solar system was heliocentric, or centered on the sun. When church leaders learned of his ideas, Galileo was forced to recant and abandon this (what they believed to be) heretical belief. This event marked the beginning of the science and faith war.

Galileo:

          – “they would have us altogether abandon reason and the evidence of our senses in favor of some biblical passage, though under the surface meaning of its words this passage may contain a different sense.  Yet even in those propositions which are not matters of faith, this authority ought to be preferred over that of all human writings which are supported only by bare assertions or probable arguments, and not set forth in a demonstrative way. This I hold to be necessary and proper to the same extent that divine wisdom surpasses all human judgment and conjecture. But I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters which are set before our eyes and minds by direct experience or necessary demonstration.”

Galileo was doing science because he was a Christian… because of his love and awe of God!

Not only are Christians are not wrong because science.. Modern science is what it is because of Christians living out their faith!

  – big call… Let’s have a look…

– Like Galileo, Johanas Keplar was a Brilliant Mathematician, Astronomer, and a Christian. He did early work on light, and established the laws of planetary motion about the sun. He also came close to reaching the Newtonian concept of universal gravity – well before Newton was born! His introduction of the idea of force in astronomy changed it radically in a modern direction. Kepler was an extremely sincere and pious Lutheran, whose works on astronomy contain writings about how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity.

     – In 1595, he wrote this to a friend: “I wanted to be a theologian; for a long time I was unhappy. Now, behold, God is praised by my work even in astronomy”

     – On another occasion, Keplar said that to practice science was “to try to think God’s thoughts after him.”

     –“It is a right, yes a duty, to search in cautious manner for the numbers, sizes, and weights, the norms for everything [God] has created. For He himself has let man take part in the knowledge of these things … For these secrets are not of the kind whose research should be forbidden; rather they are set before our eyes like a mirror so that by examining them we observe to some extent the goodness and wisdom of the Creator.” (source)

– his contemporary, Francis Bacon established the scientific method of inquiry based on experimentation and inductive reasoning… his goals were the discovery of truth, service to his country, and service to the church. Although his work was based upon experimentation and reasoning, he rejected atheism as being the result of insufficient depth of philosophy, stating, “It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

Rene Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted – suggesting the famous “I think therefore I am”. Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God – for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences – can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy

– We can hear similar stories about early scientists like Albert Magnus, the grandfather of Geology; or Robert Bown who founded modern Chemistry, Copernicus, the Astronomer, Pascal, Kelvin, Boyle, Mendel, Faraday, Planck (quantum theory). In large part, those who launched the Scientific Revolution not only saw no conflict with science and faith, but themselves believed in the God of Creation.

– like Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727). He’s considered one of the greatest scientists of the modern era. He is most famous for his formulation for the laws of gravity. He was an expert in the field of optics, astronomy and basically invented calculus. He was responsible for the first ever correct analysis of white light. He also believed in the inspiration of scripture – and he wrote many Christian books as well as scientific books. In his system of physics, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space. In Principia he stated, “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”

– These great men of faith paved the way for modern scientific thinking. They understood that at the center of the universe is a divine Intelligence. Life is not random and chaotic, as the world of that time believed, it is rational and ordered. The world is not subject to chaos, or the whims of thousands of gods, there is One God who is good.

Ok.. Most of the most significant scientist in history, sure… But these are all really old guys, and we’ve come a long way since then, right? Here are some contemporary scientists… Just a couple…

– Physicist Paul Davies, wrote a book called The Mind of God where he talks about how the study of Physics pointed him to a Creator … to Someone beyond. 

Physicist John Polkinghorne said this: “You know what? I believe in quarks. Do you know why? Because it makes sense of all the other evidence that’s available.” he continued along the same line of reasoning, “I also believe in God. Why? Even though I’ve never seen Him, it makes sense of all the evidence I see out there —- of the incredible complex nature of the world, of the multi-faceted levels of reality, of the fact that people long for worship and hope, the fact that there is a phenomenon of Jesus throughout the world.” 

– Patrick Glynn, a Harvard-educated scholar (author of ‘God, the evidence’), abandoned his atheism to become a Christian after of his study of the intricate balance of the universe. For him, it all pointed to an Intelligence — a magnificent intelligence — the magnitude of which we cannot even imagine. This Intelligence has designed the world in infinite and exquisite detail. Glynn wrote: “Today, the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis. . . . Those who wish to oppose it have no testable theory to marshal, only speculations about unseen universes spun from fertile scientific imagination. . . . Ironically, the picture of the universe bequeathed to us by the most advanced twentieth-century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in the Book of Genesis than anything offered by science since Copernicus.”

– Francis Collins, the founder of the Human Genome Project and a practicing Christian, is an excellent example. At a Pew Research forum, Collins pointed out several pieces of evidence of God’s existence. He singled out concepts like the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics,” an observation by physicist Eugene Wigner that math’s most amazing quality is that it works so simply and elegantly [source: Pew Research].

– Allan Rex Sandage is the leading Observation Cosmologist in the world by pretty much all accounts. He spent his career quantifying the expanse of the universe, finding quasars and solar systems, looking at what can be seen through the most powerful telescopes on our planet. 

      – When he was about 60 years old, he spoke at a conference on Science and Faith. Everyone thought they knew which side of the argument he would be on because Sandage was known to be an atheist. But in a talk on the Big Bang Theory, Sandage said that at 50 years of age, he had come to believe in God, and had since become a Christian.  “It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science,” he says. “It is only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence.” Sandage was asked, “Can a person be a scientist and a Christian?” Here’s how he answered that question. “Yes. As I said before, the world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone…”

– Dr. James Tour of Rice University, has said: “I stand in awe of God because of what He has done through His creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”

– John Piper (Let the Nations Be Glad, 1993,p.12) quotes Charles Misner, a scientific specialist in general relativity theory, who expressed Albert Einstein’s skepticism: “The design of the universe … is very magnificient and shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as a basically very religious man. He must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they had ever imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he’d run across did not have the proper respect… for the author of the universe.”

– the most recent poll (2009) found that 51 percent of scientists say they believe in God or a creative higher spirit [source:http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/ ]. 

Please don’t believe the lie that if you’re a scientist you’re rational, but if you’re a Christian, you believe in fairy tales.. We’ll get to why that’s become such a loud voice from some sections of the scientific community in a minute… Ok, so there’s a bunch of people who operate at the absolute top of science, and believe in God… There are also scientists who operate at the top of science who don’t believe in God! So what next?

Let’s look at some Objections from the science world:

1. Christianity is opposed to science, won’t listen to science, and contradicts science.

     – this may be true of some people, but the problem here is that ‘science’ is not a homogenous group of people, or a singularity 😉 neither is Christianity at all represented equally well among those who claim the title.

 We can however look at the vast numbers of scientists who’ve either performed science based on their faith, or became Christians as a result of their science, to show that this isn’t true by necessity.

2. God of the gaps

   

– basically describes the point of view that any gaps in scientific understanding are themselves evidences for God

  – this might sound good at the outset, but basically leaves you with a diminishing God with each new scientific discovery…

– During World War II the German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed: “how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”

 – Royal Truman says Some people have fallen into a ‘god-of-the-gaps’ logical flaw. Whatever science appeared able to explain did not seem to require the intervention of God and one constantly sought examples which could not (yet) be explained. This is poor logic and we should never resort to miraculous intervention for operational science. But it is different for origin science. For example, upon finding a lock and key which work together we can describe the mechanics of operation but this hardly does away with the need for an intelligent agent who designed both to work together.

– we don’t believe in the God of the gaps… a God who diminishes with each new scientific discovery.. I believe in science of the gaps – the more we discover through observation and testing, the more scientists points to God.

– we don’t have a God of the gaps, we have a God of everything!

3. Universe so big for just one planet!

– Some naturalistic philosophers say that the Christian thought of humans being made at the centre of the universe, false by modern scientific understanding, shows antagonism between faith and science.. But 

A. Christians don’t believe this – it’s a Greek perspective with no source or reference in the Bible. 

B. Although humans were the last of creation, the purpose of creation is God’s glory; so Christians have no problem NOT being in the centre (can you even point to the centre of infinity?), because God’s glory is central. And

C. We are made intelligent, in the image of God – one reason is so we can appreciate the universe around us, leading to reverential awe of the creator God… so being in the stands is appropriate 🙂

4. what about evolution?

     – we’ll look at that specifically next week 🙂

Reasons science doesn’t conflict with Christianity

1. The conflict isn’t with science, it’s with the religion-esque naturalism!

– Dr. Scott Todd wrote in the science journal Nature:

“Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”

– leading evolutionary geneticist, Professor Richard Lewontin wrote:

“We take the side of [evolutionary] science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs … in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism … . Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

– so, what IS Naturalism?

     Oxford again – “The philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.”

– Note also that when secular scientists decree that naturalism/materialism is the basic premise of science, they are being arbitrary. They do not know and cannot prove that there is no supernatural. They are simply expressing their personal opinion or belief.

    –  Dr Jonathan Sarfati “if materialism were true, then “thought” is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, and the results of the laws of chemistry. Thus, given their own presuppositions

predetermined by brain chemistry. But then, why should their brain chemistry be trusted over mine, since both obey the same infallible laws of chemistry? So in reality, if materialists were right, then they can’t even help what they believe (including their belief in materialism!). Yet they often call themselves “freethinkers”, overlooking the glaring irony. Genuine initiation of thought is an insuperable problem for materialism, as is consciousness itself.” (source http://creation.mobi/science-biblical-presuppositions)

– University of Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson in his book ‘the wedge of truth’ notes that ‘a philosophy called naturalism or materialism or physicalism or simply modernism. Under any of those names this philosophy assumes that in the beginning were the fundamental particles that compose matter, energy and the impersonal laws of physics. To put it negatively, there was no personal God who created the cosmos and governs it as an act of free will. If God exists at all, he acts only through inviolable laws of nature and adds nothing to them. In consequences, all the creating had to be done by the laws and the particles, which is to say by some combination of random chance and lawlike regularity.’ (p. 13).

     – Dr Royal Truman (organic chemist) “This contrasts with the common image of scientists being objective and impartial analysts who allow the empirical facts to speak for themselves. Quite the contrary, if chance plus immutable natural laws must be capable of explaining all reality, then absurd explanations become acceptable given the lack of a better alternative within the permissible possibilities.”

– rather, this is just wishful thinking in the lines of German atheist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), who wrote: “We deny God; in denying God we deny accountability”. – everyone begins with presuppositions! 

– on naturalists trusting their own theories, Dr Robert Gurney said – “It is the fact that certain “preconditions of intelligibility”, such as laws of logic, uniformity of nature, absolute morality and reliability of our senses and memory are required in order to learn about the universe. According to the naturalistic worldview, however, the universe is an accident, and there is no intelligence, plan or purpose behind it. In that worldview, therefore, there is no logical reason why any of these preconditions should be true. Furthermore, if the human brain is merely the product of random chemical accidents, why should we trust its reasoning? The preconditions of intelligibility make sense only in a biblical worldview. According to that worldview, a real universe was created by a rational, consistent, moral God, and it continues to be upheld by him. Furthermore, God created mankind “in his own image”, so that we are able to know him, to reason intelligently, to explore his creation, and to “think God’s thoughts after him”. That is why modern science began in Christendom”

– consider the hypocrisy in some jumping on to any new research that may momentarily point away from God, but when the data points TO God, those same people disregard, downplay, or divert attention to a future time when we’ll be able to read the data better 

Dr. John Polkinghorne’s book Science and the Trinity… “it has been widely recognized that the intrinsic unpredictabilities that twentieth century physics has uncovered as limits on our knowledge of detailed behavior both in quantum theory and chaos theory have significantly qualified the kind of merely mechanical physical process that previously had seemed to be the deliverance of science.”

     – (In other words, although science can explain much of the world, there are laws at work within nature that cause it to be unpredictable, and thus restrict science’s ability to describe things in a detailed and “mechanical” manner. For this reason, one cannot use science to discredit God’s providence operating “in the ordained open grain of nature.) (source) despite those holding to naturalism wanting to do so.

– Please make sure that when you hear a new scientific theory or discovery that ‘this time’ will prove God wrong… That you’re not just listening to philosophy dressed up as science… Make sure it’s not just naturalism purporting to be plainly rational interpretation of the best data.

–  just as Laurence Krause would never let john Lennox be a scientist without being a Christian scientist, with any accompanying presuppositions, neither should you assume Krause is a simply rational scientist free of his naturalism.

– and don’t be deceived, the proponents of this philosophy are relentless evangelists! If they can’t beat you with better science, they’ll certainly ridicule you until it’s just unfashionable to be on your team. (Read articles from Matt Ridley & Chad Orzel below – if there’s time)

2. kalam cosmological argument (plus Occam’s razor)

It goes like this…

Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

The universe began to exist.

Therefore, the universe has a cause.

– since the universe can’t cause itself, its cause must be beyond the space-time universe. It must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, and unimaginably powerful. Much like… God.

(Source)

3. fine tuning

– William Lane Craig gives this example… consider JUST these numbers:

* Speed of Light: c=299,792,458 m s-1

* Gravitational Constant: G=6.673 x 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2

* Planck’s Constant: 1.05457148 x 10-34 m2 kg s-2

* Planck Mass-Energy: 1.2209 x 1022 MeV

* Mass of Electron, Proton, Neutron: 0.511; 938.3; 939.6 MeV

* Mass of Up, Down, Strange Quark: 2.4; 4.8; 104 MeV (Approx.)

* Ratio of Electron to Proton Mass: (1836.15)-1

* Gravitational Coupling Constant: 5.9 x 10-39

* Cosmological Constant: (2.3 x 10-3 eV)

* Hubble Constant: 71 km/s/Mpc (today)

* Higgs Vacuum Expectation Value: 246.2 GeV

– These are the fundamental constants and quantities of the universe. Scientists have come to the shocking realization that each of these numbers have been carefully dialed to an astonishingly precise value – a value that falls within an exceedingly narrow, life-permitting range. If any one of these numbers were altered by even a hair’s breadth, no physical, interactive life of any kind could exist anywhere. There’d be no stars, no life, no planets, no chemistry.

– Sir Martin Rees emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at Cambridge “wherever physicists look, they see examples of fine tuning”

– Hawkins “the remarkable fact is that the value of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”

– “THERE IS FOR ME POWERFUL EVIDENCE THAT THERE IS SOMETHING GOING ON BEHIND IT ALL . . . IT SEEMS AS THOUGH SOMEBODY HAS FINE-TUNED NATURE’S NUMBERS TO MAKE THE UNIVERSE. THE IMPRESSION OF DESIGN IS OVERWHELMING.” – Paul Davies

– “A COMMON SENSE INTERPRETATION OF THE FACTS SUGGESTS THAT A SUPERINTELLECT MONKEYED WITH PHYSICS . . . AND THAT THERE ARE NO BLIND FORCES WORTH SPEAKING ABOUT IN NATURE. THE NUMBERS ONE CALCULATES FROM THE FACTS SEEM TO ME SO OVERWHELMING AS TO PUT THIS CONCLUSION ALMOST BEYOND QUESTION.” – Fred Hoyle

(Source)

 

4. why is there something rather than nothing?

    – Phillip Johnson.. “If in the beginning were the particles, chance and the laws of physics—and nothing else—then everything that has happened since must be the products of those fundamental causal factors” (p.119).

   – Even though Hawking himself said “Science may solve the problem of how the universe began, but it cannot answer the question: why does the universe bother to exist?”, in Hawking and Mlodinow’s book, ‘the grand design’ they make the extraordinary claim that the universe created itself: “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” (Krause has said the same thing)

The logical errors in this statement are almost too numerous to recount. Here are some:

  1. How can anything create itself before it exists?
  2. What intrinsic property does nothing have that enables it to create anything?
  3. Gravity is the force of attraction that arises between objects by virtue of their masses. So before any matter existed, no gravity existed. How then could it have operated before it existed?
  4. If any law of physics caused the universe to create itself, then that law must have existed before the universe began, i.e. before time began, and so that law must be outside of time. But how could that be?
  5. What (or who) created the laws of physics?
  6. Scientific laws do not create anything. They describe things that already exist, or processes that are observable and repeatable. They do not cause anything any more than the outline of a map causes the shape of the coastline it describes.
  7. Spontaneous creation … Just how do the laws of physics achieve this?

(Source)

5. Christians SHOULD be interested in science (to some degree at least)

   – Man can and should investigate the world, because God gave us dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:28); although creation itself isn’t divine but design, the study of it points us to the designer. As Kepler said, his scientific thoughts were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” And how beautiful are those thoughts!

– we need more Christians in science.

– Psalm 19: 1-4: “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvellous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.”

Christians are not wrong because science, we appreciate science all the more because the God of science is, at least in part, revealing Himself through our observations of His creation. Each discovery makes us want to worship Him more, and gives us more of Him to worship.

– “The idea that science and religion are in perpetual conflict is no longer taken seriously by any major historian of science despite its popularity in the late 19th century. One of the last remaining bastions of atheism survives only at the popular level – namely, the myth that an atheistic, fact based science is permanently at war with a faith based religion.”  Twilight of Atheism by Alister McGrath

– Heisenberg said that the first gulp from the glass of the natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but God is waiting for you at the bottom of the glass. I have found that to be remarkably true: The more I learn about the miracle and majesty of creation, the more God is revealed to me.

Source

– this brings us back to our passage from Colossians:

“by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

The purpose of us discovering is give more glory to Jesus, through whom all things were made, and FOR whom all things were made… The purpose of God was to reconcile all things to Himself, and we see this purpose fulfilled in Jesus. Science may point to God, but abstract knowledge about Him isn’t the goal, but knowing Him. Do you know Him?

_______

For more on this read Job 38-40!

Bonus Stuff

(Source)

Science journalist Matt Ridley writes:

“For much of my life I have been a science writer. That means I eavesdrop on what’s going on in laboratories so I can tell interesting stories. It’s analogous to the way art critics write about art, but with a difference: we “science critics” rarely criticise. If we think a scientific paper is dumb, we just ignore it. There’s too much good stuff coming out of science to waste time knocking the bad stuff.

Sure, we occasionally take a swipe at pseudoscience—homeopathy, astrology, claims that genetically modified food causes cancer, and so on. But the great thing about science is that it’s self-correcting. The good drives out the bad, because experiments get replicated and hypotheses put to the test. So a really bad idea cannot survive long in science.

Or so I used to think. Now, thanks largely to climate science, I have changed my mind. It turns out bad ideas can persist in science for decades, and surrounded by myrmidons of furious defenders they can turn into intolerant dogmas.

This should have been obvious to me… The theory that dietary fat causes obesity and heart disease, based on a couple of terrible studies in the 1950s, became unchallenged orthodoxy and is only now fading slowly…

Scientists are just as prone as anybody else to “confirmation bias”, the tendency we all have to seek evidence that supports our favoured hypothesis and dismiss evidence that contradicts it—as if we were counsel for the defence. It’s tosh that scientists always try to disprove their own theories, as they sometimes claim, and nor should they. But they do try to disprove each other’s. Science has always been decentralised, so Professor Smith challenges Professor Jones’s claims, and that’s what keeps science honest.

What went wrong with dietary fat was that a monopoly was established. Nina Teicholz’s book The Big Fat Surprise shows in devastating detail how opponents of Ancel Keys’s dietary fat hypothesis were starved of grants and frozen out of the debate by an intolerant consensus backed by vested interests, echoed and amplified by a docile press.”

Also, Professor Chad Orzel – “The two phases of Einstein’s philosophizing sort of illustrate the real problem here, which as always is that people are talking past one another. When philosophers like Maudlin and Stenger talk about philosophy in physics, they have in mind the precise language and clarification of assumptions that characterizes Einstein’s early success. When physicists like Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking speak dismissively of philosophy, they’re usually talking about stuff in the “this offends my vague intuitive sense of how the universe ought to operate” mode of Einstein’s later dissatisfaction with quantum mechanics (and to the outsider, vague intuitive dissatisfaction can seem like a major component of a lot of academic philosophy).” (Source)

__________________

 Bohr  said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it

____________

More dead Christian dudes who played a huge role in modern science (source):

  1. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
    Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who put forward the first mathematically based system of planets going around the sun. He attended various European universities, and became a Canon in the Catholic church in 1497. His new system was actually first presented in the Vatican gardens in 1533 before Pope Clement VII who approved, and urged Copernicus to publish it around this time. Copernicus was never under any threat of religious persecution – and was urged to publish both by Catholic Bishop Guise, Cardinal Schonberg, and the Protestant Professor George Rheticus. Copernicus referred sometimes to God in his works, and did not see his system as in conflict with the Bible.
  2. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)
    Bacon was a philosopher who is known for establishing the scientific method of inquiry based on experimentation and inductive reasoning. In De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium, Bacon established his goals as being the discovery of truth, service to his country, and service to the church. Although his work was based upon experimentation and reasoning, he rejected atheism as being the result of insufficient depth of philosophy, stating, “It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.” (Of Atheism)
  3. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
    Kepler was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. He did early work on light, and established the laws of planetary motion about the sun. He also came close to reaching the Newtonian concept of universal gravity – well before Newton was born! His introduction of the idea of force in astronomy changed it radically in a modern direction. Kepler was an extremely sincere and pious Lutheran, whose works on astronomy contain writings about how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity. Kepler suffered no persecution for his open avowal of the sun-centered system, and, indeed, was allowed as a Protestant to stay in Catholic Graz as a Professor (1595-1600) when other Protestants had been expelled!
  4. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
    Galileo is often remembered for his conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. His controversial work on the solar system was published in 1633. It had no proofs of a sun-centered system (Galileo’s telescope discoveries did not indicate a moving earth) and his one “proof” based upon the tides was invalid. It ignored the correct elliptical orbits of planets published twenty five years earlier by Kepler. Since his work finished by putting the Pope’s favorite argument in the mouth of the simpleton in the dialogue, the Pope (an old friend of Galileo’s) was very offended. After the “trial” and being forbidden to teach the sun-centered system, Galileo did his most useful theoretical work, which was on dynamics. Galileo expressly said that the Bible cannot err, and saw his system as an alternate interpretation of the biblical texts. Galileo said “Now if the Holy Spirit has purposely neglected to teach us propositions of this sort as irrelevant to the highest goal (that is, to our salvation), how can anyone affirm that it is obligatory to take sides on them, that one belief is required by faith, while the other side is erroneous? Can an opinion be heretical and yet have no concern with the salvation of souls? Can the Holy Ghost be asserted not to have intended teaching us something that does concern our salvation? I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree: “That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.”
  5. Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
    Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His school studies made him dissatisfied with previous philosophy: He had a deep religious faith as a Roman Catholic, which he retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth. At the age of 24 he had a dream, and felt the vocational call to seek to bring knowledge together in one system of thought. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted – suggesting the famous “I think therefore I am”. Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God – for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences – can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy. What he really wanted to see was that his philosophy be adopted as standard Roman Catholic teaching. Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are generally regarded as the key figures in the development of scientific methodology. Both had systems in which God was important, and both seem more devout than the average for their era.
  6. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
    Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and theologian. In mathematics, he published a treatise on the subject of projective geometry and established the foundation for probability theory. Pascal invented a mechanical calculator, and established the principles of vacuums and the pressure of air. He was raised a Roman Catholic, but in 1654 had a religious vision of God, which turned the direction of his study from science to theology. Pascal began publishing a theological work, Lettres provinciales, in 1656. His most influential theological work, thePensées (“Thoughts”), was a defense of Christianity, which was published after his death. The most famous concept from Pensées was Pascal’s Wager. Pascal’s last words were, “May God never abandon me.”
  7. Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
    In optics, mechanics, and mathematics, Newton was a figure of undisputed genius and innovation. In all his science (including chemistry) he saw mathematics and numbers as central. What is less well known is that he was devoutly religious and saw numbers as involved in understanding God’s plan for history from the Bible. He did a considerable work on biblical numerology, and, though aspects of his beliefs were not orthodox, he thought theology was very important. In his system of physics, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space. In Principia he stated, “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
  8. Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
    One of the founders and key early members of the Royal Society, Boyle gave his name to “Boyle’s Law” for gases, and also wrote an important work on chemistry. Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: “By his will he endowed a series of Boyle lectures, or sermons, which still continue, ‘for proving the Christian religion against notorious infidels…’ As a devout Protestant, Boyle took a special interest in promoting the Christian religion abroad, giving money to translate and publish the New Testament into Irish and Turkish. In 1690 he developed his theological views in The Christian Virtuoso, which he wrote to show that the study of nature was a central religious duty.” Boyle wrote against atheists in his day (the notion that atheism is a modern invention is a myth), and was clearly much more devoutly Christian than the average in his era.
  9. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
    Michael Faraday was the son of a blacksmith who became one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. His work on electricity and magnetism not only revolutionized physics, but led to much of our lifestyles today, which depends on them (including computers and telephone lines and, so, web sites). Faraday was a devoutly Christian member of the Sandemanians, which significantly influenced him and strongly affected the way in which he approached and interpreted nature. Originating from Presbyterians, the Sandemanians rejected the idea of state churches, and tried to go back to a New Testament type of Christianity.
  10. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
    Mendel was the first to lay the mathematical foundations of genetics, in what came to be called “Mendelianism”. He began his research in 1856 (three years before Darwin published his Origin of Species) in the garden of the Monastery in which he was a monk. Mendel was elected Abbot of his Monastery in 1868. His work remained comparatively unknown until the turn of the century, when a new generation of botanists began finding similar results and “rediscovered” him (though their ideas were not identical to his). An interesting point is that the 1860’s was notable for formation of the X-Club, which was dedicated to lessening religious influences and propagating an image of “conflict” between science and religion. One sympathizer was Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, whose scientific interest was in genetics (a proponent of eugenics – selective breeding among humans to “improve” the stock). He was writing how the “priestly mind” was not conducive to science while, at around the same time, an Austrian monk was making the breakthrough in genetics. The rediscovery of the work of Mendel came too late to affect Galton’s contribution.
  11. William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907)
    Kelvin was foremost among the small group of British scientists who helped to lay the foundations of modern physics. His work covered many areas of physics, and he was said to have more letters after his name than anyone else in the Commonwealth, since he received numerous honorary degrees from European Universities, which recognized the value of his work. He was a very committed Christian, who was certainly more religious than the average for his era. Interestingly, his fellow physicists George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) were also men of deep Christian commitment, in an era when many were nominal, apathetic, or anti-Christian. The Encyclopedia Britannica says “Maxwell is regarded by most modern physicists as the scientist of the 19th century who had the greatest influence on 20th century physics; he is ranked with Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein for the fundamental nature of his contributions.” Lord Kelvin was an Old Earth creationist, who estimated the Earth’s age to be somewhere between 20 million and 100 million years, with an upper limit at 500 million years based on cooling rates (a low estimate due to his lack of knowledge about radiogenic heating).
  12. Max Planck (1858-1947)
    Planck made many contributions to physics, but is best known for quantum theory, which revolutionized our understanding of the atomic and sub-atomic worlds. In his 1937 lecture “Religion and Naturwissenschaft,” Planck expressed the view that God is everywhere present, and held that “the holiness of the unintelligible Godhead is conveyed by the holiness of symbols.” Atheists, he thought, attach too much importance to what are merely symbols. Planck was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God (though not necessarily a personal one). Both science and religion wage a “tireless battle against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition” with the goal “toward God!”

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