Monday, March 09, 2015

Books read in 2015: No. 11 -- Why Science Does Not Disprove God

by Amir D. Aczel

Started: March 3
Finished: March 9

Notes: One might argue this book's title is a fallacy as science does not have to disprove God. However, the author here is a mathematician and a science writer, so I'm a little less likely to be skeptical that his viewpoint will be completely one sided. I'm always interested in studying or talking about such material, but so few people seem able to do so without becoming heated.

Mini review: After reading this, I find the book's title a little more appropriate, but the main gist here is the author finds New Atheism to often make use of bad or sloppy science, or to misunderstand or misuse science altogether, and I can't say I disagree. I've no problem with atheism, but the New Atheism movement has bothered me on numerous fronts, in no small part because it seems much more of an emotional reaction against religion than the logical one so often claimed. Here the author appears to lean in my direction, though in fairness he never qualifies the why of New Atheism as he does the how of using science to further an agenda. The universe still holds a lot of mysteries, probably more than we've uncovered, and mathematically speaking we are not likely to ever uncover all those mysteries. Whether or not there is a God seems to be one of those mysteries. While not badly written, I did not find this a breezy read, especially as it gets into quantum physics, string theory, etc. Let me make clear that the author here does not attack or come down against science, but quite the contrary. His beef is with New Atheism's use of science. Also, while the author obviously has a belief in God, he does not push on his readers any particular religion or denomination, or any religion at all, for that matter.


Charles Gramlich said...

Many of the "new" atheists are primarily anti-theists. Their dislike of religion is more important to them than their lack of belief in God. I'm not quite sure where it comes from, although some have suffered at the hands of a religious upbringing. Science has nothing to say whatsoever on the existence of a God that most people who believe in one consider a supernatural entity. In the face of a very complex universe, agnosticism seems the most logical choice to make on the subject.

Ty said...

Even with agnosticism seeming a logical choice, then we run into Pascal's wager, though that is also full of holes (at least concerning the existence of a god), as Voltaire pointed out. Personally I'm not sure there can be such a thing as a true logical choice when it comes to belief in a supreme deity. If one tends not to believe, then agnosticism or even atheism makes perfect sense, but if one seriously suspects the possibility of a god, there likely would be a fear (or some version of faith) which should logically drive a person towards belief, if not supplication or outright worship. Even then, there is still the matter of which god or God to worship, and unfortunately I believe this is more a matter of cultural upbringing than logic (though individuals do sometimes have a eureka moment which can bring about belief or destroy it, depending).

In shorter words: Belief informs belief.

I think there has to be an openness (for lack of a better word) to an existence of a god before one can actually believe. If it's not there, it's not there.

Does that make sense? It kind of does to me, but I can see a silly side to it as well ... ie., one has to believe to believe, one has not to believe to not believe.