Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Revealing Science of God

This is in response to a recent discussion on Facebook wherein an atheist claimed religion was wrong because it did not follow the scientific method. Specifically it does not admit that it might be wrong.

I wonder if this person would admit that he is wrong about religion, because he is - about Christianity, at least. Yes, there are religions that are entirely "this is the way things are because Religion™" but Christianity is not one of them. Here's what I mean:

1. Christianity is based on empirical evidence. Unlike every other religion, the basis of Christianity is a series of events that are public and were historically documented. Jesus performed miracles and taught to thousands of people. He was executed publicly and after his Resurrection continued his public ministry to thousands.

These events are documented not jus tin the Bible, but by secular historians and witnesses. We have said evidence that these events actually took place - not just by the number of people who witnessed them, but by the fact that those witness would undergo torture and death rather than rescind their testimony.

2. Christianity is based on logic. After Christ's Ascension some of the best minds over the next few hundred years teased out the logical implications of those events. The principle of "Occam's Razor" is sometimes thrown about by atheists to imply that the explanation of religion is overly complex. Yet they fail to remember that William of Ockham was a Catholic Franciscan Friar.

Attempts to dismiss Christianity based on logic arguments fall down themselves based on logical contradictions. Because it is evidence based, Christianity is the most easily falsifiable religion. And yet if you deny the basis of Christianity you come up with a problem elsewhere that requires extraordinary faith to solve.

For instance, suppose we believe the Resurrection didn't happen. Then what happened to Christ's body? Do you propose that a small group of frightened persecuted Jews were able to overcome Roman guards? All the Romans had to do to discredit the Christians was to produce the body of the man they had killed.

OK, maybe Christ didn't really die. Now you suppose that Roman executioners whose job it was to ensure the condemned were really dead, couldn't do so. And that putting a spear through someone's heart was not enough to kill him. Or, for that matter, that someone who had undergone scourging or the other tortures to which Jesus was publicly subjected to could, in three days, heal enough to walk long distance and teach people?

Every explanation leads to more difficulties than it addresses. By the application of Occam's razor Christianity is the simplest hypothesis that explains observed facts.

3. Science does not admit to "being wrong" either. The main objection by the original poster was that religion insists that everything it says is right, while Science™admits that it could be wrong about anything. However, this is not quite true. Yes, science admits that its explanation for phenomena could be incomplete, but it does not admit that basic scientific truths are "wrong" or changeable.

For instance, Newton formulated that force = mass times acceleration (F = ma).  It will never be the case that scientists say "oh by the way, force mass and acceleration? Not related, it turns out." We may refine the formula to be more precise under more conditions (think relativity) but those refinements better reduce to the underlying equation in the ideal case.

There are also things in Christianity that we just don't know, things that we have theories about, and things that are "settled science" (like the existence of God).