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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Case for a Creator, by Lee Strobel, part 3

I continue commenting on Lee Strobel's book, The Case for a Creator, mostly commenting on ideas in the order Strobel has presented them. In summary, the book is a defense of the idea of Intelligent Design (ID). Strobel is not a young-earth creationist. He interprets most scientific evidence in the way most scientists do, with the origin of the variety of living things being a stand-0ut exception.

Much of the book is based on interviews with believers in Intelligent Design. (Strobel's background is journalism, not science)

His second interview is with philosopher Stephen C. Meyer. Meyer, and Strobel, are strongly opposed to the notion that science has ruled out Divine action, and is the only source of truth. According to Strobel, Meyer told him that

. . . to say that science is the only begetter of truth is self-contradicting, because that statement in itself cannot be tested by the scientific method. It's a self-defeating philosophical assumption. Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. p. 88.

I agree with this statement whole-heartedly. I suspect that many scientists simply accept that "science is the only begetter of truth" as if it were the truth, without having really thought about it. However, even if science isn't the only begetter of truth, that doesn't mean that Meyer (or I) are correct in our views.

Meyer discusses the late Stephen Jay Gould's Rocks of Ages, in which Gould, a paleontologist who was a great teacher and prolific writer on science and its history, writing for intelligent laypersons, not scientists, introduced the idea of non-overlapping magisteria, or NOMA, in which Gould allowed that religious belief had its place, but that it didn't overlap with science at all. Meyer says that what Gould was really doing was to marginalize religion. Ian G. Barbour, in his When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? says that there are four possibilities for the interaction between science and religion, namely conflict, independence, dialogue and interaction. Gould was a believer in independence. I am a believer in integration -- according to Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19, God is revealed in nature. Hence science can tell us part of the truth about the way things are. So can the Bible. The revelation of God, through both scripture and science, would not conflict if we understood them both properly.

Meyer claims that naturalism, pantheism, or dualism are not satisfactory explanations for the way things are.

In general, I agree with Meyer, as presented by Strobel. However, Meyer himself, according to Strobel, says that "You can't absolutely prove -- or disprove -- the existence of God." (p. 100) Again, I agree, based on Hebrews 11:3. If Meyer is correct, Strobel isn't going to be able to prove his Case for a Creator. He can make a case, and that is what he has tried to do in this book.

Meyer has his critics. Jacobsen is one. As he says, quoting Strobel, Meyer says, "I don't think it's right to invoke a self-serving rule that says only naturalistic explanations can be considered in science. Let's have a new period in the history of science where we have methodological rules that actually foster the unfettered seeking of truth."

Jacobsen then says:
I hear this type of argument raised by laypeople quite often. I concede that at first blush, it sounds reasonable. Shouldn't all possibilities be considered when seeking the truth? Yet there is a very simple and legitimate reason why the miraculous or supernatural, even if it exists, cannot be part of scientific investigation: The only tools a scientist has to work with are naturalistic. We have no tool to measure or quantify the miraculous. The bedrock of science is to be able to make testable predictions that can be verified by independent observers. Supernatural explanations rarely provide testable hypotheses. This is not merely a naturalistic bias as Strobel and Meyer would argue; it is simply a statement of fact. - "Another Case not Made: Lee Strobel's Case for a Creator" Paul Jacobsen.

I agree with Jacobsen on that, and, as indicated above, believe that I have scriptural evidence to back this up.

So, by his own arguments, Meyer has shown that Strobel's case can not absolutely be made. In spite of this, Strobel, apparently not accepting this, plans to go on.

On p. 108, Strobel puts forth his plan for going on. He asks "Would the case for a creator hold up when it was scrutinized more carefully and when I could cross-examine experts with all of the questions that plagued me?" This is after interviewing Wells and Meyer. He resolved, he says, to "put experts in cosmology, physics, astronomy, microbiology, biological information, and consciousness to the test and see whether the case is as strong as Meyer claimed." (p. 109) As Jacobsen put it, Strobel's experts are only going to be IDers. There are many scientists who have vigorously attacked ID. Strobel seldom so much as mentions them, let alone questions them about their arguments, or gives them a chance to present them. Also, his experts are not complete. He might well have planned to interview an expert in hominid fossils, but did not.


Minigeek said...

I am glad that someone reckognized Stobel's work in an objective manner, I however could not present so objective a retelling. In the end I do agree that Strobel leaves no room for other interpretation and is entirelly one-sided in his "case".

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for reading. I really should finish this series, I suppose. Although, as I indicate in this post (Oct 18,2005) I don't think Strobel has presented his case fairly, and I personally don't think you can prove Intelligent Design, there is evidence of such from astronomy and cosmology presented in the last part of the book.

Mufana said...

For Thurs Oct 18 2005's post.

I agree that Strobel does not present his case including a fair presentation of evidence against his point, but who includes evidence against their case when they are trying to support one? When does a lawyer present evidence for the opposing case?