Is PS Against Using Scientific Arguments as Evidence for God's Existence?

I think you will find that there are lots of atheists (including myself) who grew up in the church and have been exposed to christianity and christian apologetics. Many of us have no ill feelings towards the church, nor towards those who are still in the church. It just so happens that we just stopped believing. I wouldn’t say that I have no emotions attached to religion since I am a human being, but I certainly don’t hold any negative emotions towards religion. I also think that my story is quite common among atheists.

I’m in a pretty similar camp.


I’m sure it is. I’ve heard lots of them.

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29 posts were split to a new topic: Are miracles ongoing?

Isnt this a position on absolute truths? It can mean either of the two below-

  1. Absolute truth does not exist.
  2. Absolute truth exists, but cannot be known completely/with absolute confidence that it is in fact absolute truth.

I have no problem with this. I respect such a position. I acknowledge that there are many atheists like yourself. But surely you are aware that the public perception of atheism is shaped not by people like yourself, but by people like Dawkins, Coyne, P. Z. Myers, Victor Stenger, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, etc. When most religious believers or just plain everyday citizens hear the word “atheism,” it is most often the angry sort of atheist, who does resent religion, that comes to mind. Such people tend to represent religion as a dangerous and destructive part of human life, and further, tend to argue that science disproves religion, or something to that effect. The public relations problem of atheism is that this dominant voice of atheism (even if it comes from a minority of atheists) defines atheism in the popular mind.

I think it’s fine if people like yourself try to articulate a different kind of atheism on sites like this. The problem is that most people don’t read sites like this; it tends to be only the most committed of “origins” geeks who keep up with the detailed discussions in such places. The real way to reach the masses, and change their public perception of atheism, is for people like yourself to write popular books expressing a less militant, less doctrinaire sort of atheism. Do you know of anyone who take a position similar to yours who has produced an influential popular book? If not, maybe it is high time someone produced one. A book that sells 200,000 copies on Amazon and gets reviewed in the mainstream media (maybe even accompanied by TV appearances for the author) will have far more effect on wider public perceptions than ten years of blogging on a place like this.

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I don’t take an axiomic position on absolute truths. They may exist, and they may be knowable, but I don’t take a positive or negative stance for either of those.

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Hmm… a related question to this thread’s topic: “Is ID (or DI) against using science arguments as evidence for God’s existence?”

The last time I heard from official spokespeople was that ID doesn’t stake a claim about any particular designer being the God of Abraham, or any specific God.

I think perhaps the arguments leveled against Methodological Naturalism and science apply to ID as well.


That is my understanding as well. Frequently the DI has said that it is within the competence of science to determine whether or not design exists in a given organism, system, etc., but not within the competence of science to identify the ultimate source of the design. So any conclusion that the designer of the flagellum or the camera eye was the God spoken of in the Bible would not be a scientific conclusion and would not have the blessing of science, not even science in the extended sense (extended to allow design inferences) allowed by ID proponents.

Of course, human beings are not always scrupulous in the way they argue, and some ID fans may write loosely about how ID establishes Christian truths, but when they do that, they are mixing up apologetic interests with ID theorizing.

I see the main value of ID for Christian belief or theistic belief in general as a ground-clearing one; ID challenges the claims of many atheist champions of science that “science has proved there is no God” or “science has proved that the world was not created, but only evolved,” or “only stupid or ignorant people could believe there is design in nature.” It thus removes some objections to religion that are running around in the popular culture. But it doesn’t make a direct positive argument for any religious belief, and it can’t do so, given its limitations.

One needn’t invoke ID to defend Christian belief. Evolutionary science doesn’t even thwart Christian belief. But if someone takes the position that ID is a useful corrective for the mistaken claims of atheists, what happens if ID propositions fail? Doesn’t that run the risk of these same atheists coming back to say “I told you so”? By tying the perceived validity of Christianity to the rise or fall of scientific propositions like ID, I think one can incorrectly yoke the religion with something that is actually orthogonal to it. This is similar to YECs taking the stand that either the Earth is young or God’s word is fallible. It’s a hazardous and unnecessary path, IMO, to draw these lines in the sand.

But back to the original point. @terrellclemmons sounds concerned about Christian scientists going too far into methodological naturalism so as to possibly miss arguments for the God of Abraham. However, it appears that “pure ID” is operating by the same conventions, at least in authorized statements.


That depends entirely on the contents of “evolutionary science.” For example, if “evolutionary science” insists that it is genetically impossible that all human beings who have ever lived descended from Adam and Eve alone, then it certainly is against Christian belief as that belief was understood by Augustine, Calvin, Luther, etc. (Whether Christian belief on this point is capable of modification from the classical Christian understanding is another question.)

But I’m not doing that, nor are ID theorists doing that. I’ve just said that the specifics of any religion aren’t covered by ID, and that ID offers no defense for them. The validity of Christianity, even for ID proponents, depends on evidence that comes from outside of ID.

I agree that one shouldn’t tie positions to other positions unnecessarily. E.g., the BioLogos folks and other TEs have often tried to harmonize Christianity with evolution by making a huge appeal to alleged statements about “randomness” in the Bible, but if evolutionary theory changes (and scientific theories do change) so that “randomness” becomes a much less important cause of evolutionary change, and structural necessities related to chemistry and physics become much more important (as some of the Altenberg scientists believe), then the Christian apologetic of BioLogos will become outdated, and evangelicals will have to scramble for Biblical passages that speak of necessities or laws or the like. And blowing in the wind, changing one’s Biblical interpretation whenever science changes, and purely because science changes, will make Christianity look ridiculous.

But that’s not what is happening in ID. Even if every argument ID makes should completely fail, the case for Christianity would remain untouched. Christians, even ID Christians, don’t believe in their religion because they have read some proofs of design by Behe or Dembski, so if those proofs are refuted, Christianity can just keep on going. ID puts belief in Christianity far less at risk than do those who are willing to make massive changes in exegesis and theology every time “science” snaps its fingers.

What the ID folks have shown (and not just them, but others in philosophy and other fields) is that the popular rhetoric that “science has demonstrated that there is no design” is hollow, and that in fact science has shown no such thing. Even if ID folks never succeed in providing a convincing demonstration of design, they (along with certain philosophers, e.g., Plantinga, Feser) have succeeded in achieving at least a draw. The claim that science has made belief in design or belief in God impossible is no longer taken seriously among educated people, except for a few ultra-science-geeks and their journalistic cheerleaders. Even the atheist philosopher Ruse winces at New Atheist rhetoric along this line. The fact that neither side can prove its claims (that design is real, or that design has been decisively refuted) it itself indirectly favorable to religious faith, because it leaves potential converts to religion free to consider religion on its own merits, without regard to whether or not it is supported by science. So ID doesn’t have to win; it just has to establish a draw, for its existence to indirectly benefit religious faith.

But ID doesn’t adopt any version of “methodological naturalism” that would rule out design inferences. So ID doesn’t rule out coming to conclusions about the universe that are very compatible with the existence of the God of Abraham. That’s the difference between ID and the doctrine of the New Atheists. If ID is correct, the God of Abraham may well exist; if Dawkins etc. are correct, the God of Abraham definitely does not exist. Which of those outcomes, in your view, is more favorable to the future of Christian belief?

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It seems to me though, that neither of these has much of anything to do with science. That’s what is confusing to me.


That’s easy enough to answer. Certain people, for 150 years or so, have been claiming that “science has disproved religion” or “science has disproved the Bible” or “science has disproved God” or the like. Some of these people have been scientists of an atheist/materialist bent; others have been journalists, propagandists for various political agendas, etc. The trope has been widespread in our culture. In recent years, the New Atheists (some of them scientists) have renewed the refrain.

So if anyone can show that science has not shown these things, that person, by negating those claims, has taken away the psychological barrier to religion for some people. Many people for a century now have really wanted to believe in what religious faith offers, but have been told that only scientifically uneducated people could believe in religious claims, and have been intimidated by that. So anything that takes such claims off the table is beneficial for religious belief.

Well, yeah, but my experience is that scientists generally aren’t that way. In fact academics are much more sensitive to politics than religion, in my experience. And looking at this forum I’m not seeing the agnostics and atheists saying that “only scientifically uneducated people could believe in religious claims”, for the most part. They don’t buy arguments for God, but (with few exceptions) they don’t seem to want to denigrate those who do.

What they are sensitive to is Christians trying to tell them that they cannot have morals or even a grounding for doing science and basically they are being ignorant for not believing.

I think one of the things I appreciate the most about this forum is that I’ve learned so much from the agnostics and atheists about how they view Christianity from the outside, how they view arguments for the Resurrection and design, and how they view belief and unbelief.


You probably should send another memo to the “ID theorists” (who have no theories):

Westminster Conference on Science & Faith | 2019
Darwin Devolves:
God, Design, and the Failure of Chance in Explaining Origins

They’re not listening to you, Eddie…

I think you are misrepresenting the position of many ECs and CAEs. The point isn’t that everything is random, but that (apparent) randomness poses no threat to Christianity as even the Bible says that God governs the outcome of probabilistic events. If the amount of randomness or probabilistic uncertainty in natural phenomena were to decrease, this would also not threaten the viability of Christian belief. After all, even with the randomness we know about, there is also a lot of order and regularity. In other words, randomness is not a good test case for Christianity.

I agree with you that it is important for Christians to build a robust defense against the claim that “science has demonstrated the irrationality of religious belief”, but is ID really the most influential or even best-suited candidate for this? When I was a teenager, as I realized that no serious scientists held to YEC, I first turned towards ID. But I also quickly realized that the majority of biologists, even Christian ones, were also skeptical of the claims of the ID movement. I could not find a robust defense of theistic belief there. Instead, I found my answer in the philosophical writings of philosophers and theologians like Craig, Plantinga, McGrath and others - those who taught me the proper place of natural science within an overarching epistemological framework, subsuming mainstream science instead of arguing against it.


What epistemological framework? Science rules and losers drool?

Hi, Jordan. I think we are talking at cross-purposes here.

I don’t disagree with your point that scientists generally are not aggressively anti-religious. Indeed, I have long suspected that the aggressive, atheistic sort of scientist often found blogging or debating on websites is more ideological and biased than the rank and file scientist doing research. I think that the culture-warring scientists, who to internet readers may seem legion, may represent only a small fraction of actual scientists.

The point I’m addressing is not about what scientists generally are like. The point is about the public perception of scientists. And on science/religion questions, the public often tends to perceive scientists monolithically, and in the image of the most aggressive types of secular scientist known to them. This is a function of publicity, I think. How many American readers and TV watchers have heard of the religiously moderate T. aquaticus? And how many have heard of Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Sam Harris, etc.? The public perception of what “science” thinks and what scientists think is often shaped by the loudest scientific voices, not the majority of scientific voices which remain silent behind the university walls.

When I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, although there was not as often the overt aggression of the New Atheists, and though some of the prominent scientists back then were much more likable people (e.g., Carl Sagan), there was still a strong perception that science taught that there was no design in nature, that life arose by accidental molecular collisions in a chemical soup, and that live evolved not in accord with any plan or design, but through unpredictable genetic accidents (mutations). This was the vision promoted by the secular literati, including the people who wrote the allegedly sophisticated opinion columns in magazines, and who wrote many of the adult and children’s books on popular science. It was also the vision assumed in almost all science fiction, and SF had a massive influence on popular perceptions. The general perception was that the non-teleological view of the universe sketched out by Bertrand Russell was the scientific view of the universe, and that anyone who resisted it was either deficient in the intelligence needing to draw scientific conclusions, or was willfully resisting what they knew to be true because of backwards religious beliefs from medieval times. This view was often stated fairly gently, in order to avoid direct assaults on moderate religious people, but it was there, and New Atheism is merely a more militant and uncompromising version of that message.

What I’m saying is that there has long been a public perception that scientists think they have disproved the idea of design once and for all, and that this public perception has a dampening effect on many who are considering the option of religious faith.

If people don’t understand this, then they cannot possibly understand the motivations of the Christian leaders of the ID movement. The perception that “science” has shown that only morons or science dropouts can still believe there is any design in the world has been disastrous for religious faith. ID is in large measure an attempt to change this perception.

Unfortunately, one part of the ID movement has been caught up in a reflexive opposition to “evolution” as such. This is counterproductive, because it not the naked idea of evolution, i.e., of descent with modification, that stands in the way of religious faith; it is the idea that this whole universe and all the life in it, including our own, is the result of a set of cosmic accidents which might just as well not have happened. ID is at its best when it opposes, not “evolution,” but the belief that chance and natural laws alone can explain everything that has happened in the universe from the Big Bang to man.

It has a lot to do with how science has been communicated over the last few decades.
The basic idea being that the “design inference” is an illusion and that the design like appearance in nature is a result of natural selection.
Even today, most lay people don’t really know that selection is thought to have a much smaller influence than previously thought.
The question to ask is, what if anything does science say about the inference of design from observing nature.
Arguments of bad design is a good example of Science being used against the design inference.

Edit: It looks like biology has moved on from selection based models of Evolution while continuing to use selection as an explanation for the appearance of design in life.


I can appreciate that, but what it looks like to me is:

  • the popular perception of atheists (particularly New Atheists) is that science rules out God. However, they are going beyond what science can actually say to do so.
  • the ID response is to go beyond what science can actually say (design inference) to rule in God.

It seems to me like ID is giving into or conceding that science can prove or disprove God rather than pushing back at the real problem, that the New Atheists are going beyond science when they do so (scientism).


ID is essentially a reaction to the abuse of Science over decades to make arguments against design by God.
If Science cannot rule out design by God, then mainline scientists should have protested against guys like PZ Myers and Dawkins as strongly as they do against ID.
Frankly I don’t see that kind of outrage. Probably because a lot scientists buy into Scientism. This is of course speculation on my part.

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