Cross Examination: The Limits of Science

Science has a lot to contribute to our lives and our knowledge.  It studies the way things are in our world–physical and natural–through observation and experimentation.  Scientists have enhanced the world in which we live.  But science has limitations.  There are things that science cannot answer.

scientist

I realize that there are those that will ridicule me for what I just said–“There are things that science cannot answer.”  Atheists love to say that Christians (and other theists) are non-scientific.  However, those that would ridicule are those that haven’t studied philosophy and epistemology.  Here’s a quote from an atheist educator, Austin Cline:

Atheists tend to be either exclusively or primarily empiricists: they insist that truth-claims be accompanied by clear and convincing evidence which can be studied and tested. Theists tend to be much more wiling to accept rationalism, believing that “truth” can be attained through revelations, mysticism, faith, etc. This is consistent with how atheists tend to place primacy on the existence of matter and argue that the universe is material in nature whereas theists tend to place primacy on the existence of mind (specifically: the mind of God) and argue that existence is more basically spiritual and supernatural in nature.

The debate, as Cline represents it, is between empiricism and rationalism, between a posteriori knowledge and a priori knowledge–whether you can know something only after you experience it, or you can know something purely by reason alone, before experience.  Many atheists, and Christians, use a combination of empiricism and rationalism to make their arguments.  There are some, though, that insist that you can only know something when you learn it by experience, or through the scientific method.  It’s this view that I believe is insufficient.

By the way, I believe that Cline’s statement above is incomplete, at best, about the nature of rational truth.  If you’d like to read a more lengthy discussion of Cline’s quote (and of empiricism vs. rationalism), I’d encourage you to read “The Limits of Science in the Search for God” on Metacrock’s blog.

There are certain things to which science cannot speak.  Let me suggest three statements about the inadequacy of science for the acquisition of knowledge:

Science cannot answer questions of philosophy; science is built on philosophy.
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language.  Science is built upon the foundation of philosophy, and is used as evidence to support the tenets of philosophy.  In fact, there is a philosophy of science, which deals with the assumptions, foundations, methods, and implications of science.  It asks questions about why things are done in science the way that they are.

There are two critical questions in the philosophy of science: (1) what are the aims of science; and (2) how should one interpret the results of science?  It’s in these questions that science has inadequacy.  To be “scientific,” a question (or answer) must be empirically tested, so you cannot ask questions like, “What is consciousness?” or “What is truth?” or “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

Science has basic questions that it cannot prove.

  1. Epistemological questions – What is knowledge?  How is knowledge acquired?  How do we know what we know?  Science cannot deal with whether knowledge can be arrived at before experience (a priori), or if it only can be arrived at empirically (through experience).
  2. Ontological questions – ontology is the study of being, existence, or reality.  Science cannot answer questions of ontology: What is existence?  What is a physical object?  What constitutes the identity of an object?  When does an object go out of existence, rather than just changing?
  3. Moral questions – much has been done to try and construct a moral philosophy based upon scientific underpinnings, mainly through trying to establish a genetic basis for morality.  Moral philosophy, ethics, and morality–all of these require the word “should” as part of their formulation (i.e one should or should not do something).  However, science concerns itself with stating the way that things ARE, not the way that they SHOULD be.  Merely establishing that nature lends itself to a predisposition toward a certain kind of behavior does not tell us that we should or should not do that behavior.

Many people will try to say, “Of course science can answer these questions,” but then try to borrow from philosophy in order to formulate an answer to these questions.

Science is under the interpretation of the scientist.
Scientists deal with two things: (1) data and (2) interpretation of data.  It’s hard to falsify data (and get away with it).  If falsified data is given to a peer to review, it will often be found out.  However, the interpretation of data is very sensitive to the bias of the scientist and scientific community.  There are many kinds of bias that can affect a scientist:

  • Religious bias (or anti-religious bias)
  • Political bias
  • Geographic bias
  • Ideological bias

Each scientist approaches their work with their own biases.  Some put their biases aside.  Some try to put their biases aside.  Others embrace their bias, and zealously interpret the data to promote their religious or political biases.  Stephen Jay Gould, the famed evolutionary biologist, once said,

But our ways of learning about the world are so strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem.  The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology. (from Natural History, volume 103).

We saw this before in Albert Einstein.  His biases would not let him accept that the universe had a beginning, so he adjusted his theory of general relativity so that the universe could remain eternal.  Only after he was offered evidence from the Hubble telescope did he say that he’d been wrong.

“But we have peer review,” some might say.  One might respond to that by saying, “Well, we also have collusion.”  What happens when your peers have the same religious, political, geographic and ideological biases that you do?  Does that confirmation of bias create truth?  Not necessarily.

G.K. Chesterton may have said it best: “In truth, there are only two kinds of people: those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don’t know it.”

Questions: What are questions that you can think of that science cannot answer?  Do you acknowledge your biases in your approach to knowledge?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

This post is in my series called “Cross Examination: Is Debunking Christianity Possible?”  I’m looking at a myriad of topics in the rational examination of my faith, and will write at least one post per week for the next year.  If you would like to read some of the previous posts in this series, click on the links below:

  • Anonymous

    You left out one “bias” of scientists:  Biased to want to know what is most likely true about the world we live in. When Einstein and his  “steady-state” universe  were “blindsided” by scientific discovery, I wonder if he accepted defeat, of if he concocted yet some other hypothesis in an attempt to support his “bias”?

    But more importantly, that fact that “Science” has “limits”(just like “faith”) , this fact is ultimately a red  herring, in the sense that the former is still the most reliable method for knowing what is most likely true about the world that we in, despite its “limits”.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, that would be a bad way to argue, wouldn’t it.  It’s a good thing that I didn’t make that argument.

      • Anonymous

        “Yes, that would be a bad way to argue, wouldn’t it.  It’s a good thing that I didn’t make that argument.” ~ R. Ewoldt

        Notice that the first paragraph of the post to which you are addressing is simply asking a question(which, per usual, you don’t answer) 

        Next, I’d like you to then notice that the second paragraph simply makes on observation, and that observation is based on the title of your latest instalment of the suppose “Cross Examination” of your current beliefs, “The Limits of Science”. As a writer, you should know that when/if you make certain statements, that those statements may have implications. When you and your Christian constituents say certain things, for instance, that Science is limited, etc., the implication is that science is not necessarily reliable, and/or, that it’s incomplete. I merely saying this: That you HAVE no better alternative. Nothing less; nothing more.

  • Anonymous

    The following comment is from  “The Limits of Science in the Search for God” on Metacrock’s blog that you advised us to read.  This comment has astounded me:

     <<>>

    Theology uses logic:  Bob, your own church’s doctrine asserts that the universe was created in 6 literal days.  Can you share with us any broadly accepted evidence from the scientific community that the universe was created in 6 literal days?  Is your view that the universe was created in 6 literal days really based upon logic when the preponderance of broadly accepted scientific evidence clearly refutes this view?
     
    Theology uses reason:  See above.  There is nothing reasonable about believing the universe was created in 6 literal days when a preponderance of broadly accepted scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the claim of a much older universe.  

    Theology uses scientific approaches:  What broadly accepted scientific evidence do you have to support your view that the universe was created in 6 literal days?  Anything?

    Theology uses textual criticisms:  I will defer to Bart Ehrman on this one.  Perhaps you will read one of his books on this subject.

    Theology uses archaeology:  Could you share some commonly accepted archaeological evidence that supports the claim that the Great Flood really happened and only 8 humans + a selected variety of critters survived?

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Thanks for the suggestions, Sid.  I will deal with these questions in a later post.

      • Anonymous

        I will hold you to that.  I look forward to your specific replies to these questions.

  • Anonymous

    “Theists tend to be much more wiling to accept rationalism, believing that ‘truth’ can be attained through revelations, mysticism, faith, etc ~ Austin Cline
    Fair enough. Let’s, then, look at the following fact:

     Millions of devout Muslim theists have attained what they believe to be “truth”, using all of the above…i.e..”revelations”, “mysticism”, and “faith”. Yet, Christian theists mysteriously “know” that those millions of people are in error.

    In conclusion, the theist(if he or she is honest) must admit that things like “revelation”, “mysticism”, and “faith” are NOT reliable for determining “truth”. Christian theists know that this notion that Muhammad hopped on winged pony and flew off  into the clouds, is an idea that is NOT grounded in reality; it is not “true”. Do they dismiss on “faith”? No, they likely dismiss it because it flies in the face of science. 

    Christians want their cake and eat it, too. Par for the course. 

    • Anonymous

      But boomSLANG, Christians worship the one true God.  The Bible tells them so.  Muslims (and all other world religions) have it all wrong.  I’ll get out my Criswell Study Bible and PROVE it to you based upon scripture verses…  

      • Anonymous

        hence, the qualifier…”(if he or she is honest)”

        • Anonymous

          <<>>

          I think this statement is perhaps a bit more diplomatic than necessary.  I see no evidence that “mysticism” and “faith” are reliable for determining “truth”.  I am not aware of scientific advancement coming as a result of “faith” apart from evidence and observation.  I won’t comment on “revelation” because I have never seen any evidence of it.

          • Anonymous

            You’re right. I’ll remove “always”.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Also from the link that I encouraged you to read:

      Atheism thrives on the notion that it is the rational choice. It clings to science and the value of scientific thinking because science has come to be understood as the umpire of reality. Religion really does involve a global use of knowledge, thus the atheist emphasizes the less scientific more “irrational” methods of religion and conveniently forgets that theology also uses logic, reason, scientific approaches, textual criticisms, archaeology and so forth. When atheists are confronted with God arguments based upon logic suddenly the use of logic becomes foolish, unimportant, inadequate unable to give us answers. Then the rationalist becomes not a logician but a mystic. Theistic rationalism is boiled down to the “spiritual” aspects and cut off from reason to make theism appear foolish. The truth of it is the atheist is truncating the world, cutting of everything below the surface. The atheist world is like a frozen sea where ice bergs end at the waterline. It’s true that religious thinking does employ these means that atheists seek to make appear foolish, revelation, mystical experience and so on.  That’s part of being global. Global approach to knowledge means using everything we know. Those more pneumatic methods are related to and grounded in the use of reason and the validated of scientific testing. This is true even on the level of daily living where untrained laymen do not make clinical field trials but live their lives, they gravitate to that which works for them and that which doesn’t work they leave alone. The more academic theological thinker employs all the techniques known to modern humanity, including science. Yet the true ground of understanding for God is in the heart. The atheist seeks to cut off the heart by disparaging it as “subjective,” “superstitious,” “unscientific” but that’s because they have to do that to make their case. Their case is based upon truncating reality.

      • Anonymous

        “When atheists are confronted with God arguments based upon logic suddenly the use of logic becomes foolish, unimportant, inadequate unable to give us answers.” 

        Cheese ‘n crackers! Hello, Pot? Meet Kettle!

         First, I would be very curious to see one of your “God arguments based upon logic”. ‘Got any? Just one?

        Secondly, when you on the one hand say that things like “faith”, “revelation”, and “mysticism” are *also* instrumental in determining “truth” –  IOW, that science is incomplete, and/or, unreliable – my question AGAIN, is how are you dismissing the truth-claims of millions of devout Muslims who use the SAME three things to arrive at the belief that they are right, and you are wrong? Are you using “faith” and wish-thinking? Or are you using science and common sense? Which is it? If you are using the latter, then you are guilty of the very same thing of which that the above-quoted accuses Atheists. 

        • Anonymous

          <<>>

          That comment really takes the cake.  I eagerly await logical, reasoned, scientific answers to my questions above.  

          • Anonymous

            “I eagerly await logical, reasoned, scientific answers to my questions above.”

            Oh, but Sid, those questions will be answered in future “Cross Examination” instalments, which, thus far, have only led to more questions(that never get answered).

          • Anonymous

            I think I would change the name of the series from “Cross Examination” to “Self Reinforcement”…

      • The Truth Seeker

        Bob, I believe the reason for your article is to prove that science has limits therefore there is no more reason to believe in science than to believe in Christian theology.  I think that Sid and Boomslang have adequately responded to your questions and thesis.  No one claims that science knows everything there is to know.  Obviously it doesn’t.  But that doesn’t prove that Christian theology and doctrine is just as good as science.  Christian theology and doctrine is built on the assumption that there is a God.  Everything falls neatly into place if that one big assumption is true. Maybe not neatly, but in place. 

        The other problem with Christianity is that it believes in a Bible which has been shown to be woefully lacking in real evidence to back up its claims.  It has been shown many times over and over that many things in the Bible are contradictory and inconsistent.  For a book that claims to be inspired by God one would assume that it wouldn’t be filled with errors and contradictions.  

        People of science are humans like everyone else.  They make mistakes too.  But the basis of science is not a claim to knowing everything and not a claim to being inspired by a non-provable God.  Science always looks at the evidence and makes conclusions based on that evidence.  If the conclusions are wrong, then someone will show that it is and the study goes on.  The Bible makes no claims to being mistaken as it concludes that it is the word of God and therefore perfect.  I’m sure you see the difference.  You would think that if people of Christianity see there are errors in the Bible they would admit that they are wrong and make some effort to explain why they should be believed.  I don’t think I have ever heard a Christian say that.  

        What science and accumulated knowledge have shown over the centuries is that there are many things wrong in the Bible and that it was written by people over two thousand years ago for a populace that lived two thousand years ago and not for the people of today.  The Book of Revelation shows without a doubt that most of the things said there were aimed at the Romans who they claimed to be the whore of Babylon.  The writer of this book had an amazing imagination about what was going to happen in the near term future and it was specifically aimed at Rome before Christianity became the religion of Rome.  

        Once the Christians recognized that the Kingdom of God was not coming, they stopped their thoughts about the end of the world and got busy laying out a religion based on what they thought were Christ’s beliefs.  It is interesting that Christ never had any intention of breaking away from Judaism.  There were early Christian sects that continued the belief in Judaism but still practiced what Christ had said.  These people were claimed to be heretical by the Christian sect that became the religion of Rome.  Everything that these sects wrote were destroyed by the so-called real Christians and we have no evidence of what they believed except for the writings of the orthodox Christians trying to show why these other sects were not legitimate.  

        • Anonymous

          Truth Seeker,

          <<>>

          This claim is a doozy…

          Joshua 10:12-13
          New American Standard Bible (NASB) 

          (12) Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,  “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” (13) So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.  Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Truth Seeker, thanks for your comment. My purpose was not so much to argue
          against SCIENCE, but against those who believe that science is the ONLY
          source of truth. It’s not, as I demonstrated in the article. I will use
          science liberally in future articles, and am a firm believer in science. I
          agree with something boom said earlier in this string… science is a
          reliable method for knowing what is most likely true.

          The distinction that I draw is this: science cannot prove reason or logic
          (because those are really outside the scope of science). I include reason
          and logic as foundations of truth.

          My quibble is only with those who say empiricism is the ONLY way to know
          truth, not with those who use empiricism as ONE way to know truth.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Does mysticism prove reason or logic?

            What is reasonable or logical about believing Biblical claims that obviously defy the laws of nature?

          • Anonymous

            “Does mysticism prove reason or logic?” ~ Sid

            Sid, I fully understand the point of your rhetorical question. The answer to your question is, of course, “no”. And this what I was saying previously when I said that when/if the Theist comes along and shoots down science by pointing out its limitations, at the end of the day, they HAVE no better alternative.  Also, when Mr. Ewoldt says he agrees with me, here…..

            I agree with something boom said earlier in this string… science is a reliable method for knowing what is most likely true. [bold added]

            He misses(likely ignores) the point, by omitting a few key words. He needs to replace “a”, with “the most”, and then and only then are he and I in agreement. As it stands, he erroneously attempts to put “science” on equal ground as “faith”, and he will fail each and every time he attempts to do so.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I wasn’t shooting down science in pointing out that it has limitations.
            Neither was I saying that mysticism proves reason or logic.

          • Anonymous

            “I wasn’t shooting down science in pointing out that it has limitations. “ ~ R. Ewoldt

            Science has limits. On that much, everyone here seems to agree.  Can we move on? 

            Assuming we can move on, you would then argue that “science” is…….

            a) still the best, most reliable method for acquiring demonstrably-true knowledge about the world we live in.  

            b) not a comprehensive method for acquiring knowledge, and therefore, reliant upon other ways of acquiring demonstrably-true knowledge

            c) none of the above

            Of course, my answer has been “a”, all along. Unless I’ve misunderstood you, I would say that you’ve been arguing “b” all along, and if so, then I am asking you a third time:  

            What alternatives to “science” are reliable for acquiring demonstrably-true knowledge about the world we live in? 

            “Neither was I saying that mysticism proves reason or logic” ~ R. Ewoldt

            And to my knowledge, no one accused you of saying that. Sid asked you a question to make a rhetorical point, and my guess is that this was his attempt to get you stop equivocating on this subject. The same is true of my line of questioning, above.  So, let’s see what happens.

            a, b, or c?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            boom, I would agree with you… I choose “a.”  Science is the best, most reliable method for acquiring demostrably true knowledge about the world we live in.  If something can be demonstrated, then science is the best way to demonstrate it.

          • Anonymous

            “I choose ‘a.’  Science is the best, most reliable method for acquiring demostrably true knowledge about the world we live in. ~ R. Ewoldt

            Fair enough.

            you continue…

            If something can be demonstrated, then science is the best way to demonstrate it.”

            Ah… “If”. So, this seems to be a concession that not ALL “knowledge” can be shown to be demonstrably-true. If I have understood that correctly, my question then becomes, why should we even bother calling what is NOT demonstrably-true, “knowledge”? 

            Take,  for instance, Astrology. Do people who practice Astrology, in fact, ascertain knowledge about the world we live in when/if they “read the stars”? Or do they believe that reading the stars gives them “knowledge”? When people who practice Scientology crack open “Dianetics” by L. Ron Hubbard, are they acquiring “knowledge”? Or do said people merely believe they are acquiring “knowledge”? 

            Case in point: Knowing, and believing, are two different things. There is no objective confirmation that what you believe to be reliable spheres of thought or alternatives to science are in fact reliable. Thus, we have no business calling such alternatives “knowledge”. It’s called the “Christian Faith” for a reason.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            You are correct.  Looks like you got a direct answer to your question.

          • Anonymous

            “Looks like you got a direct answer to your question.”

            Yes, albeit, not the one I expected. But no matter. My point is underscored: 

            Knowing something, and believing something, are not necessarily one and the same.

          • Anonymous

            Agreed.  I remember once being confronted by a Mormon about 20 years ago when I was leaving the parking lot of a retail store.  The guy said he wanted to share the teachings of Joseph Smith with me.  He said he “knew” those teachings are true, and he therefore wanted to share them with me.  Well, I would bet that none of us (including Robert) believe those teachings are true.

          • Anonymous

            About 6 months ago I asked a Mormon “Elder” who came to my door how he knew his believes were correct, and all other forms of revealed truth, false, and he said that when he read the Book of Mormon, if gave him a burning sensation in his chest. And then I got the, “if you were walking in a forrest and stumbled upon a painting, you’d know that [yadda, yadda, yadda]”, gag. ..::sigh: 

          • Anonymous

            I had some Scotch the other night.  It gave me a warm sensation in my chest, but I am not about to worship the makers of it.  Wait!  What am I saying?  That Scotch was damn good.

          • Anonymous

            lol! Cheers!

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Agreed 100%.

            I find it interesting (and amusing) that this article emphasizes the claim that interpretation of scientific data can be influenced by preconceived bias held within the scientific community.  Gee, how biased is the Christian community and the Christian apologist re. scientific data… and Christian dogma.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, I actually agree with you; there’s much that some Christians believe
            that they accept on faith, even though there’s no scientific evidence for
            it. This is why I’m examining my beliefs–to see if there’s actually any
            evidence for it.

            However, I think that there’s also things that atheists take on faith… or
            at least believe something that there’s really not that much evidence for,
            either. I think the examination should go both ways.

            For instance, someone has asked me multiple times why my church believes in
            a literal 6-day creation. So, I will examine the evidence for both
            creation, a 6-day creation, and evolution, to see what evidence is available
            for each theory.

          • Anonymous

            Robert,

            It shouldn’t be surprising that we agree on things.  Aside from faith in Christian dogma, we might agree on many subjects. 

            <<>>

            If we agree to define “faith” as belief in things unseen, I won’t contest this point.  Many Christians and atheists alike once believe the Earth was flat.  Their belief in that point was not based on sound evidence.  In time, sound evidence showed otherwise and most people changed their beliefs.  Science should always be flexible and adaptable to change as new evidence emerges.  

            <<>>

            If you come to the conclusion that the evidence for any of your beliefs is underwhelming, are you open to modifying those beliefs to the extent of abandoning them?   

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            Bob, I wrote a response to you last night and I can’t find it anywhere on your web site.  Do you know what may have happened to it?  Strange.  I saw it posted but no longer see it.  You do not censor these responses do you? 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Truth Seeker, I didn’t censor your post. I will see if I can find it.

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            Bob, the gist of my disappearing message was that if you really are trying to learn about atheism, you should come on our web site and ask specific questions about it without trying to defend Christianity.  You cannot listen to responses to your questions if you are replaying in your mind how you are going to respond to our comments.  I think you will aborb a lot more material if you don’t set people off on our site by your continuing attempts to defend Christianity.  Most of us pretty much know what Christianity’s claims are.  But you don’t know what atheists believe. 

            Why don’t you adoopt a more civil and questioning tone to your questions rather than trying to defend Christianity?  I’m sure you will see the nasty remarks cease if you do.  Let me know what you think.

          • Anonymous

            Good points, Truth Seeker.  I believe our community would be even more welcoming to Robert if we believed he truly is open to modifying his beliefs in the event that the preponderance of evidence cast sufficient doubt on those beliefs.  That’s why I posed this question to him.  I hope he answers it directly:

            <<>>

            If you come to the conclusion that the evidence for any of your beliefs is underwhelming, are you open to modifying those beliefs to the extent of abandoning them?

          • Anonymous

            Good points, Truth Seeker.  I believe our community would be even more welcoming to Robert if we believed he truly is open to modifying his beliefs in the event that the preponderance of evidence cast sufficient doubt on those beliefs.  That’s why I posed this question to him.  I hope he answers it directly:

            <<>>

            If you come to the conclusion that the evidence for any of your beliefs is underwhelming, are you open to modifying those beliefs to the extent of abandoning them?

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            Sid, I think we’ve argued over every topic known to man.  However Bob keeps saying he wants to learn about atheism.  If he really truly does, he can ask the questions he wants to find out about without trying to defend Christianity.  If he has a question about someone’s response he should feel free to discuss that question.  He should refrain from making inflammatory statements and recognize that our site is for ministering to ex-C’s who truly need help.  I think if both sides refrained from the acerbic remarks we can find what Bob truly wants.

            Bob baits the hook and we continue to grab it in an attempt to prove him wrong.  We don’t have to prove him wrong, all we have to do is to listen to what he says and respond to his questions.  There are many on our site that think Bob is a troll and we should ignore him.  If he doesn’t respond to this invitation I would have to say he is a troll. 

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            I suspect that Bob is a zealous evangelist who is certain his religious views are correct, and he intends to spread those views as per the Great Commission.

            <<>>

            I would be fine with engaging Bob on these threads if he would simply tell us if he is truly open to the possibility that his beliefs in Christianity are wrong, and that he would be willing to alter (or abandon) his views based upon convincing evidence.  He hasn’t answered that question to my satisfaction.  If I become convinced that he is really an evangelist looking to convince himself and his followers that their views are correct, I would consider this series of articles to be a charade and move on.

            BTW, I believe this text from a 2006 debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman is worth reading.  I believe Bart Ehrman makes the more convincing arguments. 

            http://www.physics.smu.edu/pseudo/Ehrman-v-Craig.html

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            I’ve never seen such mumbo jumbo shit in my life as William Lane Craig attempts to pull off.  There is no historical evidence for the four events he claims there to be and he claims that the proof can be found in the Bible.  And then  he pulls off this slick equation of probably and statistics which shows that the probability is high for the resurrection event to have taken place.  This only explifies that old saying that figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.  If William Lane Craig isn’t the most pompous ass I’ve ever heard I’d like to know who is.  No one knows who wrote the 4 gospels and none of them were eyewitnnesses to the historical events of Jesus crucifixion and his death.  Craig likes to demean his opponents by calling them names and would lead one to think that Craig has got all the answers, which he doesn’t. 

            No way are you going to prove by mathematics that a miracle can be pulled off.  Lord, he may have just as well shown Einstein’s theory of relativity and said that it shows without doubt that the ressurection took place.  Craig’s arguments are all obfuscations meant to dazzle and befuddle but have no scientific merit.  It’s obvious that Craig has no background in history or he would not make the outlandish claims that he does.  He makes you just want to punch him in the face because of the cntempt he shows to his debating opponents.  No one should have to put up with that shit.

          • Anonymous

            “Craig’s arguments are all obfuscations meant to dazzle and befuddle but have no scientific merit.”

            Craig’s “arguments” are meant to do one thing: Keep the already-convinced, convinced. That would include, himself.

          • Anonymous

            I honestly believe Bart Erhman makes the more reasonable arguments in this exchange.   William Lane Craig is not a historian or a scientist.  He is a theologian and a philosopher and an apologist.  Richard Dawkins refuses to debate him because he realizes the folly of the exchange.  Interestingly, William Lane Craig reportedly refuses to debate John W. Loftus.    

            For the record, I can’t stand the arrogant and smug demeanor of William Lane Craig.  His statistical model approach is ridiculous.  I don’t think too many people in the broad scientific community would lend much weight to his “calculations”.  Meanwhile, I thought Bart Ehrman represented himself well.

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            I’ve never seen such mumbo jumbo shit in my life as William Lane Craig attempts to pull off.  There is no historical evidence for the four events he claims there to be and he claims that the proof can be found in the Bible.  And then  he pulls off this slick equation of probably and statistics which shows that the probability is high for the resurrection event to have taken place.  This only explifies that old saying that figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.  If William Lane Craig isn’t the most pompous ass I’ve ever heard I’d like to know who is.  No one knows who wrote the 4 gospels and none of them were eyewitnnesses to the historical events of Jesus crucifixion and his death.  Craig likes to demean his opponents by calling them names and would lead one to think that Craig has got all the answers, which he doesn’t. 

            No way are you going to prove by mathematics that a miracle can be pulled off.  Lord, he may have just as well shown Einstein’s theory of relativity and said that it shows without doubt that the ressurection took place.  Craig’s arguments are all obfuscations meant to dazzle and befuddle but have no scientific merit.  It’s obvious that Craig has no background in history or he would not make the outlandish claims that he does.  He makes you just want to punch him in the face because of the cntempt he shows to his debating opponents.  No one should have to put up with that shit.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            The question has been asked, “If you come to the conclusion that the evidence for any of your beliefs is underwhelming, are you open to modifying those beliefs to the extent of abandoning them?”

            Answer: If I find that there is sufficient evidence against my current beliefs, then I will have to abandon them or modify them.

          • Anonymous

            It will be interesting to hear your thoughts re. as you work your way through that list of books you plan to read. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I would love to go onto Ex-C and just ask questions to find out who you are and what you believe.  Perhaps it’s the way I ask questions (I’ve been known to ask stupid questions), but it seems like when I ask questions, all I get back is derision and attacks.  This is what compels me to defend my beliefs.

            I have to say this, though.  Even in my short time on Ex-C, there were so many good questions that came from level heads (like yours, TS)… you really prompted me to examine what I believe.  I really wasn’t planning on doing this “Cross Examination” study before I came to Ex-C; your questions (and others that have commented on Ex-C and on this site) were what prompted me to do this.

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            Bob, why don’t you write a post for Ex-C explaining what you want to know in the form of questions.  That way all of us can answer you to the best of our ability.  If you see holes in these responses then you can write another article in response to our questions. 

          • http://twitter.com/reboho reboho

             Science doesn’t prove anything, not sure you understand what you’re arguing. You fault science, claiming that it can not “prove” reason and logic, that is outside the scope of science. So it’s outside the scope, (you’re words), so science is at fault (pejorative claim you seem to be making).

            Science is about seeking truth, it doesn’t start with answers and then finds facts to support itself; that is the purview of faith claims. There are things that are currently unknown or undecided, but that doesn’t mean that science fails. Science starts with observation and evidence and produces testable, falsifiable claims. If claims can’t be tested, it’s not theory and the search goes on but no one claims truth.

            All humans have opinions but opinions don’t constituent scientific theory, opinions from great men like Einstein might carry weight but doesn’t mean they will withstand scrutiny. This is probably your biggest blind spot. In your worldview, where revelation is paramount, anything spoken by a leader is truth. In the world of science and materialism , it’s treated with skepticism. That is your blind spot, faith. Faith is really at odds with skepticism and cynics.    

            Reading your article, it’s pretty obvious that you really don’t understand science. Why don’t you expand on the quote you cherry picked. You left out a lot of context, but that is not all that unusual when one already has their conclusion, they just need to find a few little tidbits to feign support from individuals who would never ever infer your interpretation of their meaning.

            You spent a considerable time in your article trying to claim the old “atheists and scientist have faith too” but you do not persuade, you trot out old cliches, dress them in a atheist and scientist quote scarf, but you still fail to understand what you’re arguing against. The entire article is not a debunking, it’s a reassurance to yourself and your readers.

            I realize this may fall on ears that cannot or will not hear, but if you want to really debunk materialism, you need a much better understanding then what you currently possess. I realize too that you probably already know this but aren’t ready to leave your faith behind you. If you desire dialog, dialog that persuades, you need to be honest, drop the apologetics and argue your position. I understand that’s a problem even for the best but if all you’re trying to do is reassure yourself, perhaps you should try posting bible verses. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I’m not claiming here that science is at fault for anything. My only point in this post is to say that there are limits to science, which we seem to agree on. You yourself say, “Science starts with observation and evidence and produces testable, falsifiable results.” If something is not observable or falsifiable, like epistemology or philosophy, then it’s outside the scope of science.

            This is not to fault science. Science is amazing, and incredibly useful and helpful, but there are things that lie outside science.

  • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

    You both are putting words in my mouth that what I wrote does NOT say.  I’m not attacking science in this article;  I’m saying that there are limits to science.  And, oddly, I’m not seeing in your comments that you disagree with what I’m saying here, only that you object to the conclusions that could be drawn from this premise.  You do, however, say what I said you would say: “Christians are non-scientific.”  Thanks for that.

    Do you agree that there are limits to science?  It would be great if, for once, either of you would actually comment on what I’m saying, instead of what I’m not saying.

    • Anonymous

      <<>>

      I did no such thing.  In my first post on this thread, I  clearly referenced the blog that you advised us to read.  I copied a quote that I credited to the author of that blog.  I then asked you some questions.  My other posts on this thread were addressed only to boomSLANG, and I quoted nothing from you.

      Bob, methinks you are a bit sensitive at times.  We are hear to engage in dialogue.   

    • Anonymous

      “I’m not attacking science in this article;  I’m saying that there are limits to science.” ~ R. Ewoldt

      The colloquial meaning of the adjective, “limited”, generally has a negative connotation. So, yes, if not an explicit attack on science, then an implicit one.

      Do you agree that there are limits to science? ~ R. Ewoldt

      Yes. You must have missed it when I wrote….

      “But more importantly, that “Science” has “limits”(just like “faith”) , this fact is ultimately a red  herring [etc]” ~ boomSLANG[emphasis added]

  • Anonymous

    “Epistemological questions – What is knowledge?  How is knowledge acquired?  How do we know what we know?  Science cannot deal with whether knowledge can be arrived at before experience (a priori), or if it only can be arrived at empirically (through experience).

    Right. For instance, “science” cannot know with absolute certainty, thus, nor can it disprove, absolutely, that an invisible, conscious being named “Yahweh” lives in the clouds and that this being determined, a prior, who it has “selected” to “save”. Okay. So? Is the inability of science to disprove such things therefore a good reason to believe those things? And even if we pretend that “faith” and “revelation” make good reasons to believe it, one would then have to reconcile the fact that said being’s prescience(foreknowledge) makes the “freewill” of those it elected an  illusion..i.e..not real.  

    “Ontological questions – ontology is the study of being, existence, or reality.  Science cannot answer questions of ontology: What is existence?  What is a physical object?  What constitutes the identity of an object?  When does an object go out of existence, rather than just changing?”

    Right. So, because (you believe that) science doesn’t know what “a physical object” is, therefore, metaphysical objects exist. Right?

    “Moral questions – much has been done to try and construct a moral philosophy based upon scientific underpinnings, mainly through trying to establish a genetic basis for morality.  Moral philosophy, ethics, and morality–all of these require the word “should” as part of their formulation (i.e one should or should not do something).  However, science concerns itself with stating the way that things ARE, not the way that they SHOULD be.  Merely establishing that nature lends itself to a predisposition toward a certain kind of behavior does not tell us that we should or should not do that behavior.

    Right. So, since science cannot provide an Objective standard of “morality”, that means that theology can provide it, when if fact, it is demonstrably false that an Objective standard of “morality” comes from a “God”, namely, the Christian biblegod. ‘Funny……if one individual says, “killing is wrong!”, that is mere subjective opinion. Yet, for some strange reason when/if a god says “thou shalt not kill!”, we are to believe that this is more than just his/her/its opinion.  The double-standards never cease.

  • http://agardeninthesun.blogspot.com/ renoliz

    There are limits to science, Bob, however that in no way shows that there is a god.  There is little to no scientific evidence to show there is a god. Certainly none of the evidence points to a Biblegod.  

    Textual criticism has shown that the Bible was written by very fallible humans in a very small corner of the world.  [See Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman, really fascinating read.  See also, Hector Avalos The End of Biblical Studies, another fascinating read].

    Studies show that prayer is ineffective, no matter which god is prayed to.  The Bible states that if two or more pray together it shall be granted or that just the tiniest bit of faith will be able to move a mountain.  This is demonstrably proven not to work.

    Science is a pointer or an indicator.  Hence many people are agnostic atheists.  They do not believe there is a god.  They know that it is virtually impossible to “prove” there is no big foot, dragons that breathe fire or unicorns.  However, it can  be stated with a fair amount of certainty that none of these creatures actually exist.

    There are many types of god. Most people in America are generally discussing  two different items called god.  One is Biblegod and it can be shown that Biblegod is not able to exist.  Some of those arguments are certainly “philosophical” that show an omni everything being is not a doable concept.  The other is the deist version of god.  God created the Universe and has little or no effect on the Universe and its humans.  This god sounds a lot like nature and so does not require worship.  

    When we discuss god it is important to remember which god is being discussed.  

    Many atheists no more think that science has all the answers than we think the moon is made of cream cheese.  Science is a pointer or an indicator.   Science is able to evolve unlike Biblegod who is stuck in a rut as an ancient and primitive being who is jealous, vindictive and just plain ornery.

    Just a couple of thoughts for you.

    May peace and reason find you.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Cant we all just have a beer and talk NFL labor dispute? LOL

  • Anonymous

    Robert,

    Here is the text from a 2006 debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman re. the subject,  “Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?”  I think you might enjoy reading this.

    http://www.physics.smu.edu/pseudo/Ehrman-v-Craig.html

  • Pingback: Cross Examination: Does God Have Free Will? | Brevis from Bob Ewoldt()