Dueling Mythologies

Dueling Mythologies
Vol: 27 Issue: 26 Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A nine-page essay published in TIME Magazine took pains to explain, scientifically, why Karl Marx was right when he opined, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

Or, to lift a quote from the article quoting Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, “Religion and science will always clash.” 

Notes TIME ‘objectively’, “The market seems flooded with books by scientists describing a caged death match between science and God–with science winning, or at least chipping away at faith’s underlying verities.”

Before moving on, let me observe that, while the TIME article uses the generic term ‘religion’ — it isn’t ‘religion’ that the essay aims to discredit. It is American Christianity that is in TIME’s gunsights. 

Although it attempts to argue that it is ‘religion’ that is at odds with science, the only doctrines the essay attacks are Christian doctrines. And lest anybody mistakenly assume it is an ‘objective’ debate, the essayist immediately puts that idea to rest in his preamble.

“Can religion stand up to the progress of science? This debate long predates Darwin, but the anti-religion position is being promoted with increasing insistence by scientists angered by intelligent design and excited, perhaps intoxicated, by their disciplines’ increasing ability to map, quantify and change the nature of human experience.” 

“Brain imaging illustrates–in color!–the physical seat of the will and the passions, challenging the religious concept of a soul independent of glands and gristle. Brain chemists track imbalances that could account for the ecstatic states of visionary saints or, some suggest, of Jesus.” (See? Jesus is really a chemical imbalance in your head.)

“Something called the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology speculates that ours may be but one in a cascade of universes, suddenly bettering the odds that life could have cropped up here accidentally, without divine intervention. (If the probabilities were 1 in a billion, and you’ve got 300 billion universes, why not?)” 

Why not, indeed? When you get to make up the numbers yourself, you can prove anything. 

The TIME essayist cites several books that TIME describes as “riding the crest of an atheist literary wave.” One, entitled “The End of Faith’, TIME notes triumphantly, has “over 400,000 copies in print.” 

(That’s a ‘literary wave’? Hal Lindsey’s Late, Great Planet Earth sold 35 million copies. Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” Series sold millions — per installment. THAT is a ‘literary wave.’ 400,000 copies is not)

TIME notes that the ‘atheist literary wave’ is met by “a swarm of articulate theological opponents,” but, says TIME, “the most ardent of these don’t really care very much about science . . ” 

But of course! How could any country bumpkin simple-minded enough to believe in God have any grasp of science? 

Assessment:

The hero of the TIME essay, noted scientist and atheist apologist Dr. Richard Dawkins, told TIME that;

“The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no.” 

Hmmm. Calling the existence of God a ‘scientific question’ presupposes that there could be a scientific method for determining the answer. Generally speaking, to be accepted science, something must be observable, measurable and reproducible under ideal laboratory conditions. 

There is no way to observe God. There is no way to measure God. There is certainly no way to reproduce, or even fathom, the characteristics or nature of God in a laboratory experience. 

BUT — there is no way to observe evolution, either. There is no way to measure evolution to any discernible scientific standard. Those estimates offered by science differ by BILLIONS of years. 

Nobody has reproduced evolution in a laboratory, since nobody has figured out a way to compress billions of years into an observable time frame. 

But that bothered neither TIME nor featured ‘expert’ Dr. Dawkins, who cheerfully admitted evolution was as unprovable as God. 

“For centuries the most powerful argument for God’s existence from the physical world was the so-called argument from design: Living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer,” Dawkins sneered. 

Then he offered his scientific argument:

“But Darwin provided a simpler explanation. His way is a gradual, incremental improvement starting from very simple beginnings and working up step by tiny incremental step to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection.” 

THAT is a simpler explanation than that of an intelligent Designer? The Tornado in a Junk Yard Theory? 

Take DNA, for example. It ‘evolved’ by accident, somehow, into a bio-computer so elegant that it can be adapted for use AS a computer. 

By this point in the interview, both TIME and Dawkins have dropped any pretense that the discussion was about ‘religion’, saying, “The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small. . . ” 

According to Dr. Dawkins, the open-minded scientist, those who think otherwise ought not “to be given the time of day,” dismissing Christians by saying, “Why bother with these clowns?” 

Why indeed? Dr. Dawkins is in search of provable ‘knowledge’ like the theory of evolution. And if believing in evolution means chucking out the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which is provable, measurable and reproducible in a laboratory, then so be it. 

Laughably, later in the interview, Dawkins remarked indignantly, “My mind is not closed.”

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, one of the immutable laws of physics, says that ALL things break down with time. Evolution argues that is only true until you add an unknowable, unprovable and unmeasurable billions of years. 

Then the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics magically reverses itself without explanation. 

According to TIME and Dr. Dawkins, THAT is science. That biological microcomputers like DNA could possibly be the product of design is dismissed out of hand as ‘unscientific’. 

It is like arguing that my IMac is the product of intelligent design, but DNA, a computer so complex no human being or group of human beings could reproduce anything remotely as elegant, is purely coincidental. 

The essay in question was published in the form of a debate between Dr. Richard Dawkins, and Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Genome Research Institute. 

Although Dr. Collins is one of the guys who first mapped the human genome, it was striking how condescending both Dawkins and the TIME essayist were in their questions to him — almost as if he were an idiot savant. 

Dr. Collins, TIME warned early in the interview, is a “forthright Christian who converted from atheism at age 27.” 

It was presented almost as a disclaimer, as if his being a ‘forthright Christian’ meant his scientific opinions were biased, whereas Dr. Dawkins was presented as a “scientist and more recently as an explicator of evolutionary psychology so lucid that he occupies the Charles Simonyi professorship for the public understanding of science at Oxford University.”

I read the entire nine-page essay — twice — and could find little in the way of scientific argument. Dawkins’ beef wasn’t with religion — it was with the Christian God. He said so several times. 

Most amazingly, having wrapped up his argument that God cannot exist, in his concluding remarks, he acknowledges that God MIGHT exist, but that He isn’t God, or at least, He isn’t the God of the Bible. Or something. You tell me. 

“My mind is open to the most wonderful range of future possibilities, wh
ich I cannot even dream about, nor can you, nor can anybody else,” argues Dawkins. “I provided what I thought were cogent arguments against a supernatural intelligent designer.” 

Having alternatively claimed open-mindedness and then postulated a zero probability for the existence of God, Dawkins admits, “But it does seem to me to be a worthy idea.” 

A worthy idea, but not worth considering. Or something. Whether he meant to or not, Dawkins’ arguments proved themselves to be Biblical, after all. And his arguments proved he was the right man to advance them. 

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. . .” (Psalms 14:1, 53:1)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 18, 2006

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