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Has science explained it all?

Some weeks ago a young man who comes regularly to our youth club, told me that he didn’t believe in God because science has shown how life works, and God is not needed as part of that explanation. He put it more simply than that, but this was the essence of his belief. Whether he reflected the views of his parents or school teachers, or whether he worked it out for himself, I don’t know, but this oversimplified conclusion to a very complex debate, illustrates a view held today by a wide range of people – some scientifically literate and others less so.

I always think it is a shame, however, that people, who adopt this position, assume that science and religion must inevitably be in conflict. It as if Christians because of their belief in the God of the Bible must therefore reject science, and scientists, because of their commitment to the scientific method, must reject ‘faith-based knowledge’ because it cannot be subjected to the rigours of scientific analysis. This is an unfortunate but widely held myth.

More broadly, Christianity (and for that matter, other faiths too) are asking different questions to those of scientific inquiry. True, we are both concerned about origins – of the universe and of life on this planet, but those of a faith persuasion do so more with the question of ultimate meaning in view, and not with the physical processes by which life works for example.

One of the difficulties we face in ever having a fair-minded debate is the fact that this subject generates considerable passion from those who have well-defined views as to what they consider true and what they do not. Therefore, there are some scientists who are staunchly atheistic in their outlook and who therefore reject the claims of religion in general and Christianity in particular in very strident terms. It simply does not fit with their world view. They do not want God in the equation in any way, shape or form. Of course, this worldview assumes that all truth worth knowing must be determined by the scientific community. There are problems with this. As with religion, so much of what forms the basis of human culture (art, music, literature, philosophy etc) cannot be subject to scientific analysis either. But few reasonable people would want to claim that these arenas of human enquiry and experience are without important truths and insights. What is more, these other forms of knowledge are so rich, by virtue of their own explanatory methods on the one hand, and by their power to inspire and enrich life on the other.

Equally it must be acknowledged that a fair-minded debate is not always helped by Christians who want to regard the book of Genesis as though it were a scientific text, and reject as a result, the main findings of the scientific community with respect to the age of the universe, and of the formation of life on earth for example.

As with most subjects, an entrenched mind-set of any persuasion is seldom helpful to meaningful debate. Either way, it leads to a form of dogmatism which leaves its proponents quick to reject any argument that challenges their foremost assumptions. This is unhelpful and intellectually dishonest. The search for ultimate truth requires a genuine openness from all who really care about it.

I therefore find it refreshing when scientists who are not Christians, can still marvel for example, at the fine tuning of the universe, and retain a sense of wonder and awe. They have retained an open mind as to the big questions such as the origin of the universe itself and of the interplay between the marvellous array of physical laws that make life possible. Equally, I find it encouraging listening to many esteemed scientists who are also practising Christians, who find no contradiction between their scientific research and their commitment to a Christian view of God.

Part of the reason for displaying this poster is to encourage those who see it to think afresh about the question, and to do so for themselves. It is too easy to adopt someone else’s views without doing your own homework. For sure, the case for God cannot be proven or ultimately disproven either by science or through religious texts, but looked at together the different and complementary forms of evidence can be very convincing. Why not take a fresh look for yourself?

Recommended viewing:

 ‘New evidence for God’ web site in which you can watch six short clips, in which scientists (who are Christians) talk about the fine tuning of the universe, and how for them, it is fully compatible with their Christian faith.

http://www.focus.org.uk

  1. A very unlikely place.
  2. Life on a razor’s edge.
  3. Just lucky?
  4. Right for us?
  5. God or the multiverse?
  6. A deeper story?

Recommended reading:

A good introduction that gives a biblical and scientific overview, is called 'Guide to Understanding Creation', written by two Christians who are both well qualified scientists - Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts. Publisher: A Holman Reference Book, published by B&H Publishing, Nashville.

This is well written, nicely illustrated and gives a fair and balanced understanding of all points of view, while taking a clear Christian perspective.