I have a Christian work friend with whom I avoid speaking about religion because I fear the conversation will not go well and since we work closely together, souring our work relationship by discussing religion just doesn’t seem worth it. He’s quite bright and he’s very good at what he does. I respect the work he does and he only very infrequently mentions his Christian delusion which makes it tolerable. I keep my rampant anti-theism in check and don’t comment on the religious inanities and so work carries on in a nice and productive manner.
Every now and then he does come up with quite a gem, this one in particular on Twitter recently:
Why does everyone think that if you are christian you are anti science? I LOVE science – science has bought us HEAPS of cool stuff …
Well. Where to start. I think I’ll stick to just science and Christian religion for now and leave the sheer number of issues with Christianity on its own aside.
If you’re definitely a Christian and you think you are not anti-science, then one of the following must be true:
- You do not understand Christianity
- You do not understand science
- You cherry pick from both Christianity and from science
The word for what Christians do, who feel they are not anti-science, is “doublethink”.
Doublethink, a word coined by George Orwell in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts
Why doublethink? Because to hold Christianity as unquestionably true and to hold fundamental scientific theories as true at the same time, you have to employ doublethink.
Let me give you an example of the first two points together, not understanding Christianity and/or not understanding science.
Take Evolution (the theory of evolution by natural selection) for example. Evolution is a scientific fact. There is no debate within the scientific community regarding it’s truth. In fact, the only ‘debate’ around Evolution exists in the minds of Intelligent Design proponents. If you accept the truth of the fact of Evolution, you have to employ doublethink to also be Christian because since Evolution is true, there was no Adam and Eve. There was no Garden of Eden. There was no ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’. There was no ‘original sin’. If there was no original sin there is no reason to for one Jesus Christ to have died for that non-existent ‘original sin’. All of that makes the following statement empty and worthless and even more pointless than it already is:
When Jesus died, He died for a reason. His death was not an accident. He came to this earth in order to forgive our sins. He had to die in order to do this. He came because Adam and Eve had disobeyed God.”
Since Evolution is true, there was no ‘original sin’ and no reason for Jesus to have been here or have been crucified. And it’s not only scientists that accept this fact. Christian fundamentalist and young earth creationist Ken Ham thinks too, that if Evolution were true it disproves Christianity; I wrote a post about the demolition of Christianity by Ken Ham a while ago (but obviously he doesn’t believe Evolution to be true…).
As another example, science has not managed to detect any supernatural influence in the world. One might (OK, not really might, Christians do think, for various… colourful reasons) think that god is undetectable but I showed in this post that clearly science is perfectly equipped for finding god or at least finding the influence of god in the real world. Science is “the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” and any effect perceivable by human beings occur in the “physical and natural” world.
Science has not found any effects on the world that are supernatural and require a god to explain them.
As to understanding Christianity (Baptist in this case): it doesn’t take much looking into published Baptist beliefs to see the incompatibilities of the beliefs with science. Here’s just two examples:
Soul freedom: the soul is competent before God, and capable of making decisions in matters of faith without coercion or compulsion by any larger religious or civil body
There is no soul. Now, one might (and again, the religious do) argue that science just can’t detect the soul. Fair enough, that may be, but as in my post about finding God, for your soul to be you or you to be your soul, there has to be a physical interface between your undetectable soul and your physical body and brain. Without this physical interface your soul can’t influence your body and your soul can’t know anything about you. Science has found no reason to even suspect there might be a soul and just like in detecting a god’s effects, detecting things that influence the ‘physical and natural’ world, like your brain, is exactly what science is good for.
You cannot have ‘soul freedom’ without a soul.
The second example:
Historically, Baptists have emphasized the sole authority of the Scriptures, or sola scriptura, and therefore believe that the Bible is the only authoritative source of God’s truth. Chapter one of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith states:
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience…
It’s easy enough say that the Bible is “the only authoritative source of God’s truth” and that it is “infallible” but it cannot be true since the Bible contradicts it’s self (not to mention reality) in literally hundreds of places. Would you go to a brain surgeon who learnt his craft from a book that contradict its self hundreds of times? Do you really, honestly believe that a book contrived by the almighty creator of the universe could possibly be put together this badly? It’s incompatible with science (and reality) because science wouldn’t accept a theory that contradicts its self repeatedly. When science comes across some evidence that proves a theory wrong, science discards the incorrect theory and accepts the new one, it doesn’t hold both to be infallibly true.
You might not believe me about the contradictions in the Bible and you might refuse to look at the link that contains a nice graphical representation of those Biblical contradictions so, let’s do an experiment. The single most important event in all of Christianity was obviously the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen more cross like implements of torture and death around people’s necks than I think is good for a person so this must be the case. Since the whole point of Christianity is ‘Jesus died for our sins’, his death then surely, is the most important thing about Christianity.
Without looking at references, what were Jesus’s last words? If I were a Christian, I would most certainly make myself remember these most important words ever spoken. I mean, they were literally uttered the moment all of my and everybody I know’s sins were forgiven and were given free passage to everlasting joy and happiness. It’s freaking important that Christians know this, right?
Let me help you out. The last words as spoken by Jesus Christ is recorded at least three times in the infallible, unchanging word of the almighty creator of the universe:
MATTHEW 27:46,50: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”
LUKE 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”
JOHN 19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
And those are just the contradictions of his last words. Another example from a different part of the Bible, and this one is pretty hard to mistake (emphasis mine, obviously):
II SAMUEL 24:13: So God came to David, and told him, and said unto him, shall SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE come unto thee in thy land? or will thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue. thee?
I CHRONICLES 21:11: SO God came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee. Either THREE YEARS OF FAMINE or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;
Science says no…
The Baptist denomination is much more progressive than some other Christian denominations, I’ll grant that, but is there a scientific basis with empirical evidence for the next line (again, emphasis mine):
While many Baptist congregations are open to woman in all positions, ” many Southern Baptist churches have women as deacons (or deaconnesses) and associate pastoral roles, but will not consider calling a woman to their senior pastorate; others restrict all those roles to men“
There are two problems with that statement. The first one is that there is no scientific basis for women to be regarded as inferior to men and so no reason what so ever to stop women from performing any task a man performs. Now, I realise that some progressive Baptists allow a woman to hold any position a man holds (but obviously some don’t) unfortunately, this goes against what the Bible teaches:
I CORINTHIANS 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
See the doublethink there? The Bible in more than one place says women are to be subservient to men, and Christians profess to believe the Bible; however, since we know women and men really are equal, some Churches allow women to do what the Bible expressly forbids. How does this happen? By either applying some serious sophistry and backwards rationalisation or just simply ignoring the inconvenient passages. Doublethink.
This post could go on forever but I’ll give two more examples:
Science now estimates there to be around 8.74 million species of animal on the planet. Now, it’s blatantly obvious that no man ever built a boat big enough to contain 17.48 million animals and their food for a couple of years, yet this is what the Bible says. Now, fundamentalist Christians have rationalised this problem by saying that Noah only took a couple of every ‘kind’ (so two ants instead of two ants from every single species) and those two animals then ‘evolved’ into the sheer number that are present today.
Some issues with that would include:
- the fact that 4500 years isn’t enough time for one ant to evolve into a million species of ant
- 4500 years isn’t enough time for animals to re-populate the entire planet from the middle east
- that there isn’t enough genetic diversity in just two animals to re-populate the planet
- an ant from South America would need quite a bit of help to get to and from the middle east
- there isn’t enough genetic diversity in 6 people to re-populate the planet
- genetics show that we aren’t descended from just 6 people
- genetics show we weren’t descended from just 2 people
- we have archaeological evidence from the ancient Sumerians, Neanderthals and Africans that pre-date the flood; how could it have survived?
- there isn’t enough water on the planet to flood the whole planet
- … where is mount Sinai, exactly?
- who took all of the bacteria, viruses and other parasites in their bodies on the ark and why didn’t those hosts die or host’s immune systems kill the foreign organisms?
Crucially, there is no credible scientific evidence for a world-wide flood.
And while we’re on the subject of issues and evidence, accepting ‘micro evolution’ because you need it to explain a ridiculous story but refusing to accept ‘macro evolution’ (it’s in quotes because in reality there aren’t two types of evolution, just limits to what some people are willing to accept) is disingenuous. These two ‘types’ of evolution use the same mechanism and the same time frames and a) evolution doesn’t just magically stop just before speciation and b) it doesn’t happen to the extent that the flood story requires in only 4500 years.
So, back to the question: “why does everyone think that if you are christian you are anti science?”.
If a person says they are a Christian, I will believe that they believe they are but if they believe they are both Christian and not anti-science I must question their understanding of what they profess to believe; they have to either not understand science, not understand Christianity or cherry pick and doublethink from both science and religion. None of those options are acceptable since none is the truth.
If you are religious and believe that the scientific method works, and clearly it does since you’re reading this on a global computer network, then why do you not apply it to your religion like you apply it to the religion of others?
The first picture in this post about “doublethink” is from PainfullyIrreverent.com who sell a bunch of awesomely irreverent things. Check them out here: http://www.cafepress.com/painfullyirreverent and buy all the things.