Sunday, May 13, 2007

Atheists, take heart!

Perhaps it is the difference between theoretical and applied science, but one gets the sense that a far greater preponderance of astrophysicists, or mathematicians remain advocates of theist positions than, let’s say the biologist, or statistician. Perhaps if true, the difference rests with the expectation that the applied scientist will develop something of value, while the pure theoretician, in the end is accountable to the acceptance or rejection of his peers. I for one, have an aging brain which finds it impossible to make much, if any, sense out of this singularity, stringy, banging universe stuff, in which the students of the universe apparently find so much pleasure conjuring up. While it all sounds very intriguing, I am completely unable to remotely relate it to anything in my daily life.

Assume (please, only momentarily) that "God," whatever it is, exists. Now, what do I do with it? Unlike electricity, gravity, or even a pet goldfish, its behavior is totally unpredictable. We can predict with varying accuracy the occurrence and location of such natural phenomena as pandemics, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, and earthquakes. All can, and do, have terrible consequences for real people, yet with all of our technology, the best we can do is to warn of their occurrence, marginally mitigate their results through varying levels of preparation, and clean up after they occur.

Just recently astronomers have celebrated the existence of a potential "Goldilocks" planet. That it it may be capable of supporting life is indeed interesting, but again, so what? We aren't going there anytime soon, its potential inhabitants not soon likely to pay us a visit, nor even chat with us. We have no way to make any use of our knowledge of its existence.

If, by some unlikely chance, Dr, Paul Tipler, a much maligned author of (allegedly terribly boring and useless) physics textbooks has got it completely right when he asserts, “Sorry Atheists, God has been Scientifically Proven,” his complete disregard for Occam’s Razor, and Marketing 101, dictate that his shining pearls of wisdom will remain forever, unused.

Recall the frequently used adage, “Observations are gold; hypotheses, silver; and conclusions, bronze.” When it comes to discussing the theoretical construct that theists have labeled, “God,” I see a whole bunch of differing and frequently contradictory conclusions, no discernable, testable hypothesis(es), and surely not a single repeatable, verifiable observation.

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