“Well, I’m more of a believer in science.”
I still hear this statement or one like it fairly often when I ask people whether they believe in a higher power or hold any spiritual beliefs. I can’t help but smile a little when I hear this. I also can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. I guess the sadness comes instinctively as a result of recognizing how many people have never thought critically enough to realize the absurdity of such a statement.
It’s not that I have anything against the statement itself. Hey, I’m a believer in science too. A very big believer, in fact. But that’s a very strange answer to a question about whether I have spiritual beliefs. It implies that I can’t be a believer in science and also believe in God.
In other words, science has disproven God. Or science and God don’t go together, or science and religion are mutually exclusive. It’s strange in part because science is tasked with studying the way the natural world works and is thus not even capable of disproving something beyond its scope (i.e. the supernatural). But mostly it’s just sad to me that somebody actually thinks scientific evidence speaks against the existence of God.
So why is this such a popular view in today’s society?
Well, I think part of it is that many who hold this view haven’t actually done the work themselves. It’s become a mainstream assumption which many hold for precisely that reason (which is kind of circular, isn’t it?). But there are certainly also many in the scientific and academic community who propagate this view as well. They champion observational evidence as the very reason why Christians and those of other spiritual persuasions are silly and foolish for believing in God. Only the natural sciences can produce certainty and results. And yet, there seem to be some interesting inconsistencies in how these kinds of scientific theories pan out when it comes to the topic of God.
For example, take the origins of the universe. Prior to the relatively recent discovery that the universe definitely had a beginning in time, many in the scientific community were happy with the assertion that the universe is eternal. In other words, it had no beginning and will have no end. In fact, many found it difficult to process and accept the conclusion that the universe did indeed have a beginning in time. Why? Because an eternal universe meant no cause was needed. If the universe has always existed, there need not be any explanation to account for its existence. But if the universe has not always existed…Well, scientists recognized there now needs to be an explanation, and a cause.
Enter logic and philosophy. Something or someone had to have caused the universe, and that something or someone had to exist prior to the universe. The universe could not create itself; this is a scientifically absurd theory for the reason that the universe did not yet exist and thus could not do any creating. That would be like suggesting that I created myself, and not only that, but I (without yet being an “I”) did so without matter. Absurd indeed.
So scientifically, we can reasonably conclude that something or someone caused the universe prior to the universe’s existence. And by following the logic of the eternal universe which need not be caused by anything, whatever caused the universe need not be caused by anything either if it is eternal. In fact, this is the only way it can be. Neither material nor time nor space existed prior to the universe. The universe could not be caused by nothing. Nothing cannot create anything; nothing is literally “no thing.” Therefore, something eternal (which is also immaterial) has to exist, or else nothing would ever exist. And yet, here we are.
All of this, of course, fits absolutely perfectly with the Christian worldview, and with the existence of a God in general who created the universe. Of course, many scientists don’t want to speculate on this. After all, there is no observational evidence for God himself…except for observing logic and reason. So, in the interest of not speculating, some members of the scientific community came up with the Multiverse Theory, suggesting that there could be an infinite number of universes in existence, and we just happen to be in this one, the one where life is possible (since the apparent fine-tuning of the universe for life is also something which needed to be explained). Of course, this is a theory which does not speculate nearly as much as the theory that God created and designed the universe. I mean, other than the fact that there’s not a single shred of evidence for the existence of any other universes, that then you need a cause for an infinite number of universes instead of just one (“nothing’s” resumé just became even more impressive!), and that you cannot have an infinite number of finite things. But far be it from us to speculate!
The scientific evidence actually aligns with the Christian worldview up to this point, but we still have a major problem. As atheists have thankfully pointed out, there is a very troubling question which cannot be answered. Who created God?
Well, we just observed that something must always have existed in order for something to exist now. And we’ve also observed that time is not a boundary which exists outside of the universe. Yet this is not satisfactory to some scientists. In fact, this question is actually the crux of Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. He hinges his entire argument on the incredulity of this single question “Who created God?” And yet, this is precisely the principle which many scientists adopted when it was still plausible that the universe itself was eternal. Some scientists appear willing to believe that the universe could have always existed without requiring any further explanation, but the cause of the universe? God? No, that’s not satisfactory enough. God needs a further explanation because God is more complicated than the universe. Although I guess it would make sense that the creator of the universe is more powerful and complex than the universe he created. And right, there’s that point about something has to have always existed in order for anything ever to exist.
Seems a little inconsistent, doesn’t it?
Do you think science contradicts the existence of God?