Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Scientific Verdict on God (Part 4): The New Deism

The more we refine our understanding of God to make the concept plausible, the more it seems pointless~ Steven Weinberg [1]

In his bestselling 2006 book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins quotes geneticist Jerry Coyne as saying that the real nature of the current conflict between religion and science goes far deeper than just the cultural battle between evolution and creationism:

It’s not just about evolution versus creationism. To scientists like Dawkins and Wilson [E.O. Wilson, the celebrated Harvard biologist], the real war is between rationalism and superstition. Science is but one form of rationalism, while religion is the most common form of superstition. Creationism is just a symptom of what they see as the greater enemy: religion. While religion can exist without creationism, creationism cannot exist without religion [2].
If theists want to use reason to argue for their position that a god exists, whatever model of god that may be, they have every right to do so. If they argue on the basis of ancient superstitions, on beliefs based on the myths of a primitive tribe that lived in the desert thousands of years ago and thought very highly of themselves and regarded themselves as special, then there is no point in arguing with them. If, on the other hand, we are going to debate on mutually-agreed grounds of rational argumentation – that is, if the theist agrees along with the atheist that they are going to make clear what their assumptions are and what their reasoning is for making those assumptions, then we should levy no objection to taking the time to debate with them. We atheists want just that kind of debate.

Incidentally, there are many theologians who do just this. Physicist and atheist Victor Stenger refers to this class of theists as the “Premise Keepers” in his 2003 book Has Science Found God? [3] This is a group with whom he sympathizes despite his disagreement with their conclusions. The premise keepers are theologians who fully accept and embrace the findings of modern science. They reject the approaches of people like William Dembski and Michael Behe and the flat-earth creationists before them, who want to denigrate science. But the premise keepers are theologians, after all. They cannot very well argue that God does not exist, because then they would find themselves out of a job. Therefore, they have to start with the assumption (the premise) that God exists and then attempt to make that proposition consistent with everything we know, not just in science but in all areas of knowledge that weigh in on the god question. And they have actually made a fairly impressive effort in this task by developing a highly abstract idea of god.

Their abstraction of god has led many of those who follow and agree with their books and articles to write highly critical reviews of the “new atheist” literature that has hit the publishing world like a storm in the past decade. A common accusation they make against the new atheists is that the latter group has not recognized what eminent scientist-theologians like John Polkinghorne or others like him have said. This is simply not the case; atheist writers have considered and written a fair amount about the science-savvy theologians, and I can direct any fan of the premise keepers to the relevant books and articles. However, in many other cases the abstract god of the theologians is not the kind of god being discussed in recent atheist literature. The theologians’ god, who may have created the universe and then allowed it to run on its own, just as in the Enlightenment model of the deist god, is not as interesting as the much more falsifiable personal god of theism who throughout history interacts and interferes with his creation on a moment-to-moment basis. The premise keepers posit a different god, one that essentially amounts to a modernized version of the old deism. Whereas the deism of the Enlightenment was an offshoot from the revolutionary Newtonian picture of the world as a clockwork mechanism, the new deism is an offshoot from developments of quantum mechanics early in the twentieth century.

Most educated theologians today fully realize that the God they espouse does not answer the prayers of the faithful. Most do not believe Jesus resurrected from the dead or that he was born of a virgin. They are fully aware that these stories and concepts are fictional, quaint mythological stories that may have served some purpose at one time in the past, as all myths seem to have done. Mythology once provided people with a way of understanding their life and the world in which they found themselves that was appropriate for their level of intellectual development.

Thus, when today’s educated theologians take to task common definitions of God – employed by us outspoken “new atheists” for use in hypothetical argumentation – they are not disagreeing with our observation that the personal God most people believe in does not answer prayers. They are disagreeing with the model of a God that does things like respond to prayers, raise people from the dead, and impregnate virgins with his holy spirit. They realize that the model of this active personal God is a testable hypothesis and one moreover that has failed the test in both science and philosophy. And theologians are notoriously averse to testable hypotheses. Rarely do we ever hear them positively define their god to let us know what they actually believe their god is and what he/she/it actually does. These are the theologians whose sole objection to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion is an insistence that the kind of deity Dawkins dismantles is not the god they believe in. But they rarely lay out what they actually do believe about god, only what they do not believe god is like.

Evolution Theology

There are several exceptions to this general rule, of course. For example, in the cultural conflict between Christianity and the science of biological evolution, large groups of moderate Christians – taking their cue from the Catholic Church in general – have come out in support of the theory of evolution. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons the majority of scientists are loathe to involve themselves in too great a conflict with these religious groups; they reason that they need their continued support in order to see evolution taught more often than it unfortunately is in most public schools.

The fact that many religious groups support evolution means that several scientifically-literate theologians must have some answer to the largest theological problem raised by evolution: the fact that the existence of humans is an accident of nature. As the late eminent paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould pointed out, if we were to wind back the “tape” of evolution and start the process up again from the beginning without changing any of the laws of chemistry, biology or physics, we would not see any of the same set of species we do today. Humanity would not again evolve, since humans are the product of innumerable accidents, chance events that occurred in the process of evolution [4]. The evolutionist John Maynard Smith reiterated Gould’s point in a review of the latter’s work:

If one was able to replay the whole evolution of animals, starting at the bottom of the Cambrian (and, to satisfy Laplace, moving one of the individual animals two feet to its left), there is no guarantee – indeed, no likelihood – that the result would be the same. There might be no conquest of the land, no emergence of mammals, certainly no human beings [5].
This means that humanity is not special. Yet the Christian religion, along with most other religions, has always placed humanity at the center of the universe. Christianity thus has no viable way of accounting for evolution and reconciling it with Christian doctrine.

How do theologians cope with this? Some, like physicist and Episcopalian priest William Pollard, suggest that God occasionally pokes his finger in at various points to bring about the emergence of human beings [6]. But this model is not consistent with evolution, which is a naturalistic process which operates by a well-established naturalistic mechanism. Pollard’s model is a form of intelligent design.

Other believers come up with a different theology more consistent with evolution as a naturalistic process. One approach is to basically revert to the god that Einstein famously objected to, namely the god who throws dice. Kenneth Miller, an evolutionary biologist and devout Catholic, suggests that God created the universe with a number of initial possible pathways and then played dice, letting his universe go to let its pathways obtain naturally according to chance, without interfering in any way after the toss. “Evolution is not rigged,” he writes, “and religious belief does not require one to postulate a God who fixes the game, bribes the referees, or tricks natural selection” [7]. This view is shared by physicist and theologian Ian Barbour, who writes, “Natural laws and chance may equally be instruments of God’s intentions. There can be purpose without an exact predetermined plan” [8]. One possible pathway (and the one that the universe obviously took) resulted in the evolution of humanity, but another possible pathway may have led to some other advanced creature. It was just an accident of chance that the path happened to result in the human species.

In any case, Miller and others with similar views believe that God’s purpose was served, and would have been regardless of what path the universe naturally followed after his roll of the cosmic dice:

Given evolution’s ability to adapt, to innovate, to test, and to experiment, sooner or later it would have given the Creator exactly what He was looking for – a creature who, like us, could know Him and love Him, could perceive the heavens and dream of the stars, a creature who would eventually discover the extraordinary process of evolution that filled His earth with so much life [9].
In other words, whatever path the universe took, whether it resulted in the emergence of humanity or in some other species, God’s only “intention” was to allow the dice to roll as they will. Whatever might have happened, they say, God’s purpose in throwing the dice in the first place is accomplished. As Miller puts it, “If another group of animals had evolved to self-awareness, if another creature had shown itself worthy of a soul, can we really say for certain that God would have been less than pleased with His new Eve and Adam? I don’t think so” [10].

This is a workable model of God, and one that nobody can disprove or rule out. But it is also not testable or falsifiable, as is the failed model of the Judeo-Christian Islamic God who interacts with his creation on a daily basis and takes an active interest in the lives of humans. Moreover, it is not a god for which any evidence is forthcoming, and the “absence of evidence” argument, as discussed in Part 2, still applies to the dice-throwing deistic god of Barbour and Miller.

Emergent Theology

Another common notion entertained by the premise keepers is that god emerges from natural processes, similar to the way consciousness emerges from organic brain matter. The notion of emergence, which grew out of complexity theory, suggests that certain properties and principles not built into material systems can arise out of those material systems, which initially were composed only of particles bouncing off one another. In his book Mind and Emergence, theologian Philip Clayton identifies downward causation as the most important defining characteristic of emergence. Downward causation is “the process whereby some whole has an active non-additive causal influence on its parts” [11]. This is a process for which the only actual evidence in nature are trivial instances with no metaphysical import, contrary to the theologians’ claims. Clayton himself acknowledges this mundaneness when he points out that claimed instances of downward causation “are clearest when the ‘whole’ in question is something we standardly pick out as a separate object in the world, such as cells, organs, organisms, and objects built by humans” [12].

A common example invoked by writers on emergence is water. There is no property of wetness in the individual particles that form water, namely hydrogen and oxygen atoms. But when two hydrogen atoms join with one oxygen atom, they produce water molecules which collectively possess the property of wetness. And so, wetness is said to “emerge.”

Sure, wetness emerges. But this fact does not in any way imply either that emergence is therefore a supernatural process, or that something more than reductive physics is needed to explain emergent properties, as the premise keepers are trying to insinuate.

Interestingly enough, a number of Christian theologians have come to accept the fact that we can safely conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no such thing as a soul, a spiritual substance that exists in each person separate from their material selves. As Christian theologian Nancey Murphy admits, “It is undeniable that a serious theological problem awaits solution” [13]. She acknowledges that “biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science have provided accounts of the dependence on physical processes of specific faculties once attributed to the soul” and that “the neurosciences have completed the Darwinian revolution, bringing the entire human being under the purview of the natural sciences” [14]. She is a proponent of the position which has come to be known as nonreductive physicalism, which she describes as follows:

Applied to the specific area of studies of consciousness, it [nonreductive physicalism] denies the existence of a nonmaterial entity, the mind (or soul) but does not deny the existence of consciousness (a position in philosophy of mind called eliminative materialism) or the significance of conscious states or other mental (note the adjectival form) phenomena. In brief, this is the view that the human nervous system, operating in concert with the rest of the body in its environment, is the seat of consciousness (and also of human spiritual or religious capacities). Consciousness and religious awareness are emergent properties and they have top-down causal influence on the body [15].
In other words, nonreductive physicalism accepts reductive accounts of human beings as purely physical organisms, but in addition to rejecting the dualistic notion of a mind or soul separate from the physical constitution of conscious creatures, nonreductive physicalism also denies that reductive physics and biology possess any causal role in bringing about higher capacities such as consciousness.

Physiological psychologist Warren S. Brown of Fuller Theological Seminary suggests that what we call “soul” is an emergent property which arises from the capacity for personal relatedness among humans. Personal relatedness, says Brown, is made possible by a number of cognitive functions which he argues are either qualitatively or quantitatively unique to humans. These include language, a theory of other minds, episodic memory, future orientation and emotional modulation. While he rejects body-soul dualism and admits that the functions which allow for personal relatedness depend on lower abilities for their existence and operation, Brown argues that they cannot be reduced to those lower abilities. Something more is required to account for them. He further asserts, without providing any evidence, that human cognitive capabilities exert “downward causative influence” on those lower abilities [16].

So, while the premise keepers have seemingly come to terms with the results of modern neuroscience which demonstrate conclusively that thinking is a purely physical process, as are emotions, they proceed to argue that perhaps, as humanity and the rest of the universe evolves further, out of our materialistic brain chemistry will emerge a tendency toward a point of ultimate complexity. This point of ultimate complexity, which the theologians want to call “God,” is often referred to in the context of the Omega Point, an idea originally proposed in 1955 by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and paleontologist [17].

Murphy, Brown and other proponents of top-down emergence and nonreductive physicalism still seem to be in denial of another fact, namely that physics implies reduction by definition. If one wants to philosophize it by suffixing an ism onto the term “physical” and talk about physicalism while rejecting reductive accounts which make sense of its constructs, why not deny altogether the primacy of the hard science they are trying to reconcile with theology in the first place and present the physical sciences as simply another branch of theology? As it turns out, some god-believing physicists do just this.

Christianity and Eternal Life as Physics

Physicist Frank Tipler of Tulane University, probably the most enthusiastic proponent of Teilhard’s “Omega Point” idea among scientists today, has been rightly described by biologist and popular atheist blogger PZ Myers as “one weird dude” [18]. Tipler promotes some of the most incredibly amusing and bizarre ideas one can hope to come across in his field. He has made a career out of interpreting modern physics in terms of both Christianity and the ultimate movement to the Omega Point, and in trying to persuade his colleagues and readers that theology is a branch of physics. Tipler was introduced in Part 2 of this series as the one who announced in 2007 that he had come up with a physics equation that he claimed proved the existence of God, stating that “as long as you're using . . . general relativity, and quantum mechanics, you are forced to conclude that God exists” [19].

Some years before this, Tipler authored a fascinating book titled The Physics of Immortality, in which he purports to “absorb theology into physics, to make Heaven as real as an electron [20].” Let me summarize his interpretation, which is well worth exploring for those not familiar with it.

Tipler begins the book by asserting that the planet Earth is doomed to be engulfed by the Sun’s outer atmosphere, into which the planet will then spiral, in about 7 billion years. If the human species is to survive into the far future, we must move off the planet and colonize space. In less than fifty years, Tipler is convinced that humanity will have succeeded in building interstellar robot probes which possess intelligence and which will leave Earth to explore the universe and colonize it with the DNA codes of humans and other life forms. These intelligent robots will evolve over time into ever more complex artificial intelligence systems. In about a billion-billion (or 1018) years from now, the universe will have reached maximum expansion and will begin to contract. By harnessing the chaos equations governing universal dynamics, the intelligent robots we created will control the rate and direction in which the universe collapses back down to a single point of infinitesimal size (the Omega Point).

Now, when a system gravitationally collapses, any clocks contained within it run slower and slower as the collapse progresses. This means that an infinite amount of time is available while the collapse of the universe takes place. During this infinite time, everything that can and has happened can be repeated over and over again. The advanced robotic life forms will thus be able to regenerate every single human that has ever existed and make them relive their life over and over again. Not only will every single human being who has ever lived repeat the life they had the first time around, but they will live every other possible life. In other words, everybody will do every possible thing they might have done in their lives. This, then, is the immortality which Tipler envisions: a coming infinity of time in which everything can and will happen, the mechanism for which he works out from advanced physics.

In 2007, Tipler published The Physics of Christianity, a book in which he presents pure reductive physics explanations for the resurrection of Jesus, his virgin birth, and his miracles. All of these events occurred naturally, says Tipler, and no postulate of supernaturalism or divine intervention is required to account for and explain them.

Tipler speculates that when Jesus resurrected from death, his entire body was converted into neutrinos, elementary particles which interact very weakly with normal macroscale matter and thus are invisible, allowing Jesus to walk through solid walls. By reversing the conversion process, Jesus can materialize out of nothing and thereby reappear before his disciples [21].

Jesus’ virgin birth could have occurred by the natural inducement of oocyte (egg cell) division in the female body of Mary. Tipler points out that the phenomenon of parthenogenesis has been known to occur in nature, resulting in about one in thirty human births. However, because females have two X chromosomes while males typically have the XY combination, natural virginal births should always result in a female child, since all the genes come from the mother in those rare cases. Tipler gets around this problem by noting that 1 in 20,000 males have two X chromosomes, their maleness coming from a key gene (the SRY gene). This SRY gene may have been inserted into one of Mary’s X chromosomes and inactivated by a standard RNA mechanism which turns off genes. The gene would then be activated in Jesus, who in this scheme results from the division of one of Mary’s oocytes prior to its becoming haploid, thus allowing Jesus to be born a male [22].

Jesus’ miracles are said by Tipler to have been achieved by the electroweak quantum tunneling mechanism, basically the same as that which allowed the resurrection of his invisible body and re-materialization before his disciples: the annihilation/conversion of protons and electrons into neutrinos and vice versa. When Jesus walked on water, the protons and electrons making up the layer of water under his feet were annihilated, creating neutrinos in their place. This means Jesus would have been kept from sinking by the upward recoil resulting from the rapid motion of these neutrinos as they move downward with high momentum [23].

Tipler even has a physics account of the coming “Great Tribulation” described in the Bible’s more prophetic passages. Tipler is convinced that we as a species are doomed to destroy ourselves within the next fifty years. Recall the intelligent robot probes we will send off into space, as discussed above in reference to Tipler’s previous book. In order to do this, humans will first need to develop a highly-efficient form of propulsion, which Tipler believes will be found when collective humanity discovers the means to control the matter annihilation process used by Jesus. That dematerialization mechanism will provide each of us with a tabletop weapon so powerfully destructive that it makes nuclear bombs look like spitballs by comparison. Our inability to control this weapon will mean our demise at our own hands [24]. Thus, the very process that will ultimately bring about the resurrection of each and every human being to eternal life in the Omega Point – the sending off of intelligent robots into the cosmos who will later resurrect us in the form of computer emulations – will also be the cause of our temporary destruction in less than fifty years.

Traditional Theology versus “Sokaled” Theology

In reading Tipler’s works, one is led to wonder if he is actually serious. Perhaps he is playing a great hoax on his colleagues and readers, in similar fashion to the famous Sokal hoax. In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal of New York University wrote an article for the peer-reviewed journal Social Text in which he proposed that the laws of physics are little more than mere social and linguistic conventions and that science must be subordinated to political strategies rather than to reality in order to be liberated [25]. In writing this article, which was accepted by the peer-review board of the journal, Sokal intentionally filled it with pseudoscience and nonsensical but obfuscated postmodern gibberish. His prank highlighted one of the many problems with postmodernist academics, namely the tendency of postmodernists to communicate using a façade of theoretical sophistication to the exclusion of internal logical consistency. As Sokal put it in a Lingua Franca article, in which he revealed his Social Text article as a satire, “Incomprehensibility becomes a virtue; allusions, metaphors, and puns substitute for evidence and logic. My own article is, if anything, an extremely modest example of this” [26].

This is a fitting description of Tipler’s writings. Although he is careful and rigorous in his use of well-established science and precise mathematics (and so is not postmodern in that particular sense), he has misused and abused the physics he knows in trying to treat theology as a branch of physics and in making up a practically fictional universe from the depths of his fertile imagination. It should be obvious that no Christian layperson talks or even thinks the way Tipler and other “theophysicists” do on a regular basis.

This is a problem for the evolution-theologians who want to massage their model into consistency with the basic tenets of Christianity. Many want to maintain that the model of a god who throws dice is consistent with what we find in the Bible. However, their model is not at all consistent with what most lay believers and worshippers think and believe. The theologians’ “Sokaled” god is not the one being prayed to by the average layperson in the pew. It is in fact unrecognizable to them, and most of those people in the pews would view the god of the theologians as a heresy. After all, the theologians’ model denies many of the essential traditional precepts of the Catholic Church, for example, one of which states that Jesus was a divine being.

So in one sense, the premise keepers have come to grips with reality, only to then retroactively define their god back into consistency with the findings of modern science. Because they have come to accept that the broader model of god can no longer be supported, they have scaled back and attempted to fit god into whatever nooks and crannies they possibly can. But they then use their model of god as a justification for religion itself, the exercise of which is completely independent of and separate from the idea of god they have conceived. The premise keepers want to argue that religion itself is good for society and individuals, whether or not there is a god behind it and regardless of whether their god is even identifiable by the worshippers.

Moreover, the “intention” of the evolution-theologians’ god is indistinguishable from a complete absence of intention. In other words, their god may as well not exist, because if this god does no more than roll the cosmic dice and allow whatever happens next to play out naturally, then there is no reason for supposing that he exists in the first place. Unless, that is, the chance-theologian resorts to the classical First Cause argument, which has been soundly refuted for over 400 years. And besides, there can be no benefit whatsoever to believing in the god who throws dice. He does not hear prayers, much less answer them, and he does not interact in any way with his chance creation. Again, he might as well not exist.

Conclusion: Rational Christians Are Effective Atheists

Because the professional reason-oriented theologians posit a god that may as well not exist, it follows that they may as well be atheists. That is, they are effective atheists. This renders their adherence to Christianity all the more perplexing. If they accept that god throws dice and allows chance processes to take over, they must accept that Jesus himself was just another accident of history, as are all the rest of us. Nancey Murphy expresses this concern when she writes, “A revised concept of the person has implications for thinking about the person of Christ. Recognition of the centrality of resurrection to Christian teaching, combined with recognition of the continuity of humans with the whole of nature, calls for reconsideration of the scope of God’s final transformative act” [27].

Then again, it is not even clear that the majority of today’s professional theologians, even the ostensibly Christian ones, actually believe in Jesus as the divine savior of humankind. Consider, for example, the case of John Shelby Spong. A retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, Spong is the author of many books promoting liberal and progressive Christianity and debunking fundamentalist doctrine. In his 2007 book Jesus for the Non-Religious, Spong gives strong, reasoned arguments as to why the virgin birth of Christ could not have happened, why the whole story of the Nativity of Christ could not have played out as depicted in the Bible, why students of history can safely conclude that the story of Christ’s resurrection is not historical and the story of his ascension is a myth. By the time Spong concludes the first part of his book, practically nothing of the Gospel narrative survives his critical examination. He summarizes his findings as follows:

The first stage of our faith journey, the clearing out of distortions in the way we view the Jesus story, is complete. The literalness of centuries of misinterpretation of the Jesus story has been broken open. The pieces lie before us in frightening array. Jesus was born in a perfectly normal way in Nazareth. His mother was not the icon of virgin purity. His earthly father, Joseph, was a literary creation. His family thought he was out of his mind. He probably did not have twelve male disciples. He had disciples who were both male and female. He did not command nature to obey him. He did not in any literal sense give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf or wholeness to the paralyzed and infirm. He did not raise the dead. There was no stylized Last Supper in which bread was identified with his broken body and wine with his poured-out shed blood designed to symbolize his final prediction of death. There was no betrayal and no romance connected with his death, no mocking crowd, no crown of thorns, no words from the cross, no thieves, no cry of thirst and no darkness at noon. There was no tomb, no Joseph of Arimathea, no earthquake, no angel who rolled back the stone. There was no resuscitated body that emerged from that tomb on the third day, no touching of the wounds of Jesus, no opening by him of the secrets of scripture. Finally, there was no ascension into a heaven that exists above the sky. . . . All of these narrative details were the creation of a community of people who individually and corporately had an experience that they believed was of God in the human life of one Jesus of Nazareth [28].
Spong is by far the most honest Christian I know, and probably one of the most honest Christian writers of our time. His many years of close study have convinced him that there is little to no historical truth to be found in the Gospels, and he has not shied away from presenting the results of his research, however devastating to the tenets of traditional Christianity. It is not often nowadays that we find a Christian author, even a liberal one, writing as Spong does when he says that the “resurrection language of the gospels is literal nonsense” [29].

I am in complete agreement. If one came across many passages in Spong’s books unattributed, he or she would be excused for thinking that an atheist wrote it. However, through all this, Spong the self-identified Christian somehow manages to retain a dimly-perceived concept of Jesus with which he has lived his whole life and which he believes has brought him a feeling of happiness and fulfillment. He is still somehow able to find in Jesus a name for something by which he accounts for the goodness he sees in life. At the end of Jesus for the Non-Religious he writes,

It is through the expanded consciousness of these transcendent experiences [life, love and being] that I look at Jesus of Nazareth and assert that in his life I see what the word “God” means. My view of God and even of the God I meet in Jesus is a subjective description of what I believe is an objective reality.

It matters not to me whether any of the details of the cross story are accurate historically. I have long been convinced that they are not, since as I have already suggested, the gospels appear to be liturgically crafted documents based not on eyewitness accounts but on ancient Hebrew sources. They do, however, present a memory of Jesus of Nazareth, a portrait that I still find to be astounding [30].

Spong’s Jesus is just a name, nothing more. His Jesus is a concept not based on anything of substance, but rather on subjective feelings and sentiments. And while the various scientist-theologians reviewed above are more oriented toward hard science fuzzy feelings of the Spong variety, they too champion a model of theological belief of which the sole justification is their subjective aversion to a fully materialistic account of life, the universe and everything. This materialistic, fully reductive account is all that is required of the data, and many of them are good enough scientists to be fully aware of this deep down. The non-interventionist god of the scientist-theologians can thus be safely ruled out on the basis of its status as an unnecessary and post-hoc ancillary hypothesis.

Paradoxically, the scientist-theologians’ attempts to reconcile their conception of god and religious belief with the findings of modern science represents a fundamental unwillingness to come to terms with the fully reductionist picture of the universe which the data presents to us. At least the religious anti-science fundamentalists live in their own self-contained albeit ridiculous universe of their own dogmatic making which, while completely divorced from the real world, operates consistently according to its own rules which are provably incompatible with reality. Trying to harmonize religion and science succeeds only in a confused and inconsistent worldview unrecognizable by either traditional religion or modern science.


1. Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992), p. 256.

2. Jerry Coyne, as quoted in Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), p. 92.

3. Victor J. Stenger, Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003), ch. 11. See also Stenger, Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009), chs. 14-15.

4. Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (New York: Norton, 1989).

5. John Maynard Smith, “Taking a Chance on Evolution,” New York Review of Books 34 no. 9 (14 May 1992): 34-36.

6. William G. Pollard, Chance and Providence: God’s Actions in a World Governed by Scientific Law (London: Faber and Faber, 1958).

7. Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), p. 238.

8. Ian G. Barbour, Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 216.

9. Miller, Finding Darwin’s God, pp. 238-239.

10. Ibid., p. 274.

11. Philip Clayton, Mind and Emergence: From Quantum to Consciousness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 49.

12. Ibid.

13. Nancey Murphy, “Human Nature: Historical, Scientific, and Religious Issues,” in Warren S. Brown, Nancey Murphy and H. Newton Malony, eds., Whatever Happened to the Soul? Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), p. 24.

14. Ibid., p. 17, 24.

15. Nancey Murphy, “Nonreductive Physicalism: Philosophical Issues,” in Brown, Murphy and Malony, eds., Whatever Happened to the Soul? pp. 130-131.

16. Warren S. Brown, “Cognitive Contributions to Soul,” in Brown, Murphy and Malony, eds., Whatever Happened to the Soul? pp. 99-125.

17. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, English trans. Bernard Wall (London: Wm. Collins Sons; New York: Harper & Row, 1959). Originally published in French as Le Phénomène Humain (Paris: Editions du Seul, 1955).

18. PZ Myers, “Is This What We Can Expect from Comfort/Cameron?” Pharyngula 5 May 2007, (accessed 22 December 2012).

19. Quoted in Salman Hameed, “The Proof of God – Tipler and His Pseudoscience,” Irtiqa: A Science & Religion Blog 10 May 2007, (accessed 22 December 2012).

20. Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead (New York: Doubleday, 1994), p. xv.

21. Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Christianity (New York: Doubleday, 2007), pp. 198-212.

22. Ibid., pp. 166-175.

23. Ibid., p. 200.

24. Ibid., pp. 62-81.

25. Alan Sokal, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” Social Text 46/47 (Spring-Summer 1996): 217-252. Reprinted in the editors of Lingua Franca, eds., The Sokal Hoax: The Sham That Shook the Academy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), pp. 11-45.

26. Alan Sokal, “Revelation: A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies,” in the editors of Lingua Franca, eds., The Sokal Hoax, p. 52.

27. Murphy, “Human Nature: Historical, Scientific, and Religious Issues,” in Brown, Murphy and Malony, eds., Whatever Happened to the Soul? p. 23.

28. John Shelby Spong, Jesus for the Non-Religious: Recovering the Divine at the Heart of the Human (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007), p. 128.

29. Ibid., p. 122, emphasis mine.

30. Ibid., pp. 285-286.