Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Notice to First-Time Visitors
Shane Hayes

The main business of this blog is to engage in civil and rational debate with atheists and unbelieving agnostics about the existence of God. The New Atheists have convinced thousands of educated readers that theism is neither true nor intellectually respectable. I show here – in my agnostic way -- that believing in God is a rational, intelligent, prudent, and practical option. I invite readers to agree or disagree, and to comment on what they read. A comment may be lengthy or as short as short as one word: “Yes!” or “No!” "Right" or "Wrong."  "Good" or "Awful."

I am a Christian. And I am an agnostic. I hold as true what cannot yet be verified. An agnostic is one who says we can’t know whether there is a God or not. His existence can’t be proven, and it can’t be disproven. That is a philosophical position. Though we can’t know, we can form a personal belief. Mine is theistic and Christian. Many of my readers are also philosophically agnostic, but their personal belief is atheistic (few will admit it’s a belief and not a scientific certainty).

My Limited Goal

I don’t generally argue for Christianity here; I leave that to others. My specialty is doing part of their job -- advocating one step out of atheism. It may be the first of many steps, as it was for me, or it may be the only one. In any case it’s transformative and far better than none. I call it Pure Theism. Read my various postings, especially the next few, and you’ll see what I mean by the term and the case I make for it.

Caring Critics Needed

Sometimes I’ll comment on current issues affecting Christianity or one of its branches, e. g., the Catholic Church. I love the Church as I love my children and as my parents loved me. At times it is the part of love to criticize and even castigate, as Christ did his disciples, and as even Paul upbraided Peter. The human element of the Church is not above reproach, nor are its policies and practices, as distinguished from its doctrines. I hope Catholic readers will bear this in mind: Even when I speak harshly I speak out of love for a great and venerable institution.  The next posting, "The 'Third Rail' of Church Policy Making," is an example of this.

To those who say, "Who are you, to criticize?" I reply:  One who invites criticism of everything he says.  There's a comment box at the end of each posting.

1 comment:

  1. I am currently reading Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth R. Miller. I highly recommend this book. He very astutely shows how evolution stands the test of time, but he also shows sensitivity to religion. For instance he said the following: “I’d like to be able to claim that the anti-religious writings of Wilson, Dennett, and Dawkins, as well as the more refined slights of Gould, were aberrations. These folks are supposed to be scientists, and one might think that science-dealing with the material-should have nothing to say about religion-which deals with the spiritual. Their personal views on religion are just that-individual opinions on questions of faith that reside outside the sphere of science. But the reality of academic life is different.” However, he also states the following: “By definition, a god is a nonmaterial being who transcends nature, so why should science, which deals only with the material world, have anything to say about whether or not a god exists. In the rigorous, logical sense, it shouldn’t. But we are a practical species interested in getting results. Humans like to feel that their beliefs have a link to reality, and here’s where science has it all over religion: You can go to the witch doctor to lift a spell that causes your pernicious anemia, or you can take vitamin B12. If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate. If you’re interested in the sex of your unborn child, you can consult plumb-bob danglers all you want (left-right, a boy: forward-back, a girl-or maybe it’s the other way around), but they’ll be right, on average, only one time in two. If you want real accuracy (here, 99% accurate), try amniocentesis and sonograms. Try Science. Trying Science makes sense because science comes with a track record. Science works because it is based on causality. Once you understand the process, even a complex one, you can reduce it to the mechanistic sum of its parts. Then, everything that happens becomes an obligatory outcome. That, to paraphrase the title of Carl Sagan’s final book, is why science serves “as a candle in the dark” in this “demon haunted world.” Scientific materialism rules out the influence of the divine from a particular phenomenon by the application of what we call “deterministic reductionism.” We can exclude the spiritual as the immediate cause for any event in nature by showing how that event is determined in material terms. All the levels of nature connect according to well-defined rules. Science has shown that material mechanisms, not spirits, were behind the reality of nature. It had found that each level of analysis was connected to ones above and below in the same way that the function of a clock is connected to the gears and shafts and springs within. And it had given mankind a new view of ourselves as material beings. Could there be anything left for God to do?” Miller goes on to say that there are still some lose ends, however, he makes it clear that, as we get scientific answers, the belief in a supernatural cause melts away.