I read an article the other day, Ricky Gervais, Why I’m an Aetheist. I can’t verify whether Ricky Gervais actually wrote the post, but regardless, I can recommend it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a calm and balanced proclamation of “non-faith”. Usually people spew a lot of anger and bible verses taken out of context. Basically they’re looking for a fight. In this blog post Ricky (let’s just assume for now that it really is him) points out why he doesn’t believe in a god. I feel the urge to answer. Not to fight or convert, just to answer and give the other side of arguments I’ve heard so many times before. So here is “Why I do believe in the God that created everything and sent Jesus to make a way for us to have a relationship with him.”
Ricky repeats some arguments throughout the article, so I’ll just address the themes I’ve recognised. There’s a lot to discuss so I’ve broken it up into two posts. I know I can’t cover every nook of every argument .
Firstly, Ricky mentions that believers don’t want proof, because they’re happy with their beliefs, even defensive. You know it, the whole science vs faith saga:
God’s existence can’t be proven scientifically therefore he cannot exist. I’ll just start there.
If you look at things we can prove, gravity, movement of molecules, basically principles of physics, they are all restricted in some way. Gravity only pulls in one direction and only to a certain degree. Molecules react in certain ways in specific environments (Water doesn’t randomly evaporate in the freezer or freeze in the kettle). So as I understand it, if you’re expecting me to prove God, there is simply no way. Not in the way we see science, which consists of a theory and then many cycles of experiments to prove the physical principles behind that theory. That just doesn’t work for a God who has no limits, and who made up those physical and mathematical laws in the first place. But does a Mercedes prove the existence of a designer or handyman? Yes, someone had to have designed and built it. It didn’t just put itself together, decide to be a car and go for a drive. Looking at the scientific knowledge about everything around us, it’s not ignorant at all to say that it was designed.
Ricky says that
“science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence – evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along.”
I think I understand what he means. Yes, science is the pursuite of knowledge and always looking for new possibilities. That’s what makes it exciting. However, I don’t agree that science is humble. Humility means that I admit that I’m not all-knowing, all-powerful or all-understanding. I think if you say that a belief in God ignores scientific facts, that’s just overestimating yourself and your understanding. We aren’t even dust particles in this universe. So the belief that I can understand the universe enough to rule out a creator is simply silly to me. Scientists throw out huge numbers to describe the earth’s age or the universe’s size, and those numbers vary by millions. Yet many will use these numbers and pretend to “know” how the earth came to be. I’m not saying evolution is totally false, but if data varies so much depending on who you talk to, how can it be fact? No, I think humility means drawing a clear line between what you know and what you THINK might be.
Also, science definitely doesn’t know what it doesn’t know (are you still with me?). Our scientific knowledge is restricted to what we’ve researched up to now. We have no idea what we’ll discover in the future. A few hundred years ago the earth was flat. People stood by that theory as many stand by their theories today. We are constantly surprised by new discoveries and our knowledge of the universe is constantly updated. Science always starts with an idea, a conclusion, from which a researcher works backwards to prove that conclusion might really be a fact.
Referring to science as truth, Ricky says that accepting it is liberating. How is something that always changes and is restricted by the limits of human logic liberating? That’s the difference between knowledge and truth. Knowledge is dynamic, and restricted to the present. Truth is eternal, constant and way bigger than we know.
Ricky also states that science isn’t offended. Purely speaking that’s true, but people, who argue that science and God can’t coexist, are. Otherwise this topic wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has.
Science and faith and how the two coexist is a topic which would take days to go through. Check out this video from The Resurgence, Why Jesus creates Science.
Another one of Ricky’s arguments is that
“it (science) doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition.”
True, but neither did Jesus. It’s a common misperception that Christianity is an outdated set of principles. That is simply not true. I’ll elaborate in the next post.
Ricky also says that
“the existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.”
I couldn’t agree more. This post-modernism where there is no truth, only the individual’s version of it, is just a reaction to the modernism where we thought we knew everything.
Ricky makes a good point about religion:
It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me.
He goes on about people killing each other because of differing beliefs. That’s obviously just plain wrong. It has nothing to do with following Jesus. We’re supposed to love our enemies. I may not like Islam, Hinduism or Scientology (in fact I hate religions) but I love people, no matter what they believe. I’m as appalled as anyone when Christians speak and act out of hate against other people. It’s not excused in the bible. I know I know, people will come with the old testament where entire cities were wiped out by the jews in the name of God. To be honest that’s a tough subject for me and I don’t understand it fully. I have some thoughts on it but this is not the time or place. Suffice it to say that I follow Jesus and he loved people of all cultures. He loved the sinner while hating the sin. The only ones he had issues with were the legalistic, power-hungry pharisees. We seem to struggle with that. We either accept everything people do in the name of political correctness or hate them and all they are. That’s simply not biblical or Christian.
So much for now. I’ll elaborate some more whenever I visit this space again.