Friday, May 17, 2013

Short Science and God Presentation Notes

Some brief working notes I used to put together my 10 minute presentation I gave at Cornerstone Fellowship's Faith and Doubt event.  Fitting these sorts of things into 10 minutes is pretty difficult and, obviously, a lot has to be left out:

*“Science has disproven the existence of God”
Usually the idea is that we have no use for God.  Laplace: “I have no use for that hypothesis”.  The Big Bang gives us the origin of the universe and evolution the origin of living things.  So no room for God – we can explain the existence of things using only physical stuff and natural laws.

Several responses:
1)      Suppose the Big Bang and evolution are correct explanations of the universe and life.  God could still be the Creator since he could have used the Big Bang and evolution to create.  Just because someone uses a tool to make something doesn’t mean that they aren’t the one who made it.  Big Bang/evolution could be the tools God used.
2)      There are some things science cannot explain using only natural things (physical stuff and natural laws).  For example, natural things might not have existed and so need an explanation outside of themselves.  Science, then, cannot explain why there are any natural things at all by appealing to more natural things since those are part of what needs explaining – you can explain some natural things in terms of others, but not why there are any at all in the first place.  (Like trying to explain why there is any cereal in your house by saying you got the cereal in your bowl from the box in your cupboard – you’ve explained how some of the cereal got in your bowl, but not how any cereal got in your house in the first place)   Natural things cannot explain this, but God can.
3)      Science actually offers us evidence of God.  There is evidence everywhere that the universe was designed to support complex life.  If any of the most basic laws of physics, for example, or the basic values that show up in their equations, were slightly off, life would not be possible.  Without electromagnetic forces, for instance, we could not have chemistry and without chemistry, there could be no life.  Since the universe is so exactly fit for life and this is much more likely if it was designed than if not, we have good evidence for design.

Notes on ideas that didn't make it into the presentation:
* God is not, for the Christian, a theoretical postulate!  We don’t think up God merely in order to fill in some gap in our understanding of the world.  God is a person with whom we have a relationship – a someone we know, not a something we know about.  Ex: My mom is not some entity I posit to explain certain bizarre phenomena such as cell phone transmissions, birthday cards, past experiences, etc.  Not something I know about merely as an inference based on evidence but someone I know through my relationship with them.

* Suppose we did, however, explain how something in the physical universe works only in terms of physical stuff and natural laws.  Is there now no room for God in explaining it?  No – a fully physical explanations and a divine one are not mutually exclusive. 
Ordinary Christian thought: No contradiction between “The doctor saved my life” and “God saved my life” (contrast with some faith healing groups).  Bible accounts with same idea
* Not only are there tons of events which have no predetermined physical explanation and are not determined by natural laws (quantum mechanics), but even if there weren’t, we must remember that God is the creator and sustainer of everything that is not God – he not only created space, time, matter, etc. but every second, every event, every natural law, everything that is, is directly dependent for its existence on God.  God is the source of natural laws and the one who sustains them in place.  Anytime any physical things interact by virtue of natural laws, God is there.  Colossians – all things held together by him.  Acts – in him, we live and move and have our being.  When the doctor saves the patient, God is there sustaining the natural laws and physical interactions that will make that a success, even if everything is just going according to physics.  God works under and through natural processes.
* (1) Science cannot use God in its theories (methodological naturalism).  (2) Science gives/will give/can give a complete, unified, fully accurate picture of the whole world.  BUT: If 2 and there IS a God, science must include God, so 1 is only true if no God.  And so if 1, 2 is true only if no God.  So cannot accept BOTH 1 and 2 without already showing God does not exist – at most, can accept one of these.  2 wildly optimistic anyway.

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