Coversation with an Athiest Friend 02

26 03 2009
Karl Marx 1882 (edited)
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Here is a continuation of the answer I wrote to my friend addressing some things about the nature of science…

“Enlightenment optimism” means you are overly optimistic about what scientific method can achieve. Science cannot prove non-repeatable events. Thus science cannot prove history. Science can help in the establishment of history by creating analytical methods (my own PhD specialty) for testing the validity of historical evidence or by refining information about it, but it cannot actually prove a non-repeated event. You have to be able to repeat an experiment enough times statistically to show it must definitely be the case.

Science is firstly about establishing positive truth. In the process it debunks other false ideas when the establishing alternative contradicts previously held notions. Many scientists (Christian or not) don’t see any contradiction in anything yet found and that’s because they are biased by their upbringing, lingering primitive thought patters and/or a need to affirm themselves (poor Tim Keller). I.e. they have bias, which is exactly what Descartes was about eliminating (more power to him!). But reading Descartes, the first principle in his method is equally applicable to hard-core atheists as to hard-core deists – assume nothing you cannot be absolutely certain about. You cannot be certain there is no God, and you kid no one to suggest otherwise. What you can be certain about is that you are no more objective than the next Joe (plumber or not). You also think in paradigms which like to accept what fits with them and affirms them, and reject what doesn’t. So I will look for things, in science, the world, and my own experience that fit with existence of God and try to dismiss things that don’t. You will look for things that fit with disbelief in God and seek to dismiss things which don’t – which is exactly how your responses so far have read. E.g. an honest reading of history doesn’t show that individual belief (note carefully) in God leads to any more immorality, bigotry, hatred etc. than a belief that Manchester United is better than Liverpool, or Marxist humanism is the solution to all political woes. Your accusations about Keller misrepresenting science is equally applicable to what you’ve done with social history. Let’s discuss this thing sensibly like two well educated blokes who both hope Australia might win the return leg in South Africa – but have their doubts. [but of course Australia did win 2-1!]

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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