Don’t trust the pop media on science

Last week, an atheist acquaintance of mine showed me this article, to which she added the triumphant notation “BAM!” as though science had finally pulled the plug on God.


However, as I proceeded to explain to her, the article merely shows: a) she doesn’t understand how science and logic work; b) pop media reporters don’t understand how science and logic work; and c) you can’t trust the pop media to report scientific news accurately.

In a follow-up article, I’ll explain why the reporter’s claim is wrong. For now, I’ll talk about how you can tell right away that this article is not trustworthy.

In parsing this turkey of an article, a few things immediately jumped out. First of all, the headline is ludicrous. No respectable scientist would ever say anything like that. You can’t prove God didn’t create the universe unless you prove that something else did. Second, the ridiculous Daily Express article doesn’t really support that claim. Third, if you read the actual scientific paper, it makes no such claim whatsoever. In fact, I contacted one of the paper’s authors, a scientist at the University of Waterloo who was interviewed by the Express reporter, and he was surprised and dismayed by the way his work was misrepresented. He said he was expecting an article on inflation and relativity, not God.

This is part of a pattern I’ve noticed developing in the pop media. Prior to this, we had another declaration that the universe didn’t have a beginning (implication: Genesis 1:1 is irrelevant). I’m pretty sure what reporters are doing is combing through the arXiv eprint service for theoretical cosmology papers that have something to do with the origin of the universe, calling the authors for a quickie interview, and then shoe-horning the information into a narrative that the universe has no beginning, God is irrelevant, etc.

I keep telling you, my dear readers, atheists hate the big bang. They know exactly what it means — someone or something created the universe, and they cannot rule out God.

Does this mean you can’t trust anything the media say about science? No. There are good science reporters out there, you just have to be judicious in deciding what’s trustworthy and what’s not. I had a good experience being interviewed by a reporter from Discovery News about black holes a few years ago; it was clear she knew her stuff, and she wrote a good article. But then, unlike the Daily Express, which is a tabloid, Discovery News is a respectable science-oriented publication. But even then you have to be careful.

So, how do you know when to be skeptical? It can be hard to know, especially if you’re not a scientist who knows what to look for. I sometimes get duped by misleading articles when it’s about something outside of my area of expertise. But there are a few reliable tells. You should be skeptical any time you’re reading a science article that includes:

  • An outrageous headline. If the headline claims something impossible (“Science has finally disproved God!”), you can immediately dismiss the claim. Read the article with extreme skepticism.
  • An agenda. Does the scientific discovery require you to change your behavior or your worldview? If so, view it with skepticism. Look at who is making the claim and what they stand to gain from it. Read the actual scientific papers if you can. Read through legitimate criticisms of the discovery.
  • Controversy. Is the scientific discovery shocking or revolutionary? If so, view it with skepticism.

Keep in mind that editors have the final say over headlines and even the content of the article. There’s a good chance the reporter of the Express article did not choose that insanely provocative headline. A newspaper makes money through advertising, which means it needs to generate a lot of clicks from readers. The more grabby the headline, the more likely it will generate clicks. Once you click, it doesn’t matter to the bottom-line people at the newspaper if the article doesn’t entirely square with the outrageous headline.

Also, not everything that has an agenda or is shocking or revolutionary is necessarily going to be untrue. After two millennia of believing the universe was eternal, the news that the universe had a beginning was shocking and revolutionary, and required a lot of people to rethink their worldviews. Einstein’s relativity was pretty revolutionary. Quantum mechanics was revolutionary and just downright weird. But here’s the kicker — they were all supported by an abundance of very good evidence that continues to mount to this day. Also, two of these discoveries (quantum mechanics and relativity) have led to practical technological breakthroughs that have improved everyday life, like modern electronics and GPS.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the specifics of why the Express article was wrong, and how you can spot similar bad reporting in the future.

Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which we discuss general versus special revelation with an ostensibly confused godless person.

‘Good and Godless’ asks:

Yes, it was lucky I was born more than 1500 years after Christianity began to spread all over the world and more than five hundred years after the invention of movable type allowed the Bible to be mass-produced and available pretty much everywhere except North Korea. That was a close call!

Now, something tells me that our godless commenter here is not entirely sincere in asking this question. However, despite his attempt to score a rhetorical point, it is a legitimate question that seekers—and sometimes Christians— struggle to answer.

Disclaimer: I am a scientist who is Christian. I have not had any special training in theology, and I do not represent any kind of religious or theological authority. The following represents only my own personal understanding. There are many very good resources out there if you wish to pursue the topic further.

General Revelation

The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that God is merciful and just. For this reason, he has made himself manifest in nature, so that we can all discover God just by experiencing the natural world. This is why I post weekly reminders of Psalm 19. We are also reminded in the New Testament that God has revealed himself generally in nature with Romans 1:20, so that there is no excuse for rejecting God.

This is part of what’s referred to as General Revelation. As I explain in my testimony, that’s exactly how I came to my belief in God despite the fact that I had almost zero contact with religion for the first quarter-century of my life. I figured out that God existed without so much as ever picking up a Bible.


Special Revelation

What our commenter is alluding to, however, is Special Revelation. This refers to the knowledge that Jesus Christ died to atone for our sins, and that we are saved—that is, reconciled to God even though we’re sinful—solely through Jesus Christ.

It is not unreasonable for a sincere person to be concerned that this leaves a lot of people throughout history and even today out of receiving God’s promise of redemption and eternal life through Jesus Christ. First of all, it’s worth noting that by now that there are probably vanishingly few people anywhere in the world who have not heard of God or the Bible or Jesus. I have seen Inuit people in the remotest parts of Alaska praying in the name of Jesus. Christianity is spreading like wildfire through China despite the brutal efforts of the Communist Party to crush it. This is due in large part to the efforts of missionaries who have been fearless and tireless in spreading the gospel throughout the world. But it also shows, where there is a will to know, there is a way.

There is a good case to be made that God gives Special Revelation to those who are open to receiving it, even in the most unlikely circumstances. There are reports of Jesus appearing in visions and dreams to hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Middle East amidst the most horrible chaos and suffering. Those who have converted to Christianity will proselytize others who are open to hearing the gospel.

So, what about those who still have not heard of Jesus or the Bible? Are they doomed? I responded to a similar question asked by a student when I was on a Q&A panel, in which I quoted C. S. Lewis:

I think that every prayer which is sincerely made even to a false god, or to a very imperfectly conceived true God, is accepted by the true God and that Christ saves many who do not think they know him. For He is (dimly) present in the good side of the inferior teachers they follow. In the parable of the Sheep and Goats [Matthew 25:34-40] those who are saved do not seem to know that they have served Christ.

God is loving, merciful, and just. Everyone who desires to know God and to be close to him will be given the opportunity.

Newton’s magic vs. Hawking’s science

Stephen Hawking is back in the news making a fool out of himself. In an interview with a Spanish newspaper, Hawking is quoted as saying, “The laws of science are sufficient to explain the origin of the universe. It is not necessary to invoke God.”

Hawking could only be referring to the multiverse as this explanation, as there are no other “scientific” explanations for the origin of the universe. The problem is, as eminent physicist George F. R. Ellis puts it, the multiverse is just “scientifically based philosophical speculation.” Or, as I like to say, the multiverse isn’t science, it’s merely science flavored.

Surak dismantled Hawking’s specious argument the last time he claimed science had usurped God, so I won’t rehash that. What I want to do, is take this opportunity to contrast the modern, secular scientism so evident in Hawking’s claim with the classical, Newtonian view of science. Consider the following, written by John Maynard Keynes in his essay, “Newton, the Man”:

Because he [Isaac Newton] looked on the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle, as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence, certain mystic clues which God had laid about the world to allow a sort of philosopher’s treasure hunt to the esoteric brotherhood. He believed that these clues were to be found partly in the evidence of the heavens and in the constitution of elements … but also partly in certain papers and traditions handed down by the brethren in an unbroken chain back to the original cryptic revelation in Babylonia. He regarded the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty—just as he himself wrapt the discovery of the calculus in a cryptogram when he communicated with Leibniz. By pure thought, by concentration of mind, the riddle, he believed, would be revealed to the initiate.

In his biography of Newton, Mitch Stokes commented further:

Most modern scientists pride themselves on having purged themselves of thoughts of mystery and magic, while unwittingly using theories that are as mystical as they are “scientific.” Newton, believing that the world is full of magic, found that it *is* full of magic. He, in turn, revealed some of his discoveries to us.

If you take the particular atheistic view of the universe that there is no God and that only science can reveal the true nature of the universe, then it is one of the great ironies of the world that a classical mystic who thought he was working magic ended up being the greatest practitioner of science who ever lived, while a modern secular hero of science who thinks he’s practicing science is really just working magic.

Has physics disproved the beginning of the universe?

I’ve been asked numerous times about a scientific paper published earlier this year purporting to show the universe has always existed:

The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Apparently, some atheists are latching onto this to show that Genesis 1:1 is wrong, and some of you are unsure how to respond to such an argument.

The first thing I would like to point out is that atheists have been trying to get around the finite age of the universe since the 1960s, when the most compelling evidence for the big bang — the cosmic microwave background — was discovered. As many atheist scientists observed at the time, big bang cosmology is uncomfortably close to Genesis 1.

If you’re a Young Earth creationist who believes the big bang theory is an atheist conspiracy, this should be a compelling reason for you to reconsider that belief. Most atheist scientists are desperate to do away with the conventional big bang theory. They were quite happy prior to the 1960s when it seemed the universe was infinitely old — an infinitely old universe requires no explanation, and therefore requires no God. But we’re stuck with a universe with a beginning, and that’s a problem for atheists. This is why we hear so much about overblown stories about the big bang not happening or all these stories about the multiverse.

Anyway, here’s what you should keep in mind about this paper.

1. It’s just a model, not evidence.

The physicists who wrote the paper are proposing an explanation for the big bang by using a mathematical model. Models that speculate about how things might work are important in science, but you should always remember that a plausible model is not evidence. Think about it this way. I could come up with some very interesting and plausible explanations for who assassinated JFK and how they did it. While these explanations would suggest possible lines of investigation, they would not constitute evidence in a court of law.

2. The study’s conclusion follows from its assumptions.

This requires a bit of background to explain. The big bang was a sudden expansion of the universe from a hot, dense state. We can see by looking at the motions of galaxies all rushing away from each other that the universe is still expanding, and it’s cooling as it does this. If you think about running the movie of the universe in reverse, all these galaxies would appear to be rushing towards each other as we go back in time. Everything would be getting more smushed, and the universe would be getting denser and hotter, until we reached some initial very dense, very hot state; possibly even infinitely dense and hot, but nobody knows for sure what that initial state was.

In Einstein’s general relativity, the shortest distance between two points in spacetime is called a geodesic. As you go further and further back in the history of the universe, as things get smushed together and hot, all geodesics eventually converge and you get a singularity. The problem is, general relativity is unreliable on extremely small — that is to say, quantum — scales. For that reason, you can’t legitimately extrapolate all the way back to a singularity using general relativity, and that’s why physicists are working on a quantum version of gravity. To get around this problem, the physicists in this study used a quantum replacement for geodesics, called Bohmian trajectories. By their very nature, these quantum trajectories cannot converge to a singularity. So, big surprise, when you assume that you can’t get a singularity in your model, you don’t get a singularity in your model. This is why the headline of the article is so annoying: “No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning.” No, it does not predict the universe has no beginning; the assumptions in the equation require it! And, it’s wrong about this “prediction” anyway (see below).

3. Do we really care about a singularity?

So, what is a singularity, anyway? If you ask a random person, he’ll probably say it’s an infinitely small point. For physicists, it’s more complicated. It can be a hypothetical infinitely small point, but it can also represent a state of infinite density, even if space isn’t infinitely small. But this is problematic, as people like to say. It’s fine to talk about infinities in terms of mathematics, but physicists don’t like infinities in reality, because they play havoc with reason. That’s why we tend to think they don’t actually exist.

Anyway, the notion that the universe might not have begun with a singularity (of whatever kind) is not new. Physicists know general relativity becomes unreliable at the very earliest moments of the universe, because it just isn’t equipped to describe what’s going on at those scales. A common way of expressing this is to say physics breaks down at the smallest scales. So, if you ever hear a physicist talking about the big bang singularity, what he really means is the place at which physics doesn’t explain what’s going on. The best we’ve been able to say for a while now is that we don’t know exactly how the universe began. This is nothing new.

4. They’re playing fast and loose with the notions of potential and beginnings.

According to the model, the universe does not start off as a singularity, but existed eternally as a quantum potential. In an article at, one of the authors of the paper is quoted as saying this could mean the universe is infinitely old, i.e. the universe had no beginning. Popular media writers are inferring this also means there was no big bang. However, both are wrong.

Let’s get this out of the way first: the scientific paper does not claim there was no big bang. ‘No singularity’ is not the same thing as ‘no big bang.’ It just means the big bang occurred from some state other than a singularity.

As for the universe not having a beginning, let’s use an analogy to explore potentials and beginnings, and we’ll see why this is wrong. We’ll start with an obvious statement: every person begins to exist. People argue about when the beginning of human life actually occurs, but there is little doubt that the very earliest we could possibly date it is the moment when a sperm fertilizes an egg. Let’s take you, for example. You exist. We could legitimately say that you began to exist as far back as when you were conceived in your mother’s womb. We could also legitimately say that the potential for your existence predated your conception. That potential existed in your mother and father, and, before them, in their mothers and fathers, and so on, all the way back to the earliest moments of the universe. But does that mean you’ve existed for 13.8 billion years? No reasonable person would make such a claim, for the simple reason that we intuitively understand that the potential to exist is not the same thing as existing. That’s why it’s silly and misleading to claim that a hypothetical eternal quantum potential for the universe implies the universe has always existed.

Here’s what you should take away from all of this. The big bang is still the moment in cosmic history when something significant happened — space began to rapidly expand from a mysterious and extreme initial state. It doesn’t matter that we can’t exactly specify what that state was; it still marks the beginning of the universe as we know it, and Genesis 1:1 is still true.

Which god is the Creator?

Speaking of anklebiters, ‘francisco’ asked the following in the comments to an article about quantum mechanics and the creation of the universe:

is there physical evidence that the cause of the universe is a superior been?
and if that was the case, which one of the thousands of gods the human has created is the cause of the universe?

I suspect he is not entirely sincere in his desire to know the answer to the first question (anklebiters are tediously reliable with their tells). In any case, francisco, if you’re reading this, I suggest you look through the archives of this website [here and here, especially] and read Gerald Schroeder’s book, The Science of God, to acquaint yourself with the evidence for God’s existence.

The second question is meant to show how arbitrary it is to believe in any one particular god as the creator of the universe, so, ha ha, aren’t we Christians a bunch of rubes. But it’s really just a silly question that betrays an ignorance of the basics of world religions and unforgivably superficial thinking.

Let’s consider the panoply of gods in Greek mythology. Each god governs an aspect of nature, or an abstract idea, an occupation, and so on. Zeus rules the skies, Poseidon rules the seas, Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty, and so on. None of them is a supreme being or creator god, so we can rule them all out. Likewise for the Roman gods, the Viking gods, the Babylonian gods, and so on. That narrows things down considerably.

That’s not to say that these religious traditions do not include creation myths. In fact, it’s become something of a secular fad to point out the similarities of the earliest creation myths with details of Genesis in an attempt to discredit the latter. However, once you examine these creation myths you begin to see that they invariably skirt the issue of the creation of the universe and deal instead with the establishment of the divinity of earthly rulers or the creation of a new world, land, or empire. Such is the case with the Mesopotamian and Egyptian creation myths that predate the writings of Moses, as well as others like the Greek, Roman, and Viking myths.

What we’re left with is three religious traditions that hold to a definite, coherent account of the creation of the universe from nothing by a supreme being. Furthermore, they are the only religious traditions I’m aware of that recognize the linearity of time and a timeline for creation that corresponds to the scientific record. These are, in order of their historical establishment, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So, it really comes down to two supreme beings — God and Allah. There are ways to distinguish between the two as the most likely candidate for the creator of the universe, but I’ll save that for a later discussion.


There is a particular type of atheist who just can’t help but strike a pose of sneering superiority every time someone posts my testimony somewhere on the Internet:

These guys usually turn out to be the variety of atheist known as “anklebiter,” described by Vox Day here:

Anklebiters are a brain-damaged form of midwit. They are almost always atheist, further pointing towards the atypical neurological profile required for that, they are usually male, and they tend to be unexpectedly poorly educated and badly read despite their observable intelligence. Most importantly, they lack the normal ability to admit failure, back up, and start over that normal individuals possess. And lacking it, they therefore lack any ability to improve their arguments or even to question any of their adopted beliefs.

That’s why anklebiters are always disappearing when trounced, only to reappear again and make the exact same arguments that have already been dismissed. The problem … is that this renders them immune to dialectic, and they tend to ignore pure rhetoric because they are not emotionally invested in their nonsense arguments. The more virulent form, the trolls, are sociopathic and have no meaningful human emotions to which one can appeal.

In effect, anklebiters are little more than genetically human bots, which is why there is no point in arguing with them or insulting them. They are not capable of adding anything to the discourse, so as soon as an anklebiter is identified, they are best ignored…

If they start showing up here in numbers, I will probably have to take that advice. For now, I tend to engage them, because I can practically guarantee they will disappear as soon as I invite them to participate in meaningful discussion. 

I have not heard from this person since. Maybe he’s reading through the website and formulating a response. If he fails to respond with anything substantial, it will be consistent with the anklebiter profile.

Speaking of which, our old friend OpenMind back popped up again to suggest I read some book or other:

Never got a response to that. Maybe he’s reading Vox’s book, but I tend to doubt it. I challenged another atheist who was email-pelting me with endless questions to read it, and never heard back from him. (Vox’s book seems to have the same affect on atheists that a crucifix has on vampires.)

[If you’re wondering what a midwit is, see here.]

God of the gaps

For all their bluster about how they “*&%#ing love science,” the worldview of the skeptic is, in reality, profoundly unscientific. From Dinesh D’Souza’s, Life After Death:

[While] the skeptic typically fancies himself a champion of science, his whole line of argument is just as unscientific as that of the creationist [who posits the God of the gaps]. For the skeptic, a gap is a kind of nuisance, a small lacuna of scientific ignorance that is conceded to exist as a kind of misfortune, and is expected to soon be cleared up. True scientists, by contrast, love and cherish gaps. They seek out gaps and work assiduously within these crevasses because they hope that, far from being a small missing piece of the puzzle, the gap is actually an indication that the whole underlying framework is wrong, that there is a deeper framework waiting to be uncovered, and that the gap is the opening that might lead to this revolutionary new understanding.

Gaps are the mother lode of scientific discovery. Most of the great scientific advances of the past began with gaps and ended with new presuppositions that put our whole comprehension of the word in a new light.

Next time you find yourself engaged in discussion with an atheist, ask him how he regards gaps in scientific understanding. If it’s anything like this, you know you’re dealing with someone who is intellectually boxed in.

Earth-like planet kills God dead!

The big news last week was that astronomers (incidentally, some of them colleagues of mine) discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star. The exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-452b, was discovered by the Kepler space telescope and recently announced by its discoverers. It is 1,400 light-years away from Earth and appears in the constellation Cygnus.

It’s exciting news, and probably had more than a few nerds thinking we’re one step closer to the United Federation of Planets, but apparently the really big news is that the discovery of this planet was the death-knell for religious tradition.

In what I suppose is a serious commentary on the discovery Kepler-452b and not satire, Jeff Schweitzer, a scientist and former White House analyst, declares that Earth 2.0 is “bad news for God.” Why? Because Genesis doesn’t mention alien worlds. Of course, Genesis also doesn’t mention bananas, but to my knowledge no one has argued that the existence of bananas rocks religious tradition to its core.

Schweitzer’s first mistake was referring to Kepler-452b as “Earth 2.0.” This newly discovered exoplanet is believed to be Earth-like in terms of its size and proximity to its Sun-like star, and that’s sort of big news, because the majority of known exoplanets are Jupiter-sized or larger and very close to non-Sun-like stars. Kepler-452b is at just the right distance to its Sun-like star to permit liquid water on its surface (a necessary component for life). All this means is that we can’t rule out the existence of liquid water on its surface; it doesn’t mean there is water. And there are known differences between Kepler-452b and Earth: it’s estimated to be 60% larger than Earth (so it’s more like a “Super-Earth”), it’s about 1.5 billion years older than the Earth, it receives 10% more light from its sun than the Earth does from its Sun, its gravity could be anywhere from 80% to 300% of the Earth’s gravity, etc. We don’t know its composition. Is it rocky? Does it have a fluid core that would lead to a dynamo effect? Does it have an atmosphere? Plate tectonics? We currently don’t know the answers to these questions. We therefore have no idea exactly how Earth-like Kepler-452b is or whether it’s suitable for life. And it’s not the only known Earth-like exoplanet, nor is it even the most Earth-like. All good reasons why it’s absurd to call this particular exoplanet “Earth 2.0.”

Nevertheless, Schweitzer goes on to declare that we are coming “ever closer to the idea that life is common in the universe.” That’s quite a leap from the discovery of an exoplanet about which we know very little. But never mind. His point here is to preemptively declare that the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would be a big problem for “the world’s major religions.” And by “the world’s major religions” he seems to mean Judaism and Christianity (and probably just the latter), since the Bible is the sole focus of his critique.

He begins his theological discussion thusly: “Let us be clear that the Bible is unambiguous about creation:”

Let’s look at what the Bible unambiguously claims about creation, according to Schweitzer:

1. “the earth is the center of the universe”

He doesn’t mention which verse says this. Probably because there is no verse, that I’m aware of, that says this. Ancient Greek philosophy held that the Earth is the center of the universe, and this view was eventually adopted by the Church, whose philosophy was heavily influenced by Aristotle.

2. “only humans were made in the image of god”

Of all the creatures mentioned in Genesis, yes, only humans were made in the image of God. This doesn’t preclude other creatures, not mentioned in Genesis, being made in the image of God. This doesn’t preclude other creatures, not mentioned in Genesis, not being made in the image of God.

3. “and all life was created in six days”

No, all life was created in four days. Plant life appeared on Day 3, animal life appeared on Day 5, and human life appeared on Day 6.

4. “All life in all the heavens. In six days.”

No, all life on Earth. In four days. (See here for why six creation days are fully compatible with a billions-year-old universe.)

Notice that he does not support any of these claims with the biblical verses that supposedly “unambiguously” say these things. Instead, later in his piece, he quotes the Pope during the trial of Galileo on what the Church believed the Bible claimed at the time.

This is why you should never rely on what an anti-theist says about the Bible. Schweitzer is completely wrong. Which means his conclusion is completely wrong, for he goes on to say:

“So when we discover that life exists or existed elsewhere in our solar system or on a planet orbiting another star in the Milky Way, or in a planetary system in another galaxy, we will see a huge effort to square that circle with amazing twists of logic and contorted justifications. But do not buy the inevitable historical edits: life on another planet is completely incompatible with religious tradition. Any other conclusion is nothing but ex-post facto rationalization to preserve the myth.”

Nonsense. What he’s attempting to do is use false assumptions and specious reasoning to justify his leaping out in front of this discovery before anyone’s had a chance to comment thoughtfully on it, and claim it as a victory for atheism. Dibs, everyone!

Is Schweitzer unaware that Christians have already commented on the topic of alien life in the context of Christian theology? C. S. Lewis not only wrote a well-known essay (“Religion and Rocketry“) on the topic, but wrote a science fiction trilogy exploring it in great depth (The Space Trilogy). (Incidentally, I wrote on this topic a few years ago.)

The rest of Schweitzer’s article is filled with theological analysis and reasoning of similar quality. For instance, he quotes Genesis 1:1 and then makes the following claim:

“Nothing in that mentions alien worlds, which of course the ancients knew nothing about. Man was told to rule over the fish on the earth, not on other planets. But god would have known of these alien worlds, so it is curious he did not instruct the authors to include the language.”

One might reasonably ask how man could possibly rule over the fish on other planets, and therefore why it would be of any concern to him that there might be fish on other planets. (I seriously wondered if Schweitzer was having us all on at this point, but since this was The Huffington Post and not The Onion, I had to assume he was sincere.) (Also, what is it with the childish refusal of some atheists to capitalize the ‘G’ in God? Lower-case ‘g’ god denotes a lesser god. God is the supreme being, the God, which is why ‘God’ is capitalized. Spelling it correctly doesn’t mean you agree God exists, it means you understand the concept of a proper noun. It just makes you look like an idiot to refuse to capitalize the name.)

He then goes on some weird tangent about some verses in Genesis that shows he doesn’t understand that Genesis refers to the entire universe for the first two days, and then specifically the Earth for the remaining days. It was all so contorted and confused that it made my head hurt. He amusingly concludes this word-salad passage with “Let us be perfectly clear…”

Schweitzer ends his piece with the statement that, “none of this will matter upon life’s discovery elsewhere. Religious leaders will simply declare that such life is fully compatible with, in fact predicted by, the Bible.” He’s right that this sort of poor understanding of the Bible and lousy reasoning are utterly inconsequential to any possible discovery of life elsewhere in the universe. As for whether the existence of life elsewhere is compatible with, even predicted by, the Bible, consider that the great biblical commentator, Nahmanides, inferred from Genesis that the universe was created with the potential for life built into it. Since he claimed this over 700 years ago, I’d say our side had dibs long before Schweitzer’s.

No evidence needed

If you ever doubt that atheists can be as blind-faith-driven as they claim Christians are, just ask them to justify their assumptions.

This is part of the ongoing discussion I’m having with this particular atheist over the fine tuning argument. See here for background.

There are only three possible explanations for why the universe is so finely tuned as to permit the existence of complex, intelligent life: necessity, chance, or design. Necessity means that there are physical laws requiring the universe to take on the very precise values for things like the physical constants. Chance means the universe won a very, very lucky roll of the dice and just happened to land upon the precise values for things like the physical constants. Design means someone/something deliberately chose the precise values for things like the physical constants. Note that these aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. However, once you have ruled out one, you can only consider the other two.

The problem for JW is that there is no physical theory that anyone is aware of that requires the universe to take on the very precise values for things like the physical constants that we measure. JW asked for an example, and I gave him the density of dark energy. Dark energy is a mysterious form of energy in the universe, causing it to accelerate in its expansion. The Standard Model, the name given to the theory of particle physics, predicts that dark energy could have a range of about 10115 GeV/cm3. That’s a 1 with 115 zeroes after it. At the risk of understatement, that’s an enormous range. If the density of dark energy was a bit more than what it is, the universe would’ve expanded too rapidly and no stars could form. If it was a bit less, the universe would’ve collapsed on itself before life could emerge. And yet the density of dark energy is precisely the “right” value for life to emerge. This is why the fine tuning argument is such a focal point for debate.

What we’re left with is chance or design, and thus the argument boils down to multiverse or God. JW seems to think most physicists are “mad” for holding to this very logical conclusion, and steadfastly refuses to accept it. Ironically, he clings to his belief in exactly the same manner many atheists accuse Christians of clinging to their belief.