Are Creationists bonkers?
Science is everywhere. Its impact is incalculable. We now know more than ever before and to our understanding there appears to be no limits. The science fiction of a generation ago has become science fact. Maybe one day we’ll be able to explain everything. And so where once God held sway, science has moved in.
Where Faith once provided answers, today we know better.
As Christopher Hitchens wrote ‘Religion has run out of justifications, thanks to the telescope and microscope it no longer offers an explanation of anything important.’ And so as science has spread and made sense of the world, God has been squeezed into a smaller and smaller space and perhaps we have reached the point where science has even disproved God.
Science and God at loggerheads?
The popular conception is that they are. So if science says ‘ask questions’ faith replies ‘no questions,’ and if science says ‘here are the facts, what conclusions can be drawn?’ faith replies ‘here are the conclusions, quick find some facts.’ The Age of Faith is surely passing.
As Dawkins says ‘the best thing to do is to let Christianity die a natural death. When understanding the Universe has become widespread, the masses will know just how absurd Christian doctrine is.’But is this scenario true? Are Science and God at loggerheads?
Why did Science develop in the West?
Why didn’t the ancient Greeks with their genius for logic develop science? Why didn’t the ancient and medieval Indians turn their mathematical brilliance into science endeavour? Why didn’t the advanced civilisation of ancient China develop a culture of science? And why were the pioneers of science, such as Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Kelvin, Faraday and Babbage, either devout Christians or held to a Christian worldview?
The view that science and God are at loggerheads is false. It is historically untrue. It is a false memory planted in 21st century minds.
What happened in the West?
In the 16th and 17th centuries people started reading the Bible for themselves. The Book freed their minds to think. They read that
- The God of order created an ordered Universe; that the Lawgiver made a Universe governed by laws – laws which can be measured and understood, patterns in the fabric of existence which are both intelligible and predictable.
- Man was created in God’s image to rule over the works of his hands. He had therefore been given a mandate to study, understand and harness the creation to his advantage.
- Man is sinful, proud and blind. He gets things horribly wrong and therefore his reason can never go unchallenged.
These 3 points taught by the Bible became the bedrock for scientific discovery. In other words they said, the Universe needs to be observed, facts established, experiments performed. Furthermore, we must be sceptical of the findings, they must be retested and any conclusions must be subject to peer review.
So science developed in the West, because the ground was seeded with a biblical world view. The first historian of the Royal Society, Thomas Sprat (1635-1713) explained that the Society’s objective was to enable man to re-establish ‘Dominion over things.’ That is a biblical viewpoint. Why was the Natural History Museum so called? Because natural history was a subdivision of theology. In other words, modern science has grown out of a biblical world view.
Why then is Christianity seen as opposed to Science?
The reporting of science has been hijacked by philosophical atheism. It has been weaponised. It’s refusal to countenance a creator God has nothing to do with good, evidence based science. Rather it is driven by a philosophical antagonism towards Christianity. Long before Dawkins was a scientist he was an atheist and it is this philosophical presupposition which has driven his reading of the world.
Geneticist Richard Lewontin in a review of Carl Sagan’s, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, wrote:
‘We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.’
But let’s run with view the debate as it’s framed, that good science excludes the Divine.
We are asked to take on trust that:
- Everything came from Something and Something came from Nothing.
- Non-life gave rise to life.
- The impersonal gave rise to the personal.
- All that exists can be accounted for by time, chance, motion and matter.
Such a view must address three simple questions:
- The fine-tuning of the Universe: The Universe is beautifully set up, nuanced and finely adjusted to allow life. There are 15 known constants eg speed of light, gravity, and electromagnetism. Each of these constants has a given value but if any of these values happened to be different life could not exist. However, the chances that these constants have the value they do is infinitely small and wildly improbable. The chance of just one constant being what it is has been likened to a sniper hitting a coin on the other side of the Universe. So which is more likely? That all this arose by chance or that an infinitely wise and powerful God made it so?
- Human life. Are we a bag of chemicals, a cosmic accident? Are we the product of time and chance and matter and motion? Is murder simply the rearrangement of atoms? Why do we have values? Why is there beauty? Why do we applaud what is good and despise what is evil? If the Universe is the result of an accident, good and evil are simply two contrary opinions, neither of which is superior. Are we happy with that and if not why? And if man is simply programmed to pass on his genes, what is wrong with rape? Did Hitler get away with it? Is the scientific worldview competent to address these questions?
- What will you do with Jesus? In the first drop of the primeval soup was the jet engine, Beethoven’s nine symphonies and Jesus Christ. Is Jesus the product of mindless, random mistakes? Or is he God stepping into our world, and saying ask the questions, examine the facts, sift the evidence, and seek the truth. The real question is, are we willing to look, to follow the trail of breadcrumbs, and go wherever the evidence leads?
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