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Thursday, August 14, 2014

God vs. Science?

The notion that God and science contradict each other has its roots in the Christian Church's response to folks like Copernicus, Galileo and the scientific thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. Nevertheless, much of the scientific community has embraced the notion and adopted it as their own. In my last post, I referred to an article by a prominent atheist that attempted to show that it was impossible to reconcile God and evolution. As long time readers of this blog will recognize, I thoroughly reject the notion that God and science are natural enemies.

A friend sent me a link to an NPR article entitled "We Don't Need To Be Created To Be Relevant" by Marcelo Gleiser. (http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/08/13/340073029/we-dont-need-to-be-created-to-be-relevant) Gleiser wrote: "The fact that we don't know (yet) how to explain how life emerged on Earth doesn't mean we need to attribute it to some kind of supernatural action. This is the well-known 'God of the gaps' approach, that what science can't explain must be the work of God. A dangerous way to believe, given that science does advance and gaps do get squeezed away." NEWS FLASH: We also don't have to attribute the emergence of life to chance!

This seems to be a common affliction of my atheist friends - For most of them, it's an either/or proposition. Like their religious counterparts of five centuries ago, they insist that there are only two choices: God or Science. They seem unable to contemplate any kind of mixing of the two.

To be sure, science is not compatible with foolishness. There is no reconciling science with the likes of a Ken Ham. That view, however, is not representative of most of the Christians who embrace science.

As a Christian who fully embraces the discipline of science and is completely open to wherever the evidence leads us, I do not subscribe to the "God of the gaps" approach. If science were able to answer all of the mysteries of life tomorrow, I fail to see how that would automatically rule out the existence of God. Are these folks saying that the aim of science is to make God unnecessary? Are they trying to find evidence to support such a thesis? Doesn't that sound like the antithesis of true science? Isn't a scientist suppose to follow wherever the evidence leads? How does understanding how life formed and developed exclude the possibility of God? In short, an explanation that doesn't include God doesn't necessarily exclude God.

I can account for the existence of the house I live in without any reference to myself, but I'm still sitting here on my couch! In similar fashion, we can explain a poem, painting or musical composition in great detail without any reference to the author, artist or composer. We could even explain the mechanics of its creation without any reference to its creator. Indeed, we have many poems, paintings and musical compositions that are anonymous - we don't known who created them. "That's different, the evidence still points to a creator in those instances!" my friends will protest. "Why must we accept your interpretation of the scientific evidence regarding the formation and development of life?" I will answer. Just because you don't see a creator in the evidence doesn't mean that I don't. What if my house was a cave? What if our painting or musical composition was computer generated? What if a chimp was responsible for our painting? What if a classroom full of students composed a poem? We could still provide an elaborate explanation of the mechanics and meaning of the pieces, but the question of a creator would become more abstract and philosophical wouldn't it?

I hope that science will someday be able to explain everything. Nevertheless, if we ever do reach that level of understanding, it will not prove that it all isn't the work of God. God doesn't need gaps to be involved in the process - especially if "He/She/It" is the one who designed the process.

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