Side comments on "Why do the scientist Christians here believe in God?"

Obvious questions:

  1. Is there such a thing as a non-“self-declared” atheist?
  2. Why are the Christians here not also characterised as “self-declared”?
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Some theists contend that atheists do not exist. All that exists are people who deny or suppress their belief in God.

Atheists, AFAIK, never make a similar accusation against theists, hence we do not often see someone described as a “self-declared Christian.” Well, not by atheists, at least.


@Audrey, I’d recommend spending some time reading Michael Denton’s freely-available articles (or watching some of his presentations - paging @Faizal_Ali) before spending money on his books.

You’re welcome :slight_smile:

Indeed. A number of us found this lecture sufficient to conclude that reading an entire book by Denton would be a complete waste of time:

(5) The Fitness of Nature for Mankind featuring Biologist Michael Denton - YouTube

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I meant nothing tricky about “self-declared.” I was merely referring to atheists who say that they are atheists, as opposed to atheists whose atheism has to be inferred because they don’t directly state that they are atheists. For example, I believe that Faizal Ali has said directly that he is an atheist, and so I would call him a self-declared atheist. And yes, as in the case of atheism, it is possible for a Christian to be self-declaring or not. But I believe that all seven of the people on my list above have called themselves Christians at one or more points in discussions here. And there’s little point in asking people who have not said whether or not they are Christian, “Why do you think Christianity is true?” (or either of the other questions). So I thought it was obvious from the context that by “Christians” I meant “self-declaring Christians.” But if anyone needs my meaning spelled out, well, I’ve just done so.

@structureoftruth, @RonSewell, thanks for your answers. In an ideal world, all seven of the scientists named above who said that they were Christians, and any other Christian scientists here I neglected to mention, would eventually (no hurry!) chip in their answers for why they believe in God, if only in the form of links to other things they have written. The second and third questions we should probably reserve for another discussion, to keep this discussion more focused.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to all who are enjoying that holiday today.

Yes, I was one for a while. There are creationists out there that are more than happy to identify anybody who is pro-evolution, with perhaps an exception for those who are particularly vocal in their being self-declared Christians, as “atheist”.

I was identifying as Taoist at the time, and eventually decided that, as the supernatural content of my Taoism was fairly minimal, that I might as well accept the label of “atheist”.


Yes! I was completely horrified. I’d been meaning to read one of his books one of these days, but between the horrible essays of his that I’d read and the gob-stoppingly inane content of that video, I have decided that I’d rather do almost anything else. And that’s a strong statement coming from someone whose hobbies include the close study of malignant pseudoscience.

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These comments about Denton are off-topic for this discussion. They belong under the previous discussion, “The Most Current Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God?,” where the name of Denton was raised in connection with fine-tuning arguments. The topic of this discussion is “Why Do the Scientist-Christians Here Believe in God?”. “Here” means scientist-Christians posting on this site, which does not include Denton.

It is unfortunate that the software here, when you post a link, “grabs” more than two or three lines of the linked material and presents so much of it. Because it grabbed so many lines, it included a bit about Denton and fine-tuning, which might have given the impression that I was trying to talk about Denton and fine-tuning here. I’m not. I wish that when a link was posted from another column on this site it would appear as just a one-line link, so that people would not be tempted to start talking about stuff from another column.

In any case, I’m hoping that all the rest of the comments here will address the question that has been asked, and that people who want to argue about the alleged defects of Denton will go back to the linked post and make those arguments there.

I’m very interested in finding out why the scientist-Christians here believe in God, given that they don’t find design arguments convincing. Obviously they have some other grounds for their belief, but what? I suspect the grounds will vary from scientist to scientist. Matthew has already given his answer (and links to more material), and I remember reading statements by Joshua and Daniel Ang, but it would be very interesting to hear from others.

And after we have covered “Why Do You, a Christian Scientist, Believe in God?” we can move on to the other questions (treated under new topics).

To avoid that create a hyperlink with the editor.

It’s very helpful of @Eddie to admit that Denton’s arguments could not possibly be a reason for a scientist to believe in God.


You realise it’s perfectly possible that Collins was impressed by somebody else’s fine-tuning arguments and has never even heard of Denton. Given the vagueness of the wording, I’d suggest that we don’t assume that Denton had anything to do with what Collins was thinking, at least until we are given verifiable evidence (e.g. a quote from Collins crediting Denton) confirming this point.

Addendum: I would note that in his book The Language of God, Collins does have a section devoted to the Anthropic Principle, including a brief mention of Fine-Tuning. No mention is made of Denton however.

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See Collins, The Language of God, pp. 71-78, on the Anthropic Principle. Collins does not treat arguments along this line as “proofs” of the existence of God, but he treats them seriously. And almost all of Denton’s work (other than his two Crisis books) is pretty much an elaboration of the sort of considerations Collins takes up there. I do not say that Collins refers directly to Denton or borrows directly from Denton. That’s why I used the phrase “Denton-type.”

I have clarified my meaning of the phrase “Denton-type” in response to your direct question, but I am not going to be baited into a defense of the writings of Denton. This discussion is not about Denton, nor even primarily about the general value of fine-tuning arguments for supporting theism (though discussion of such arguments would not be off-topic here), but about “Why Scientist-Christians Here Believe in God”. So attacks against Denton are off-topic here, just as, if the topic were “Why Westerns Are the Greatest Genre of American Films,” posts along the lines of “I think John Wayne’s acting is really lousy” would be off-topic.

I agree that is highly plausible. Probable, even. It’s just rather odd to see them referred to as “Denton-type” arguments, since Denton not even close to being among the first to articulate such an argument, and just as far from being among their more persuasive and informed proponent. He’s basically Ray Comfort but with better credentials and a bigger vocabulary.


It’s irrelevant who was the first to articulate such an argument; it’s more relevant who is currently likely to be recognized as an exponent of fine-tuning arguments. Henderson, Alfred Russel Wallace, etc. all wrote over a century ago, and hardly anyone reads their works, whereas Denton’s works on fine tuning have mostly come out over the past 6 or 7 years, and are currently on sale on Amazon (and I believe selling reasonably well). “Denton-type” is therefore more likely to be recognizable to current readers than “Henderson-type” or “Wallace-type.” It’s also more likely to be recognizable to readers here, since Denton’s works have been mentioned here scores of times. But substitute some other scientist’s name if you like, my original point remains the same, i.e., that Francis Collins rejects Behe-type arguments for design, but considers the fine-tuning type of argument for design at least intellectually respectable.

Back on topic, what do you think about the posts of Matthew and of Jordan, who have addressed the topic question?

Wikipedia is rarely a “reasonably good indication” of anything. Most of its authors are amateurs and dilettantes, writing about subjects in which they have zero academic training.

In any case, I have no objection to citing Ward and Brownlee or Gonzalez and Richards as current modern exponents of fine-tuning in place of Denton. The book of Gonzalez and Richards, however, is now quite old, compared to the six-book sequence recently published by Denton, and I expect that soon, if not already, Denton’s work will be just as familiar as theirs.

The caviling pedantry here over the phrase “Denton-type arguments”, when I’ve already made crystal-clear what I meant by the phrase is, unfortunately, typical of the conversational behavior of many on this site. The Pavlovian reaction here to the name “Denton” seem to indicate some deep-set insecurity regarding the man. Perhaps the fact that he has more accomplishment in actual research science than almost anyone here who has criticized him has something to do with this. Be that as it may, I ask the cavilers over phrases to read the title above, and get back on topic. Pretty please.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: The Argument Clinic

I find it interesting that you list Catholicism separate from “Christian”.

I find this curious. The religious demographics sections of Wikipedia’s articles on the six New England states, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, list each state as being majority Christian, with non-religious ranging from 20% (Rhode Island) to 37% (Vermont). Why are the “cultural norms” there that of the minority viewpoint?

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Religious demographics seem to follow extended family heritage (which I would call nominal faith) rather than current personally held belief and actual practice. To have a genuine faith people should take time to evaluate their convictions as many on this forum have done: causing some to leave the faith they were raised in and others to stay with it.

In my experience here in New England and in Germany, cultural norms are to not attend church and to not even talk about religion. I get the sense that people may check a certain box on a survey without thinking much about what the theology is behind that box and whether their life adheres to the tenets of that religion.

Many Catholics make this distinction themselves by calling themselves Catholic rather than Christian. While many theological points are the same there are also theological differences and differences in religious practices, as well.

There are also many Christians who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, which is the new information I leaned a couple decades ago. The type of faith I found then was a relationship, not just a religion

Simply calling themselves Catholic doesn’t mean that they are making a distinction between Catholicism and Christianity any more than someone calling themselves Protestant or Calvinist would be. So it really seems to me that you are assuming the distinction in the first place.

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