As science learns more, God/s are needed less

  

Category:  Op/Ed

By:  gordy327  •  3 weeks ago  •  34 comments

As science learns more, God/s are needed less
“Anything you don't understand, you attribute to God. God for you is where you sweep away all the mysteries of the world, all the challenges to our intelligence. You simply turn your mind off and say God did it.” ― Carl Sagan, Contact

Throughout human history and across many cultures, probably going back to the Stone Age, humans have engaged in a "god of the gaps" mentality when it came to the inexplicable or phenomenon that was not understood. Basically, the god of the gaps argument states that any gap in our knowledge or understanding can be explained or filled by inserting the deity of one's choice as an explanation. For example, ancient Greeks would view the sun "travelling" across the sky. We know it's due to the Earth's rotation. But the Greeks believed the god Apollo pulled it across the sky with his chariot. Thunder and lightning? We understand weather conditions and phenomenon. Ancient Greeks believed it was Zeus and he was probably pissed off about something. Volcano eruptions, earthquakes, ocean waves, seasonal changes, ect., all largely explained and understood by science today. But ancient people across different cultures and times thought it was due to god/s. This is still (amazingly and unfortunately) prevalent today. It's evident when a theist invokes creationism or Intelligent Design, or something along those theistic lines as an explanation for how/why we (humans, Earth, the universe, ect.) are here. It's a convenient and emotionally pleasing explanation to what is otherwise unknown. But such a thought process is intellectually lazy and possibly dishonest. 

But God/s is not. an explanation for anything. It's a failure to explain. It's an "I don't know" wrapped in a theological package. Crediting god/s only means the one invoking them actually has no idea and cannot admit that. As Jerry Coyne once said (as cited in 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins, 2006), "If the history of science shows us anything, it is that we get nowhere by labelling our ignorance "God".' But science seeks out questions and the unknown. It doesn't make assumptions and then call it a day. Science practitioners will look for objective, empirical evidence and (hopefully) follow that evidence to where it leads and not to where they or anyone wants it to go. And when science encounters a mystery that it cannot explain, then the correct and honest response is "I/we don't know." But making something up or making assumptions like "God/s did it" just to explain something or satisfy a personal belief or whim is neither correct or honest. 

Fortunately, over the centuries, science has advanced and developed tools to further its advancement and information gathering. The result is a much greater understanding of the natural world and why thing actually work the way they do. As the "gaps" in our knowledge become filled, god/s are objectively needed less and less, if at all. Granted, there is still much we do not know or understand and some questions may never be answered. Such mysteries are intellectually stimulating and must be solved, if possible. But not at the expense of intellectual integrity by utilizing an easy, convenient "answer" that is really no answer at all. It's one thing to have and appreciate a mystery. But it's quite another to want to keep it mysterious.


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Gordy327
Professor Principal
1  author  Gordy327    3 weeks ago

Remember: Follow the evidence to where it leads. Not to where you want it to go. jrSmiley_79_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

There are different aspects to explanation. Science can explain how something happened. Philosophy and religion attempt to explain  why what happened is relevant to human beings. There is no need to reject the latter on the basis that it gets the how terribly wrong. 

Human beings have always wanted to understand the why part as well as the how. To some extent scientific explanations try to tell us that the why doesn't matter because the how is all we can find out through studying physical processes , and maybe physical processes are all that exists. 

Nonetheless, "Science explains it" seems very much like only a partial explanation. 

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.1  author  Gordy327  replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago
Philosophy and religion attempt to explain  why what happened is relevant to human beings.

Philosophy makes for stimulating thought experiments. But underneath, it is mostly speculative or opinion. Science is the best means for establishing the facts behind something. Or at least, objectively explain it as best as possible.

Human beings have always wanted to understand the why part as well as the how.

Yes, but that is more of an emotional component. It's an attempt to make sense of something or how to deal with it.

Nonetheless, "Science explains it" seems very much like only a partial explanation. 

Science helps provide the best or most plausible explanation.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Gordy327 @2.1    3 weeks ago
Science helps provide the best or most plausible explanation.

Science gives an explanation , but it is not necessarily the only needed explanation. 

Why do so many atheists act as if science replaces the need for anything else? 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

What's 'anything else'?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.3  JohnRussell  replied to  Tessylo @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

"Anything" other than science is everything other than science. Do you think science is all human beings need? 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.4  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

For truth.  

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

So that's 'everything else' . . . kind of broad!

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.1.6  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.1    3 weeks ago
Why do so many atheists act as if science replaces the need for anything else? 

I think that is simply perception.   Probably a result of the fact that atheists counter religious claims with arguments based on logic and evidence and science is the epitome of same.

Do you know of any method that is superior to formal science (mathematics, formal logic, physics, ...) for advancing demonstrable knowledge about reality?  

If one is not concerned about demonstrable knowledge then there are plenty of places to turn outside of science.   But if demonstrable knowledge is the objective, what is better than science?

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
2.1.7  Thrawn 31  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

Some people have an emotional need to assign some higher meaning or purpose to their lives, others don’t. I am who/what I am and life is what it is and that is okay with me. I don’t need to assign some higher purpose to it all. I can appreciate it for what it is.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.1.8  author  Gordy327  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.1    3 weeks ago
Science gives an explanation ,  but it is not necessarily the only needed explanation. 

Science looks for facts. Anything that's "needed" is just some kind of emotional/psychological attachment or gratification. 

Do you think science is all human beings need?

Depends on whom you ask I suppose.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.2  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago
Philosophy and religion attempt to explain  why what happened is relevant to human beings.

Philosophy is logical speculation.  

Science involves speculation but only as part of a process that delivers well-founded explanations (theories of empirical science) based on highly scrutinized evidence;  the explanations are falsifiable (can be tested for ongoing validity or found to be false) and predictive (theories inherently predict behavior and this is a major component of validation).

Philosophy lacks these hard properties.    Philosophical arguments are based on premises but there is no requirement that these premises be evidenced.   The premises and the argument need not be falsifiable or predictable.   That means there is no method for validating a philosophical argument other than to ensure the logic is valid:  if the premises are true, the conclusion is true.    There is no requirement that the argument be sound (i.e. the premises are all true).  This is why we so many contradictory philosophies / religions ... they have many degrees of freedom and can be wholly composed of logical speculation.

Science is where one turns to get the best understanding, thus far, of our reality.   It produces knowledge.

Philosophy is where one turns to get ideas on why things happen.    It does not produce knowledge (other than the insight of logical reasoning);  it produces logical possibilities.

In short, science yields practical knowledge of reality whereas philosophy yields ideas.   Both are valuable, but we design buildings, ... based on science and make stories based on philosophy.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @2.2    3 weeks ago

Well then , since science and philosophy  (religion and belief in God is an expression of philosophy) inhabit separate realms, why do atheists constantly feel they can defeat religion through science? 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.2.2  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.1    3 weeks ago

I'm not an atheist - not sure what I am.  I'm with TiG.  Not trying to defeat anything. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.2.3  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.1    3 weeks ago

Defeat?

When a religious claim is made that contradicts well-founded science, why do you object to challenging the claim based on science?

Those who claim the Noah's ark story is true are going against well-founded knowledge based on science that shows not only that no such flood ever occurred on this planet but that the ark itself could not possibly survive at sea and could not possibly hold and maintain the animals in its charge.  

Those who claim the Earth is 6,000 years old contradict various methods of science used to date (ranging from biochemical to cosmological).

Those who claim evolution is a conspiracy theory contradict modern biology.

When people make such claims, why would you object to countering same based on the findings of modern science?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.2.4  JohnRussell  replied to  Tessylo @2.2.2    3 weeks ago

I wasnt specifically referring to you. I do think though that atheists sometimes seem to think that if they can demonstrate that such and such processes that are sometimes accredited to God are explainable by science,  that then religion is proved incorrect and unnecessary. That is simply one perspective. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.2.5  Tessylo  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.4    3 weeks ago

I know John.  I'm not trying to pick a fight with you.  Just stating my thoughts.  

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.2.6  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.3    3 weeks ago

I understand that all religions are man made, thus stories like "the ark" are part of their explanations. God, if it exists, is not man made , but we as human beings can only express a "relationship" with God in human terms. The fact that some people believe God saved Noah and pairs of animals is neither proof of God or proof against God. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.2.7  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.6    3 weeks ago
The fact that some people believe God saved Noah and pairs of animals is neither proof of God or proof against God. 

Has anyone here claimed that the Ark story is proof against God?

So why bring it up?    That is not the nature of these debates.   The nature is that claims of certainty are made based on religious beliefs.   Sometimes those claims are challenged based on logic (e.g. an omniscient entity that is surprised) and other times based on science (e.g. evolution vs. creation).

A god might indeed exist.   The notion of an extant god is never challenged (at least not by me) but the God as defined by the Bible is since the Bible defines a God character that is a contradiction.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.2.8  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.4    3 weeks ago
I do think though that atheists sometimes seem to think that if they can demonstrate that such and such processes that are sometimes accredited to God are explainable by science,  that then religion is proved incorrect and unnecessary.

Let's move out of Christianity then.   Back to the more primitive religions based on the Greek (and Roman) gods.   People no longer believe that lightning is the anger of Zeus or that volcanic eruptions are the displeasure of Vulcan.   Science has, over the centuries, explained what was attributed (out of ignorance) to gods.

Have these ancient religions been shown to be incorrect?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.2.9  JohnRussell  replied to  TᵢG @2.2.7    3 weeks ago

You have been arguing against the use of the Bible to prove the existence of God for many years, no? 

By now, most reasonable people understand that the Old Testament Bible is in part allegorical . We still see articles saying that now we will demonstrate why the story of Noah's ark is untrue.  Ok, then what? 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
2.2.10  Thrawn 31  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.1    3 weeks ago
why do atheists constantly feel they can defeat religion through science? 

I am not trying to “defeat” anything. I am perfectly fine leaving religion alone, maybe make fun of it from time to time, as long as it stays in its lane. However, when laws are being passed, and decisions are being made and religion/religious beliefs are being used as the reason why, now there is an issue. If you cannot prove the necessity of something using actual data but instead argue it is necessary because your particular deity wants it then we are not going to see eye to eye.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
2.2.11  TᵢG  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.9    3 weeks ago

The problem is that many people believe the Bible is divine and the God it defines is necessarily real.   They then act on the words of the Bible as if they truly came from a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent creator.

If people operated as you (recognize the Bible is simply the product of ancient imaginations) and simply hold a belief in a creator who is a complete mystery then there would be very few debates.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.2.12  author  Gordy327  replied to  JohnRussell @2.2.1    3 weeks ago
why do atheists constantly feel they can defeat religion through science? 

I don't know any atheists who try to "defeat" religion. Religion is "defeated" when it tries to make affirmative claims in regards to the natural world as observed by science. Especially when established scientific evidence contradicts religious claims or stories.

but we as human beings can only express a "relationship" with God in human terms.

That demonstrates and emotional or psychological need or understanding. Not so much a scientific one.

The fact that some people believe God saved Noah and pairs of animals is neither proof of God or proof against God. 

That is a prime example of where science "defeats" religion: There is no evidence to suggest there was ever a biblical flood. Evidence refutes any claims of a biblical flood. While it doesn't demonstrate that god does not exist (that was never the intent or point), it does show the fallacy and errancy of biblical claims, especially if one holds the bible as literal truth or fact.

that then religion is proved incorrect and unnecessary.

If science does stablish evidence and facts which refutes religious claims, then religion is incorrect and not necessary as an explanation.

You have been arguing against the use of the Bible to prove the existence of God for many years, no?

Some people refer to the bible as "proof" of god, the "word" of god, ect.. When biblical claims are shown to be inaccurate and/or more plausible explanations are provided, then the veracity of the bible is questioned, which means it may not be actual "proof" of anything, much less claims for god.

We still see articles saying that now we will demonstrate why the story of Noah's ark is untrue.  Ok, then what? 

Then we delve into the available evidence to arrive at actual truth. Or at least a more plausible explanation of events described.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago

There may well not be a reason why - we might just be here because if random chance.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.3.1  author  Gordy327  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.3    3 weeks ago

Isn't it funny how some people seem to have a hard time accepting that possibility?

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Guide
3  Sean Treacy    3 weeks ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @3    3 weeks ago

I saw Sean's comment. While sarcastic, it was not taunting. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Guide
3.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    3 weeks ago

While sarcastic, it was not taunting. 

[deleted]

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.1.2  author  Gordy327  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.1.1    3 weeks ago

Do you have something constructive to contribute to the discussion? Or are you going to engage in whining and meta?

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Gordy327 @3.1.2    3 weeks ago

Always the latter . . . 

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.1.4  author  Gordy327  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.3    3 weeks ago

So it would seem.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Expert
4  Hal A. Lujah    3 weeks ago

Imagine having no choice but to exist forever.  That’s not divine, it’s a curse.  If there were a god I would pity it.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1  author  Gordy327  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @4    3 weeks ago
Imagine having no choice but to exist forever.  That’s not divine, it’s a curse.

I tend to agree. I don't think people seriously consider the ramifications of immortality.

 
 
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