Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Has Reason found a place to die?

I am constantly amazed at the positions some Christians make when it comes to science and religion.
For example here is another quote from J. David Newman over on Adventist Today:

I see that discussing uniformitarianism in any depth seems to "fiighten" many of you.  Maybe it is because if we do challenge that concept a lot of things could change.  But let me switch points a litte.  Grossmont College in California has a powerpoint presentation call The Assumptions of Science.  In Four panels they listed the assumptions.  Here are just a few of them.
The world is real.
The real world is knowable and comprehensible.
There are laws that govern the real world.
Those laws are knowable and comprehensible.
Those laws don't [radically] change according to place or time, since the early stages of the big bang.
Nature is understandable.
The rules of logic are valid.
Language is adequate to describe the natural realm
Human senses are reliable.
Mathematical rules are descriptive of the physical world.

However it was panel 5 that caught my attention.
Assumptions are accepted without proof.
They form the basis of all scientific thinking.

This is what I have been trying to say that whether we use the Bible or Science we first have to agree on our assumptions.  And scientific assumptions are accepted by faith not by proof.  And the way we come to those assumptions determines which ones we will accept.   Thus the atheist will come to the subject with a different set of assumptions from what the Christian will have.

Which means we should be open to question the assumptions.
I looked at the powerpoint presentation and it is pretty accurate. However Newman did not note the footnote at the bottom of the page which reads:
Just to make the point as clear as possible, these assumptions of science, like all such assumptions cannot be demonstrated to be correct as #5 correctly states.
In fact the presentation also addresses the supernatural in slide #8
Limitations of Science
Science can't help us with questions about the supernatural.  The prefix "super" means "above."  So supernatural means "above (or beyond) the natural."  The toolbox of a scientist contains only the natural laws of the universe; supernatural questions are outside their reach.
So notice what those many assumptions are. The world is do you prove that, perhaps it is just a part of some dream inside some creatures head? The rules of logic are do you prove that maybe what we think is logical is simply based upon are biological inheritance and we actually have no choice in what we choose? These are the assumptions that the power point slide is addressing, the logical assumptions of life. We can provide all kinds of evidence for most of the things on that list but proof is much more difficult because proof has to be able to defeat any other possible objections to the theory. So science accepts the logic of the evidence but often can't provide the proof.
But why then if Newman read that slide presentation did he assert anything against Uniformatarianism. Wikipedia begins it's article on Uniformatrianism with this:
Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now, have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It has included the gradualistic concept that "the present is the key to the past" and is functioning at the same rates. Uniformitarianism has been a key principle of geology, but naturalism's modern geologists, while accepting that geology has occurred across deep time, no longer hold to a strict gradualism.
Simplified; what we see is reality and the reality is not judged by whatever claims to the supernatural may exist. So Newman thinks he is challenging the concept and science because he asserts supernatural activity. But science is not meant to deal with supernatural events and pleading to supernatural events can not change science in the slightest. It would be like putting science back to the middle ages when spirits caused bad whether or the even more ancient belief that spirits caused diseases. Science comes to its assumptions not on faith but by applying logic to the reality we see. Just because it can't be proven does not make something based simply on faith. That should be true for every Christian as well, we come to faith by the evidence.
I am very concerned for the future of Adventism as long as its adherents persist in their practice of twisted logic. But I have to grant that I can't prove that logic should never be twisted or that logic is the best and only solution to problem solving. But it is the best that we have now, based upon the evidence from the use of logic and the misuse of logic; that is real world application. But they can assert their faith without evidence and the wisdom of abandoning scientific methods...where faith just becomes what anyone wants to believe and therefore any faith is equivalent to any other faith.
It is sad to watch a segment of the Christian religion self destruct. But it appears to me to be what is happening when the traditionalists take over reasoning for the church.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

You have a well thought out blog. I would have thought there would be more responses. I was 3rd generation adventist and became the first in my family to recieve a doctorate. It is clear to me that evolution is a fact. It is also clear there is little room for that viewpoint in the church. I hold no bitterness for the church, they adher to an illusion which brings them hope. It is unfortunate for them that it is not real.