Saturday, November 29, 2014

Is God outside the realm of science?

Here's another of my favorite speakers, Scott Clifton - again at Skepticon 7 last weekend. (That must have been a great conference.)

I'm reminded of a caller to the Atheist Experience TV show recently. He tried to use the watchmaker analogy to make his case for creationism. As I recall, his example involved finding a metal wing (bird or airplane wing, I'm not sure which). Wouldn't we be justified in deciding that such an artifact must have had a creator?

But later, he admitted that he thinks everything was deliberately created by his god. In his view, even rocks aren't natural, but are just as much deliberate creations as that metal wing. 'God' created them all for a purpose. Thus, nothing is natural.

But if nothing is natural, we have no way of distinguishing a metal wing from anything else. Since everything is created, in his view, a watch lying on a beach is no different from each grain of sand which makes up that beach.

The only way the watchmaker analogy works - and it doesn't work very well in any case - is if we have natural stuff to compare it with. Thus, this is a creationist argument which refutes itself.

Is the supernatural outside the purview of science? Well, does it exist in reality? If so, why would it be exempt from scientific study? If it has absolutely no effect on our universe - which isn't claimed by any theist I've ever heard, anyway - it might be impossible to study, but it would still be within the realm of science.

But doesn't science study the natural world? Sure, but if gods exist, their realm is the natural world. In fact, as Scott Clifton points out, if 'God' created our universe, nothing here is natural - thus, everything in our own universe is artificial, and only the realm which includes the gods is 'natural.'

We separate religious claims from all other claims about reality because religion doesn't want its claims to be investigated. To keep religion happy, even the National Academy of Sciences pretends that those claims are outside its purview.


Quack Js. said...

Great post Bill.

I was going to s hare some of my experiences but im too tired to type it out and i need to head to bed because its late.


WCG said...

Thanks, Jerrold. And you're welcome to comment, if you want to share your experiences, any time.