Islam 101 : Jihad Watch

Islam 101 by Gregory M. Davis

by Gregory M. Davis

author, Religion of Peace? Islam’s War Against the World

producer/director, Islam: What the West Needs to Know — An Examination of Islam, Violence, and the Fate of the Non-Muslim World

Islam 101 is meant to help people become better educated about the fundamentals of Islam and to help the more knowledgeable better convey the facts to others. Similarly, my book and documentary are meant to serve as concise explanations of the major moving parts of Islam and their implications for Western society. Islam 101 is a condensation of the book and documentary with the aim of lending clarity to the public understanding of Islam and of exposing the inadequacy of prevailing views. All should feel free to distribute and/or reproduce it.

via Islam 101 : Jihad Watch.

Judge Speaks on Murphy Case – Shame on NY Times

Thank you Anchoress: Murphy Case – NY Times Never Talked to Judge

Thank You Fr. THOMAS BRUNDAGE, JL

Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy

Then-presiding judge for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gives first-person account of church trial

By Fr. THOMAS BRUNDAGE, JLC

For CatholicAnchor.org

To provide context to this article, I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. During those years, I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy. Two of the four men died during the process. God alone will judge these men.

To put some parameters on the following remarks, I am writing this article with the express knowledge and consent of Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, the Archbishop of Anchorage, where I currently serve. Archbishop Schwietz is also the publisher of the Catholic Anchor newspaper.

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero. Continue reading

Notre Dame- "Intellectual Vanity"- Archbishop Chaput

Archbishop Chaput on Notre Dame – “Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church.”


“I have found that even among those who did not go to Notre Dame, even among those who do not share the Catholic faith, there is a special expectation, a special hope, for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.”
~ Reverend John Jenkins, C.S.C., May 17, 2009

Most graduation speeches are a mix of piety and optimism designed to ease students smoothly into real life. The best have humor. Some genuinely inspire. But only a rare few manage to be pious, optimistic, evasive, sad and damaging all at the same time. Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, is a man of substantial intellect and ability. This makes his introductory comments to President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech on May 17 all the more embarrassing.

Let’s remember that the debate over President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was never about whether he is a good or bad man. The president is clearly a sincere and able man. By his own words, religion has had a major influence in his life. We owe him the respect Scripture calls us to show all public officials. We have a duty to pray for his wisdom and for the success of his service to the common good — insofar as it is guided by right moral reasoning.

We also have the duty to oppose him when he’s wrong on foundational issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research and similar matters. And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness. Notre Dame did not merely invite the president to speak at its commencement. It also conferred an unnecessary and unearned honorary law degree on a man committed to upholding one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Roe v. Wade.

In doing so, Notre Dame ignored the U.S. bishops’ guidance in their 2004 statement, Catholics in Political Life. It ignored the concerns of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree – who, unlike the president, certainly did deserve her award, but finally declined it in frustration with the university’s action. It ignored appeals from the university’s local bishop, the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, more than 70 other bishops, many thousands of Notre Dame alumni and hundreds of thousands of other American Catholics. Even here in Colorado, I’ve heard from too many to count.

There was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it.

These are hard words, but they’re deserved precisely because of Father Jenkins’ own remarks on May 17: Until now, American Catholics have indeed had “a special expectation, a special hope for what Notre Dame can accomplish in the world.” For many faithful Catholics – and not just a “small but vocal group” described with such inexcusable disdain and ignorance in journals like Time magazine — that changed Sunday.

The May 17 events do have some fitting irony, though. Almost exactly 25 years ago, Notre Dame provided the forum for Gov. Mario Cuomo to outline the “Catholic” case for “pro-choice” public service. At the time, Cuomo’s speech was hailed in the media as a masterpiece of American Catholic legal and moral reasoning. In retrospect, it’s clearly adroit. It’s also, just as clearly, an illogical and intellectually shabby exercise in the manufacture of excuses. Father Jenkins’ explanations, and President Obama’s honorary degree, are a fitting national bookend to a quarter century of softening Catholic witness in Catholic higher education. Together, they’ve given the next generation of Catholic leadership all the excuses they need to baptize their personal conveniences and ignore what it really demands to be “Catholic” in the public square.

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has suggested that Notre Dame “didn’t understand” what it means to be Catholic before these events began. He’s correct, and Notre Dame is hardly alone in its institutional confusion. That’s the heart of the matter. Notre Dame’s leadership has done a real disservice to the Church, and now seeks to ride out the criticism by treating it as an expression of fringe anger. But the damage remains, and Notre Dame’s critics are right. The most vital thing faithful Catholics can do now is to insist – by their words, actions and financial support – that institutions claiming to be “Catholic” actually live the faith with courage and consistency. If that happens, Notre Dame’s failure may yet do some unintended good.

Read Catholic Online for Deacon Keith Fournier’s  take on Archbishop Chaput: ‘Notre Dame, the Issues that Remain’

Musing on Spengler Unmasked and Interesting

Spengler unmasks and allows a peek at the inner workings that he wrapped in the pseudonym.  It’s all very interesting and I’m just beginning to digest it.  At first read, I respond to the klunk on my musing surface to a piece of Spengler’s journey to open identity.

Spengler writes of his time in a cult, “The question, of course, is what were a group of young Jews doing in the company of a cult leader with a paranoid view of the world and a thinly disguised anti-Semitic streak.” In part, he answers, “There existed a science of mind, LaRouche claimed, that would enable the adept to reach the right conclusion.” and more, Larouche claimed to trace a tradition of secret knowledge across the ages, from Plato and Plotinus, through the Renaissance, and down to the German scientists and philosophers of the nineteenth century. Of course, that raises a question: If there exists this kind of knowledge, then why isn’t it universally shared? The reverse side of the gnostic page is paranoia: There must be a cabal of evil people who prevent the dissemination of the truth.”

It reads like gripping fiction, reminding me, with my fully accepted Judeo-Christian underpinnings of Gen 3: 4-5, “You certainly will not die!  No  God knows well that the  moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”

I would tend to run afraid for my soul.  The scenario would rouse a voice that speaks to me, that I know would say, “At first blush, you will blush and then you will no longer blush, as headlong you pursue a dream or call it temptation.  With heady glee, forbidden pleasure will be recast for the ‘good’ it promises. Soon you will become like gods in your private reveries or privy little worlds; not only knowing what is good and what is bad, but you will have known good and bad in that intimate way of knowing that spoils the good like food gone bad.  Throwing your whole self into pursuit of what might be tasty and alluring, knowledge itself will be your cavorting and you ravenous.  You will run after experience so as to judge by your own proclivities what delights, what titillates and what requires more of your self than you can give or share.  What a god, indeed!

Have I gone too far? I tend to jump to conclusions and without input, I get stuck there.  I’m still listening and will dive in again. “Confessions of a Coward” by Davis P. Goldman is a must read.

It touches me because for three years I trained at Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing and it was formation ground for me.  My friends during those years were all Jewish.  Their Jewishness was different from my Catholicism.  An encounter with Thomas Merton’s “the Seven Storey Mountain,” began me on the life long practice of daily Mass and prayer.  That set me in a direction in which I continue still today.

The Jewishness of my friends was expressed with more subtlety. There identity as Jews was perceptible, solid and unwavering.  It raised a sense of admiration in me. I, however, can’t recall a single religious conversation.

Even today, in my prayers for them, I don’t know how to pray.  Their faith is precious to me.  I want to see it lived to the full.  I guess I know they are a peculiar people whom God, not only cherishes, but for whom He plans providentially a future full of hope and abundant blessing. There seems to be in me a sense that God planted this seed, continues to water it and will bring it to marvelous fruition in His time. I pray for them wordlessly.

As for Spengler, my favorite part is:

Around 1985, the ugly awareness that I had spent almost a decade in a gnostic cult coincided with a dark time in my personal life. Deeply depressed, I sat at the piano one night, playing through the score of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and came to the chorale that reads: “Commend your ways and what ails your heart to the faithful care of Him who directs the heavens, who gives course and aim to the clouds, air and wind. He will also find a path that your foot can tread.” For the first time in my life, I prayed, and in that moment, I knew that my prayer was heard. That was a first step of teshuva—of return.

The truth is that I did not think my way into praying. I prayed my way into thinking.


THE WORLD BEYOND OUR SENSES – D'Souza

Continuing a must read, “What’s So Great About Christianity” by Dinesh D’Souza

CHRISTIANITY AND PHILOSOPHY
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Page 66

THE WORLD BEYOND OUR SENSES: KANT AND THE LIMITS OF REASON

“We shall be rendering a service to reason should we succeed in discovering the path upon which it can securely travel.”—Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

SO FAR WE HAVE BEEN CONSIDERING science and the scientific understanding. Now I want to broaden the inquiry to examine the proudest boast of the modern champion of secularism: that he is an apostle of reason itself. What distinguishes the “freethinker,” Susan Jacoby writes in her book of that title, is a “rationalist approach to fundamental questions of earthly existence.” Taking reason as his star and compass, the atheist fancies himself superior to the rest of the people who rely on faith, superstition, and other forms of irrationality Sam Harris writes, “Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.” But there is one subject on which the atheist requires no evidence: the issue of whether human reason is the best— indeed the only—way to comprehend reality. Writing in Free Inquiry, Vern Bullough declares that “humanists at least have reality on their side.” Paul Bloom asserts in the Atlantic Monthly, “Yes, our intuitions and hypotheses are imperfect and unreliable, but the beauty of science is that these ideas are tested against reality.” Steven Weinberg writes that as a scientist he has a “respect for reality as something outside ourselves, that we explore but do not create.” In pursuing knowledge, he writes, “the pull of reality is what makes us go the way we go.” E. O. Wilson writes that “outside our heads there is a freestanding reality” whereas “inside our heads is a reconstitution of reality based on sensory input and the self-assembly of concepts:’ By linking the two, Wilson hopes to achieve what he calls “the Enlightenment dream” of “objective truth based on scientific understanding.” Weinberg, Wilson, and other atheists may not recognize it, but there is a huge assumption being made here. These men simply presume that their rational, scientific approach gives them full access to external reality. It is this presumption that gives atheism its characteristic arrogance. Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins call themselves “brights” because they think they and their atheist friends are simply smarter than the community of religious believers. In this chapter I intend to show that this arrogance is misplaced. The atheist or “bright” approach to reality must be measured against a rival approach. Through the centuries the great religions of the world have held that there are two levels of reality. There is the human perspective on reality, which is the experiential perspective— reality as it is experienced by us. Then there is the transcendent view of reality, what may be called the God’s-eye view of reality, which is reality itself. Being the kind of creatures that humans are, we see things in a limited and distorted way, “through a glass darkly,” as Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians 13:12. Indeed we can never, as long as we are alive, acquire the God’s-eye view and see things as they really are. Rather, we live in a fleeting and superficial world of appearances, where the best we can do is discern how things seem to be. We can, however, hope that there is a life after death in which we will see everything—including God—as it really is. Which of these two views—the atheist view or the religious view— is correct? Engaging the argument on the ground chosen by the atheists, the ground of empiricism and reason alone, I intend to show that the religious view is the right one. There is more than one way to do this, but I have chosen the way illuminated by philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant seems an appropriate choice because he is considered the greatest of modern philosophers. Kant was a leading figure of the Enlightenment, a man of science and philosophy, and he showed what may be termed the Enlightenment fallacy. This is precisely the fallacy that has duped many modern atheists and “brights.”

In his book The World as Will and Idea, philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer writes, “Kant’s teaching produces a fundamental change in every mind that has grasped it. The change is so great that it may be regarded as an intellectual rebirth…. In consequence of this, the mind undergoes a fundamental undeceiving, and thereafter looks at things in another light.” The greatness of Kant is that he takes our most fundamental assumptions and turns them into questions. We think we are on the ground floor of awareness, but Kant shows us a whole different level beneath it that we can examine. Before Kant, most people simply assumed that our reason and our senses give us access to external reality—the world out there—and that there is only one limit to what human beings can know That limit is reality itself. In this view, still widely held by many in our society, human beings can use the tools of reason and science to continually find out more and more until eventually there is nothing else to discover. The Enlightenment fallacy holds that human reason and science can, in principle, gain access to and eventually comprehend the whole of reality. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant shows that these assumptions are false. In fact, he argues, there is a much greater limit to what human beings can know. In other words, human reason raises questions that—such is the nature of our reason—it is incapable of answering. And it is of the highest importance that we turn reason on itself and discover what those limits are. It is foolishly dogmatic to go around asserting claims based on reason without investing what kinds of claims reason is capable of adjudicating. Reason, in order to be reasonable, must investigate its own parameters. Kant begins with a simple premise: all human knowledge is based on experience. We gain access to reality through our five senses. This sensory input is then processed through our brains and central nervous systems. Think about it: every thought, even the wildest products of our imagination, are exclusively based on things that we have seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. If we imagine and draw creatures from outer space, we can give them four eyes and ten legs, but ultimately we have no way to conceive or portray them except in terms of our human experience. It is an empirical fact that our five senses are our only lenses for perceiving reality. Now Kant asks a startling question: how do we know that our human perception of reality corresponds to reality itself? Most philosophers before Kant had simply taken for granted that it does, and this belief persists today. So powerful is this “common sense” that many people become impatient, even indignant, when Kant’s question is put to them. They act as if the question is a kind of skeptical ploy, like asking people to prove that they really exist. But Kant was no skeptic: he saw himself as providing a refutation of skepticism. He knew, however, that to answer skepticism one has to take the skeptical argument seriously. The way to overcome skepticism is by doing justice to the truth embodied in it. Kant’s goal was to erect a dependable edifice for knowledge on the foundation of extreme skepticism. Kant’s question about the reliability of human perception has been the central preoccupation of Western philosophy since Descartes. How do we know what we claim to know? Locke had famously pointed out that material objects seem to have two kinds of properties, what he called primary properties and secondary properties. Primary properties are in the thing itself, whereas secondary properties are in us. So when we perceive an apple, for example, its mass and shape are part of the apple itself. But Locke ingeniously pointed out that the redness of the apple, its aroma, and its taste are not in the apple. They are in the person who sees and smells and bites into the apple. What this means is that our knowledge of external reality comes to us from two sources: the external object and our internal apparatus of perception. Reality does not come directly to us but is “filtered” through a lens that we ourselves provide. Philosopher George Berkeley radicalized this mode of inquiry: “When we do our utmost to conceive the existence of external bodies, we are all the while only contemplating our own ideas.” Berkeley’s argument was that we have no experience of material objects that exist outside the perceptual apparatus of our mind and senses. Both the primary and the secondary qualities of objects are perceived in this way. We don’t experience the ocean, we experience only our image and sound and feel of the ocean. Berkeley famously concluded that we have no warrant for believing in a material reality existing independent of our minds! The great Samuel Johnson famously “refuted” Berkeley by kicking a rock. There! The rock exists! Alas, this is no refutation. Berkeley’s reply to Johnson would be that his entire experience, from perceiving the rock to the sharp pain he felt upon kicking it, occurred entirely within his mind. And Hume completed Berkeley’s skeptical argument by applying it to human beings themselves. We have no experience of ourselves other than our sensations and feelings and thoughts. While we know that sensations and feelings and thoughts exist, we have no basis for postulating some “I” behind them that is supposed to be having those reactions. It was Hume, Kant wrote, who awakened him from his “dogmatic slumber.” Kant conceded Berkeley’s and Hume’s point that it is simply irrational to presume that our experience of reality corresponds to reality itself. There are things in themselves—what Kant called the noumenon —and of them we can know nothing. What we can know is our experience of those things, what Kant called the phenomenon. If you have a dog at home, you know what it is like to see, hear, smell, and pet it. This is your phenomenal experience of the dog. But what is it like to be a dog? We human beings will never know. The dog as a thing in itself is hermetically concealed from us. Thus from Kant we have the astounding realization that human knowledge is limited not merely by how much reality there is out there, but also by the limited sensory apparatus of perception we bring to that reality.

Consider a tape recorder. A tape recorder, being the kind of instrument it is, can capture only one mode or aspect of reality: sound. Tape recorders, in this sense, can “hear” but they cannot see or touch or smell. Thus all aspects of reality that cannot be captured in sound are beyond the reach of a tape recorder. The same, Kant says, is true of human beings. We can apprehend reality only through our five senses. If a tape recorder apprehends reality in a single mode, human beings can perceive reality in five different modes: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. There is no other way for us to experience reality. We cannot, for example, perceive reality through sonar in the way that a bat does. Our senses place absolute limits on what reality is available to us. Moreover, the reality we apprehend is not reality in itself. It is merely our experience or “take” on reality. Kant’s point has been widely misunderstood. Many people think that Kant is making the pedestrian claim that our senses give us an imperfect facsimile or a rough approximation of reality. Philosophical novelist Ayn Rand once attacked Kant for saying that man has eyes but cannot see, and ears but cannot hear—in short, that man’s senses are fundamentally deluded. But Kant’s point is not that our senses are unreliable. True, our senses can fool us, as when we see a straight twig as bent because it is partly submerged in water. Human beings have found ways to correct these sensory distortions. Kant is quite aware of this, and it is not what he is after. Kant’s argument is that we have no basis to assume that our perception of reality ever resembles reality itself. Our experience of things can never penetrate to things as they really are. That reality remains permanently hidden to us. To see the force of Kant’s point, ask yourself this question: how can you know that your experience of reality is in any way “like” reality itself? Normally we answer this question by considering the two things separately. I can tell if my daughter’s portrait of her teacher looks like her teacher by placing the portrait alongside the person and comparing the two. I establish verisimilitude by the degree to which the copy conforms to the original. Kant points out, however, that we can never compare our experience of reality to reality itself. All we have is the experience, and that’s all we can ever have. We only have the copies, but we never have the originals. Moreover, the copies come to us through the medium of our senses, while the originals exist independently of our means of perceiving them. So we have no basis for inferring that the two are even comparable, and when we presume that our experience corresponds to reality, we are making an unjustified leap. We have absolutely no way to know this. It is essential, at this point, to recognize that Kant is not diminishing the importance of experience or of the phenomenal world. That world is very important, if only because it is all we have access to. It constitutes the entirety of our human experience and is, consequently, of vital significance for us. It is entirely rational for us to believe in this phenomenal world, and to use science and reason to discover its operating principles. A recognized scientist and mathematician, Kant did not degrade the value of science. But he believed science should be understood as applying to the world of phenomena rather than to the noumenal or “other” world. Many critics have also understood Kant to be denying the existence of external reality. This is emphatically not the case. Kant is not a skeptic in that sense. Other philosophers, such as Johann Fichte, went down that road, but Kant did not. For Kant, the noumenon obviously exists because it gives rise to the phenomena we experience. In other words, our experience is an experience of something. Moreover, Kant contends that there are certain facts about the world—such as morality and free will—that cannot be understood without postulating a noumenal realm. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to see Kant as positing two kinds of reality: the reality that we experience and reality itself. The important thing is not to establish which is more real, but to recognize that human reason operates only in the phenomenal domain of experience. We can know that the noumenal realm exists, but beyond that we can know nothing about it. Human reason can never grasp reality itself. So powerful is Kant’s argument here that his critics have been able to answer him only with what may be termed the derision of common sense. When I challenged Daniel Dennett in a Wall Street Journal article to debunk Kant’s argument, he posted an angry response on his Web site in which he said that several people had adequately refuted Kant. But he didn’t provide any refutations, and he didn’t name any names.” Basically, Dennett was relying on the argumentum ad ignorantium, the argument that relies on the ignorance of the audience. He was hoping that his admirers would take it on faith that such refutations exist somewhere in the literature. In fact, there are no such refutations. Kant’s ideas are so counterintuitive that they produce an almost visceral resistance. The notion that reality might be completely different from how it presents itself to us seems absurd, unreal, and impossible to take seriously. We resist Kant emotionally, no matter how compelling his argument. Normally reasonable people like Dennett respond to Kant with evident impatience. They are unable to answer his argument, but they pretend that it is not necessary to answer it. This attitude may be termed the “fundamentalism” of reason. It is reason so sure of itself that it refuses to consider reasonable criticism. Reason has become irrational and now relies entirely on simple intuition or “common sense.” Common sense, however, is not always a reliable guide to the truth. Common sense tells us that the earth is stationary and that the sun goes around it. Common sense tells us that an object is naturally at rest and that a moving object must automatically come to a stop. Common sense tells us that space and time are absolute. All these simple intuitions are false. In fact, the great discoveries of modern science—from Copernicus to Galileo to Newton to Einstein to Bohr to Heisenberg—are all massive violations of common sense. That is why in several cases the geniuses who first put forward those ideas were dismissed as crackpots. We now know that these crackpots were right. So it is a fact, not a matter of opinion, that reality is sometimes very strange and that common sense does not give us an unfailingly accurate picture of the world. To proclaim that it always does is to expose oneself as an ignoramus. Common sense, philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, is the “metaphysics of savages.” Kant recognized that he was producing a revolution in human understanding. Just as Copernicus had turned the world “upside down” and forever altered the way we perceive the earth in relation to the sun, so Kant considered his own philosophy as producing a kind of Copernican revolution in thought. Of course people will still continue to perceive the world pretty much in realist terms—just as we go about our daily lives without worrying about the fact that we live on a planet hurtling through space at many thousands of miles per hour— but even so, this realism has been exposed as an illusion. The illusion of realism is that it mistakes our experience of reality for reality itself. Realists like Dennett think of themselves as tough- minded empiricists, but they are not empirical enough to realize that all that is available to them are experiences and nothing beyond them. It is Kant, the transcendental idealist, who starts with experience and then proceeds from it by steps that reason can justify. By contrast, the empiricist begins with a presumption that is impossible to validate, and his whole philosophy is constructed on that dubious premise. The empiricist assumes without any evidence or proof that his experiences somehow give him a magical access to reality. So completely does he identify experience and r
eality that he cannot liberate himself from thinking of the two as one and the same. In equating experience and reality he is making a huge and unwarranted leap, but this breakdown of reason is not easy for him or us to recognize because our human minds have a built-in disposition toward illusion: the illusion that reality must be exactly the way we experience it. The irony is that many of the people who proceed in this irrational way think of themselves as following strictly along the pathways of reason. Their outlook can survive scrutiny only as long as they do not examine its foundations. To their credit, there are a few “brights” who take Kant seriously and attempt to answer his arguments. Kant cannot be right in saying that we have no access to reality, they say, because you and I and everyone else experience the same reality. When we are in a room, we see the same lamps and tables and books on the shelf. Obviously those must exist and we must have direct access to them; otherwise we would not all have the same perception of them. But Kant’s answer is that because we are all human beings, we have the same sensory equipment, and it operates in each of us in the same way. Therefore we all have the same experience, but the experience is all we have. Just because we have similar or even identical experiences does not mean that any of us has access to a reality that is beyond that experience. Biologist E. O. Wilson tries a different tack. Science, he says, is giving us new senses that are enabling us to go beyond our previous perceptual limitations. “With the aid of appropriate instruments we can now view the world with butterfly eyes.” With receivers and transformers and night-time photography we can experience the world in pretty much the same way as a bat. “Fish.” Wilson tells us, “communicate with one another by means of coded electrical bursts. Zoologists, using generators and detectors, can join the conversation.” If by this point you have grasped Kant’s reasoning, you will see right away that Wilson has done nothing to undermine it. Yes, we can use night-time photography, but we are still viewing the images with our human eyes. Yes, we can use generators and detectors, but we are still using our five senses in order to read, hear, and interpret what those instruments say. In other words, our human apparatus of perception conditions the entire field of our experiences, and this has always been so and will continue to be so as long as we are human. Future scientific discoveries cannot alter this limitation because those discoveries too will have to be made and experienced through the constrained perceptual apparatus we possess. Kant’s conclusion was that the problem of reason is, in its fullest dimension, insoluble. There are permanent and inescapable limits to human reason, and it is foolish to go on pretending otherwise. While this conclusion that our reason is confined within the borders of our experience, and that reality in itself in permanently screened off from us by our own sensory limitations, may seem to some to be a very outlandish idea, in fact it is at the very center of Western philosophy. In perhaps the most famous metaphor in Western thought, Plato likened human beings to people living in a cave, shut out from the light of the sun, seeing only shadows and mistaking them for reality. Plato regarded our perceptions as mere images of a deeper and higher reality, the so-called Platonic forms, that he located somewhere outside the realm of human experience. And Plato’s teacher, Socrates, regarded himself as the wisest man in Athens because he alone knew how little fie knew. For all his breathtaking originality, Kant is squarely in the mainstream of Western thought. No one who understands the central doctrines of any of the world’s leading religions should have any difficulty understanding Kant, because his philosophical vision is congruent with the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It is a shared doctrine of these religions that the empirical world we humans inhabit is not the only world there is. Ours is a world of appearances only, a transient world that is dependent on a higher, timeless reality. That reality is of a completely different order from anything that we know, it constitutes the only permanent reality there is, and it sustains our world and presents it to our senses. Chris-tianity teaches that while reason can point to the existence of this higher domain, this is where reason stops: it cannot on its own investigate or comprehend that domain. But one day, it is promised, when our earthly journey is over, we will know the higher realm and see things as they really are. Sociologist Peter Berger writes, “The religious impulse, the quest for meaning that transcends the restricted space of empirical existence in this world, has been a perennial feature of humanity.” Now Kant has given this religious conviction a completely modern and rational foundation. It is of the highest importance to recognize that Kant’s ideas, while they confirm 69

core elements of religious thought, are entirely secular. Kant has arrived at them on the basis of reason alone. He does not employ any religious vocabulary, nor does he rely on any kind of faith. But in showing the limits of reason, Kant said, he did “make room for faith.” Kant is our Virgil, taking us as far as reason can go. From here onward we need a different guide, but Kant has helped to clear the way for us to proceed. Kant’s accomplishment was to unmask the intellectual pretension of the Enlightenment: that reason and science are the only routes to reality and truth. This illusion is very much with us today, making Kant’s thought, for all its intellectual demands on us, supremely relevant. So the “brights” can do their strutting, but Kant has shown them as intellectually naked. And so, thanks to Kant, the tables have been turned. The atheist is now revealed as dogmatic and arrogant, and the religious believer emerges as modest and reasonable. While the atheist arrogantly persists in the delusion that his reason is fully capable of figuring out all that there is, the religious believer lives in the humble acknowledgment of the limits of human knowledge, knowing that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and minds can ever apprehend.

Dinesh D'Souza – "What So Great About Christianity"

Here’s a great link for “What So Great About Christianity” by Dinesh D”Souza. I wanted to put it in a nutshell, but I’d be giving you a broken shell while D’Souza gives you the nutty and the meat that’s missed in the secular presentation of God and science.

Dinesh D’Souza argues with the secular forces of this age with convincing refutation of their “argumentum ad ignorantium, the argument that relies on the ignorance of the audience.”

This is Chapter 14 page 61

THE GENESIS PROBLEM: THE METHODOLOGICAL ATHEISM OF SCIENCE

“There is no such thing as philosophy-free science. There is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” —Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

IT IS TIME TO HIGHLIGHT a serious problem with our understanding of modern science. The problem is not with modern science itself, but rather with a faulty view of science: the idea that science is a complete framework for understanding man and the universe, so unscientific claims should be automatically rejected. Although this way of approaching knowledge is put forward as the very epitome of rationality, I want to show that it is profoundly irrational. It would be like trying to understand a murder solely through the laws of physics and chemistry. However indispensable those laws in figuring out which gun was used, and how long the victim was dead when the body was discovered, we have to look elsewhere to discover other crucial elements like why the killer did it. In this chapter we will see why the attempt to explain everything scientifically is inadequate and even unreasonable. Atheists who pursue this approach are ultimately an embarrassment to science. Scientists like to think of themselves as reasonable people. They fancy themselves ready to follow the path of evidence no matter where it takes them. Indeed in no other field do people go around congratulating themselves so much on how rational they are, how strictly their conclusions conform to testing and experience, and how biases and prejudices are routinely removed through the process of empirical verification and peer criticism. Carl Sagan’s boast is typical: At the heart of science is … an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive:’2 Such is the prestige of science in our culture that these claims are widely accepted. Yet the actual behavior of some scientists can be manifestly unreasonable. Leading scientists will sometimes embrace a conclusion even when the evidence for it is weak. These savants become indignant when an unsupported conclusion is questioned, and they even accuse their critics of being enemies of science. On other occasions, scientists show their unwillingness to accept conclusions even when a great deal of evidence points to them. In fact, they denounce the reasonable position and prefer to align themselves with unreasonable alternatives that are clearly less plausible. Several years ago eminent science writer John Maddox published an article in Nature titled “Down with the Big Bang.” This is strange language for a scientist to use. Clearly the Big Bang happened, but Maddox gives the impression that he wishes it hadn’t. He is not alone. In chapter eleven, I quoted astronomer Arthur Eddington’s description of the Big Bang as “repugnant.” Eddington confessed his desire to find “a genuine loophole” in order to “allow evolution an infinite time to get started.” So one reason for resisting the Big Bang is to make room for the theory of evolution. There are others. Physicist Stephen Hawking explains why a large number of scientists were attracted to the steady state theory of the origin of the universe: “There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang…. Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.” The same point is made by Steven Weinberg. Some cosmologists endorse theories because they “nicely avoid the problem of Genesis.” What exactly is this problem? Astronomer and physicist Lee Smolin writes that if the universe started at a point in time, this “leaves the door open for a return of religion:’ This prospect has Smolin aghast. “Must all of our scientific understanding of the world really come down to a mythological story in which nothing exists … save some disembodied intelligence, who, desiring to start a world, chooses the initial conditions and then wills matter into being?” Smolin adds, “It seems to me that the only possible name for such an observer is God, and that the theory is to be criticized as being unlikely on these grounds.” Here we have scientists who do not seem to be acting like scientists. Why is it necessary to object to findings in modern physics in order to give evolution time to get going? Why is it important to avoid the “problem of Genesis” or to shrink away from any theory that suggests a divine hand in the universe? If the evidence points in the direction of a creator, why not go with it?

Douglas Erwin, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution, gives part of the answer. “One of the rules of science is, no miracles allowed,” he told the New York Times. “That’s a fundamental presumption of what we do.” Biologist Barry Palevitz makes the same point. “The supernatural,” he writes, “is automatically off-limits as an explanation of the natural world.” Erwin and Palevitz are absolutely correct that there is a ban on miracles and the supernatural in modern scientific exploration of the universe. Yet their statements raise the deeper question: why are miracles and the supernatural ruled out of bounds at the outset? If a space shuttle were to produce photographs of never-before-seen solar bodies that bore the sign YAHWEH MADE THIS, would the scientific community still refuse to acknowledge the existence of a supernatural creator? Yes, it would. And the reason is both simple and surprising: modern science was designed to exclude a designer. So dogmatic is modern science in its operating procedures that today all evidence of God is a priori rejected by science. Even empirical evidence of the kind normally admissible in science is refused a hearing. It doesn’t matter how strong or reliable the evidence is; scientists, acting in their professional capacity, are obliged to ignore it. The position of modern science is not that no miracles are possible but rather that no miracles are allowed. All of this may seem surprising, in view of how science developed out of the theological premises and institutions of Christianity. Copernicus, Kepler, Boyle, and others all saw a deep compatibility between science and religion. In the past century and a half, however, science seems to have cast aside its earlier presupposition that the universe reflects the rationality of God. Now scientists typically admit the orderliness of nature but refuse to consider the source of that orderliness. One reason for the shift is the increasing secularization of the intelligentsia since the mid-nineteenth century, a process described by Christian Smith in his book The Secular Revolution. Another is the discovery that unexplained mysteries of the universe, once attributed to God, can now be given scientific explanations. “The Darwinian revolution,” Ernst Mayr writes, “was not merely the replacement of one scientific theory by another, but rather the replacement of a worldview in which the supernatural was accepted as a normal and relevant explanatory principle by a new worldview in which there was no room for supernatural forces.” Consequently, science has become an entirely secular enterprise, and this—oddly enough—creates problems for science. By narrowly focusing on a certain type of explanation, modern science is cutting itself off from truths not amenable to that type of explanation. We have seen how some leading physicists refuse to admit strong evidence about the origins of the universe to avoid having to consider a creator. Now let us consider how some distinguished biologists are willing to embrace weak evidence to corroborate evolution and eliminate the need for a divine being superintending the process. Biologist Franklin Harold knows how complex are the workings of even the simplest cells, because he wrote a book about it. He also knows evolution presumes the existence of fully formed cells with the power to replicate themselves. So what is the origin of the cell? “Life arose here on earth from inanimate matter, by some kind of evolutionary process.” How does Harold know this? “This is not a statement of demonstrable fact:’ he concedes, “but an assumption.” An assumption supported by what? Harold is not afraid to answer, “It is not supported by any direct evidence, nor is it likely to be, but it is consistent with what evidence we do have.” Actually, I’ve found someone who doesn’t share Harold’s assumption: Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Crick, like Harold, recognizes that the origin of life seems almost a miracle, given the intricate machinery of the cell and given how quickly life appeared on the earth after the planet’s formation. Crick cannot agree with Harold, Dawkins, and others who blithely posit that some combination of chemicals must have proved the right one. So Crick offers a different theory: space aliens must have brought life to earth from another planet! This theory is seriously put forth in Crick’s book Life Itself. John Maddox recognizes that science knows little about the relationship between brain circuits and human consciousness. Yet he asserts, An explanation of the mind, like that of the brain, must ultimately be an explanation in terms of the way that neurons function. After all, there is nothing else on which to rest an explanation. Nicholas Humphrey goes even further: “Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion.” Most people might find this a remarkable conclusion, but not Humphrey; it is his “starting assumption.” Writing in The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins admits that there are significant “gaps” in the fossil record. Then his argument takes a strange turn. If we take Darwinian evolution seriously, “The gaps, far from being annoying imperfections or awkward embarrassments, turn out to be exactly what we should positively expect.” In other words, the absence of evidence is itself proof that the theory is correct. This is so bizarre that it makes one wonder what the presence of evidence might do to this theory. Would a complete fossil record without gaps be evidence against Darwinian evolution, as we hear that Dawkins and his fellow biologists “exactly” and “positively” expect that such evidence should not be present? Dawkins finally puts his cards on the table by saying, “The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available.” This is a revealing admission. Steven Pinker makes pretty much the same point: “Because there are no alternatives, we would almost have to accept natural selection as the explanation of life on this planet even if there were no evidence for it.” My point is not to deny that there is good evidence for evolution. 63

There is, but it is not as good as you would be led to believe by the champions of Darwinism. That’s because the champions of Darwinism are completely blind to weaknesses in the theory. They cannot even imagine that it is not true. This is a level of dogmatism that would embarrass any theist. Even the strongest religious believer can imagine the possibility that there is no God. So how can these self-styled champions of reason adopt an approach that is so utterly closedminded? It is the product of a philosophical commitment many of them have without being aware that they have it. Dawkins and the others seem naively to think that they are apostles of reason who are merely following the evidence. The reason they are deluded about their philosophical commitment is that it is hidden inside the scientific approach itself. Modern science seems to be based on an unwavering commitment to naturalism and materialism. Naturalism is the doctrine that nature is all there is. According to naturalism, there are neither miracles nor supernatural forces. Therefore reports of the supernatural can only be interpreted naturalistically. Materialism is the belief that material reality is the only reality. There is no separately existing mental or spiritual reality. Of course, people are conscious and have thoughts and perhaps even spiritual experiences, but this can be understood as only the workings of the neurons in their material brains. The mental and spiritual are presumed to be mere epiphenomena of the material. Now these philosophical doctrines—naturalism and materialism— have never been proven. In fact, they cannot be proven because it is impossible to demonstrate that immaterial reality does not exist. Naturalism and materialism are not scientific conclusions; rather, they are scientific premises. They are not discovered in nature but imposed upon nature. In short, they are articles of faith. Here is Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin:
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment—a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

And you thought I was making this stuff up! Is science, then, intrinsically atheistic? Here we must distinguish between two types of atheism. The first kind is procedural or methodological atheism. This means that scientists go about their official business by presuming that we live in a natural, material world. Within this domain, miracles are forbidden, not because they cannot happen, but because science is the search for natural explanations. So, too, the mind and the soul must be studied materially, not because they are purely material phenomena, but because it is the job of science to examine only the material effects of immaterial things. Science is indeed atheist in this procedural or narrow sense. And this is okay, because we don’t want scientists who run into difficult problems to get out of them by saying, “You know, I’m not going to investigate this any longer. I’m just going to put it down as a miracle.” History shows that the search for natural explanations can yield marvelous results. Physicist Paul Davies rightly notes that “however astonishing and inexplicable a particular occurrence may be, we can never be absolutely sure that at some distant time in the future a natural phenomenon will not be discovered to explain it.” Of course there is no reason to believe anything based on the expectation of future scientific discoveries that have not yet occurred. Even so, there are very good operational benefits to letting the scientists do their jobs and examine the world in its natural and material dimension. There are many religious scientists who find no difficulty in working within this domain of procedural atheism and at the same time holding their religious beliefs. Biologist Francis Collins says that as a biologist he investigates natural explanations for the origin of life while as a Christian he believes that there are also supernatural forces at work. “Science,” he writes, “is not the only way of knowing.” Astronomer Owen Gingerich writes, “Science works within a constrained framework in creating its brilliant picture of nature…. This does not mean that the universe is actually godless, just that science within its own framework has no other way of working.” Yet at the same time Gingerich believes that “reality goes much deeper” than the scientific portrait of it. Gingerich argues that the theist view of “a universe where God can play an interactive role” is a valid perspective that goes “unnoticed by science” but at the same time is “not excluded by science.” Some people regard scientific and religious claims as inherently contradictory because they are unwitting captives to a second type of atheism, which we can call philosophical atheism. This is the dogma that material and natural reality is all that exists. Everything else must be illusory. Biologist Francis Crick admits that his commitment to materialism and his hostility to religion motivated him to enter his field. “I went into science because of these religious reasons, there’s no doubt about that. I asked myself what were the things that appear inexplicable and are used to support religious beliefs.” Then Crick sought to show that those things have a purely material foundation. In the same vein, physicist Steven Weinberg confesses that the hope science will liberate people from religion “is one of the things that in fact has driven me in my life.”

The adversaries of religion, like Crick, Weinberg, Dawkins, and Dennett, frequently conflate procedural atheism with philosophical atheism. They pretend that because God cannot be discovered through science, God cannot be discovered at all. Here is a classic statement from biologist Will Provine: “Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces rationally detectable.” Provine makes it sound like this is one of modern science’s great discoveries, whereas it is modern science’s operating premise. Provine assumes without evidence that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge, and that it gives us true and full access to reality. Are these assumptions valid? I will examine the second one in a subsequent chapter. But consider the first premise, that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge. Physicist John Polkinghorne provides the following example. If you were to ask a scientist, “Why is that water boiling?” he or she would answer in terms of molecules and temperatures. But there is a second explanation: the water is boiling because I want to have a cup of tea. This second explanation is a perfectly valid description of reality, yet it is ignored or avoided by the scientific account. The reason for this, mathematician Roger Penrose writes, is that science is incapable of answering questions about the nature or purpose of reality. Science merely tries to answer the question, “How does it behave?” So science does not even claim to be a full description of reality, only of one aspect of reality. Philosophical atheism is narrowly dogmatic because it closes itself off from knowledge that does not conform to materialism and naturalism. Only data that fits the theory is allowed into the theory. By contrast, the theist is much more open-minded and reasonable. The theist does not deny the validity of scientific reasoning. On the contrary, the theist is constantly reasoning in this way in work and life. The theist is entirely willing to acknowledge material and natural causes for events, but he also admits the possibility of other types of knowledge. Just because science cannot admit that the evidence of a Big Bang points to the existence of a creator doesn’t mean that this is not a valid inference for us to make. Just because science cannot show that human beings have a spiritual dimension that is not present in other living (or nonliving) creatures doesn’t mean that such a conclusion, derived from experience, is unreasonable or inadmissible. Scientific truth is not the whole truth. It cannot make the case for naturalism or materialism because it operates within naturalism and materialism. When we realize this, then philosophical atheism becomes much less plausible. Then we can let science do its admirable job without worrying in the least that its procedural atheism provides any support for atheism generally.

PART V: CHRISTIANITY AND PHILOSOPHY
CHAPTER FIFTEEN

THE WORLD BEYOND OUR SENSES: KANT AND THE LIMITS OF REASON

“We shall be rendering a service to reason should we succeed in discovering the path upon which it can securely travel.”

—Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

SO FAR WE HAVE BEEN CONSIDERING science and the scientific understanding. Now I want to broaden the inquiry to examine the proudest boast of the modern champion of secularism: that he is an apostle of reason itself. What distinguishes the “freethinker,” Susan Jacoby writes in her book of that title, is a “rationalist approach to fundamental questions of earthly existence.” Taking reason as his star and compass, the atheist fancies himself superior to the rest of the people who rely on faith, superstition, and other forms of irrationality Sam Harris writes, “Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.” But there is one subject on which the atheist requires no evidence: the issue of whether human reason is the best— indeed the only—way to comprehend reality. Writing in Free Inquiry, Vern Bullough declares that “humanists at least have reality on their side.” Paul Bloom asserts in the Atlantic Monthly, “Yes, our intuitions and hypotheses are imperfect and unreliable, but the beauty of science is that these ideas are tested against reality.” Steven Weinberg writes that as a scientist he has a “respect for reality as something outside ourselves, that we explore but do not create.” In pursuing knowledge, he writes, “the pull of reality is what makes us go the way we go.” E. O. Wilson writes that “outside our heads there is a freestanding reality” whereas “inside our heads is a reconstitution of reality based on sensory input and the self-assembly of concepts:’ By linking the two, Wilson hopes to achieve what he calls “the Enlightenment dream” of “objective truth based on scientific understanding.” Weinberg, Wilson, and other atheists may not recognize it, but there is a huge assumption being made here. These men simply presume that their rational, scientific approach gives them full access to external reality. It is this presumption that gives atheism its characteristic arrogance. Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins call themselves “brights” because they think they and their atheist friends are simply smarter than the community of religious believers. In this chapter I intend to show that this arrogance is misplaced. The atheist or “bright” approach to reality must be measured against a rival approach. Through the centuries the great religions of the world have held that there are two levels of reality. There is the human perspective on reality, which is the experiential perspective— reality as it is experienced by us. Then there is the transcendent view of reality, what may be called the God’s-eye view of reality, which is reality itself. Being the kind of creatures that humans are, we see things in a limited and distorted way, “through a glass darkly,” as Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians 13:12. Indeed we can never, as long as we are alive, acquire the God’s-eye view and see things as they really are. Rather, we live in a fleeting and superficial world of appearances, where the best we can do is discern how things seem to be. We can, however, hope that there is a life after death in which we will see everything—including God—as it really is. Which of these two views—the atheist view or the religious view— is correct? Engaging the argument on the ground chosen by the atheists, the ground of empiricism and reason alone, I intend to show that the religious view is the right one. There is more than one way to do this, but I have chosen the way illuminated by philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant seems an appropriate choice because he is considered the greatest of modern philosophers. Kant was a leading figure of the Enlightenment, a man of science and philosophy, and he showed what may be termed the Enlightenment fallacy. This is precisely the fallacy that has duped many modern atheists and “brights.”

In his book The World as Will and Idea, philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer writes, “Kant’s teaching produces a fundamental change in every mind that has grasped it. The change is so great that it may be regarded as an intellectual rebirth…. In consequence of this, the mind undergoes a fundamental undeceiving, and thereafter looks at things in another light.” The greatness of Kant is that he takes our most fundamental assumptions and turns them into questions. We think we are on the ground floor of awareness, but Kant shows us a whole different level beneath it that we can examine. Before Kant, most people simply assumed that our reason and our senses give us access to external reality—the world out there—and that there is only one limit to what human beings can know That limit is reality itself. In this view, still widely held by many in our society, human beings can use the tools of reason and science to continually find out more and more until eventually there is nothing else to discover. The Enlightenment fallacy holds that human reason and science can, in principle, gain access to and eventually comprehend the whole of reality. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant shows that these assumptions are false. In fact, he argues, there is a much greater limit to what human beings can know. In other words, human reason raises questions that—such is the nature of our reason—it is incapable of answering. And it is of the highest importance that we turn reason on itself and discover what those limits are. It is foolishly dogmatic to go around asserting claims based on reason without investing what kinds of claims reason is capable of adjudicating. Reason, in order to be reasonable, must investigate its own parameters. Kant begins with a simple premise: all human knowledge is based on experience. We gain access to reality through our five senses. This sensory input is then processed through our brains and central nervous systems. Think about it: every thought, even the wildest products of our imagination, are exclusively based on things that we have seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. If we imagine and draw creatures from outer space, we can give them four eyes and ten legs, but ultimately we have no way to conceive or portray them except in terms of our human experience. It is an empirical fact that our five senses are our only lenses for perceiving reality. Now Kant asks a startling question: how do we know that our human perception of reality corresponds to reality itself? Most philosophers before Kant had simply taken for granted that it does, and this belief persists today. So powerful is this “common sense” that many people become impatient, even indignant, when Kant’s question is put to them. They act as if the question is a kind of skeptical ploy, like asking people to prove that they really exist. But Kant was no skeptic: he saw himself as providing a refutation of skepticism. He knew, however, that to answer skepticism one has to take the skeptical argument seriously. The way to overcome skepticism is by doing justice to the truth embodied in it. Kant’s goal was to erect a dependable edifice for knowledge on the foundation of extreme skepticism. Kant’s question about the reliability of human perception has been the central preoccupation of Western philosophy since Descartes. How do we know what we claim to know? Locke had famously pointed out that material objects seem to have two kinds of properties, what he called primary properties and secondary properties. Primary properties are in the thing itself, whereas secondary properties are in us. So when we perceive an apple, for example, its mass and shape are part of the apple itself. But Locke ingeniously pointed out that the redness of the apple, its aroma, and its taste are not in the apple. They are in the person who sees and smells and bites into the apple. What this means is that our knowledge of external reality comes to us from two sources: the external object and our internal apparatus of perception. Reality does not come directly to us but is “filtered” through a lens that we ourselves provide. Philosopher George Berkeley radicalized this mode of inquiry: “When we do our utmost to conceive the existence of external bodies, we are all the while only contemplating our own ideas.” Berkeley’s argument was that we have no experience of material objects that exist outside the perceptual apparatus of our mind and senses. Both the primary and the secondary qualities of objects are perceived in this way. We don’t experience the ocean, we experience only our image and sound and feel of the ocean. Berkeley famously concluded that we have no warrant for believing in a material reality existing independent of our minds! The great Samuel Johnson famously “refuted” Berkeley by kicking a rock. There! The rock exists! Alas, this is no refutation. Berkeley’s reply to Johnson would be that his entire experience, from perceiving the rock to the sharp pain he felt upon kicking it, occurred entirely within his mind. And Hume completed Berkeley’s skeptical argument by applying it to human beings themselves. We have no experience of ourselves other than our sensations and feelings and thoughts. While we know that sensations and feelings and thoughts exist, we have no basis for postulating some “I” behind them that is supposed to be having those reactions. It was Hume, Kant wrote, who awakened him from his “dogmatic slumber.” Kant conceded Berkeley’s and Hume’s point that it is simply irrational to presume that our experience of reality corresponds to reality itself. There are things in themselves—what Kant called the noumenon —and of them we can know nothing. What we can know is our experience of those things, what Kant called the phenomenon. If you have a dog at home, you know what it is like to see, hear, smell, and pet it. This is your phenomenal experience of the dog. But what is it like to be a dog? We human beings will never know. The dog as a thing in itself is hermetically concealed from us. Thus from Kant we have the astounding realization that human knowledge is limited not merely by how much reality there is out there, but also by the limited sensory apparatus of perception we bring to that reality.

Consider a tape recorder. A tape recorder, being the kind of instrument it is, can capture only one mode or aspect of reality: sound. Tape recorders, in this sense, can “hear” but they cannot see or touch or smell. Thus all aspects of reality that cannot be captured in sound are beyond the reach of a tape recorder. The same, Kant says, is true of human beings. We can apprehend reality only through our five senses. If a tape recorder apprehends reality in a single mode, human beings can perceive reality in five different modes: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. There is no other way for us to experience reality. We cannot, for example, perceive reality through sonar in the way that a bat does. Our senses place absolute limits on what reality is available to us. Moreover, the reality we apprehend is not reality in itself. It is merely our experience or “take” on reality. Kant’s point has been widely misunderstood. Many people think that Kant is making the pedestrian claim that our senses give us an imperfect facsimile or a rough approximation of reality. Philosophical novelist Ayn Rand once attacked Kant for saying that man has eyes but cannot see, and ears but cannot hear—in short, that man’s senses are fundamentally deluded. But Kant’s point is not that our senses are unreliable. True, our senses can fool us, as when we see a straight twig as bent because it is partly submerged in water. Human beings have found ways to correct these sensory distortions. Kant is quite aware of this, and it is not what he is after. Kant’s argument is that we have no basis to assume that our perception of reality ever resembles reality itself. Our experience of things can never penetrate to things as they really are. That reality remains permanently hidden to us. To see the force of Kant’s point, ask yourself this question: how can you know that your experience of reality is in any way “like” reality itself? Normally we answer this question by considering the two things separately. I can tell if my daughter’s portrait of her teacher looks like her teacher by placing the portrait alongside the person and comparing the two. I establish verisimilitude by the degree to which the copy conforms to the original. Kant points out, however, that we can never compare our experience of reality to reality itself. All we have is the experience, and that’s all we can ever have. We only have the copies, but we never have the originals. Moreover, the copies come to us through the medium of our senses, while the originals exist independently of our means of perceiving them. So we have no basis for inferring that the two are even comparable, and when we presume that our experience corresponds to reality, we are making an unjustified leap. We have absolutely no way to know this. It is essential, at this point, to recognize that Kant is not diminishing the importance of experience or of the phenomenal world. That world is very important, if only because it is all we have access to. It constitutes the entirety of our human experience and is, consequently, of vital significance for us. It is entirely rational for us to believe in this phenomenal world, and to use science and reason to discover its operating principles. A recognized scientist and mathematician, Kant did not degrade the value of science. But he believed science should be understood as applying to the world of phenomena rather than to the noumenal or “other” world. Many critics have also understood Kant to be denying the existence of external reality. This is emphatically not the case. Kant is not a skeptic in that sense. Other philosophers, such as Johann Fichte, went down that road, but Kant did not. For Kant, the noumenon obviously exists because it gives rise to the phenomena we experience. In other words, our experience is an experience of something. Moreover, Kant contends that there are certain facts about the world—such as morality and free will—that cannot be understood without postulating a noumenal realm. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to see Kant as positing two kinds of reality: the reality that we experience and reality itself. The important thing is not to establish which is more real, but to recognize that human reason operates only in the phenomenal domain of experience. We can know that the noumenal realm exists, but beyond that we can know nothing about it. Human reason can never grasp reality itself. So powerful is Kant’s argument here that his critics have been able to answer him only with what may be termed the derision of common sense. When I challenged Daniel Dennett in a Wall Street Journal article to debunk Kant’s argument, he posted an angry response on his Web site in which he said that several people had adequately refuted Kant. But he didn’t provide any refutations, and he didn’t name any names.” Basically, Dennett was relying on the argumentum ad ignorantium, the argument that relies on the ignorance of the audience. He was hoping that his admirers would take it on faith that such refutations exist somewhere in the literature. In fact, there are no such refutations. Kant’s ideas are so counterintuitive that they produce an almost visceral resistance. The notion that reality might be completely different from how it presents itself to us seems absurd, unreal, and impossible to take seriously. We resist Kant emotionally, no matter how compelling his argument. Normally reasonable people like Dennett respond to Kant with evident impatience. They are unable to answer his argument, but they pretend that it is not necessary to answer it. This attitude may be termed the “fundamentalism” of reason. It is reason so sure of itself that it refuses to consider reasonable criticism. Reason has become irrational and now relies entirely on simple intuition or “common sense.” Common sense, however, is not always a reliable guide to the truth. Common sense tells us that the earth is stationary and that the sun goes around it. Common sense tells us that an object is naturally at rest and that a moving object must automatically come to a stop. Common sense tells us that space and time are absolute. All these simple intuitions are false. In fact, the great discoveries of modern science—from Copernicus to Galileo to Newton to Einstein to Bohr to Heisenberg—are all massive violations of common sense. That is why in several cases the geniuses who first put forward those ideas were dismissed as crackpots. We now know that these crackpots were right. So it is a fact, not a matter of  opinion, that reality is sometimes very strange and that common sense does not give us an unfailingly accurate picture of the world. To proclaim that it always does is to expose oneself as an ignoramus. Common sense, philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, is the “metaphysics of savages.” Kant recognized that he was producing a revolution in human understanding. Just as Copernicus had turned the world “upside down” and forever altered the way we perceive the earth in relation to the sun, so Kant considered his own philosophy as producing a kind of Copernican revolution in thought. Of course people will still continue to perceive the world pretty much in realist terms—just as we go about our daily lives without worrying about the fact that we live on a planet hurtling through space at many thousands of miles per hour— but even so, this realism has been exposed as an illusion. The illusion of realism is that it mistakes our experience of reality for reality itself. Realists like Dennett think of themselves as tough- minded empiricists, but they are not empirical enough to realize that all that is available to them are experiences and nothing beyond them. It is Kant, the transcendental idealist, who starts with experience and then proceeds from it by steps that reason can justify. By contrast, the empiricist begins with a presumption that is impossible to validate, and his whole philosophy is constructed on that dubious premise. The empiricist assumes without any evidence or proof that his experiences somehow give him a magical access to reality. So completely does he identify experience and
reality that he cannot liberate himself from thinking of the two as one and the same. In equating experience and reality he is making a huge and unwarranted leap, but this breakdown of reason is not easy for him or us to recognize because our human minds have a built-in disposition toward illusion: the illusion that reality must be exactly the way we experience it. The irony is that many of the people who proceed in this irrational way think of themselves as following strictly along the pathways of reason. Their outlook can survive scrutiny only as long as they do not examine its foundations. To their credit, there are a few “brights” who take Kant seriously and attempt to answer his arguments. Kant cannot be right in saying that we have no access to reality, they say, because you and I and everyone else experience the same reality. When we are in a room, we see the same lamps and tables and books on the shelf. Obviously those must exist and we must have direct access to them; otherwise we would not all have the same perception of them. But Kant’s answer is that because we are all human beings, we have the same sensory equipment, and it operates in each of us in the same way. Therefore we all have the same experience, but the experience is all we have. Just because we have similar or even identical experiences does not mean that any of us has access to a reality that is beyond that experience. Biologist E. O. Wilson tries a different tack. Science, he says, is giving us new senses that are enabling us to go beyond our previous perceptual limitations. “With the aid of appropriate instruments we can now view the world with butterfly eyes.” With receivers and transformers and night-time photography we can experience the world in pretty much the same way as a bat. “Fish.” Wilson tells us, “communicate with one another by means of coded electrical bursts. Zoologists, using generators and detectors, can join the conversation.” If by this point you have grasped Kant’s reasoning, you will see right away that Wilson has done nothing to undermine it. Yes, we can use night-time photography, but we are still viewing the images with our human eyes. Yes, we can use generators and detectors, but we are still using our five senses in order to read, hear, and interpret what those instruments say. In other words, our human apparatus of perception conditions the entire field of our experiences, and this has always been so and will continue to be so as long as we are human. Future scientific discoveries cannot alter this limitation because those discoveries too will have to be made and experienced through the constrained perceptual apparatus we possess. Kant’s conclusion was that the problem of reason is, in its fullest dimension, insoluble. There are permanent and inescapable limits to human reason, and it is foolish to go on pretending otherwise. While this conclusion that our reason is confined within the borders of our experience, and that reality in itself in permanently screened off from us by our own sensory limitations, may seem to some to be a very outlandish idea, in fact it is at the very center of Western philosophy. In perhaps the most famous metaphor in Western thought, Plato likened human beings to people living in a cave, shut out from the light of the sun, seeing only shadows and mistaking them for reality. Plato regarded our perceptions as mere images of a deeper and higher reality, the so-called Platonic forms, that he located somewhere outside the realm of human experience. And Plato’s teacher, Socrates, regarded himself as the wisest man in Athens because he alone knew how little fie knew. For all his breathtaking originality, Kant is squarely in the mainstream of Western thought. No one who understands the central doctrines of any of the world’s leading religions should have any difficulty understanding Kant, because his philosophical vision is congruent with the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It is a shared doctrine of these religions that the empirical world we humans inhabit is not the only world there is. Ours is a world of appearances only, a transient world that is dependent on a higher, timeless reality. That reality is of a completely different order from anything that we know, it constitutes the only permanent reality there is, and it sustains our world and presents it to our senses. Chris-tianity teaches that while reason can point to the existence of this higher domain, this is where reason stops: it cannot on its own investigate or comprehend that domain. But one day, it is promised, when our earthly journey is over, we will know the higher realm and see things as they really are. Sociologist Peter Berger writes, “The religious impulse, the quest for meaning that transcends the restricted space of empirical existence in this world, has been a perennial feature of humanity.” Now Kant has given this religious conviction a completely modern and rational foundation. It is of the highest importance to recognize that Kant’s ideas, while they confirm 69

core elements of religious thought, are entirely secular. Kant has arrived at them on the basis of reason alone. He does not employ any religious vocabulary, nor does he rely on any kind of faith. But in showing the limits of reason, Kant said, he did “make room for faith.” Kant is our Virgil, taking us as far as reason can go. From here onward we need a different guide, but Kant has helped to clear the way for us to proceed. Kant’s accomplishment was to unmask the intellectual pretension of the Enlightenment: that reason and science are the only routes to reality and truth. This illusion is very much with us today, making Kant’s thought, for all its intellectual demands on us, supremely relevant. So the “brights” can do their strutting, but Kant has shown them as intellectually naked. And so, thanks to Kant, the tables have been turned. The atheist is now revealed as dogmatic and arrogant, and the religious believer emerges as modest and reasonable. While the atheist arrogantly persists in the delusion that his reason is fully capable of figuring out all that there is, the religious believer lives in the humble acknowledgment of the limits of human knowledge, knowing that there is a reality greater than, and beyond, that which our senses and minds can ever apprehend.

THE GENESIS PROBLEM: THE METHODOLOGICAL ATHEISM OF SCIENCE

“There is no such thing as philosophy-free science. There is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.” —Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

IT IS TIME TO HIGHLIGHT a serious problem with our understanding of modern science. The problem is not with modern science itself, but rather with a faulty view of science: the idea that science is a complete framework for understanding man and the universe, so unscientific claims should be automatically rejected. Although this way of approaching knowledge is put forward as the very epitome of rationality, I want to show that it is profoundly irrational. It would be like trying to understand a murder solely through the laws of physics and chemistry. However indispensable those laws in figuring out which gun was used, and how long the victim was dead when the body was discovered, we have to look elsewhere to discover other crucial elements like why the killer did it. In this chapter we will see why the attempt to explain everything scientifically is inadequate and even unreasonable. Atheists who pursue this approach are ultimately an embarrassment to science. Scientists like to think of themselves as reasonable people. They fancy themselves ready to follow the path of evidence no matter where it takes them. Indeed in no other field do people go around congratulating themselves so much on how rational they are, how strictly their conclusions conform to testing and experience, and how biases and prejudices are routinely removed through the process of empirical verification and peer criticism. Carl Sagan’s boast is typical: At the heart of science is … an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive:’2 Such is the prestige of science in our culture that these claims are widely accepted. Yet the actual behavior of some scientists can be manifestly unreasonable. Leading scientists will sometimes embrace a conclusion even when the evidence for it is weak. These savants become indignant when an unsupported conclusion is questioned, and they even accuse their critics of being enemies of science. On other occasions, scientists show their unwillingness to accept conclusions even when a great deal of evidence points to them. In fact, they denounce the reasonable position and prefer to align themselves with unreasonable alternatives that are clearly less plausible. Several years ago eminent science writer John Maddox published an article in Nature titled “Down with the Big Bang.” This is strange language for a scientist to use. Clearly the Big Bang happened, but Maddox gives the impression that he wishes it hadn’t. He is not alone. In chapter eleven, I quoted astronomer Arthur Eddington’s description of the Big Bang as “repugnant.” Eddington confessed his desire to find “a genuine loophole” in order to “allow evolution an infinite time to get started.” So one reason for resisting the Big Bang is to make room for the theory of evolution. There are others. Physicist Stephen Hawking explains why a large number of scientists were attracted to the steady state theory of the origin of the universe: “There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang…. Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.” The same point is made by Steven Weinberg. Some cosmologists endorse theories because they “nicely avoid the problem of Genesis.” What exactly is this problem? Astronomer and physicist Lee Smolin writes that if the universe started at a point in time, this “leaves the door open for a return of religion:’ This prospect has Smolin aghast. “Must all of our scientific understanding of the world really come down to a mythological story in which nothing exists … save some disembodied intelligence, who, desiring to start a world, chooses the initial conditions and then wills matter into being?” Smolin adds, “It seems to me that the only possible name for such an observer is God, and that the theory is to be criticized as being unlikely on these grounds.” Here we have scientists who do not seem to be acting like scientists. Why is it necessary to object to findings in modern physics in order to give evolution time to get going? Why is it important to avoid the “problem of Genesis” or to shrink away from any theory that suggests a divine hand in the universe? If the evidence points in the direction of a creator, why not go with it?

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Douglas Erwin, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution, gives part of the answer. “One of the rules of science is, no miracles allowed,” he told the New York Times. “That’s a fundamental presumption of what we do.” Biologist Barry Palevitz makes the same point. “The supernatural,” he writes, “is automatically off-limits as an explanation of the natural world.” Erwin and Palevitz are absolutely correct that there is a ban on miracles and the supernatural in modern scientific exploration of the universe. Yet their statements raise the deeper question: why are miracles and the supernatural ruled out of bounds at the outset? If a space shuttle were to produce photographs of never-before-seen solar bodies that bore the sign YAHWEH MADE THIS, would the scientific community still refuse to acknowledge the existence of a supernatural creator? Yes, it would. And the reason is both simple and surprising: modern science was designed to exclude a designer. So dogmatic is modern science in its operating procedures that today all evidence of God is a priori rejected by science. Even empirical evidence of the kind normally admissible in science is refused a hearing. It doesn’t matter how strong or reliable the evidence is; scientists, acting in their professional capacity, are obliged to ignore it. The position of modern science is not that no miracles are possible but rather that no miracles are allowed. All of this may seem surprising, in view of how science developed out of the theological premises and institutions of Christianity. Copernicus, Kepler, Boyle, and others all saw a deep compatibility between science and religion. In the past century and a half, however, science seems to have cast aside its earlier presupposition that the universe reflects the rationality of God. Now scientists typically admit the orderliness of nature but refuse to consider the source of that orderliness. One reason for the shift is the increasing secularization of the intelligentsia since the mid-nineteenth century, a process described by Christian Smith in his book The Secular Revolution. Another is the discovery that unexplained mysteries of the universe, once attributed to God, can now be given scientific explanations. “The Darwinian revolution,” Ernst Mayr writes, “was not merely the replacement of one scientific theory by another, but rather the replacement of a worldview in which the supernatural was accepted as a normal and relevant explanatory principle by a new worldview in which there was no room for supernatural forces.” Consequently, science has become an entirely secular enterprise, and this—oddly enough—creates problems for science. By narrowly focusing on a certain type of explanation, modern science is cutting itself off from truths not amenable to that type of explanation. We have seen how some leading physicists refuse to admit strong evidence about the origins of the universe to avoid having to consider a creator. Now let us consider how some distinguished biologists are willing to embrace weak evidence to corroborate evolution and eliminate the need for a divine being superintending the process. Biologist Franklin Harold knows how complex are the workings of even the simplest cells, because he wrote a book about it. He also knows evolution presumes the existence of fully formed cells with the power to replicate themselves. So what is the origin of the cell? “Life arose here on earth from inanimate matter, by some kind of evolutionary process.” How does Harold know this? “This is not a statement of demonstrable fact:’ he concedes, “but an assumption.” An assumption supported by what? Harold is not afraid to answer, “It is not supported by any direct evidence, nor is it likely to be, but it is consistent with what evidence we do have.” Actually, I’ve found someone who doesn’t share Harold’s assumption: Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Crick, like Harold, recognizes that the origin of life seems almost a miracle, given the intricate machinery of the cell and given how quickly life appeared on the earth after the planet’s formation. Crick cannot agree with Harold, Dawkins, and others who blithely posit that some combination of chemicals must have proved the right one. So Crick offers a different theory: space aliens must have brought life to earth from another planet! This theory is seriously put forth in Crick’s book Life Itself. John Maddox recognizes that science knows little about the relationship between brain circuits and human consciousness. Yet he asserts, An explanation of the mind, like that of the brain, must ultimately be an explanation in terms of the way that neurons function. After all, there is nothing else on which to rest an explanation. Nicholas Humphrey goes even further: “Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion.” Most people might find this a remarkable conclusion, but not Humphrey; it is his “starting assumption.” Writing in The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins admits that there are significant “gaps” in the fossil record. Then his argument takes a strange turn. If we take Darwinian evolution seriously, “The gaps, far from being annoying imperfections or awkward embarrassments, turn out to be exactly what we should positively expect.” In other words, the absence of evidence is itself proof that the theory is correct. This is so bizarre that it makes one wonder what the presence of evidence might do to this theory. Would a complete fossil record without gaps be evidence against Darwinian evolution, as we hear that Dawkins and his fellow biologists “exactly” and “positively” expect that such evidence should not be present? Dawkins finally puts his cards on the table by saying, “The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favor it, it would still be the best theory available.” This is a revealing admission. Steven Pinker makes pretty much the same point: “Because there are no alternatives, we would almost have to accept natural selection as the explanation of life on this planet even if there were no evidence for it.” My point is not to deny that there is good evidence for evolution. 63

There is, but it is not as good as you would be led to believe by the champions of Darwinism. That’s because the champions of Darwinism are completely blind to weaknesses in the theory. They cannot even imagine that it is not true. This is a level of dogmatism that would embarrass any theist. Even the strongest religious believer can imagine the possibility that there is no God. So how can these self-styled champions of reason adopt an approach that is so utterly closedminded? It is the product of a philosophical commitment many of them have without being aware that they have it. Dawkins and the others seem naively to think that they are apostles of reason who are merely following the evidence. The reason they are deluded about their philosophical commitment is that it is hidden inside the scientific approach itself. Modern science seems to be based on an unwavering commitment to naturalism and materialism. Naturalism is the doctrine that nature is all there is. According to naturalism, there are neither miracles nor supernatural forces. Therefore reports of the supernatural can only be interpreted naturalistically. Materialism is the belief that material reality is the only reality. There is no separately existing mental or spiritual reality. Of course, people are conscious and have thoughts and perhaps even spiritual experiences, but this can be understood as only the workings of the neurons in their material brains. The mental and spiritual are presumed to be mere epiphenomena of the material. Now these philosophical doctrines—naturalism and materialism— have never been proven. In fact, they cannot be proven because it is impossible to demonstrate that immaterial reality does not exist. Naturalism and materialism are not scientific conclusions; rather, they are scientific premises. They are not discovered in nature but imposed upon nature. In short, they are articles of faith. Here is Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin:
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment—a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

And you thought I was making this stuff up! Is science, then, intrinsically atheistic? Here we must distinguish between two types of atheism. The first kind is procedural or methodological atheism. This means that scientists go about their official business by presuming that we live in a natural, material world. Within this domain, miracles are forbidden, not because they cannot happen, but because science is the search for natural explanations. So, too, the mind and the soul must be studied materially, not because they are purely material phenomena, but because it is the job of science to examine only the material effects of immaterial things. Science is indeed atheist in this procedural or narrow sense. And this is okay, because we don’t want scientists who run into difficult problems to get out of them by saying, “You know, I’m not going to investigate this any longer. I’m just going to put it down as a miracle.” History shows that the search for natural explanations can yield marvelous results. Physicist Paul Davies rightly notes that “however astonishing and inexplicable a particular occurrence may be, we can never be absolutely sure that at some distant time in the future a natural phenomenon will not be discovered to explain it.” Of course there is no reason to believe anything based on the expectation of future scientific discoveries that have not yet occurred. Even so, there are very good operational benefits to letting the scientists do their jobs and examine the world in its natural and material dimension. There are many religious scientists who find no difficulty in working within this domain of procedural atheism and at the same time holding their religious beliefs. Biologist Francis Collins says that as a biologist he investigates natural explanations for the origin of life while as a Christian he believes that there are also supernatural forces at work. “Science,” he writes, “is not the only way of knowing.” Astronomer Owen Gingerich writes, “Science works within a constrained framework in creating its brilliant picture of nature…. This does not mean that the universe is actually godless, just that science within its own framework has no other way of working.” Yet at the same time Gingerich believes that “reality goes much deeper” than the scientific portrait of it. Gingerich argues that the theist view of “a universe where God can play an interactive role” is a valid perspective that goes “unnoticed by science” but at the same time is “not excluded by science.” Some people regard scientific and religious claims as inherently contradictory because they are unwitting captives to a second type of atheism, which we can call philosophical atheism. This is the dogma that material and natural reality is all that exists. Everything else must be illusory. Biologist Francis Crick admits that his commitment to materialism and his hostility to religion motivated him to enter his field. “I went into science because of these religious reasons, there’s no doubt about that. I asked myself what were the things that appear inexplicable and are used to support religious beliefs.” Then Crick sought to show that those things have a purely material foundation. In the same vein, physicist Steven Weinberg confesses that the hope science will liberate people from religion “is one of the things that in fact has driven me in my life.”

The adversaries of religion, like Crick, Weinberg, Dawkins, and Dennett, frequently conflate procedural atheism with philosophical atheism. They pretend that because God cannot be discovered through science, God cannot be discovered at all. Here is a classic statement from biologist Will Provine: “Modern science directly implies that the world is organized strictly in accordance with deterministic principles or chance. There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces rationally detectable.” Provine makes it sound like this is one of modern science’s great discoveries, whereas it is modern science’s operating premise. Provine assumes without evidence that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge, and that it gives us true and full access to reality. Are these assumptions valid? I will examine the second one in a subsequent chapter. But consider the first premise, that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge. Physicist John Polkinghorne provides the following example. If you were to ask a scientist, “Why is that water boiling?” he or she would answer in terms of molecules and temperatures. But there is a second explanation: the water is boiling because I want to have a cup of tea. This second explanation is a perfectly valid description of reality, yet it is ignored or avoided by the scientific account. The reason for this, mathematician Roger Penrose writes, is that science is incapable of answering questions about the nature or purpose of reality. Science merely tries to answer the question, “How does it behave?” So science does not even claim to be a full description of reality, only of one aspect of reality. Philosophical atheism is narrowly dogmatic because it closes itself off from knowledge that does not conform to materialism and naturalism. Only data that fits the theory is allowed into the theory. By contrast, the theist is much more open-minded and reasonable. The theist does not deny the validity of scientific reasoning. On the contrary, the theist is constantly reasoning in this way in work and life. The theist is entirely willing to acknowledge material and natural causes for events, but he also admits the possibility of other types of knowledge. Just because science cannot admit that the evidence of a Big Bang points to the existence of a creator doesn’t mean that this is not a valid inference for us to make. Just because science cannot show that human beings have a spiritual dimension that is not present in other living (or nonliving) creatures doesn’t mean that such a conclusion, derived from experience, is unreasonable or inadmissible. Scientific truth is not the whole truth. It cannot make the case for naturalism or materialism because it operates within naturalism and materialism. When we realize this, then philosophical atheism becomes much less plausible. Then we can let science do its admirable job without worrying in the least that its procedural atheism provides any support for atheism generally.