Sunday, September 23, 2007

Championing the Wrong Cause

Scott Hatfield writes on his blog:

Consider the following claim: "Genesis is a literal account of how the world was created by a supernatural being, Yahweh." This turns out to be really difficult for science to directly investigate. The clause ‘supernatural being’ is, in essence, a conceptual ‘poison pill’ for the scientist who defines the natural world as the subject of scientific investigation. No matter what evidence the scientist adduces that contradicts the first part of the claim (‘Genesis is a literal account of how the world was created’), the believer has an ‘out’: Yahweh’s supernatural, and so Yahweh’s actions don’t have to follow natural law, and so evidence from the natural world can’t be used to ‘disprove’ either Yahweh’s existence or action. The claim has the curious property of being immune to disproof based on any evidence a scientist could present!

I think this is a strange characterization. The concept of a supernatural being shouldn't pose a problem for scientists; the notion offered no dilemma for Isaac Newton or a veritable host of other past scientists. Interesting that it stirs up so much concern, these days. Where current scientists see an obstacle to be overcome, others not bogged down in a secular or evolutionary mindset find a doorway that leads them into inquiries about the creation.

As for the natural world being the subject of scientific investigation, well, no kidding. Science is unequipped for the investigation of anything else. Science deals in observation, experimentation, and drawing conclusions from the former. Since the supernatural cannot be observed in a test tube or on a slide under a microscope, since it's not subject to repetition, it falls outside science's purview.

I would love seeing the supposed cornucopia of evidence against a literal six-day creation emptied of its contents, so that we might sift through these proofs and gain understanding. Instead, I see castles of speculation erected upon mounds of presumption, and opinion paraded about as a seige tower of impregnable facts. I don't suggest that I have all knowledge at my disposal, but what I have seen repeatedly are statements of fact that, when delved into with a fine-toothed comb, turn out to be something other than facts, or even convincing fiction. Of course, this doesn't deter "scientists" from demanding that we, the poor benighted masses, accept their judgment as final; those who demur are fools or flat-earthers. Alas, if we'd only attend university for eight or ten years of natural humanistic indoctrination, why, then we'd come into the light.

Why is it that scientists go out of their way in excavating unbridgeable gulfs between religion and science, while demanding that religion be held to scientific standards? As we have been assured so many times from on high by the brights of our age, religion is not science. If we accept this, then why subject religion to scientific criteria? Atheists and those who embrace Man's explanations of reality as loftier than God's can't have their cake and eat it, too. If religion isn't science, then the devout have no obligation to provide falsifiable theories in a neat little gift-wrapped package.

Speaking of falsifiability, we're tsk-tsked that religion presents a non-falsifiable face to the world. But a thought always pops into my mind, when I hear this talking point regurgitated by contemporary illuminists: perhaps a belief in God is non-falsifiable because it is not false. We may not have the power or knowledge to demonstrate God's existence beyond doubt; but disproving Him is impossible, if He empirically exists.

But what about the alleged consequences of that claim? If the Genesis account is held to be literally true, then a host of consequences should follow, consequences in the natural world that are subject to scientific inquiry. And the fact is, a host of alleged consequences of this particular claim have been falsified.

Given that scripture speaks of the pre-Flood world's annihilation and obscuration, the completeness of our evidentiary puzzle is debatable. That said, we have evidence--admittedly inconclusive--of a young Earth. Observed rapid fossilization, a fossil record that speaks of catastrophe befitting the biblical Deluge, not accumulation over eons, etc.; plus scriptural evidences, such as meticulous geneologies and Jesus' interpretation of Genesis as describing literal events. This subject requires a whole series of posts, to do it justice, so I'll not go further.

Plants didn’t appear on the third day, and then the stars on the fourth day.

See, Mr. Hatfield was present, at the time, so his word is law. I hope he'll allow me a pleasure jaunt in his time machine.

Seriously, this is a specious argument, if, indeed, it can be called an argument. Mr. Hatfield dubs himself a Christian. Apparently, he takes no issue with God creating the heavens and Earth. However, temporary preservation of plants without the sun's presence was beyond His creative powers. How else can we characterize this, except as forcing scripture into harmony with a particular worldview?

Most importantly, overwhelming evidence contradicts the claim of a 6-day creation.

Evidence which remains unprovided in the post. Why is it that six-day creationists must provide footnoted documentation of every aspect of their beliefs, while evolutionists give themselves a pass on meeting the same criterion?

Now, does this demonstrate that there is no supernatural being, Yahweh? Not at all, but it does demonstrate that the world revealed by scientific investigation is not consistent with the consequences of the claim of Genesis being ‘a literal account of how the world was created.’ Given sufficient evidence contra the consequences, an intelligent person is free to reject the claim on the absence of any positive evidence in behalf of the claim.

This is falsehood. Ignored evidence is not the same as nonexistent evidence. Again, we have demands for Genesis 1 to meet scientific rules; ignored is the inconvenient fact that those selfsame rules have inherent biases and foundational assumptions.

Besides, science can verify that the realm in which it operates actually exists: religion can hardly do the same.

What a bizarre claim from a believer. It's accurate, so long as religion is judged within scientific parameters. Utilizing its own metric, religion most certainly can demonstrate that the supernatural exists. As a professing Christian who presumably experienced a salvational transformation at some point in his life, Mr. Hatfield should know this well.


Just to clarify, if you reject a literal six-day creation event for reasons of non-falsifiability, you also should disclaim religion itself, for the same reason. God's existence isn't subject to falsifiability any more than a face-value reading of Genesis 1, assuming that you hold a similar view as that of Mr. Hatfield.

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