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.