Friday 25 March 2011

The Bible is not a science textbook

With Robert Kaita's "Creator and Sustainer — God's Essential Role in the Universe" we are into Section Two, The Question of Science, of Dembski and Licona's Evidence for God. And immediately we run into problems:
Einstein posed a question that scientists, as scientists, still cannot answer. He asked why the universe is comprehensible. We do not know, for example, why there are only a few laws of physics. The same law of gravity can be used to describe how we are held to the earth, but also how immense galaxies are attracted to each other to form clusters.
This misunderstands what scientific laws are, even though the above quote actually contains a germ of the truth. Scientific laws are not some underlying or intrinsic quality of how the universe works, they are merely a set of descriptions that approximate to our observations ("The same law of gravity can be used to describe...").

Kaita uses a line of dominoes as an analogy for deism, then says, "Somehow, we have a sense that such a picture is not very satisfying." But the way things actually are — the truth — is not contingent on whether it produces a satisfying picture. Nevertheless Kaita uses the further analogies of car maintenance and practical nuclear fusion (his own scientific field) to support his idea that God must take an active role in the universe to keep it running. That doesn't sound very god-like to me — whatever happened to omnipotence?

That's not Kaita's only evidence for his sustaining creator-god; he also quotes from the Bible:
As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.

(Genesis 8:22 New International Version, ©2011)
The Bible, however, is not a science textbook. Anyone who tries to support theism from a scientific viewpoint — especially in a section entitled The Question of Science — by quoting the Bible, has already lost the argument.