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Science neither disproves God nor proves Darwin?

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In an otherwise conventional “mildly disapproving” review of Why Science Does Not Disprove God by University of Oregon mathematician Amir D. Aczel, physicist Alan Lightman observes,

In his foray into biology, Aczel says the theory of evolution is flawed. In particular, he points out that it does not explain altruistic behavior with no apparent survival benefit to the genes of the do-gooder. He cites a recent example of a Mount Everest climbing expedition in which an Israeli climber was well on his way to the top when he discovered a fallen Turkish climber who had lost his face mask and oxygen supply. At the cost of his own fingers and toes to frostbite, and sacrificing the glory of reaching the summit, the Israeli stopped and saved the life of the Turkish fellow. Why did he do it? “Human decency and goodness,” Aczel writes, with the implication that such qualities come from religion and spirituality. (In another chapter, he explains how a code of morality developed in early religions.)


Lightman just says that and doesn’t launch into a diatribe against Aczel for the sin of Darwin doubt. It’s like he thinks you can discuss evolution intelligently.

Recall that we live in a time when this stuff is commonplace: “Moderator for science mag [Nautilus] article on how DNA studies shake tree of life bans discussion of ‘whether evolution is true.’” The point of her mag’s article was that Darwin’s Tree of Life is matchwood. So the mag runs an article like that and then bans discussion of what it might mean? Yup.

Are times changing? Do people no longer need to make ritual obeisance before Darwin, just to record some fact or make some point or other? Wow.

11 Replies to “Science neither disproves God nor proves Darwin?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Has Alan Lightman ever attempted to climb Everest?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Science is not possible without God, whereas naturalism leads to the epistemological failure of science. This is true at bot the ‘local level’ of trying to explain the origin of our own consciousness and at the universe level of trying to explain the origin of the universe. i.e. Naturalism is ‘anti-science’ through and through:

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 Greg Bahnsen debate available at the bottom of the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”

    The Historical Alliance of Christianity and Science – Kenneth Richard Samples
    Excerpted quote: “Modern science was conceived, and born, and flourished in the matrix of Christian theism. Only liberal doses of self-deception and double-think, I believe, will permit it to flourish in the context of Darwinian naturalism.”
    ~ Alvin Plantinga

    In the following video clip, Dr. Craig, in his usual crisp and clear style, explains just how insane the Naturalist’s worldview is to undermining the reliability of our cognitive faculties:

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism (Atheism) Viable? – William Lane Craig – video

    1.) Argument from intentionality
    1. If naturalism is true, I cannot think about anything.
    2. I am thinking about naturalism.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    2.) The argument from meaning
    1. If naturalism is true, no sentence has any meaning.
    2. Premise (1) has meaning.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    3.) The argument from truth
    1. If naturalism is true, there are no true sentences.
    2. Premise (1) is true.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    4.) The argument from moral blame and praise
    1. If naturalism is true, I am not morally praiseworthy or blameworthy for any of my actions.
    2. I am morally praiseworthy or blameworthy for some of my actions.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    5.) Argument from freedom
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not do anything freely.
    2. I am free to agree or disagree with premise (1).
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    6.) The argument from purpose
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not plan to do anything.
    2. I (Dr. Craig) planned to come to tonight’s debate.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    7.) The argument from enduring
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not endure for two moments of time.
    2. I have been sitting here for more than a minute.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    8.) The argument from personal existence
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not exist.
    2. I do exist!
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    The same epistemological failure for science is inherent when atheists try to ‘explain away’ the fine tuning of this universe with the ‘random multiverse’

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy. This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world. Neither is it the case that “nothing” is unstable, as Mr. Hawking and others maintain. Absolute nothing cannot have mathematical relationships predicated on it, not even quantum gravitational ones. Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.,,, the evidence for string theory and its extension, M-theory, is nonexistent; and the idea that conjoining them demonstrates that we live in a multiverse of bubble universes with different laws and constants is a mathematical fantasy. What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video

    Here is the last power-point slide of the preceding video:

    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    Supplemental note: Dr. Gordon has recently applied this much the same criticism to unconstrained ‘random’ gravity waves in the inflationary model:

    A Matter of Considerable Gravity: On the Purported Detection of Gravitational Waves and Cosmic Inflation – Bruce Gordon – April 4, 2014
    Excerpt: Thirdly, at least two paradoxes result from the inflationary multiverse proposal that suggest our place in such a multiverse must be very special: the “Boltzmann Brain Paradox” and the “Youngness Paradox.” In brief, if the inflationary mechanism is autonomously operative in a way that generates a multiverse, then with probability indistinguishable from one (i.e., virtual necessity) the typical observer in such a multiverse is an evanescent thermal fluctuation with memories of a past that never existed (a Boltzmann brain) rather than an observer of the sort we take ourselves to be. Alternatively, by a second measure, post-inflationary universes should overwhelmingly have just been formed, which means that our existence in an old universe like our own has a probability that is effectively zero (i.e., it’s nigh impossible). So if our universe existed as part of such a multiverse, it would not be at all typical, but rather infinitely improbable (fine-tuned) with respect to its age and compatibility with stable life-forms.

  3. 3
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Some good argument on this point.

    I would however caution against overly optimistic scenarios. In the political sphere it is an old dictum that empires are most dangerous in their dotage. In its own paroxysms of brutal suppression, the Church grew ever more brutal as the challenges to its dogma multiplied around it, immediately prior to the loss of the majority of its power in Europe.

    The more strident calls for suppression of dissent, emanating from atheists & materialists, can be viewed in a positive light. It is true that their recent hold on claims to truth are being increasingly exposed as not merely weak but insupportable by their own logic.

    But we should expect that, before the end, these strident calls will become louder, and the actions they encourage will actually be put into effect.

    That would be the historically and rationally consistent conclusion.

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    ‘Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”

    The sad thing is that what Professor Plantinga writes here is not a wonderfully compelling hypothesis, but the sum total of any number of ‘cold, hard’ facts of physics, in respect of which the materialists, ipso facto, simply CANNOT offer a rebuttal.

    The only parallel I can think of are audience-participation televised debates in the UK, before a panel of experts, and on occasions, just a member of the public. The most famous of these shows is called Question Time.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, it is pure infotainment. If, as happens, someone makes a compelling point, but it diverges from the kind of pap generated by the politico-media ‘noise-machine’, it is swiftly passed over by he anchor-man.

    Now, supposing the two sides to the debate were the very protagonists concerning whom and whose views, Uncommon Descent is all about. And instead of verbal exchanges, a chart setting forth the progress of the discovery of empirical truths is constantly updated, with each new unambiguous finding.

    Why, for instance, has not the out-of-body experience of Pam Reynolds, under the most targeted and comprehensive medical monitoring, been accepted as proof of mind-brain duality?

    How can they burble on, pursuant to their materialist world-view, when they have no explanation – can have no explanation, for the non-locality of photons? While it s a clear vindication of the axiom upon which all the major religions are based. Far from having a problem with it, religious folk of every stripe would have expected it.

    I don’t know how long a list of such vindications of theism could be drawn up, but can’t see how it could be less than incontrovertible across a wide area.

    Every day, here, I see extremely, well, brilliant scientists on here involved in what amounts, intellectually, to a game of Cowboys and Indians. Simply because, their opponents are not incessantly badgered to get a metaphysical handle on the many QUESTIONS they don’t seem to understand – never mind answers! Answers which, UNLIKE EVOLUTION, really ARE established science.

  5. 5
    Barb says:

    I’ve posted on this subject before, but I’ll summarize here. You cannot have a theory that states both “only the fittest survive” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    I take issue with the claim in the OP:

    Science neither disproves God nor proves Darwin?

    I don’t know what everyone elses level of ‘proof’ is (assuming that there are other minds out there 🙂 ) . But I find our present observational science to falsify neo-Darwinism and to confirm God’s existence to an absurdly high level of certainty.

    The falsification of neo-Darwinism is as such. Neo-Darwinism holds that information (and consciousness) ’emerges’ from a material (energy-matter) basis, but it is now shown that material (both energy and matter) reduce to an information basis. Information DOES NOT reduce to a material basis! Here are my references for the claim that “energy and mass both reduce to information”:

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.

    New Breakthrough in (Quantum) Teleportation – video

    Physicists set new record for quantum teleportation with matter qubits – Apr 16, 2013
    Excerpt: “The greatest significance of our work is the dramatic increase in efficiency compared to previous realizations of matter-matter teleportation,” Nölleke said. “Besides, it is the first demonstration of matter-matter teleportation between truly independent systems and constitutes the current record in distance of 21 m. The previous record was 1 m.”

    How Teleportation Will Work –
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”

    Unconditional Quantum Teleportation – abstract
    Excerpt: This is the first realization of unconditional quantum teleportation where every state entering the device is actually teleported,,

    Also of note:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,

    Moreover this infinitely fast, beyond space and time, quantum information/entanglement is found to be in molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – short video

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the material particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘special’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!

    Supplemental Note:

    Intelligent design: Why can’t biological information originate through a materialistic process? – Stephen Meyer – video

    John Lennox – Is There Evidence of Something Beyond Nature? (Semiotic Information) – video

    Science confirms God’s existence by one line of evidence by the following method:

    Due to advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):

    Verse and Music:

    Colossians 1:17
    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    Kicking and Screaming – Third Day

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Barb @ 5

    You cannot have a theory that states both “only the fittest survive” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    Good point!

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:

    Barb @ 5

    You cannot have a theory that states both “only the fittest survive” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    Good point. Thanks.

    BTW, isn’t the latter known as the positive form of the golden rule? Is it written anywhere else besides the NT? The negative form of that rule appeared in other documents, but what about the positive form?
    Doesn’t the law of non-contradiction, associated with the exclusive ‘either-or’, come to mind at this moment?
    However, those who adhere to the popular relativistic “both-and” philosophical position would see no conflict between the two opposite rules. To those there’s no absolute truth. Everything is true and nothing is true. Go figure.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Robert Byers says:

    if this Israeli was working rather then climbing then americans wouldn’t have vto work and give billions of bucks to israel every year.
    helping a person on a mountain is just doing what you should. Saying no to yankee taxpayer money would be a real test of the Israeli’s goodness.

    anyways evolution is wrong because its unreasonable and unsupported by scientific evidence.
    Sorry AMIR!!!???

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