How to make Religion and Science Agree – Debunked. Part 2
In this article I continue my series of articles in which I tackle the several deficiencies of the trilogy of articles published by the author XFactor, to demonstrate to the reader that not only are the author’s reasoning fallacious but that science and religion cannot be “made” to agree because they are so very different indeed.
The first debunking can be read here.
Articles published by XFactor are as follows:
Article 1 How-to-make-Religion-and-Science-agree
Article 2 Science-and-Religion-Part-II
Article 3 Science-and-Religion-version-3
Despite receiving a bollocking on the first article, author Xfactor proceeds to really drop himself into the thick of logical fallacy in his second article.
Article 2 – Science and Religion Part II
The author, after admitting science is not in the business of looking for deities, essentially sets up a legal argument to resolve the argument as follows: “My client, Religion, stands accused of being a liar. He claims that the Universe was created by God, and the other side (the prosecution/atheists), claim that Religion is a lie, and that the Universe created itself and that by random coincidence and luck, we exist. At this stage of human evolution and scientific advancement, I have absolutely no concrete or admissible evidence concerning God, besides the age old assertion that life is too complex, and the universe too well organized to have been the product of random coincidences. Therefore my best, indeed my only argument, is to attempt to generate enough room for “reasonable doubt” in the jury against the concise and logical arguments put across by the prosecution!”
Now this paragraph aside from being a complete and utter strawman fallacy, since science has never claimed the universe created itself by random coincidence, is very telling. The author admits the arguments of atheists are concise and logical versus the “absolutely no concrete or admissible evidence concerning God”, yet he continues fleshing out his strawman!
The author proceeds to present arguments to in an attempt to introduce reasonable doubt in the reader’s mind. In reality these arguments are nothing but a series of logical fallacies. The first argument irreducible complexity, via the good old DNA molecule, is a tired one that has been debunked time and time again by science and by courts of law in the USA, and is therefore introduces absolutely no “reasonable doubt” whatsoever for anyone educated in the fallacies employed by the not so very “Intelligent Design” fraternity.
The second argument on the face of it seems pretty intelligent. “The second challenge I have concerns the Big Bang theory and the antimatter problem.”
This issue known as the baryon asymmetry problem in physics refers to the fact that there is an imbalance in baryonic matter and antibaryonic matter in the observable universe. Neither the standard model of particle physics, nor the theory of general relativity provides an obvious explanation for why this should be so, and it is a natural assumption that the universe be neutral with all conserved charges. The Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. There are competing hypotheses to explain the matter-antimatter imbalance that resulted in baryogenesis, but there is as yet no one consensus theory to explain the phenomenon.
This argument does not in the least introduce reasonable doubt because science has demonstrated time and time again that it does eventually come up with the answer, we do what we have done for a few centuries now, and we wait for the answer. It is not an opportunity to insert the greatest unknown of all time –your favourite deity. The most likely answer is not the god-did-it solution; it is the least likely answer aside from the infinite regress it introduces. This is commonly referred to as the god-of-the-gaps fallacy.
The third argument, “how can we have laws without a law-giver” the author presents is known as the natural-law argument and is easily debunked. This argument relies on equivocation between two meanings of the word "law". Legislative laws, such as "Do not murder" or "No littering" are prescriptive: they are established to demarcate acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Natural laws, on the other hand, are descriptive: they are human concepts that describe how some aspect of the universe behaves. For instance, Newton's law of motion F = ma describes how solid objects behave when acted upon by a force. If a person or object breaks a physical law, then it is the law that is in error, since it obviously does not adequately describe what it seeks to describe.
The laws in question are descriptive abstractions of what the universe does, not prescriptive legislations about what the universe can do. As such they do not require a law giver, but as long as a law giver is being asserted, it opens up the question of where the preferred deity got his laws. Even if we grant the false premises that there are prescriptive natural laws, and by extension the existence of a lawgiver deity, it does not follow that the particular preferred deity is the one the author has in mind, or even that there is only one deity involved. It could just as likely be the Flying Spaghetti Monster, purple space pixies, Santa Claus, or invisible pink unicorns, as it could be Yahweh.
In the final arguments the author bleats on about something I’ve never heard of – “random creation theory” where the “odds are extremely small” apparently. Well here we are. Even if the odds are small the universe is evidence that it can and indeed did happen. He also expresses the personal incredulity fallacy to seal his argument, which did NOT poke holes right through science to provide gaps for his deity all over the place.
On presenting his arguments the author then proudly asserts “I view science’s explanations for existence as credible, but contentious at best. Therefore the alternate, simpler argument becomes a view that should at-least be considered. Not to say that this proves “God” exists. But since “God” is the only other viable alternative to existence besides the highly unlikely random coincidence theory, can the logical mind still categorically, and without reasonable doubt, deny God’s existence?”
What exactly qualifies the author to make calls as to whether science is credible or for that matter contentious? In addition we have demonstrated that the author did not present credible arguments to introduce “reasonable doubt” in the first place, so really his conclusion is not justified and the reasonable mind can with reasonable certainty deny his preferred deity’s existence.
By far the author’s finest moment in his second article comes when he presents Occam’s Razor. In simple terms the razor states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Now aside from the fact that in the scientific method, Occam's Razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result, the author engages in fallacy on an epic scale.
He assumes firstly that scientific knowledge in the form of laws and theories and body of knowledge are on equal footing with the god-hypothesis and are thus “competing” hypotheses for the origin and end of the universe. He then ignores the fact that the god-hypothesis is by far the most complex hypothesis since it by definition involves the most extraordinary assumptions and the unassailable nasty - infinite regress. So Occam’s Razor if applied properly would certainly not point to the god-hypothesis. Unfortunately the application of the principle often shifts the burden of proof in a discussion. The razor states that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate, and since science is the only method known to man to deliver accurate explanations for the universe around us, the explanatory power of science wins on any day of the week and even Sundays. Faith to date has not explained a single natural phenomenon.
As I have presented here, the arguments presented in an attempt to introduce “reasonable doubt” into the “and that the Universe created itself and that by random coincidence and luck, we exist” argument is a dismal failure, not only because the original premise is a strawman fallacy but also because each of the arguments presented are quite easily shown to be nonsense. The combination of fallacious argument, fundamentally flawed science and ignorance unfortunately does not convince any educated reader that a preferred deity has residence in scientific knowledge gaps.
XFactor concludes his second article with “And as a scientist, I predict that as science progresses and the more we understand the universe, we will find more and more indicators to answer the “God question”. Well if the author is indeed a scientist, which is highly unlikely given the lack of adequate scientific argument, he would know that history has shown this statement to be true. Science is finding more and more evidence daily that is pushing the god-of-the-gaps into ever receding corners in gaps knowledge.
Finally just a brief comment on two statements made by XFacor:
“I think many scientists feel that opening the room to God might slow down scientific progress?”
“I think that many scientists feel that for science to truly advance, it must completely castigate “God”. And because science has generally viewed faith as something the weak and lazy rely on in the face of human hardship and the yet unexplained, religion is viewed with negative sentiment among the “enlightened”.”
These two statements are completely and utterly not the opinion of scientists or the objective of the scientific method. The fact of the matter is that science is done by people from all around the world who have widely differing religions, faiths, personal beliefs and biases, which do not impact the methodology. Scientists are forced by the method and not through some conscious choice to exclude bias. Scientific method, not people doing science, dictates that faith is excluded.
In part three of my series of articles I will be investigating the final article in the trilogy of science made to agree with religion.