Tom and I have briefly crossed paths before. Following a discussion over at SoM’s site, I wrote a post based upon that discussion. I recently dissected another of SoM’s rants, and shared those thoughts with Tom. In response, Tom has written a new post, and that is the post I take a look at here. To quote:
What is the difference between an Agnostic and an Atheist? An Agnostic says, “I don’t know.” An Atheist says, “There is no God.” Since there is no way of proving there is no God, the Atheist is making a faith-based leap that far exceeds the faith required to be a Christian. Of course, since the illogic required to be an Atheist is obvious, many Atheists try to redefine the term. However, if one just doesn’t know whether God exists, it makes more sense to call ourselves Agnostic.
I dare say that here, we have an example of expecting atheists to prove a negative. ‘prove there is no god’. Prove there is one. God, be it in a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, or any other form, has not revealed themselves to humanity in any way shape or form, save for in texts written thousands of years ago, and these texts often contradict both each other, and observable facts about the world and universe. These texts are often highly self-referential, which is to say, their proof of accuracy is because they say they’re accurate.
Let’s consider the basic question. Does God exist? If you are going to insist upon empirical evidence, no. However, an insistence upon empirical evidence is a silly requirement. The notion that we have the tools to study the Creator and do reproducible experiments upon Him is just absurd. Do we have the capacity to apprehend the Being that created the universe? Not likely. Yet you assume we can.
When dealing with observable facts, and evidence-driven conclusions, what conclusions should we reach? The idea of a supreme creator is entirely faith driven, not fact-driven, and Tom, you more or less admit that. People who address the world in observable terms aren’t going to acknowledge a being that has not been observed, and indeed, cannot be observed, and for which no evidence exists. Every process in the known universe could have formed naturally. It is a question of probability, but it is far from impossible. I refer to the excellent Creation Theory, and an experiment you can run there, involving dice.
The point I am making is, we do not need the existence of God to explain the evolution of the universe or our world. Our studies of the universe have demonstrated this. Any arguments about the supernatural and divine are impossible to verify. From a purely practical, logical point of view, they are therefore irrelevant.
The question of whether or not God exists is a philosophical problem, not a scientific one. That is one reason the Greek philosophers approached the existence of God from that perspective, and we have not progressed to the point where we can do much better.
For the most part, I broadly agree here. It is impossible to prove God’s existence from a logic-driven, observation-driven, scientific perspective.
What does our science do for us? Well, we can probably see that Creation is much more beautiful, ordered, and delicate than the ancients realized. Few of them would have perceived the ground that they stood upon was just part of a gigantic ball of air, water, earth, and molten rock that revolved around a nuclear inferno. We don’t have the capacity to directly perceive the vast emptiness of space. Still even the ancients somehow managed to grasp that the stars move with clockwork precision. And all without a guiding Intellect, a Creator, a First Cause? That defies logic.
All that we see and observe could, as mentioned earlier, form naturally, over time. The odds of that may be great, but they are not impossible, and all it would take is time. The universe is billions of years old, and the earth is billions of years old, so all these processes have had plenty of time. Not only that, but we can see from fossil records how chaotic this process is. Evolution isn’t linear; earth’s history is littered with extinct creatures that could not adapt.
As for a ‘first cause’, we simply don’t know, but just because we don’t have an answer at this moment, does not mean we’ll never find an answer. The absence of knowledge doesn’t automatically mean we apply any form of god to the equation. Even if we did, which god? Maybe none of the gods in earth’s history are responsible. Perhaps the universe exists as we know it, because of a vast alien intelligence. We can speculate endlessly, but in the end, assuming a divine involvement takes a lot more faith than following the evidence.