“I believe in science. I’m an atheist.”
He said it to me with straightforward assurance. He confidently believes not in God, for he believes in science. Actual belief in science, supposedly, precludes belief in God.
You’ve probably heard something along those lines before. It’s a beloved position of smart people throughout the West today. Implied is that God is only a necessary “concept” for those too ignorant to realize science provides all answers necessary to understand and navigate our world. “God of the gaps” kind of stuff.
But is this a sensible position? Can a guy reasonably hold forth science as a reason to not believe in God? Does science actually substitute itself for God in explaining and guiding through life?
Not a chance.
For one, there is no science without God. What do I mean? Doing science requires a kind of method, the scientific method. Make an observation. Ask a question. Make a hypothesis. Test that hypothesis, i.e. do an experiment. Analyze results and draw conclusions. And whether or not your hypothesis is supported, you run it back. You repeat that bad boy.
What is necessary every step of the way? What is never sought to be proven but rather presupposed as a precondition for the entirety of science? Well, order in the physical world is assumed. Upheld order is assumed, an order that is so ordered from one moment to the next, such that, in the future, the physical world will be like what it was like in the past. The uniformity of nature is fundamental to any science. We rely on it. But how can we do so? How can we know that the future will be like the past? Do we have a justified reason?
“I don’t need to bolt my bed to the floor, use a truck strap, and wear a helmet to bed because I know that gravity isn’t going to stop being like gravity and doing gravity stuff tonight. Why do I know that? Because that’s how it’s always been.”
“So, the future will be like the past because, in the past, the future was like the past?”
“But that doesn’t really get to the question, does it? You just told me about the past. I’m asking about the future.”
How do we know that senses, hot and cold, elements, air, combustion, anything, will be like how it is from one moment to the next, that all that order will be upheld now and again and again? There is no science without this reality. What’s the reason for it, for our reasonable dependence upon it?
God, who spoke and speaks the world into being, so imbuing the physical world reflective of his perfectly ordered speech, has promised to continue to speak in an orderly fashion all the way to the end of the world.
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
While the earth remains, the order of the physical world will be upheld by the God who speaks all things into being and upholds all things being by the word of his power.
Second, science studies the physical world. It is our attack plan to gain understanding and mastery of the physical world. But, while studying the physical, it depends on the immaterial for its existence. Note that. Not only does it not suffice to give us understanding or navigation for immaterial realities, like love, it depends on the very things it can’t explain.
Significance. Meaning. Truth. Law. Theory. All this is immaterial. And what is science without it? Nothing. Just meaningless, chaotic, physical grunts and burps. The study of the material depends on the immaterial, the universal, the transcendent. It does nothing to explain this. It simply uses it.
Science is a postmillennial method, strategy, tool. It is a gift from God to man in man’s pursuit of better knowing God by better understanding and exercising dominion over his world.
Science doesn’t supplant God because it isn’t self-sustaining, a self-supporting foundation. It isn’t “I am.” It isn’t Jehovah.