I am going to an christian apologist's speech tomorrow night on campus and the topic is "Too Smart For God". The speaker will deal with whether or not science is compatible with faith in god. I was wondering if any of my fellow non-believers have any suggestions on what questions I can ask Dr. Jim Muncy. I am fairly new to atheism so I would like your input on good questions. Thanks.
I would indeed ask that question but then I can help but think he would pull out the non-overlaaping magesteria on me. I don't think he is interested in keeping faith in science so much as he is trying to keep people from looking at their religion with a skeptical eye because he knows what will happen then. That question would be good but I don't know which way he will take his speech and it is really depended upon him whether or not I can ask your question. I think the concept of NOMA will be making his point.
I think in your statement here, you may have found your question. A tad aggressive for some, but an on target strike (slamming... just my style).
Ask him what his goal is. Is it to keep faith in science or to stop people from questioning faith? The tone of his speech will tell you if this is the right time to ask. I think you've actually figured it out for yourself, you just needed a sounding board. Good luck tonight (or tomorrow, depending on your time zone and/or when you read this).
Thanks for the link. Didn't know he worked at my school but then again my major is geography and so I haven't taken marketing classes. oh and thanks for both the links. I had actually read that article before so I should have thought to confide in it for questions. I don't know how he will argue. He could make the case about NOMA or he could make the case about faith being integral in science (people actually try to make that argument) so I don't know. But thnx again. if he is logical at all he will try to make the case about NOMA but for all I know he may try to pull out BIBle verses that supposedly hint at discoveries that science proved later. I will be sure to give an account of the event as well as I can. As long as he doesn't take a atheist are immoral and evil or the earth is 6000 years old route I will stay and listen to his non-sense. I have heard debates on this subject before so I am not sure what argument he can bring up that will convince me. :-)
Miracles are a glaring example of literally impossible claims found in the Bible. There is not a single piece of physical evidence for any miracle, anywhere, anytime. I would ask him to name a single miracle, past or present, that has ever been independently confirmed. If he's foolish enough to claim that miracles CAN'T have evidence or be substantiated BECAUSE they're supernatural, then I would thank him for his honesty and ask how it is then, that he has decided to put faith in what is nothing more than hearsay, at best. If that's how he thinks, how can he formally debate ANYBODY?
People everywhere might yearn to attribute miraculous properties to some event or another but nobody can substantiate a single claim of a miracle. As American writer and philosopher, Elbert Hubbard, pointed out: "A miracle is an event described by those to whom it was told by people who did not see it."
Just remember no matter what questions you ask a die hard Christian they will always back their ideas and beliefs up by saying...you just have to have faith. Some times it is impossibly ridiculous trying to make sense of some christian reasoning. But its always good to ask questions no matter what the outcome is.
You describe him as an apologist. That and the "Too Smart for God" title make me wonder if we are talking about a Intelligent Design proponent. If we are then it's important to note that he's not talking about Christianity. Genesis lays out a clear Six Day Creation that cannot be lengthened due to animals being created the day after seed bearing plants. If the day were a long period then who spread the seeds? So if he accepts evolution, then he rejects Genesis, and by default, he rejects Abrahamic Religions. Religion is a all or nothing proposition. So I'd drive home the point that he'd be advocating something as other than Christianity. It's a hell of a wedge for most Christians.
If it's about not allowing intellectualism to overpower faith, it might be important to draw on the base of what causes even children to reject religion... living in a fish for three days. Flooding the world. Young Earth due to Generations. After Cain killed Able, where did this city he got to rule over come from? You really don't have to be too smart to reject the tenants of the book. You actually must ignore the claims made inside in order to not reject the book.
Here is one I find useful in my weapons kit. Nearly all the groups (cults) who try to establish a viable link between religion and Science are creationists. If they ask why evolution cannot explain how life began you are on a winner. This is a very common error (Watchtower followers especially). This is because the Theory of Evolution is not about how life started. It is about how life evolved after it got started. So whether or not a god or an alien who spilt his sulphur soup when passing created life is irrelevant to evolution. The Theory of Abiogenesis is about how life started. They always confuse the two. If they want more info tell them you can return with a good list of science / reference books for them to study. Then you will see how compatabile they think science and religion are. Also Reggie's quote above as to why scientists don't use faith in their work is very good.
OK. For those of you who are interested to know how it went, he was completely unconvincing and unsophisticated. Completely! I expected more but every argument he used I had heard before from people apparently way smarter than he. On top of that he did not take questions and I can wonder why. Perhaps he knew an even a semi-intelligent atheist would probably crush him. So I didn't have the chance to ask him questions. But I will email him my questions.
He started off quoting Psalms 14:1 "The fool[a] says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." So clearly he was calling atheists fools and evil. He made the claimed that naturalism had hi-jacked science. He described science in a straw man way as finding the best answer for what we see. Clearly with this definition almost anything can go. Especially god. He used the teleological or fine-tuning argument. Speaking of how the constants and laws of nature appear finely tuned to sustain life. He also spoke about abiogenesis and spoke on how improbable it is that life could come from non-life. As a matter of fact he spoke a lot about the improbability of everything. life. Stars. He made a mockery of the multi universe theory. He even asked the question "Which makes more sense. God did it or infinite # of universes?" Of course my answer would have been infinite universes since some being that exist, outside of time and space would have been way more improbable. Oh. He didn't believe in evolution because of the usual not enough fossils argument. So he is an creationist. Which is insane because even Francis Collins a christian biologist who was head of the human genome project, said that even without any fossils the DNA and morphology evidence alone would vindicate evolution. He made a straw man of evolution also speaking about how it is random and such. Clearly he didn't know what he was talking about.
He made the design argument. My word, he didn't even get as sophisticated as W.L. Craig. His argument was basically because the universe and things in it looked design, it would be absurd to claim it came about it came about through natural processes without god. He used stone henge as an example and said someone would be irrational to claim stone henge was made from a natural process and was not intelligently designed. His argument could be summed up "Because things looked design, they must have been design. Everything designed must have a designer. And that designer is God. And not just any God but my god." He didn't say at all why God escaped the infinite regress. At all. And to that point his only argument for Christianity stemmed around a lot of people claiming jesus rose from the dead. And also those people died for what they believed so they must be right. Those were the only two argument he made for Christianity. And finally these are the questions he says science can't answer.
1. Morality- He said no god no ethics. (Again he was a fool with a Phd and should have kept to marketing.)
2. Forgiveness- he said only christianity can offer forgiveness for our sins.
3. Purpose- he said only god can give us purpose.
4. Eternity- he argued only Christianity address the afterlife. (He by default assumed we have an afterlife. Which we don't. There is no evidence for a soul. When we die, we die. We're done. That's it. There's nothing to explain. We go to the same "place" we were before we conceived.)
That last part was just an appeal to emotion. And that just about summed it up. Trust me there was nothing new that many of you haven't heard. I will email him with my questions though and perhaps put his answers up here. Thanks for your input.
Would it be useful to directly address his claims in the college/school newspaper if you have one?
After all he has put 'his' ideas into a public forum - it would be only fair that they should be addressed in the same manner, especially considering his decision not to take questions (which is pretty cowardly and dishonest, if you ask me).
The reason I say this is that his brand of apologist nonsense is like a pernicious weed that spreads if left unchecked. Many people see a lack of response as acceptance and a thoughtful, well reasoned, and direct public response may get some of his other audience members really thinking.
For any Interested these are all the questions I asked him in the email I sent that he hasn't yet responded to.
1. If science can potentially discount religious faith then shouldn't the pursuit of science be given precedent over faith?
2. If science and faith are compatible why is it that faith is not used in science? Science relies on evidence and
faith is belief without evidence. How do you reconcile the two worldviews?
3. Isn't it a cop-out to call our ignorance God? Weren't you essentially saying in your speech that because science hasn't answered X, god did x without any evidence? Why not say simply we don't know some things instead of making something up in other words?
4. Concerning evolution. Francis Collins the Christian biologist at the head of the Human Genome Project said that even without fossil evidence, DNA and morphology evidence alone would vindicate evolution. And to that point, given the lack of fossil evidence, have you taken into account that fossilization is extremely rare? Richard Dawkins, one of my heroes by the way, said that we are lucky to possess the fossils we do have. Also to those points the earth routinely recycles its crust as I am sure you know from plate tectonics and the subduction of the earth's crust into the mantle. Many of the oldest fossils would be destroyed by now which could account for the lack of fossils. Your thoughts please.
5. As a Christian you more than likely believe that atheist and other non-believers in Christianity will burn and be tortured forever in pits of hell. My question to you is do you think that non-believers deserved to go to hell because we don't believe? And because of original sin of course which is an insane idea if you think about it. Is original sin and sending people to hell because they don't believe in you conducive with a loving and just god?
6. Do you believe that the bible is the infallible word of god and that every event describe in it did indeed occur? Bluntly speaking are you a young earth creationist?
7. How do you reconcile the god of the old testament with the god of the new testament? If the god of the new testament is the god of love and forgiveness, then surely the god of the old testament is one of genocide, infanticide, rape, anger, and jealousy. They are the same god though.
8. Is there anything that God could do that would be evil in your viewpoint? If you say no then doesn't that make your god amoral?
9. Is there anything that your god can do that would make him unworthy of worship in your viewpoint?
10. If science could possibly disprove your religious beliefs, would you forsake science for your faith? Hypothetically speaking of course.