Atheism Intelligent Design Science

Atheism detracts from science

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Oxford mathematician John Lennox explains:

… naturalism, and therefore atheism, undermines the foundations of the very rationality that is needed to construct or understand or believe in any kind of argument whatsoever, let alone a scientific one. In short, it leads to the abolition of reason — a kind of “abolition of man,” since reason is an essential part of what it means to be human.

Not surprisingly, I reject atheism because I believe Christianity to be true. But that is not my only reason. I also reject it because I am a mathematician interested in science and rational thought. How could I espouse a worldview that arguably abolishes the very rationality I need to do mathematics? By contrast, the biblical worldview that traces the origin of human rationality to the fact that we are created in the image of a rational God makes real sense as an explanation of why we can do science.

John Lennox, “Why Science and atheism don’t mix” at Evolution News and Science Today

It’s an excerpt from his new book, 2084: : Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (2020).

7 Replies to “Atheism detracts from science

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I find this rather disappointing. I expected more from Lennox than the standard trite apologetics.

    But all we are offered is the standard trope that atheism somehow undermines rationality without explaining exactly why. We observe that we exist in an ordered universe. We would not exist to observe anything at all if it were not so. Our reason is grounded in that order and our need to understand and explain it. If anything, it is a capricious deity, capable of breaking the laws of nature whenever the mood took it, who would make the scientific enterprise impossible.

    As for imago dei it sounds good but I have yet to see a plausible explanation of what it actually means.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky claims that,

    But all we are offered is the standard trope that atheism somehow undermines rationality without explaining exactly why.

    Either Seversky has an extremely short memory span, or else he is flat out lying.

    Over the past several years, perhaps a decade by now, Seversky has been shown the following references several times

    “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity, p. 32

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter”.
    J. B. S. Haldane [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

    Remembering Arthur Balfour, Friend of Science and Friendly Opponent to Atheist Bertrand Russell
    Mike Keas – November 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Balfour understood the anti-rational implications of naturalism (and Darwinism). He argued that the assumptions of naturalism (including in its Darwinian manifestation) lead to conclusions about the origin of rationality that undermine rationality itself, and thus undermine any alleged scientific support for naturalism. In contrast, theism — including the idea that humans bear the divine image — grounds human rationality quite well.
    The following is from Balfour’s The Foundations of Belief, pages 279-283.
    “Consider the following propositions, selected from the naturalistic creed or deduced from it:
    (i.) My beliefs, insofar as they are the result of reasoning at all, are founded on premises produced in the last resort by the collision of atoms.
    (ii.) Atoms, having no prejudices in favour of truth, are as likely to turn out wrong premises as right ones; nay, more likely, inasmuch as truth is single and error manifold.
    (iii.) My premises, therefore, in the first place, and my conclusions in the second, are certainly untrustworthy, and probably false. Their falsity, moreover, is of a kind which cannot be remedied; since any attempt to correct it must start from premises not suffering under the same defect. But no such premises exist.
    (iv.) Therefore, again, my opinion about the original causes which produced my premises, as it is an inference from them, partakes of their weakness; so that I cannot either securely doubt my own certainties or be certain about my own doubts.
    This is scepticism indeed; scepticism which is forced by its own inner nature to be sceptical even about itself;,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91361.html

    Moreover, throwing natural selection into the ‘naturalistic’ equation does not help atheists in their attempt to explain our ability to reason. As Nancy Pearcey stated, “Francis Crick (an atheist) writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide”,,,

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.
    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.
    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?
    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.
    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.
    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.
    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.
    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,,
    Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/03/why_evolutionar/

    In fact, “(natural selection) could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties. ”

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter?
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    Of course, one of the main reasons that naturalism undermines reason and rationality is because naturalism denies the reality of the immaterial mind and therefore denies the reality of free will.

    As Martin Cothran noted, “The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.”

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    In fact, (like the immaterial mind), logic itself, (which forms the basis of all reason and rationality), is immaterial in and of itself, and therefore logic itself can never be grounded within naturalism and/or Darwinian materialism. Yet Christianity readily accounts for the existence of logic

    The Objective Laws of Logic Are Conceptual Laws
    These laws are not physical; they are conceptual. They cannot be seen under a microscope or weighed on a scale. They are abstract laws guiding logical, immaterial thought processes.
    The Objective Laws of Logic Are Transcendent
    The laws transcend location, culture and time. If we go forward or backward a million years, the laws of logic would still exist and apply, regardless of culture or geographic location.
    The Objective Laws of Logic Pre-Existed Mankind
    The transcendent and timeless nature of logical laws indicates they precede our existence or ability to recognize them. Even before humans were able to understand the law of non-contradiction, “A” could not have been “Non-A”. The Laws of Logic were discovered by humans, not created by humans.,,,
    The Christian Worldview accounts for the existence of the transcendent Laws of Logic. If God exists, He is the absolute, objective, transcendent standard of truth. The Laws of Logic are simply a reflection of the nature of God. God did not create these laws. They are a reflection of His rational thinking, and for this reason, they are as eternal as God Himself. You and I, as humans, have the ability to discover these laws because we have been created in the image of God, but we don’t create or invent the laws.
    https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/is-god-real-evidence-from-the-laws-of-logic/

    What is the Logos?
    Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,,
    In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.”
    https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-is-the-Logos.html

    Of course, Seversky, as usual, will refuse to acknowledge any of this and promptly forget that atheism undermines rationality.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Anthropomorphic principles a double edge sword of course the universe had to be ordered for us to observe it, But for us to acknowledge any other universe other than the one that we have is also equally impossible

    I could only ever know this universe and that’s why I don’t put any stock in the anthropomorphic printable

    It’s like somebody only sees the color gray imagining the color blue, that just can’t happen, when all anyone has ever know is gray

    We have done just that by envisioning other universes that could exist

    By the way we can easily live in a D&D universe in tiny little bubbles

    Now the fact that science even works and that there is an inherent order to the universe lends credence to a God of logic and order, And our universe doesn’t have to be ordered and follow laws

    By that logic it is a God that cares

    Sure you can pick it apart and imagine a version of God that’s cruel and delicious but it’s all law and order

  4. 4
    David P says:

    “We observe that we exist in an ordered universe. We would not exist to observe anything at all if it were not so. Our reason is grounded in that order…”
    That’s the correct conclusion but drawn from the wrong premise. The premise “we would not exist to observe anything at all IF it were not so” is just glossing over random chance. IT just happens to be that way, if it happened another way we wouldn’t be here. So at the bottom of an atheists reasoning is blind chance. It is absurd to ultimately ground order in disorder. Which is why a leap is made over chance to the correct conclusion of “reason is grounded in order”.
    That the order in nature is rooted in another order outside nature makes sense. Aka theism.
    That the order in nature is rooted in the reasonless absurdity of blind chance is nonsense. Aka atheism.

    “If anything, it is a capricious deity, capable of breaking the laws of nature whenever the mood took it, who would make the scientific enterprise impossible.”
    If you replace capricious deity with the infinite chaos asserted by atheists you are spot on. It’s as if you understand order comes from order and chaos is a bad agent to base science on but mischaracterize God to avoid that conclusion. God is unchanging. Therefore a capricious deity is just a strawman.

  5. 5

    .

    We observe that we exist in an ordered universe. We would not exist to observe anything at all if it were not so.

    This is entirely true, but it is only part of the truth. We would not exist to observe anything at all if there was not also an control hierarchy physically embedded in biological systems that enables them to specify themselves among alternatives. This is fundamental to the self-reference required of biology, and self-reference cannot occur without it.

    This is your problem Seversky, and it has been your problem for years on end. When confronted with the undeniable facts and history of the matter, you simply run head-long away from it. You repeatedly and deliberately hide behind the mere assumption of your conclusions. Against a concrete wall of documented facts and history, you simply buckle down and refuse it all – and your very worst showing comes in those very few times you’ve tip-toed into addressing those facts. In those instances, your comments can be immediately replaced with “The documented facts are wrong and I am right” without the even slightest loss of context or detail. And what is even worse, is that you imagine yourself to be a classical liberal — while you incessantly do the bidding for those who are more than happy to deprive intellectual freedom from any person who disagrees with the indefensible assumptions you make. Your first comment here was in December 2008, so you now have almost 12 years, here alone, doing just exactly that.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Here is a comment you made on these pages, all those eleven and a half years ago, when you first came here:

    The question is, what is meant by “information” in this context? Information in DNA, for example, if it can be said to exist at all, does not appear to be the same as the information being conveyed in these posts. There is no ‘meaning’ in the sense of that which is intended by a sender or that which is apprehended by a recipient.

    That comment is as completely and utterly indefensible today as it was on the day you made it. By that I mean; by way of logic, history, and vast documentation within the scientific literature, that comment can be beaten down into the dirt and squashed of having any merit whatsoever. Don’t believe me? Just try to defend that comment WITHOUT assuming your conclusions as a means of escaping the evidence to the contrary. Yet, here you still are, saying the same things. And apparently, in another dozen years, you’ll still be saying the same things all over again.

    They say that a authoritarian only gets his power by the submission of the commoner. You have certainly done your part, Seversky – you brave liberal you.

  6. 6
    EugeneS says:

    Seversky

    As for imago dei it sounds good but I have yet to see a plausible explanation of what it actually means.

    I find it hard to believe that an educated person does not know that there is vast patristic literature on the subject dating back to the first generation of Christian apologetics and the immediate successors to the Apostles of Christ the Saviour, such as St Polycarp of Smyrna and St Justin the Martyr through to the Ecumenical teachers of the 4th century AD – Sts John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa, the desert fathers of the onset of Christian monasticism St Antony and Macarios the Great, through St John of Damascus (8th century), to the wealth of Byzantine theological thought, St Simeon the New Theologian, St Gregory of Thessalonika, up to more recent holy fathers such as St Seraphim of Sarov, St Theophan the Recluse, St Nectarios of Aegina and the New Martyrs of Russia.

    All of them spoke in one accord and some of them even laid their lives to testify to the truth of what they had taught on the very subject, you say, is lacking a plausible explanation of what it actually means.

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    EugeneS @ 6

    I find it hard to believe that an educated person does not know that there is vast patristic literature on the subject dating back to the first generation of Christian apologetics…

    I am aware of it. Are you aware that the very existence of such a large body of literature is itself evidence of the problematical nature of the concept?

    All of them spoke in one accord and some of them even laid their lives to testify to the truth of what they had taught on the very subject, you say, is lacking a plausible explanation of what it actually means.

    That is evidence of the sincerity of their beliefs, not whether those beliefs have any basis in reality.

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