Monday, August 8, 2011

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Fascinating, isn't it? And the ending brings up a point I think needs to be repeated. If you claim that cosmology proves there's a god, how do you explain the fact that cosmologists - those who know the most about what you're talking about - are overwhelmingly nonbelievers?

I see this same thing all the time, whenever theists claim that science backs up their beliefs. Creationists claim that some things in biology are "irreducibly complex," therefore proving that there must have been an intelligent designer. But biologists - those people who know the most about this - overwhelmingly disagree with that conclusion.

What does it tell you about an argument when those people who know the least about it can be convinced by it, but not those who know the most, not those who really know the subject?

Religion is based on faith, not evidence. And the reason for that is because the evidence just doesn't support religious beliefs. Sure, religion will try to use evidence, if the evidence seems to back them up (and will ignore or deny any evidence that does not).

But "seems" is the operative word here. Theists often try to use science to give their claims a rational basis for belief. Well, we Americans tend to respect science while being hopelessly ignorant about it, so we're easy prey for "sciency" explanations. This is also why pretty much every pseudoscience uses "quantum mechanics" as an explanation these days, since it sounds impressive while being Greek to most people.

But even if you don't know enough about science yourself to identify the fallacies in these arguments, shouldn't you wonder why the people who do know the science disagree?

Cosmologists tend to be atheists, so doesn't that imply that cosmology does not prove the existence of God? Biologists accept evolution, not "intelligent design," so doesn't that imply that creationist critiques of "Darwinism" don't hold water? Climatologists overwhelmingly back global warming arguments, so doesn't that imply that the objections of politicians and pundits aren't as reasonable as they might appear to those of us with less knowledge?

This may only work with science, since science is evidence-based and comes to a world-wide consensus. Science doesn't differ depending on your nationality or your cultural background; it only depends on your knowledge. But it's precisely science - because it works - that is claimed by theists to support their beliefs. However, the overwhelming majority of scientists disagree with the claims that involve their own area of expertise.

What does it tell you about an argument when those who know the most about it agree the least - and those who know the least are the most likely to accept it?

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