Can Science Explain Morality? No!

Can Science Explain Morality?

Human beings have a universal belief in right and wrong. As C.S. Lewis has observed, moral codes from cultures throughout world history vary over what specific behavior they consider moral, but there is an underlying agreement that objective moral values and duties exists.

As my father and I state in the introduction of the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, any adequate worldview must be able to explain this feature of reality.

Science and Morality

In his book The Moral Landscape, atheist Sam Harris claims science can provide a basis for objective morality. But in his recent book Stealing from Godmy friend Frank Turek has written a piercing response:

“Science might be able to tell you if an action may hurt someone—like giving a man cyanide will kill him—but science can’t tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone. Who said it’s wrong to hurt people? Sam Harris? Is his nature the standard of good?”[1]

In other words, science is a descriptive discipline, but morality is a prescriptivediscipline. Science can describe how things work, but it can never tell us how we oughtto behave.

Another popular explanation for morality is evolution.

Evolution and Morality

A few years ago, I participated in a public debate on the question of God and morality. My opponent argued that evolution explains morality better than God. But this explanation also fails too. Frank Beckwith and Greg Koukl offer two reasons:

First, evolution doesn’t explain what it’s meant to explain. It can only account for preprogrammed behavior, not moral choices. Moral choices, by their nature, are made by free agents. They are not determined by internal mechanics. Second, the Darwinist explanation reduces morality to mere descriptions of behavior. The morality that evolution needs to account for, however, entails much more than conduct. Minimally, it involves motive and intent as well. Both are nonphysical elements that can’t, even in principle, evolve in a Darwinian sense. Further, this assessment of morality, being descriptive only, ignores the most important moral question of all: Why should I be moral tomorrow? Evolution cannot answer that question. Morality dictates what future behavior ought to be. Darwinism can only attempt to describe why humans acted in a certain way in the past.[2]

Science and evolution simply cannot adequately explain the origin of right and wrong. They are both incapable of offering a robust account for why humans have moral obligations.

And yet theism offers a much more natural explanation. Think about it: Valuable human beings don’t come from purposeless, random processes in nature. Rather, they come from a personal, good God. God Himself is the source for right and wrong, and we ought to follow His guidance because He is the one who created us.

Even those who don’t believe in God, still believe in objective morality, because the moral law is written on their hearts (See Romans 2:14-16). Belief in objective morality is ultimately inescapable.

Science can explain many things. But it will never be able to adequately account for morality. To explain real right and wrong we need a source beyond human efforts – namely, God.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

[1] Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 100.

[2] Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 164.

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67 replies
  1. jcb says:

    Can Science Explain Morality?
    Asked and answered!
    Can blurgs gronf? (This question can’t be answered if we don’t know the meanings of the terms).
    Most people use moral language, and seem to have beliefs about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ (T).
    All humans use those words in the same way (F)
    All humans believe killing others is wrong/shouldn’t be done by them (F).
    Many people believe that/say that objective moral values and duties exist (T).
    This shows that objective moral values do exist (F)
    Objective (godly) moral values do exist (F)
    People value things (T)
    So moral values exist in that sense: people value things (T)
    If godly moral values exist, “any adequate worldview must be able to explain it” (F).
    If the Big Bang moment occurred, we MUST be able to explain it (F)
    SH claims that science can provide a basis for morality (T)
    SH claims that science can provide a basis for objective, godly morality (F)
    Science can say if an action hurt someone (T)
    Science can’t tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone, and “ought” here is understood and meaningful (F).
    “ought” is meaningful to all people in the same way (F).
    So the meaning of “ought” is here undefined (T)
    So we can’t here say that “you ought not hurt someone” makes sense (T)
    We can meaningfully say “if you hurt someone, we will throw you in jail” (T)
    It is possible for a person to not value kindness (T)
    Doing hurtful things to others is often unkind (T)
    Nothing shows that being unkind is “wrong” (T! b/c we don’t know what “wrong” refers to!)
    Science cannot answer the question “why is meanness wrong?” when “wrong” is undefined (T)
    Something else can (F)
    Descriptions and prescriptions are significantly different (F).
    Prescriptions are a kind of description (T)
    Science can’t tell us how we “ought” to behave (True, if we don’t know what “ought” means).
    If we know what “ought” means, then science can probably help tell us about it (True).
    Some people like to play Soccer but not Basketball. (T)
    Generally, if we knew X liked to play Soccer but not Basketball, we would say “you ought to go play Soccer: you ought not play Basketball”. (T)
    One meaningful interpretation of that is: “if you like Soccer, you have a reason to go play it, and if you have no stronger reasons to not to, it would be wise of you/make you happy to go play it. And if your goal is to be happy, then doing that action will accomplish that goal. So you “should/ought” do that action: it will accomplish your goal/fulfill your desire.”
    If we interpret “ought” this way, science can determine whether this activity will lead to that result.
    One might interpret “ought” in other ways. (T)
    One of those other ways has been describe in this essay (F)
    Evolution better explains why some people value certain things than God (T).
    Evolution can’t account for/aid in explaining moral choices, like the choice to be kind (F)
    Human beings make “moral choices”: they act in various ways that we label “kind” and not (T)
    Whether or not humans make truly “free” choices is clearly known (F).
    When evolution describes an act as unkind, it doesn’t thereby tell us that a particular person desires to be unkind. (T)
    Motive is non-physical (F)
    If I say “motive” exists, and I say only that it is “non-physical”, I have offered nothing to show that motive exists. (T)
    “Motive” is a word that (often) refers to people, actions, and brain states (T).
    One should be kind, regardless (F).
    People who value kindness in themselves are wise to act in kind ways: they are satisfying their goals (T)
    Science can answer “why be kind?” if we learn that kindness makes friends, and X wants friends. (T)
    Science can dictate what rational future behavior is wise to do, if one is trying to achieve particular goals (T).
    Science can often explain why someone values something (T)
    Science probably can’t explain everything (T)
    We all have moral obligations, regardless of our desires (F).
    Even if you value meanness, if you punch someone you are still unkind (T)
    Even if you value meanness, if you punch someone you are immoral, where immoral doesn’t mean anything like “unkind” (F).
    We have legal obligations, regardless of many of our desires (T).
    Legal obligations refer to policies we have that make it such that if you fail to meet a legal obligation, a legal penalty often ensues.
    Theisms offers a good and better explanation for kindness than science (F).
    Human beings didn’t originally come from a random (to us) purposeless process (F).
    Humans came from a personal good/kind God (F).
    God is the source of kindness (F)
    God is the source of “right” and “wrong” (F/Nonsense).
    If something creates you, it follows that you ought to do what it says (F)
    God created us (F)
    Our parents created us (T)
    Even all atheists believe in objective (godly/transcendent) morality (F)
    Godly morality is written on all our hearts (F)
    Kindness is written on all our hearts (F)
    Belief in objective (godly) morality is ultimately inescapable (F)
    God exists (F) and can explain (?) “right and wrong (undefined) (F)
    God exists and can explain why X values kindness, while science cannot (F)

    To summarize:
    “right” and “wrong” are often used by theists in undefined, meaningless ways.
    When people do define them in meaningful ways, science gives the best explanation about that.
    For many, “right” actions are “kind” actions (T).
    There is no known objective, godly, moral truth/value.

    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Gosh I hope someone is paying you to continue to come up with this drivel. Otherwise, you are certainly wasting a lot of the little time that you have left on this Earth to do things like go to movies or play with cats. Though why someone would pay you to come up with these absurd conclusions is beyond me.
      And for what it is worth cats only exist because GOD created them. Cats are not necessary beings.

      • jcb says:

        Basically, your reply says, in a crude way, you disagree. Great! Now prove anything I said was false.
        As to your last assertion: It is true that “cats exist” is not necessarily true. It doesn’t follow, nor is there any evidence to show, that because cats exist, God exists, nor is there evidence that God created cats. As usual, please provide evidence for this. Yes, many of us know that you probably will do nothing of the sort.

      • Robby Hall says:

        Mark, it is never a waste of time for anyone to ask questions or to disagree and be willing to explain why. Calling someone’s difference of opinion ‘drivel’ is dismissive and not helpful.

        • Mark Heavlin says:

          Maybe you should have read the comments sections to most of the other articles on this site before you commented. Continually spewing what is essentially the same garbage in every one is not helpful.

          • jcb says:

            You fail to show that its garbage. Asking a theist who claims God exists for evidence is not spewing garbage. A theist who refuses to do this and instead only offers unsubstantiated claims of “garbage” is the one offering garbage.
            Just prove your case. Show that God exists, or at least show that one of my specific claims is false. You continue to fail to do either in so many of your replies.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            The case has already been proven. The VICTORY won. The entire Bible is about “REDEMPTION”; from paradise lost in Genesis to paradise regained in Revelations. Maybe you should go and review how paradise was lost ? Evil and suffering are tied directly to that event. Your refusal to believe in the evidence provided in NO way requires me to provide more. In another thread you claim that “resurrection” is improbable; yet if it was a common every day occurrence you would just blow it off as “It happens all time time so no big deal.” You have fallen into the ABSOLUTE PROOF TRAP. The only way you can have enough proof is to have absolute proof which is to KNOW everything. As we are all finite this is NOT possible. The only one who KNOWS everything is GOD. You should ask yourself why you refuse to accept the evidence. In another thread you claim more evidence would help; this is refuted in Romans 1:20 below. Ask yourself WHY you refuse to accept the “FREE GIFT”.
            Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Forget proof, just give us some evidence.
            “Your refusal to believe in the evidence provided”
            What evidence have you provided? A quote from the Bible claiming that lots of evidence has been provided is not in itself evidence or evidence of evidence. You’re begging the question – effectively your ‘evidence’ that the Bible is true is quotes from the Bible claiming that it’s true.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Not sure why you have bothered to reply to a post of mine. My conversation on this is/was with JCB.
            However since you have; I suggest you re-read Romans 1:20 until you understand what it means.

          • jcb says:

            As far as I am concerned, anyone can be part of our conversation. And AR is right: citing the Bible doesn’t prove God. You are indeed begging the question. The case for God has not been proven. The arguments that have been given (and there aren’t many of them (See: Susan, etc.), have been shown to be lacking. If you think one isn’t lacking, offer it. The one you do offer: the Bible says God exists, so God exists, fails.

          • toby says:

            Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.
            How can invisible qualities be seen? If they are seen, then they are in no way invisible. In this case it’s saying that his eternal power and divine nature are invisible. But seen by his workmanship? Seems that whoever wrote that was making a god of the gaps argument similar to a design argument.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Mark, your arguing technique (and you are arguing) seems to be a mixture of:
            • Accusing the other person of ‘spewing garbage’
            • Telling others they’re not welcome in the conversation
            • Saying the Bible is true because it says it is
            • Telling people their problem is they haven’t read a Bible passage carefully enough.
            This is how you witness for Christ?
            I’ve read that passage several times. It’s seems to be saying that you don’t have to make the case for the truth of the Bible because the Bible says there’s already all the evidence people need in plain sight. Problem is, this is itself a Biblical claim. So, again, you’re citing the Bible’s claim that there’s plenty of evidence that the Bible is true, in order to demonstrate the truth of Biblical claims. This is a circular argument, and it remains so no matter how many times you ask us to re-read the passage.

    • TVZ says:

      If there is no need for a God to determine right and wrong, where does justice come in? In other words, now that we have the concepts down, what do we do with them? Try to do right I would suppose. Are there consequences to wrong? Why? Should we have consequences of wrong or is that not right?

      • jcb says:

        There is no need for a god to determine kindness, murder, what we prefer, etc. I suspect you think “right and wrong” are significantly different from such things. If so, you need to define your terms, and say what they refer to. Once you do, the meaning of “right” will refer to something real that has no relevance to God, or it will not be real.
        Now that we have the concepts down, i.e., we mean something like “mean” when saying that action was “wrong”, those of us that don’t like meanness will encourage others to act kindly, lock up mean, hurtful, murderers, etc.
        There are consequences that are kind and unkind. If you use “wrong” to refer to unkind things, then yes, there are unkind/”wrong” consequences, or if you prefer, certain actions are unkind, in that they have hurtful consequences, and the one acting knew it, didn’t care about the other, etc.
        Should we try to avoid meanness? Yes! If we don’t prefer it.
        Again, nothing about any of this proves God, or is relevant to that issue.

        • TVZ says:

          I don’t know if this is a good example, lets just talk through it. Let’s use the law of the land. Let’s say stealing. You own a clothing store and while you are home sleeping someone comes in and takes a lot of your merchandise. He needed the clothes and didn’t think it was wrong to take yours. He wasn’t being mean, he was meeting a need of his. He was being opportunistic. He even took the clothes to his family and clothed them all in a very kind way. I guess this is moral relativism? What you thought was mean, he thought was a good deed. But what side is justice on? How can justice choose sides? Is there a truth in this situation that he was wrong to do this? Can he claim ignorance that he doesn’t share the same morality as you, and can you hold that against him if he believe he was doing a good deed?

          • jcb says:

            So you describe a perfectly interesting story. I said I thought he was being mean. Presumably, I thought he was doing me harm, stealing my stuff, without consideration to me, or intentionally trying to do me harm. Normally, if you just stole my stuff, that would be mean to me. You’ve added a wrinkle: he “needed” the cloths. If you mean the usual, “if he didn’t take my clothes, he would have frozen to death” (or something similar), then yes, he needed it: it was quite important to him, and if he didn’t steal my clothes, something dire would have happened to him. He could have been mean (inconsiderate of how it would negatively impact me) to me, and still been kind to himself. I’m not seeing what questions remain to be answered, at least not clearly. I’ll try.
            You say “what side is justice on”? Can you rephrase that question? I don’t know what it is asking. Are you asking, do you and I want that individual to be jailed?
            “Justice” is a not a thing that chooses sides. It looks like there are humans who want the world to be particular ways, and so for many of us, stealing from our stores breaks a law, and for many of us, we want recourse in the form of having cops arrest the thief. We often call that whole thing “justice”.
            So there is truth here: what I described. People exist, they have desires, they label some situations “justice”, such as when the guy who stole from them is jailed.
            The person who steals can be, and can claim to be ignorant of the law, of my desires, etc.
            The person who steals may want to steal, and I may not want him to steal. There is no supernatural judge saying one is “right”, although if you define “right” in specific ways, one act can be “right”. The action that is more likely to avoid jail time is not stealing. That action is sometimes called “right”. The action that is more likely to land you in jail is stealing. That action is sometimes called “wrong”. But it looks like the important elements here are people, actions, preferences/desires, and consequences. Nothing here (or elsewhere) brings God into the picture.
            If another person believed he was doing himself a kindness, I can hold that against him if I want to. Many people want to jail people, even if they were doing themselves a kindness, when they do others an unkindness in the form of breaking the law.
            There are no mysteries here, I think. Mystery and confusion is created when we use words in ways we don’t understand, and in ways that appeal to fictional things.

          • TVZ says:

            In our society justice would be on your side. He would be jailed because we have decided stealing is immoral and we’ve made laws to punish it. Likewise, on a universal level, there is a truth of morality that we can agree on as a society and make laws accordingly. Our justice system mimics the justice of the universe (I know you will probably reject that though). But the question from the article above is “Can Science Explain Morality?” I think we’ve shown that it cannot. There is complexity to morality that science can’t address (what should be done versus what we do). What are your thoughts on science’s view of what humans ought to do (jail the thief or let him go. steal the clothes or freeze instead)?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Science can explain why we’re social animals who form systems that keep laws. What else is it supposed to explain?

          • TVZ says:

            “Science can explain why we’re social animals who form systems that keep laws. What else is it supposed to explain?”
            I think that’s one point of the article. Science can explain it after the fact, but cannot predict what should be done in the future. It’s descriptive. We didn’t get here via science, science describes how we got here via morality.

          • jcb says:

            Yes, in our society, “justice” would be on my side: murderers would go to jail, etc. We have decided, largely based on our desires, that we want to do that, that we don’t prefer letting thieves go unpunished, and yes we sometimes label all that “immoral” behavior.
            “Likewise, on a universal level, there is a truth of morality that we can agree on as a society and make laws accordingly.”
            I am not sure what you just said above. Please rephrase. There is a truth that being punched often feels painful, and there is a truth that most people prefer to avoid such experiences. Society has made laws based on what they want and value. No, there is not supernatural “truth of morality” that we know of.
            Yes, there is no “justice of the universe” as far as I can tell. If you think there is, clarify what you mean, and offer evidence that it exists.
            Science can explain real things. Yes, science can’t explain nonsensical or fictional things. So if morality refers to something real, and for me it does: likes and dislikes, such as hugs and harm, then science can often provide useful explanations about such things. Certainly, the process of science almost always provides better explanations about known reality than do appeals to fictional entities.
            Yes, there questions that science hasn’t provided clear answers to. That doesn’t show that something else has or can.
            Once you explain what “should” means, science can probably handle it. Please define the term, and show that it refers to something real.
            Yes, society wrongly believes that “oughts” are metaphysical, and different than “is” statements. They are not, if they are meaningful.
            Science shows that some people value stopping thieves, and science shows that security cameras can increase stopping thieves. Thus science shows that for those who value stopping thieves, buying a security camera is one way to satisfy that value/achieve that goal. To the extent that one is trying to achieve one’s goals, one here has a reason to buy the security camera. In ordinary parlance someone would refer to all this and say, “he “ought” to buy the security camera”. That seems to mean, the person values X, and Y will get X, and thus has a reason to do Y, and if he wants to get X, doing Y is reasonable, and thus it makes sense/is wise to do X. We call all this “he ought to do X”.

          • jcb says:

            I think many people have been tricked by such things as the “Naturalistic Fallacy”. I will try to demonstrate.
            Ask yourself, “Is anything good?” If you answer yes, then it is a descriptive truth that something is good.
            But you said that morality prescribes, not describes. But if a doctor says, “i recommend taking the blue pill” that’s still a fact: it’s descriptive: the doctor did indeed recommend it. If the doctor says “you ought to take the blue pill”, that might be meaningless. But to give it meaning, one often means, “it will benefit you if you take the blue pill”. Again, that’s a descriptive matter! So, even though it seems odd, “prescriptions” are really descriptions. If they are not, they can’t be statements/can’t be said to be true or false.
            The trick is: people often say, describe all you want, but is X good!?!?! (FT does that a lot). Well, if you define “good” in meaningful ways, then it will be a purely descriptive matter whether X (being punched) is “good” (likely to make you any friends).
            The failure to define “good” is what has allowed this nonsense game of thinking “good” is meaningful, but not descriptive, persist for so long.

          • TVZ says:

            “We have decided, largely based on our desires, that we want…”
            But science can’t explain how or why this happens? It can only explain that we did do it after the fact of doing it. For example, the thief steals your merchandise… science cannot force you to behave in a certain way after that (or predict how you will behave). You can either press charges (seek justice) or give him a year’s worth of free clothes (have compassion), based on your moral judgement of why he was stealing your clothes. Justice says he has broken the law and must face the consequences. Science cannot predict the decision you will make. There is something about “you” that would make a decision where “I” may make the opposite decision. Science cannot explain who will make which decision, or even that there is a moral decision to be made. It just describes what we did after the fact. 50% of people show compassion on thieves.

          • TVZ says:

            “If the doctor says “you ought to take the blue pill”, that might be meaningless. But to give it meaning, one often means, “it will benefit you if you take the blue pill”. Again, that’s a descriptive matter!:
            I think you may have this wrong. God has made an orderly, predictable universe that makes science a possibility. He’s given us a tool we can use to make prescriptions. We use science for our benefit. We control it. It can only provide us with information. We then make a decision based on what we’ve learned from the universe. Our research in this world shows that this pill will cure your headache. We recommend it, but it may also cause severe diarrhea and seizures. Science can’t determine if we will choose to risk the side effects for a chance to cure the headache.

          • jcb says:

            As we’ve already agreed: science hasn’t given us every answer, we don’t know everything, there are things science hasn’t explained.
            But science often can explain why we have certain desires, for example.
            If the article is asserting “science can’t explain everything right now”, that’s true. If it is saying “something else can explain something better than science”, it seems false. It could be true. Just say what that thing is, and what the other thing is that better explains it, and what evidence we have for all that.
            Science can predict behavior rather well, but not perfectly.
            I’m not sure how any of your points are relevant to anything. Do you know how they are?
            You can press charges, or give free stuff, depending on what you want to do.
            Justice again doesn’t say anything. If a person broke the law, he faces consequences. One of those consequences is often that some people will try to get them thrown in jail.
            Science cannot predict perfectly what a person will do/decide. True. Relevance?
            Yes, some people prefer chocolate over vanilla. They choose chocolate, not vanilla. Something probably contributed to/caused that choice. Sometimes we know something about that contribution/cause, thanks to science.
            But yes again, there are things science hasn’t explained. If that’s the only point of the article, it is completely right. The article is also about God and theism, and that’s where the article is wrong.

          • jcb says:

            No, we don’t know that God exists or has made an orderly universe. What we do know is that there is some order and regularity in our universe. Given that there are some patterns, we are able to predict some future events. That’s science.
            What tool do we have to make prescriptions? There seems to be no evidence that God gave us any tools.
            Yes, science gives us lots of data, and we use that data to do things like make predictions about the future.
            Science can in fact predict decently whether people will choose various things. Science has shown that few people choose to jump off cliffs to their deaths. Yes, in regard to other things, the science is less clear as to what people will likely do. Nothing about any of this proves god. It only shows that we don’t know everything, and that science hasn’t given an explanation for everything (and it may never do so). What is not shown is that something else (theism) does a better job.
            All of this is wasted time. The article should simply say: We know X. We know it not by science, but by Z/Theism. And here’s the proof. It doesn’t do anything like that.

          • jcb says:

            As a side note: it seems amazing to me all the useful things I pointed out, yet you seemed not to notice/acknowledge hardly any of them. (Re-read all the stuff I said earlier if you aren’t sure what I’m referring to).

          • TVZ says:

            I think you’ve reached the point where you agree with the premise of the article, it just doesn’t matter to you. You’re like, “Yeah, so?” My brain keeps moving after I get to “so?” Your’s is content where it’s at.

          • jcb says:

            You are close to describing it correctly:
            The basic premise of the article is: Science hasn’t explained everything about morality (vaguely defined). That’s true.
            The second point of the article is that theism does better explain something about morality. That’s the part that is false. I’ve been waiting for someone to show that it is true, in case I missed something. It continues to look like I haven’t.
            So it would be inaccurate to say my brain is content where it’s at. I’m still discussing this with people. I’m still seeking new information. What’s also false is that some other brain/person has arrived at any significant answers about God/Theism based on the first part, that we all agree upon (the part about science not having every answer/explanation).
            So it seems instead that you are content to just accept that the author is right that theism better explains something about morality, even though I’ve put effort into showing that this is false, and effort into explaining how morality seems to actually work.

          • toby says:

            “We have decided, largely based on our desires, that we want…”
            But science can’t explain how or why this happens?

            It’s called behavioral sciences.

          • Thoughtful Discussion says:

            JCB: “The basic premise of the article is: Science hasn’t explained everything about morality (vaguely defined). That’s true.”

            Just wanted to point out (because I think it’s an important distinction that shouldn’t be lost in the conversation) the basic premise of the article isn’t that science HASN’T yet explained everything, but that it CANNOT ever do so.
            “Science can describe how things work, but it can never tell us how we ought to behave.”
            Do you agree that to be true?

          • jcb says:

            Yes, I agree that as far as we know, science will never explain everything. There will always be unanswered questions.
            The part that the article gets wrong is when it makes unsubstantiated theistic claims.
            The part that the article leaves out is that, even though science “can’t” explain everything about morality, nothing else can either, and science seems to best explain most things we know about.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            The basic premise of the article is: “[science] will never be able to adequately account for morality”.
            That science cannot tell you if you should donate to the homeless doesn’t mean science cannot adequately account for morality. This isn’t evidence of a God. There are non-theistic philosophies that provide moral guidelines, such as humanism. Science CAN explain the phenomena of humans having moral impulses and societies codifying moral behavior. What else requires explanation?

  2. Andy Ryan says:

    Science can explain the phenomena of humans having impulses towards and taboos against social behaviour. What else is there to explain?
    God doesn’t get you any closer to explaining objective morality. If it depends on a God, it isn’t objective.

    • Thoughtful Discussion says:

      Science can detail, but it’ll take a scientist to interpret and do any explaining, just to be clear. Further, science cannot answer any philosophical or theological question. What is morality, why do I feel such is right/wrong, is morality relative, should there be a standard, can it exist without a god? Some would say these are the most important questions, the kind that keep us up at night.
      Surely a changing god, who decides on a whim how things should be, wouldn’t get us any closer, but you’d be wise not to confuse that with the Christian God. He is immutable, thus what He’s shown to us as moral always was and will be. What’s moral is a reflection of His nature, thus He is the objective standard. So getting to know Him intrinsically gets us closer to explaining/understanding objective morality. To argue against this is to not understand Christian theology.
      Hope this helps, God Bless!

      • jcb says:

        Science can best answer almost any question that it clearly understood. If the question is, is there a God that is fat, humanoid, and standing right now on the moon, the answer is, probably not. Philosophical and theological questions are often nonsense. When they are clearly understood, usually science can handle them. If you disagree, offer some such questions that 1. Science cannot handle, and 2. That something else can better handle.
        Example: “What is morality”? Linguists can best tell you how people are using that language, and to what people often refer to when they are speaking.
        Most people don’t understand the question “is morality relative?” If you put it this way, “do people value the same thing always?” the answer would have a clear, scientific answer: No.
        If the question is “Can there be a standard/policy to determine who goes first at Monopoly, if there is no god?” the answer is clearly yes: people can, if they wish, roll dice, etc.
        Many people will say, “yes, but those aren’t my questions”, then ask your question. It seems that it will either be meaningless/not understood, or it will be meaningful, and science can handle it.
        The most important questions (in terms of kindness) are things like, “What tests should we run if we want to cure cancer?”
        The Christian God doesn’t exist. Yes, some think that he is immutable. Like you, many people fail to explain in what sense he is immutable. The Biblical god is changing in many ways.
        “God has shown us what is moral, and it will always be moral”. This is false. What is true is this:
        “Evidence from science shows that punching someone else usually does physical harm, and is often unwanted, and is thus unkind to the other person”. But we don’t need God for any of that.
        What’s “kind” has nothing to do with God.
        “What’s moral is a reflection of His nature, thus He is the objective standard.” This is just gobbledygook, it seems.
        Feel free to define “moral”, explain how we know God and his Nature, why God’s nature would make other things “moral”, and what “objective” means here. Then show that all that actually refers to existing things.

        • Thoughtful Discussion says:

          “Science can best answer almost any question that it clearly understood.”
          Haha, well sure. BTW, can we all agree that science itself doesn’t TELL US nor does it UNDERSTAND anything, people do? So more accurately and concisely stated, science can best aid us to answer questions that are testable by it… of which I agree, but which also concedes there are things beyond its sphere of testability. This is the point.

          It amazes me that you call anything beyond scientific questioning as “often nonsense.” What’s the non-often sensical part? How did you come to such conclusions? Scientifically I’m sure, right? Further, how can you even make the claims you are without philosophy?

          Roughly, this is the argument no?
          (1) all that there is physical reality, and that (2) science is our best means for learning the nature of physical reality, it follows that (3) the only kind of substantive intellectual work there can be is scientific.

          But premise (1) and premise (2) are substantive philosophical claims that require philosophical arguments. Premise (1) requires an argument against all forms of metaphysical idealism, as well as against skepticism, as well as against theism, as well as against mathematical realism (the view that mathematics describes a non-physical realm of abstract entities). And premise (2) requires an argument for scientific realism—the view that our scientific theories are descriptive, meaning that they discover truths about an independent physical reality, rather than being just elaborate instruments for predicting experiences (scientific instrumentalism)—as well as an argument against various forms of scientific skepticism. So in the yawning gap between those two premises and the conclusion is a ton of required philosophical work that would, in justifying the premises, render the conclusion demonstrably false.

          (Note: I remembered and decided to draw this from an old article I bookmarked a long while ago. Please give it a read when you have the time (seem you just might have some). I hope you enjoy!)

          See, science is a slave to philosophy, created as a tool to aid in answering its questions. So one can state philosophy cannot provide certain answers in it of itself, and science is best used for physical testing, but the above illustrates that philosophy is the overarching and proper method through which all else can be worked out. It’s actually the required starting point. And to this note, have you ever considered why it’s called a PhD?

          “The Christian God doesn’t exist.”
          How do you know this? Do you understand this is a theological claim not testable by science? One could argue it’s indirectly testable, but then they start to sound like a philosopher.

          I’m stating that science shouldn’t be held as the ultimate standard for reasoning/meaning, because there are not only things beyond its capability, but things which it depends upon to operate. It should be understood then that philosophical and theological claims have their value and shouldn’t be instantly discredited or rudely reduced to mere “gobbledygook” (even if you hold a differing belief). It’s unwise to do so and we’re fundamentally not on the same page until we can agree on such.

          • jcb says:

            You still didn’t show that “Science can best answer almost any question that it clearly understood.” Is false. It still appears true. You still didn’t offer examples to the contrary.
            Yes, your description sounds pretty accurate: “science can best aid us to answer questions that are testable by it”.
            You of course then suggest there are things beyond its sphere of testability. You fail to mention any. You fail to mention whether there are things beyond its sphere of testability that something else is better at testing for. You fail to show that God can be proven to probably exist by some other means. In the absence of such things, it looks like there is no God.
            You say God is not testable. But of course in some ways that’s false. If you say “God always answers prayers with a phone call (to phone X, within 30 minutes (or your pizza is free!)”, and phone X fails to ring, it looks like that claim is false. Many theists claim that a god exists, and that it can be tested by science. There are many versions of ‘god’. Are you defending a particular one?
            Some things that people say are nonsense. It amazes me that you don’t see that.
            No, you have not captured my argument. I didn’t assert the things you suggest here. Here is a better version of my claims:
            1. What we know to exist, like cats and cars, is what we often call physical reality.
            2. One of the best means of discovering ‘reality’ is through science; the use of observation, testing, reason, etc.
            3. There could be other means of discovering reality. To say/show that there (probably) are would require some sort of evidence and examples.
            4. As far as I know, nor as far as anyone knows, it seems, there is (virtually) no evidence of God, an all perfect being.
            Sure, science and philosophy sometimes do different things. None of that seems to disprove any of my previous assertions. Do you disagree with any of them? If so, what evidence do you offer that shows one or more to be false? If you don’t disagree, what is it you think we are discussing? What’s the issue here, for you? For me, the issue is: are theistic claims supported/made probable by any known evidence?
            Yes I know why it’s called a PhD. Nothing about that proves God.
            “The Christian God doesn’t exist.” I know from the evidence. The evidence shows a lack of evidence for showing that conclusion to be probable. Of course, I might be unaware of some evidence someone else has. If they have it, instead of complaining and such, they should simply say, “I have some evidence that you might be unaware of that shows God DOES exist!”
            Why do you say the Christian God is not testable by science? There are lots of articles by Christians who think God is testable and provable by science. What’s the “god” you are talking about, and what shows it to be beyond the reach of science, and what shows that it still exists if it is beyond the reach of science? As far as I can tell, there is no such thing. Again, I could be wrong, and if you know that I am, just offer the evidence, politely.
            That there might be/are things beyond the reach of science doesn’t show that God exists, nor does it show that the claim “God doesn’t exist” to be false.
            Please, just offer the evidence you think you have, if you have it.

          • Thoughtful Discussion says:

            Haha, maybe we should try this slowly. Do you understand that “The Christian God doesn’t exist.” is not a scientific claim? Do you understand it’s a theological claim and cannot be directly tested or verified by science? Just a yes or no will suffice.
            (I’d actually like to work this discussion back to meaning, but we’re having to work our way up from the bottom because you didn’t accept the initial explinations and counter arguments. So please stop asking for more in the mean time as it’ll do no one any good.)

          • jcb says:

            You have to define “The Christian God” if we are to agree that it is not a scientific claim. Please do that. As I pointed out, the Christian God is, to many Christians, a scientific claim. Perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps they are right. First, we need to know how that god is defined, and then that might show why it is not a scientific claim. Then, you still need to show if anything allows us to say that the claim is also known to be true by some means other than science.
            I’ll keep asking for more, because so little has been given to prove God by any known means.

          • Thoughtful Discussion says:

            Must I define Him? Surely you yourself must have some definition to make the claim “The Christian God doesn’t exist.” What is it? Whom do you understand the Christian God to be? Now, I don’t think you’re wrong to question what the definitions are, but should we not also then define existence, science, and any number of other terms? It could lead us down a preverbal rabbit hole so let’s be careful.
            I cannot speak for all Christians who say “God exists” is a scientific claim, but perhaps they mean to state they didn’t come to such a conclusion by blind faith, that it’s something they’ve supported through some amount of testing/reasoning. If they mean it in such a sense I’d advise they’re mislead/mistaken, and their language could use more precision. If they however mean the statement in it of itself is a scientific claim, I’d say they’re dead wrong.
            Similarly for non-Christians who claim “God doesn’t exist” is a scientific claim, perhaps they too feel that such a position is supported by a certain amount of testing/reasoning. If they mean it in such a sense I’d advise they’re mislead/mistaken, and their language could use more precision. If they however mean the statement in it of itself is a scientific claim, I’d say they too are dead wrong.
            I’d respond in such ways because science does not have the capability of definitively drawing certain conclusions, in the positive or negative. Such applicable statements are therefore not scientific, but Philosophical or Theological in nature. Are you aware of the Godel’s incompleteness theorem and unprovable statements? I would find this to be quite analogous.
            I look forward to your understanding of the Christian God, and the revelations I think it’ll reveal. If, however, you now can understand that “The Christian God doesn’t exist.” isn’t a scientific claim, I’d love it if you would concede such. We could then start to move forward to your more insistent question of other known proofs.

          • jcb says:

            If you claim God exists, you must define him. Atheists are generally claiming that the gods people define and exist, do not. If you don’t define god, then we can’t say that the god you are talking about exists, as the meaning is undefined. I can’t (reasonably) say “blorg” exists, even though it is undefined: no one seems to know here what we are talking about. So if theists want to say “god exists” but refuse to define it, then everyone should acknowledge that the claim is as yet meaningless, and can’t be said to be true.
            A much saner strategy is this: if you think “god exists” is true, define “god”, and then provide your evidence. The dance many theists do to avoid this basic project is amazing.
            One definition of god, a widely held one, is that “God” is an all powerful, all knowing, all loving being. On that definition, there is no known being that fits that description. For most of the Christians I know, they believe these things about God, even though they are mistaken about it. (We don’t have good/probable evidence showing that there is such a being).
            We should define terms that are causing difficulty in our conversation. What terms are you unsure of? What definitions would you stipulate we use?
            Why are Christians who say “God exists”, based on testing, mistaken, in your view? Doesn’t it depend on how “God” is being used by those Christians?
            The claim “a perfect, all loving being who would have presumably stopped the Holocaust if it could” is scientifically testable. The Holocaust occurred. We can scientifically test to see if our account of history still seems probable. And then we can conclude that there probably isn’t a perfect being on the basis of it. An analogy:
            Hypothesis: there is a being (X) who is all powerful, and desires that cats are on every table at all times.
            Expectation: if there is such a being, we will find cats on every table at all times.
            Discovery: there are often no cats on tables.
            Conclusion: there seems to be no such being, X.
            Science doesn’t conclude with necessity, it’s true. But it can conclude with probability. This affects nothing of significance. My claim is that almost all typically defined ‘gods’ are not known to probably exist. If one wants to object that there is a defined ‘god’ that exists, define it, and then offer the evidence. Again, the project is quite clear, but it seems few want to even attempt it.
            What is the gist of Godel’s theorem, and how do you think it is relevant here? Are you claiming that there is an unprovable statement? What are some examples? What makes them unprovable? And how is it relevant here? Are you claiming “God exists” is unprovable? If so, then theists shouldn’t be making the claim that it is true.
            You didn’t define the Christian God, so you can’t expect me to agree with your understanding of it. I did show that a typical definition of the Christian God (A perfect being in all ways) is testable, and has found to be improbable.
            Again, define the god you are defending, then provide evidence.
            If you are not defining god, not defending god, then the assertion, “but God still exists!” means nothing and is not shown to be true.

          • Thoughtful Discussion says:

            JCB, I don’t have to defend a claim I haven’t made. You’ve however have stated, “The Christian God doesn’t exsits.” Now, you continue to make this more difficult than it needs to be, but thank you for your answer. You’ve clarified that you do understand the Christian God to be “an all powerful, all knowing, all loving being.” Is this the definition you based your claim on? I don’t think that’s an exhaustive list of His characteristics as defined by Christian theology, namely you failed to mention spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. You then state “On that definition, there is no known being that fits that description.” I, therefore, ask you by what scientific means did you come to such a conclusion? How have you determined exhaustively this to be the case?
            Do you see that science may be used to support the claim, on either side mind you, but the claim itself isn’t scientific? I think this is a plain distinction to see. Do you truly not understand?

          • jcb says:

            The claims we are talking about are the claims that god exists, and not. If you aren’t asserting that god exists, then it doesn’t seem that there is an issue/disagreement here.
            Yes, an all powerful, all knowing, all loving being, probably doesn’t exist, as far as we know. If someone does know otherwise, they should show that they do. No one seems to have done this.
            If you believe God exists, but say “I don’t have to defend a claim I haven’t made”, then it is you who are making things more difficult.
            Right, someone else might define God differently, including adding to the list of 3 characteristics I just mentioned. Given that those 3 aren’t known to apply to any known being, adding more characteristics will still end up failing to show that such a being exists.
            Many Christians think God is part of time, and in space, and material (as Jesus).
            Since you aren’t defending a particular claim, and there are many versions of god, I didn’t “fail to mention” one of the versions of god that you now mention.
            I said “there is no known being that fits the description” of God as all powerful, etc. You ask, how did I reach that conclusion. the answer: the evidence. Again, I realize that I might be missing some evidence. But if no one has any evidence for God, it is reasonable to say, there seems to be no evidence! Again the task is simple: if you have evidence, offer it. Until then, it looks like there isn’t evidence to support that theistic claim.
            My claim is scientific in this sense: the observable, empirical data doesn’t make it probable that God exists.
            Science doesn’t equally support the claim “dogs exist” and “no dogs exist”. Likewise, science doesn’t equally support the claim “an AP, AG, AL god exists” and “no AP, AG, AL god exists”.

          • Thoughtful Discussion says:

            The point of contingency JCB is you’ve yet to admit that your statement “The Christian God doesn’t exist” is a theological claim. It’s simply not scientific in nature. I understand that you may feel there is some evidence/data to support it, one can argue on either side for that, but what specifically? Any evidence provided will never be both comprehensive and conclusive enough to draw such a conclusion scientifically. If you disagree please provide the conclusive and… “I realize that I might be missing some evidence”, ah good on you! “observable, empirical data doesn’t make it probable that God exists.” How could it? Modern science doesn’t allow for the possibility of a god. It’s based completely in the physical and has taken your very theological assumption from the start to draw such a conclusion. Science doesn’t have the capability to test for a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, all powerful, all knowing, and personal being. This is Frank Turek’s site so it seems only fitting to use his most common and full description (Loving is more easily discussed once we start talking about Christ specifically, but can be added if one wishes). Given God is beyond physical means of testing, the best way may be through philosophy, using rules of logic, which you’ve briefly touched on but mistakenly called science. See, philosophers know when they’re doing science, but some vocal scientists don’t know they’re doing philosophy. Did you not read the article earlier?

            You then ask what reasoning people have outside of science, not realizing your blunder, and further reject answers because they’re not scientific. “nonsense” as you put it. Haha, how are we to have a conversation like that? You can see the cognitive dissonance no? Please understand science (what it is and isn’t, can and cannot test/conclude, its presuppositions, and that it’s completely dependent upon philosophical claims to be conducted) and philosophy (rules of logic, critical thinking, etc) for what they are. Philosophy is what we’re doing right now, analyzing a proposition, distinguishing various possible meanings, each with its corresponding truth-conditions, and then showing that under the analysis it does or doesn’t conclude. Theology is then simply philosophic reasoning applied to the topic of religion.

            So, you’ve made a Theological claim and have thus far only given examples of philosophy logic to reason it out (well, specifically a god who likes cats, not the Christian god). You’ve yet to state any science. I’ll reiterate, science can be used as a tool to aid an answer, but science its self cannot make such a leap. It seems this has all been majorly jumbled because you’ve yet to give each subject its due. Accurately and reasonably stated your position should be something to the degree “I believe there is no Christian god, and that science has helped me come to this conclusion. By what means do others come to the conclusion there is a Christian god?” At which point the response is “I’ve come to this conclusion through philosophical reasoning, and was also aided by science”. Then only then, can we discuss the logic and science behind both, but it’ll boil down to one philosophical/theological thought versus another, not science by itself against something else.

            In reality, this whole conversation was had so we can discuss morality. To conclude let’s get back to it. “God doesn’t get you any closer to explaining objective morality.” Do you realize this is another theological claim on your part? My response “What’s moral is a reflection of His nature, thus He is the objective standard. So getting to know Him intrinsically gets us closer to explaining/understanding objective morality. To argue against this is to not understand Christian theology.” is a valid answer. The only appropriate reaction is “Oh, that’s Christian theology then huh? I didn’t know. Given that, it would follow in their view.” If you did’t agree, say that God was moral, this is where you’d then point such out and explain your reasoning. At the very least the response shouldn’t be rudely called “gobbledygook” any more than your theological claim.

            We’re not standing on the same ground, let alone analyzing at the level. Let’s both get on solid ground though, shall we? Please re-read the original comments if you need. Perhaps with new clarity they’ll be understood. If not, I’m unsure someone can help you. Best of luck!

          • jcb says:

            So you say “God exists” is theology, and thus not scientific. I don’t think you’ve shown that the claim isn’t scientific, but that’s not important right now. The more interesting part I think is this: if you think “God exists” is true, but not true based on scientific information, then you need to show what makes it true. If you offer nothing, then it doesn’t look to be true.
            My claim is that the gods that most people talk about aren’t known to be true by any probable means. Usually truth claims are established by science. Sure, there could be other means. If one of those other means is relevant to proving God, then say what it is.
            The burden is on the theist claiming that God exists. If one claims God exists and answers all prayers, science shows that this is improbable: lots of prayers are done without being “answered” as far as we can tell.
            So you assert: science can’t prove God. Then all that is left is: if you still think God is proven, show what proves it. My claim is that nothing does, but I’m willing to be shown otherwise. If you don’t try to show otherwise, you are just intentionally wasting time, it seems.
            Science does allow for the possibility of God. They are not contradictory. I think you mean, the tools of science deal only with the physical, and if so, don’t deal with the non-physical (whatever those are).
            Science is what leads many theists, like Frank Turek!, to conclude that prior to the Big Bang, the cause of it was spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.
            I’m glad you defined God though: “a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, all powerful, all knowing, and personal being.” My claim, again, is that we don’t have evidence that shows this to be probable. Yes, the thing that created our universe wasn’t in any known space, existing at any known time, nor made of any known material. It doesn’t follow that such a thing is probably ALL powerful, or knowing at all, nor a personal being.
            If such a being existed, and was all loving, our world would probably be different. But evil/suffering shows that such a god probably doesn’t exist.
            It looks like your article continues to fail to offer evidence of this non-scientific God.
            Yes, I’m aware of what philosophy is, thank you. Now do your best to use it to prove God. I keep reading your reply, and still there seems to be none of this.
            You assert “What’s moral is a reflection of His nature, thus He is the objective standard.” Since we haven’t shown that God exists, we don’t know your claim to be true. Define “moral” also, and “objective”. Until then, it looks like this is all nonsense. Nothing shows that God exists, that his nature is “moral”, nor that such “facts” would entail that he is “the objective standard”. You have a lot of work to do, it seems.
            You have to first prove that God exists, and explain what you mean by “moral” (and show that something that exists fits that description)
            By “moral” I usually mean something like “kind” or “loving”. So the murderer is usually immoral, and the charitable organization is usually moral/kind. If you mean something different by those terms, just let me know (by defining them).
            So here we are after all you had to say: nothing you said proves the God you mentioned.

          • jcb says:

            I suggest we discuss the Moral Argument for God. It seems like one of the worst, in my opinion. If you can, try to tell me what starting facts you think we know of that will then help us discuss God and Objective Morality. My starting facts are: people exist, and they have preferences/values/desires. Nothing about that, nor anything else that I know of, gets us to God, or any values (objective or otherwise) that pertain to God.

  3. Andy Ryan says:

    “Human beings have a universal belief in right and wrong. Any adequate worldview must be able to explain this feature of reality.”
    Sean is pointing to a particular phenomena of human behaviour and says science does explain it. I don’t get what Sean thinks is the mystery that science doesn’t explain.
    “the Darwinist explanation reduces morality to mere descriptions of behaviour”
    But it’s a description of behaviour that Sean is pointing to as needing explanation.
    “Think about it: Valuable human beings don’t come from purposeless, random processes in nature.”
    We didn’t evolve through a random process. Natural selection, by definition, isn’t random.

    • INFINITE LOGOS says:

      “Natural selection, by definition, isn’t random.”
      If it is not random then what is guiding it ? An intelligence or something else ?

      • jcb says:

        Some things are guided by intelligence, and some not. When the pachinko ball falls, it is guided by non-intelligent forces such as gravity. When I drive my car, the car is guided by an intelligent force.
        Human beings are often valued. Yes, that fact is the result of processes of nature. But those processes are the result of prior facts, and thus not random. So what is the non-random force that accounts for a phenomenon? Again, sometimes it is intelligence, like a human being driving a car, and sometimes it is non-intelligence.
        Human beings did, amazingly, come from non-intelligent forces, according to the scientific evidence.
        It is false that all human beings share a “universal belief” in what is right and wrong.
        It is false that, even if this were true, a worldview would have to explain such a fact.
        It is true that if you mean by “adequate”, “something that explains”, then yes, a worldview that explains X must be able to explain X.
        The main problem for theists in regard to morality is that they often fail to define “good” (or “right”) in a way that refers to anything real, that we know to exist.

      • Andy Ryan says:

        There are many great books on natural selection if you’re interested. Perhaps start with Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. Or any book in biology will probably explain the basics.
        As JCB notes, there are plenty of non-random, non-intelligent forces. The sea will sort pebbles on a beach into order of size. No intelligence there, but obviously it’s not random either.

        • INFINITE LOGOS says:

          You are confusing order with complexity.
          “For example, take the case of sand grain sorting. A random mixture in zero gravity has no dissymmetry (it is isotropic). Introduce a gravitational field, then there is a dissymmetry because of the direction of the field. Then the sand grains can ‘self-sort’ with the density increasing with depth. But this new arrangement, with the directional arrangement of sand grains, actually reflects the dissymmetry of the gravitational field that causes the separation.”
          – Dr Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. (Physical Chemistry)
          A link to the whole article.

        • Andy Ryan says:

          “you are confusing order with complexity”
          Did you mean to post this to someone else? I confused neither. I was giving you an example of selection that occurs naturally. Complexity is irrelevant. Rather than telling people they’re confused, make an effort to understand the point they’re making.
          “Who lifted the pachinko ball to the starting height and then released it?”
          That’s also irrelevant as to whether the process that takes it to the ground is guided or not. If natural selection was set in motion by, say Ganesh or Allah, or magical pixies, or aliens, it wouldn’t stop the selection process itself from being natural and without a guiding intelligence.

      • INFINITE LOGOS says:

        “When the pachinko ball falls”
        Who lifted the pachinko ball to the starting height and then released it?
        Or did it get there on it’s own?
        “Human beings did, amazingly, come from non-intelligent forces, according to the scientific evidence.”
        You sure about that?
        If you are saying that DNA and the molecular machinery to maintain DNA both came to be at the same time and in the same place then I will have to ask you to provide the evidence that it did.

        • jcb says:

          Yes, pachinko balls are typically lifted by intelligent forces like humans. That doesn’t undo my point that other movement in the world is caused by non intelligent forces. My claim wasn’t that “no actions are done by intelligent forces such as humans”.

          I am fairly sure about that claim about humans. But if you know otherwise, I’m happy to learn. The article you offer seems to show nothing contrary to what I said. If you see otherwise, point out where.

          I never said that “DNA and the molecular machinery to maintain DNA both came to be at the same time and in the same place”, so I don’t need to offer evidence for that.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Plenty of objects descend without being out there by an intelligent force. Fruit from trees, water from mountain tops. This seems a bad faith objection to JCB’s example. Not only is it irrelevant, but plenty of alternative examples don’t require intelligence to set in motion anyway. If course, I guess Infinite Logos can now beg the question and claim absolutely everything has an intelligence behind it.

  4. Andy Ryan says:

    “Science can’t tell you whether or not you ought to hurt someone”
    Neither can religion. You say “we ought to follow His guidance because He is the one who created us”, but what do you mean by ‘ought’ here? If it’s a moral ‘ought’ then what is it based on? How are you getting an ‘ought’ from the ‘is’ of ‘God created us’? You’re suggesting there’s a pre-existing axiom of ‘follow the guidance of the one who created you’, but what’s your basis for that? If you just mean it’s SENSIBLE or good for self-preservation to follow your creator’s guidance, then you’re talking about pragmatism, not morality.
    “Belief in objective morality is ultimately inescapable”
    We have all sorts of impulses, behaviours, habits, and reactions that are well explained by evolution. You’ve not shown this isn’t one of them. It’s advantageous to a species if its members feel empathy and feel guilt over harming other members of the species.
    Even if you could prove that a creator ‘wrote on our heart’ this feeling of guilt, it wouldn’t mean those feelings related to ‘objective morals’. It would just mean we shared a collective impulse as a species.

    • jcb says:

      The process of science has helped us learn lots of things about reality, the world, etc. Your phrasing is pretty accurate: “science can best aid us to answer questions that are testable by it”
      You say “there are things beyond its sphere of testability.” I did not say that. It might be true. Can you show that it is true? What are some of those things? And the more important question is, if there are such things, can something better answer/explain/prove those things, other than science? And if so, what are some examples?
      That you are amazed doesn’t change the fact that some things that people say are often nonsense, and some of the things that people think are beyond scientific questioning is often nonsense. To disprove that, list a few things that are beyond scientific questioning that are not nonsense.
      Here’s a better description of the argument.
      1. Virtually everything we know to exist is what we call “physical reality”: trains, chairs, cats, etc.
      2. Virtually everything we know to exist is best confirmed/determined by scientific means: observation, testing, confirmation, etc.
      3. There might be other ways to know reality, but science seems to be the main, if not only, way.
      (As I’ve said, if there are other ways, and other realities, just offer the evidence for them!)
      Most theists on this site, and I hope you aren’t one of them, will ignore such requests for evidence that would help demonstrate that an assertion I’ve made is incorrect. (Go read all my posts, and the replies, to see this is true).
      Your characterization of my argument was a straw man/person, but I modified it to reflect my position, not the position you imagined I had.
      So I have not ruled out what you call “metaphysical idealism”. But if you want to prove that there are existing, non-scientific, metaphysical objects, do it. Until then, we can only say that there might be such things.
      Again, the basic argument on this site is: Do cats exist? Yes, scientific methods like observation show that they probable do. Does God exist? It seems not, according to all known methods. If that is inaccurate, a person should offer the method, and the result, and the data that proves god. Can you offer such things?
      IN that article you linked, there was one absolutistic characterization of science: “the ONLY kind of substantive intellectual work there can be is scientific.”. That’s not what I’ve said. I’m saying, for the most part, the substantive intellectual work about reality (cars, chairs, cats) is scientific. I’m happy to allow for other work about reality. But someone who thinks there are other ways to get to reality needs to show what they are. If no one offers any such ways, that reinforces my claim that science is doing most of the work of determining what exists/what is real, such as cats, etc.
      Nothing I’ve said says you don’t need reason or philosophy. As the article says, pure reason/logic doesn’t tell us anything about the actual world. Yes, philosophy is often useful in framing the debate, clarifying concepts, etc.
      What did you think that article said that is relevant here? Just that philosophers do something different than scientists? That’s true.
      Science may be a slave to philosophy, “a tool to aid in answering its questions.” And is has given us lots of answers as to what exists.
      Yes, I’ve actually given (short) speeches about a PhD being a Doctorate in Philosophy.
      “The Christian God does not exist”, as far as I know, and as far as anyone knows, it seems to me. Again, if someone else does know, they should be offering the evidence. If you know of no evidence, that you have joined the club: as far as you or I know, God does not exist.
      Some theological claims are testable by science. Whether or not a particular human (Adam and Eve…) lived at a certain place and time is testable by science. Yes, other theological claims are not.
      If one defines God as “all loving” and that means something like “always makes sure people are well-off, to the best of one’s abilities”, then science can prove that the Holocaust happened, millions died, were not as far as we can tell made well off as a result, and thus there probably is no perfect, all loving (and all powerful) being.
      So, it depends on how you define “god”. Some definitions are not testable by science, some are.
      “science shouldn’t be held as the ultimate standard for reasoning/meaning, because there are not only things beyond its capability,”. 1. It would still be accurate to say that science is one of the best standards/methods of determining what exists. 2. You still haven’t shown that any other method is better at determining what exists.
      What you seem to have done/said is to say “God exists” cannot be tested by science. So then either another method can test it, or not. If no method can test it, then no one should be concluding that “God exists”. If a method does exist to test it, say what it is, how it works, and what its result is.
      Until then, there seems to be no one we know of that can lift a trillion tons (like an all-powerful being would be able to do). There seems to be no life after death: as far as we know, the body of the person deteriorates, and nothing else about the “person” is known to be doing anything.
      I am not “instantly” discrediting anything. I am sharing my views, waiting for evidence to the contrary, offering the evidence that I have when it seems needed or one asks.
      Again: if there is evidence for God, offer it. Otherwise, it seems there is no god. Yes, you can say “to you”, but that fails to show that there is a god.

  5. Susan Tan says:

    God owns science by right of creation.

    Science is just a man made method that comes from the limited, imperfect mind of man but nevertheless God made the mind of man so if He owns the mind of man then that ownership RIght extends to science as well.

    Why should men ever dispute with God. Why should people who can’t even use 100 percent of their God given minds dispute with Him at all? Science now knows all people only use about 100 percent of their brains.

    So why is the other 90 percent blind and unusable by us?

    The Bible says everyone is born spiritually blind but some people seek to have God turn on the lights to their heart and minds i.e. seek Him and spiritual enlightenment while other people don’t. And some people even go so far as to fight to stay unenlightened.

    So why should anyone enlightened stay behind fighting to enable an unenlightened person when that person refuses to do anything to get
    himself spiritually enabled. That person lacks motivation and has given up on his own enlightenment and is now oppositionally defiant towards God.

    So God owns science and science today through brain research is validating God’s account. Most people are in darkness mentally and have to seek enlightenment from the right source and be able to follow common sense directions to be spiritually enlightened or enabled.

    Just like a person has to go to the right source to have his electric lights or cable turned on.

    Why the people who don’t have the spiritual power spend so much time arguing for spiritual powerlessness I don’t know. They claim numerous reasons but really what they all just have in common is they refused to acknowledge the Source of All Spiritual Authority so they could wander around in the dark hoping to get away with their evil deeds as if their doings were normal.
    Their deeds indeed may be the doings of evil
    unenlightened men which are possibly the greatest number of people in this world.

    But when was it ever an intelligent thing to allow a large group of unenlightened people to rule in this world?

    Rulership should be based on enlightened authority and expertise not ignorance.

    That’s why God’s elite, His true disciples, run Paul’s race and follow behind Jesus on their course through this evil unenlightened world which is determined to allow their own ignorance to rule them instead of seeking the genuine enlightenment that God feeds to His people.

    So if this offends anyone, I am sorry. I am risking some of the truth in love for clarity because if your mind is darkened enough to rebel against God’s personal enlightenment then you are
    going to need some serious help in throwing off the bondage of a darkened mind so you can seek heavenly counsel while in this world.

    That is why God provides Jesus and the Bible so everyone when he is ready can seek to escape the bondage of spiritual bondage into God’s personal family of spiritual enlightenment.

    Strange as it sounds it seems people get so used to being in the dark that they refuse to come out and let God restore them.

    God Bless everyone reading.

      • Andy Ryan says:

        No, we only use 10% at any particular time. But that’s no more significant than saying we don’t use 100% of our muscles at the same time. It’s not true that parts of brains never get used.

        • Susan says:

          Seek spiritual enablement Andy and stop letting confusion rule you.

          We’re all born spiritually blind. We have to seek spiritual knowledge to gain it.

          If you keep raising objections then you will never seek.

          Some people teach this stuff. So there are levels of knowledge and enlightenment.

          Look for the more enlightened teachers because revelation is progressive and some people are more spiritually mature than others and there are plenty of false prophets these days.

          I learned to observe people. I don’t like other people limiting my spiritual growth but sometimes they have done it unintentionally because they let religious stereotypes rule their minds.

          Everyone is unique and has his own journey. I hope you find the people willing to enable your spiritual journey not hinder it.

          Look at Paul on the road to Damascus letting his spiritual blindness and carnal mind rule. Then God gave him an attitude adjustment with real blindness paralleling his deliberate mental blindness. Paul was a genius who thought he knew better than others but God taught him humility showing him he did not know better than God.

          I hope you aren’t as stubborn as Paul and can learn the easy way.

          Lots of people learn the easy way or the hard way in this world depending upon whether or not they are receptive to receiving instruction or not.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Susan, I was just pointing out you were quoting a common fallacy as if it was scientific fact. The 10% thing is a myth.

  6. Susan Tan says:

    The Bible makes it clear. God’s team is the only one worth playing for.

    Also God’s family is the only one worth belonging to. Christ said His family were the ones doing God’s will. Not his earthly born siblings. But his spiritual siblings born of God not man and demonstrating that birth by doing God’s will i.e. godly activities.

    Look at the Eagles versus the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Foles is God’s boy like Tebow was and he helped win a Super Bowl against a 5 time champion who should have crushed him but GOd can raise up or throw down anyone He wants to any time He wants to.

    1 Samuel 2:7, NIV

    7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.

  7. Susan says:

    Thanks for your comment Andy. But I don’t know why anyone hangs around debating religion or philosophy when they should be studying theology.

    Theology is the most challenging subject because it involves progressive revelation.

    In my opinion atheists are always attacking the least mature interpretations of the Bible.

    If you had actually tried to master theology then you most likely wouldn’t even be an atheist.

    Of course, there is partial mastery and a more mature understanding of the scriptures.

    A better theologian throws out free will doctrine in favor of God’s will in control and capable of fulfilling all His purposes.

    Unfortunately we have been living in a time of watered down doctrine and false prophets for hundreds of years now.

    If more people put together the Bible verses together for themselves instead of relying on the false rationalizations of man made theology schools they would see the truth for themselves and be able to explain doctrine better.

    Why is it the church is stuck on literalism when the Bible is a multi level interpretive work. The unique multilevel quality of the Bible also indicates it is of divine inspiration.

    in a sense atheists spend a lot of time attacking religious straw men their own minds are projecting because they never bothered to learn doctrine properly.

    When you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks i. e. Give up your fear of man then you can turn to God and seriously try to understand what God is saying for yourself.

    If I were you Andy I would turn away from politics and stay in God’s Word until He enlightens you. Politics is a dirty place to spend all your time in. IN the Bible God is washing out people’s mind so they can start to process His perspective.

    We are washed by the water of the Word.

    Holiness like cleanliness has to be maintained.

    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Thanks for your comment Andy”
      You’re welcome, I’m always pleased to help people improve their arguments by jettisoning false claims.


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