I recently watched as Bill O’Reilly interviewed Richard Dawkins on the subject of atheism. Everyone knows that Dawkins is one of the most outspoken proponents of atheism and can argue his position quite well from a scientific perspective.
Unfortunately, O’Reilly isn’t the deepest thinker at a pot party and failed to point out what could be the most important counter argument to disqualify Dawkins as the final arbiter on the subject.
The point that is overlooked in these discussions was articulated in passing by Dawkins in that interview. Dawkins disqualified O’Reilly’s points time after time by explaining that O’Reilly’s arguments were not scientific. O’Reilly didn’t grab the ball and run with it. Evidently it didn’t occur to him that Dawkins had boxed himself in when he defined his arguments as “scientific.” He had inadvertently handed O’Reilly the weapon he needed, but O’Reilly didn’t recognize it.
There is no shortage of atheists running loose in the world. We have Richard Dawkins and his book “God Delusion,” Christopher Hitchens and his “intellectual” attacks on religion and even Stephen Hawking, the brilliant scientist, who is confined to a wheel chair. Despite his brilliance, Hawking once claimed that “nothing created everything.” Hawking essentially believes in spontaneous creation.
The reason we will always lose the argument with smart guys like those is that they have forced us to play the game by their rules and on their football field. To attempt to win the game with them on a scientific basis is futile. Unfortunately, they can’t see beyond the football field and are unaware of the bleachers.
Science, as Hawkins readily admitted in the O’Reilly interview, deals with the physical universe. That means that only what can be observed, tested, and defined using the scientific methodology is truth. Anything beyond the physical world – this world that science can measure – is unknown and, to the scientific mind, unknowable. Hawkins is satisfied to pitch his tent in that particular valley and is not inclined to peek over the next hill. Science is the atheist’s comfort zone.
Origins, cosmology, teleology, spirituality and God are beyond the reach of science. So to expect a scientist to enter into an intelligent discussion of areas outside the boundaries of the scientific method is like asking a fish to describe fire. Fortunately, many scientists can understand that there is more than what science can measure.
When I was a kid, we had a speaker at a high school camp explain this limitation. He explained it in simple terms that I’ve always remembered. He drew a circle on a blackboard and began to fill the circle with everything we know. Everything in the universe went inside that circle. When we were satisfied that all human knowledge and everything in existence was inside that circle, the speaker asked a simple question, “Is it possible that anything could exist outside of that circle?” Well, is it? To answer in the negative implies that you have access to all knowledge. You are omniscient. You are also delusional. You are almost forced to leave the door open to that possibility.
So this is the flaw in the arguments put forth by Dawkins, Hitchens and others. Yes. If nothing exists outside of that circle; outside of the physical universe, outside of what can be determined by the scientific method, the atheists may be right. If we can’t “capture” God within our scientific testing laboratory, i.e. the physical universe, then maybe He doesn’t exist. What do you think?