An atheist friend of mine had this quote posted on his facebook:
“If every trace of every single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.” – Penn Jillette
Could this be true? Let’s take a closer look.
First, in his statement, the arguer presumes God does not exist. This is not logically provable and must be accepted by faith, not scientific evidence. In his book, Why I Believe, Dr. D. James Kennedy describes atheism as a universal negative which cannot be proven. He cites an example of proving that little green men cannot be found in our universe. There’s no way to prove it. You’d have to travel through every planet and every star and inside every star through every galaxy in the entire universe and you’d have to examine every single part of the universe, at the same time. Likewise, atheism is a logical contradiction, and to affirm a logical contradiction is not rational. Since the presumption is not true (God does not exist), then the argument is not valid.
Second, referring to religion as nonsense is a logical fallacy known as a begging the question epithet. In Discerning Truth, Dr. Jason Lisle indicates that a begging the question epithet occurs when an arguer uses biased (often emotional) language to persuade people rather than using logic. In this case, the arguer uses an emotionally charged word (nonsense) that asserts all religious people are irrational. Again, this is not a valid argument.
Third, the arguer also presumes that observational, operational, and historical sciences are equal. Furthermore, he presumes that science equals truth. As we have discussed before, science is a concept that describes the processes used to gather and interpret evidence and draw conclusions. Observational science (what we can observe) and operational science (what we can test and repeat) is the kind of science that has led to the invention and building of everything from the telegraph to the space shuttle. Historical science is always based on assumptions because it is outside of the scientific method, is in the past, and cannot be repeated. Conclusions about the past, like the age of the universe, are always hypothesis or theory. You can see a short video that gives a good explanation here (scroll half way down the page).
Scientists have been wrong in the past. Not just a few times, but numerous times. One example is, scientists always assumed that heavier objects fell faster than lighter objects. It wasn’t until Galileo came along in the late 16th century and proved (using the scientific method) that gravity accelerated all objects at the same rate. There are many examples of scientists making wrong assumptions and, therefore, drawing wrong conclusions from the evidence. As a friend of mine pointed out, it was only three decades ago when many scientists announced the coming ice age. For the last 20 years all we’ve heard is global warming.
Lastly, the arguer fails to mention that modern science was born out of Christianity. Many of the first scientists were Christians who studied creation to learn about God. Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
The universal consciousness of God is evidence for the existence of God. Belief in God, if wiped out, would arise again because we are created in the imago dei, image of God. Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness… In addition, He has written his law on our hearts, Romans 2:14 …They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.
Moreover, if God once again revealed Himself to men through His written Word, you can be assured that men would seek to learn about their creator by studying His creatures.
Mr. Jillette’s assertion is simply not valid. We find truth in God’s special revelation, the Bible. This Truth, which is self attesting, gives us a foundation upon which to interpret scientific evidence and draw conclusions about God and His creation.