Creationist Nonsense: Science assumes no God

Still on the subject of Ken Ham’s creationism (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/conspiracy-against-creationism-and-ken-hams-intollerance/) and his Facebook response; one of Ken’s followers made a comment that I wish to address. Hopefully this will be the last of my posts on this particular episode, for now at least.

On Ken’s Facebook (yes, I did stalk Ken’s Facebook profile to see what was being said about my blog posting) page a commenter made the following remark.

 

So, wait… he claims that scientists don’t begin with the assumption that there is no God, then goes on to say that, because we can only observe the natural world, then that must be all there is… How is that not an assumption?

 

Every part of me wants to shout “Read the freaking context and get with the understanding numbskull!”.

However, this is one of those misunderstandings that is widespread among the Christian community. The negative side of this is that it undermines the scientific process and makes it harder for science to be viewed as credible. The really sad part of this is that its often people in the congregation hearing this nonsense who don’t get science commentary from anyone other than the person in the pulpit. At its worst, this is damaging to the wider populace.

The section of my post that the commenter clearly didn’t get is this paragraph.

<blockquote>This is a basic understanding failure. The fact that its made by a leading Creationist apologetic is damning and pathetic. He really should know better. Scientists who claim there is no god do so because of the evidence they see. Its this evidence that has lead them to the conclusion of evolution and its this evidence that falsifies the Biblical accounts of Adam and Eve and The Flood. Its not then unreasonable to conclude there is no god. Science looks at natural processes because that is all that we can see and gather evidence from. That evidence is explained by those natural processes only and therefore its an easy conclusion to make that no god was involved. There is no predetermining the non-existence of any god and then building a theory which excludes it, as Ken Ham would have people believe. </blockquote>

The commenter clearly didn’t get that those scientists who don’t believe in god (or people like me who believe there is no god) do so because there is no evidence. The commentator clings to the misapprehension that is conclusion is an assumption.

I understand the misunderstanding because I was there once and I’ve heard this same misunderstanding preached at conferences.

The very important point here is that seeing the natural world and concluding no god is far more than an assumption. For starters there is the very valid null hypothesis, which leads from nothing being assumed. If you can’t see it or measure, assume its not there.

Yes I know, I used the assume word and creationists everywhere are pointing and shouting “See he even admitted he assumes no god, right after denying that was the case. Atheists are so inconsistent.”.

That would miss the point of course.

Without the evidence evolution is not assumed either. Both the creationist god and evolution start at the same point of validity when there is no evidence on the table.

Its not until the evidence comes out that the scales begin to adjust. This is the point at which conclusions are made and tests are created for the expressed purpose of disproving the conclusion. Its at this very critical point that creationists again fall over. They argue that god is supernatural and so not bound by our man made laws of science and so he can’t be tested. Not to mention the passage somewhere that expressly forbids testing the lord. I’m not sure if it applies to the scientific process, but then a heathen like me probably won’t care.

Anyway, with all the claims that Creationists will have for the existence of god, you’d think that somewhere there would be some evidence that at least merits a second look. Creationists will make a whole song and dance about the issue of testing evolution in the lab and how timescales simply don’t allow it. Yet where are the tests for god in the lab?

Multiple fields of science have independently confirm various aspect of evolution and the age of the earth. Yet nothing can come up with a test to show even a hint of god.

Its not an assumption to say there is no god, it’s a valid scientific conclusion after many years of study have shown no evidence for supernatural activities. If everything that we currently know shows a natural explanation time and time again, at what point is it acceptable to say “There is no evidence of any god and until that changes I shall not believe in one.”?

The commenter I quoted will likely still claim this is an assumption, they would be wrong.

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The Questioning Continues

Having started to realise that much of what I thought was true was wrong, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/noah%E2%80%99s-ark-gilgamesh-or-just-a-story/) and (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/the-first-nagging-doubts/). I decided to more open-mindedly explore the boundary between science and religion.

The most obvious place to start was evolution. My non-acceptance of evolution put me squarely in the minority of people I knew and it was now very important to me that I challenge my views fairly and adjust accordingly.

I had now pretty much come to accept that the age of the earth was much more than the ten thousand years (or thereabouts) that creationism would have us believe. The most obvious conclusion to this was that is the earth was actually very old, and my eyes had seen the evidence for this, then many other things that relied on a young earth must also be false.

I started off with listening to various science podcasts on the subject of evolution, I also subscribed to a few creationist podcasts to try and balance out the information I was getting.

The creationist podcasts subscriptions didn’t last long. To be blunt, they were awful, the science wasn’t convincing and they lacked technical detail. By contrast the evolutionary science podcasts overflowed with technical science and evidences. The more I listened the more I realised that evolution was true and that the special creation of humans simply could not have happened as described in Genesis.

Adam and Eve are now well and truly relegated from history and into myth, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-of-adam-and-eve/).

What Next?

With the basic tenets of creationism gone; 7-day creation, Adam and Eve and Noah’s Flood, the question that remained was “What Next?”.

Well, that would be the story of Joseph and the Israelite Exodus under Moses, surely they can’t be false as well can they?

Noah’s Ark, Gilgamesh, or Just a Story?

Noah's sacrifice

Image via Wikipedia

I had never previously doubted the account of Noah’s Ark.Yet, once I started to have doubts about the young age of the earth (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/the-first-nagging-doubts/), I found that I was now critically analysing key events in the Bible. Specifically, key events that rely on and require a young Earth. Such as the Genesis account of Noah, the ark and a global flood.

Basic Problems with the Global Flood Account

The most obvious issue with the account of the global flood is the volume of water required. There simply is not enough water in our atmosphere to produce enough rain to fill the earth up with water to the height of a mountain. The Genesis account also mentions waters of the deep, which some have interpreted to mean great reservoirs of water below the earths surface opened as a result of earthquakes and water flowed up from them. The problem with this is that it would require huge reserves of water to cover the entire earth, reserves which simply have not been found. Something truly miraculous would be required to cause a global flood.

Then of course there is the issue of the animals. All those animals need feeding and, more importantly, watering. The carnivores would present a specific problem, plus there would have to be very strong and very significant means of separating them apart.

Post flood, there is the very real problem of how to explain that the species of animal are unique to specific parts of the world, the indigenous animals of Australia are the most obvious example.

So the believability of the global flood is found wanting, yet I managed to unquestioningly believe it for many years.

So what of Gilgamesh?

The Epic of Gilgamesh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh) is a fascinating story, it probably best you follow the link or do your own searches on it rather than me repeat it all here.

The tale predates Noah’s Flood and it is suspected in some circles that the story of Noah’s Flood is a direct retelling of the Gilgamesh story, wrapped up for a different audience and several cultural additions. This is how myths, legends and stories evolve over time anyway.

Gradual Realisation

One of the key moments in me realising that the Flood account was not a real event was a documentary about the Flood, which expanded on some of the evidence I have indicated above. That same documentary drew parallels with the Gilgamesh account and I found myself compelled to question what I had previously accepted as true.

So, now I was not only questioning a young Earth, I was now questioning the validity of the Bible, or at least the validity of a literal interpretation of some Biblical passages.

Genetic evidence

Recent DNA analysis has shown that Adam and Eve could not have existed (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-of-adam-and-eve/). I would go further and suggest that this evidence also puts into doubt the possibility of Noah and his extended family being at one point in time the only human inhabitants on the planet.

The Problem of Adam and Eve

I’ve commented before about the problem that Adam and Eve causes the Christian, (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/can-you-adam-and-eve-it/)

DNA evidence now makes it abundantly clear, there is simply no skirting around it, Adam and Eve never existed.

This month’s Christianity Today has an article titled The Search for the Historical Adam (http://christianitytoday.imirus.com/Mpowered/book/vchto11/i6/p29). Its clear from the article that a literal interpretation of Genesis is discouraged. The wider implication of this, the fall of man with the original sin, is not covered in as much detail as I would like.

The article states that scientific evidence demonstrates that not only did the human population that’s alive today not descend from a sole pair of humans, but that the genetic history goes back considerably longer than 10,000 years. The estimated minimum modern human population is a few thousand individuals several tens of thousands of years ago. Unless one wants to believe in a god that created a pre-aged world with a pre-defined historical DNA record, there simply is no way that a literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve story is possible.

Also not mentioned in the article is the authenticity of the Garden of Eden. DNA evidence puts man as originating from Africa whereas the location of Eden as described in the bible would put it somewhere in The Middle East.

The Christianity Today article is referenced by BioLogos (http://www.biologos.org/blog/biologos-and-the-june-2011-christianity-today-cover-story/), where the scientific fact of the non-existence of Adam and Eve is also acknowledged. The BioLogos article ends with a call for theologians to step in and sort the issue out.

I find it interesting that neither article makes a big issue of the scientific evidence; nor do they speculate on what the solution may be. What I wanted to read was a categorical stating of scientific facts and a rousing challenge to Christians. Given that both organisations are devoted to the Christian faith, I guess there was no chance that was going to happen.

The problem for Christianity

The acknowledgement that Adam and Eve never existed is going to have to come from the Church eventually. This is not an issue on which it can bury its head in the sand. The thing is, this acknowledgement produces a big problem.

Without Adam and Eve, there is no original sin, no first murderer, no ordained punishment condemning women to a painful childbirth and no requirement for Jesus’s sacrifice. No wonder the articles are reluctant to take a stance on the matter.

For me, it reaffirms that my decision to exit Christianity was the right one. This is not a problem I’d want to be wresting with as a Christian.