Christian Responses: Faith and Science (Part 1)

Faith and science p1:

First one has to know that atheism in its classical sense in self-defeating. One cannot affirm a negative in the absolute. It is akin to saying that I have infinite knowledge in order to say that there is no one with infinite knowledge. Therefore God’s non-existence in unprovable thus the burden of proof that God does not exist rests with the atheists and not the theists. That being said there is innumerable evidence for the existence of God.

If the only statements that are true are statements that can be verified empirically, then the principle of verification itself would fail the test because of it’s own premise, “only those statements that can be empirically verified have any meaning,” cannot be empirically verified.

Where is the evidence that religious faith is not based on evidence?

It is rather ironical that in the 16th century some people resisted advances in science because they seemed to threaten belief in God; whereas in the 20th century scientific ideas of a beginning have been resisted because they threatened to increase the plausibility of belief in God.

Philosophers of science during the 2nd half of the 20th century came to realize that the whole scientific enterprise is based on certain assumptions that cannot be proved scientifically, but are guaranteed by the Christian worldview: for example, the laws of logic, the orderly nature of the external world, the reliability of our cognitive faculties in knowing the world, the validity of inductive reasoning and the objectivity of the moral values used in science. Science could not even exist without these assumptions, and yet these assumptions cannot be proved scientifically. They are philosophical assumptions, which, interestingly, are part and parcel of a Christian worldview. Thus, theology is an ally to science in that it can furnish a conceptual framework in which science can exist. More than that, the Christian religion historically furnished the conceptual framework in which modern science was born and nurtured.

“It has to be admitted that of course science grew out of a religious tradition.” ~ Professor Richard Dawkins (atheist)

“Science, the system of belief founded securely on publicly shared reproducible knowledge, emerged from religion.” ~ Peter Atkins Professor of Chemistry at Oxford (atheist)

Nothing existed prior to the singularity, for it is the edge of physical space and time. It therefore represents the origin, not only of all matter and energy, but also of physical space and time themselves. Physicist John Barrow and Frank Tipler observed, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the universe originated in such a singularity, we would truly have a creation out of nothing.”

There can be no natural, physical cause of the Big Bang event, since, in Philosopher Quentin Smith’s words, “It belongs analytically to the concept of the cosmological singularity that it is not the effect of prior physical events. The definition of a singularity …entails that it is impossible to extend the space time manifold beyond the singularity….This rules out the idea that the singularity is an effect of some prior natural process.”

The history of 20th century cosmology has been the history of the repeated falsification of such non-standard theories and the corroboration of the big bang theory. It has been the overwhelming verdict of the scientific community that none of these alternative theories are superior to the big bang theory. Again and again models aimed at averting the prediction of the standard model of an absolute beginning of the universe have been shown to be either untenable or not to avert the beginning after all. For example, in some such theories, like the oscillating universe or the chaotic inflationary universe, while the universes posited do have a potentially infinite future, they turn out to have only a finite past. Vacuum fluctuation universe theories cannot explain why, if the vacuum was eternal, we do not observe an infinity old universe.

In regards to the “many worlds” hypothesis first we need to realize that it is no more scientific and no less metaphysical than a “cosmic designer” hypothesis. As quantum physicist John Polkinghorne stated, “People try to trick out a “many universe” account in sort of pseudo-scientific terms, but that is pseudo-science. It is a metaphysical guess that there might be many universes with different laws and circumstances.” But as a metaphysical hypothesis, that many worlds hypothesis is arguably inferior to the design hypothesis because the design hypothesis is simpler. According to Ockham’s Razor, we should not multiply causes beyond what is necessary to explain the effect. But it is simpler to postulate one cosmic designer to explain our universe that to postulate the infinitely bloated and contrived collection of universes required by the many worlds hypothesis. Therefore, the design hypothesis is to be preferred.

Second, there is no known way of generating a world ensemble. No one has been able to explain how or why such a varied collection of universes should exist. Moreover, the attempts that have been made require fine-tuning themselves. For example, although some cosmologists appeal to so-called inflationary theories of the universe to generate a world ensemble, the only consistent inflationary model is Linde’s chaotic inflationary theory, and it requires fine-tuning to start the inflation.

Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame University noted, that if every possible universe exists then there must be a universe in which God exists, since his existence is logically possible. It then follows that, since God is omnipotent, He must exist in every universe and hence there is only one universe, this universe, of which He is the Creator and Upholder.

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noun: loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person (“Keep the faith”)
noun: complete confidence in a person or plan etc (“He cherished the faith of a good woman”)
noun: a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny
noun: institution to express belief in a divine power

The word faith comes from the Latin fides (fee-days) from which we get fidelity. It’s basic meaning is belief, trust; that which produces belief evidence. Belief proceeding from reliance on testimony or authority. Thus the words faith, belief and trust mean essentially the same. Of course they are only justified if there is hard evidence to back it up.

There seems to be a great misunderstanding about faith. First, faith that is not based on evidence is called blind faith and the Bible never asks for blind faith. There are many many question and answer sessions in the Bible. Second, in order to have faith in someone or something it must first exist. To have faith in a loved one that does not exist would be strange indeed.

Naturalism is based on the faith that all phenomena can be explained naturalistically since it must of necessity use faith to postulate that it’s origin can be explained someday.

At the heart of science lies the conviction that the universe has an inherent order that is intelligible.

The irony of the atheistic position appears when we ask where our human faculty of reason comes from. It hold that our human cognitive faculties were produced by purely naturalistic mechanisms that were not concerned with truth but with survival. But if the thoughts in my mind are just the motions of atoms in my brain, a mechanism that has itself arisen by mindless unguided processes, why should I believe anything it tells me including the fact that it is made of atoms?

“Reducing thought to Neurophysiology spells an end to rationality and truth.” ~ Dr John Lennox MA PhD DPhil Dsc Mathematics Professor at Oxford

It’s a high price to pay for atheism.

Therefore, atheism gives no logical justification for the conviction common to all scientists (atheists included) that science can even be done. It undermines the very rationality that we need to construct an argument or understand an argument of any kind. However, theism does provide the necessary basis. The rational intelligibility of the universe points to a rational creator. And it was that conviction that was the powerful motor that drove the rise of modern science in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“Men became scientific because they expected law in nature. And they expected law in nature because they believed in a law giver.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Belief in God, far from hindering the great pioneers of science, was their deepest motivation.

Science did not put the universe in place. I hope you have noticed that. Nor does science explain how it came to be.
To think that as the reach of our theories and instruments increases, the greatness of God the creator is somehow diminished is to make a childish mistake of confusing law and mechanism on the one hand with agency on the other.

To say that we have to choose between God and science is like saying that we have to choose between the laws of internal combustion and Henry Ford. The existence of a mechanism is not itself an argument for the non-existence of an agent who designed the mechanism. As for an intelligent creator, a building does not emerge from the bricks nor the writing from the paper and ink without the injection of both energy and intelligent activity.

God is not a God of the gaps invented to fill a space in our knowledge. The evidence for God lies mainly in the things we do understand, not in the things we don’t. So when Newton discovered his wonderful laws of motion he didn’t say I know how it works I don’t need God. What he did do was to write the most brilliant treatise in the history of science dedicating it to the thinking person in the hope that they would come to believe in a rational creator. Which is very different than the flavor which is presented to us today.