God and religion: Forces for reason or irrationality
The contempt exhibited by some libertarian atheists for deists is troubling. One calls himself Joseph and referred me to a nycjunto-discuss@eGroups.com posting by “Perry”.
Perry’s thesis is that belief in religion is to be tolerated but given less respect than ‘rationalists’. Joseph stated that religion has been an obstruction to science and medicine throughout history. I countered that religious bodies, especially during the Middle Ages, were repositories for science and had discovered many important principles. Joseph objected that I had to show that those principles would not have been discovered without those religious bodies. I’m sorry Joseph, but I think if you take that to a debating coach you will find, under the circumstances, the burden of proof is upon you to show that they would have been discovered without those religious bodies and even earlier than they were.
Religious institutions throughout history, have been centers for scientific investigation. During the Middle Ages, much of ancient science would have been lost without the labors of countless nameless monks. Indeed, the lack of a monastic counterpart, after the collapse of ancient Egypt, lost many important developments for us – their embalming techniques, how they constructed the pyramids and their method for hardening copper, which has never been duplicated.
Perry states that religious people “harbor a virulent mental virus” with religion a “dangerous belief structure”. He urges his fellow atheists “that it is essential that people (He mustn’t regard theists as people) no longer passively accept it when religion and religious beliefs are thrust into their paths…(to) actively confront irrational beliefs of all sorts…and that religion…no longer be an exception…”
Definitive proof of the existence or non-existence of God is, of course, impossible. I’m sure every believer has doubts. I know I do but I keep on coming back to some formidable situations that atheism must surmount.
Near death experiences have been fairly uniform in the description of a tunnel with encompassing light and warmth at the end. The person’s life passes in front of him for review with meetings of the important people in the life. The New York Times Sunday Magazine once had an article about this phenomenon exploring whether this is actually a survival mechanism for the species. The argument was cogent, so who knows?
Any theistic discussion always devolves to evolution. Perry seems to support it, citing “the overwhelming evidence that evolution is a fact.” To me and a lot of physicians, the evidence is underwhelming. Evolution has a lot of holes in it with a lot of things it doesn’t explain.
The biggest hole is the failure to induce it in controlled laboratory conditions. Relativity, the uncertainty principle, Boyle’s Law and quantum physics are scientific theories that have been duplicated numerous times in the laboratory and have conformed repeatedly to the predictions. All attempts to induce evolutionary change have failed. Miserably. Every instance of supposed evolution cited by evolutionists, on closer inspection can be, as validly, ascribed to serial selection within a species.
Evolution says that we all arose from a common ancestors but they’re still looking for the’missing link’ between us and chimpanzees, our closest genetic relatives, and I know of no example of one between any two other, supposedly closely related species. Does anyone? I’m open to new information.
Then there is in the origin of the universe. For years the dominant school was the steady staters. It said that matter was neither created nor destroyed and the universe always just was. They scoffed at the theory of the Big Bang. In fact, the term was a derogatory one they used for the theory. Well, the evidence accumulated and now it’s accepted. The universe began as a minute singularity that blew apart about 14.7 billion years ago.
The next question is what came before the singularity and how did it come into existence? This just begs for the possibility of a Creator. I refer the reader to the recent special cosmology issue of Astronomy Magazine. Read it and, unless you have a mind of far greater scientific acumen than I, you’ll emerge more confused and dazzled than ever. I have concluded that the cosmos will be eternally beyond our understanding. Note, just several decades ago, many scientists thought that a complete understanding was close.
I am infected with the Roman Catholic “virulent mental virus” and pro-life. In one group that I’m member of, I’ve been engaged in exchanges with one individual who blasts me for not giving any scientific support for my position. Throughout these exchanges, I have mentioned the unique genetic makeup of the fetus and the fact that it can induce an immunologic response from its mother, confirming its uniqueness. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether the citing of genetic differences is scientific or not.
The origin of life is another matter. At 14.7 billion years, it’s a long shot. Evidence piles up that water and even organic compounds exist in this solar system. Some trumpet that this means there might be life also. But it’s likely there isn’t life. The steps from organic compounds to amino acids to proteins to DNA to life are all huge. Attempts at combining the basic building blocks of life, amino acids, into proteins and DNA have failed, miserably.
As it turns out, the development of a solar system is not peculiar to our sun but our sun is a small star. And the peculiar makeup of our system may be a requirement for life. A New Mexico State University scientist has postulated that the existence of both a planet Jupiter and a planet our distance from its star, may have helped the development and it may be unique. Here again, an article in The New York Times a number of years ago said that way the odds were shaping up, either the universe is shot through with life or we are alone. If we’re alone, how did the conditions happen? It’s a tough sell that it was by chance. It’s worth pondering.
Science is multi-faceted and it encompasses many disciplines. The study of astronomy, Mendelian inheritance, agriculture, among many others, historically have been accomplished under the aegis of religion. I personally can not compete with the ignorance of history of anyone who makes statements like Joseph and Perry.
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