Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn Connect on YouTube

What If I Denied the Existence of Science

April 11, AD 2013 98 Comments

I, of course, do not deny the existence of science, but let’s just spin the hypothetical.

Let’s say I am an a-scientist, that is, I believe there is no such thing as science. I only believe in things that can walk right up to me and say, “Howdy, I’m science.”

You say, “But, that’s absurd, of course there’s science. Everybody knows that, people have done science for centuries.”

I say, “Then give me the evidence. Point to science.”

You point to science books. You point to science papers. You point to scientists.

I say, “Tsk, of course science books and papers will say there is science. You need to go outside of science and prove that science exists. You just want to believe there is science and you read things that tell you it exists to build up your belief. I’m a free-thinker, I can form my own truth. Of course someone who calls himself a scientist will say that science exists. Stop treating me like I’m ignorant.”

You scratch your head, shrug, make one of the upside-down smiley faces with the slanted eyebrows of distress, and try to think of something to say.

Distressed face

“Well, what evidence do you have that science does not exist.”

I say, “For crying out-loud, I read what the free-thinking a-scientists write. They are not conformed and blinded by your dogma, they can each decide for themselves what is true, and they have demolished all arguments that say that science exists. It’s just make-believe, and you are doggedly determined to believe in make-believe and force all the rest of us to believe in it too.”

You inquire, “But wouldn’t it be better to read what the people who actually study science publish and at least see if they are wrong or right?”

I say, “I have, and they are all the same. They tell you what to think. I have met lots of scientists who swindled me, who lied, nasty bunch of fellows indeed. They just want to control people’s minds. Greedy scientists are the ones who brought us weapons and ammunition, nuclear bombs and false hopes in cures.”

“But,” you say, “okay, there are bad scientists and dangerous things have been developed by science. I’m asking, though, if you’ve read what science itself has to say, what people down through time have learned and agreed upon, predicted and observed to be true. Have you read about scientific laws and tried them out, tested them for yourself? Don’t you see all the good science has brought to mankind?”

With a heavy sigh, “Of course your sources tell you that. Here we go again…”

So your distress face turns to a meh face, and you just go on with science, learning and exploring new things about the world, searching for truth.

Meh faceI stomp my foot, toss back my hair, congratulate myself assuredly for winning another debate. Then I go back to my lab where I draw squiggles and give them names, publish my findings in books that other a-scientists rave about and use as proof there is no science (even as I use things science has brought me to do so).

And I never get beyond the question of whether science exists or not.

For as surely as I can say it or think it…

Science does not exist and you can’t prove otherwise.

—–

That’s what atheists sound like to me.

Hello, and thank you for reading. I am a wife, mother of seven, and joyful convert to Catholicism. I write from my tiny office in a 100-year-old restored Adirondack mountain lodge. Read more about me here, with pictures. Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. "Like" my Facebook page Science Was Born of Christianity to follow updates about my book. God bless you!

If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe below to receive all my essays by email.

Thank you for supporting me!

  • Pingback: What Difference Does Heaven Make - Big Pulpit

  • Rebecca @ Shoved to Them

    You are all kinds of brilliant, my friend.

  • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

    I have no idea what the point of this exercise is. You say at the get go that you don’t deny the existence of science. Good. So what purpose does an exercise in hypothetical denial serve? I don’t see it. That science has, sadly, given us nuclear weapons is a red herring (in terms of its attempt to indict science in toto).

    Here’s a definition I found that’s as good as any:

    Science: a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.

    That’s perfect. Okay, let’s now contrast that with a definition of religion:

    Religion: a branch of make-believe dealing with unproven assertions irrationally arranged that serve to deny or ignore currently known truths about the nature of the world and the universe.

    As for you not understanding atheists, perhaps “The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality” by Andre Comte-Sponville might interest you.

    • Hegesippus

      You, sir, are being deliberately obtuse and very a priori with your definitions. God bless you.

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        Rather than simply say I’m obtuse, I’d rather have you point out to me exactly where and how I’ve been obtuse.

        • Heidi Czerkes

          How have you proven that holy water does not exist?

          Have you read the documented cases from Lourdes? How exactly does that fit with your “We have none” statement?

          I’m not being snarky. I’m trying to understand, because at the moment, your entire comment doesn’t make sense. There’s plenty of historical evidence out there for the “claims” of religion.

          Can you give me evidence for why your definition of religion is true? Prove to me that religion is ” a branch of make-believe dealing with unproven assertions irrationally arranged that serve to deny or ignore currently known truths about the nature of the world and the universe.” There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary out there – if you make that assertion, you must have reasons for it. Tell them to me, so I can understand.

          • StacyTrasancos

            Good point Heidi. Barry?

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            As a general response, see the above comment about the invisible rabbit.

            Sure, there are all sorts of religious claims. I don’t deny that. It’s just that the claims are not true because they conflict with what we already know to be verifiably true about the nature of the world. We know for a fact that spoken words will not change the constitutive nature of material reality. Translation: speaking to a vial of water or a flour-based product will do nothing to change the nature of water and flour. Hence, the belief that talking to flour will somehow change it is a great (and funny) example of religious make-believe.

            Another: Catholics claim that there’s an ethereal, floaty thing in us called a “soul” that will whoosh out of our bodies at death and go someplace else. There is no evidence for this claim — which means this is another example of make-believe.

            If you say that you don’t understand atheists, well, it’s obvious that you have never read anything by the great Carl Sagan. Do read his final book, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”. That should ameliorate your problem. If the problem doesn’t clear up, I, the good doctor of secular humanism, will prescribe something else. If your problem does clear up, well, start spreading the good news of secular humanism!

          • Anonymous

            Anecdotal evidence is not valid evidence which derived from replicable tests in a contrôlée evidence and accounts for external influences.
            There is no such evidence in the case of religion, miracles, magic, alien abduction and other paranormal phenomena. They all fall apart under the harsh light of objective scientific scrutiny.

        • Howard

          “What evidence do we have, just as we have evidence for the existence of gravity, evolution, and quasars, for the existence of holy water? We have none”

          I use it every mass. It sits in a little bowel at the entrance to my church. I could take a picture of it, but, is that really necessary?

          • Dennis

            [sarc] I am tired of you scientific folk saying we have evidence for the existence of gravity as it is defined in “science” books! What you call gravity could very well be the result of a very large amount of alien monkeys on the moon who are using telekinesis to keep everything pinned on the earth. Stop being so ignorant and believing everything you are told, you medieval thinking barbarians! [/sarc]

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            I have no idea what your response means. It’s too opaque.

          • Howard

            Barry, my answer was an exact response to your assertion. Now if you can explain exactly what it is you disagree with beyond the holy waters existence I might be able to help you understand.

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            Ah, so you were referring to the “holy” water. Question: how do you know it’s “holy”? I know when water is hot or cold or warm or murky with mud and so on, but how does one tell the difference between holy water and non-holy water?

            And that wafer that’s given out at the mass. It’s just flour and water, right? And that anything else you believe about it is just that: make-believe, right?

            Yep, I have zero respect for Catholicism in exactly the same way I have zero respect for astrology.

          • Howard

            Barry I’m glad you asked.

            The “holy water” exists. It may be “holy” or not depending upon the priest.

            A priests blessing has not to do with a power as you understand power; like electricity and gunpowder. It is an act performed by a man who maintains an office that was instituted by God. A feature of this office is to ASK GOD for something. A blessing is not equivalent to flipping a switch or lighting a fuse which is part of a physical process.

            The person using it or the water itself is not enhanced in any way unless God responds by imparting actual grace through it, except that, the individual receiving the blessing hopefully responds with an increased
            devotion. Those are the two features of holy water besides it’s physical being.

            The ultimate statement that you are making is not that an extra-temporal
            feature of holy water does not exist, it is that God does not exist to impart
            it.

            Every debate you will ever have with a faithful Catholic ultimately relies on the answer to this question.

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            No, never mind “God” for now. I’m saying “holy” water does not exist because there’s no differential diagnosis.

            If my nose is runny or blocked, do I have a cold or an allergy? Differential diagnosis can be employed to find the answer. Differential diagnosis can NOT be employed to determine the difference between ordinary water and holy water. And so there you have it: holy water does not exist. It’s an idea that exists solely in the mind of those who want to believe it exists.

            A guy and a priest are in a room. They are standing by a table with a vial of water on it. The priest does his act and “blesses” the vial and, presto, it is now said to be holy water. The priest leaves the room. A new guy walks in. The other guy already in the room says to the new guy, “Hey, we’ve got some holy water here.” To which the new guy says, “Yeah? How do you know?”

            I’m done for the day. I have to go now and finish reading a book (nothing to do with religion) and then write a review.

          • Howard

            Barry,
            Never mind God for now, is like saying I don’t understand the Chinese people at all because I don’t believe in eating with chop sticks.

            If the two guys in this story are Catholic, the first guy answers, “Because a priest just blessed it.”

          • Erin

            You’re making a bizarre assumption that for water to become holy water, some molecular or chemical change must take place. Who says? You *can’t* independently, scientifically tell the difference between holy water and regular water – so what? All it proves is exactly that – there is no discernible, scientific, molecular difference between holy water and regular water. It doesn’t prove that holy water doesn’t exist.

            You could walk into a room with two dead women, one of whom had been loved, while the other hadn’t. You could perform autopsies on both but you wouldn’t find molecular or chemical differences as a result of being loved. You couldn’t discern, on your own, by differential diagnosis or any other method, which woman had been loved. Therefore, by your logic, love must not exist, huh?

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            Your “reasoning” (if that’s what it is) leaves me speechless. Wow. Drawing an analogy between a corpse and non-existent “holy” water. Wow.

        • tedseeber
          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            I just read your piece (I see there that “comments are closed for this post”).

            Some things stood out:

            “Atheists eliminate God as a possible solution from the very beginning. This is the starting point for atheism – not a logical conclusion nor the result of scientific evidence.”

            That is incorrect. The starting point of atheism is a rejection of the idea that there is a super-natural dimension or component to existence. To say there is a god that created the universe is to make a big claim that invites too much opaque speculation. Better to start with the little claims (holy water, souls, prayer, Transubstantiation, etc.) as you trod your way up the mountain of belief. I mean, if a belief in a relatively smaller idea such as the flesh-but-not-flesh cracker at mass is nuts (and it is), what does that say about the larger ideas?

            “The only thing I am asking is that based on all the facts before us, is
            it reasonable or unreasonable to believe in God as the creator of the
            universe?”

            Answer: unreasonable, because there are no “facts before us” that support the claim for the existence of a Supreme Being.

            “[Atheists] might argue that there are multiple, preceding universes. Or they
            might argue for the existence of some kind of quantum foam.”

            Nah, not this atheist. I have no use for the “multiple universes” angle. I find it distracting and unhelpful and, as you say, too theoretical without anything “hard” to back it up.

            “Everything that exists was brought into being by some other preceding
            thing. In plain language, this just means that something cannot come
            from nothing. Everything comes from something preceding it. I didn’t
            just pop into existence.”

            I haven’t read Lawrence Krauss’s new book, “A Universe From Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing.” I’m sure it’s a mind-bender but I plan to give it a shot.

            But you see the problem with infinite regress: if this god you speak of created the universe, well, it suggests that this god is a pretty damn complicated being. So how did IT come into being? In other words, how would or could a complicated being just, willy-nilly, spring into existence? And so we go, backwards and backwards and backwards and…

            No shuddering going on with this guy!

          • Ted Seeber

            I had much the same thoughts since I wrote this on the 12th (I still don’t understand Disqus comment notifications), and this is the result:

            http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/2013/05/fundamentalist-atheism.html

            And comments are still open there.

            Oddly enough, the denial of the supernatural (defined as the superset of the natural, that is, all the things we didn’t cause and don’t know, as opposed to all the things we didn’t cause and do know) is even more problematic than the denial of the existence of God- because a good scientist is *always* working in the realm of the supernatural, only science popularizers like Dawkins work in the realm of the natural.

            Clicking the followup box because I find it interesting when atheists prove their fundamentalism by trying to deny that they aren’t denying evidence.

        • Don M

          You say you know what’s in the minds of all Catholics (a billion people), and then you talk about how you need evidence to know something. Did you consider that may come across badly?

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            Yes, I do know what’s in the mind of all Catholics. You all believe that a man in special garb, uttering special words and gesticulating in a special way, can change the nature of flour (see my above response). I think that comes across very well, thank you very much.

    • http://www.facebook.com/caytie82 Cassi Duncan

      Perhaps you might try using official definitions, rather than terming your own opinion as a definition. That would probably add more to a genuine discussion, unless you simply prefer trolling. :) I don’t know where people find the time for it, but I suppose everyone needs a hobby.

    • Jeff

      You said: “Here’s a definition I found that’s as good as any: Science: a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing operation or general laws”

      How did you go about finding this definition to be “as good as any”?

      Was it done scientifically/experimentally?

      IF so: Where is the evidence?

      If not: What method did you use? Is there any shred of evidence? If not: who cares.

      Was it done rationally/logically/philosophically?

      If so: Explain.

      • StacyTrasancos

        :-)

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        How is that definition of science NOT as good as any? I fail to see the flaw in it. And I just demonstrated one aspect of the truth of it by typing this message and sending it via an electronic connection. Hey, don’t look at me. Stacy already said at the top of her piece that she doesn’t deny science. Great. So why go after me for saying the same thing in different words?

        But the main issue here (let’s not get off the main subject) is that Catholicism traffics in make-believe. Really, folks, “Transubstantiation” is probably the wackiest and looniest idea that anyone has ever invented in the history of the world. Wow.

    • http://twitter.com/Thaumatology Nicholas Bollaert

      You can argue that it is a bad analogy, but I am pretty sure you understand the point of the exercise. She summed it up nicely. For her, atheism is as sensible as denying science.

      It ultimately boils down to observation. If you cannot see God in nature, that doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t.

      • StacyTrasancos

        Thank you!

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        Sorry! You don’t get off that easily!

        “Atheism is as sensible as denying science” is embarrassing because it makes no sense at all. Sure, atheists may disagree among themselves on certain particulars, but we all in agreement on one thing: there is no super-natural dimension (deliberate hyphen to underscore the point) to existence. There is only the natural world and no other. There is no “holy” water, and a flour-based product doesn’t magically become the flesh of a certain individual and then magically turn back into its original product just because a man in special garb speaks to it in a certain way.

        If I went around saying that an invisible rabbit was a friend of mine it would NOT be your responsibility to prove that the rabbit doesn’t exist. Secularists will, of course, weigh in on the “does God exist” question, but the burden ultimately rests on the person making the primary claim. Translation: it would be up to ME to prove that I have an invisible rabbit as a friend, not for you to disprove it.

        As for “God in nature” you’re getting warm. I recommend that you read “The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality” by Andre Comte-Sponville.

    • Don M

      Barry,

      The point of the exercise is that concepts, such as God, or large categories like science, or history, are not temporal and not subject to direct proof. Science is a body of knowledge compiled by the scientific method. It doesn’t exist materially. It is an idea, just like scientific theories.
      I don’t think she means anything else by it. And as such, she is frustrated by those who want direct, physical proof of an abstract concept.
      I think that’s all she’s saying.

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        Yes, science is a method that is employed to discover and figure out what is true about the world. By contrast, religion is a method that muddies and obfuscates.

    • Proteios

      DId that seriously say atheist spirituality? Adorable. Just adorable. If atheism were real I suspect all conversations would end at, “I don’t believe in a god”. Rather than the painful and profitable efforts used to prop up this insecure group.
      Not sure about proofing God limiting myself to the scientific method, but I suspect if an atheist couldn’t whine about religion, he wouldn’t exist.

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        Yes, atheist spirituality. Comte-Sponville does a great job explaining what that means. Do read his splendid little book and tell me where he goes wrong.

        “If atheism were real…” No. Atheism is not a “thing” in the world. It’s a philosophical position, a rejection of the claim there is a super-natural dimension to the world.

    • Peter Stornebrink

      It doesn’t matter where Barry Lyons gets his definition from. The TROUBLE is that it is wrong. I strongly suggest that everyone read the books by Dr, Wolfgang Smith, in particular “Science and Myth” to convince you that Science has great problems. Then, if you need more convincing, read the book (2 volumes) by Dr. Robert Sungenis and Dr. Robert Bennett titled: “Galileo was wrong The Church was right”.

      Finally, I suggest reading books and other writings by Dr. Anthony Rizzi. (look for web site: http://www.IAPweb.org ) He has in article in the New Oxford Review, April 2013, pp. 35-40. The second part of which is going to appear in the May issue.

      After that I would like to read Mr. Lyons’ “Conversion” story to TRUTH and where it can be found.

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        Science confirms that a particular wafer is made up of flour and water that has been baked so that it will form into hard matter. A Catholic priest will say that by uttering certain words he can change the nature of that wafer into something else.

        Are you really suggesting that merely speaking to flour will change its nature? Sorry, I’ll stick with science.

        • Peter Stornebrink

          Barry, that is a different topic but, yes, I do belief that. I take it on faith from our Lord, Jesus Christ. (Look it up in the Bible.)

          Scientific studies have shown the a consecrated host has not changed its physical or chemical properties. Nevertheless its “substance” has changed when the priest says the words “This is my body”. This change in the substance from bread into the “Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” of Jesus is called “transubstantiation”. This belief is central to my faith. It is a belief for which I, like millions of martyrs before me, would rather die then deny it. You can only belief it after you have studied the Bible or heard the teachings of the Catholic Church on this and on many other faith matters. In Lanziano, Italy, a priest many centuries ago also had inner doubts about how this could be when he spoke those words. He was confirmed in his belief when a miracle occurred and the host started bleeding. Today you can see that “host” (as it is called) in five pieces on display. Would you belief that each piece when weighed has the same weight as all the others despite their different sizes? Not only that but each piece alone weighs the same as all the pieces combined. That is not natural but supernatural. (I have seen the display in a church in Lanziano.) Many other similar miracles have taken place over the centuries. The information is easily available on the web.

          An atheist doesnot belief in miracles. Many atheists were present amongst some 70,000 spectators in Fatima, Portugal, on October 13, 1917, when Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared there for the sixth time in six months to three shepherd children. They had been told earlier that on that October day a miracle would occur visible to everyone present. What they witnessed was the sun “dancing”, “spinning” and sending out flames, moved up and down. People were scared as you can imagine. The skeptics could no longer deny the supernatural appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three children. Another remarkable fact was that people had been soaking wet since it had been raining for days but when the miracle ended they were completely dry. Only ignorance of the fact can keep a person away from believing in the one true (Catholic) faith. Atheists generally don’t want to hear about these things, afraid of being pulled out of their chosen comfort zone. No faith, no obligation, and everything is permitted, or so they may think, but cannot prove. Blaise Pascal had some good advice for his unbelieving friends. Look up “Pascal’s wager”.

          I hope you will have some respect for those who belief in things that cannot be proved but must be take on faith. I have never been in New York but I take it on faith that there is a large city called New York. Most of what we know or learn in school we accept on the basis of faith in what we are told or have read. I know there was a ruler in Germany called Adolf Hitler. I once heard him talking on the radio. I will never forget that voice. I do not doubt for a moment that he existed. I heard him screaming angrily. Personal experiences have a way to learn a truth the hard way. At the end of WWII my wife was working in a field (in Austria) and was shot at by Russian planes. They came back a second time and again bullets were hitting the ground all around her. She emerged unscathed but could not talk normally for about a year, only stutter. Now more than 65 years later it still traumatizes her in some ways. Hitler and Stalin, both once Christians, became atheists. Many millions died under their leadership. A true believer has peace of mind no matter what happens, knowing that an eternal reward awaits him if he (she) remains faithful to God’s commandments. I am very happy to submit myself to His commandments. I am happy when I can help others. A good Christian is charitable even if not perfect so. Our faith is beautiful if properly understood.
          I wish you would seriously explore it and be happy also.
          Best wishes,
          Peter

          • Howard

            “Our faith is beautiful if properly understood.”

            Says it all Peter.

    • Ferris

      …what?
      That doesn’t make sense at all. I found this hard to follow, but from what I can tell you’ve created a false equivalency between the existence of science and the existence of a god, and framed them as though they’re on an even footing.

      Let’s go with your analogy. You’re correct in saying that no matter how many journals or books or sources of any kind you are given, that doesn’t automatically prove to you that the science was done. But the difference is that you can actually see for yourself.

      Let’s take an easy example, removing for a moment the barriers most people have to more complex science (access to a lab etc.). Scientists claim that sodium combusts in water. You have no reason to believe them, but if you take sodium and water you can actually see it for yourself. There exists literally no parallel for the existence of a deity.

      This piece exhibits a glaring misunderstanding of atheism.

      • Stacy Trasancos

        Ferris,

        Without a doubt I know that everything you believe that science has declared true, you have not seen for yourself. You have entrusted yourself to the knowledge acquired by other people, and to knowledge that even if you could get into that elusive laboratory, you wouldn’t be able to see with your own eyes. Science is not just observing. It is reasoning abstractly about what is observed.

        There absolutely is a parallel for the existence of God, His existence can be personally verified, but to do so, you must do the work and try rather than sit on your hands with your eyes closed and refuse.

        • Andre

          “There absolutely is a parallel for the existence of God, His existence can be *personally* verified”

          It’s a great parallel to science, which is also based on personal verification.

          • Ferris

            Science is absolutely not based on personal verification. Any scientific claim must be tested and retested, tried for falsifiabilty and shared with others in the field before it is given credence.
            So no, that’s is not even close to the same thing as an imagined verification of god.

          • michael

            Richard Feynman perhaps said it best when he said “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        • Longshanks

          “Without a doubt I know that everything you believe that science has declared true, you have not seen for yourself.”

          “without a doubt”

          Such a prototypically religious thing to say, and what arrogance, poor manners, and intellectual dishonesty.

          Glass -> upside down.
          Burn a candle in it.
          Candle goes out.
          Put a plant inside without adding outside air.
          Wait.
          Light a candle in the glass, it burns.
          Plant is adding something to the glass.

          Glass -> upside down.
          Burn a candle in it.
          Candle goes out.
          Ask god to add stuff to the glass.
          Try to light a candle in the glass.
          Nothing happens.
          god isn’t doing anything, lazy god.

        • Ferris

          Again, you are taking two completely different things and comparing them as though they are equal.
          Of course I believe in science which I haven’t seen done personally, because I understand the process of scientific discovery, peer review etc. I know that the same stringent requirements for the science I can see myself also applies to the science which I can’t. And sure, you can take it a step further and not even believe that, but then you are throwing out all reason and assuming the entire world operates under a conspiracy, by which all scientific advances have actually come about through some other means. That is ludicrous.
          The existence of a god has no evidence whatsoever. Your claim that there is a verifiable way is hardly surprising, and I’d love to hear it. Provide me with one single piece of evidence for the existence of a god, testable and falsifiable by scientific method. “do the work and try rather than sit on your hands” doesn’t mean anything,

  • StacyTrasancos

    “Religion: a branch of make-believe dealing with unproven assertions irrationally arranged that serve to deny or ignore currently known truths about the nature of the world and the universe.” Can you cite your sources Barry?

    • breasedh

      Love the article! Absolute materialism can have unexpected consequence. You point that out rather well. That which is non material cannot exist the materialist will say. Thus, Intellectual abstractions of any kind, cannot ‘exist’ if you define existence purely in material terms.At the most ,it could be said that they only exist in relative terms i.e. that we think about them .but in absolute objective terms,they cannot, as they have no objective physical reality outside of our own thoughts as, only physical things that exist….exist!.
      The logic of this leads to the question, what truth content can a materialist’s statements about God or his non existence,values or morality,truth and right and wrong have at all?, what could be significant about them? What can a complex biological system that suffers from the illusion of consciousness have to say about self , God or existence?

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        Why should we care that intellectual abstractions don’t exist in a material sense? I can’t put envy or jealousy in a paper bag and carry it around with me. We are language-oriented and meaning-seeking creatures. It’s a matter of course that we live in a world ideas because that’s who we are. We live in a world of ideas; snails do not. More to the point, there are good ideas and there are bad ideas, and religion has a lot of bad ideas because an idea like “holy” water doesn’t comport with what we know to be true about the world (because vocalizations do not change the constitutive nature of water).

        I didn’t know that consciousness was an “illusion”. That’s news to me.

      • Stacy Trasancos

        “What can a complex biological system that suffers from the illusion of consciousness have to say about self , God or existence?”

        Exactly!

    • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

      The sources are to be found in all the books I mentioned in previous posts and, of course, by way of common sense. To wit (as it were): the belief in souls and holy water are two classic examples of make-believe. And, as I discussed in a previous comment, if a priest has “blessed” a foodstuff, how are we to know? How do we tell the difference between blessed and unblessed bread? Hey, don’t look at me. I’m referring to my Catholic aunt’s Catholic boyfriend who told us one year when he arrived that before showing up for Thanksgiving he stopped by a church and had some bread “blessed” by the priest. To say assert that a piece of bread is “blessed” is to make a statement about the world. Is it a true or false statement? And I’m still waiting for someone to tell me how I can independently discern the difference between “holy” water and non-holy water.

      • StacyTrasancos

        That’s what I thought, made it up. Very scholarly, Barry. I’m impressed. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

    This is an attempt at satire, but, sadly, I’ve been in similar conversations in real life.

    • StacyTrasancos

      That is sad, James.

      • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

        I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Adam’s pet dinosaur, have you?

        • StacyTrasancos

          No! But I think I can guess what it is…maybe???

  • http://twitter.com/xcontra X Contra

    Hilarious article, those scientists being dogmatic!

    Another way I think about it: a scientist wants to be objective in how he studies the universe, objective in what he claims about the universe.

    Good.

    But can he be objective about himself?

  • Leila Miller

    Oh my gosh! This is excellent. I debate a lot of atheists, and this is just what they sound like to me, too. Well done!

    • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

      Maybe those atheists are poor debaters. I suspect Bill Maher would wipe the floor with you. Check out this hilarious clip where Maher (a born-again atheist like me) tears into Pope Francis and Catholicism. “You’re selling an invisible product. It doesn’t get any easier than that.” And I love this: “Jesus also never said anything about a pope, let alone that he should live in a palace and be carried around in a chair like Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Cleopatra’.”

      • Leila

        Wow! Maher makes himself look more like an imbecile than usual, if that is possible. How bizarre that someone would think that “complete ignorance of a subject” = “brilliance in debate”. That part does make me laugh. ;)

        I’m off to say prayers to the FSM now…

        • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

          Maher is brilliant as ever (do see his feature film “Religulous”).

          Maher is correct: religious people (of whatever religion) just make stuff up as they go along. Here’s another one Maher left off his list. It’s real knee-slapper: the — get ready for the initial caps because this is oh so formal and important — Assumption of Mary. Yep, that’s something else the Catholic Church made up in 1950 out of whole cloth. Evidence for the claim? Zip, as usual.

          By the way, there’s been a lot of slinging of the word “dogma” around to describe atheists and secularists. WE’RE dogmatic?!? On a lark, I decided to see how Wikipedia defines “dogma”:

          “In the Roman Catholic Church, a dogma (plural dogmata) is an article of faith revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church presents as necessary to be believed. For example, Christian dogma states that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmata regulate the language, how the truth of the resurrection is to be believed and communicated.”

          So who’s being dogmatic now?

          • Leila

            I am going to guess that since you thought Religulous was brilliant, you must really think Dawkins is a genius, too. The scientist who said that a pig was more human than a human fetus. Science much, Dawkins? These guys are bozos, Barry. They play at this. Now, give me an existentialist atheist, and there’s at least some intellectualism present.

            The fact that you believe the Catholic Church made up the doctrine of the Assumption out of whole cloth in 1950 shows me: 1) you have done no research, but just mindlessly parroted some anti-Catholic source, 2) you are intellectually dishonest. Give me your sources, Barry. Where’d ya hear that?

            One of my friends from Scotland told me years ago that when she was a girl in 1950, and the Church formally declared the Assumption (do you know why they did, Barry? Do you want to check?), she asked her mom why the Church did so, as they had always believed in the Assumption. You know, just like Catholics always had, since the, well, Assumption of Mary. Check the historical record, Barry, before you type. It will increase your credibility.

          • Leila

            PS: Now here is an atheist that I can respect (and I’ll bet he even knows the difference between Catholics and evangelical fundamentalists, too; we Catholics don’t require belief in a six-day creation, never have):

            http://www.vice.com/read/hey-atheists-just-shut-up-please

            (Are you a r/atheist, Barry?)

      • StacyTrasancos

        “Maybe those atheists are poor debaters.” …says the person who refuses to read the proofs of God’s existence for himself and instead refutes them by appealing to atheist literature — a perfect example of the point of this article!

  • Michael Fraley

    I love this article. I’m sure that this is *exactly* how many of us sound to atheists.

    • The Ordinary Catholic

      Something we mustn’t forget. Atheists who believe that science is the source of all the knowledge we have today and exclude God in the process, believe this as much as a Catholic does in his or her belief in God. Their belief is definitely dogmatic whether they see this or not and it horrifies them to even to hear you say this Stacy. When no scientific answer can be found for something, their hope is that eventually science will have a breakthrough and find that answer. They will come up with all sorts of propositions and ideas as to why something is just so in the physical world, but educated guesses are simply just that: a guess.

      This whole thing about holy water is an example of a scientist making an observation of the physical without attempting to understand the spiritual aspect of it because it can’t. Science of today deals only with the physical world because that is the only thing in science that is observable. If they can’t see it or explore it mathematically or theoretically then it isn’t there. When science asks for ‘proof’ of the spiritual, they demand physical proof, proof that can be seen and touched or replicated in the lab. Kinda hard to hold God in your hands and show Him to them.

      One can explain to an atheist how certain observable things in the universe and our world here on earth provides strong evidence for the existence of God and they will pooh pooh this not realizing that they use the same methods to discover new things in the universe themselves that they did not realize existed. When Pluto was discovered, it was not through the direct observation of Pluto, but on the effects that Pluto’s gravity had on other objects within its vicinity. Only then did they realize its existence. The truth of its existence was always there but it was through its effects that it came to be known.

      We have come to know of God’s existence through reason, the natural world and His revealing of himself in scripture, and using these tools that were provided, such as science uses its own tools, we can ‘see’ the unobservable(God) just as science ‘saw’ Pluto through its effects on other orbiting bodies. If science believed that nothing existed unless it was directly observable, then Pluto may not have been discovered when it was and neither will they discover God anytime soon as long as they deny the spiritual because they cannot contain it in the lab.

      • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

        I had no idea that the theory of gravity or that the theory of natural and sexual selection were just “guesses”. That’s news to me — and to all scientists alive.

        That’s an excellent comment about Pluto. Yes, science often has to work in a kind of “flanking” move. Thinking of the difficulties in finding “dark matter”. Same thing.

        You’re sidestepping the holy water argument. Consider it from this angle: why do Catholics WANT to believe in holy water? You just said that science can’t prove that holy water exists — but neither can Catholicism! So the ultimate question is: WHY do you want to believe in holy water? Why do you want to believe that you have a soul? We should only believe in that which we know be true. Any other kind of belief opens the door to intellectual mischief. Adherents of another religion believe that their man-god flew to heaven on a horse. But the fossil record demonstrates that horses have never had wings. Why believe otherwise?

        Your last paragraph is pretty good too and almost on target. With just a couple of adjustments in your mind you’ll find yourself agreeing with Andre Comte-Sponville. Do read “The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality” to see what I mean.

        Yes, we ARE spiritual beings, and religion has nothing to do with it.

        • The Ordinary Catholic

          “Yes, we ARE spiritual beings”

          Prove it. Show us the evidence.

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            Well, for starters, read “The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality”. That will get you started. I’m not going to spend my time here rehashing what Comte-Sponville already says better than I could. Why should I provide extended excerpts from the book or try to figure out ways to rewrite him when you can just read what he has to say? I await your review of the book.

          • StacyTrasancos

            Oh dear! I took a look at the book and what he means is that it is possible for an atheist to experience awe and wonder at life and the mystery of existence without invoking the spiritual — which means it really isn’t spirituality. Word games.

          • http://twitter.com/lyonsnyc Barry Lyons

            Nope. No word games there. Just an honest respect for the real world as it is. “Holy water” is a word game (because holy water doesn’t exist). The belief that we each have a “soul” is a word game (because souls don’t exist). And so on. As for Comte-Sponville, no similar or analogous sleight-of-hands can be found.

            My work is done here. If you want to contact me, you can always do so via Twitter.

          • Howard

            “Work here is done. I’m needed elsewhere now. I’m needed wherever outlaws rule the West, wherever innocent women and children are afraid to walk the streets, wherever a man cannot live in simple dignity, wherever a people cry out for justice.”
            - Bart, Blazing Saddles

            Bye Barry, bye Comte-Sponville, bye Maher, bye to all of you heroes.

          • StacyTrasancos

            Barry, I hope you stick around because I’m terrible at trying to make a point in 140 characters or less. I’m bad at Twitter. :-)

      • Michael

        “When Pluto was discovered, it was not through the direct observation of Pluto, but on the effects that Pluto’s gravity had on other objects within its vicinity.”

        No, they thought that was the case and there were perturbations in Uranus’ and Netputne’s orbit that could only be accounted for by a Planet X but Pluto’s size and distance was much to small to cause any effect on Neptune. (Note : Urbain Le Verrier predicted the position of the then-undiscovered planet Neptune by discrepancies in Uranus’ orbit)

  • prasad

    Hello,

    the way you have woven your argument to confute that Science does not exist, is for me, a feel good factor, but does it really answer the vitals and stump their ground?

    A crucial aspect of Jesus’ human life on earth was to point his audience [the entire humanity, of course] towards the TRANSCENDENT, that which is, say, ‘invisible’. Scriptural references to this are plenty, I do not want to touch on that aspect here. [In fact, the entire Bible is a perfect testimony of how God visited His people in Jesus, and turned their eyes towards Himself, the only thing strictly necessary for any human, because we are created like that, "our hearts are made for you.... and they are restless until they rest in you" the quote of St. Augustine. By making the humanity to look towards Him [the Transcendent, the Divine], Jesus Christ ‘rectified’ or rather straightened our relationship and we call it ‘reconciled us to God’, to Himself.

    Now to the point:

    It is a grave sin to fail to see in the everyday, every moment of the dance of the creation, the finger/hand of God at work in most amazing manner. [ hence, our trust in the providence of God ]

    Deranged as they are, those lacking faith or denouncing the Transcendent, continue to grope in darkness to find ‘more’ out of the empirical, while through Faith we are already on a higher platform and found HIM who constitute the very essence/crux of matter – CHRIST, and every generation since 2000 years [of course from the timeless Creation onward], have continued to nourish themselves and with all that is wrought forth through Faith, which is in perfect harmony with my heart, soul, intellect, will and the Holy Spirit that is dwelling within me. Sadly, they continue to search the material world and all that constitutes it – molecules, atoms…, but shut their eyes to look and find Him and be ‘radiant’, as the Psalmist says. They shall have their reward.

    What more evidence one needs than an evidence of two thousand years of ‘inflaming of hearts’ of more than 1 billion, which is ‘unstoppable’ as Napoleon opined at St. Helena, and Christ attracted to Himself people of every generation, and for every generation He was the top most ‘debating’ point, I mean He drew attention to Himself. To deny such ‘inflaming of hearts’ is what I mean derangement of these empiricists, who end up unable to gaze their eyes to Christ.

    On lighter vein – GK Chesterton said, “if there were no God, there would be no atheists”.

    To Barry – the philosophy developed by St. Thomas Aquinas and the whole lot of other Christian thinkers is very enlightening indeed.

  • Reva

    Barry…give it up. You’re not the jackass whisperer! Besides, you can’t argue with uneducated people; they will drag you down to their level then beat you with experience!!!

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ 2CM

    Nice blog! This post reminds me of what I’ve learned from both Fr. Robert Spitzer and Theologian Frank Sheed.

    Words are what we use to express ideas. We use the word “Science” to express the idea of science. Human ideas come from our intellect, which is part of our soul, which is pure spirit (a non-material thing).

    I think saying “science does not exists” is that same as saying purpose, morality, justice, love, goodness, etc., do not exist. They are all real, but real as part of spiritual reality, not physical reality and ALL reality (even science) stems back to the ONE unconditioned reality (God).

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Ben,

      You guessed it! There are a lot of Frank Sheed fans around here. I aspire to have the command of the language he had, even if only a fraction. I am also a fan of, a student of rather, Fr. Stanley Jaki. I aspire to have the command of science and history the way he did, also, if only a fraction!

      I hope you visit again.

      • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ 2CM

        I shall return.
        Speaking of existence, I’m not sure our blog would even exist if it weren’t for Frank Sheed; I about fell out of my chair reading Theology & Sanity and haven’t been the same since. Visit us at Two Catholic Men and a Blog.
        Peace,
        Ben

  • Michael

    I haven’t read all the comments so maybe someone covered this but science is not really a noun but is a verb, Let me explain. Of course science is a noun, it refers to a collection of knowledge. But astrology has a collection of knowledge going back thousands of years before modern science. Rather science, properly speaking, is a process.

    It is, simplistically
    1) making observations
    2) formulating hypothesis based upon those observations
    3) testing the hypotheses critically
    4) revising or discarding the hypotheses if needed.

    Then constantly repeat.

    Most religious people do steps one and two, rarely three and never four. So technically most religious people don’t believe in the methodology of science, at least as applied to religion. So your hypothetical question you used as a title is really not a question but a reality for many.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Michael,

      Science is a noun. Doing science is the verb. We do not say “sciencing” for instance.

      The scientific method can apply to anything scientific, any systematic inquiry into truth. Theology actually is a science and was called such long before Modern Science as people understand it today began.

      Regarding your charge that “Most religious people do steps one and two, rarely three and never four,” and “most religious people don’t believe in the methodology of science” I would like for you to support that claim with evidence and cite your source. It sounds more like garden variety anti-Catholic bigotry to me, but if you genuinely have a concern, please put the specific circumstance on the table so it can be dealt with.

  • Michael

    Once again, science as a noun without referring to the process is, in practical terms, meaningless, Otherwise astrology is a science, homeopathy is a science and Christian Science (the denomination) is a Science.

    I agree any area of human inquiry can have the scientific methodology applied to it. History is a good example of a non science subject where the scientific methodology has been applied to great success. That theology was once considered a science is true, but so was alchemy. Definitions change.

    My support for my assertion is that I’ve rarely see religious people testing the hypothesises of their religion and never changing their fundamental beliefs. (Can you provide a counter example of where your denomination has changed a fundamental teaching ). Ask a scientist that question and you could get a list of dozens of major revisions in science over the last 100 years in his or her field.

    My claim was not against Catholicism but religion as a whole so I fail to see how I suffer from Catholic bigotry.

    I did not display “anti-Catholic bigotry”. And if criticizing assertions get this response, remember that in science criticism, debate and evidence are the essence of the methodology. It is why science makes progress and, in my opinion, religion is still having the same divisions it had for thousands of years.

  • Michael

    I just read your bio and see you are a PhD in chemistry. I commend your scholarship (I myself am just a lowly M.Sc. in Physics).

    Then you know the scientific process, probably better than I do. I used to be a ardent Catholic myself and took a number of theology courses during my extended university stay. The problem that always nagged at me was why in my science studies and career did I employ one methodology and in matters of religion I employed a completely different one.

    It’s not just a matter of subject. Obviously the physical sciences lend themselves to quantitative testing better than theological ones. But surely theology can be approached in a manner closer to the “soft” sciences like psychology and economics. While application may be difficult, it would merit consideration.

    But what one would lose in theology is certainty. In science one has no certainty. All theories are open for revision. While some like the second law of thermodynamics will probably never be overturned, we came close this last year to finding a faster than light particle. And lack of certainty can be daunting in matters theological. But it’s exhilarating in science.

    Yes, religion has doubt. We learned, after her death, that Mother Theresa suffered severe doubt for much of her life. That’s wonderful. Einstein doubted quantum mechanics for the last 30 years of his life and made science stronger for it. The Bohr – Einstein debates were the stuff of scientific legends.

    Why not make doubt, uncertainty and contingency part of base religion. When I was a Catholic I viewed all dogmas, doctrines and disciplines with unwavering certainty. After meeting intelligent people with radically different beliefs than mine, and looking around the world and seeing countless competing theologies, my certainty in matters religious seemed rather hubristic. More humility was in order and taking queue from science no embracing a ideology that doesn’t pursue error in findings as a virtue, but views it as anathema.

    I trust you still don’t think of me as a bigot. I like the pictures of your “office” view. I’m envious as I live in the city. The only time I get that is when I take my Scout troop camping and I can’t get enough of that.

    • http://2catholicmen.blogspot.com/2012/06/common-language-of-doubt.html Ben @ 2CM

      We all deal with doubt. Have you heard of “the common language of doubt” from Fr. Joseph Ratzinger? Just click my name.

      • michael

        Ben – But doubt without it’s other two members of the scientific Trinity is incomplete (“Why not make doubt, uncertainty and contingency part of base religion”).

        In science one may doubt a scientific result as many did about the supra-luminal neutrinos last year but one admits it and seek to verify it. On the other hand one admits some uncertainty about the concept of particles traveling faster than the speed of light but allows the contingent aspect of the (rather well supported fact) that nothing an travel faster than light.

        Mother Theresa kept her doubts quiet, for decorum and so that it wouldn’t detract from her position of a leader of nascent religious order. Einstein, on the other hand, was quite open about his doubts and while much of the quantum revolution passed him by, he still remained very respected in the science community.

        • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ 2CM

          Good morning Michael,
          I don’t think spiritual truths can be verified the same way physical truths or scientific truths can because we’re dealing with a covenant relationship with God (at least in the Catholic View). If I say I love my wife & and I have faith in her, does this mean I should actively make doubt, uncertainty and contingency part of our base relationship? Doubt can (and will) happen naturally, but I don’t think we need to seek it out in a loving relationship. In the end, it’s all about relationship.

  • Michael

    “I don’t think spiritual truths can be verified the same way physical truths or scientific truths”

    I could be glib and ask how do you know until someone tries.

    But if you describe religions by comparing having a relationship with God with having a relationship with a spouse then I would agree that doubt or inquiry could be a bad thing. In constant doubt about one’s spouse can lead to myriad problems.

    But religion, especially in the Catholic sense, is not just that. It is a huge artifice of dogmas, doctrines, disciplines, hierarchy, teachings, heaven, hell, sacraments, prohibitions, etc. One can attempt to graft on elements of these theological trapping to a spousal relationship but the analogy becomes quickly strained and overloaded. Treating religion as a personal relationship with God is more a fundamentalist Protestant approach (I wouldn’t even call it a theology) .

    • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ 2CM

      Catholics definitely have what is called “covenant theology” that deals with kinship or family relationship with God. The Catholic creed calls God “Father” for a reason. I’d recommend a book called “A Father who Keeps His Promises” by Dr. Scott Hahn (former protestant, now a Catholic theologian).

      • Michael

        My point was not that a covenant aspect to the Catholic experience but unlike a spousal relationship that is between you and your spouse the covenant relationship is mediated by the Church. It is not the personal relationship with your God that needs to be subject to inquiry, it’s the entire edifice that the Catholic faith has attached to this relationship that bears scrutiny.

  • http://www.delizia.com Giovanni

    The nice thing about science is that, unlike religion, it does not need to be accepted. It just works. It is not a belief system but a method for finding out facts.

    You can be an a-scientist, yet you can keep flying on planes, using the Internet, and availing of all that science has found out over the centuries.

    Science does not need belief.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Giovanni,

      Science just works? Another atheist I discussed with said science wasn’t about facts, only theories. How do you define science, Giovanni? We see God as the reason for all things, so an atheist can be an atheist and keep on living and believing that way, but it doesn’t mean that God is not there. You understood the analogy. Do you understand that believing as an atheists is like listening to the news broadcast by no one? How do you even trust your own reasoning if all you think it is some inevitable chemical reaction that came from primordial slime?

    • Longshanks

      Amen Giovanni

  • Michael

    The scientific process just works. It’s not guaranteed, it is induction. There is no guarantee that if I measure the speed of light it will always be the same, but I’d be willing to give you very big odds on it.

    There is no one “broadcasting the news”. There is just the world around us and there is no inevitability in chemical reactions or God to oversee every hair on my head. As for believing God is there, it’s like the universal aether, posited in the late 1800′s to account for the transmission of light in space. Gradually it’s attributes kept disappearing until it was realized that it was no longer needed.

  • Rob T

    I’m a bit late to this, but I have to agree that you’ve set up a false parallel. God and science not in the same logical category at all. Rather, not believing in the existence of science and not believing in the existence of religion would be the appropriate parallels.

    And I don’t know any atheists who don’t believe in the existence of religion.

  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com Newman Ireland

    After just rapping up an week long argument with a guy who believes science is the answer to everything; I thought the point of your article was clear. Atheist want tangible proof of the existence of God — show me and I will believe. When all the arguments are in, as Christians, we cannot prove empirically that the God of the Bible exist. And for the same reason the Atheist cannot prove that He does not. Another good article Mrs. Trasancos.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Thank you Newman!

  • Pingback: What If They Denied the Existence of Math? : Stacy Trasancos