Archive for the ‘scientism’ Tag

Bridging the Gap   Leave a comment

This is not an author interview. It’s an interview with my cousin Rick, who is a world-class research doctor and born-again Christian who has asked me not to publish his full name here because he still values his career and there’s plenty of persecution aimed at Christians within the biological sciences. Lela


Can the existence of God be proved?

Not with the same certainty we can say “the earth orbits the sun at a mean distance of 93 million miles, making a complete journey in 365.25 days,” or “genetic information is coded in long protein strands of DNA that, in cells of a particular individual, replicate during mitosis, and in reproduction unite with DNA from another individual to produce the hereditary similarity of offspring to their parents.” Modern science has been enormously successful in producing such facts, which have a strong ring of certainty. Such success cannot simply be ignored.

Proofs of the existence of God have always been of a different sort.. There are scientists who refuse any evidence for God that cannot be obtained via the scientific method and reject any concept of deity. You will never convince them and they would trip over God if He appeared before them in the flesh and still deny His existence. Science is like a narrow-focus lamp — it illuminates brightly, but only where it is focused. The rest of reality is outside of its scope.

The classical proofs of God by Anselm and by Aquinas via natural theology do not provide the same satisfaction as proofs derived by the scientific method. They seem contrived to the modern science-based mind. Still, the scientist Pascal found them sufficient to eventually convince him that God existed and would in fact be necessary to explain the world. He used those classical proofs to prepare his mind for an acceptance of God. He viewed it as a leap of faith across the abyss of reason. For those who experience God in this way, God’s existence has been proven to them beyond any doubt.

Must there necessarily be a conflict between science and religion?

Just my opinion … no, so long as it is understood that science and faith each deal with a different aspect of reality. The Bible is not a science book. You don’t study it to find the intensities and the wavelengths of the Balmer spectral lines of hydrogen … just to name something that cannot be derived without the scientific method.

On the other hand, science doesn’t (or shouldn’t) concern itself with the ultimate spiritual properties of the world, which are equally real.

Science studies the incredible natural order, the complex interconnections between the laws of physics and the chemical reactions in the biological processes of life, for example. Science can answer only a fixed type of question — the what, when and how. It does not, really cannot, answer why from within the scientific method. Despite what some scientists want to believe, the scientific method just cannot provide fact-based answers to the following exemplar questions:

  • Why is there something instead of nothing?
  • Why do all electrons have the same charge and mass?
  • Why is the design that we see everywhere so truly miraculous?
  • Why are so many processes so deeply interconnected?


Those scientists who are truly content to live as materialistic reductionalists — which is what we must do as scientists in the laboratory — will never admit to a mystery of the design they see. They will continue to put off those mysteries, waiting for a reductionalist explanation for the present unknown because they believe, as an act of faith, that science will some day know everything. This act of faith denies that there can be anything unknown to science, even in principle.

Of course things of the spirit are not things of science and a larger reality exists than science can address. To many of my colleagues, that statement is anathema .. a heresy worth ruining a life’s work, if not justification for burning at the stake.

To be completely honest, the Catholic Church asserted the same charges against scientists in past centuries — that they committed heresy for saying there were areas of reality where the Church was inadequate to the task of explaining.

There needn’t be conflict between science and faith if each appreciates its own boundaries and takes seriously the claims of the other. The proven success of science simply cannot be ignored by the churches. But neither can the church’s claim to explain the world at the very deepest level be dismissed. If God did not exist, science would have to invent the concept to explain what it is discovering at its core. In fact, it has done just that. In the 12th century, Abelard wrote:

“Truth cannot be contrary to truth. The findings of reason must agree with the truths of scripture, else the God who gave us both has deceived us with one or the other.”

That still rings true nearly a millennium later.

If there is no God, nothing makes sense — not even science. The atheists base their case on a deception they wish to play upon themselves that flows from their initial premise that there is no God. And if there is a God, he must be true both to science and religion — and then you get into which religion and which field of science. The scientist or the pastor who cannot force God to fit in all areas is therefore irredeemably wrong.


Can a person be a scientist and also be a Christian?

Yes. The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone. As you know, that is how I became convinced of the existence of God, which eventually led me to faith in God. The existence of life with all its order in each of its organisms is simply too well put together. Each part of a living thing depends on all its other parts to function. How does each part know? How is each part specified at conception? The more I learn of biochemistry the more unbelievable it becomes unless there is some type of organizing principle-a Designer.

This situation of the complication and the order to function of an organism, where the sum is greater than its parts grows more astonishing as the scientific results become more detailed. I know many scientists driven to faith by their scientific work alone. In the final analysis it is a faith made stronger through the argument by design. The reductionist philosophy that is so necessary to pursue the scientific method simply cannot explain the whole of reality. You come to a point where you have to believe in order to understand what you see rather than understand in order to believe. That’s been described as a leap of faith. I felt like it was waking up from a nap. And then, from the side of faith, you look back at the arena of reason and find that everything makes so much more sense than it did before. Now you have a solid connection between the two sides of life that reason and faith inhabit. A scientist, like all people, becomes a Christian by faith and also remains a scientist in practice.

What is necessary, however, is for Christians and scientists to come to respect each other’s area of work and understanding. Far too often scientists approach Christians with the attitude in the bridge meme above and that is absolute nonsense and does nothing to strengthen any argument. Science really does a marvelous job of explaining the world’s physical aspects. We can’t ignore that and should respect it. It’s likewise necessary for scientists to understand that science is limited by the method of reason and therefore incapable of explaining everything about reality and that scientists ought to be rightfully circumspect about making pronouncements of certainty when they haven’t got evidence to support their claims. The material reductionalist view of the world really leaves us with a large part of reality unexplained and inexplicable.

Romans 1:19-21 explained that very well.

Because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.

As a scientist delves deeper into whatever field he works in, that sense of wonder and the inability to fully comprehend reality becomes more profound.

Without that faith there is no purpose, and without purpose all the arguments for its need drive us once again to build Pascal’s bridge between faith and reason.

Cat on A Hot Tin Roof   Leave a comment

People get angry very easily. We have an inclination to defend ourselves and our presuppositions. The inclination evidences itself pretty early in life. Just try arguing with a preschooler about anything. And, it’s not substantially improved by the time we’re in our early 20s. Our 21-year-old daughter announced the other day that nuclear power is a horrible and that we should just get rid of it. When I asked what she thought we could replace it with, she informed me that “tungsten is a great source of energy”. Brad, the electrician, allowed that tungsten is a great conductor of electricity, but he had never heard that it could be used to produce energy. How dare we question her information and her generation’s commitment to making things better!

Yeah! Natural man gets angry very easily, especially when our unexamined presuppositions have been challenged.

My experience with many atheists (not all, I will say that up front) is that seething anger at God and Christians lies just beneath the surface of many of their erudite surface demeanor. But why?

A heart in rebellion is a cat on a hot tin roof. Most atheists come from at least nominal Christian homes. For most, the warm embrace of atheism begins in college as an intellectual exercise either because friends are doing it or because a charismatic professor advances the discussion. Even if the student wants to argue for faith, there are often serious negative consequences to face if they do, so they remain silent and soak in the intellectual arguments for non-faith. For many, there is no actual faith to deny. They honestly don’t know the tenets of Christianity and are unaware of the evidence supporting the Bible and they accept whole-hog the atheist non-factuals about what Christians believe, but moreover it feels good to rebel against parents, religious leaders and especially God. Intellectual pride puffs a person up and makes him feel important in the grand scheme of things. We all want to feel important, but the pervasive scientism of our day tells us that none of us really are, so finding a niche of pride in accomplishment by doing battle for the intellect is at least an existential benefit.

The enjoyable exercise soon becomes a crusade, not because they care about the world around them being ignorant, but because they themselves are deeply disturbed by their own rebellion, but refuse to acknowledge it. It’s not enough for many atheists to espouse their worldview and simply be irritated by Christians and any other religionists who happen into their pathway. No, they want to make others just as arrogant and angry, first because misery loves company and second because they feel vindicated if they can notch their belt with impressionable young people with some measure of faith in God. However, the greatest anger is reserved for those who actually believe in Jesus as Savior and in the Bible as God’s inerrant Word. We are an affront to them that must be removed from society or at least silenced, marginalized and humiliated.


Why would Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and other atheists so vehemently oppose a distinguished scientist like Francis Collins as head of the National Institutes of Health?

It wasn’t about scientific credentials, now was it? Collins’ credentials are much stronger than Dawkins in the same field. No, their objection was based on Collins’ theism, as if that somehow taints his science. Because the last thing a close-minded atheist can tolerate is anyone with the credentials to make scientific discoveries that might destabilize their presuppositions.


Posted June 14, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Believing What You See   Leave a comment

Even atheist scientists admit the world appears to be designed.

Yeah, really, they do.

Richard Dawkins stated in “The God Delusion” that “Living things are not designed, but Darwinian natural selection licenses a version of the design stance for them. We get a short cut to understanding the heart if we assume that it is designed to pump blood.” (2006, p. 182). While denying that the heart is designed by any intelligence, he admits it’s easier to understand it if we assume it was.

Jerry Coyne wrote in Why Evolution is True (2009), “if anything is true about nature, it is that plants and animals seem intricately and almost perfectly designed for living their lives … Nature resembles a well-oiled machine, with every species an intricate cog or gear.” (p. 1). On Page 3, he wrote “The more one learns about plans and animals, the more one marvels at how well their designs fit their way of life.” Michael Shermer in Why Darwin Matters (2006) wrote “The design inference comes naturally. The reason people think that a Designer created the world is that it looks designed” (p. 65). Dawkins wrote in The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) that “So compelling is that illusion (of design) that it has fooled our greatest minds for centuries, until Charles Darwin burst onto the scenes.” (p. 416).

Rick says he always stood in awe of the human body and its apparent design. “Think about ball-and-socket joints in the hips and shoulders, the S curve of the spine that allows us to walk upright.” It’s one reason he never claimed to be an atheist. He could never completely deny that the human body he knows so well as a scientist really looks like it was designed … design would require a designer.

Missing Connections   Leave a comment

David has slowly come to admit that paleontology can’t explain some of the gaps in the fossil record. In his more-atheistic youth, he was sure paleontology would soon answer his questions. These days, he admits, it doesn’t look like it will.

To the layman, that means paleontologists are still operating in the realm of theory, but that doesn’t prevent many who don’t enjoy mystery in their world from acting as though scientists have found iron-clad proof of what they desperately want to be true.

Most scientists know what they have is evidence, not proof. That’s why discerning readers will note the small disclaimers found throughout evolutionary literature. For example, when parts of a foot, hand, pelvis and skull were uncovered in a South African cave in 2008, it was hailed by the media as a “missing link” between modern man and the ancient ancestor we supposedly share with apes. ABC News called Australopithecus sediba it a “game changer” because the cave the remains were found in dated to 1,977,000 years. The media announced the fossils were that old as well.

Of course, if you’ve got your reason cap on today, you recognize that a cave almost always predates someone living in it, but that gets lost in the shuffle of announcing a big discovery that seems to silence skeptics of evolution. Nobody notices the small words that disclaim that this is an unproven theory. The finding is a “strong confirmation of evolutionary theory”, but it isn’t proof because the actual events were not observed and are not repeatable.

Such disclaimers are often skipped over by Americans when reading about science because our public school system guides our youth to believe in experts, especially scientists, regardless of the evidence. We are taught that a theory is the same thing as a certainty if it comes from an “expert”. We ignore the disclaimers that serve as quiet admission that the “experts” haven’t found proof, just evidence they hope confirms their theory.

So what happens when an “expert” realizes that if macroevolution ever occurred, there should be millions of transitional fossil forms documenting the evolution of the various species?

Darwin himself expected to find an enormous number of these once that we knew to look for them. Yet, after more than a century of fossil mining and analyzing the geologic strata, the “experts” have found only sporadic and questionable fossils that even the evolutionary community cannot agree upon.

If atheistic explanations for the origin of the universe were true, we should be witnessing the spontaneous generation of life and matter all over the place. Or maybe at least once somewhere. We’d see transitional forms between different varieties of living organisms. But science hasn’t found that, even as they continue to hold out hope that they will.

David now calls himself an agnostic because he recognizes the truth of the following statement.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 13:1

New Evidence   1 comment

The Markham Clan Research group

  • Bai – former master-degreed biochemist, current teacher/associate pastor
  • David – atheist/agnostic paleontologist
  • Lela – former reporter, current administrator, sometimes Sunday School teacher, blogger
  • Rick – research doctor, former agnostic, born again Christian

David’s primary interest is dinosaurs. I won’t get more specific than that because he’s got a career to be concerned about and questioning orthodoxy in today’s scientific world is as dangerous as questioning orthodoxy in Wittenberg in the 15th century. While our group has no expert in early homonids, prehistoric creatures like Neanderthal have figured prominently in our discussions.

The evolutionists tell me that fossil evidence and DNA research “prove” that man has evolved. Certainly that’s what gets out into the press, but that’s only one interpretation.

When the first skeleton was uncovered in 1856 in the Neander Valley of Germany, the difference in bone construction was explained by rickets or arthritis, but there was a strong movement in the early 20th century to call these fossils evidence of evolution. Still, in 1978, one of the leading authorities on Neanderthals, Erik Trinhaus of Washington University (which is where Rick works) concluded that there was nothing in the skeleton evidence to suggest that Neanderthals were inferior to modern humans in locomotion, manipulation, intellect or linguistic abilities. I remember reading about this in college in the 1980s.

In 2001, Science Magazine introduced the coexistence theory to the public. The admission that modern humans and Neanderthal existed at the same time and comingled was necessitated by recent fossil findings that put Neanderthals and modern man in the same place at the same time. Scientists dated the remains of anatomically modern humans from caves in Israel to around 92,000 to 100,000 years old, which placed modern humans earlier than Neanderthal skeletons found in neighboring (less than a football field) caves that dated 40,000 years later. David reports there was quite a lot of panic among the more atheist groups of paleontologists who had accepted the standard evolutionary view that Neanderthals were the dimwitted forerunners (or at least distant cousins) of humans.

How very inconvenient for that highly fanciful “Ascent of Man” artwork we were all raised to bow before!

I’m not a young earth creationist, so I don’t get all lathered by such discoveries. I accept the world is millennia old. I don’t need to defend the counting of the “begats” because I recognize the Biblical history prior to Abraham as a synopsis of a longer history. We really cannot assess time periods prior to Abraham.

Therefore, since my faith does not lie in counting begats, it is interesting to read about the research into the mitochondrial DNA of Neanderthal. By 1998, scientists had pretty much concluded that Neanderthal was not an ancestor of modern humans, but a proto-human species that failed the evolutionary experiment. Scientists have since suggested that modern humans and Neanderthals had several encounters with each other that resulted in a mixing of DNA – mating. In fact, there have been multiple burial sites found where modern humans and Neanderthals were interred together, providing strong evidence that they lived and worked together. In 1999, archeologist Randall White suggested the evidence pointed to Neanderthals just being people.

In other words, science had a theory that it has had to modify. That is what science is supposed to do and if scientists did not have presuppositions to defend, it would be a merely interesting bit of observation that Neanderthal turns out to be us. But some scientists, many of them actually, hope the public will simply shrug and not consider the greater implications, because that threatens their presuppositions.

Information Density   2 comments

DNA scares some Christians so much they avoid the discussion. It does seem to prove microevolution – the observable theory that species tend to diversify through adaptation over time. Ah, yes, fear! Never a good reason not to challenge our presuppositions.

I looked DNA squarely in the eye while standing between a born-again biochemist and an atheist paleontologist and came to the conclusion that DNA was created by something or Someone with intelligence. I call that intelligence God and I find in Genesis 1-3 a simple synopsis of the processes He used to create life on this planet … dumbed down for people who couldn’t see the cell, let alone DNA.

When God tries to transmit His reality to us, it’s a lot like humans trying to talk to ants. Our understanding of an eternal, all-powerful being who exists outside of our space-time constraints is limited by our own limitations. The description in Genesis is an example of a pre-Industrial Age reporter trying to make sense of concepts he did not understand. It’s accurate, from his perspective.

DNA is a highly information rich system.The DNA molecule within the cell of any living creature often contains billions and trillions of bits of information that instructs other molecules to arrange themselves into all the parts of a living organism. Without DNA’s complex assembly code, the ingredients of life are simply a blob of organic goop composed of chemicals and proteins that do nothing by themselves.

Information does not naturally form itself. You can refer to all the theories you want, there’s never been an observed occurrence of random bits of anything gathering into a working information system. All the working information systems we know of in the world today have been assembled by intelligent beings — humans. DNA, however, contains a great deal more information in a great deal more complexity than most of those human-created information systems and it’s been around since before humans were capable of such technology.

Logically, it follows that DNA — arguably the most complex information in existence on the planet did not happen accidentally or by unguided forces. Cosmos’ Neil de Grasse Tyson suggests aliens, but that just pushes back the question of origin to another time and place. Who assembled the complex information system before it got to Earth? Or are we going to argue that the laws of physics are different on other planets?

No, that does not prove God, but it also doesn’t disprove Him or even bring His existence into doubt. Like the Big Bang, the complexity of DNA and the odds against it existing without external intervention are so great that it’s hard not to see some sort of Intelligence behind it.

Is that God? I think so. And, if I’m wrong …?

Big Bang Theory   4 comments

One of our early inquiries was the Big Bang Theory, which we returned to in recent years.

The Big Bang theory proposes that the universe started from a singularity – a dense wad of matter that for reasons not yet known suddenly exploded outward in an immense pulse of energy and light. Scientic consensus has pretty much decided that is how the universe we currently live in started.

Of course nobody was there at the time to observe the actual event, so this theory cannot be proven by scientific means. We can evaluate the evidence and say that is probably what happened, but honest scientists admit they could be misinterpreting the evidence or that new evidence could be found that would disprove the theory. Sadly, few scientists today are willing to question scientific consensus, but their lack of open-minded inquiry does not make the theory incorrect.

In fact, I think the Big Bang theory is a reasonable non-believers’ description of how God created the universe.

Genesis 1 says “In the beginning, God …” It goes on to say He spoke light into darkness, formed the stars, the sun and the planets. It synopizes Creation in a few sentences, saying it took six periods of time for God to reach the culmination of His Creation – mankind. I say “period of time” because what is a day to an eternal being when there was no sun to calculate a time period?

Robert Zastrow, founder of the Godard Space Institute (an agnostic) wrote in his book “God and the Astronomers”:

The details differ, but the essential elements of the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same. This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always believed the word of the Bible. But we scientists did not expect to find evidence of an abrupt beginning because we have had until recently such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time. At this moment it seems science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance,; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he Is greeted by a band of theologians who have been there for centuries.”

We have two different views of the same evidence. Atheists, who hold a hard line position that there is nothing that exists that they cannot analyze under the rules of science, say the Big Band theory can only be explained by other theories that sound like faith – multiverses, for example. To the Christian, the science arrived at where we had been for centuries. For the honest and maybe agnostic scientist, it’s curious, but not frightening that theologians were essentially right a long time before science got there.

So far, nothing I’ve learned from science has rattled my faith that God is behind it all. I’ve read some great books that really challenged my faith, but I’ve come to realize that the presuppositions of the researcher can affect the outcome of their science and that sometimes it takes centuries before those outcomes are challenged and shown to be wrong.

Science is very good at observing evidence and I appreciate honest scientists who do this so well. It’s when scientists try to torture the evidence to fit their worldview rather than let the evidence speak for itself where I have a problem with scientists.

Posted June 2, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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