In our modern scientific world, the subject of God and religion is often seen as taboo. For a good number of scientists, there’s a lot of politics involved in science just as there’s a lot of politics involved in religion, and the two don’t always get along together.
In the light of the new scientific discoveries, believers are apt to pinpoint some scientific proofs of the existence of God – the prevalence of similar geometrical patterns in nature; the complexity of the DNA code and cell number; similar designs found at the microscopic level of atoms and the planetary system; fine-tuned universe and extremely precise physical constants in nature; the whole universe acting as a very big machine subdivided into infinite number of smaller machines presupposing a single universal mind; and others more.
However, according to skeptics, while there is no doubt that these scientific wonders are indeed amazing, mind-blowing, or awe-inspiring, jumping to the conclusion of God’s existence smacks of “miracle” explanation and is therefore “unscientific” or non-conclusive.
Hence, can science point out the existence of God? Or, can a scientific world such as ours ever believe in God?
John Lennox, professor emeritus of mathematics and philosophy of religion at Oxford University, tries to unravel our query.
Lennox begins by resonating fellow Irish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Ernest Walton’s viewpoint that “one way to learn the mind of the creator is to study his creation” and that “a refusal to use our intelligence honestly is an act of contempt for him who gave us that intelligence.”
Then, Lennox puts forth three basic clarifications, namely: 1) there’s a confusion about the notion of belief or faith; 2) there is failure to recognize that science has its limits; and 3) some scientists have problems on ideas about God.
As to the first clarification, Lennox claims that (1) Christian faith, like science, is evidence-based faith and not blind faith, and (2) contrary to what some scientists think, science or scientific inquiry involves “faith or believing," not just what is empirically observed.
“Christianity is an evidence-based faith. But it’s not only evidence for faith in a set of propositions, but also evidence for faith IN A PERSON (underscoring mine). So, faith is not just religious but scientific. Scientists are people of faith for the obvious reason that you cannot do science without believing it can be done, you cannot do science without believing there is order to be found in the universe, and there’s some degree of objectivity about it,” Lennox argued.
Then, with the second clarification, Lennox points out that the claim by some scientists that only science bears the torch of truth is false because, on the contrary, science has its limits.
“I very well disagree with Bertrand Russell when he said that ‘what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know’. This is a wild extreme case of scientism. I’d rather agree with Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrodinger who said that ‘the scientific picture is very deficient; it gives us loads of factual information but it’s ghastly silent about everything near to our heart’,” Lennox said.
And, on the third clarification, Lennox contends that, in a scientific world, God cannot just be a “God of the gaps” but a supreme and all-encompassing one.
“More than just the ‘laws of nature’ as Hawking theorized, God is not just a ‘God of the gaps’ like the Greek ‘god of lightning’ or what not, but the God of the whole show. For me, the most intelligent thing to do is to endure God with the properties that are absorbed to him by the biblical worldview, in which we’re told that the universe is not made from anything physical, not from Hawking’s ‘nothing’, but it is created by God, because God has been forever in existence.”
Lastly, Lennox added that the best argument against atheism is the universe’s fine-tuning or
“the specialness of our universe, the accuracy to which the basic constants of nature have to be tuned in order to have a universe like ours.”
In sum, therefore, can we believe in God in a scientific world?
Lennox finally answers:
“Well, whatever a scientific world is, the world is more than scientific. Science only describes part of the way and we analyze it. You could say, can we believe in God in a historical world, or in a literary world? I would want to say we can believe in God in all these kinds of worlds because he created the world in the first place, and he has given ample evidence in that world and in ourselves.”