Sunday, September 20, 2009

Science (1 of 2)

Lesson 5a: Science

This week's discussion was more about philosophy of science than of science itself. There is a reason for that. The best science can hope to do is give us the what and how about the observations we make of the "stuff in the box." What it can never hope to offer us is the why -- the purpose or meaning behind the observations we make. As an illustration of this just ask yourself this question: "Can you measure your height with a speedometer?"

If you don't think the question is a stupid one, you have to at least admit it's weird. What you cannot do is answer the question in any way that makes sense. You need a tape measure to determine your height; a speedometer just won't do. A speedometer is not designed to measure weight. It is not the proper instrument to use for the task at hand.

The same thing goes with science as it relates to making declarations about God. It is the wrong tool. We need philosophy and theology to do that.

Science is the study of nature -- the stuff in the box == and God is not confined to the box. This fact goes both ways. We cannot "prove" the existence of God by simply measuring the stuff in the box. Likewise, the naturalist cannot "disprove" God by demanding that we are only allowed to discuss the stuff in the box. Unfortunately, both sides do this all the time. Both sides tend to attribute unwarranted delusions of grandeur to the power of science alone.

That said, the science of cosmology (astronomy, physics, astrophysics) gives us some awe-inspiring evidence for the reality of a transcendent, enormously powerful being who exists outside the box. This doesn't prove that that being is the God of the Bible. We need other information to do that. But what it does do is show that what we know about cosmology is perfectly consistent with the Bible.

Naturalistic scientists know this. They call it the Anthropic Principle: the idea that the universe seems to be designed with man in mind. They insist that this is a coincidence. "It may look designed," they say, "but you must always keep in mind that it is not." They go to great lengths to get around what seems to be a blatantly obvious inference. But the degree of "fine-tuning" of the universe that allows for life to exist anywhere at all is so incredibly complex and overwhelming, they have to explain it somehow. The latest version is called the Multiverse Theory (a.k.a. "Multiple Universes" or "Many Worlds").

This theory is a perfect example of how philosophy is cleverly disguised as science. There are many versions of the multiverse theory but they all have two essential things in common: 1) That there are an infinite number of alternate universes, and 2) That they are all different.

From this it follows that the universe looks designed to us because we just happen to live in the one universe (among an infinite number of alternate universes) that got everything "just right." But notice something about this "scientific" theory. First, the reason they make this claim is not because they have scientific evidence for these other universes. They have zero evidence for them. Instead they make the claim because they cannot accept the implications of the evidence they do have about this universe. This is a philosophical position, not a scientific one. Second, we could never "find" an alternate universe. Any other universe, if it exists at all, is by definition undetectable. So, for these scientists to promote such a theory is pure speculation about something beyond our realm of existence that can never, in principle, be confirmed. This is not science! It is wishful thinking. It certainly isn't provable using the scientific method.

That said, I actually love the multiverse theory, and here's why: By putting forth such a theory, these scientists are making a tacit admission that the level of design in our universe is so incredible, so overwhelming, so mind-boggling, that it requires an infinite explanation.


"The heavens declare the glory of God," even to scientists who cover their ears and close their eyes to it. No one is as blind as those who will not see.

Next week: More scientific discussion about Darwinism, biology, DNA and the origin and diversity of life.

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