[asa] Does science negate the need for God?

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Thu Oct 30 2008 - 19:47:35 EDT

Here's the conclusion in my essay debate on a yahoo group- just FYI. Let me know if you have comments by which I could learn more.

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Resolved: Given the success of science, including evolution, there is no need for a God as posited by Christians to explain the universe.

Bernie's conclusion to the negative:

I think it is very helpful, in any debate, to try to grasp the big picture. It always helps to put things in perspective. The question of this debate strikes at the heart of the issue of today's "state of the art" in science. Let me ask you a question: what percentage of knowledge do we have of everything in the universe? My answer would be that we know less than 1%! That's almost nothing.

Why would I rank it so low? Take for example the human genome. We have read it, but we still don't know the functions of most of the genes. We also don't know how genes control body growth and create complex organs (such as the brain, eye, heart, etc.). Take quantum physics- the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was built specifically to try to understand how sub-atomic physics works.[1] How did "life" arise from "nonlife?" We are clueless (other than having a few hypotheses). We also know nothing about where the big bang came from, or what set it off (some scientists even propose a multiverse rather than big bang explanation for the universe).

If I'm correct that our total knowledge of science is less than 1%, how foolish to say that the success of science has proved no need for God to explain how the universe got here.

It is true that one doesn't have to have 100% knowledge to rule out certain hypotheses. For example, we know so very little about the human genome. However, what we do know does rule out the possibility that God created humans by fiat rather than evolution. There is overwhelming proof in the DNA that evolution of human from apelike animal actually happened (for just two examples, pseudogenes and human chromosome #2). We know so little about the human genome, but what we do know rules out the possibility of God's design by fiat.[2] However, there's nothing in the genome, or evolution, to discard the idea that evolution was the process that God used to create everything.

To say that there is no need for God, simply because superstition has been rightly and routinely dismissed by science, is an unreasonable extrapolation. It is akin to "throwing out the baby with the bathwater." The most one could be is agnostic on the issue- not able to tell if God has His hand in the creation and sustaining of the universe. And here my opponent wants to go overboard and claim that we can know, because of the state of science, that God is not needed to explain the universe.

In my mind it is an error to say either that science proves or disproves God's role in creating the universe. (I am not saying we are to assume that "God did it" when confronting any scientific mystery, as my opponent wrongly claimed.) There simply is not enough information to make the decision either way. Therefore, we are left to our own preconceptions- regarding if God exists or not. Since most scientists and doctors do believe in God, it is an indication that belief in God is not an unreasonable position.[3]


[1] "What is the LHC?," National Science Foundation, <http://www.uslhc.us/What_is_the_LHC>

Scientists predict that its very-high-energy proton collisions will yield extraordinary discoveries about the nature of the physical universe. Beyond revealing a new world of unknown particles, the LHC experiments could explain why those particles exist and behave as they do. The LHC experiments could reveal the origins of mass<http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000368>, shed light on dark matter<http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000451>, uncover hidden symmetries of the universe<http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000081>, and possibly find extra dimensions of space<http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/cms/?pid=1000143>.

[2] Dictionary.com <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fiat>

Online Etymology Dictionary
1384, from fiat lux "let there be light" in the Book of Genesis, from L. fiat "let it be done" (also used in the opening of M.L. proclamations and commands), third pers. sing. pres. subjunctive of fieri, used as passive of facere "to make, do" (see factitious<http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/factitious>).

[3] Robert Roy Britt, "Scientists' Belief in God Varies Starkly by Discipline," LiveScience, 11 Aug. 2005, <http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/050811_scientists_god.html>

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Received on Thu Oct 30 19:47:52 2008

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