PZ Myers vainly justifies his bankrupted Atheistic belief by attempting to connect it to science.
What should a scientist expect from an idea? That it be a reasonable advance in knowledge; that it be built on a foundation of evidence; that it be testable; that it should lead to new and useful questions and ideas. If we look at religion from that perspective, it doesn’t help. At best, the hypothesis of the supernatural and/or a supreme being is vague, unfounded, and inapplicable in any practical fashion-deistic views, for instance, are so abstract and so carefully divorced from risk of challenge that they represent an empty hypothesis, and the most flattering thing you can say about them is that they’re harmless. At worst, religion is confused, internally contradictory, and in conflict with evidence from the physical (and near as we can tell, only) world.
Myers is attempting to create an intersection between the scientific method and the materialistic requirement of an atheistic worldview. Unfortunately he is being inconsistent and he doesn’t even realize it. Why does Atheism expect an idea to advance in knowledge? IOW what is intrinsic about Atheism that requires an idea to advance in knowledge? It seems to me Myers is making a subjective and non-scientific judgment on what Atheism should be. It is just as likely that an atheist can arrive at his faith because he finds the idea of a personal God repulsive. There is nothing intrinsic with a belief system that denies the existence of a personal God that requires it to advance in knowledge or empirically based. Myers is projecting his own scientific training onto his metaphysical belief. I would wager a very large portion of self professing atheists did not come to their faith by detail study of all the evidence for and against such a belief system. I doubt many atheists have read and studied the philosophies of the world’s major religions. For that matter, I doubt they even possess the understanding against Atheism. Find a regular Joe in the street who professes to be an atheist. Ask him if he know anything about the anthropic principle, the implication of the Big Bang, the criticism to Darwinian evolution and the moral implication of Atheism? Myers’s claim of intersection between science and Atheism is just patently false.
While Myers claims that Atheism like science requires that it be built on a foundation of evidence and testability, he rejects this very premise by his commitment to Atheism. The entire theological basis for Atheism asserts that there is no God and no evidence for God. Unfortunately for the atheist he/she is not omniscience. There may be evidence somewhere out there in the universe for God’s existence, but because of Myers’s limitation he does see that evidence, so he must base his belief on faith. As I’ve already mentioned, not every atheist have evaluated and understood all the evidence for and against Atheism before becoming an atheists.
At this point a good atheist like Myers might protest, to the best of his ability there is no evidence for God and therefore he is consistent with his worldview. There are at least 2 problems with that argument. 1. He is assuming that his ability is the only reliable test for evidence. 2. He is objective in his evaluation of any evidence. For instance, if I found a case for the miraculous healing of a person with terminal cancer, along with the medical records to prove that this person indeed had this cancer. But through the prayer and intervention of God this person was heal without any trace of the cancer left. Would this be evidence as far as science or Atheism is concerned? I think the answer would be no because it is not repeatable and not testable. However, to the patient and the attending physician they are left with a mystery as to how to explain this unusual phenomenon. Cancer does not just disappear by themselves from a person’s body. So again the atheists will have to go on faith that this person is either lying, the medical record was mixed up or both. But again this presupposition is based on the atheist’s predetermined worldview and this miraculous event is beyond his ability to test.
Let’s look at another example. It is possible that even an atheistic father will love his children. But this idea of love doesn’t advance any knowledge in the scientific sense. It is certainly not testable and the evidence is questionable. As far as I know there isn’t a love meter to test how much love or any a father is giving out to his children. Does this mean that love does not exist for an atheist? Myers might argue that you can tell by evidence from his actions that a father loves his children. But this is not scientific evidence for love, because as every good atheist knows that those evil religionists and Republicans are capable of pretending to be nice while secretly stabbing you in the back. For all we know Myers’s motive to provide for his children’s necessities to sustain life, buy them toys, spend time with them on vacations and all the actions that would be beneficial for his children, are all for selfish reasons. He might be doing it out of his selfish genes; by ensuring the survival of his children he ensures the survival of his genes. This is just another level of self preservation and not love for his children. He could also be doing it out of the desire for adulation, so others will praise what a good man he is in order to advance his own agenda. Maybe Myers is using his children as an insurance policy so when he becomes old, his children will hopefully take care of him. The only person that truly knows how much a father loves his children is the father himself (if one is honest with oneself). Unfortunately that is not scientifically testable. Therefore I must conclude that Myers does not love his children because I have no testable evidence of that love and it does not advance my scientific knowledge. Therefore in Myers’s atheistic worldview love doesn’t exist.
The other problem with Myers’s argument is that he implies there is exclusivity between science and Atheism. That also is patently false. A Christian worldview provides the scientist with a framework to pursuit knowledge. The Scripture tells us to love our neighbors, be kind and generous to those that are in need. Christian theology provides the reason for scientific research to further our knowledge of the natural world, for the benefit of other human beings. This is the reason why many scientific proposal for funding justify its request based on the promise of alleviating pain and suffering. Atheism has no theological basis to ground this on because there is no scientific reason or evidence for compassion. A Christian worldview does have this requirement for its pursuit of science.
The other argument Myers used against theists is that our acknowledgment of a personal God is contrary to the scientific method. This is plain ignorance on his part. According to Myers and many critics of theism, is that theists rely on blind ignorance for their acceptance of God. This kind of ignorant view of theists is fine for an ostrich with its head in the sand but it is not reality. Myers would know this if he actually read all the religious books that he claims to have read. C.S. Lewis, Simon Greenleaf, Lee Strobel and Hugh Ross just to name a few, are people who have carefully evaluated the evidence for and against a personal God, but was convinced that the evidence does support a theistic belief. Especially in the case of Lewis and Strobel, both were ardent atheists before they evaluated the evidence for Christianity.
I will acknowledge that many Christians just as many atheists come to their belief from an uncritical path. The point I am making is that neither Atheism nor Christianity automatically mean that critical thinking and empirical evidence is devoid in the decision process. (Read Christianity and ID) In reality, Biblical scholarship in terms of archaeology, culture, history and language, all employ the modern scientific methods. There is no conflict between scientific methods and the theists who practice natural sciences on the weekdays and Biblical studies on Sundays.
The other conflict between science and Atheism is the constant self righteous and intolerant claims by the atheists. Atheists make indignant remarks about who and what is evil and good, but they have no scientific and epistemological basis to make such declaration. Morality is meaningless in an atheistic construct, in the words of PZ Myers (sort of), “Atheism is confused, internally contradictory, and in conflict with evidence from the physical world”. You can read my lengthy comment on Atheism and Morality here.
So in fact Myers’s attempt to create an intersection between science and Atheism fails for its inconsistency. Atheism does not require an idea to advance in knowledge. Atheists do not require empirical evidence for Atheism. Atheistic belief and practice is inconsistent with the scientific method and it is internally inconsistent and untenable, while Christianity is internally consistent and provides the epistemological basis for scientific pursuit and consistent with the scientific method.