A Challenge to Atheists and Theists
Pharyngula, a scientist with whom I genearlly agree, had some too-intemperate words for theism and theists in his blog. I responded in his comments and reprint my comment here:
"#1: Mitchell Freedman — 06/20 at 08:51 AM
Since I left college, many years ago, I've decided that Bertrand Russell, Richard Feynman, and Albert Einstein were correct: To try and prove whether 'God' exists is a pointless exercise at least at this time in our scientific endeavors.
Atheists can't get past explaining the first 'first cause,' in other words, 'Well, what caused the Big Bang?' and theists can't get past explaining what or where the First Cause is afterwards in any scientifically sounding way (hence, the problem with creationism and intelligent design).
Stephen Jay Gould, in his 'Mismeasure of Man' book, made clear that science is 'often destructive and wasteful,' the phrase PZ Myers used to describe theism. And let's not just focus on eugenics and the like. Let's talk of the surgeons who wouldn't wash their hands and willfully ignored and undermined theistic mid-wives who washed their hands before delivering babies. Or the stupidity of excessively '
'bleeding' someone to stop pain or fever. And science is still a new kid on the block in terms of years.
I continue to believe neither creationism or intelligent design belong in science classrooms. I continue to believe that I can't prove to someone who doesn't already believe in theism why atheists or agnostics are correct. And I can't prove to atheists and agnostics that 'God' exists. All I can say to both sides is: Each of you have soft underbellies at some level that keep you from saying you are correct for all time and with absolute certainty--no matter how much you scream about your certainty. So, let's show a little humility, respect each other's conclusion about his or her belief, and stick to the more practical issues of why creationism and inteligent design are about faith based conclusions and why science should be about experimenting and deducting from reason.
Again, when I listen to intelligent design proponents and before them, creationist proponents, I found their conclusion of 'God exists' was writ large within their proofs. That's why they failed the test of science."
I will add that I always act like God exists and have decided that I am comfortable with that. I am less comfortable with the fact that I act like angels are around us and often fight that impulsive unstated belief. My wife says, however, "Ever notice how you tend to love nearly any film that has angel-characters in it--and your favorite film, 'It's a Wonderful Life' is based upon the existence of angels helping people be better human beings?" When she said that, it explained a lot about how I believe things I have a hard time believing in a "reason based analysis." Human beings are pretty funny that way, and I'm no exception.
UPDATE: Some commenters at Pharyngula get somewhat preturbed by my comments. One appears to be calling me anti-science. I like one commenter's point that in the 19th Century, scientists were not considered in the same realm as physicians or surgeons. I didn't know that. In all, I think they protest too much. I'm against creationism taught as real in public schools and I have concluded intelligent design is a tautology that is also not scientific. Oh well.