Posts tagged ‘science’
At the moment, the consensus in the scientific community is that the universe originated in a “Big Bang.” While that may be hotly contested by the religious community, there are certain facts that make the theory hard to easily dispel. One of those facts is that astronomers can observe the visible universe moving further and further away at increasing speed in all directions (and no we are not at the center of the universe.)
Some of the questions raised by those opposed to the theory are “what happened to cause the Big Bang?”, and “where did all that stuff come from?” Just such a question was mentioned by John, a 15 year old also struggling with matters of faith and reason, who commented on my previous post “Branding an Adolescent Mind”:
Although, i speak to anyone willing to try to convert me but i have never heard anything that really made me wonder about the truthfullness of their beliefs. The one line that i really couldn’t answer was, ‘despite from the big bang and any of those scientific beliefs, where did all that matter come from?’ My only answer i could give to that christian crusader was, ‘Who are you to say that it all began from a superior being or entity, for some reason, deciding this should be and made it happen?’
Before I make an amateur attempt to answer that question, I want to say that science isn’t about having the one right answer…
Earlier I stated that dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample I read (14.89%). However, the realisation that religious dogma contradicted observable reality was
the second most an equally common reason for de-conversion cited within the sample (also at 14.89%). In other words, religious fundamentalists wage war against science with good reason.
Surprisingly, as the following examples highlight, rarely was it Richard Dawkins ramming logic down someone’s throat with something like The God Delusion that resulted in de-conversion. De-conversion appeared to occur when people didn’t have their religiously trained defenses up. And again, it could happen at a young age:
When I was in 8th grade, I was studying my cousin’s biology book, which happened to teach evolution. I remember hearing things about how evolution was “incorrect” according to the sometimes Christian media. I did not completely dismiss the idea of god at this time, but it caused me to invalidate the idea of an actual organized religion because they were inelastic and unable to accept change or new ideas because their “holy” scripture was infallible. This was the beginning of my de-conversion to atheism.
Simple facts, and simple doubts. It did not even have to be evolution, something as simple as a scouting trip can provoke doubt…
I struggled as a youngster to unite Christianity and Science. I wanted the two things to agree. I wanted these two aspects of my life to gain consistency. I did silly things, like conscientiously objecting to the teaching of evolution in my 10th grade science class, and instead did a self-study courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research which makes me blush to this day. As an older, college-age Christian, I was enthralled with Hugh Ross and hoped that it was all starting to fall into place. But in the end, the dichotomy crumbled and my de-conversion took place. I managed to escape before Intelligent Design took over as the creationist model of choice, although my poor parents keep buying me books on the subject.
I am a scientist first and foremost, and my life is defined by the concept of falsifiable hypotheses. Religion is not falsifiable, and therefore it can never be consistent with science. We can try to explain things, either in a Christian sense or an Atheist sense, but they will never be proven. I disagree with Dawkins in some aspects of this, as I don’t believe we can claim the non-existance of God any more than we can prove it. I am not interested in fundamental research trying to “prove” the origins of life are purely biological any more than I try to prove that they are not. I am mystified by the fuss over “Expelled” right now since anything designed to preach to the converted is destined to do only that. I don’t believe that scientific evidence is the key in the religious debate…
The last time I wrote on this site I was concerned with the “meaning of life” (in parts one and two). The theme continues in this post (as well as a continuation from one of Simen’s articles), but only because the questions I have been asking myself and others has consistently led back to one answer, despite the variety of questions. I have been asking myself why I believe what I did when I was an evangelical Christian and why others continue to believe what they do – in relation to that which we cannot perceive by the five senses. Granted, there are many of those who simply do not engage in such self-reflection. This is as common among non-religionists as it is religionists. However, if you visit sites such as this one or even your favourite seminarian blog, then you probably do think about the deeper aspects of life – continually questioning your own assumptions and conclusions as well as others.
When I took a “Christianity and Contemporary Thought” course at my Bible college, one of our texts included James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door. The book is essentially an oversimplified, biased walk-through of some major philosophical worldviews without too much polemic…
I listened recently to a fascinating radio broadcast where Adrian Shine was discussing how, to date, he had failed to find the mythical watery monster of Loch Ness (Saturday Live, BBC Radio 4, 18/08/08).
Two things made this conversation interesting for me and took it above the realms of the usual “the-monster-must-exist-coz-I’ve-seen-pictures” story. First, this man was no fool. He was a serious naturalist who had spent over thirty years exploring and collaborating in over 200 university projects on the loch. He writes in learned journals and can do the science.
Secondly, when asked why he hadn’t found the leviathan, he simply stated that it didn’t exist. At least, there wasn’t a shred of scientific evidence that it did. And he should know, because he has spent the best part of a working life doing the sonar, going in the submarines, looking in the mud, sampling the plankton, testing the photographs, and analysing the data…
…or you may get mauled by a she-bear..!!
Since my recent comment about irrelevant and forgotten old radio Bible teachers, I thought I would re-publish this rant from my old website. It is several months old, and I am beating up on a dead guy, but hopefully some of the younger folks out there can relate. Dig?
It was darker than usual this morning due to turning the clock ahead an hour, so I was able to pick up a distant AM station on my drive into work. It was broadcasting a rerun of one of those ancient J Vernon McGee Thru The Bible programs. He was working his way through 2 Kings when he hit this troublesome passage concerning the prophet Elisha…