FIRST-PERSON: Can science rule out God?
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- An article was published by LiveScience.com titled "Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God?" It seems that Christians should be shaking in their boots. Science, the article claims, is close to proving that God does not exist. What will we do?
Natalie Wolchover, the author of the article wrote, "Although cosmic mysteries remain, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, says there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever."
While some Christians who read this might fear or, at least, wonder, the fact is that we should rejoice. Far from ruling out God, Wolchover, Carroll and this article from mid-September actually provide more scientific confirmation of God.
First, let's look at the statement just quoted, that science "will ultimately arrive" (which means science is not there and has a long way to go) "at a complete understanding of the universe" (which means that science now admits its understanding is vastly incomplete) "that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever" (which, were this to happen, would not rule out God, but rather would leave no scientific grounds for asserting God in creation -- two very different things).
All this means is that we currently do have solid grounds in science for God and that those grounds are significant. Otherwise, Carroll would be denying them outright. He obviously is eager and intent upon doing so.
Second, the article states that science has gathered evidence in favor of the "Big Bang theory." However, cosmologists admit having little to no clue what happened in the split second after the start of the Big Bang. If we assume the theory of the Big Bang is accurate, science still cannot account for how it all began. Carroll is quite certain that a new strand of theory called "quantum gravity theory" will account for that split second and will demonstrate that the universe has had many "Big Bangs" and is eternally re-creating itself. From this we see that Carroll and all other scientists like him are men of faith. His faith is in man to understand and to develop a theory that can explain eternity without reference to God.
Third, another possible version of quantum gravity theory asserts that time did start with a one-time Big Bang. Of this possibility, Carroll wrote, "Nothing in the fact that there is a first moment of time, in other words, necessitates that an external something is required to bring the universe about at that moment." While that might be true, it also means that nothing precludes that an external something is required. Science cannot speak to whether a creator was needed. Carroll is engaging in serious, biased speculation at this point, far beyond the simple faith Christians have in Genesis 1:1.
Wolchover also quoted astrophysicist Alex Filippenko as stating, "The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there." Funny that God describes Himself as "being there," as the I Am. Filippenko continued, "With the laws of physics, you can get universes." Whoever or whatever wrote the laws of physics is the Creator God. Filippenko is so set against a personal God that he is willing to make the laws of physics into God. We are left to choose: Do we place our faith in the eternal, impersonal laws of physics that are self-generating or do we place our faith in the eternal, personal Creator God who lived among us, died for our forgiveness and who has spoken to us, telling us to call Him Father? Filippenko would rather believe in the laws of physics as his father.
Fourth, Carroll wrote, "Most scientists ... suspect that the search for ultimate explanations eventually terminates in some final theory of the world, along with the phrase 'and that's just how it is.'" When Christians look at the unanswerable questions of creation, refer to the Creator God, and say, "That's just how it is," scientists scoff. When scientists look at the unanswerable questions of creation, refer to a theory that cannot answer those same questions, and say, "That's just how it is," that is great science. The fact is that scientists know that some questions, such as the origin of matter, energy or the laws of physics cannot be answered by science and must succumb to the old parents' final answer, "Because we say so!" That also means that some scientists, like Carroll, are willing to abandon true science and its methods in order to deny God and to avoid the fact that science cannot answer ultimate questions.
So let's look at what the Wolchover article has taught us:
-- On origins of the universe, science has a long way to go.
-- Science admits that its understanding of the universe is vastly incomplete.
-- We currently do have solid and significant grounds in science for God.
-- Assuming the Big Bang theory is accurate, science still cannot account for how it all began.
-- Carroll and all other scientists like him are men of faith. His faith is in man to understand and to develop a theory that can explain eternity.
-- Science cannot speak to whether a creator was needed in the beginning or not.
-- For Filippenko, the laws of physics are the creators. Whoever or whatever wrote the laws of physics is the Creator God.
-- Scientists know that some questions, such as the origin of matter and energy or the laws of physics cannot be answered by science.
The article goes on about reasons and parallel universes and then, "Judged by the standards of any other scientific theory, the 'God hypothesis' does not do very well, Carroll argues." One must wonder just what those standards are and why God only rates a "hypothesis" and not a "theory." To become a theory, a hypothesis must prove over time to be consistent with the evidence. All of the evidence amassed by science is consistent with a Creator God. Were it inconsistent, Carroll would not need to wait for a new theory to emerge that will leave no ground for God. He could happily assert his scientific deletion of God right away.
Despite the bravado of these pseudo-scientists who willingly acknowledge that they are ready to abandon science and its rules if they find it necessary in order to deny God's existence, Christians should listen closely to what they say. We will hear in their own words that ultimate questions require faith, that true science still points to God and that, as Francis Schaeffer so famously wrote of God, "He is there, and He is not silent."
Waylan Owens is dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Jack D. Terry, Jr. School of Church and Family Ministries and associate professor of church and family ministries. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).