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Monday, May 23, 2016

Math PhD: Why Science Does Not Disprove God

Recently I became aware of an upcoming book named Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed by Douglas Axe. The New Atheists and their fellow travelers already have their knives out to tear it apart, sight unseen.

I am not too impressed with their close minded juvenile arguments. It makes it hard to focus on the legitimate discussion.

I am much more inclined to be persuaded by open minded scholars like Amir Aczel.

I highly recommend that people read Aczel's Why Science Does Not Disprove God. In this 2014 book, Aczel, the math PhD and prolific science author, takes on New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Lawrence Krauss to task for misusing science to advance their ¨God is not real¨ message.

Aczel's position is basically, ¨I know science. Science is a friend of mine. You're no scientist.¨ He writes chapters on archaeology, the Big Bang, quantum physics, the pre-Big Bang ¨nothingness,¨ the multiverse, probability, chaos, the anthropic principle (he's not a fan), evolution, consciousness, and infinity. In every case Aczel finds that the New Atheists misunderstand or misapply science to push their anti-God agenda. Aczel's position on God's existence is agnostic. He does not take a position that science proves the absolute reality of God. But following the rules of science he must admit that science does show that there could be a God.
Some of my favorite passages from the book include the following . . .

¨So while it is ignorant and unscientific to fail to recognize that evolution is a powerful principle that often explains what we see in the biological sphere, it is equally unjustified to assume that evolution is a perfect theory that explains everything. A theory that cannot produce excellent predictions of future outcomes and phenomena is not a complete theory.¨
¨Science is dispassionate, rational, a logical search for facts and truths about nature and the universe around us. It is the pursuit of the laws of nature, with no agendas to push for any philosophy about who created these laws. But the New Atheists, who claim to speak for science, are more like religious evangelists bent on converting us to their narrow point of view that God does not exist.¨
¨This notion of emergence is one that has been addressed in philosophy, but never explained well by science. We don't know how a universe emerged. We don't know how from chaos and fuzziness and unworldly behavior of the quantum, the structured universe of macro objects we see around us came about, with its causality, locality, and definiteness -- none of which are characteristics of the quantum realm. We don't know how self-replicating life emerged from inanimate objects. And we don't know how and why and at exactly what point in evolution human consciousness became a reality. The inexplicability of such emergent phenomena is the reason why we cannot disprove the idea of some creative power behind everything we experience around us -- at least not at our present state of knowledge.¨
¨We think of the universe as governed by strict logical laws, but in fact quantum theory, and ideas in pure mathematics, are not based only on logic. (German genius mathematician Georg) Cantor's work was governed by psychology almost as much as logic. It is here that we see the human mind transcending the rational and the straightforward. Our minds are based on essentials that go beyond the mechanistic and the evolutionary: they have something extra that allows them to do amazing things that computers, and dogs, and monkeys, cannot. I believe that this mysterious extra element inside our brains -- such as the ability Cantor possessed for dealing with the immense concept of infinity -- is related to the divine.¨
¨We don't fully understand what space is made of, and what the elements of physical space are and how they are stacked together. We don't know the level of infinity of the real line and whether the mathematical line has the properties of physical space. We don't know how space and time were created. We don't know what time really is. We don't know what caused the Big Bang. And we don't know who or what created God. What we do know is that the universe did not come out of the void all by itself: something preceded the Big Bang, and that ¨something¨ is unreachable to our science and may well remain so forever. We know that by strange and mysterious mechanism all the constants of nature turned out to be exactly as they need to be for life to emerge, and the alternatives to a divine control that effected these incredibly unlikely conditions are no more likely than is the existence of God.¨

My own contribution to the possibility of a designer in the creation and evolution of life is the play Inherit the Wind: Overturned by Design (see book link at right). This play reworks the 1950's play Inherit the Wind based on the 1920's Scope's Monkey Trial where evolution is on trial to a 21st century setting where intelligent design is on trial. It was fun to write. It is interesting to see the reaction of some readers who cheer the plot of the original play but turn surly when the tables are turned and ID is debated. Others recognize that there is a debate here that is worth engaging. Related post here.

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