Sunday, March 22, 2009

God vs. Science



'Let me explain the problem science has with religion.' The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. 'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?'

'Yes sir,' the student says.

'So you believe in God?'

'Absolutely.'

'Is God good?'

'Sure! God's good.'

'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?'

'Yes.' 'Are you good or evil?'

'The Bible says I'm evil.'

The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! The Bible!'

He considers for a moment, 'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?' 'Yes sir, I would.' 'So you're good!' 'I wouldn't say that.' 'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could.. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.' The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmm? Can you answer that one?' The student remains silent.

'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He takes a sip of water from glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. 'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'

'Er...yes,' the student says.

'Is Satan good?'

The student doesn't hesitate on this one, 'No.'

'Then where does Satan come from?'

The student falters, 'From God..'

'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?'

'Yes, sir...'

'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?'

'Yes.'

'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'
Again, the student has no answer.

'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'

The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'

'So who created them?'

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question, 'Who created them?' There is still no answer... Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized.

'Tell me,' he continues onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.'

The old man stops pacing, 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'

'No sir. I've never seen Him.'

'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?'

'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'

'Yet you still believe in him?'

'Yes.'

'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?'

'Nothing,' the student replies. 'I only have my faith.'

'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.'

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. 'Professor, is there such thing as heat?'

'Yes,' the professor replies. 'There's heat.'

'And is there such a thing as cold?'

'Yes, son, there's cold too.'

'No sir, there isn't.'

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet.

The student begins to explain... 'You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.' 'Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.' Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer. 'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?'

'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation. 'What is night if it isn't darkness?'

'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and its called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'

'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.'

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time, 'Flawed? Can you explain how?'

'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains... 'You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it...' 'Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?'

'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do..'

'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?'

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?' The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. 'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.' The student looks around the room, 'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?' The class breaks out into laughter. 'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.' 'So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?' Now the room is silent.

The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers, 'I guess you'll have to take them on faith.'

'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues, 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?

'Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'

To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down.


(This was sent via email and the original author is unknown. I received it from a friend, Farmer John.)

16 comments:

MightyMom said...

that's pretty good!

Tammy Melton said...

I just happened on your blog and I love it! Can you tell me more about where this story came from? Who is "Farmer John?"

I wrote a book I think you would love. It is entitled *Loving God With All Five Senses* You can see more about it on my website, www.legacyministries.info.

Be Blessed Indeed!
Tammy Melton
www.tammymelton.blogspot.com

FJ said...

Hi jm. I wish I could take credit for the essay posted, but I passed it along w/o attribution. It was sent to me in a recent e-mail from a good friend of mine, who in turn had received it in an e-mail, etc. I'm glad to see you passing the message along as well. ;-)

Dawn said...

Wonderful. I can just see my BIL standing up to his philosophy prof like that when he was in college. He is a biochemist and teaches at U of Georgia - has many students over to his house every semester to discuss intelligent design.

Soul Skittles said...

Hehe, I love that story! Especially the part about the brain.

Mustang said...

This really is an excellent dialogue, and a thought provoking one. But like the short discussion at Z’s place the other day concerning the character Atticus Finch, we know it is fictional because we have never met an attorney with integrity, and we have never encountered a college professor who wasn’t convinced that he was the brightest bulb in the room.

I have known so many college professors, but none who demonstrated any tolerance for dialogue with a mere acolyte. With scant exception, I found most of these people so enamored with their own superior liberal understanding, particularly as it pertains to matters of theology, that they would never allow such a confrontation in front of an audience.

There are good men and women in the academic world, called professor, who are better described as scholars. A scholar is one who exhibits an open mind, rather than a closed one—and s/he is willing to learn something new no matter how many advanced degrees they currently have. They are willing to be convinced of the logic of yet another point of view. But . . . sadly, as with men with the character of Atticus Finch, or the ever-popular unicorn, they are either far and few between, or they are simply a figment of our imaginations.

Still—this is an excellent post, from an excellent source and mutual friend—Farmer John.

Glenn Bartley said...

Rita,

Post the below as you see fit. Not trying to start anything nasty just showing another side of belief. I may post this on my own blog, that is if you allow me to post the story from yours that inspired me to write this.

Going by your own argument, or at least that presented in the story, then good would be what? It seems logical to say that good would be the presence of God. As I recall from my study of religion, God is omnipotent and therefore is in all places at once, at least should he choose to be in them. Yet God is sometimes not to be found, at least by the story just told, and therefore evil - the lack of God - is able to run rampant and does so because in faith and supposedly in fact evil is the lack of God.

If when God is not there evil then takes God's place - well I have to ask - why is God not there? God is not there because God chooses not to be there or so I believe would be the answer of the faithful. Since God is omnipotent (all powerful) then surely there can be no other reason. So God has indeed spawned evil and left us with evil in his absence - as per the logic and faith in the story you just presented.

Of course, if you have faith that God is good and only good then what? While good may be performed by people who believe in God, evil cannot be the absence of God because you believe God is good and only good and therefore he would not create evil by his absence. If you go by your faith, and if you stick with what you just tried to show us you believe, how do you explain the conundrum of God's absence being evil and God's absence being caused by God and god alone since he is omnipotent. So what would be said by the faithful to define evil if not created by God due to his being absent? Evil is the product of Free Will! Evil is with what we are tempted by the devil! Evil is what they who push God out of their lives commit! Evil is sin!

While I do believe in evil, I disagree with such definitions. I believe, and have seen it time and time again, evil is an act or set of acts carried out by men and women whether or not God or the devil are in or absent from their lives or with them at the very moment evil is committed. Then again, just as evil can exist and does exist with or without faith in God so too can good exist without God in one's life.

A thing I find absolutely amazing to me about people of strong faith is that they believe God to be good and only capable of doing good. I have to wonder, where has it been ordained that God - being omnipotent and being capable of anything - is not and has not been a perpetrator of evil? No God has not suddenly crept back into my life when I decide to commit a random act of kindness and give to the homeless bum on the street corner. God has not crept back into my life when I pay respect to a deceased person and his family at a funeral mass. God has not stood up in all his might and given me the power to defeat a dirt bag criminal when I get the better of one and bring him to justice so he cannot poison our kids with heroin. Those are things that I do - and if you believe that God has given man free will - well then whose will was it for me to have carried out acts of goodness - mine or God's. If you think God had anything to do with it - then does not God also have something to do with creating and allowing evil to exist also?

God created everything - therefore God creates the absence of God - after all he created free will - did he not. So if someone chooses not to believe in him, and is therefore evil, then that in essence was created and allowed for by God. It would seem therefore, by a leap of faith if nothing else - that God is a prankster and certainly no angel, and it would seem that by logic analysis of the evidence we have before us that God is not all good but has an evil side to him.

In other words God has free will too. His will is not commanded by words written in the Bible or any other religious text. God does what god, and God alone, wants to do - that is the thing with omnipotence. God does not have to do what you believe God does, or what you believe God should do. God is allowed by the nature of godliness to do as he pleases. God could have and quite possibly has, through his omnipotence, split himself into various other Gods, been both male and female and neutral, been a perpetrator of evil, a doer of good, or just simply a being who no longer cares about us because he has created children elsewhere I the universe. We are pretty naive indeed to believe that God created us and then stopped there if indeed there is a God.

As for me, I choose not to believe in God, Gods, or demigods. I prefer to believe in an omnipotent force, the force of nature in the universe - or simply put in the universe it self. How do I explain such things as creation - much the same as you explain God's being. The universe always was - is - and always will be. I do not see the universe as omnipotent, or as a thinking being on the whole, but I do see us as having free will within the limitations of our nature. I do believe in good and evil as products of our nature, and therefore as products of the universe. Whether or not good and evil extend beyond us (humans) is dependent upon whether or not something else here on earth or out there in the universe is capable of free will and also capable of believing in morality and in the concepts of good and evil. There is certainly some evidence to believe that a bedrock type of base for morality may be in the making within some other creature than humans such as chimpanzees. If you choose to believe that such is not the case because you choose not to believe in evolution - then what will your ancestors say when the first chimpanzee speaks and expresses thoughts about good and evil. Undoubtedly, if they are of faithful believers in God, they will say it is the hand of God at work. You could even choose to believe that now, for if there is a God - he can do as he pleases and he does not need to tell us.

I see religion and the religious as often being very abusive of whatever is convenient. Just a few days ago I read about a religious group (Christians in a major US Group) saying that Darwin had gotten it right somewhat. How did Christians of far right belief say he had gotten it right. Well they said that while the world is only about 5,000 years old, and had been created by God as told in the bible, God has allowed for natural selection to take place since then - therefore conveniently trying to explain away any evidence shown by science to support evolution as being the basis for how mankind came into existence. See:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,509800,00.html

Of course scientists also use what is convenient to them, and even when by their own standards they are proven wrong it often takes them a long time to acknowledge such if in fact they do so. The thing is though, that many times scientists do allow for the fact that they had it wrong or only partially right, and they often give up in the face of new evidence about whatever it is they are trying to explain such as evolution, and rethink the whole thing. That is the main thing about religion that turns me off to it. The religious for the most part do not change their beliefs even when evidence suggests otherwise. They have faith no matter what, well that is until the evidence of something else has become so strong that suddenly it is convenient to believe that God has allowed for something in which they had not believed - but of course God only recently allowed for it.

Or should I say some of the faithful have only recently allowed themselves to partially accept things related to religious belief out of convenience. Some are true believers that the Bible is the word of God - even though there is proof positive that it has been corrupted by men - proof as in all of the different versions and inaccurate translations of it. Yet it is convenient to believe it the word of God and to condemn others who believe otherwise. Then again there are many faith systems, with many different Gods, again allowing for convenience when it comes to belief in God. of course each religion says its way is the only true way, and again there is convenience there, the convenience of faith.

As I pointed out above, there is also a convenience of faith in science. For example, for they who believe in the Big bang Theory of creation - they believe it to have been so based upon some evidence, all things they believe to fit logically into place somehow. What they cannot and have never really tried to explain though is exactly of what was the universe made in order for there to have been a big bang. In other words what was there before the big bang?

Me I choose to believe in something else. I find myself believing in the universe, and in what is before me, and in what seems to be logical at any given moment that has something to back it up be it religion or science. I am a man of the here and now though for the most part, and that if only because I am in the here and now. Will that doom me to a lifetime of ignorance - nope my mind is open to learning. Will it doom me to an infinity of paying for my sins - nope because I live what I believe to be a good life - I have faith that such is the case. Am I ignorant of some things, sure of most like most men. Am I less than perfectly good at times, sure as are all men at times but not always being good is not necessarily evil. Am I evil because I do not believe in God - by your definition probably. Yet when you ask those whom I have helped along life's path, they might disagree and instead just call me another guy living life as best I can without intentionally doing bad - and intention (free will) is truly the root of all evil. Does that make free will an evil thing, nope not at all, you see it is also the root of all good. Funny how that works, and funny how easy it is to see and understand, but people just don't accept it. You know why they don't accept it? They do not because that means they would have to accept responsibility for the results of exercising that free will, instead they would rather just point to God or the devil for whatever they have done and put the responsibility there.

All the best,
Glenn B

Jungle Mom said...

Glenn,

Thanks for your comment. I need to sit down when I have time and take a good look at it thoroughly.
I did want to make it clear that I do not think people who choose not to beleive in God are evil, I do beleive all of mankind is sinful, including myself, which is why we require a Savior.
I beleive God exists whether we choose to beleive it or not, and that all men have a conscience which they follow or not.
The 'story' is merely a story and is indeed flawed, but provokes one to think beyond our comfort zone. I hope you will indulge me with borrowing the following from another. Sunday's are very busy for me:)

The "Problem of Evil" is a philosophical stumbling block for many people. Many atheists attack biblical creation on philosophical grounds. The primary questions atheists pose are: "If God is real, and God created everything, why did He create evil?" "Why did a personal, loving God create a world in which evil exists?" "Why did God give man freedom to commit evil acts?" Atheists reason, "Surely, an all-knowing God of love would not allow evil to exist in His world."

The response to the foregoing is summed up in God's nature and His desire for mankind. Look at the logic: How could God allow for love without the potential for evil? God could have created robots that do nothing more than forever say, "I love you, I love you, I love you." But such creatures would be incapable of a real love relationship. Love is a choice, and the Bible says God desires a real love relationship with His creation. Love is not real unless was have the ability to not love. One of God's attributes is omniscience. God knew that in a world with choice, there would be much evil -- to choose not to love is evil by definition. However, there would also be the capacity for real love. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga writes, "An all loving, all powerful, all knowing Being could permit as much evil as He pleased without forfeiting His claim to being all loving, so long as for every evil state of affairs He permits there is an accompanying greater good". The potential for love out weighs the existence of evil, especially if evil can only exist for a time. Evil is a side effect of love. Suffering and death are a side effect of evil (Romans 5:12). God says in His Bible that this side effect is only for a time. Evil serves the limited purpose of establishing real love relationships between creation and the Creator, and evil will be done away with after that purpose is achieved. "And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever" (I John 2:17).

FJ said...

Glenn,

You make some excellent points, but I would have to say that many, again, are based upon false premises. You form a premise that G_d is "everywhere", yet the dialogue states very clearly that there are places where he "is not" and that evil can and does enter into these "voids". It does not state that evil "necessarily" enters into ALL these voids and "resides" in EVERY void. That's merely a reciprocal notion of the false duality premise exposed in the dialogue.

You go on to say the G_d is omnipotent, yet your premise requires that G_d chooses at ALL times to "order and control" ALL the powers that be, including evil, essentially rendering all concepts of "free will" impossible. But as we all know from Genesis, G_d gave mankind "free will", and we humans chose to absent ourselves from His perfect garden, as in hubris we became became the new deciders of what was to be considered "good" and what was also to be considered "evil".

G_d is not of this world. He does not "exist" in "all places" and therefore neither does evil. Attempts to define dimensional physical limitations and prerequisites to G_d is considered one of many heresy's.

FJ said...

Of course, as in all things, one needs to accept the limits to human reasoning and mind. I think Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", his "Critique of Practical Reason" (aka moral empiricism) and his "Critique of the Power of Judgement" are a good starting place for all thinkers and would be philosophers, much as Nietzsche's "Beyond Good & Evil" is a wonderful thesis that needs to be contemplated by all who wish to challenge the very concept of "logic" and the nature of "truth".

FJ said...

imho, "Evil" happens when we begin to substitute our own flawed conceptions of good and evil for His "Truth".

FJ said...

Which reminds me of a story. A bunch of of Pythagoreans went on a boat trip when Hippasus (one of Pythagoras' students) discovered irrational numbers when trying to represent the square root of 2 as a fraction (using geometry, it is thought). Instead he proved you couldn't write the square root of 2 as a fraction and it was irrational.

However Pythagoras could not accept the existence of irrational numbers, because he believed that all numbers had perfect values. But since he could not disprove Hippasus' "irrational numbers," the frustrated Pythagoreans threw Hippasus overboard!

Findalis said...

Science teaches us where and how. Religion teaches us who and why.

Betty said...

Inspiring story! I loved it!

Kathy said...

I love your story too! For me, this is it: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!

The Localmalcontent said...

TOUCHE, that good bright student!!!

I love this post, JMom, and the thought provoking logic~!
Thanks.