19 April 2011

The "scientific evidence" dodge (NEXT! #27)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge: Unless you give me (materialistic) scientific evidence for the existence of God, I will not believe.

Response: ...and the materialistic scientific evidence that "(materialistic) scientific evidence" alone can and will always be dispositive of everything is...?



(Proverbs 21:22)

Dan Phillips's signature

54 comments:

Steven R. Robertson said...

The Jews seek signs, and the Greeks seek wisdom. Christ is both the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Thank God he gives eyes to see and ears to hear!

semijohn said...

Shifting the burden of proof, or at least deflecting the attempt to place it all on the supernaturalist's back: very very good.

Making the materialist try to figure out what "dispositive" means: priceless.

DJP said...

First laugh of the day; thanks, SJ.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

You know, I had an atheist once tell me that even if God appeared to him and proved his existence, that he still would not worship Him.

In his words, "proof of existence and worship are two different things."

DJP said...

He's nearer to the doomed truth of his existence than many of his kind.

David Regier said...

Come on, Dan. You can't blame a guy who unconditionally believes what his priests tell him.

Robert said...

It is amazing to me how God makes the simple wise and how the "wise" people of the world speak foolishness. It is also amazing how easily the beliefs of the atheist/naturalist/materialist fall apart when logical, moral, and yes, even scientific arguments are brought against them. Yet they still hold to what is shown to be patently absurd. Then they force the world to listen to them and help suppress/deny the truth. Hopefully I can come back later and post the famous quote by Richard Lewontin from 1997 that shows that evolutionists will not allow for God.

naturgesetz said...

I like to say that there is and can be no "scientific" proof of the existence of God because God is spirit and what we call science in everyday speech only deals with matter. The question of the existence of God is one which science is incompetent to answer.

But I like your answer too.


word verification: tipsin — but I see it as more of a slam dunk

donsands said...

Give you evidence, like the facts of Jesus dying, and 3 days later He rose from the dead?

I remember debating evidence with an atheist friend, and he came to the conclusion that Peter evidently loved Jesus so much, that when He was killed he halucinated that his friend was alive again. I thought that was interesting.

Mike Westfall said...

I don't believe George Washington was the first president of the United States, because you can't prove it scientifically.

joel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Joel: the trolls - don't feed dem.

Questions? Email me.

semijohn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

They're both afield of my point, though. It is theoretically possible to "prove" Washington, like a bit of data. Grant the premise, and all you are saying is that we really aren't sure about Washington, because he doesn't really fill up the "proof" scale very well.

My point is entirely different. My point IS NOT "Oh well, we believe other things we can't prove" - though of course that's true.

My point is that the whole assumption is wrong. I'm not quibbling about the carpet, I'm yanking it.

The challenge is like saying that, if something can't be measured by a single application of a yardstick, it doesn't exist. That doesn't allow for things that are too massive for the test devised.

DJP said...

My reply was to a now-self-deleted comment about whether Washington was or wasn't actually the first president.

semijohn said...

Concerning your earlier response to me: glad to be of service, DJP.

I remember an account of a debate between A. Plantinga and the then-atheist Anthony Flew, where Flew started out by insisting in no uncertain terms that Plantinga agree that the burden of proof rested on Plantinga's shoulders in proving the existence of God, somthing Plantinga refused to agree to.

Of course, not to muddy the waters any further, but some would argue that John Hanson was the first president of the United States. Or something like that :)

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Your challenger makes himself (and his questionable intellect) the standard, the reference point, for measuring truth.

And he's not up to the task.

And thanks for the new word. ;D

semijohn said...

Didn't realize you were responding to me again. I was hoping my first comment went unnoticed.

Steve Drake said...

DJP,
Rewrite that statement without using the word 'dispositive' (for us intellectually unenlightened ones) :)

Steve Drake said...

DJP,
I realize there would be no fun in that, but I do get your point.

DJP said...

I did link the word to a definition, when I posted it. Doesn't that count?

Mike Westfall said...

I'm all for including even more obscure-to-laymen type words. It makes me look them up, and then I feel superior to people who haven't looked them up...

ANiMaL said...

Spectacular!

Steve Drake said...

DJP,
Yes, it counts for everything. It might be interesting to hear how others would say this, or use this, or reword this, in conversations with skeptics.

I'll be the first to try:
Dear friend,
What materialistic scientific evidence can you point to, in and of itself, that proves that materialistic scientific evidence itself can answer all questions about ultimate reality?

Others?

Frank Turk said...

I am worried about people who think that God is either only a material object to be proven by science or only a spiritual being who cannot be somehow taken in by the senses.

Given that Sunday is Easter, both of those ideas are about to hit a brick wall.

Brilliant post as always, DJP.

Steve Drake said...

Frank,
Apt comment. How is God taken in by the senses? Just trying to think through this, going through the 5 senses, sight, smell, taste, sound, touch or feel. Is the only applicable sense here 'feel'? Can I feel God? I certainly can't see, touch, taste, or smell him, I suppose. Your thoughts?

Robert said...

OK...so I did make it back and found my quote by Richard Lewontin...here it is:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a proir commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how conterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door. ("Billions and Billions of Demons", The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, p. 31)

So, just for some background, Lewontin is a evolutionary biologist at Harvard. And here he is basically saying that we're gonna create the methods for investigation and concepts that will lead to materialism instead of just taking the evidence as it is and seeing where it leads us. Why? Because he (and other evolutionsts/materialists/naturalists) "cannot allow a divine foot in the door." In other words, they will not allow for the possibility of God. The reasons are man, but it all leads back to denying God, suppressing the truth, and rebelling.

It is all very sad, to be quite honest. These guys are working their tails off to run away from the truth and dive headlong into the eternal torment of hell.

Robert said...

Steve Drake,

I think Frank was pointing to the fact that Jesus is God and people saw Him.

joel said...

Sounds like Frank just reposted my sentiment, although not directed at a person and in a much more eloquent manner. Further proof that I should not bother to contribute.

Steve Drake said...

Hi Robert,
Yes, I see that and agree. We also know from Romans 1:18-21 that all of us are without excuse concerning knowledge of God, but is this more in our minds, our thought processes, our recognition of our finiteness and guilt, and not necessarily in our senses?

Steve Drake said...

Hi Robert,
Your quote from Lewontin is great. I have used that quote myself, very apt.

In thinking about Romans 1:18-21 I have to ask how is it that God holds me and everyone else accountable for knowledge of Him? I would have to answer that I do use my senses to 'see' the created order, to 'hear' the world I live in, to 'smell' the tantalizing aromas of a flower in bloom, to 'taste' the complexities of sour, sweet, bitter and salt, to 'feel' smooth and rough, hard and soft. In this sense, God can hold me responsible for what is revealed to me through my senses.

Robert said...

Steve Drake,

We are all without excuse because we can see God's handiwork in all of creation. The orderliness of everything in the universe screams out that there is a Creator. And the scientists today have access to more of that proof from general revelation than most everybody else. Yet they rob God of His glory and credit the cosmos, as Carl Sagan would say.

Robert said...

Steve,

Ahhh...you went a little deeper than I had realized...that is a very good observation. I would say that in that sense, you can sense God in sight, taste, touch, and sound. For you could do none of these things without God...

Mike Westfall said...

OK, with Dan redirecting us back to the point of the post... which is that the dodge is an argument that commits suicide.

DJP said...

EXACTLY.

In fact, the moment an atheist tries to give a transcendent validation of his position... BOOM!

Steve Drake said...

Hi Mike,
Yes, sorry to go off track there. In what sense would you say that 'the dodge' commits suicide?

DJP said...

Turk - praise from the Sultan of Sharp Thinking always makes my day.

srsly!

Mike Westfall said...

Steve,
The argument commits suicide because the implied assertion that things can only be known through "(materialistic) scientific evidence" argues against itself.

It's like arguing that there are absolutely no absolutes.

DJP said...

Right. Or, put another way, it has never been scientifically proven that only things that can be scientifically proven are credible. Meaning, on the premise, that the premise that only scientifically-proven propositions are credible is, itself, non-credible.

Leaving aside the question-begging nature of assuming that the definition of "scientific proof" has been scientifically proven.

Steve Drake said...

A tautology in other words.

Bill Honsberger said...

hey yall aren't being nice to our atheist friends. Consider their lot - one of the most brilliant thinkers in the history of the world just concluded this winter that gravity (one of the laws of physics - simply put a relationship between objects) had the ability to create the universe (including the laws of physics) sans God. With this type of thinking in place who knows what other kinds of brilliant thinking might be coming?
Say - ethically? Mere emotions - uh Hume/Hobbes already went there. Then Sartre/Russell tried to live it out but couldn't.
Say - political philosophy? Yes Marx and Engels bastardized version of Hegel has worked out so well for the world hasn't it? 150,000,000 dead and counting. They must be so proud.
Say - meaning and purpose in life? Sartre and Russell inspire us here as well. Sartre despairs that Nietzsche was right - God is dead and there is no right or wrong or purpose or meaning - and this leaves him nauseated.
Russell flails against having hope in anything (Christianity, Islam, Capitalism, communism, etc etc) but then tells us to have hope anyways. Yes thats the ticket...

This is the type of forward thinking we must embrace! This is the future. All "bright" people like Dennett are already on board this train to a brave new world.
Somehow Savoy Brown's train seems more appropriate here. (Yes I know I am dating myself but the fossils here know this and the kids can google it!!)

DJP said...

Yes, well: what they lack in cogent argumentation, they make up for in snark, chest-thumping, and sheer volume (in both senses) of words.

Steve Drake said...

Hi Bill H.,
Wow, eight kids. Bless you my friend.
If Dennett is already on board this train, then those of us still at the station, are what?

Scooter said...

Yikes, I think the whole house was yanked out and not just the carpet.

Simple, yet brillant.

This post also reminds me that if I wanted to keep reading here, I had to install a dictionary plug-in for Firefox to keep up.

Bill Honsberger said...

Hey Steve. Thanks for the blessing. They are an adventure on their good days. As we like to say "Sometimes the animals are in the cages, sometimes not..."
For those of at the station still - I guess I always like Spurgeon's sentiment "If sinners will be damned, at
least let them leap to hell over our bodies"...

Steve Drake said...

Hey Bill,
Yeah, let alone all the dogs and cats you may have. Horses, goats, pigs? "Children are a gift from the Lord... Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Ps. 127:3-5).

What an apt analogy from Spurgeon, The 'train to nowhere' does indeed lead somewhere, may it run right over those of us willing to lay down our lives for the hope of the gospel. Blessings.

James S said...

Awesome post & thread!
Rarely does one get that satisfaction of reading of 'so called' atheists* lack of logic AND a mention of Savoy Brown and the train to nowhere as well!

* I don't believe atheists actually exist. In their deepest heart they know they are wrong. Suppression of truth can never complete itself.

Gregg said...

Thanks for the post. A question I have had in the past is, "what can independently verify the supremacy of the "scientific method.""?

Point being, people assume science is ascendant by faith.

DJP said...

There y'go, Gregg. That's a big, swollen balloon, to which I've tried to contribute my little sharp pin.

Robert said...

Good science just observes facts and draws conclusions objectively - which leads us to praise God for His handiwork. Bad science, which follows bad philosophy, is what causes false beliefs and makes false "scientific" claims.

mitzi said...

I work with agnostics daily, and their response to my questioning of their fundamental assumptions (an old lady trying to get into the DAR down at the archives needs more evidence than an evolutionary paleontologist to prove ancestral relationship) is a totally blank expression. You simply CAN'T challenge the supremacy of science. Evolution is God, and Darwin is its prophet (these are biologists). I'll have to remember the proper use of "dispositive". Thanks for another weapon to demolish arguments, or at least hopefully get the agnostics thinking.

DJP said...

Thanks Mitzi, that is my intent.

Perhaps now's the time to say, for any newcomers: click on the big word NEXT! in the post, and you'll get to the first, in which the rationale for this series of game-changers is explained.

Bill Honsberger said...

Psst - don't let Rob Bell hear this - but the Savoy Brown reference was to their song "Hellbound Train".
sorry to be so hopelessly modernist...

A Flourishing Perspective said...

No, Bill- I was about to kudo you on your British blues-rock reference. Kim Simmons would love it!