When Doug wrote this on the Discover Magazine blog, the magazine thought it was good enough to warrant printing it in their December issue:
“Because God said so” could be the answer for everything. While [sic] go to school anyway? Just teach our kids that phrase. No need to go to medical school, no need to study economics. Everything is because “God wants it that way,” so don’t bother thinking, questioning, challenging.
The problem with “because God said so” seems to be this: that if one can resort to it as an answer, then one no longer needs to think about interesting or difficult issues. One already has the answer. The better way instead is to continue thinking, questioning, challenging.
As one who believes in God as the ultimate explanation behind all other explanations, I find this ironic. Here’s why. First, it is highly, shall I say entirely, theoretical. It pays very little (shall I say none at all) attention to empirical reality. It’s the answer that “could be” the answer for everything. Is there any evidence that anybody in the history of the earth has actually taken it to be the answer for everything? Is there any evidence that this theory is borne out in reality; that people who believe God is the explanation behind all other explanations are any less curious about the way the physical world works?
The list of theists in science is enormously long. These are men and women who did not stop “thinking, questioning, challenging” on account of having “God said so” as part of their mental furniture. The list includes Bacon, Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Boyle, Kelvin, van Leeuwenhoek, Faraday, Maxwell, Cuvier, Gregor Mendel, Gingerich, Collins, and many more.
On this, Doug (and by extension, the magazine that highlighted his comment) is long on theory and short on empirical evidence. It seems as if a theoretical pronouncement is enough to cut short any real investigation into the matter. Let’s phrase it this way. Is it wise or unwise for science to recognize even the possibility of a God? Doug would say no. Here’s why. It’s Because ‘”Because God said so’ could be the answer for everything.”
There are too many becauses there, though, so it’s a bit confusing. Let’s code it this way. We’ll replace
“‘Because God said so’ could be the answer for everything”
Doug’s statement in this abbreviated form, not intending to change it at all, is
“B.” While go to school anyway? …
So the reason Doug would not want science to admit the possibility of a God in natural events is “Because ‘B.'”
Doug (and Discover) don’t know whether “B” is true in empirical fact; they seem to ignore the plain reality that it is in fact false. But on their view, it appears there’s no need to study this through available means like social research. There’s no need to explore whether God has any place in science; there’s no need to wonder whether God has any place in any individual scientist’s approach to reality. There’s a ready-made answer right at hand. There’s no need to bother thinking, challenging, questioning, because they can always just say “Because ‘B.'”
It’s a wimpy argument, self-referentially weak. Why?
Because (with respect to theism in science) “‘Because God said so’ could be the answer for everything” could be the answer for everything. Why go to school anyway? Just teach our kids that phrase. They’ll never have another reason to think about God, or about any evidence relative to God in nature, or about whether a scientist’s attitude toward God affects his or her professional work. Everything is because “‘Because God said so’ is the reason for everything,” so don’t bother thinking, questioning, challenging.
I know, the phrasing is a bit convoluted, but I hope you get the point. Doug has a nice catchphrase that he thinks shows the other side has an out from thinking things through; but his catchphrase seems itself to have been an out that kept him (and the magazine) from thinking his own theory through.
The final irony: there’s no evidence that “Because God said so” ever hindered anyone’s scientific curiosity. We do have evidence, though, that “Because ‘B'” actually causes people to believe they don’t need to think these things through. It’s right there in front of you.
P.S. Just for the sake of entertainment, please be sure to read the rest of Doug’s comment. I wonder how much thinking, questioning, or challenging he has subjected his own theories to. I wonder if he knows the hydraulic problems relating to the giraffe’s neck he has bypassed, for example; and how much he has questioned his own understanding of “creationism,” and how it relates to contemporary challenges to evolutionary theory.