Intelligent Design Philosophy Science theism

Michael Egnor: Science can and does point to God’s existence

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He argues, “Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature:

In my recent debate at Theology Unleashed, with Matt Dillahunty, Dillahunty made the claim that science necessarily follows methodological naturalism, allowing only for causes within nature. This is a common assertion by atheists. It’s wrong, and here’s why.

Michael Egnor, “Science can and does point to God’s existence” at Mind Matters News

In the traditional understanding, all systematic study of effects according to causes is science. This includes theology and the various subdisciplines of philosophy, ethics, as well as natural science. What we moderns call science classical philosophers would call natural science or natural philosophy.

So science in the modern world is really the systematic study of natural effects according to their causes. Note that science studies natural effects and does not and cannot specify whether the causes must be natural or supernatural. To constrain science to the search for natural causes is to introduce inherent error into scientific investigation — the error is that if supernatural causes exist, then science would be blind to them and therefore would not be good science. If we are to understand natural effects, we must be open to all kinds of causes, including causes that transcend nature. To restrict causes in natural science to causes within nature itself is to impose an ideological bias on the science and thus make science a slave of ideology instead of truth. This is obviously what atheists do when they insist upon methodological naturalism.

Note also that the insistence upon methodological naturalism means that atheists can’t even plausibly claim that science provides no evidence for God’s existence, which of course they claim all the time as Dillahunty did in our debate. If you preclude the supernatural a priori from scientific evidence, then you can’t logically argue that scientific evidence refutes the existence of the supernatural. Yet atheists do this all the time — they argue at the same time that science is methodologically naturalist, and that science demonstrates that God doesn’t exist.

Atheists don’t even understand their own contradictions. Cognitive dissonance plagues atheism at every step.

So science must include the possibility of supernatural causes if it is to seek the truth without ideological bias. And the reality is that science does routinely invoke causes outside of nature. The most obvious example is the Big Bang. To understand this, consider the singularity that cosmologists universally agree was the source of the Big Bang and the singularities that give rise to black holes.

More.


Takehome: In Egnor’s view, if we are to understand natural effects, we must be open to all kinds of causes, including causes that transcend nature.

The debate between neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty to date:

  1. Debate: Former atheist neurosurgeon vs. former Christian activist. At Theology Unleashed, each gets a chance to state his case and interrogate the other. In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and broadcaster Matt Dillahunty clash over the existence of God.
  2. A neurosurgeon’s ten proofs for the existence of God. First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God? In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, Michael Egnor and Matt Dillahunty clash over “Does God exist?” Egnor starts off.
  3. Atheist Dillahunty spots fallacies in Christian Egnor’s views. “My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.” Dillahunty: We can’t conclusively disprove an unfalsifiable proposition. And that is what most “God” definitions, at least as far as I can tell, are.

4: Egnor now tries to find out what Dillahunty actually knows… About philosophical arguments for the existence of God, as he begins a rebuttal. Atheist Dillahunty appears unable to recall the philosophical arguments for God’s existence, which poses a challenge for Egnor in rebutting him.

  1. Egnor, Dillahunty dispute the basic causes behind the universe. In a peppery exchange, Egnor argues that proofs of God’s existence follow the same logical structure as proofs in science. If the universe begins in a singularity (where Einstein’s equations break down), what lies behind it? Egnor challenges Dillahunty on that.
  2. Is Matt Dillahunty using science as a crutch for his atheism? That’s neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s accusation in this third part of the debate, which features a continued discussion of singularities, where conventional “laws of nature” break down. If the “supernatural” means “outside of conventional nature,” Michael Egnor argues, science routinely accepts it, based on evidence.

Next: Dillahunty asks the 2nd oldest question: If God exists, why evil?

You may also wish to read:

Atheist spokesman Matt Dillahunty refuses to debate me again Although he has said that he finds debates “incredibly valuable,” he is — despite much urging — making an exception in this case. Why? For millennia, theists have thought meticulously about God’s existence. New Atheists merely deny any need to make a case. That’s partly why I dumped atheism. (Michael Egnor)

15 Replies to “Michael Egnor: Science can and does point to God’s existence

  1. 1
    Origenes on vacation says:

    A very important article by Egnor. The whole concept of “materialistic science” doesn’t make sense.

    . There are, of course, countless other examples of supernatural (i.e. extra-natural) causes recognized in natural science – the mathematical equations of modern physics are excellent examples. The field equations of general relativity, Schrödinger’s equation, Newton’s equation of gravitation and Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism are not “things” that exist in nature — mathematical equations have no mass, density, location, or temperature. Yet they are the backbone of modern physics and are ubiquitously referred to by scientists as causes, at least in the formal sense.

    I would like to add that the “physical” laws themselves, which workings these mathematical equations attempt to capture, also have no mass, density, location or temperature. What are these laws? As I have argued elsewhere, the laws cannot be physical.

    Quoting myself:

    There cannot be, in principle, a naturalistic bottom-up explanation for immutable physical laws — which are themselves an ‘expression’ of top-down causation. A bottom-up explanation, from the level of e.g. bosons, should be expected to give rise to innumerable different ever-changing laws. By analogy, particles give rise to innumerable different conglomerations.
    Moreover a bottom-up process from bosons to physical laws is in need of constraints (laws) in order to produce a limited set of universal laws.

    Paul Davies: “Physical processes, however violent or complex, are thought to have absolutely no effect on the laws. There is thus a curious asymmetry: physical processes depend on laws but the laws do not depend on physical processes. Although this statement cannot be proved, it is widely accepted.”

    Saying that laws do not depend on physical processes, is another way of saying that laws cannot be explained by physical processes.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    This is the standard argument used by theists to try and shield their claims from scientific scrutiny.

    My position is that naturalism is the claim that everything that exists has a “nature”, meaning that which makes it itself and not something else. Science is, in part, the systematic studies of the nature of things which make up the natural order. Thus, a ghost or God, if they exist, will have their own natures and are thereby part of the natural order. They may be very elusive, even impossible for us to observe, but they are still natural phenomena. On this understanding there is no such thing as the supernatural, just that of which we have some knowledge and that which we don’t.

    The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say about it in their entry on Naturalism:

    The term “naturalism” has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed “naturalists” from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit” (Krikorian 1944, Kim 2003).

    So understood, “naturalism” is not a particularly informative term as applied to contemporary philosophers. The great majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject “supernatural” entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the “human spirit”.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    seversky:

    This is the standard argument used by theists to try and shield their claims from scientific scrutiny.

    Your claims have failed scientific scrutiny. In fact it is doubtful that you understand what science entails.

    The problem is the debate is NOT natural vs supernatural. The debate pertains to blind and mindless processes vs telic processes.

  4. 4
    Seekers says:

    Seversky,

    Going over what you have written, i could easily assume your position to be reasonable in regards to your stance on naturalism.

    The problem however is that I don’t think there are many who take your position, (or views on naturalism) and they use naturalism to exclude any and all possibilities of a “supernatural” explanation of things.
    So in a way they rule out any possibility of appealing to God or ghosts as an explanation of certain phenomena.

  5. 5
    Origenes on vacation says:

    They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural” ….

    If nature would have a cause, then there would be something outside of nature–something supernatural–; namely the cause of nature.
    However these ‘philosophers’ (who are obviously unfamiliar with Aquinas) assert that “reality is exhausted by nature”, which would mean that either nature created itself or some infinite regress.

  6. 6

    It is totally obvious naturalism is wrong, because subjective statements are outside of science.

    The rules used with subjective words, like the word beautiful, is that a subjective word is chosen, and that the subjective word expresses what it is that makes a choice.

    That leaves a subjective part of reality, consisting of all what makes choices.

    Emotions, feelings, personal character, the spirit, the soul, God, they are all defined in terms of that they are on the side of what makes a choice, therefore they are all subjective. Subjective meaning that they can only be identified with a chosen opinion.

    It is a matter of chosen opinion whether a painting is beautiful or ugly. The opinion arrived at by spontaneous expression of emotion with free will, therefore chosen. And the word beautiful expresses a love for the way the painting looks, out of this love the word beautiful was chosen.

    Which means then that the idea of emotions such as love, hate, fear, joy, are inherently creationist concepts.

    1. Creator / chooses / spiritual / subjective / opinion
    2. Creation / chosen / material / objective / fact

    Emotions, feelings, personal character, the soul, the spirit, and God would be in category 1.

    It is the sad truth that neither Egnor nor Dillahunty, nor any of you, understand the basics about emotions, subjectivity, which makes you all hoplelessly uncivilized.

  7. 7
    chuckdarwin says:

    Astrophysicist Ethan Seigel:

    Almost everyone has heard the story of the Big Bang. But if you ask anyone, from a layperson to a cosmologist, to finish the following sentence, “In the beginning, there was…” you’ll get a slew of different answers. One of the most common ones is “a singularity,” which refers to an instant where all the matter and energy in the Universe was concentrated into a single point. The temperatures, densities, and energies of the Universe would be arbitrarily, infinitely large, and could even coincide with the birth of time and space itself.
    But this picture isn’t just wrong, it’s nearly 40 years out of date! We are absolutely certain there was no singularity associated with the hot Big Bang, and there may not have even been a birth to space and time at all. Here’s what we know and how we know it.

    The link is: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/07/27/there-was-no-big-bang-singularity/?sh=16bc9b277d81

  8. 8
    jerry says:

    Ethan Seigel

    Quote if true is irrelevant to anything about ID or OP.

    Maybe you should explain why you posted it.

  9. 9
    chuckdarwin says:

    The instant article (the author is not identified) states:

    So science must include the possibility of supernatural causes if it is to seek the truth without ideological bias. And the reality is that science does routinely invoke causes outside of nature. The most obvious example is the Big Bang. To understand this, consider the singularity that cosmologists universally agree was the source of the Big Bang and the singularities that give rise to black holes.

    Siegel’s statement directly contradicts this assertion by the author of the instant article, namely, that “cosmologists universally agree was the source of the Big Bang and the singularities that give rise to black holes.” It is hard to determine from the article if this is Egnor’s assertion or someone else affiliated with the Discovery Institute. However, whoever wrote the instant article is woefully (i.e. 40 years) out of date about the Big Bang.

    BTW, what does “OP” stand for?

  10. 10
    ET says:

    OP = opening post

  11. 11
    chuckdarwin says:

    Thanks

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    Might be some debate or after 40 years Wikipedia has caught up.

    The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model explaining the existence of the observable universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from an initial state of high density and temperature, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observed phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, and large-scale structure.

    Crucially, the theory is compatible with Hubble–Lemaître law—the observation that the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it is moving away from Earth. Extrapolating this cosmic expansion backwards in time using the known laws of physics, the theory describes an increasingly concentrated cosmos preceded by a

    singularity

    in which space and time lose meaning (typically named “the Big Bang singularity”). Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang singularity at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe.

    After its initial expansion, an event that is by itself often called “the Big Bang”, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later atoms

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

    Either way the universe is fine tuned.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    ChuckDarwin,

    It is interesting to note something about your referenced article that is antagonistic to the point you are trying to make,

    You highlighted this quote from Siegel that he made at the beginning of his article, “We are absolutely certain there was no singularity associated with the hot Big Bang,”

    Yet at the end of the article, in the very last paragraph, Siegel backs off his ‘absolutely certain’ claim in regards to singularities and states that, “There may have been a singularity at the very beginning of space and time, with inflation arising after that, but there’s no guarantee.”

    So, since Siegel himself basically directly contradicted his own ‘absolutely certain’ claim about the existence or non-existence of singularities, then it is hardly fair for you to claim that Siegel ‘directly contradicted’ Egnor’s claim about singularities.

    Moreover, in his article Siegel did not even mention the singularities associated with black holes which Egnor also referenced in regards to singularities.

    There are a few more things I could pull out of Siegel’s article that are very antagonistic to your atheistic worldview in general, but suffice it for now to say that the article does not firmly establish the point that you were hoping to make against Dr. Egnor.

  14. 14
    chuckdarwin says:

    Bornagain77
    You missed the point of my post. Egnor erroneously claims that cosmologists “universally” agree that a singularity was the source of the Big Bang. The statement suggests that this is an established fact in cosmology. There currently is no direct evidence for such a singularity, rather, it is inferred from CMB. The fact that Siegel does not mention singularities associated with with black holes is irrelevant to the origin of the Big Bang discussion. Egnor’s reference to black hole singularities, according to Egnor, is evidence to support his rather strange definition of “supernatural” (which is quoted in the first comment supra by Origenes on Vacation).

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    ChuckyD,

    You might want to read what I just posted on the other thread in regards to Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin, via special relativity, providing a more robust proof for an absolute beginning to the universe:
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/at-mind-matters-news-weak-anthropic-principle-not-an-explanation-but-a-tautology/#comment-738123

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