Archive for the ‘Religion’ category

Dawkins On The Improbability Of God

5 June, 2007 EUTC

In The God Delusion Dawkins responds to claims that certain entities are too complex to have formed by chance by arguing that since such a designer must be even more complex, he must also be less likely. He turns this into his argument for why there is almost certainly no God: since a creator God (particularly one like the Christian God) is extremely complex, He is also extremely improbable.

The problem with this argument is that Dawkins gives no reason why the probability of an uncreated spiritual entity is thus dependent on its complexity. It might make sense for biological entities where there is some mechanism for chance formation in mind, but why should the probability of God existing depend thus on His complexity? Dawkins’ main argument for atheism turns out to be fundamentally flawed.

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A Real Icon of Evolution

30 September, 2006 EUTC

Nick Matzke has put together some charts of the cranial capacity of hominin fossils vs the age of the fossils. Hominins are humans and supposed ancestors of humans. The charts show a gradual trend of increasing cranial capacity as the fossils become more recent. They are striking illustrations in support of evolution.

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Evolution and Morality

19 September, 2006 EUTC

Jason Rosenhouse has written a review of Lee Alan Dugatkin’s new book The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness. This book considers the history of the work done by scientists in explaining the evolutionary origins of altruism. The idea that survival of the fittest could lead to behaviour that benefits others does appear strange, but scientists have made some progress in explaining how some such behaviour could evolve. The explanations that science does provide do seem to require an advantage from the altruistic behaviour, either kin altruism which involves helping family (so family and consequently shared genes gain an advantage), or its expected to leads to future reciprocal help (with net benefit).

But do those things really explain morality fully? I don’t want to turn this into a God of the Gaps argument, just because science doesn’t have answers doesn’t prove that there is no natural explanation. That said, where does morality come from? Maybe science has something to say about some of it, but I still believe that Christianity has the best answer.

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Roman Catholicism Continues to Support Evolution

5 September, 2006 EUTC

The Roman Catholic Church officially endorses the theory of evolution as scientific fact, while acknowledging God’s hand behind it. Recent events had led some people to think that it was in the process of changing its view on this towards supporting Intelligent Design, but as this article shows, this is not the case. [HT: John Wilkins]

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Some Links on Science and Religion

11 July, 2006 EUTC

Thabiti blogs about a project to explore the intersection between Pentecostalism and Science. I’m curious as to what this research might entail. While I believe that science necessarily excludes supernatural hypotheses, there is room for it to examine the natural effects of the supernatural. The link between the supernatural causes and the natural effects, while reasonable for those with faith, is itself not scientific. For example, scientists could describe speaking in tongues according to grammatical structure, and analyse the regions of the brain that are active while it occurs, it is up to people speaking theologically (rather than scientifically) to discuss whether the phenomena is caused by the Holy Spirit.

Justin Taylor links to a Mark Driscoll post answering questions about Creation, and results in some interesting debate in his comments section on the interpretation of Gen 1,2 in the light of science.

The Island of Doubt has a post on 2 recent magazine items related to science and religion, while Uncertain Principles links to another such article from Phyiscs Today.

Sovereignty and Science

27 June, 2006 EUTC

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. (Prov 16:33)

A few months ago I had a friend argue that if I believe in evolution, then I believe in something that was unguided, and that this would contradict my faith. In this post I would like to address that claim, and describe my position on God’s actions in nature. I am particularly interested in feedback on this post, as I try to develop my thoughts in this area.

First of all, saying evolution is unguided is in fact unscientific. While it is true that scientists sometimes make comments like that, eg. this statement, science cannot actually make such statements. In giving explanations of nature in terms of natural processes, it cannot comment on whether those processes may be caused by a supernatural entity. Sometimes scientists slip up and speak beyond what science can say, and sometimes they speak of their religious convictions (eg. Richard Dawkins), at which point they are not speaking scientifically. (more…)

Science and the Supernatural

24 June, 2006 EUTC

An important issue in the intersection of science and religion is whether science should include supernatural explanations. A good post on this issue is What is Science? by Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog. Jason starts by saying

Science is best viewed as an activity undertaken with a specific goal in mind. That goal is to understand the way nature works. We measure our understanding by the extent to which we can make nature’s phenomena predictable and controllable. Any investigative technique that brings us closer to this goal can reasonably be considered part of science.

All of the standard pieces of the scientific method we learned about in high school – experimentation, hypothesis testing, inductive reasoning and so forth – have their role to play in bringing us closer to our goal of predictability and control. By contrast, hypothesizing the actions of ill-defined supernatural entities such as ghosts or poltergeists do not help us move closer to our goal. Consequently, the actions of supernatural entities play no role in modern scientific discourse. The day someone finds a way to use such an hypothesis to bring clarity to some confusing aspect of nature is the day scientists will embrace the supernatural. (more…)