By Jim Porto
Christopher Hitchens, on a promotional tour for his book GOD IS NOT GREAT: HOW RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING, conducted a “debate” at the Raleigh Unitarian, Universalist Church on 16 May 2007. Mr. Hitchens’ adversary was a young Assistant Professor from Campbell University, a N.C. private college with fundamentalist leanings. It was no contest. Mr. Hitchens was playing to a sympathetic audience; his adversary was outgunned by Mr. Hitchens quick wit, charming stories, and big words. Even though I have come to hold a position very similar to that of Mr. Hitchens, I believe the GOD debate can not be won on rational grounds.
The scientific method uses only natural explanations for phenomena, not supernatural explanations. Supernatural explanations make our reality much more complicated because the laws we observe in our world can be set aside by a power we cannot fathom, which is to say, by whim. The God Hypothesis introduces a complicating force by removing the assurance of consistency and orderliness in our world.
The only “rational” defense for the scientific method is Occam’s Razor or the Law of Parsimony, which states that given two equally comprehensive explanations for a phenomenon, chose the simpler as the true one. Note that this is a decision criterion not a method of validation. There is no empirical or logical law that requires we take the simpler explanation; it is a matter of aesthetics. The simpler is more beautiful, more pleasing to the intellect. The scientific method, in the final analysis, is based upon a belief that the beautiful is truth rather than the truth is beautiful.