Friday 1 April 2011

Apologists' own-goal in Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God

Chapter 9 of Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God is "The Pale Blue Dot Revisited" by Jay W. Richards & Guillermo Gonzalez; it appears to be an indictment of a modern — apparently revisionist — view of Copernicanism. Richards and Gonzalez quote Carl Sagan's famous musings on the scale of the universe and our place in it:
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.
Those of a religious bent generally don't like such nihilistic stuff. How dare anyone suggest that humanity is unimportant in the grand scheme of things? Recently we had Brendan O'Neill in the Telegraph making exactly this point. But Richards & Gonzales are making a different point, that Copernicus did not overturn an essentially geocentric view of the universe. They are claiming that Ptolemy's view was that the Earth is at the bottom of the universe (where — I imagine — all the rubbish tends to collect), and that therefore Copernicus was not such an iconoclast after all.

One might well ask, so what? This is in the section titled The Question of Science, but nowhere do the authors make a case, propose an argument or provide evidence for the existence of God. Strangely, it seems that Richards & Gonzales are claiming that Copernicus didn't originate the view that humanity is insignificant in the cosmic vastness — humanity has always been so. Maybe they're right — but if so, that's evidence against God.