Creationism is not like belief in the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ

Posted on July 18th, 2009 — permalink

There are some out there who assert that a belief in God is not compatible with accepting science. Some try to put a finer point on it; they assert that belief in either the virgin birth of Christ, or the bodily resurrection of Christ, is not compatible with science. I want to argue that it is.

First, I do not mean to assert that I personally believe in either. I have addressed the latter (bodily resurrection) in a blog post several years ago that is currently offline as a result of a dead disk. I’ll dig up the text of that and repost it here at some point. Short form: my answer to “did the bodily resurrection physically happen?” is “probably not.” Believe it or not, I am not alone among Christians in thinking that. However, it is reasonable to hold that belief while accepting science, without any need for hypocracy. It’s not consistent with “philosophical materialism”, no, but that’s a question of philosophy, not of science.

Some say that the scientific world view is not consistent with miracles. The reason is that the hypothesis that supernatural intervention happens has not stood up to scrutiny. There is no scientific evidence for it, and in the centuries in which we’ve been doing science, if it was happening we would have seen the evidence for it. What’s more, many things that were previously believed to be the fiat of God have come to have naturalistic explanations (e.g. the ignition of the Sun, the origin of the human species). So, science would seem to rule out miracles.

In fact, it does not, and any scientist who is being careful enough, and precise enough in his language, will say that. Science certainly gives no reason to believe in supernatural intervention! And, it gives many reasons to believe that supernatural intervention is an obsolete concept. However, as with many things that we do not detect in a scientific experiment or an observational program, science doesn’t rule out miracles; it merely sets an upper limit on their frequency. In other words, miracles (in the form of supernatural intervention) must happen extremely infrequently and irregularly to be consistent with the body of scientific observations.

Consider creationism. Creationism makes factual claims about the creation of the Universe (created in 7 24-hour days a few thousand years ago, with a specific order of events) and about the origin of the human species (created in its current form by God). These factual claims are false; we know them to be false, because we have extensive scientific evidence that points to other explanations.  Creationism is wrong, and belief in creationism is not consistent with accepting modern science.

On the other hand, consider the bodily resurrection of Christ. Now, we know that biological organisms that have died and stayed dead for three days decay enough that they cannot be revived. (It may well be that one day we will revive some of the cryogenically frozen people we have right now, but I think we can all agree that Jesus was not cryogenically frozen.) However, the bodily resurrection of Christ is a singular event. To believe in it is to claim that once, one guy, was bodily resurrected. (Let’s leave Lazarus out of this for simplicity.) Believing in the bodily resurrection of Christ does not claim that this happens regularly. What’s more, this belief does not make any claims that contradict any scientific evidence we have. It says that once, there was a miracle, and something that cannot happen according to our understanding of biology, did happen.

Could this be disproved? Probably not. I seriously doubt that if we found the remains of Jesus that we would be able to convince ourselves to any reasonable probability that that is what they were. Likewise, with the virgin birth, if we were to somehow find the remains of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, perhaps we could do DNA comparisons to find out of in fact Jesus is carrying Joseph’s DNA. (Interesting theoloigcal aside: he’d better be if he’s of the house of David, but then again, I’m not writing about inconsistency in the Bible… inconsistency in the Bible is well established.) But, again, this has not been done, and indeed I would be very surprised if we were able to collect the samples (or, invent the time travel) that would allow us to do that test.

Science tells us that miracles really cannot be happening very often at all. But it sets an upper limit, it does not tell us that miracles never happened. The methodology of science requires us to omit miracles in our explanations; something we cannot explain through naturalistic means remains an open question, at least for the time being, to science. Science tells us that the creation story in Genesis is not history, but it does not tell us anything directly about the specific bodily resurrection of Christ or the specific virgin birth of Christ. Science does not have a mechanism for it, so if it happened, it was miraculous, and outside science as we understand it. Science gives no reason to believe in miracles, and indeed convinces us that they are not happening with any regularity at all. However, because we cannot absolutely rule them out, it is not inconsistent to believe that those specific miracles happened, while accepting the results and methodology of modern science.

23 Responses to “Creationism is not like belief in the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ”

  1. Brandon Says:

    I’ve gotten bored of the science vs. religion argument recently. Once you get past crap like creationism, each side is just flinging around philosophical mumbo jumbo like compartmentalization and non-overlapping magisteria. I don’t think too many people will state that science disproves the existence of miracles. But then they say that a scientific mindset leads to atheism. And they spend several paragraphs explaining the difference, and I just play techno music in my head the whole time.

    I especially don’t believe this argument matters because none of it will ever spread outside the scientific community, or even too far outside the science blogosphere. As far as any practical concern, all we need to agree on is that we should convince creationists that they can have both Jesus and evolution.

  2. Brando Says:

    While “anything is possible” not everything is probable. Sure, the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus are possible, but I think it’s reasonable to say the evidence against it is of greater merit and stacked heavily against it. And no, I don’t think you can remove Creationism from this issue because it provides a bit of a track record or body of claims that surround these two events. If the vast majority of claims within the bible have turned out to be “highly unlikely” and our historical understanding of how these stories were passed down by cultures ignorant of reality as we understand it, then it further erodes the potential for them to be accurate.

  3. TomJoe Says:

    Brando, part of the problem is you’re considering the Bible a single book, when it is anything but. It’s actually a collection of books, written at various periods of time, to various people, in various styles, by various people. It’s like taking a compendium of short stories (perhaps some fiction and some not) all written by different authors, on different subjects, and with different styles, and saying that they all must be analyzed the same exact way.

  4. Brando Says:

    I understand that, but I was trying to make the point that the source of the information contained in those stories is far from reliable due to the methods used. I think it’s reasonable to say that stories such as the resurrection first being told a generation after the events were to have taken place, spread by word only for many more generations, then likely embellished by scribes for centuries and revised by the church in later years, are far likely to be inaccurate and deviate greatly from the original information. Of course, since we will likely never know the original source material in detail, the methodology by which the information was propagated is highly unreliable.

  5. Jim Says:

    In the absence of physical evidence, the only reason to believe in the resurrection and virgin birth are their discussion in the Bible. That is, to believe them you need to accept the Bible as a reliable source, even when it contradicts scientific expectation.

    Like Brando, I don’t see how you can remove Creationism from the discussion. Once you accept the premise that something is true because it appears in the Bible, how do you pick and choose among the many parts of the Bible? Alternatively, if you’re going to consider the Bible in the light of modern scientific knowledge, why wouldn’t you apply that equally to the resurrection and virgin birth?

    One could make the argument that creation occurred just as described in Genesis, and since then scientific evolution has applied. If God created fossils and the evidence of the universe being billions of years old, how could we tell? This argument “says that once, there was a miracle, and something that cannot happen according to our understanding of biology, did happen.” It would just have left us in a position to completely misinterpret the resulting situation.

    In short, an all-powerful God could pick any sort of rabbits out of his hat that we mere mortals might misinterpret under the lens of science. Once you accept the premise that miracles described in the Bible occurred, it requires a definite effort at compartmentalization to not believe in Creationism too.

  6. TomJoe Says:

    Brando, that could very well be a problem, but the embellishment would have stopped somewhere around the year 300 AD because that is the approximate age of the Codex Vaticanus. Of course, oral tradition was common practice back then (did it lend itself to more exaggeration than we experience now?), and one could always argue that if you read certain history books nowadays … exactly how accurate are they anyways? Winston Churchill was the one who stated after all that “History is written by the victors.” Lastly, couldn’t this criticism also be applied to a large portion of ancient works which no one really considers to be in doubt? Those same scribes who dedicated their lives to replicating the Bible, also replicated many other ancient works.

  7. rknop Says:

    Look, it’s very, very childish philosophy and theology to say “if you believe one thing from the Bible, you have to believe everything in the Bible.” Yet, that’s an argument that those who want to argue against moderate Christians often pull out. It’s pretty plain what’s going on: because you can’t argue against moderate Christians on pure scientific grounds, you insist that to be consistent, we all have to be fundamentalists, at which point you *can* argue against us on pure scientific grounds.

    However, giving the argument more credit, you’re making an argument about a matter of faith that’s bordering on a scientific argument. The reliability of the Bible as a source for literal history in terms of the scientific evidence is a scientific argument. That’s not what faith is about. There’s no scientific reason to believe that the bodily resurrection happened, and there are scientific reasons to doubt it. As I say above, you can’t rule it out. The reasons to believe in it are reasons of faith.

    The fact is that despite the assumption that all religion is “start from the Bible and take it all directly without thought”, a *lot* of thought, scholarship, and general human intellectual activity has gone into an evolving understanding of the various world faiths over the years. Christianity starts from the Bible, but does not end there. Only certain extreme Christians (who, granted, get a lot of press and have been getting increasing political power) believe that the whole of the Bible is to be read literally. As for the rest of us — well, it’s not always obvious which parts are myth, which parts are true, which parts are to be disregarded as human knowledge has advanced. (And, by human knowledge, I do not mean just science; civilization has progressed in a lot of ways besides pure science.)

  8. TomJoe Says:

    Once you accept the premise that miracles described in the Bible occurred, it requires a definite effort at compartmentalization to not believe in Creationism too.

    Wow, on one end I have the New Atheists telling me I must be compartmentalizing because since I believe in evolution — and they tell me that if I seriously considered the implications of evolution I’d be an atheist — I must be suppressing my “inner atheist” when I do science. Then on the other hand, I have other people telling me I have to be compartmentalizing because if I was truly religious, I’d have to believe in Creationism, so I must be suppressing my “inner creationist” when I do science.

    All this talk of what I should believe based on everyone else’s opinions but my own! I sure will sleep easy tonight!

  9. TomJoe Says:

    slight correction: I must be suppressing my “inner atheist” when I do science change “do science” to “practice my religion”.

  10. rknop Says:

    TomJoe — one of the true ironies of the world is that it is the militant atheists who agree with the fundamentalists on how the Bible should be interpreted.

  11. Sandra Says:

    Science requires 95% consistency in our hypothesis, at least that is what I was taught in Chemistry 101. It should not be confused with theory or faith. Those are philosophical issues.

    Creationism is a theory, just like evolution and the big bang. You have to have faith that God can create a world from his words or by mutating things from one species to another. I think God could do both, I do not believe they would happen at random. There is intelligent design in our universe, that I believe can be proven 95% of the time.

    In regards to the truth or inconsistency of the Bible I would encourage you to read the book “The Case for Christ”, written by Lee Strobel. He excellently evaluates the gospels using profiling techniques lawyer’s use to come up with a conclusion of the validity of who Christ was. He does it without shoving anything down your throat and encourages you to do your own research to validate his conclusions.

  12. rknop Says:

    Sandra — there is no convincing scientific evidence for intelligent design in the Universe. Some disagree, but they are a very small minority of scientists.

    Also, saying “creationism is a theory, just like evolution and the big bang”, is not really correct. Creationism is a very different thing from evolution and the big bang. Evolution and the big bang are both scientific theories, and what’s more, they’re both the central paradigms of their respective fields. Both have a tremendous amount of evidence, and form the basis of our scientific understanding of those fields. Creationism, in contrast, is not scientific at all. It is a religious view that either falsely claims to be science (by distorting the facts) or that rejects science.

  13. Jim Says:

    Rob, I never said, “if you believe one thing from the Bible, you have to believe everything in the Bible.” That’s a deep distortion.

    Your position is, at heart, that we can choose to believe in certain miracles that contradict everything we know about science, simply on the testimony of the Bible. However, Creationism contradicts a somewhat larger body of science, so we won’t believe that.

    My point is that Creationism could be true just as easily as the resurrection. An all-powerful God could create the world and, in 7 days, supernaturally fast-forward to where we were when the Bible was written. How would you tell the difference?

    Nor did I suggest that most people “start from the Bible and take it all directly without thought.” Rather, once you accept the Bible as testimony for miracles, it’s purely arbitrary if you’re going to pick and choose which miracles you accept.

    I think you know how weak your argument is, or you wouldn’t set up a strawman theology and then resort to ad hominem attacks on how “very, very, childish” it is. However, you’re right, I can’t argue against a moderate Christian who says, “I’m going to pick a variety of things that absolutely can’t be scientifically verified and cling to them as absolute truth.” By the very definition of the argument, there’s no way to prove either side.

    Since you were talking in the context of science, I thought you were trying to get at something more profound than the old, “You can’t prove it’s not so, so I’ll believe it” argument. But you’re not: you’re just adding to that that some miracles violate more natural laws than others. That may be a convenient rationalization for picking and choosing beliefs, but it has very little to do with science.

  14. rknop Says:

    Jim — you’re right that it has nothing to do with science. The argument I’m trying to counter is that believing in the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ is inconsistent with science. That argument *is* made, repeatedly and loudly. I’m countering it here.

    And, apologies if you weren’t making the “if you believe anything, you have to believe everything.” That argument is also made, repeatedly and loudly. Indeed, I’ve seen it worse– somebody in a blog thread was insisting that if I was accepting a few miracles from one religion, I had to accept all miracles from all religions.

    However, you are very wrong when you say that “it’s purely arbitrary if you’re going to pick and choose which miracles you accept.” That’s not the case at all. As I said, a whole lot of thought has gone into theology. It’s not just purely arbitrary. What’s more, science rules out Creationism. That’s a very strong criterion for not accepting the Genesis creation story. And, yes, sure, it could have been done but God made it “look like” other things happened as a test of faith or something like that– but while you can’t rule that out scientifically, that’s theologically a very weak position, and so there are reasons why you throw that out while perhaps still considering the bodily resurrection of Christ. It’s not purely arbitrary at all.

  15. Jim Says:

    Rob, I wish I understood you’re argument, but I don’t. Science rules out dead people coming back to life. There’s also a lot of non-scientific evidence against the resurrection (contemporaneous accounts in the Koran, etc.). Is all of that contradictory evidence a test of faith?

    I’ll acknowledge that we can look at miracles as sitting along a spectrum, from “one time minor violation of laws of nature” on one end to “extreme ongoing violation at the other.” The swarming quail and subsequent plague of Numbers 11 might be near the one end, and transubstantiation near the other. We can draw some “line in the sand” and say that miracles on one side of that line are more compatible with science, but where?

    @TomJoe – I made the comment about Creationism because I thought Rob’s post was about using the Bible as evidence, which I now see it’s not. However, it is true that, as a scientist, you have to use a critical eye to filter out inconsistency. As one of the faithful, you have to suppress your critical faculties and accept events you know contradict science. In that sense, being a faithful scientist requires adopting very different worldviews at work and at church, thus requiring compartmentalization. Of course, that applies regardless of the specific miracles you believe in. If you accept miracles despite their contradiction of science, and accept them without necessarily relying on the testimony of the Bible, you can of course select any collection of miracles you like, or that tradition dictates.

  16. TomJoe Says:

    Jim said: As one of the faithful, you have to suppress your critical faculties and accept events you know contradict science.

    I’m going to try a thought experiment for a moment. It may be full of holes, but I’m going to try it anyways … and then I’m going to render it null and void at the end. However, I’m going to indulge in it anyways.

    Let us say that I’m performing a particular biological experiment and I’m doing a thousand replicates. Say one of those thousand replicates suddenly turned to wine. The other nine hundred ninety nine performed within a strict set of statistical limits. Scientifically (based on the statistics that I would have performed) I’m justified in rejecting that one experiment, however that doesn’t mean that because I rejected it, it contradicts science. Rather, it didn’t fall within the statistically acceptable norms of that particular experiment. It was an outlier.

    Now, I wouldn’t base my career on the results of that one particular replicate, even though there may be a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation that could be found with enough time and effort put into answering it.

    I was taught early on to refrain from using the words “always” and “never” when describing my research. That has served me well for my career up to this point. Given so many variables (especially in biological systems which I study), many of which we cannot account for, all we hope to do is capture as much of the variance as we can. Sometimes we’re thrilled if we can capture over 30% of it in our statistical models. That leaves a whole lot in the “unknown” that we cannot account for, but which may in certain circumstances have a pretty strong effect. However simply because we don’t account for it doesn’t mean it contradicts science when it occurs.

    Now, with that said, here is my “null and void” comment. Christians claim that the “virgin birth” and the “resurrection” are miracles. There is no attempt to describe the biologically. As a matter of fact, if we were able to describe them biologically they would not be miracles. I contend that if we were actually able to scientifically document a true virgin birth or a resurrection three days after a confirmed death it’d be the end of Christianity. These two miracles are taken, on faith. We don’t go through life looking at everything through the lens of science. Does art get filtered through that lens? Does appreciation of art require compartmentalization? Doubtful. I think it can be the same way with religion. Obviously people feel otherwise, and I’m more than happy to discuss it.

  17. Patness Says:

    Rob – christian bibliolatry is squarely the fault of a) the Niagara Bible Conference and b) people who take the Bible really seriously.

    In a very real sense, cherry-picking is the only way to be moderate. While you are right to suggest that it isn’t random, I disagree that it’s not arbitrary.

    Non-literal views of the Bible require subjective interpretation; this process draws upon and reflects the values emphasized by the interpreter. Literal views of the bible face contradictions; wherever contradictions arise, values present.

    At some point, you, individually, choose when to take the bible less seriously and which passages to play down. Nothing makes one interpretation of nonsense more legitimate than any other.

    Moderate christianity is eigetical. That’s a good thing, but it’s also a profoundly personal thing.

    Insofar as this, however: “Now, we know that biological organisms that have died and stayed dead for three days decay enough that they cannot be revived.”

    Really, does science prove that, or is it just so infrequent as to be accommodating to the body of evidence?

  18. Patness Says:

    I should add, with the benefit of hindsight, my reason for including the last statement: although you might think it a childish form of philosophy to say it, the reality is that the same quality of judgment can be held for -any- demonstrably false thing. The fact that you don’t equally abide by all other demonstrably false things reveals the arbitrariness of your particular beliefs.

  19. Jim Says:

    TomJoe -

    I think we need to discuss the difference between “religion” and “believing in miracles.” As it happens, my father’s rabbinical thesis was about “rational religion” and how to reconcile a belief in God with science. He is deeply religious and does not believe in miracles.

    So, “religion,” in the sense of appreciating the wonder of God, following the liturgy, etc., doesn’t (in my opinion) require any compartmentalization. As you said, neither does art appreciation. They largely use different mental faculties than science, but you don’t have to suppress scientific belief for either one.

    By “the faithful,” I meant those who accept miracles on faith. Miracles may be part of religion, but as I mentioned they aren’t an essential part. Sure, you could argue that maybe the miracles are extreme statistical outliers, similar to the events Douglas Adams describes around the Infinite Improbability Drive. Just as Rob thought God faking fossils was weak theologically, I have to say the outlier theory is very weak scientifically.

    So, personally, I still don’t see how you (or any other scientist) can accept miracles without compartmentalization. I am genuinely interested, so if you can explain more, I’d very much like to hear it.

  20. TomJoe Says:

    Judaism does have a very different understanding of God than Christianity does, so I can totally see where Judaism would fit the model described in your second paragraph (and would allow someone to eschew the idea of miracles).

    While I’m a Catholic, I don’t hold to the belief that God fiddles with His creation on a daily basis. Yes, there are those who believe in Lourdes and Fatima, faith healings and other miracle cures, etc etc. However, to be a Catholic in good standing, none of those are necessary for belief. As such, I do not believe in them. I personally haven’t looked into the cases, but I imagine they can probably be answered scientifically. If they can be answered scientifically, they’re not miracles.

    As a Catholic I do believe, and am required to do so to remain in good standing, in the mysteries of the virgin birth and the resurrection. Those two were clearly laid out during the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD (and is still recited today in the Nicene Creed). I believe them for a number of reasons, which convince me and probably me alone. Yes, I was raised a Catholic, but I also studied my faith, found it suitable, and confirmed the decision of my parents to baptize me. It is my choice and my choice alone. I cannot explain these two miracles, and I see no biological evidence to support them, and I see plenty of evidence to say that says such things are not likely in this day and age. I think there are other –historical mostly — accounts which lend support to the claim, but they’re not scientific.

    As a scientist, I know there are many things which I cannot explain. For these things, I reserve judgement. I may have an opinion on some of them, but I cannot say for sure whether I am correct or not. It doesn’t mean I’m compartmentalizing on the issue though. If you ask me if I’m 100% sure of Christianity, I’d reply “No, I’m not, and I could very well be wrong.” Currently, I hold the opinion that I am on the right track. The theology/philosophy makes sense to me, and I believe the historical records (which I admit are up for debate, but then again, so are pretty much all historical records to some degree). So, if I approach it with a skeptical eye, remain convinced by the current arguments, but am willing to consider adjusting it based on any future evidence (see my comment above where I say that I believe a biologically confirmed virgin birth or resurrection would really be the end of Christianity) … how is that compartmentalization?

    Some famous atheist said he was 90% convinced God doesn’t exist. Does that mean he compartmentalizes because he keeps that 10% open to the possibility? If not, why if I am 90% convinced God does exist, am I saddled with the compartmentalization charge? Neither one of us is claiming absolute certainty, both of us are hedging our bets.

    On the topic of a lot of Creationist thought, I categorically reject the “faking fossils” theology because it contradicts not just science, but a proper exegesis of Christian scripture and tradition as well. Those who claim a 6,000 year old Earth, and claim to support scientific endeavors … yah, I can see the charge of compartmentalization. But really, how big does the atheist brush of PZ, Coyne and Dawkins need to be?

    It’s ironic because a few weeks ago PZ welcomed the actor who plays Harry Potter to “the club”. I believe he said “We got another one” or something to that effect. “We”? Yet today he was saying that there really is no “We” in response to Bill Maher’s anti-vax woo. Sorry, you can’t have your cake AND eat it too. It’s like the “No True Scotsman ” fallacy in reverse. And it’s a load of crap. I’ll be the first to admit there are crazies on both sides, but if you want to be taken seriously, you don’t define the center by the absolute, lunatic fringe.

  21. rknop Says:

    As I’ve said before, a certain degree of compartmentalization is often inevitable when dealing with incomplete knowledge of all of reality —

    However, that kind of compartmentalization doesn’t imply hypocracy (the charge of compartmentalization and hypocracy are often levelled in the same breath by militant atheists)– indeed, it’s simple honesty about the limits of understanding.

    An example of that compartmentalization is in what I write above– “The methodology of science requires us to omit miracles in our explanations; something we cannot explain through naturalistic means remains an open question, at least for the time being, to science.” Even if you believe that some miracles may have happened, you compartmentalize that mode of explanation when doing science, because such explanations are not part of science. Science can disprove that miracles happened– creationism being the most prime example. But you can’t invoke a miracle as an explanation for a scientific observation, because in so doing you are no longer performing science. That may well be compartmentalization– but it doesn’t imply hypocracy. It merely recognizes that science does not include miracles.

    To insist that *reality* doesn’t include miracles goes further– that’s a philosophical question. Science sets an upper limit on how often miracles can be happening, because there’d be scientific evidence for supernatural intervention if it were happening too often. But it doesn’t rule them out altogether.

    Myself, I take a somewhat agnostic view. My personal view on the bodily resurrection is “probably not”. To me, what we call a miracle has more to do with our interpretation of the event, with the emotional effect it has on us, than the actual occurrence of the event itself. But that’s a whole ‘nuther essay. I agree with Jim that you can approach the wonder of God without believing in miracles at all. That is another way to be religious without being in contradiction with science. That wasn’t the topic of my original blog post; that was specifically to address claims that you can’t believe in the virgin birth or bodily resurrection while remaining consistent with science.

    TomJoe : re: PZ talking about atheists, don’t expect him to come anywhere near rationality or consistency on the topic. “Celebrate atheists, hate theists” is the methodology there. Expect him to crow any time somebody says he’s an atheist or says something nasty about religion, and expect him to be hateful and insulting in a manner far beyond what got Don Imus fired when talking about the religious. He’s the Rush Limbaugh of atheism, spouting extreme and in-your-face dogma in a manner that angers those he opposes and delights his followers. It’s too bad that, just like Limbaugh, he’s got a set of devoted and frothing-at-the-mouth followers such that it makes it impossible for us to completely ignore him as he deserves.

  22. TomJoe Says:

    Another issue I thought of, especially as it pertains to people who work with animals. Say you own a dog, you’re a huge dog lover, advocate for better care for animals in shelters, no-kill’s and the like. But, you also realize that dogs are the best animal model for the particular area of study you are an expert in. Does this compartmentalization mean you’re suddenly a poorer scientist because of it? Does it mean you’re somehow intellectually duller than your counterparts because of it?

    So, given this … yes, I can see how some sort of compartmentalization can occur in science, on a daily basis as a matter of fact, and it shouldn’t really be a criticism at all. I’m not sure that I take fully Rob’s explanation (and I note he says it “may well be”) of compartmentalization between some “flavors” of religion and science for reasons we can obviously get into further.

    PS: Duly noted on PZ. I’ve seen it before, and it just saddens me at this point.

    PSS: I’m enjoying this conversation and the tone it has taken. Very civil, very enlightening, and has forced me to crystalize some of my own thoughts. Thanks for everyone involved for keeping this a very conducive medium for discussion, I very much appreciate it. :)

  23. Chris' Wills Says:

    Saying that Christians have to compartmentalise and/or indulge in (or suffer from) cognitive dissonance to do science is perhaps because some people don’t see any way to reconcile the two.

    This is more, I suspect, because based on their philosophy/beliefs there is no reconciliation possible.

    However, there is no dissonance or compartmentalisation of any kind required if you hold:
    1) God has created a lawful universe and a species (mankind) who is endowed with intelligence and the ability to understand the laws/rules that govern the universe.
    2) belief that it is to the benefit of mankind and part of the glorification of God to understand said universe.
    3) that we are duty bound to try and understand said universe, withersoever it lead us, as to do otherwise would be to disparage the intelligence granted us and that this would be a sin.

    This doesn’t mean that religious beliefs are correct, just that no splitting of thought processes is required.

    The early High Middle Ages and the Renaissance European Christians believed in a rational mathematical designer God who had created a rational mathematical world and that it was their duty to discover and expose the underlying rationality of this world to the greater glory of God.