Thinking Christian

Thinking Christianity for church, home, and community

Origins and Science

Why Don’t Scientists Call People Out for Unscientific Scientism?

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

It came up again yesterday in a Facebook discussion: “The historic progress of science assures us that eventually it’s going to be able to answer all the hard questions it hasn’t answered yet.” Those questions take myriad forms. Yesterday it was about how the human brain could explain our mental lives. “Science is progressing, science will solve it.”

This is a version of a view called scientism: that every important question is the kind of question that can be explained by science, and eventually will …

Tagged As:


Jerry Coyne, Neuroscience, and Research Methods 101

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Dr. Jerry Coyne, atheistic biologist and blogger, thinks it’s surprising some people still believe in dualistic free will. To add to V.J. Torley’s excellent extended response to his post on Uncommon Descent, I want to focus on this question of Coyne’s.

“In fact, when you think about more abstract things, like God or faith, parts of the brain light up in brain scans. Why should they if such notions are immaterial?”

My answer: why shouldn’t they? What does he think we were expecting? …


Bill Nye, Deniable Guy: Promoting Science and Rationality, He Blunders On Both

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Science Guy Bill Nye says he stands for excellence in thinking skills and scientific reasoning. Recently, however, he violated both of those values in the very act of promoting them.

HuffPost reports him as saying,

The biggest danger creationism plays… is that it is raising a generation of children who “can’t think” and who “will not be able to participate in the future in same way” as those who are taught evolution.

Later the article adds,

Speaking on MidPoint, Nye said he blames …


David Barash, Evolution, and God: Pretending Authority Far Beyond His Qualifications

Monday, September 29th, 2014

David Barash has a capital-T Talk he gives college students every year. He tells about it in a NY Times op-ed, God, Darwin and My College Biology Class:

Every year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion, and how they get along. More to the point, how they don’t.

Barash is a biologist, a professor at the University of Washington. I’ve looked at his …


Science and Reason Yes, Science-and-Reason No

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Science and reason belong together, right?

Yes. Obviously so, in fact. Science and reason are both means for determining truth. Science depends on reason: every valid scientific conclusion is also a valid logical conclusion, the endpoint of a rationally conceived and rationally conducted process, and usually also a midpoint in a much larger rational process. So yes, obviously they go together.

There’s a problem with that relationship, though. In some circles, reason is spoken of almost as if it depends on science. More specifically …

Tagged As:


Here We Go ‘Round the No-Free-Will Bush ♫

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014


SteveK [told us[( about this report, Free will could be the result of ‘background noise’ in the brain, study suggests.

I’ve seen enough bad science journalism to know that the real experiment may look very little like the one reported there. (In fact, I have real trouble believing the research is as weak as that.) Taking the report at face value, though, with that disclaimer, this appears to be what’s happening:

A cue appears on screen at random intervals. When the cue …


Seek God Sensibly: On His Own Terms

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Is there a God? How would we know?

Among atheists today there is a sizable subset who think that if God is real, he ought to be detectable through science. I can see the appeal in thinking that, since science tells us so much about the world. Even better, it has ways to adjudicate factual disputes, especially when it’s possible to employ very careful measurement and control of variables.

Ironically, those are exactly the factors that make science a poor way to detect the reality …


Creation, design, and evolution: if a theory could be derived straight from metaphysics, would it still be scientific?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Imagine the following scenario:

SMITH: I know that evolution produced the biological world by naturalistic processes.

JONES: Interesting. Do you believe in God?

SMITH: No, I’m sure there’s no God.

JONES: How do you know that naturalistic evolution explains life as we see it?

SMITH: Because the evidence clearly demonstrates it.

JONES: Suppose there were no evidence for it. How would you handle that?

SMITH: What do you mean? There is evidence. Tons of it!

JONES: Of course there is. We both agree on …

Tagged As:


The God of the Gaps and the Baker of the Bagel Hole

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Here are a few quick responses to the “God of the Gaps” objection to Christian theism. The objection involves a few serious misconceptions, including:

Thinking that the gaps are where God mostly works in nature (or thinking that’s what Christians think about God). That’s like saying your local baker’s chief product is bagel holes.

Declaring “God of the gaps” to be a silly God argument, while future-science-of-the-gaps is just fine; for example, “We don’t know how rationality functions in the brain, but we’re confident science …

Tagged As: ,


Real Time Analytics