Monday, December 30, 2013

Nature as Replacement or Reflection of God?

I don’t take atheism lightly. I think there is the possibility of a cohesive argument against the existence of God. I don’t think it would be foolproof or uncontestable; but I can imagine it being formidable.

That said, I find the common contemporary arguments against theism extremely lacking. (Perhaps the same can be said for the common contemporary arguments against atheism. I don’t know.) What I find extremely lacking is the ability to perceive of the theist’s point-of-view—not to agree with it, but to understand it. As such, most of the arguments assume their conclusion, and then it is no wonder they “find” it.

Here is one example that is indicative of many arguments against God from the realm of “science.”* The other day I heard this story on the radio. (I am going to simplify to the point of butchering, but I think the point remains.) A scientist was explaining how he conducted tests with cells in order to see if it was more effective—or evolutionarily advantageous—for cells to work for their own ends or in groups. What he found was that if there were enough “cooperative” cells in a group, they could effectively stop and overtake the “selfish” cells. OK, interesting study. I have no background in this sort of thing, so I must take others’ word for it. But I have a problem with the scientist’s philosophizing about his study.

The doctor went on to hypothesize that the basic human moral code, found eerily similarly throughout cultures and historical periods (despite cultural relativists’ need to blow up the rather minute differences) may be found in genetics and evolution, not in God or teachers of ethics/religion. What is mind-bogglingly baffling is the inability of the scientist to take the vantage point of the theist and ask the question, How would we expect biology to work if God is real—or, more specifically, if the Christian God is real? Would it surprise us at all that on a cellular level, the human body—or all of creation—works better in cooperation rather than in isolation? Absolutely not. In fact, this is exactly what we'd expect. Yes, man and nature is fallen, but the center of Christianity—and therefore the center of humanity and all of reality—is the Trinity, that beautiful indication that even God doesn’t exist in isolation. So we would expect this Triune God’s creation, from a single cell to a living organism to a human person, to reflect some of the more important and basic truths about God.

This sort of study, on a scientific level, proves nothing about atheism or theism. It is a basic scientific set of data. It can fuel the atheist, who can see it as proving a biological origin of ethics; but it can equally fuel the theist, who can see it as nature reflecting its Creator.

I’ve heard a number of similar arguments that present scientific data to show the non-necessity of God. But the data is always exactly what we’d expect to see if we posited a Christian God. “Look, there was a big bang. Why do we need God?” Positing God, wouldn’t we expect to see a creative moment in the scientific history of our universe? “Look, there is evolution. Why do we need God?” As if positing of God would rule out a natural process of nature improving itself...

I’m not sure the exact place of these sorts of scientific studies, but I’m very sure it’s not to prove God doesn’t exist.

[*I use quotation marks not to demean science, but to mock the pseudoscience that is often presented as science—or to mock, as more often is the case, the vast logical and metaphysical leaps the scientist makes going from his scientific observations to his conclusions about the world.]

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