TOUGH QUESTIONS: HAS SCIENCE DISPROVED THE EXISTENCE OF GOD?
The argument goes that before there was science there was faith.
Faith, it is said, was man’s attempt to understand how the world was made, why there was sickness and why there was health, and what causes things that happen to do so.
Faith was, it is said, a naïve, innocent, belief that the things that cannot be understood must be “because of God”, made by God, ordained by God, affected by God – a divine being, the belief in which would explain all the wonders of life, the world and the universe.
But then came science.
Science, it is said, explains what was unexplainable, and brings understanding to what was not understood. Science, it is said, informs us as to how the universe was made, why there is sickness and how to bring about health, and what causes all things to happen.
Science, it is said, explains away the need for a faith in a God. Science shows there is no God.
Science, it is said, has disproved the existence of God. Science is where, so it is said, rationalism replaces religion.
The “new atheists” seem to be in the majority. Published on the 25th of April 2022 ‘Science and religion’: moving away from the shallow end’, revealed that the British public are more likely, by a proportion of 2:1, to think that science and religion are incompatible (57%) than compatible (30%). Interestingly, the younger generation are more likely to see science and religion as compatible. But are they right???
My stand is this: rather than DISPROVE God, science is the wonderful natural evidence in the actual PROOF of God! In fact, it is widely accepted that it is the Christian view of order and method in the creation of the Universe that led to the development of scientific research in the first place – work carried out to understand the divine creation.
My stand is this: God, through His Word, the Bible, tells us WHAT He has done and WHY He has done it; science wonderfully is beginning (just beginning) to explain to us HOW and (maybe) WHEN He has done all that He has done.
My stand is this: Science does not CONFLICT with God, rather it COMPLEMENTS our understanding of the wonders of God.
- Firstly, let us look briefly at the controversy of “miracles” at this point. Science helps us to understand nature’s universal laws – the “natural”. Spinoza (1632 – 1677), the foremost exponent of 17th C rationalism, declared that nothing can “contravene nature’s universal laws”. The philosopher, Hume, rejected miracles as a “violation of the laws of nature” and therefore impossible. Yet, miracles DO happen! When a person rises from the dead a miracle takes place – it is not naturally possible. When eyes appear in previously empty eye sockets, a miracle HAS taken place – it is not naturally possible. When food for 5 feeds 5000, a miracle happens. Therefore, one has to either reject documented proven facts or accept the fact that miracles happen. Science explains what is natural, miracles show what God can do beyond the natural. There is no conflict here. In fact, science, based on natural laws highlights the supernatural – God’s Law.
- Secondly, let us look briefly at the assertion that the theory of evolution proves that God did not create the universe (and thus, for many, the “proof” that God does not exist). The English biologist and agnostic philosopher, T.H. Huxley, for example, declared that “the doctrine of evolution…makes it impossible to believe the Bible”. You see here that science can be as much a matter of “faith” as our “faith” in the Truth of the Bible! My stand is this: that the “theory of Evolution” is just as it “says on the tin”…a THEORY.
The theory of (macro) evolution says, in effect, this: that science suggests that the universe in general and life on earth in particular developed over billions of years and is the result of the natural laws of nature in which a creation by God has no part (there is no God). And that the evolution of the species was based on “survival of the fittest” in which one species developed into another over vast periods of time (the “ape developed into man” theory) and that (micro) evolution (where species develop and alter – for example man is getting taller and living longer due to better diet and medicine) continues to this day.
I am not able to argue effectively either for or against this theory. But I can say that this is what I believe – because I believe in the Truth of the Bible:
Genesis 1: 1-5
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light ‘day’, and the darkness he called ‘night’. And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.
This is the start of the Bible. This is the start of the universe – created by God. This first chapter of the Word of God declares WHAT God did and WHY God did it (the theological questions). What science has been trying to unravel is HOW God did it and WHEN God did it (the scientific questions). Whether you believe that God “did it” in 6 literal days, or that these days of creation are symbolic of what God did over millions of years (explaining how “days” of 24 hours in the Genesis account makes no sense if the Sun did not appear until “day” 4) is the matter for debate and personal understanding. We will NOT “fall-out” over your differing views of HOW God made all things! This is a study in progress. No theological debate or scientific research has yet reached a definitive conclusion. Stephen Hawking, arguably the greatest scientific mind of this generation, showed the complimentary nature of science and faith when he summarised his views on the origin of the universe: “science may solve the problem of how the universe began, but it cannot answer the question: why does the universe bother to exist?” This is only answered by the Word of God:
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
There is a scientific theory, or question, called “first cause” – which is that everything has a start – but science cannot answer this question – it simply speaks of a “Big Bang” of a “singularity” where infinite matter in infinitesimal space expanded out explosively without being able to explain where this matter came from…
There is a theological theory called “creatio ex nihilo” which answers this problem: God created all that we see out of nothing that was there.
Hebrews 1: 10 declares the following:
‘In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
The Levites affirmed in Nehemiah 9: 6 the following:
6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
Revelation 14: 7
He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’
And so my stand is this: avoid the two extremes in the debate of science and religion. The extreme on the one hand is that science gives the proof that God does not exist:
Not only is this not so, but anywhere between 1/3 and ½ of scientists believe in a god and creator of some kind.
The extreme on the other hand is that science is a tool of the devil that the church must resist:
Let our faith look carefully at scientific research – for it may be that we have become “our own worst enemy” at times – making a stand on issues that have no Biblical authority when Science helps us to understand them correctly. One good example of this goes back a long way – when Galileo asserted that his scientific research showed that the planets (including the Earth) revolved around the Sun. The Church cried “heresy!” in its belief that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe – even though the Bible NEVER says this! Refusing to recant, Galileo was forced to spend the final 8 years of his life under house arrest. The terrible irony was that Galileo was a devout Christian who declared “there are two big books, the book of nature and the book of supernature, the Bible”. And, of course, science has continued to show that the Earth DOES revolve around the Sun.
So, my stand is this: Science and Religion should go hand-in-hand. I welcome the benefits that science brings to my understanding of the wonders of creation and the way things “work”. I am amazed at what Science has shown me regarding the intricate wonders of the human body, the glories of the vast universe, the incredible order and laws of nature. When I look at science, I see the hand of God.
- Through science I see God in the “gigantic”: When I look at images of galaxies and nebulas from space telescopes like Hubble and James Webb I am awestruck by the beauty and splendour of God’s creation and am grateful for the science that reveals this glory. Science explains the laws behind the universe, the chemicals that make it up, the processes by which it all comes together – but it doesn’t explain the design behind it and the hand of the One who created it – that is seen in the hand of God.
- Through science I see God in the “tiny”: When I look at the myriads of moths which fly at night attracted by the street lights I see only their beauty. But science explains their amazing intricacies – the life cycle that goes from egg to caterpillar, to pupa, to chrysalis, to full-blown moth (the chances of happening naturally being small beyond belief); their feather-like antenna allow them to smell female moths up to 7 mils away; their wings that have sound-reduction so that they are almost invisible to predators; many moths have developed ear-like organs that can pick up the sound of bats coming to eat them! Science has opened my eyes to understanding moths – but only God can show me how they came to be made.
So many leading scientists believe in the creative hand of God because the intricacies of life and the universe are so vast as to make creation by chance ludicrously impossible. And if you want to know what this all means…one author has put it like this: the chance of life coming about by chance is the same as a hurricane hitting a junk yard and a Boeing 747 appearing out of it! Science doesn’t work without God, without a Creator.
I do not welcome the short-sightedness of the one who says that all science should be shunned as being “anti-God”. But neither do I welcome the sad reality where “theories” are taught in school as if they are facts that disprove the existence of God. This is wrong, this is dangerous, this is “of our enemy the devil” and we must stand against it.
Science reveals the glories of God. God reveals the order of science.
Science does not disprove God, Science helps us to understand the immensity of God.
There are still those who declare that science has disproved the existence of God. So, as my final thought, my last refutation of this, let us look at the well-used analogy of the simple watch. One of my treasures is a basic skeleton watch – one which allows me to see the mechanism inside – the cogs and wheels, the springs and the “beating heart” of the release mechanism. Science can look at this watch, take it apart, identify and analysis all its components. Science can then declare that it knows HOW this watch was made and WHEN it was made. But to then declare “Because we know HOW it was made it therefore has no maker” is ludicrous! Science can say HOW and WHEN this watch was made – but I, the wearer, KNOW its beauty and WHAT the maker did; and I know the maker WHO made it; and I know the reason WHY the maker made it.
Science “declares the glory of God”.
“Time” magazine produced an important article back in 2014 asking the question:
“Why Science Does Not Disprove God”
In it they show the confusion of those support science and yet who deny the existence of God:
A number of recent books and articles would have you believe that—somehow—science has now disproved the existence of God. We know so much about how the universe works, their authors claim, that God is simply unnecessary: we can explain all the workings of the universe without the need for a Creator.
And indeed, science has brought us an immense amount of understanding. The sum total of human knowledge doubles roughly every couple of years or less. In physics and cosmology, we can now claim to know what happened to our universe as early as a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, something that may seem astounding. In chemistry, we understand the most complicated reactions among atoms and molecules, and in biology we know how the living cell works and have mapped out our entire genome. But does this vast knowledge base disprove the existence of some kind of pre-existent outside force that may have launched our universe on its way?
Science won major victories against entrenched religious dogma throughout the 19th century. In the 1800s, discoveries of Neanderthal remains in Belgium, Gibraltar and Germany showed that humans were not the only hominids to occupy earth, and fossils and remains of now extinct animals and plants further demonstrated that flora and fauna evolve, live for millennia and then sometimes die off, ceding their place on the planet to better-adapted species. These discoveries lent strong support to the then emerging theory of evolution, published by Charles Darwin in 1859. And in 1851, Leon Foucault, a self-trained French physicist, proved definitively that earth rotates—rather than staying in place as the sun revolved around it—using a special pendulum whose circular motion revealed the planet’s rotation. Geological discoveries made over the same century devastated the “young earth” hypothesis. We now know that earth is billions, not thousands, of years old, as some theologians had calculated based on counting generations back to the biblical Adam. All of these discoveries defeated literal interpretations of Scripture.
But has modern science, from the beginning of the 20th century, proved that there is no God, as some commentators now claim? Science is an amazing, wonderful undertaking: it teaches us about life, the world and the universe. But it has not revealed to us why the universe came into existence nor what preceded its birth in the Big Bang. Biological evolution has not brought us the slightest understanding of how the first living organisms emerged from inanimate matter on this planet and how the advanced eukaryotic cells—the highly structured building blocks of advanced life forms—ever emerged from simpler organisms. Neither does it explain one of the greatest mysteries of science: how did consciousness arise in living things? Where do symbolic thinking and self-awareness come from? What is it that allows humans to understand the mysteries of biology, physics, mathematics, engineering and medicine? And what enables us to create great works of art, music, architecture and literature? Science is nowhere near to explaining these deep mysteries.
But much more important than these conundrums is the persistent question of the fine-tuning of the parameters of the universe: Why is our universe so precisely tailor-made for the emergence of life? This question has never been answered satisfactorily, and I believe that it will never find a scientific solution. For the deeper we delve into the mysteries of physics and cosmology, the more the universe appears to be intricate and incredibly complex. To explain the quantum-mechanical behavior of even one tiny particle requires pages and pages of extremely advanced mathematics. Why are even the tiniest particles of matter so unbelievably complicated? It appears that there is a vast, hidden “wisdom,” or structure, or knotty blueprint for even the most simple-looking element of nature.
Why did everything we need in order to exist come into being? How was all of this possible without some latent outside power to orchestrate the precise dance of elementary particles required for the creation of all the essentials of life? The great British mathematician Roger Penrose has calculated—based on only one of the hundreds of parameters of the physical universe—that the probability of the emergence of a life-giving cosmos was 1 divided by 10, raised to the power 10, and again raised to the power of 123. This is a number as close to zero as anyone has ever imagined. (The probability is much, much smaller than that of winning the Mega Millions jackpot for more days than the universe has been in existence.)
APPENDIX 2: STATEMENTS BY SCIENTISTS
DECLARING THAT SCIENCE AND FAITH COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER
“The question of whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the Universe has been answered in the affirmative by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed.”
–Charles Darwin, the founder of evolutionary biology, as cited in his book “Descent of Man”.
“As we conquer peak after peak we see in front of us regions full of interest and beauty, but we do not see our goal, we do not see the horizon; in the distance tower still higher peaks, which will yield to those who ascend them still wider prospects, and deepen the feeling, the truth of which is emphasized by every advance in science, that ‘Great are the Works of the Lord’.”
—Sir Joseph J. Thomson, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who is recognized as the founder of atomic physics. Thomson was a devout Christian.
(Presidential Address to the British Association, as quoted in Arthur L. Foley, ‘Recent Developments in Physical Science, The Popular Science Monthly (1910), 456)
“A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.”
–Joseph H. Taylor, Jr., who received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the first known binary pulsar, and for his work which supported the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe. Taylor is a devout Christian.
“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”
“I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.”
(From E. Salaman, “A Talk With Einstein,” The Listener 54 (1955)
“One way to learn the mind of the Creator is to study His creation. We must pay God the compliment of studying His work of art and this should apply to all realms of human thought. A refusal to use our intelligence honestly is an act of contempt for Him who gave us that intelligence.”
— Physicist Ernest Walton, who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics for his “atom smashing” experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom. Walton was a devout Christian.
“Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join ‘the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’”
–Astrophysicist Hugh Ross, former post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology and author of “The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God”. Ross is a devout Christian.
“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”
–Robert Jastrow, the astronomer and physicist who founded NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, as cited in his book God and the Astronomers.
“I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”
“If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”
—Lord William Kelvin, who was noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics, the concept of absolute zero and the Kelvin temperature scale based upon it. Kelvin was a devout Christian.
“God created everything by number, weight and measure.”
“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”
“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”
—Sir Isaac Newton, who is widely regarded to have been the greatest scientist the world has ever produced. Newton was a devout Christian.
“Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”
“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls.”
—Max Planck, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who made the crucial scientific contribution of founding quantum physics. Planck was a devout Christian and a member of the Lutheran Church in Germany.
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
Professor James Simpson, who paved the way for painless surgery through anaesthetics, was asked, “what do you think is the most important discovery of your life?”. His reply was “the most important discovery I ever made was when I discovered Jesus Christ”.
These are but a tiny portion of hundreds of God-affirming quotes by world-renowned scientists and found at the following web address: https://godevidence.com/2010/08/quotes-about-god-atheism/