Science, the opiate of the masses
I'll start with 2 letters I read in a London newspaper the other day:
Just because science cannot currently explain everything about the Big Bang doesn't mean we should automatically jump to the conclusion that 'God' created the universe. Science continues to develop and the Hubble telescope has discovered and photographed new galaxies. One day, science may be able to explain more about the Big Bang. The human race will not continue to develop, discover and understand if we label our ignorance as 'God'.
-James Warmington, Essex
I could using his logic say, just because he knows so little about religion (if anything) he shouldnt automatically jump to the conclusion it is 'ignorant' and that the only other possibility is that the Big Bang occured.
I don't see why proof of an intelligent design to the universe proves there is a God. Such a fact does not tell us whether such a being exists, whether it is benign or even whether it cares about the existance of mankind. It still boils down to faith, in the abscence of hard facts.
-G Willits, Newcastle
I dont know his first name but we'll call him Gareth. Gareth has come to the remarkable conclusion that proof of an intelligent design would not imply an intelligent designer. This leaves unanswered the obvious question of who would be 'intelligent' and in what way it would be a 'design' as opposed to a random occurence.
Both James and Gareth are granting Science some kind of omnipotent all-explanitory power. What Science fails to explain, they claim it will provide if we only give it enough time. Failing that they would no doubt denounce the existance of that which cannot be explained by Science. They have neatly sidestepped the fact that Science, by definition, cannot posit a supernatural force as an explanation, because science has no means of empiracally testing supernatural events or causes. Therefore, it is outside the realm of science. There is nothing wrong with Science, it has developed into an extraordinary process which does accurately describe the physical, material world in most cases (and the psychological in some cases). But if science by definition, cannot posit the existence of a supernatural force, then science cannot be used to prove the absence of a supernatural force. For instance, if I determine a priori that no matter what I observe, I shall never observe X, I cannot then turn around and argue, "Ah ha! In all of my research I have never observed X, so I have now proven that X does not exist."If science cannot be used to prove the absence of a supernatural force, then neither can it be used to prove that such a force is of no effect. Science has therefore disqualified itself from arguing that anything supernatural ever did or didn't do anything, or that anything supernatural either exists or does not exist. What has been observed is larger than science.
As Fred says:
Here is the chief defect of scientists (I mean those who take the sciences as an ideology rather than as a discipline): an unwillingness to admit that there is anything outside their realm. But there is. You cannot squeeze consciousness, beauty, affection, or Good and Evil from physics any more than you can derive momentum from the postulates of geometry: No mass, no momentum. A moral scientist is thus a contradiction in terms.
But we have the supreme arrogance of Professor Dawkins claiming that he has found no evidence for the existance of God. But what kind of evidence has he been searching for? Spiritual evidence? No, Scientific evidence! What was he expecting; that he could map the DNA of God in the laboratory, or that he could empircally test for God by repeated sampling? If his discipline can only explain phenomena in the physical realm, but not the spiritual, it has indeed disqualified itself from testing that which is spiritual. So instead of examining the physical with the physical and the spiritual with the spiritual, he expects God to conform (or presumably perform) to his own limited and contradictory preconceptions. He would have infinitely more success examining the existance of God if he opened his heart, and with humility tried to search for answers using the same domain as that which he is testing. If I want to test the robustness of a Scientific principle then I will undertake a Scientific experiment. Likewise if I want to open myself up to God, then I will use spiritual means (which are documented through the Saints and Holy Tradition). This strikes me as a logical modus operandi. But not for Dawkins. Lacking belief in the divine, he has given his beloved Science the status of divinity. He expects it to answer even that which is not within its remit!
Again from Fred:
Trouble comes when the sciences overstep their bounds. It is one thing to study physical phenomena, another to say that only physical phenomena exist. Here science blurs into ideology, an ideology being a systematic and emotionally held way of misunderstanding the world. A science is open and descriptive, an ideology closed and prescriptive. A scientist says, in principle at least, “Give me the facts and I will endeavor to derive a theory that describes them.” The ideologist says, “I have the theory, and nothing that does not fit it can be a fact.” Having chosen his rut, he never sees beyond it.
And to finish off with (since the title of this entry is contained within):
That being said, at worst the religions of the earth are gropings toward something people feel but cannot put a finger on, toward something more at the heart of life than the hoped-for raise, trendy restaurants, and the next and grander automobile. And few things are as stultifying and superficial as the man not so much agnostic (this I can understand) as simply inattentive, whose life is focused on getting into a better country club. Good questions are better than bad answers. And the sciences, though not intended to be, have become the opiate of the masses.
I think it would be fitting that I link every article Fred has written on religion, now that Im on the subject. Seeing as I have just read all of them and most people wont be motivated to examine them in detail, I will provide a section that I found myself in particular agreement with in each article:
Of knowing and not knowing
The difficulty is that the sciences can apprehend only the repeatable.
The War against Religion
Things in Heaven and earth
In the limitless confidence of this physics-is-all ideology there is a phenomenal arrogance. Perhaps we overestimate ourselves. As temporary phenomena ourselves in a strange universe we don’t really understand, here for reasons we do not know, waiting to go somewhere or nowhere as may be, we might display a more becoming humility.
Yet more Evolution
One plausible explanation for this rigid evolutionary monotheism, though I think an incorrect one, is a fear that the children might come to believe in Creationism. Unlikely, but again, so what? A belief in Creationism does not prevent one from working in the sciences. A goodly number of scientists, to include biochemists, are in fact Christian and, some of them, Creationists. Others presumably are Buddhists or Hindus. The only thing for which acceptance of Creationism renders one unsuitable is…Evolutionism.
A more likely explanation is a fear that children might realize that a great deal of Evolution, not having been established, must be accepted on faith, and that a fair amount of it doesn’t make a lot of sense. While Creationism is unlikely to convert children into snake-handlers, it does suggest that orthodox Evolution can be examined critically.
Now (and I hope this doesn’t bore those who have read me before on the matter), an entertaining way to study the politics is to ask the Evolutionists questions that a scientist would answer (since scientists are not ashamed not to know things), but that an ideologue can’t afford to. They are simple. (1) Has the chance occurrence of life been demonstrated in the laboratory? Yes or no. (2) Do we really know, as distinct from guess, hope, or imagine, of what the primeval seas consisted? Yes or no. (3) Do we know, as distinct from guess, pray, wave our arms, and hold our breath and turn blue, what seas would be needed for the chance formation of life? Yes or no. (4) Can we show mathematically, without crafted and unsupportable assumptions, that the formation of life would be probable in any soup whatever? Yes or no.I once posed these questions in a column on Fredoneverything.net and, in another place, to a group of committed evangelicals of Evolution. A tremendous influx of email resulted. Much of it was predictable. Many Christians congratulated me on having disproved Evolution, which I had not done. The intelligent and independent-minded wrote thoughtfully. Of the Knights Templar of Evolution, none—not one—answered the foregoing yes-or-no questions. They ducked. They dodged. They waxed wroth. They called names.
Questions of faith
Thus we have the spectacle of the scientist who is horrified by the latest hatchet murder but can give no scientific reason why. A murder after all is merely the dislocation of certain physical masses (the victim's head, for example) followed by elaborate chemical reactions. Horror cannot be derived from physics. It comes from somewhere else.