Don’t stand in the way of science in the name of god if you don’t know what god is

I recently discovered that my cousin is a young earth creationist — she should know better! — and I was forced to confront her when she posted an anti-science video to her Facebook page. Most of my family is moderately religious (there are two out atheists and one out agnostic, but the rest claim some form of the Christian god), and I tend not to argue with them about religion, but I become understandably angry when people who don’t understand science start trampling over and bastardizing science. I don’t care if it contradicts your deeply held beliefs. Science is pretty fucking important. If you disagree with the findings of science, follow the scientific method to conduct your own research. It’s unlikely that you’ll get different results, but at least you’ll get a better understanding of the natural world.

In this post I’m going to focus on the Christian god, but this applies to all other gods as well.

I’m sure most of you have heard Richard Dawkins’ quip where he confronts someone making claims or asking questions about god. Dawkins usually replies, “Which god?” In other words, the religious person making a claim about god has not adequately and coherently defined god.

This lack of definition is a central tenet in Christianity, although it permeates all other religions. For example, one need only open their bible to Ephesians 1:9 to see how ingrained god’s unknowableness is:

he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,

In other words, when asked to define god, the Christian can only say that god has revealed to them only that god cannot be defined. Well, that’s where we run into the problem.

This is a very old argument; I’m not even sure from where it came. That is, if god cannot be defined, what use is it to claim that he exists? I could say, “I believe that Brengok exists.” Ok. But what is Brengok? “I don’t know because he’s invisible and unknowable.” Well, how can you say he exists if you don’t even know what the hell he is?!! This is a classic Sam Harris approach to god. Before you can say that god exists, you must be able to define what you’re talking about.

But that’s not the way Christian belief works. Instead of searching for an explanation and a definition, believers succumb to a general concept. Instead of an understood god, they fall to mystery. Well, mystery doesn’t explain anything. Mystery is the problem. Indeed, mystery is what drives the sciences. And science helps us actually explain things!

When people like my cousin shit all over the scientific method because it contradicts their god, I get mad. I get especially mad if they haven’t even taken the time to learn about the things they reject. There are numerous articles they could read in scientific journals. But what gets me most angry is that these are scientifically illiterate people who are rejecting science in the name of a god that they can’t even understand. If you’re going to reject the findings of science in the name of god, you better be damned sure what it is you’re talking about. If you’re going to stand in the way of human progress in the name of god, you better be able to tell us what god looks like first!

If you can’t define god, then you have no reason to use one as a weapon against the scientific method and its findings.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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13 Responses to Don’t stand in the way of science in the name of god if you don’t know what god is

  1. andy rhea says:

    I’m curious: what was the original Facebook post that cued this response?

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      She posted the “Why atheism is wrong” video. You know, the one with the fat guy in the car, wearing his hat backwards who clearly doesn’t understand evolution or physics. I refuse to repost that video because it is such utter bullshit.

      • andy rhea says:

        Lol, sounds very trendy, but I haven’t seen it. What was the anti-science claim that was made?

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        He confuses the word theory with “guess,” and he repeats the idiotic claim that Newton’s second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution.

        I then proceeded to show my cousin the evidence we have for evolution. Despite this she said “that’s not science.” She then said that the book of revelations was more scientific than the processes that led to the theory of evolution. After that I lost it and decided to make this post.

      • andy rhea says:

        O my, I see. Yeah, I’m a Christian and even I can agree that such misinformation would warrant a rant. lol

  2. The Christian God is clearly defined in both the religious faith and in natural law:

    God is Creator.

    The Creator has certain self-evident (knowable through reason) attributes:

    1. All-knowing since to knowing how to create everything requires knowledge of everything
    2. All-powerful since to have the ability to create everything means possessing infinite power.
    3. Eternal since God is the First Cause who was before time and space were created.

    So your claim that God is undefined by Christians is false.

    Nevertheless, Christians who claim that the cosmos was created in 6 Earth days or that the Earth is only 6000 years old are like atheists in that they have abandoned reason completely.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      What about Job 36:26?

      Surely God is great, and we do not know him;
      the number of his years is unsearchable.

      You may have a definition, but it is a limited definition. In context, Elihu says in Job 36 that we cannot understand how god does the things he does.

      Verse 29:

      Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
      the thunderings of his pavilion?

      So if we don’t understand how the god of Abraham works, then we don’t have an adequate definition of god.

  3. Your Cousin says:

    If you wish to quote me, at least quote what was actually said. I never said that Revalations was more scientific than your so-called processes. That comment was made to defend the statements made about predictions of the ending of time. This whole blog is ridiculous. The writer twists statements around in hopes of making his point seem realistic. Utter (yes utter) blasphemous, incorrectly interpreted nonsense.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      I suppose I’ll do a followup with screen caps of our conversation, which I take “religiously.” I don’t like to risk that people will delete their posts (which, unfortunately happens all the time). I’ll let you know when that happens so that you can put in your two cents in the comments.

  4. Pingback: Don't stand in the way of science in the name of god if you don't know what god is

  5. Funny – that video of the guy in the car is what finally pushed me to start my blog and twitter and get the ball rolling on my atheist activism.

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