I have been reading up on atheism a lot lately, and will continue to do so for some time. It is a growing and growing worldview that I am beginning to think many Christians, including myself, are ill-prepared to address. The arguments for and against the existence of God are complex, and although I have no doubt that the arguments for the existence of God are stronger than those against, there is much to learn.

As I was browsing an atheist website a few days ago, the author, who was very thorough and well-researched, cited a recent study that showed that 60% of all scientists deny the existence of God.

In one episode of "The Simpsons," Homer loses a bunch of money gambling on sports. The prognosticator on the TV says, "Well, I was right 48% of the time this season, which means that I was wrong 52% of the time." Homer, angry, tears up his betting slip and bellows, "Well why didn't you say that!!"

In my opinion, the more amazing side of that 60% number is that 40% of all scientists do not discount the existence of a god or ordering power of some kind. This by no means makes them theists, or even deists. What it does mean is that a large number of scientists see order and purpose of some kind in the world.

The scientific method begins with the goal of understanding the universe and its processes apart from any supernatural causation. That is, lightning comes from charged particles moving from cloud to ground (or the other way, I'm not sure), rather than from angry gods hurling judgment from the sky. Overall, I think that the scientific method is a good thing.

But it also infects bias into the personal judgment of many scientists. A number of 40% seems so high because every area of inquiry begins with a baseline "no supernatural" assumption. The fact that many are willing to admit seeing something past that assumption is telling.

If you were to talk to numerous teachers, and you found out that most every school taught kids to read by whole-word recognition rather than phonics, you might be inclined to believe that it was the established best way to teach reading to kids. But if another survey showed that 60% of all teachers believed that whole-word recognition was the best way to teach kids to read, and that 40% of all teachers believed that a phonics-based approach was the better way, than you could reasonably conclude that the case was not in fact closed at all.


Anonymous said...

I agree that atheism is on the rise, or maybe it is just becoming more acceptable. Either way, most people who I talk to that accept atheism usually point to the fact that most scientist reject the idea of god. They stand proud on that point. I also think that most people begin to think that being intelligent cannot coexist with being religious. I think that there are a lot of philosophical misconceptions that people hold up as truth. First, truth isn’t arrived at by consensus, and second I don’t think that the truth is exclusive to only the most educated people. Actually, I think that if Christianity was designed in such a way that only the most educated people could understand it, then it would discredit God’s eternal justice. But as it is, a scientist sitting at a science lab at Harvard has the same choice to make as someone who working a 9-5 job at Taco Bell.

Anonymous said...

Posted by William Pulgarin