Science, Truth, and the Origin of the Universe and Life And why you are not a Robot

Science, Truth, and the Origin of the Universe and Life And why you are not a Robot PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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The Reason for this Presentation. A lot of people say (or imply) that "Science proves there is no God"For example, God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not ExistThe purpose of this presentation is to show why science can't prove that everything can be explained by natural ca

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Science, Truth, and the Origin of the Universe and Life And why you are not a Robot

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1. Science, Truth, and the Origin of the Universe and Life (And why you are not a Robot) Professor Ralph D. Westfall, PhD Presented to EPIC on March 3, 2009 Latest revision: August 19, 2009

2. The Reason for this Presentation A lot of people say (or imply) that "Science proves there is no God" For example, God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist The purpose of this presentation is to show why science can't prove that everything can be explained by natural causes and thus rule out God It is based on my own biblically-centered Christian perspective I believe my God is responsible for things that science can't explain, but I'm not attempting to prove that

3. Outline Science is just one way of knowing. It can't be about truth because it is based on unprovable assumptions. The assumptions of science conflict with justice and free will Science doesn't explain the origin of universe and life People who actively believe in God live better

4. God versus Human Beings All powerful Knows everything Loves and cares for all of His creation Can never be completely known Very limited power Limited knowledge Ability to love is limited and flawed Are completely known by God

5. God versus Science Supreme being Truth Jesus is the truth1 God is the God of truth2 Knows everything Created universe Created life Limited tool Unprovable assumptions As with all other fields of human knowledge Can't know everything Origin of the universe? Origin of life? Nor a lot of other things either. 1. John 14:6 (New International Version) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 2. Psalm 31:5 (New International Version) Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. 1. John 14:6 (New International Version) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 2. Psalm 31:5 (New International Version) Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

6. Science is Just a Tool A way of discovering explanations for things that are observable in the physical universe Findings are "accepted" rather than "true" Based on evidence and unprovable assumptions Explanations can be (and often are) incomplete—they don't have to explain all current aspects, or antecedents (things that had to happen before) Explanations can be (and often are) revised or replaced by other explanations that are simpler and/or explain things better A scientific explanation can be in conflict with some other scientific explanation and yet both can be considered to be "good science"

7. Science Is Not Universal or Eternal There are many sciences, not just one Physical sciences—Chemistry, Geology, Physics Biological sciences—Biology, Medicine, etc. Historical sciences—Geology, Paleontology, etc. Different branches of science have differing ways of evaluating and accepting findings Different "rules of the game" Rules are agreed upon by members of the specific communities based on what seems to work in their field Rules may change over time if ones that seem to work better are discovered

8. There Are Many Ways to Know Formal systems E.g., 2 + 2 = 4 based on the assumptions and definitions of arithmetic, not because someone did thousands of experiments to see what happens when two somethings are added to another two Knowing what vs. knowing how Knowing that 2 x 2 = 4 doesn't prove that a person knows multiplication Deductive reasoning All men are mortal (will eventually die) Socrates is a man Socrates is mortal

9. Truth Could Only Come from God God is true His words are true God never changes Truth never changes God gives knowledge The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, Proverbs 1:7 (NIV) God reveals Himself to those who want to know Him Through His word. Through the Word—Jesus Christ

10. Unprovable Assumptions of Science Naturalism Everything is a result of natural causes Uniformitarianism Everything continues to happen as it did in the past3 Probabilistic reasoning is sufficient Works most of the time e.g., 0.05 confidence interval Pragmatism (if it works consistently, then it's OK) is the guiding principle, not whether it is true. Truth is considered to be not relevant 3. 2 Peter 3:4-6 (New International Version) They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.3. 2 Peter 3:4-6 (New International Version) They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

11. Naturalism Conflicts with Free Will If everything is a result of natural causes, then there can't be any such thing as free will. Taken to its logical conclusion, the assumption of naturalism means that everything you do must have been caused by something that happened before What you do may be unpredictable because of random processes (or quantum considerations), but you are still controlled by them Either humans are completely controlled by the laws of nature, or they are qualitatively different from everything else (think of the words soul and spirit)

12. Only God Can Give Free Will He is the source and basis of free will God has free will We are created in the image of the triune God, having a body, soul and spirit Therefore we have free will

13. Free Will vs. God's Omniscience If God knows everything, including our future, doesn't that mean our actions are predetermined? No, because God is outside of time Time is just an aspect of the universe He created Our past actions are "set in concrete" after the fact—they can never change—even though they resulted from our free choices All the details—every bite of food—that I had for breakfast on March 3 will never change, even though many aspects were based on my free choices Similarly God is outside of time and can see all the things that I will do in the rest of my life, even though many of them will result from my free choices

14. Free Will vs. God's Omniscience If God knows everything, including our future, doesn't that mean our actions are predetermined? No, because God is outside of time. Time is just an aspect of the universe He created. Our past actions are "set in concrete" after the fact—they can never change—even though they resulted from our free choices. All the details—every aspect—of what I ate for breakfast on March 3 will never change, even though many aspects were based on my free choices. Similarly God is outside of time and can see all the things that I will do for the rest of my life, even though many of them will result from my free choices.

15. Science Conflicts With … People talk about a conflict between science and religion. But science also conflicts with the justice system. The fundamental principle of the justice system is that people can freely choose their actions in many situations. Therefore they can be judged for doing what is wrong. The legal system makes exceptions for situations where free will is absent, such as insanity or being forced to do something wrong ("under duress") The assumption that everything results from natural causes conflicts with the foundation of justice, but few atheists want to abolish the legal system

16. Naturalism is a Useful Assumption It has led to a lot of advances in science, by encouraging scientists to look for natural causes for things that are seen But its usefulness in many situations does not prove that it applies to everything Assuming that almost everything results from natural causes would still have that useful effect Many scientists in the past believed the universe and everything in it was created by God, and this didn't prevent them from making great discoveries Scientists operating on the assumption of an ultimate designer include: Boyle, Faraday, Kelvin, Kepler, Linnaeus, Maxwell , Newton, Rutherford

17. Uniformitarianism Under the assumption that things always happen in the same general ways over time, science can't explain: The origin of the universe—the "big bang" The origin of life These are not just small "gaps" in human knowledge, for which theistic explanations are being offered They are the ultimate foundations of our existence

18. The Big Bang Theory that the incredibly vast universe in which we exist came from nothing The big bang is a massive violation of science's extremely well-established Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy, as well as its assumption of uniformitarianism In other words, science contradicts itself in this area (as well as in others) Before the 20th century scientific finding that the universe originated from nothing, science and philosophers evaded this conflict by saying that the universe is eternal—it always has been, rather than it came into existence

19. Where Did God Come From? Atheists ask, "If God created the universe, then where did God come from?" God is eternal. He didn't come from anywhere. The question is inconsistent with what atheists used to say—that the natural universe is eternal An eternal universe is at least consistent with the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy But scientific acceptance of the big bang theory is inconsistent with the idea of an eternal universe Now atheists have problems with the idea that God, who is not subject to the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy, is self-existent and eternal

20. Creating Life? Science has not yet been able to create life in the laboratory, even though: It has extremely sophisticated tools It has a tremendous amount of information about biology and chemistry, etc. to use with these tools How could life occur by chance in a chaotic environment without any tools, or any knowledge to consciously guide the process?

21. Suppose Science Does Create Life? Atheists tell me that science "just hasn't had enough time" to figure out how to create life yet This is a self-defeating argument, especially since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA in 1953. The longer it takes and the more difficult it is, the less likely it could have happened by chance However many arguments against the origin of life by natural causes are based on estimates of the improbability If life is ever created in the laboratory, it will enable much better estimates of the improbability of it happening by natural causes

22. Explaining the Origin of Life There are huge incentives for anyone who could just explain how life originated under natural conditions, rather than actually creating it: Nobel prize, recognition as one of the greatest scientists ever, etc. $1,000,000 prize for just coming up with a plausible explanation, rather than actually creating life Even if science does succeed in coming up with a plausible explanation, there remains the challenge of actually making it happen by similar processes

23. Origin of Life is the Weak Link In contrast to the origin of life, evolution has a lot of support It sounds logical If you ignore the gaps, which is not hard to do because many are quite subtle, it seems that species can come from other species Microevolution—variations within species—can be seen and verified by experimentation Different breeds of dogs, for example Because microevolution works, people think changes into different species (macroevolution) could work too. But science can't "disprove" God's role in creation if it can't explain life's origins by natural causes

24. Science Isn't Always Successful Science based on naturalism has not succeeded in: Preventing war (actually science has made war much more harmful to more people than it used to be) Ending hunger Etc. [fill in some other major human problem here]

25. Pragmatism People have a high level of respect for science because it has led to great progress They are impressed by its results, rather than being concerned about whether its underlying assumptions can be proven to be true Pragmatism—if it works, it's OK—is the underlying philosophy Scientists also evaluate scientific methodologies by how well they work

26. The Pragmatic Bottom Line A substantial amount of scientific research (largely involving Christians e.g. Religion 'linked to happy life') shows that people who believe in God: Are happier Live longer Do more to help other people Nobody can prove that God exists or doesn't exist But people who trust in Jesus live better "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (Jesus said in John 10:10, NIV)

27. Additional Reading Religious people are better citizens, study says Volunteering and religious commitment: statistics confirm that people of faith provide the bulk of volunteers in our society The Origin and Evolution of Religious Prosociality (abstract only)

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