Session Four: 2015 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith

I’ll close my series on the 2015 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith with presentations by Douglas Ell and Casey Luskin, both of whom are attorneys. Casey Luskin, in addition to his law degree, has a graduate degree in science, while Douglas Ell double majored in both math and physics at MIT and has a master’s degree in theoretical mathematics.

I’ll start with Douglas Ell, whose session was based on his book, “Counting to God.” He got things rolling by admitting that he began his college career as an atheist. After attending a church service, he made the decision to search for God. And as he searched, he recognized there were a lot of areas in science that pointed to God, so that led him to eventually become a Christian. And considering all the evidence he found, he thought someone should write a book about it, and so he finally did so himself.

One thing he learned about science was that if the experiment disagrees with the hypothesis, then it was wrong. With that in mind, he suggests we should always follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Ell presented two possibilities about why anything exists: either it just happened for no reason, or God created everything. And one major piece of evidence to consider is found in the fine-tuning model, which argues that the universe and earth contain perfectly adjusted parameters for our existence. In fact these values are so precise that the only plausible explanation is that the universe and man were created and designed by God.

Several atheists who recognize this fine-tuning are Fred Hoyle and Stephen Hawking, both of whom acknowledge that some kind of super intellect designed the properties of atoms, chemistry, biology and gravity- but they just won’t admit that it was God who did the designing.

The probability of the universe forming with its current complexity is so low that it defies logic. Therefore many atheists have invoked the existence of multiverses- a hypothesis where an infinite number of hypothetical universes exist with every conceivable outcome- to overcome this obstacle. Such a scenario would make our existence virtually certain. But such a belief is not science because it’s not falsifiable. So Ell refers to this belief as an infinite regression of circular reasoning and jokes that it can’t be “turtles all the way down.” And he’s right. The belief in multiverses would be better described as pseudoscience; it’s a statement of faith and philosophy meant to make sense of what we observe without crediting God’s existence.

Next Ell discussed the origin of life issue, which continues to be a thorn in the side of atheists. The Urey-Miller experiment of 1952 was supposed to be the classic experiment to explain abiogenesis- but it fell far short. Both Miller and Urey disavowed the experiment as an explanation for the origin of life, yet sadly it’s still found in textbooks today.

Other evidence he credits to God’s existence is the ability of DNA to copy, read, proofread and repair itself. He compares DNA to a complex machine that can store information and claims we can’t get information and technology by chance. Even Bill Gates understood the complexity of DNA, saying it’s “like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” To illustrate this he explains that DNA replication is accurate to one letter in one billion. Complex life couldn’t exist without such accuracy.

One thing that caught my attention was a concept called Quantum Entanglement. This is a phenomenon that has been around since 1935, but this was the first time I heard of it. Albert Einstein discussed it and described it as “spooky action at a distance” because it’s a paradox that has never been explained. Quantum entanglement occurs when two particles seem to know what measurement has been performed on the other, even when their distances are so great that we know of no known method for the particles to communicate that information to the other. There’s no measurable delay, so we have no idea how these particles could be connected instantaneously. Ell suggests there must be something that exists between them that we haven’t discovered yet, or there’s something that can travel far faster than the speed of light. I don’t know what to make of this phenomenon, but it’s quite fascinating.

Ell concludes that it makes more sense that the Bible is correct when it claims that the earth is special, and I couldn’t agree more.

The final session was with Casey Luskin, who discussed the influence of Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson- two popular atheists known as science communicators. I’ve written a good deal about Bill Nye, who has gained notoriety for attacking religion, but I haven’t written anything about Tyson. I’ve wanted to watch Cosmos, the television show that launched Tyson’s popularity, but I get the impression that he’s offering more of Nye’s humanistic philosophy and materialistic worldview, and that’s pretty much accurate. These are two atheists are working hard to win over children and viewers to their brand of faith.

Luskin claims their goal is to spin the average viewer around to get the results they want. They talk about real science by showing the audience how interesting and fun it is, then, when the audience can no longer tell the difference, they talk about non-science to persuade them to agree with their worldview. And I think that’s a pretty good assessment.

Part of the worldview they wish to impose is the idea that science solves all our problems, and religion stands in the way. They want to convince their audience that humanity isn’t special, that we arose by unguided evolution, and if you don’t agree, then you’re a science denier. They bully those who challenge Darwinian evolution and insist that you don’t tell your kids if you don’t believe in evolution.

Bill Nye was the 2010 Humanist of the Year, and he claimed, “I’m insignificant. … I am just another speck of sand. And the earth really in the cosmic scheme of things is another speck. And the sun an unremarkable star. … And the galaxy is a speck. I’m a speck on a speck orbiting a speck among other specks among still other specks in the middle of specklessness. I suck.”

What a wonderful, inspiring message.

Tyson repeats Carl Sagan’s mantra, saying, “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” He doesn’t think faith and reason are reconcilable, and he’s soundly opposed to creationism: “I’m not telling you what to think. I’m just telling you in the science class, ‘You’re not doing science. This is not science. Keep it out.’”

He also calls schools that question evolution “damaging” to the evolution of any society, and that we’ve lost scientific literacy. And to an extent I do agree that we’ve lost scientific literacy, but only because of evolutionary influence and the false science of humanism that Tyson and Nye are promoting.

Luskin cautions that we must be discerning and practice good science to counter their tactics. He went into some detail about their false science, but rather than laying out his counterarguments, I’ll link to several articles he wrote and let him do that. He makes a great case for how Nye and Tyson are leading the public astray and promoting intolerance. We have to make sure we’re paying attention so that we can promote good science and a solid education.

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