Friday, January 20, 2012

The Scientific Verdict on God (Part 2): Supernaturalism as a Scientifically Testable Model

Scientific criticism has no nobler task than to shatter false beliefs.
~ Ludwig von Mises, 1932

In order to arrive at any justifiable conclusion on what verdict science can lay upon the claim that a god exists, we must first make the case that science is in a position to weigh in on the supernatural, and that it violates no jurisdiction by doing so. On one level, establishing the truth of this argument is very simple: If a claim concerning God or other supernatural entities contains testable elements, then the validity of the supernatural can be scientifically tested. For example, if the claim is made that any two Christians who pray to their God can physically move a mountain from its place and cast it into the sea, then we have before us an obvious empirical test that can be performed (Matthew 18:19-20; 21:21-22; Mark 11:22-24).

On the other hand, the complications that arise when making the above argument are usually grounded in traditionalism, that is, how scientists traditionally approach concepts of the supernatural. The most important problem we encounter is the common assertion that science has nothing and can say nothing about God. I strongly dispute that common belief; the God most people worship is a God that supposedly plays a very important role in every single event in the universe, from atomic transitions in some far-off galaxy to a leaf falling on the ground here on Earth, and who actively listens to every human thought. Such a God as this should therefore be detectable by his effects, by the ways in which he makes his presence known within the natural world. While it is true to say that science deals strictly with natural phenomena, the kind of God most people believe in should exert observable effects upon and within those natural phenomena. Any God who interacts in any conceivable way with the material, physical reality we experience should provide us with actions that can actually be tested for.

The Irrelevancy of Deism

The only kind of God that would most likely lie beyond any possibility of scientific investigation is the non-falsifiable deistic god, one who started the universe but no longer interferes with it in any way. The deist god was the God of the Enlightenment, one might say. It was the god that most of the founders of the United States actually believed in, most notably Thomas Jefferson. The "Creator" of the Declaration of Independence is not the Christian God. The “Creator” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is instead a clear reference to the deist god.

At that time in history (the late eighteenth century) physics was a highly successful enterprise. Science had attained an impressive level of success with Newtonian physics, and most people then believed that everything that happened was completely determined by the laws of physics. It was therefore quite natural for reasonable people at the time to propose that the only god that is necessary is one that created the universe and established its physical laws. If that god is perfect, they reasoned, he should have simply left the universe alone indefinitely after creating it. That deistic, non-interventionist god was a possible god at that time, given the range of scientific knowledge then available.

However, in our current age, we have at our disposal a great deal more knowledge of the universe and of physics than people at that time had, and quite a different picture now emerges which poses a strong threat to theistic belief. Based upon our best knowledge in the area of cosmology, it appears that the universe began in a state of maximum chaos (what physicists call “maximum entropy”). If this was indeed the case, then the universe had no structure and no laws at the point of its inception; it was essentially nothing at that early moment in the universe’s history. This means that if there had been a Creator God (the deist god, for example), no memory or trace of that god would be preserved in the current universe. Therefore, even the deist god of the Enlightenment, while not completely ruled out, is ruled irrelevant by the mere fact that maximum chaos dominated at the moment the universe was born (in fact, the only Creator that remains a possibility under current scientific scrutiny is the kind of creator that Einstein famously objected to, namely the creator that throws dice).

There may indeed have been a Creator. After all, an all-powerful being could have created the Singularity in ultimate chaos and allowed the result to proceed on its own, watching in a non-participatory manner to see what happens. But if there was such a Creator, the facts of science tell us that this being created only maximum chaos, leaving us no memory of him/her/it (and this includes any Creator God of any culture). If a god created the universe, he/she/it subjected it to a state that is entirely opaque to any memory of what its intentions may have been. While this is completely possible, this would again point to an irrelevant god, one that may as well be non-existent. There would certainly be no point in praying to such a being, because that being has nothing whatsoever to do with the current universe, with which he/she/it is not a part.

The Tinkering God

But of course, that is not the kind of god worshipped by the majority of people today. The God most people worship today is one who is a participant in the universe, and an extremely active one at that. Thus, while I argue that we can confidently dismiss any scientifically-tenable Creator as one who would be reduced to utter irrelevancy, we still need to discuss the God who is claimed, against all scientific reason, to have stepped in after the creation, the God who takes actions and tinkers with the universe and who is claimed to have an effect on our lives. If that tinkering God exists, he should be eminently detectable by the actions he takes following the creation.

The National Academy of Sciences, however, missed this point entirely when they published the following statement: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral” [1]. What is bitterly amusing about this statement is that it seems to only comes from scientists or laypeople. Perhaps surprisingly (and definitely ironically), one very rarely hears statements to this effect from theologians. They routinely claim the opposite, insisting that science can and should be used to demonstrate the existence of God. A great number of books have been written by theists claiming scientific evidence for the existence of God, demonstrating that theists clearly want to believe that the evidence is out there [2]. By far, the people who most insist that science should have nothing to say about God tend to be scientists.

In 1998, a very revealing survey was conducted by researchers Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham. This survey indicated that only a mere seven percent of the members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, those representing the elite of American scientists, believed in a personal God [3]. This demographic of belief within the NAS is close to being the exact opposite, or inverse, of the belief demographic among the general populace of the United States. Here we have a significant number of atheist scientists who make various pronouncements to the public from time to time. And in one of these pronouncements regarding evolution and creationism, as we have seen already from the quote given above, they state that science has nothing to say about the supernatural, and can say nothing about God. This pronouncement is plainly wrong; it is clear that science can indeed comment on God, because the God most people worship is the God that should manifest empirical effects on the world, such as prayer efficacy.

How do we explain this tendency among predominantly atheist scientists to refrain from exposing religious claims as scientifically untenable? I would argue that this tendency is by and large a protective measure, for two reasons. First, it is within the scientific community’s perceived interest to avoid making religious people angry at them or angry at science in general. That would cause the worst thing that could possibly happen to any scientist: the loss of their funding. Second, the nature of the cultural war between evolution and creationism poses certain pragmatic barriers to public scientific criticisms of religious assertions. Many scientists believe that the best policy is to avoid attacking religion directly on the issue of evolution versus creationism, despite the fact that the entire motivation for creationism is 100 percent religious in nature. Various science groups, such as the National Center for Science Education, which does excellent work in trying to keep evolution taught in schools, issue statements to the effect that they are not going to criticize religion in any way. Their reasoning is that they want and need the support of more moderate forms of religion which allow for the possibility of evolution within their theologies and are willing to accept it as real science (the Catholic Church is one prominent example of a religious entity that supposedly supports evolution, although the current Pope Benedict XVI clearly holds different ideas than the previous, more progressively-oriented Pope).

In the meantime, science groups who have begun to back off from criticizing religion directly want desperately to keep and maintain any support they can garner. This is completely understandable on one level. But it is my contention that at some point, public support for science is going to start falling apart if this reluctance to engage the claims of religion is continued and prolonged. In the past decade, we have already witnessed the first signs of this disintegration of public support in this country, especially in social issues that bear directly on the conflict between science and religion. One need look no further than the many documented ways in which the Bush Administration suppressed science [4], and also made and acted on decisions that were based entirely on faith rather than evidence, including the war in Iraq. Indeed, it is inarguable at this point that the United States’ initiation of and heavy involvement in the disastrous Iraq War was based on blind faith. Numerous other terrible events transpired that were directly sanctioned in the name of religion and made possible by its machinations.

This is one reason why scientists in this country must start to speak out strongly against the thinking process that goes into religious beliefs. In fact, the time for scientists to begin speaking out against religious pseudoscience is long overdue. Several prominent and reputable scientists from a number of disciplines have done just this over the past decade, and their books have demonstrated that science is not only able to make definitive critical assessments of religion and the supernatural, but that it is obliged to do so. These scientists include zoologist/biologist Richard Dawkins [5], neuroscientist Sam Harris [6], and particle physicist Victor Stenger [7] among several others. The movement looks promising, having influenced prominent nonscientists such as the late, great journalist Christopher Hitchens to join them in unapologetically speaking out, in an empirical manner characteristic of scientists, against the type of religious thinking that has been at the root of all manner of social ills (which obviously includes much more than pseudoscience, with which scientists can and should deal) in this country and abroad [8].

A second reason the scientific community as a whole must start speaking out against the tenets of religion is because to refrain from doing so is dogmatic, even if unwittingly so. Those scientists who say that science has nothing to say about the supernatural, that science should stay out of assessments and analysis of religion altogether, end up playing right into the hands of people like Phillip Johnson, the Christian lawyer who is largely responsible for initiating the Intelligent Design movement with his series of anti-Darwin books published in the 1990s [9]. Johnson has asserted time and time again throughout these books that a "bias of naturalism" exists in the scientific community. Johnson charges that the modern scientific establishment assumes everything is material and natural, and that this is an assumption to which scientists are dogmatically attached. Thus, every time a scientist states that science has nothing to do with the supernatural, only with the natural, they are playing right into the hands of people like Johnson.

One eminent scientist who fell for what I call the Johnson Trap is the late great paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. In his 1999 book Rocks of Ages, Gould put forth the idea that science and religion constitute two “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” [10]. He proposed that science and religion occupy completely separate spheres of knowledge (or magisteria). Science concerns itself with the understanding of the natural world, while religion is associated with tackling issues of morality. Most academics who reviewed the book agreed that in it Gould was attempting to redefine religion as moral philosophy [11]. The fact of the matter is that most religions are not content with merely being moral philosophies. All religions have something to say about the natural world, the most ubiquitous being that a supreme entity designed and created it and interacts with it in a tangible way.

Moreover, there is no reason why science should not be able to weigh in on morality as well [12]. Morality is often touted as something that science can say nothing about. While science perhaps may not be able to inform us as to what is right and wrong, science can certainly examine human behavior, which is an observable phenomenon. And science has every right to study everything that is observable, and to construct models that describe these observations. In the final analysis, science at its most basic is involved with observing the world, the universe, human beings, and anything that causes some kind of signal to enter one’s sensory apparatus. As I detailed in Part 1 of this series, the Scientific Method then proceeds to create models to describe what is seen and to aid in the investigators’ understanding. This means making these models as universal as possible so they do not rely on any one particular point of view. Scientific models that describe reality must be objective, and the process toward that end is a smooth, natural procedure when properly carried out.

Has Science Found God?

On July 20, 1998, Newsweek magazine featured a cover story by science writer Sharon Begley entitled “Science Finds God,” a piece which credulously promotes the view that modern science is providing support for the belief that God exists [13]. The achievements of modern science, according to Begley, are beginning to offer support for spirituality for a growing number of scientists who have begun to dabble in theology. Begley concludes,

The default setting of science is eternal doubt; the core of religion is faith. Yet profoundly religious people and great scientists are both driven to understand the world. Once, science and religion were viewed as two fundamentally different, even antagonistic, ways of pursuing that quest, and science stood accused of smothering faith and killing God. Now, it may strengthen belief. And although it cannot prove God’s existence, science might whisper to believers where to seek the divine [14].
In supporting her conclusion, Begley provides a number of data points in the form of interviews with reputable scientists The article begins with an anecdotal profile of the astronomer Allan Sandage, who at the age of 50 “willed himself” to believe in the supernatural. Begley quotes Sandage as saying, “It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science. It is only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence.”

Next, Begley comments on the historical enmity that has existed between science and religion. The notion of the Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA) is discussed, an impasse between the two modes of inquiry that Begley implies is the end result of the threat that Enlightenment science posed to theology, coupled with the intolerance many deeply religious believers (“fundamentalists”) harbor toward science. But science and theology are coming together into a new consonance, say many scientist-theologians. Robert John Russell, a physicist-turned theologian, founded the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union in 1981. He told Newsweek that “theology and science are entering into a new relationship.”

What are the details of this new relationship? According to the scientist-theologians cited in the article, Big Bang cosmology implies to some scientists that there is a design and purpose behind the universe. Evolution “provides clues to the very nature of God,” say others. Even chaos theory is being interpreted as opening a door for God to act in the world. Institutions, books, symposiums, and television documentaries (PBS’s Faith and Reason, 1998) proclaim a new synthesis. Books include such titles as Science and Theology: The New Consonance [15] and Belief in God in an Age of Science [16].

In 1977, Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, wrote, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless [17].” But if Begley’s report is to be accepted as accurate, physicists are becoming theologians based on alleged scientific evidence for God. Begley quotes physicist-turned-Anglican priest John Polkinghorne as stating, “When you realize that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely-tuned to produce the universe we see, that conspires to plant the idea that the universe did not just happen, but that there must be a purpose behind it.” Charles Townes, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and Christian theist, told Begley, “Many have a feeling that somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the universe.” The article also invokes the notion of “Mathematical Platonism” (the apparent harmony between human thought and natural law) and “quantum theology, in which Chaos Theory and events at the quantum level supply an opening for God to act in the world. The end result of all this, says Begley, is that scientists are finding inspiration in belief to be scientists in the first place. Examples include Mehdi Golshani, a Muslim physicist and author of The Holy Qur'an and the Sciences of Nature [18], and Carl Feit, a Jewish biologist and Talmudic scholar and contributor to such volumes as God for the 21st Century [19] and Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism [20].

Nontheistic skeptics are noticeably underrepresented in Begley’s article, the sole exception being a quote extracted from an interview with Michael Shermer, director of the Skeptics Society: “Science is a method, not a body of knowledge,” Shermer told our author. “It can have nothing to say either way about whether there is a God. These are two such different things, it would be like using baseball stats to prove a point in football.”

Begley’s article prompted particle physicist Victor Stenger to write a book-length response, entitled Has Science Found God? In this book, Stenger examines all the major arguments that people have used in favor of the claim that science had stumbled upon God, including the Intelligent Design argument, the terrestrial and cosmological Fine-Tuning Arguments, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, etc. After thoroughly investigating these arguments, Stenger concludes that there is in fact an absence of evidence for the existence of God [21]. And he is certainly not the only scientist to make this conclusion.

Even the most pious believer must admit up front (because this is a fact) that there is no sufficient empirical evidence for the existence of any god that has satisfied scientific consensus. God is simply not a part of modern science. If we had such evidence in hand, if God was accepted by an overall consensus within modern science, then that evidence would surely have a prominent place in the textbooks, right alongside the textbook evidence for quarks, for electrons, for atoms, etc. But there is currently no good evidence for God that has stood up under the normal scrutiny of science, let alone hard scrutiny, and this is a matter of fact, not opinion.

The reader will likely already be familiar with the common rejoinder to this conclusion. In the words of the famed astronomer Carl Sagan, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” [22]. But upon reflection, this reasoning amounts to little more than a clever play on words. Absence of evidence really is evidence of absence, and good evidence at that. Most of us do not believe in the Loch Ness Monster or in Bigfoot precisely because we do not have any evidence indicating their existence. Why should anyone believe in the reality of anything for which there is no evidence and thus no reason to believe?

The Failure of Prayer

Not only is there an absence of evidence (which is already by itself a good argument against God, and at the very least a good argument to reserve belief), but there is also positive evidence that God does not exist, evidence that allows one to falsify the God Hypothesis whenever a God is specifically defined [23]. One of my favorite examples of this positive evidence that works actively against the notion of a participant God is the failure of prayer. Consider what we should expect to see if there was a God who answered prayer in a significant way (that is, not just once every ten million years, for example). At what rate are prayers being said, say, every second? This number must be in the billions [24]. If any of these billions of prayers were worthwhile, if there was any real purpose behind praying, then we should see at least some tangible results of prayer on a regular basis. And this is something that can (and, as we shall see, has been) tested by scientific means. It is possible to perform carefully controlled experiments on intercessory prayer, for example, taking all the best techniques that we know of from other fields of science, especially blinded studies, and applying them to a study on prayer’s effects.

Let us entertain a hypothetical situation: suppose that a series of such rigorous and robust experiments were performed on intercessory prayer, and the result created unanimous agreement on the part of all scientists involved that Catholic prayers really are effective. The results show conclusively and beyond a reasonable doubt that Catholic prayers work in healing the sick. Furthermore, the results show that Catholic prayers are the only prayers that work. Hindu prayers do not work, Buddhist prayers do not work, Protestant Christian prayers do not work, and Jewish and Muslim prayers do not work. Only Catholic prayers are demonstrated to work. Given a result like this, I would be hard-pressed to think of any plausible natural explanation for it. If atheists such as myself were to observe such a phenomenon, most of us would find ourselves conceding that perhaps a God exists after all, and more, a God who answers prayers. Furthermore, we would have to concede that the Catholics had it right all along; the God demonstrated to exist by such experiments is the Catholic God. I can only speak for myself when I say that a result of this kind would lead me to become a believing theist once again.

But of course, this hypothetical situation has not played out in reality. We do not see any evidence that prayer is efficacious in any way, shape or form. And in fact, there have actually been a series of very good experiments, done by reputable scientists associated with reputable institutions (Mayo Clinic, Harvard and Duke University) and published in reputable scientific journals, which utilized standard scientific methods to empirically and rigorously test the efficacy of prayer [25].

My favorite of the major scientific prayer studies is the one that came from Duke University. In 2001, physicians from that institution began a clinical trial that spanned three years to study the effects of intercessory prayer, along with other so-called noetic therapies such as music, imagery and touch therapy. The subjects of the trial consisted of 748 patients awaiting angioplasty for obstruction of the coronary artery in nine U.S. hospitals, and the trial involved the intercessions of twelve prayer groups from around the world. These included a representative number of religious persuasions, including lay and monastic Christians, Sufi Muslims, Buddhist monks and Jews.

The protocols of this study were straightforward and highly competent: the 748 patients were selected at random by computer, divided into two groups, and their names sent to the twelve prayer groups, who prayed for the complete recovery of selected patients. The clinical trials were performed in a double-blind fashion; it was unknown to both the patients and the hospital staff which group was being prayed for and which was not. According to the final test results published in the journal Lancet in 2005, no significant differences were observed between the two groups’ recovery and health: “Neither masked prayer nor MIT [music, imagery, touch] therapy significantly improved clinical outcome after elective catheterisation or percutaneous coronary intervention” [26].

It is instructive to note that these experiments were not undertaken by atheists or skeptics. These experiments were performed by believing scientists who wanted to find evidence for the efficacy of prayer. But they were good scientists who allowed the data to decide the results rather than their own desires, and going only where the data leads is always the proper methodology in science. While one might be tempted to conclude that the scientists involved in the Duke study, for example, were initially looking underhandedly for a Templeton Prize, the fact of the matter is that they were good enough scientists to have the integrity to publish the results, even when the results failed to produce the conclusion they were searching for. And what have the results of these experiments on prayer shown? They have uniformly found that there are no visible effects to prayer.

Such scientific tests give the lie to the notion that science can have no say on the supernatural. The studies I have cited serve as illustrative examples demonstrating that science can legitimately comment on God. Experiments have been done (and will continue to be done) that directly address the question of the supernatural.

But we need not even point to these studies to convince theists of this truth. Theists who have written books and articles (of which there are hundreds) purporting to validate the god hypothesis through scientific evidence have already implicitly ceded this point. Thus, when unbiased scientists respond in kind and proceed to put supernatural claims to the tests with proper protocol, such theists are in no position to lodge objections on the basis of a “non-overlapping magisteria” argument.

When Theism Flirts With Science

In May 2007, physicist Frank Tipler of Tulane University was highlighted in a CBS Channel 5 news report for his announcement that he had come up with an equation that he claimed proved the existence of God. Invoking the idea that physics forces the continual existence of the universe, Tipler boldly stated that "as long as you're using . . . general relativity, and quantum mechanics, you are forced to conclude that God exists” [27]. This announcement came shortly before the release of his 2007 book The Physics of Christianity, in which Tipler attempts to tie his God equation into additional scientific demonstrations of the divinity of Jesus and a variety of other metaphysical claims specific to Christianity. He came monumentally short of persuading any of his colleagues in the fields of physics, cosmology and mathematics, and the promised “equation” was never released. Instead, interested followers of his announcement were left with a vague and gibberish-laden summary:

Tipler then concludes that life must be present to the end, using a string of complex and partly circular arguments: black holes evaporate, this would violate 'unitarity, a fundamental law of quantum mechanics' (nowhere in books on quantum theory, not even in Tipler's book, do I find 'unitarity' mentioned), so universe must collapse, but 'event horizons' would force information and entropy to approach zero, this contradicts second law, thus event horizons do not exist, thus information goes to infinity, thus the universe is closed and goes to final singularity, but without life this would yield an infinitely improbable state, this contradicts second law, thus life must be present to guide universe to final singularity, thus event horizons are absent [28].

If nothing else, a supernatural being that participates in and interferes constantly with the physical universe should at least leave a straightforward statistical trace, not a string of incomprehensible gobbledygook sprung from the imaginative mind of a physicist with too much time on his hands. In fact, statistical evidences are among the strongest kind of evidences one could hope to secure in science, and a number of theists recognize this. Physicist and theist Stephen Unwin favors this statistical approach in his 2003 book The Probability of God, in which he purports to prove, to a high probability, that God exists by using Bayesian mathematical methods and analysis. Unwin’s calculations yield a probability of 67 percent in favor of God:
Through systematic analysis of the evidence, I assess the final truth probability of Proposition G to be 67 percent. This means that the balance of probability – that is 33 percent (100 percent less 67 percent) – attaches to Proposition G*, which is that God does not exist. So comparing 67 percent to 33 percent, we have in effect assessed the odds at 2 to 1 in favor of God.

Your assessment of the evidence may differ. So now that you have the hang of the process, you may wish to adjust the numbers as you see fit and see what results you derive. You may even have new evidentiary areas to add [29].

Unwin does not stop there, though. In a bizarre move, he ends up boosting his initial calculation of 67 percent up to 95 percent by the end of his book, the balance of 28 percent originating in a last-minute injection of “faith.” In the process of justifying this probability-boosting, Unwin fully reveals the highly subjective and arbitrary nature of what is only ostensibly a mathematical proof. He writes, for example, “[A] faith factor of 28 percent is necessary to account for the discrepancy between my reasoned, calculated probability of God and my actual degree of belief in his existence. So this 28 percent factor is my trust in God’s existence: the experiential component of my belief” [30].

In response to Unwin’s venture, Tufts University physicist Larry Ford acted upon Unwin’s encouragement to assess the evidence and adjust the numbers to his satisfaction. He recalculated the Bayesian probability of God and came up with his own estimate: 10-17 [31].

The lesson to be drawn from this is that if one wishes hard enough to find God in mathematics, he will be found. It all depends on how one reads the numbers. With Bayesian analysis specifically, results depend entirely on what numbers are subjectively inserted by the individual assessor. As Unwin himself admits in his book, “Life thrusts too much information at us. It is therefore a vacuous exercise in my view to speculate on whether access to the same evidence should always lead two people to produce the same probabilities” [32]. He goes on to acknowledge that “It is certainly the case that Bayesian probabilities have a subjective element. A degree of belief is a subjective notion . . . partial subjectivity is an inevitable attribute of probabilities” [33].

Therefore, we should dispute, at the outset, anybody who claims that he or she can construct a mathematical test of God’s existence. We are obliged to rely on strictly objective observations to the best of our ability and as much and often as we possibly can. Unfortunately, however, most objective observations tend to manifest qualitatively, rather than quantitatively. In fact, it is highly doubtful that it is even possible to make an argument for God’s existence a quantitative one.

Because both theists and atheists can look at the same data, the same mathematics, and come up with entirely different results, the burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders of those making the positive claim, which would be the theist in this case.

NOTES

1. National Academy of Sciences, Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1998), p. 58.

2. See Victor J. Stenger, Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003) for an excellent examination of these claims that conclusively finds they do not hold up under careful critical scrutiny.

3. Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham, “Leading Scientists Still Reject God,” Nature 394 (1998): 313.

4. See Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science (New York: Perseus Books Group, 2005) for documentation of many examples of this concerted suppression of science by Republican politics and the resultant emergence of socially-harmful policies.

5. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006).

6. Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (New York: Norton, 2004); Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (New York: Free Press, 2010).

7. Victor J. Stenger, Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003); God: The Failed Hypothesis – How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2007); Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009); The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009); The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is Not Designed for Us (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011).

8. Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve Books, 2007); Hitchens (ed.), The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007).

9. Phillip E. Johnson, Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism (Dallas, TX: Haughton Publishing Co., 1990); Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991); Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995); Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997); The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001).

10. Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (New York: Ballantine Books, 2002).

11. Ursula Goodenough, “The Holes in Gould’s Semipermeable Membrane Between Science and Religion,” American Scientist May/June 1999; H. Allen Orr, “Gould on God: Can Religion and Science Be Happily Reconciled?” Boston Review Oct./Nov. 1999; Kenak Malik, “Inventing Allies in the Sky,” New Statesman 19 Feb. 2001, 49-50.

12. See Harris, The Moral Landscape.

13. Sharon Begley, “Science Finds God,” Newsweek 20 July 1998, pp. 47-51.

14. Ibid., p. 51.

15. Ted Peters, ed., Science and Theology: The New Consonance (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999).

16. John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998).

17. Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe (New York: Basic Books, 1977), p. 154.

18. Mehdi Golshani, The Holy Qur’an and the Sciences of Nature: A Theological Reflection (New York: Global Scholarly Publications, 2003).

19. Russell Stannard, ed., God for the 21st Century (Radnor, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2000).

20. Geoffrey Cantor and Marc Swetlitz, eds., Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

21. Stenger, Has Science Found God? pp. 219-260.

22. Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996), p. 213.

23. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis.

24. As a side note, I find it rather amusing that many Christians insist on making grand public shows of their praying, which is contrary to what Jesus instructed his followers to do. According to Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus says, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” Most Christians obviously do not follow this instruction, which they would do well to look up (yes, please read your Bible, Christians; the more Christians actually read the Bible, the less Christians we would end up with). What we find instead is many Christians attempting to force prayer into as many aspects of public life that they can.

25. M.W. Krucoff, et al., “Music, Imagery, Touch, and Prayer as Adjuncts to Interventional Cardiac Care: The Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II Randomised Study,” Lancet 366 (16 July 2005): 211-17; H. Benson, et al., “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients: A Multicenter Randomized Trial of Uncertainty and Certainty of Receiving Intercessory Prayer,” American Heart Journal 151, no. 4 (2006): 934-42.

26. Krucoff, et al., p. 211; for a media report on the Duke MANTRA study, see Jonathan Petre, “Power of Prayer Found Wanting in Hospital Trial,” The Telegraph 15 Oct. 2003.

27. Quoted in Salman Hameed, “The Proof of God: Tipler and His Pseudoscience,” Irtiqa: A Science & Religion Blog 10 May 2007, http://sciencereligionnews.blogspot.com/2007/05/proof-of-god-tipler-and-his.html (accessed 20 January 2012).

28. Quoted in PZ Myers, “Is This What We Can Expect from Comfort/Cameron?” Pharyngula 5 May 2007, http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/05/is_this_what_we_can_expect_fro.php (accessed 20 January 2012).

29. Stephen D. Unwin, The Probability of God: A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003), pp. 128-129.

30. Ibid., p. 189.

31. Victor J. Stenger, “God and Rev. Bayes,” Skeptical Briefs 17.2 (June 2007), online at http://www.csicop.org/sb/show/god_and_rev._bayes (accessed 20 January 2012); The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, pp. 249-252.

32. Unwin, The Probability of God, p. 67.

33. Ibid., p. 68.

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