We now come to the end of my response to Albrecht Moritz' defense of theistic belief in a scientist. Moritz presents 15 objections that an atheist might proffer in his article How can a scientist believe in God?, and attempts to debunk them. Part 1 of my response is here, and part 2 is here. After addressing the last of his items, I will give a short summary. I hope this hasn't been too drawn out for my readers. Moritz makes some arguments, mainly for the benefit of his fellow believers, that don't hold water with scientifically-minded atheists, and that I feel should be answered.
11. The compartmentalization of the believer’s mind
This is something I alluded to in my introduction in part 1. Moritz claims that he does not compartmentalize. But I must disagree. Moritz accepts biological evolution, but it is a theistic version, not the scientific one that claims evolution is an accidental, unguided process. He rejects scientific theories of how the universe came into existence in favor of "God did it". And he believes that that the universe is designed and "fine tuned", as he stated in item 10. Not to mention that he believes the Christian myth that a rotting corpse came back to life. As I have stated several times already, he seems to accept the scientific view in his own area of expertise, but rejects it everywhere else. This precisely matches the very definition of compartmentalization, even if Moritz denies it.
12. Belief in God is driven by fear of mortality
Moritz says that consideration of life after death plays no role in his purely rational choice to reject atheism. This is telling in the first place, because he speaks of "rejecting atheism" rather than accepting theism. The significance of that is that theism is his default position - not based on any rational decision. An empiricist's view would be that a belief is justified by evidence - not that a belief must be rejected on the basis of argument. He doesn't need to be rationally convinced of theism, but he claims to be rationally convinced of the falsity of naturalism, apparently with objective evidence playing no role in that conviction. And then he finishes by saying
Yet of course I am delighted and thankful to God for His promise of an eternal afterlife in His glorious presence.So after denying that the promise of life after death has anything to do with his belief, he admits that this is indeed part of his thinking. I think this is about as disingenuous as one can get. Not to mention something that has no support whatsoever in science.
13. Belief in religious dogma conflicts with the scientific mindset
Moritz makes the argument that trust without verification is appropriate in matters of love, as well as in matters related to God and his revelation, and that this doesn't overlap with science at all. (Compartmentalization, anyone?) He says that it is not even appropriate to try to verify that one's loving relationship is reciprocal, but can he deny that we all want to see signs (or evidence) that our partner loves us? If my wife winces every time she sees me, I would take that as a clue. And I think Moritz is being less than honest here. But he uses that as a lead-in to his assertion that belief in God similarly requires no evidence. But he seems to miss the larger point altogether. There are clearly some areas where religious dogma openly conflicts with science. Not the least of these is belief in the soul as the seat of consciousness. Deny it as he may, this is an area of active scientific investigation, and the answers to which science leads us are in direct conflict with religious dogma. There's no getting around it. The idea of non-overlapping magisteria is a fantasy, conceived by religious people or accommodationists to keep science at bay. If something affects or interacts with the physical world, it is subject to scientific investigation.
14. Belief in miracles is unscientific
Here, Moritz makes the best of his arguments, as I see it. It is based on the assumption that if a miracle actually happens as a one-time thing that leaves behind no traceable evidence of causation, then it would outside the scope of scientific investigation.
a presumed miracle healing does not leave researchable traces about a process from disease to health, since the healed person simply is at once healthy and thus indistinguishable from a person that was never sick to begin with. Science can say nothing about such a situation, except that there is no scientific explanation for the healing. Thus, the issue of miracles simply lies outside science.And I agree completely with his logic. Unless miracles happen on a regular basis, science can't provide a means to explain them in naturalistic terms. Therefore, there is no scientific refutation of the event, and nothing unscientific about accepting this one-time violation of natural laws. Except for one thing - and this is something that Moritz fails to mention. He is presuming that miracles happen, but a scientific mind would want to see some kind of confirmation that this is really the case. And there is none. You can believe the stories in the bible, and you can believe the accounts of healing at Lourdes, but you can't produce reasonably solid documentation that these things actually happened. They are stories. God has never made his presence known unequivocally. There are no independent historical accounts of the miracle stories in the bible. No miraculous event has ever been caught on film as it happened. No miracle has ever been confirmed by a group of objective or skeptical observers. Science is based in evidence, and belief in miracles is not. This is not a question of science rejecting some well-attested event, but a matter of theists believing that these things happen in the absence of reasonable evidence. And so I must conclude that belief in miracles is unscientific on that basis.
15. Atheism is more scientific than theism
Moritz starts off by claiming that atheism is a philosophical position, usually based in naturalism, not scientific one. But I think he is confused. Naturalism is a philosophical worldview. Atheism is not a philosophy or a worldview, but it is merely a position on belief in gods, which follows logically from naturalism. All naturalists are atheists, but not all atheists are naturalists. Moritz then goes on to say that the existence of the universe and nature itself can't be explained by science because the cause is outside of the observable natural realm. I certainly agree that there are limits on what science can discover, but I think he's jumping the gun. Aside from having a scientific theory that is fully consistent with all observation (including observation of matter popping into existence) and all natural laws so far, there have already been some scientific inquiries into whether our universe might be part of a multiverse, and I don't think those avenues of investigation have been exhausted. Furthermore, if he thinks current cosmological theory is less scientific than theism, he really doesn't understand the theory, and I think that's very obvious. Another point he makes is that God, being supernatural, is also beyond the scope of science, and so it is pointless for atheists to claim that they are more scientific on that basis, but they believe in the (obviously ridiculous) notion that there are many universes. He seems to think that this is a religious belief, just like his own belief in God. But as I mentioned before, the idea of a multiverse is not a product of ideology. It is the inevitable conclusion from the best available cosmological theory that explains better than any other theory how our universe came into existence. We may or may not ever be able to provide solid substantiation for this theory, but we don't believe it religiously, the way theists believe in God. If it should turn out to be false, or not consistent with known reality, science will move on to some other theory that works better. Theists, on the other hand, will never give up their belief in God, no matter what the evidence tells us.
Moritz offers a number of arguments that are based on a straw man. In several cases, he avoids the real objections made by atheists, in favor of an unrealistic or contrived objection, which he can then attack. In other cases, he presents an overly benign picture of the relationship between religion and science that is inconsistent with historical reality. He denies any conflict between science and religion, as many religious people do, while ignoring obvious points of disagreement. His understanding of evolution is unscientific, and his understanding of cosmic inflation is completely absent. He sees himself as someone who holds a scientific view of the world, when in fact his views are clearly unscientific in many cases, such as his teleological views of evolution and the cosmos. He insists that he does not compartmentalize, or separate his scientific work from the rest of his beliefs, but all the evidence tells me that is exactly what he does. His arguments sound like standard theistic material, driven by ideological considerations much more than by science. So once again, we may ask, How can a scientist believe in God? In the case of Moritz, at least, it is only by setting science aside when it comes to justifying those beliefs.