From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 3

This glorious post is Part 3 of a series, which is my response to this article. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.

In any case, argues Lewis, the whole idea that it is somehow unscientific to believe in God and therefore in the possibility of miracles, is both historically and philosophically mistaken. Modern science owes its very origin to monotheistic religion. To quote Lewis: “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.” (Miracles). That is why most of the great founding fathers of modern science believed in God and were Christians who took the Bible seriously. To mention just a few of them and the scientific disciplines they helped to establish, they include: Galileo and Kepler (astronomy), Pascal (hydrostatics), Boyle (chemistry), Newton (calculus), Linnaeus (systematic biology), Faraday (electromagnetics), Cuvier (comparative anatomy), Kelvin (thermodynamics), Lister (antiseptic surgery), and Mendel (genetics). All these men believed in an ordered universe and in the possibility of discovering how it functioned because they were convinced that the evidence of intelligent design in Nature indicated the existence of an Intelligent Creator. As Kepler put it, writing in the 17th century: “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he revealed to us in the language of mathematics.”

It is not necessarily unscientific to believe in God, but the fact remains that there is not the slightest shred of evidence that a god of any kind actually exists. There are plenty of scientists in the world who are theists, but they are very much in the minority. A miracle, by definition, is a violation of known and tested natural law, which under normal circumstances either cannot happen, or is very unlikely to happen. If God exists, then miracles are certainly possible, but in the entire history of mankind on this planet, there has never been a single verifiable case of an event taking place which could be classified as a genuine miracle. Throughout human history, mankind has dreamed up many thousands of gods, all of which have turned out to be false. Not a single one of them has ever turned out to actually be real. Theistic philosophers have been trying for centuries to justify belief in God as rational, but thus far they have utterly failed to do so. So, while belief in God may not necessarily be unscientific or “historically or philosophically mistaken”, it is not warranted rationally, given the complete and total lack of evidence for God’s actual existence.

Every single one of those men made their contributions to science completely apart from their belief in God. They made their contributions as all scientists do — by observation of the natural world and by careful and thoughtful testing of their theories about the natural world through experimentation.

Modern science owes its very origin to monotheistic religion. To quote Lewis: “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.” (Miracles).

This complete and utter bullshit! Men became scientific as they threw off the shackles of religion and began to investigate the real, natural world and discover how it really works, apart from the ignorant writings of scientifically ignorant men in ancient holy books. Scientific men absolutely did not “expect law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver”. Scientific men discovered what they call natural laws through observation and experimentation. In science, a theory attains the status of a “law” when it appears to be unbreakable by any natural means. Gravity, for example, as it was defined by Sir Isaac Newton, is considered a scientific law because it always works in the same way everywhere (under similar conditions) and it appears to be impossible to alter the way in which gravity works by any known natural means. Modern scientists know that the world and the universe do not work the way they do because a divine lawgiver has decreed that it should be so. Modern scientists (and that includes theistic scientists) know that the world and the universe work by entirely natural processes that can be known and understood through entirely natural means. Our current scientific method, in use now for several centuries, has worked marvelously, and in that time it has worked to greatly increase our scientific knowledge and our understanding of our world and our universe.

Jesus’ contemporaries in first century Palestine may have lacked the knowledge of modern physicists, but they were perfectly well aware that His virgin birth or His instantaneous healing of lepers were events which went against the normal course of nature, otherwise they would never have regarded them as miracles. Joseph, as we are told in Matthew’s Gospel, was resolved to break off his engagement to Mary precisely because he knew as well as you and I do that women don’t usually become pregnant without first having had sex with a man! Similarly, as we are told in John’s Gospel, ‘Doubting Thomas’ refused at first to believe the report of the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the grave, since he knew as well as any modern atheist that the victims of a Roman crucifixion did not normally return from the dead. It is therefore irrational to dismiss all reports of miracles as the unreliable testimony of credulous witnesses. You must examine the evidence for them with an open mind.

The ancient world was full of myths about virgin births and miraculous healings, so the alleged virgin birth of Jesus was certainly not a unique story, and neither were the stories relating his supposed healing miracles.

The supposed virgin birth of Jesus is problematical at best, however, because the verse used from the Old Testament that allegedly prophesied it speaks of a young woman, not necessarily a virgin. In Isaiah 7:14, the Hebrew work “almah” is used, which simply means a young woman of child-bearing age. If the author really wanted to specify that the woman was a virgin, he would have used the word “betulah”. And anyway, when read in context, the verse says nothing about an event which is supposed to occur centuries later. The entire story is about events taking place at that time, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.

Matthew’s Gospel, as is true of the others, is myth. It is not history! The story of Doubting Thomas from the Gospel of John also, obviously, is just a story and a literary device used to make a point, and not literal history. ALL miracle claims are anecdotal in nature, and not a single one of them has ever survived critical scrutiny and turned out to be for real. It is irrational to believe in miracles, when by definition they violate the normal manner in which the universe operates, they all are anecdotal claims made by credulous religious believers who want it to be true, and not a single miracle claim in the history of mankind has turned out to actually be for real.

If real, credible evidence that a genuine miracle has actually occurred is ever presented, then I will be happy to examine the said evidence with an open mind. Until then, I will remain very skeptical of miracle claims.

If, responding to this challenge, we look with an open mind at the accounts in the New Testament of the miracles of Jesus, Lewis argues, we are brought face to face with an interesting and significant fact. Instead of finding there the stuff of fairy tales – talking animals or frogs turning into princes – we are confronted with something much more rational and believable. What we see in most of Jesus’ miracles is what God does in the natural world, as its Creator, but localised and speeded up. Thus every year, for example, tiny seedlings of grain created by God grow into vast harvest fields of wheat and thousands of loaves of bread. The same process of multiplication took place in Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, but localised and speeded up. Similarly, God is always turning water into wine by the action of sunlight and rain on the fruit of the vine, and by the involvement of human beings in all the stages of winemaking. At the wedding feast in Cana (recorded in John’s Gospel), Jesus, as God the Creator Incarnate, also turns water into wine, but here again the conversion process is localised and speeded up. Exactly the same parallels apply to Jesus’ miracles of healing. Human beings created by God are constantly recovering from illnesses and diseases through the medical stimulation of their bodies’ God-given immune systems. So when Jesus healed lepers with a touch of His hand or a word of command, we again see God the Healer at work, but localised and speeded up, as man to man in ancient Palestine. In other words, says Lewis, the purpose of Jesus’ miracles was not just to show God’s love for humanity but to reveal to the people around Him (and to us) the presence among them of their Creator and Saviour.

Wow, an entire long paragraph of nonsense and wishful thinking! Glory!

I love how miracles are conveniently re-defined as “natural processes localized and speeded up”, rather than them being what they normally are — violations of the way the universe/world normally works. Again the Gospels are myth, not literal history, as this glorious video from Dr. Richard Carrier makes plain.

Our immune systems were not given to us by a god. Our immune system evolved into its present form over a very long period of time, just as the rest of our physical bodies did. Why are believers always so impressed with the alleged healing miracles of Jesus? I would be MUCH more impressed if a real, existing God intervened in our world in an unmistakable way and miraculously cured ALL diseases, which would certainly be within his power to do as God. Hell, I would be quite impressed if he wiped out ONE serious disease, such as cancer or AIDS.

This concludes Part 3 of this glorious series. Part 4 will be coming soon! Glory!