3 Comments

  1. Hey Justin, it’s Nick. You asked for my opinions so here they are.

    I’ve been following the evolutionary research on morality for a while now, and I do find it fascinating. There are some interesting findings, not just in primate development, but some traits that evolved in parallel in other social species such as elephants, crows, and even piranha.

    As you know from talking with me, I held for some time a belief in the spiritual world, while simultaneously rejecting the belief in any sort of god. Over time, as I’ve looked into things and my own understanding of the world, I have downgraded that belief into a suspicion and eventually into a mere idea. I remain open to the idea of a spiritual world existing, but no longer see enough reason to make a substantial claim about its existence, or even its probability of existence.

    However, when I did hold this belief, I maintained that the spirit world was inherently testable by science. So, I will say that I disagree with you that science is limited to the purely physical realm. True, the only tools that science has to work with are physical, but if the proposed spiritual world interacts with the physical world in any way, then that effect can be measured.

    The question remains about whether that measurement will be useful in any way, and I would say that so long as the spirit word has consistent rules under which it operates, then we can make predictions about future interactions with the spirit world by using the scientific method. Consistent rules can include chaos, by the way, quantum theory is an excellent example of predicted unpredictability.

    Really the only way we wouldn’t be able to make predictions is if
    1) The spiritual world did not regularly effect the physical world (which would translate to an effectively absent God in your worldview)

    or

    2) The spiritual world intelligently reacted to predictions in such a way as to be unpredictable (meaning God is constantly changing his own rules without pattern)

    In scenario 1, I would argue that the spiritual world does not matter in terms of Human existence. Although I can see a counter-example of a god who made a one-time interference (such as your example of the resurrection), informed humanity of some rules, and then made sure that any consequences of those rule are only applied after death. Although I doubt many people would find this idea of a god appealing or compelling.

    In scenario 2 morality becomes a spiritual non-issue, since the rules are not fixed.

    Basically, if spiritual actions have predictable consequences in the physical world, then they are withing the realm of science. If they do not, then there is no point in worrying about them for morality purposes.

    ———————————————

    Also it goes without saying that I disagree with you about the historical veracity of the resurrection. I’m not even convinced that Jesus claimed to be the son of God. Although I am convinced from my research that there very probably was a radical Jewish preacher named Jesus (or something similar) living in roughly the same area and time that the Biblical Jesus was supposed to have lived.

    Honestly there were so many self-proclaimed messiahs in the area during that time period, that it would be surprising that the Bible wasn’t based off one of them.

    But the main issue is that your claim that this event is testable is untrue. For the simple reason that it cannot be replicated. No singular historical event is testable in the scientific sense. Historians can claim that an event happened when there are multiple contemporary accounts to the degree that the written evidence all being a fiction is a far more preposterous idea than the event actually having occurred.

    Considering no one wrote about the life of Jesus until a full generation after his death, and nearly all later writers had access to the works of the earlier ones, it is just too likely that the account was a fiction built out of the oral tradition, in the same manner that Greek myths arose.

    • Hey Nick! Thanks for responding! 🙂 I see what you’re saying about the “testability” of the spiritual realm. I’m trying to form my thoughts in the process of writing this, but I think that the problem with scientifically testing the spiritual realm is that it isn’t actually a true scientific test. A scientist can’t actually set up an experiment that compares no spiritual influence (control) with spiritual influence (variable). If God and the spiritual realm exist, then they are present in the entire experiment. If God and the spiritual realm don’t exist, then they don’t exist in the entire experiment. Either way, such an experiment will most likely yield no difference between the alleged control and variable.

      So with morality, you can use evidence to make a case that it evolved in humans in some sense. But if there is a God behind that process, how could science “see” that? In such a case, the very fact that morality evolved in humans is itself a “miracle.” Looking at these types of questions is interesting and important, but the point of my article is that I don’t think that they are key when deciding about God.

      For verifying the resurrection claims, of course you can’t scientifically replicate it. It’s primarily a question of history, not of science. Did it happen or didn’t it? If you use the same procedures with the resurrection claims as you do for verifying to comfortable levels of certainty other historical claims, then I contend that the resurrection stands, and quite strongly at that. Again, I’m not going to go into details on this matter here. I found Evidence that Demands a Verdict to be a good source on the subject. I’ll only say that the fact that these accounts came out of an oral tradition culture doesn’t discount the claims, especially when that oral tradition is so strong and meticulously kept.

  2. Burnest

    I like to think of science as “warm and ever-improving” rather than “cold and hard” (I’m taking “hard” figuratively as in “just the way it is” or “unchanging”).

    Other than that, great read!

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