Re: [asa] God Or Science? A Belief In One Weakens Positive Feelings For The Other

From: George Cooper <georgecooper@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Sun Dec 21 2008 - 19:01:27 EST

Schwarzwald said:  How is science an 'ultimate explanation'? Science can't deliver on a wide range of questions, typically philosophical and theological. It can certainly deliver a lot, of course, but they couldn't hope to address the same 'ultimate' questions.   Yes, very true.  But there are some that do hold hope that science will address all things given enough time.      Schwarzwald said: I think the idea of 'God as an explanation' historically has been vastly overrated and misunderstood. To credit God with the dominion over natural events (weather, motions of stars, etc) is not to propose a material explanation or to use God for 'explanatory power' in a relevant sense.   That is a healthy view today that most people hold as it applies to many natural examples.  This wasn’t, however, the case in prior centuries.  How many of our young enter the ministry today because of a lightning strike they experienced?  But there is still some of this type of teleolgoical thinking even today when events are dramatic.  For instance, some would say Katrina was God's judgmental act -- at least one prominent mega church preacher so claimed.   It has taken much time and understanding for educated people today to be comfortable with mechanistic answers even for your examples.  But note that the article’s test did not likely use weather and motions of stars as test examples, but things like Big Bang Theory, which most of the general public really do not understand enough, and are vulnerable to some persuasion within the testing, subliminal or otherwise.       Schwarzwald: Developing a material explanation does not discredit God as having that same dominion.    Agreed, but the atheist’s argument goes, at least for some, that as more and more natural explanations are found then eventually there will be no supernatural ones, as if some sort of momentum will make them unstoppable.   They happen to be quite correct but only if we completely ignore the self-constraining limits of science and the non-material domain as you have mentioned.   Since the only item mentioned in the article that seemed to be outside the purview of science was free will, and the rest of the article appears to have used items of natural phenomena, then I get the sense it is on a similar path used by those that seem to believe God is being further removed from our earthly scene.  [I could easily be mistaken since I would hope that other items would have included love, hope, joy, etc., but I only have the short article to work with.]     Schwarzwald:  In my own view, scientific and technological developments throughout the 20th and 21st century have been, if anything, vastly more harmful to popular atheist concepts of the universe than to theistic ones, with the sole exception of YEC (Which may be why that's far and away the one area just about everyone wants to talk about, practically to the exclusion of all else.) I don't think atheists are becoming more intimidated by science.  Why are only 25% of astronomers Christians, 40% for all scientists?   On the other hand, there aren't many laws against evolutionary teachings, so if you are correct, I will be pleased.   Coope ________________________________ From: Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com> To: asa@calvin.edu Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2008 1:45:07 PM Subject: Re: [asa] God Or Science? A Belief In One Weakens Positive Feelings For The Other Hiya Jon, I see some flaws in this writeup. ""It seemed to me that both science and religion as systems were very good at explaining a lot, accounting for a lot of the information that we have in our environment," she said. "But if they are both ultimate explanations, at some point they have to conflict with each another because they can't possibly both explain everything."" -- How is science an 'ultimate explanation'? Science can't deliver on a wide range of questions, typically philosophical and theological. It can certainly deliver a lot, of course, but they couldn't hope to address the same 'ultimate' questions. Why do so many people seem to forget that science has some serious limits in principle? It doesn't help that the explanation of the experiments seems downright confusing. 129 volunteers (Did they determine how many of them believed in God / did not believe, and in what capacities?) read about the Big Bang theory and an origin of life theory. Half read a summary that said the theories were strong / supported, the other half read a summary that the theories raise more questions than they answer. Then suddenly there's a second experiment with 27 undergraduate students (Were they the only 27 remaining of the 129 volunteers? Were they 27 additional undergraduate students? And if the experience with reading about the Big Bang/Origin of Life is part of this second phase, is it really a second experiment?) being told to list 6 things God can explain, and 6 things that can explain or influence God. (What does the latter mean? Explain as in 'explain away'? Influence as in 'influence belief in God'? Explain as in 'justify God's existence'?) Next, a 'determine if this word is positive or negative' portion, with a subliminal priming of the word 'God' or 'Science' beforehand. And the people who received the 'these theories are strong/strongly supported' summary were quicker at correctly identifying positive words appearing just after a flash of 'science' than the ones who received the 'raises more questions than it answers' summary. "Those who were asked to use God as an ultimate explanation for various phenomena displayed a more positive association with God and a much more negative association with science than those directed to list other things that can explain God, the researchers found." -- 'Asked to use' is the standard they were using? And how are they measuring positive associations with negative associations at all? The experiment had them identifying whether given words (like 'awful') were positive or negative after a 15-millisecond flash of the word 'science' or 'God'. "Similarly, those who read the statement suggesting that the scientific theories were weak were extremely slow to identify negative words that appeared after they were primed with the word "God," Preston said." "It was like they didn't want to say no to God," she said.-- That's what it was like? A slower identification of a negative word as negative after a subliminal flash of 'God' in the group that read a summary of scientific theories where it was suggested the theories were weak, and that's what the results seem to suggest? And one of the scientific theories is the Big Bang (which typically gets played up as a scientific theory that lends scientific credence to the idea of God)? "What is really intriguing is that the larger effect happens on the opposite belief," she said. "When God isn't being used to explain much, people have a positive attitude toward science. But when God is being used to account for many events – especially the things that they list, which are life, the universe, free will, these big questions – then somehow science loses its value." -- Or it could be that people view questions in a different light when considering God's role in those questions. Science does have less of a value when considering questions like 'Did God create life?', because science, at most, can explain a material process - not whether that process was the result of guidance or planning. Going by the article - and I recognize there's always a danger of considerable miscommunication when it comes to that, rather than looking at the paper directly - this experiment seems hopeless. A small group (possibly as small as 27 students at the end, and no larger than 129 volunteers?) being treated to a mix of subliminal priming and word association in order to glean how they (meaning, for all practical purposes, 'most people') view science and God? Why not serve them tea at the end of the experiment, and look at the leave left in the cup in order to determine what they really think? I can give a suggestion as to why theistic evolution is a difficult sell for many people: A combination of conditioning (being told by many people, including quite a number of popular atheists, that you cannot accept both God and evolution, certainly not Christianity and evolution), poor communication (Most TEs seemingly prefer to focus on why alternatives are wrong, with few bothering to explain why evolution is not only correct, but utterly compatible with God and Christianity - and the few that do try to explain why TE is compatible with God either make gaffes ("Random Designer") or, much more rarely, come across as quislings (Francisco Ayala)), and apathy (I have encountered a number of Christians who simply don't care about the deeper scientific questions, or mostly have concerns about perceived societal fallout from placing too much confidence in evolution). And to George Cooper: I'd actually disagree with that popular summation. I think the idea of 'God as an explanation' historically has been vastly overrated and misunderstood. To credit God with the dominion over natural events (weather, motions of stars, etc) is not to propose a material explanation or to use God for 'explanatory power' in a relevant sense. Developing a material explanation does not discredit God as having that same dominion. In my own view, scientific and technological developments throughout the 20th and 21st century have been, if anything, vastly more harmful to popular atheist concepts of the universe than to theistic ones, with the sole exception of YEC (Which may be why that's far and away the one area just about everyone wants to talk about, practically to the exclusion of all else.) On Sun, Dec 21, 2008 at 8:13 AM, Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net> wrote: I'm sure some of you have seen this article.  I'm wondering about the validity of the experimental methods used, and how well they can justify the conclusions drawn.  If there is such a fundamental disconnect between people's acceptance of God or science as explanatory powers, perhaps this is one reason why Theistic Evolution is a difficult sell for many people.   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081215121559.htm     Jon Tandy

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Received on Sun Dec 21 19:01:56 2008

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