DC Physics logo

February 23, 1583: Birthday of Jean-Baptiste Morin more: Today in Physics  





Why (bother to) Argue with Christian Pseudo-Science?

This is an old "world wide cobweb" page, one of the first pages I wrote. Way back when I was young(ish). It was moved to this location September, 2008. To learn more about it read this article: End of an Era.

by Doug Craigen, PhD (physics)

Revision 1.0 - Feb. 9, 1996

A person reading through some of my writings on scientific misconceptions in some Christian teaching may eventually ask themself a question that I have struggled with in the writing, why am I writing these things? Isn't this undermining the Christian faith and witness, attempting to destroy other Christian's ministries? I will provide some explanation here of why it may appear that I'm working for the 'other side'.

In fact, the above questions would not be asked for a comparable situation in most other areas of knowledge. If an apologist were to formulate a proof of God's existence based on Hitler having won the second world war, I doubt that many Christians would accept it. While this hypothetical 'proof' may be useful in the conversion of some very uneducated people, it would also be quite rightly be rejected by most. Now suppose this 'proof' rested on a not so obvious historical mistake, something like the 'fact' that Queen Victoria took the throne in 1813. In this case there would be fewer people who would recognise that the proof was based on something that wasn't true. The fact that fewer people recognise the error doesn't change the fact that it is wrong, it doesn't make it any better an argument, it just means that it will fool more people. If we allowed this 'proof' to become widespread, then it would mean that educated unbelievers would be justified in dismissing Christianity on the grounds that Christians base their faith on historical lies. It would also mean that many people would lose their faith upon taking a history course, or would accuse their teachers of being biased/humanistic/closed minded ... for teaching what is in fact the truth.

Suppose now that some doctrine or apologetic is based not on a historical error, but a scientific error. The situation will be just like the second historical example. Yes it might fool a lot of people, but surely we cannot accept that it is alright to base a ministry on lies!

Finding scientific error in Christian teachings is an exercise that brings me no joy, rather I see it as a necessary chore. It is rather like taking out the garbage at home. Fun? No! But, if I don't do it, its only matter of time until the whole house will be smelly and disease ridden.

In the vast majority of cases there is no intention whatsoever to misinform when false scientific claims are made in somebody's teaching, rather there are some such claims which have become so widespread that they are now contained in much reference material (even much otherwise very good material). This means that unless the reader knows the scientific subject material themself and spots any errors, the misconception will be passed along. I expect that most Christians would be quite ready to drop any belief which can be shown to be untrue, and there is nothing in any of this that affects the integrity of the Bible itself.

God of the Gaps

For a description of the most common type of scientific flaw in Christian teaching, I suggest reading God of the Gaps.