The Great Science Debate

I read a book recently that I think every Christian needs to read. In fact, I think every Christian needs to buy this book for their agnostic friends, and perhaps even for their atheist friends! The book is titled What’s So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza and it just absolutely obliterates science-type arguments against Christianity.

I am particularly excited about this book in light of the new television series The Cosmos with Neil deGrassse-Tyson who has taken it upon himself to use his show as a launching pad to bash Christians and our faith.

D’Souza, a former White House political advisor and pundit, takes on the heavyweights of atheism (deGrasse-Tyson, Charles Darwin, Karen Armstrong, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Sagan, and others) and addresses each of their arguments ranging from the creation of the universe and the Big Bang theory to evolution to morality, and pretty much every scientific argument used to deny God. The book is just fantastic and gives Christians reasonable, understandable, and intellectually defendable answers to attacks on our faith.

Rather than try to explain the book in my words, I think I’ll just pull some of my favorite lines directly from the book to give you a taste of D’Souza work.

“The continued growth of religion worldwide has not gone unnoticed by leading atheists. Some of these nonbelievers, most of them Darwinists, express candid puzzlement at religion’s enduring vitality. These Darwinists are convinced that there must be some biological explanation for why, in every culture since the beginning of history, man has found and continued to find solace in religion. Biologist Richard Dawkins confesses that religion poses a ‘major puzzle to anyone who thinks in a Darwinian way.’

“Here, from the evolutionary point of view, is the problem. Scholars like anthropologist Scott Atran presume that religious beliefs are nothing more than illusions. Atran contends that religious belief requires taking ‘what is materially false to be true’ and ‘what is materially true to be false.’ Atran and others believe that religion requires a commitment to ‘factually impossible worlds.’ The question, thus, is why humans would evolve in such a way that they come to believe in things that don’t exist.”

Checkmate!

“An unbiased look at the history of science shows that modern science is an invention of medieval Christianity and that the greatest breakthroughs in scientific reason have largely been the work of Christians. Even atheist scientist work with Christian assumptions that, due to their ignorance of theology and history, are invisible to them.”

Here, D’Souza shows how many of the greatest scientists were in fact Christians. Further he debunks recent claims by de-Grasse-Tyson that certain scientists were persecuted by the Church for their scientific beliefs, showing instead that the charges of heresy arose out of their denial of theological tenants.

“Do you see now why the arrogance of Darwinist like Dennett and Dawkins is entirely misplaced? These fellows seem to think they are armed with some master theory that provides a full explanation for the universe, and for our place in it. Yet their cherished evolutionary theory cannot account for the origin of life, the origin of consciousness, or the origin of human rationality and morality. Any theory that cannot account for these landmark stages can hardly claim to have solved the problem of origins, either of life or of the universe. It can take credit only for elucidating some transitions along the way. Evolution seems right as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far.”

Many of these atheist scientists call themselves “Brights” because they are so much brighter and smarter than the rest of us. D’Souza does a masterful job of proving that their theories are either woefully inadequate or not surprisingly simply made up of conjecture without a shred of proof.

“By the way, it is no rebuttal to Hume to say, ‘Admittedly, scientific laws are not 100 percent true, but at least they are 99.9 percent true. They may not be certain, but they are very likely to be true.’ How would you go about verifying this statement? How would you establish the likelihood, for instance, of Newton’s inverse square law? It says that every physical object I the universe attracts every other physical object with a force directly proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This law cannot be tested except by actually measuring the relationship between all objects in the universe. And as that is impossible, no finite number of tries can generate any conclusion about how probable Newton’s statement is. Ten million tries cannot establish 99.9 percent probability – or even 50 percent probability – because there may be twenty million cases that haven’t been tried where Newton’s law may be found inadequate. “

Complicated language but D’Souza is rightly pointing out that science often makes sweeping statements about the accuracy of its theories when in fact there is no way to prove they are right or wrong. D’Souza continues –

“At this point we should pause to consider astronomer Neil deGrasse-Tyson’s exasperated outburst. Tyson believes it is simply ridiculous to say that scientific laws are not reliable: ‘Science’s big-time success rests on the fact that it works.’ If science did not accurately describe the world, then airplanes would not fly and people who undergo medical treatments would not be cured. Airplanes do fly and sick people are healed in the hospital, and on that basis science must be taken as true. Bette to fly in an airplane constructed by the laws of physics, Tyson scornfully says, than to board on ‘constructed by the rules of Vedic astrology.’

“I agree that science works – and you won’t get any argument from me about the limits of Vedic astrology – but it doesn’t follow that scientific laws are known to be true in all cases. Consider this dismaying realization. Newton’s laws were for nearly two centuries regarded as absolutely true. They worked incredibly well. Indeed, no body of general statements had ever been subjected to so much empirical verification. Every machine incorporated its principles, and the entire Industrial Revolution was based on Newtonian physics and Newtonian mechanics. Newton was vindicated millions of times a day, and his theories led to unprecedented material success. Yet Einstein’s theories of relatively contradicted Newton, and despite their incalculable quantity of empirical verification, Newton’s laws were proven in important ways to be wrong or at least inadequate. This does not mean that Einstein’s laws are absolutely true; in the future they might too be shown to be erroneous in certain respects.

“From such examples philosopher Karl Popper concluded that no scientific law can, in a positive sense, claim to prove anything at all. Science cannot verify theories, it can merely falsify them. When we have subjected a theory to expansive testing, and it has not been falsified, we can provisionally believe it to be true. This is not, however, because the theory has been proven, or even because it is likely to be true. Rather, we proceed in this way because, practically speaking, we don’t have a better way to proceed.”

That was a long explanation to basically say that science “that works” is basically the best we can come up with at the time but may not be actual fact.

I promise I’m almost done, but I think this stuff is so important I want to share one more. One of the attacks against religion is how many people have been killed in its name. D’Souza hits this one head on!

“Religion-inspired killing simply cannot compete with the murders perpetrated by atheist regimes…Even taking higher population levels into account, atheist violence surpasses religious violence by staggering proportions. Here is a rough calculation. The world’s population rose from around 500 million in 1450 AD to 2.5 billion in 1950, a five-fold increase. Taken together, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch burnings killed approximately 200,000 people. Adjusting for the increase in population, that’s the equivalent of one million deaths today. Even so these deaths cause by Christian rulers over a five hundred year period amount to only 1 percent of the deaths caused by Stalin, Hitler, and Mao in the space of a few decades.

“Dawkins seems to have deluded himself into thinking that these horrors were not produced on atheism’s behalf. But can anyone seriously deny that Communism was an atheist ideology?”

Atheist regimes whether Nazism, Socialism, or Communism wiped out millions of their own people. Hitler killed six million Jews and 10 million total in his concentration camps. It’s estimated that Chinese Leader Mao Zedong killed 70 million, while Stalin killed 20 million. The communists Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot killed up to two million. All murder is a sin against God and the history of Christianity has seen leaders who disobeyed and have blood on their hands. But nothing to the extent of leaders who renounced religion.

I know this is a long blog but I am hoping that you are getting a taste of D’Souza’s ability to defend the faith against some rather outlandish claims of science. Let me tell you why this stuff is important. There’s an old saying that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Scientists use their gravitas to make unsubstantiated claims that the public holds as true because nobody calls them on it. Most Christians, me included, are not scientist and simply have not been able to come up with the arguments to challenge these scientific statements. Thus they are held as truths.

Scripture tells us that we need to have an answer in season and out of season for the joy we have in our faith. D’Souza’s book was important for me because it gave me the answer that I would not have been able to come up with on my own as a non-science type.

I want to encourage you to get this book. I bet you can find it cheap on Amazon in the used section! I’m actually going to re-read it this time with a highlighter, and pen and paper so I can take extensive notes as to how to respond when my faith is challenged by one of those Bright people. I’m pretty sure that Christ light that shines through me will be brighter.

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