Belief in God Creation/evolution Meaning of life Science

God, science & miracles: as conversations go

—A biblical creationist in the skeptics lion’s den

by John H.1 (this is not me, John Gideon Hartnett, see footnote)

Daniel in the lion’s den is an event I can vaguely relate to. Some years ago I attended a movie screening held by the NSW Humanists in Sydney. I was the lone Christian and Biblical creationist at a meeting attended by scientists, atheists, Skeptics and hard-core Darwinians. I had attended the meeting to secure a public debate between a visiting leading American Christian Apologist, Dr John Warwick Montgomery, and the then President of the Australian Skeptics, Mark Plummer, both lawyers. The subsequent debate was well attended and reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. Credit : Wikipedia

After the screening that night, I engaged in a lively conversation with the head of the science department of a major Sydney university. We both enjoyed the conversation. He gave me a draft copy of his forthcoming book on evolution, and invited me to be his guest at the post screening dinner to continue our discussion.

During the meal I asked him whether he was an atheist or otherwise. He said he was probably an atheist. So, the following exchange took place:

John H: Do you regard yourself as a hard-boiled atheist, or a soft-boiled atheist?

Scientist 1: What’s the difference?

John H: Well! The hard-core atheist says that God doesn’t exist.

Scientist 1: Yes that’s probably my position.

John H: Einstein said he had less that 1% of all available knowledge. How would you compare yourself to Einstein? Would you have more or less knowledge?

Scientist 1:
I would have to say less.

John H: So, how can you say with any certainty that God doesn’t exist when you have less than 1% of knowledge? You would need 100% knowledge of all that exists to affirm that no God exists. You can’t substantiate that, can you?

Scientist 1: No. I can’t can I?

John H: Than that makes you a soft-boiled atheist.

Scientist 1: What’s a soft-boiled atheist?

John H: The soft-boiled atheist is someone who says that you can “never know” whether God exists or not.

Scientist 1:  Yes, I would agree with that!

John H: But how can anyone say you can “never know” unless you know all there is to know? Again, you would have to have 100% knowledge to say that you can never know.

Scientist 1:  I guess I can’t say that either, can I?

John H: No! I guess you just don’t really know, do you?

Scientist 1: True! I don’t really know!

At this point a scientist from the Australian Museum sitting opposite wanted to know what we were discussing.

Scientist 1: we are discussing whether or not God exists.

Scientist 2: I’m an atheist who believes there is no God.

Scientist 1: You can’t really say that with any certainty?

By this time the discussion had drawn the attention of others at the table.

Interjector: What about all those miracles in the Bible. Surely you don’t believe these really happened.

John H: Yes I do! I responded. Which specific miracles are you talking about?

Interjector: Well! You know, Christ rising people from the dead and the resurrection of Christ Himself. As well as the Biblical accounts of animals talking, such as the talking ass.2  How could anyone possibly believe all that this stuff actually took place?

John H: Actually, everyone at this table does, including you.

Interjector: You’re joking! How can you possibly say that?

Balaams ass
God caused caused a dumb animal — Balaam’s ass — to speak His words. Credit: Wikipedia

John H: Well!  Everyone at this table believes that evolution is true. Right? So, you all likewise truly believe that dead matter spontaneously brought itself to life and then supposedly turned itself into all the living creatures, including humans. So, I need to point out that in comparison to this the biblical miracles would be a mere ‘walk in the park’ for God:  Because the dead bodies brought back to life were already fully assembled and had been previously functioning humans.

Interjector:  So, what about talking animals?

John H: I must again point out that everyone at this table likewise believes in talking animals.  We all know this because everyone at this table truly believes that the supposed monkey-like-animal human ancestor one day ‘started talking’, and even ‘singing’. So, you all, also believe that animals can talk.  The big difference is that in the biblical account it was God talking via an ass.

Of course, the whole point here is that scientific world cannot escape miracles: Because all of science is ultimately founded on the premise that miracles must of necessity happen in the past. Because there is ultimately no other option to account for cosmic existence, life and everything else. The scientific world will argue that all these ‘natural’ miracles happened without a miracle worker anywhere to be found in the universe. In reality, the scientific world has nothing in the universe that is “self-existing” and there is nothing in existence with “self-creating” capabilities. Thus we have all these ‘natural’ miracles supposedly happening without a miracle worker. Which all theists would have to concede is ‘really miraculous’.

Footnote 1: This article (slightly edited) was written by my friend John H., who had his own website The God Reality at that time.

Footnote 2: Balaam’s ass, Numbers 22:21-38.

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By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.