From “In Place of God” to “God’s Place”
Nearly one year ago we reported that many militant non-believers gathered in La Jolla, California for the first “Beyond Belief” symposium (see Lyons and Butt, 2007), which the scientific journal New Scientist called “an ‘atheist love fest’” (Reilly, 2007, 196:7). The conference was held to discuss science, religion, and God, and specifically whether science should “do away with religion” (Brooks, 2006, 192:9). New Scientist writer Michael Brooks summarized the overall attitude of the attendees in the following words: “science can take on religion and win” (p. 11, emp. added). The participants were ready to roll up their sleeves and “get on with it” (p. 11). They were ready to put science “In Place of God,” as Brooks titled his article.
Fast forward one year to “Beyond Belief II,” and it appears some of the participants approached the idea of a Supernatural Being more cautiously. Even the title of a recent New Scientist article, which reported on the symposium, changed from last year’s arrogant heading, “In Place of God,” to this year’s more sober title, “God’s Place in a Rational World” (see Reilly, 2007, 196:7, emp. added). Michael Reilly gave some insight into the meeting by recording what one attendee, Edward Slingerland of the University of British Columbia, openly acknowledged:
“Religion is not going away,” he announced. Even those of us who fancy ourselves rationalists and scientists, he said, rely on moral values—a set of distinctly unscientific beliefs.
Where, for instance, does our conviction that human rights are universal come from? “Humans’ rights to me are as mysterious as the holy trinity…. You can’t do a CT scan to show where humans’ rights are, you can’t cut someone open and show us their human rights…. It’s not an empirical thing, it’s just something we strongly believe. It’s a purely metaphysical entity” (p. 7).
Although some at the conference naïvely believe that “[g]iven time and persistence, science will conquer all of nature’s mysteries” (Reilly, 2007, p. 7, emp. added), it is encouraging to know that at least one person alluded to one of the greatest proofs for God’s existence—the moral argument.
The fact is, morality exists and makes sense only if there is a God, because only God could have created it. All naturalistic explanations for the existence of morality have been shown to be inadequate. What’s more, scientists admit that they still cannot logically explain the existence of morals. In truth, the only logical explanation must be supernatural (i.e., the God of the Bible). [NOTE: To read more on the moral argument for God’s existence, see Jackson, 1995.]
Brooks, Michael (2006), “In Place of God,” New Scientist, 192:8-11, November 18.
Jackson, Wayne (1995), “The Case for the Existence of God [Part III],” Reason & Revelation, 15:49-55, July, [On-line], URL: https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=362.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2007), “Militant Atheism,” Reason & Revelation, 27:1-5, January, [On-line], URL: https://apologeticspress.org/articles/3195.
Reilly, Michael (2007), “God’s Place in a Rational World,” New Scientist, 196:7, November 10.
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