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Science and Religion

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

According to William Lane Craig, one of the best known Christian apologists of our time, Science and religion are not adversaries, but allies, in the search for truth about how the world works. This is according to an essay Craig has posted on his web site, titled, “What is the Relation between Science and Religion.” Now, if you think “reasonable faith” is an oxymoron, you get no extra points, that’s just way too obvious.

Craig’s essay is one of the finest examples I have ever seen of how a very smart theist can support his delusion with clever use of his intelligence and education. Like a world-class magician, Craig puts on a dazzling display of smoke and mirrors, and pretzel logic, that cleverly diverts the attention of the reader, and himself, from the obvious. He almost manages to make the elephant in the room disappear.

I will quickly summarize Craig’s major points, then we will discuss the elephant. There’s no need to go into much detail on his arguments, because they will all go “poof” in one very brief counter-argument.

Craig writes,
“The culturally dominant view in the West—even among Christians—came to be that science and Christianity are not allies in the search for truth, but adversaries… . What has happened, however, in the second half of this century is that historians and philosophers of science have come to realize that this supposed history of warfare is a myth. . . and the relationship between science and religion can best be described as an alliance.”
If Craig were accurate in this statement, he would have said “a few” historians and philosophers of science have decided this warfare is a myth.

Craig then discusses in considerable detail six ways in which, he claims, science and religion are relevant to each other:

  1. Religion furnishes the conceptual framework in which science can flourish.
  2. Science can both falsify and verify claims of religion.
  3. Science encounters metaphysical problems which religion can help to solve.
  4. Religion can help to adjudicate between scientific theories.
  5. Religion can augment the explanatory power of science.
  6. Science can establish a premise in an argument for a conclusion having religious significance.

Among Craig’s explanations of these points, he attempts to defend the “fine tuning” argument, the “irreducible complexity” argument against evolution, and an updating of Aquinas’ syllogistic “proof” of god’s existence, which goes:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

And that cause is god.

Of course, this argument has more holes than a good Swiss cheese. Okay, technically, if god always existed then he doesn’t “begin” to exist, and so he skirts this syllogism. However, the alternative, as Dawkins explains, is that the most complex entity imaginable, god, must have been the very first thing to exist, with no means of becoming what it is, it just is. But, of course, this god entity doesn’t explain anything, it’s just an assumption. Plus, there is another alternative: What if the universe itself has existed forever, in some form or another, without a beginning? Then, of course, there is one of my favorite “explanations:” Our universe is merely a simulation in a computer on some other world in another dimension. Do I believe this? No, but it cannot be disproven either.

Craig’s arguments have been debunked over and over, by numerous authors.In short, most of Craig’s arguments have been debunked over and over, by numerous authors. His problem, of course, is that religion cannot be relevant to science since it is dependent on alleged revelation from a god, or gods, to man, while science depends on the testing of evidence. We can use science to test an alleged revelation, but it makes no sense to use an alleged revelation to test a scientific hypothesis, and the reason for this is that too many supposed revelations have already failed scientific testing. Thus, revelation often fails (if it exists at all), but science, though imperfect, continually homes in on the truth of how the world really works.

Craig ends his thesis with this: “Thus, in conclusion, we have seen that science and religion should not be thought of as foes or as mutually irrelevant. Rather we have seen several ways in which they can fruitfully interact. And that is why, after all, there is such a flourishing dialogue between these two disciplines going on today.”

While Craig’s thesis is cleverly developed and might well fool the scientifically unsophisticated, it is blown out of the water by one simple observation (Here’s that “poof” I promised earlier!). The Christian religion is founded on the Bible, so anything of significance Christianity has to offer science will be found in the Bible. Unfortunately for Craig, the Bible overflows with scientific errors. The Bible claims the existence of witches, wizards, spirits, demons, ghosts, giants, talking snakes, jackasses, and bushes, as well as unicorns, dragons, and 900 year-old men. And these are a just a few of the things religion offers science. Now note that science has, by any rational measure, proven that none of these things exists, or ever existed, in the real world.

And here are a few more false “offerings” of religion to science: gold and silver rust, human diseases are caused by demons, the sun revolves around the earth, the moon creates its own light, the sky is a dome, the stars are just little lights fixed in the sky-dome, and, my own favorite, we can get to heaven by building a really tall tower (Tower of Babel).

Obviously, the idea that religion has anything significant to offer science is patently absurd since religion is based on revelation and revelation cannot be trusted. Whether a claim comes from religion or science, it can only be accepted as knowledge after it has passed the test of science. Craig’s essay is entertaining, and colorful, but ultimately it’s just thinly varnished bullshit.