Science as evidence for God, and atheism’s false dilemma fallacy.

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Many atheists claim that we must choose between science and God, and that each of these are mutually incompatible. So, you can’t be a scientist and a believer in God at the same time. However, this is false and commits the fallacy of the false dilemma by forcing us to choose between only two possibilities when more exist. The truth is that many believers in God see scientific discoveries as only ever increasing their faith. It’s not the other way around. Those who hold to interpretations of scripture that is wholly contrary to what God has revealed in and through nature are the ones who run into trouble, and end up in the trenches having to fend off most of what we know via the natural world. Such does result in us having to choose between science and God.

There are several arguments from science alone that can give us confidence in believing that a creator God exists. Now, science itself is neither capable of affirming or denying the existence of supernatural entities although scientific evidence can be used in deductive arguments that have theological significance. From the current model of Big Bang cosmology we have evidence that in the finite past there was a highly ordered event that resulted in a universe from nothing. This suggest that whatever was behind it must be immaterial, spaceless, and timeless. The argument also implies that the natural cannot be all that there is since the cause must be supernatural (therefore rendering naturalism false). Oddly enough this didn’t only take the efforts of Catholic priest and astrophysicist Georges Lemaître to propose this theory as it was already revealed in Gensis 1:1. The very first sentence of the Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” As the physicist Weisskopf writes, “The Judeo-Christian tradition describes the beginning of the world in a way that is surprisingly similar to the scientific model.” This is not to suggest we should read modern science into the ancient pre-scientific texts of the Bible but it is to say that the Bible got there first which is quite remarkable.

Moreover, the incredible fine-tuning of the universe for human life is also seen by many to be a pointer to God’s existence. For instance, the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, noted primarily for the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis, explains that “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, 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.” Or as the physicist Arthur Schawlow once wrote, “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious . . . . I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.” Even the late new atheist Christopher Hitchens explained that “I think everyone of us picks the fine-tuning one as the most intriguing… you have to spend time thinking about it, working on it. It’s not a trivial [argument].”

Furthermore, we can also note the intricate detail on the biological level. Former atheist turned deist, Flew, was convinced enough on this basis to reject his atheism, he penned that “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design… I was once sharply critical of the argument to design, I have since come to see that, when correctly formatted, this argument constitutes a persuasive case for the existence of God.” Even the militant atheist, and biologist, Richard Dawkins notes this design by saying that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

To many it would seem that the information in the DNA of biological life strongly points to an intelligent designer that is behind it that oversaw the development of biological life. Furthermore, many Christians also see evolution as a pointer to God’s existence. According to Howard van Till, a professor of physics, evolutionary theory is readily accepted by many Christians, “Is the concept of special creation required of all persons who trust in the creator God of scripture? Most Christians of my acquaintance who are engaged in either scientific or Biblical scholarship have concluded that the special creationists’ picture of the world’s formation is not a necessary component of Christian belief.”

Impressively two scientists by the names of Barrow and Tippler have calculated the odds of evolution happening by pure chance alone without any outside agency involved. It seems to be an impossibility as they lay out ten steps that human evolution would need to have gone through in order to bring about modern man as we know him, and that number came to between the figures 4^-180^110 000 and 4^-380^110 000. Before just one of those ten steps would have occurred our sun would have burnt out, and incinerated our planet. Such an improbability must be embraced on atheism, and since it is so improbable many have concluded that the best explanation is that an intelligent agency was involved. In fact, some non-theistic scientists have realized that if we had to rewind the evolution of all biological life the probability of getting humans as we are now would be astronomically small. One commentator compared the relevant probability similar to probability of one winning the lottery 4000 times in a row. One could always put it off to luck but that would hardly be rational as one would surely suspect something is up. This would explain why philosopher Mitch Stokes says that this could be “an evolutionary argument for theism.”

However, the false dilemma becomes readily apparent as for the atheist to argue that we must choose between belief in God or science would be like having us choose between the laws of internal combustion and Henry Ford as an explanation to why the Ford car exists. To rule out Henry Ford as an explanation is simply irrational, in other words, the atheist misses the important difference between agency (Henry Ford) and mechanism (internal combustion). To propagate this chasm is contrary to what, explains Graham Veale, “Many contemporary scientists and philosophers have argued that there is a deep coherence between theism and science. Significantly the doctrine that Christendom has perpetually warred with the sciences has been rejected as a fable by historians.” If the biblical God really exists he would then be the agency and the ultimate cause behind everything that exists. He would be the one who created the natural natural laws and mechanisms in the first place. As John Lennox, a philosopher of science, says, “Far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise is validated by his existence.”

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15 responses to “Science as evidence for God, and atheism’s false dilemma fallacy.

  1. You wrote: “Oddly enough, this didn’t only take the efforts of Catholic priest and astrophysicist Georges Lemaître to propose this theory as it was already revealed in Gensis 1:1. The very first sentence of the Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It might be of interest for you and your readers to know that Lemaître insisted that his theory should never be used to ‘prove’ the creation of the universe by God, and warned pope Pius XII against the use of physics as an argument in theology. Last year, I supervised a bachelor’s thesis in which Lemaître’s position has been eloquently discussed. See for an abstract: http://www.academia.edu/9510226/Between_Religion_and_Science._Georges_Lemaître_Pope_Pius_XII_and_The_Big_Bang_Theory

  2. I don’t know of any atheists who claim that theists can’t be scientists.

    The interesting thing about Biblical interpretation is that it has to be continually reinterpreted to fit in with science.

    • Many contemporary atheists, Craig, do play that card (at least from my personal experience), but not all do.

      I also do find reinterpretation of Scripture a very interesting and positive thing, for a few reasons. One is that God, as Christians believe, created nature and the laws that govern it, and i find it highly satisfying that the more we discover its workings the more we discover God. I find this beneficial because it shows how out of touch with reality some Christian hypotheses (such as Young Earth creationism science, and some others positions) is. I believe that the more we learn the more we actually learn “how” God did his work, and that means many interpretations by groups of Christians will be proven false – I find that unfortunate for them, but they have to go where evidence leads.
      It really amounts to human fallibility, we simply judge things with 21st century cultural bias (as well as personal biases), and apply that to 3000 years old Scripture, that is the incorrect way to interpret it, hence why so many reinterpret things.
      The Bible, through personal investigations, is firmly established as the true word of God. That doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and butterflies, I certainly think there are difficulties (such things make my journey super interesting), but there is too much I would need to reject if I were to reject Christianity.

      So, I am open to many things that science reveals to us about God’s creation, and if I need to reinterpret Scripture I am quite happy to do so since science shows God’s truth (whether that is evolution, multiverses etc.) hence we must be willing to change interpretations. Unfortunately many Christians don’t see things the way I do.

  3. The problem I have with reinterpreting scripture is that the word of God should be able to withstand any contention. God’s word, being the most important document to ever exist, should also be the most precise and succinct document ever written. Our interpretation of God’s word should be perfectly clear. So why would God provide a vague and ambiguous document for us to argue over?

    If you can dovetail scripture with science then kudos to you. Personally I find reinterpreting God’s word to fit with science very unsatisfying for the reasons I mentioned above.

    While I strongly disagree with young earth creationism I do understand their position. They reject the scientific theory of evolution from common descent simply because they have to in order to maintain their beliefs. But at least they interpret the bible honestly.

  4. The problem I have with reinterpreting scripture is that the word of God should be able to withstand any contention.

    Actually, we don’t need to reinterprete Scripture to fit with science. We look at science from God’s Viewpoint. That is why no empirical, testable, demonstrable data has ever contradicted the literal understanding of the Word of God.

    God’s word, being the most important document to ever exist, should also be the most precise and succinct document ever written.

    All it needs to be is truthful (which it is).

    Our interpretation of God’s word should be perfectly clear. So why would God provide a vague and ambiguous document for us to argue over?

    It’s up to you to prove that the Bible is “vague”. Just because there are diferences of opinion, it doesn’t mean that the Bible is vague.

    But I await for you to find a way to prove that the Bible is vague.

    While I strongly disagree with young earth creationism I do understand their position. They reject the scientific theory of evolution from common descent simply because they have to in order to maintain their beliefs. But at least they interpret the bible honestly.

    Actually, we reject the evolutionary worldview because it is riddled with lies, false evidence, internal contradictions, e pure simple nonsense.

    I mean, really, land animals evolving into whales? lol You really believe that?!!
    Rejecting such a “theory” is the easiest thing to do.

    Young earth Creationism, on the other hand, keeps getting stronger and stronger as we find more evidence. Just recently we found organic material inside dinosaurs fossil bones. Just think about that for a sec. How long does it take for organic material disapear? Would it last for “millons of years”?

    The empirical evidence cleary shows that dinosaurs didn’t live “millions of years ago”, as long agers believe.

    Mats

  5. Craig:

    Many Christians including the author of this blog (AFAIK) agree with evolution.

    And that proves….what?

    So there has been a dramatic reinterpretation of scripture as a result of Darwin’s theory. Before Darwin, the majority Christians happily agreed with the young earth creation fable.

    I never said that people didn’t do that. I said that there is no need to do that since evolution is so obviously false.

    Noah’s global flood story is an obvious contradiction met from a literal understanding of the Bible.

    No empirical, testable evidence contradicts the Noah’s Flood.

    And since that story isn’t literally true

    ,
    It is literally true, and no evidence against it has ever been found.

    Demonstrating that the Bible is vague is no challenge at all, just read Revelations.

    I have. How does that prove that the WHOLE Bible is “vague”?

    Btw, you really believe that a a land animal evolved into a whale?

  6. “No empirical, testable evidence contradicts the Noah’s Flood.

    How did Koalas get to the Ark and back home again? And what did they eat while they where away from their only food source?

    I think you might benefit from reading the Hovind link I provided previously.

  7. Craig,

    Where in that link is the evidence that the Bible is “vague”?

    How did Koalas get to the Ark and back home again?

    How do Koalas get anywhere in their daily life?

    And what did they eat while they where away from their only food source?

    Koalas can only eat ONE type of vegetation?

    I still didn’t get your answer: you really believe that a land mammal evolved into a massive whale?

  8. Where in that link is the evidence that the Bible is “vague”?
    I didn’t provide the Hovind link to show that the Bible is vague. I provided this link to you to show the reasons why I disagree with young earth creationism. As for the Bible being vague, not only is the book of revelation vague, the fact that there are various types of Christians such as young earth creationists and old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists shows that the Bible is vague. Christians themselves are unclear about the Bible’s message even though they supposedly have a direct relationship with God.

  9. Pingback: James Bishop's Apologetics.·

  10. Pingback: Science as an Unwarranted Rhetoric Tool for Atheists. | James Bishop's Theology & Apologetics.·

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