Does Science Conflict with a Belief in God?

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Does Science Conflict with a Belief in God?

by: Pastor Brian Chilton

Does science conflict with a belief in God?  Some atheists would like for you to think that it does.  Yet, a close examination reveals that science can tell us nothing without interpretation.  Dr. Frank Turek writes,

‘Science’ doesn’t say anything—scientists do…Misbehavior by scientists is more prevalent than you might think.  A survey conducted by University of Minnesota researchers found that 33 percent of scientists admitted to engaging in some kind of research misbehavior, including more than 20 percent of mid-career scientists who admitted to ‘changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.’  Think of how many more have done this but refuse to admit it! (The researchers said as much in their findings)…Why is it so hard for Dawkins and other Darwinists to see this?  Maybe they refuse to see it…Or maybe they’ve never realized that you cannot do science without philosophy.  As Einstein said, ‘The man of science is a poor philosopher.’  And poor philosophers of science may often arrive at false scientific conclusions.  That’s because science doesn’t say anything—scientists do.”[1]

Don’t the laws of physics negate belief in God?  Well that is preposterous at the outset because then one is to wonder where the laws of physics arose.  But, Dr. John Lennox explains in his book “Gunning for God” that it is audacious to believe such a thing in the first place.  Dr. Lennox speaks about Dr. Stephen Hawking’s book “The Grand Delusion.”  Many hold Hawking to the level of a scientific god, but understand that Dr. Lennox holds three doctoral degrees himself.  Lennox writes,

“According to him (Hawking…mine) the laws of physics (not the will of God) provide the real explanation as to how life on earth came into being.  He argues that the Big Bang was the inevitable consequence of these laws: ‘Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing’…Hawking is guilty of a number of serious misunderstandings and logical fallacies.  Firstly, his view of God is defective…Hawking’s inadequate view of God could well be linked with his attitude to philosophy in general.  He writes, ‘Philosophy is dead.’  But this itself is a philosophical statement.  It is manifestly not a statement of science…It is a classic example of logical incoherence…Physical laws on their own cannot create anything; they are merely a (mathematical) description of what normally happens under certain conditions.  Newton’s law of gravitation does not create gravity; it does not even explain gravity, as Newton himself realized.”[2]

Lennox stated at a lecture at the 19th Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, North Carolina, that one must be careful in taking too much stock on a scientific theory or a biblical interpretation.  Note, he did not say that you could not take stock in the Bible, but just that of a certain interpretation.  As he mentioned, everyone in the medieval ages thought that the Bible and science taught that the sun rotated around the earth.  A closer examination of both proved the interpretation false.  With this in mind, I would like to challenge you to see that science does not negate belief in God by three different supposed conflicts.  You may hold a different interpretation and that is fine.  But what I seek to show in this article is that the Bible does not conflict with science nor does science conflict with the Bible…interpretations of both cause the conflict.

Does Science Conflict with Scripture in Beginnings?

Does the Big Bang Theory conflict with the biblical understanding of creation?  No, it does not.  Actually, what the Big Bang Theory does is to identify what the Bible has been stating all along; that God created the universe and everything in it ex nihilo (from nothing).  The author of Hebrews writes, “And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.”[3]  The apostle John also writes, “In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,* and his life brought light to everyone.”[4]

So the Big Bang Theory does not demote a belief in God.  It actually supports it.  Some would claim that the universe could, as Hawking supposed (before quoted in Lennox’s work), spawn from nothing.  But, that comes from a misunderstanding of “nothing.”  Nothing means “not any thing” or the “lack of any substance.”  In other words, it means to be “non-existent.”  Hawking gets around the conundrum of “nothing” by presupposing that “nothing” means “particles and vacuums.”  But simple logic tells us that vacuums and particles are not really “nothings” but rather “somethings.”

To illustrate: suppose your spouse asks you to go to the market to buy some coffee.  You go to the market and arrive back thirty minutes later than you expected.  Your spouse asks, “What took you so long?”  You respond, “Oh, I met somebody I knew and we talked for a while.”  Your spouse responds, “Oh, who was it?”  “Nobody,” you reply.  Now, you know and your spouse knows that the “nobody” to which you refer was actually a “somebody” unless you lied and did not talk to anybody.  But if you talked to nobody, then you really didn’t talk to anybody.  So you could not have both spoken to nobody and somebody.  This breaks not only the law of contradiction (p ≠ ~p)…or an apple tree cannot both exist and not exist…but it also breaks the law of excluded middle (p v ~p)…or it must be true that an apple must either exist or not exist.  So in reality, the universe has either always existed or it must have come from a higher intelligence.  Since the evidence suggests that the universe has not always existed, it must have come from a higher intelligence.

Does Science Contradict with Scripture in Time?

If you are more prone to fundamentalist interpretations without any wiggle room, then you may wish to skip to the third and final question.  I do not seek to thwart your interpretations in any direction.  But, I do wish to show that the Bible and science do not contradict necessarily in the age of the universe.  Some hold that the universe is only 6,000 years old.  Those who hold this interpretation are called “Young Earth Creationists.”  This interpretation comes from an understanding that the Genesis account of creation states that the 6 days of creation took 24 hour periods of time and that the genealogies given are exhaustive.  With those who hold this view, their interpretation does indeed conflict with data that suggests that the universe is 13 billion years old.  So, one is wrong.  Either the scientific data is incorrect or the biblical interpretation is wrong.  But, this does not necessitate that the Bible is wrong.

Two things must be considered: the word “yom” (my) and the genealogies of Scripture.  It is absolutely necessary to hold that the word “yom” means a 24 hour period?  Actually, no.  The word “yom” is used especially in the Prophets to describe a period of time called the “yom YHWH” or the Day of the LORD.  Sometimes this day may be used to indicate one day, such as the crucifixion of the Messiah, and at other times it may be used to indicate the “last days.”  The fact is; the ancient Hebrew language only had a few thousand words.  Compare that to the millions of words used in the current English language.  Some words held multiple meanings.  The word “day” best represents “yom” because “day” itself can represent different meanings; such as, “it is a nice day” (moment in time)…”the project is due sometime Sunday” (meaning a 24 hour period)…or “did you read about the day of the dinosaurs” (a long period of time).  So the Bible itself does not necessitate a 24 hour period of time for each day, but that is the interpretation of many.[5]

Therefore, the scientific data does not conflict with the Bible or belief in God, it only conflicts with a certain interpretation.  In the end, as I told the folks at church during our study of Genesis, it really does not matter whether it took God 13 billion years to create everything or just a few days.  God is still God and God still made everything.  That really was the intent of Moses when he documented the creation narrative.  The Bible tells us that God is not on the same timeframe as are we because God is not limited by time.  “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.”[6] 

Does Science Conflict with Scripture in the Beginnings of Life?

Actually, no it does not conflict.  Even if one held to Darwinian evolution, the person would still need to believe in God.  Why?  It is because that the process understood as “evolution” is a process that acts according to laws and regulations.  That designates intelligence.  Processes and procedures do not come by random chance and by non-intelligence.  A rock does not plan a space launch.  A piece of grass does not build skyscrapers.  Inanimate things do not do intelligent things.  Even the term “natural selection” is an oxymoron.  The process of “selecting” is something that only intelligence can do.  Only something with a will can choose to select certain things over others.  How can nature, an inanimate set of things, choose anything?  It can’t!!!

Now, I must admit that I do not hold to Darwinian evolution.  When the evolutionist claims that evolution has been proven, they are stating that micro-evolution has been proven.  Even the most ardent fundamentalist person would admit this because micro-evolution speaks about adaptive changes within a species.  This is really not evolution at all, but adaptation.  Adaptation is necessary for all species to survive.

What has not been proven is macro-evolution.  Macro-evolution is the change from one species of animal to another.  Now, yes there can be changes within a species.  You can breed different types of dogs.  But you cannot breed a Doberman with a beagle and have a cat.  If you could manage that, I would say that you would definitely be on a lot of television shows.  When Charles Darwin observed the changes to the beaks of the Galapagos finches, he did not notice that the birds changed into lizards.  The birds were still birds.  Tests with fruit flies do not produce anything but other fruit flies…with adaptations yes…but they are still fruit flies.

What of the fossil record?  Doesn’t it show that animals became more complex over time?  Yes, but so does Genesis.  God first made the animals of the sea, then the birds of the air, then the wild animals, then domesticated animals (or animals that could be domesticated), and finally human beings.  So, where’s the conflict?  There is none.

Conclusion:

In this paper, I have sought to show that science really does not affect a personal belief in God at all.  From the laws of nature, the mathematical formulations ascribed to the universe, the cosmological constants of the universe, the intricate beauty of life, the moral standards given, and et cetera all show that belief in God is rational and logical.  I would close by adding another illustration given by John Lennox which I shall paraphrase.

Lennox said at the 19th Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics that he has heard people claim that they do not see God in the universe.  He went on to say that this would be similar in saying that one could not find Henry Ford in a Ford engine.  Of course you couldn’t, the creator is far greater than the creation.  God may be more involved in everything than you might think, but unless you seek for Him and/or allow Him to find you, you will not find Him.  “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”[7]

Bibliography:

Lennox, John C., “Are Faith and God Enemies of Reason and Science,” Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target (Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 2011).

The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).

Turek, Frank, “Science Doesn’t Say Anything, Scientists Do,” Southern Evangelical Seminary publication.

Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007).

Excerpts from various lectures at the 19th Annual National Conference of Christian Apologetics, sponsored by Southern Evangelical Seminary and held at the Central Church of God, (Charlotte, NC: October 19th and 20th, 2012).  Contact http://www.ses.edu for more information concerning future conferences.

 


[1] Dr. Frank Turek, “Science Doesn’t Say Anything, Scientists Do,” Southern Evangelical Seminary.

[2] John C. Lennox, “Are Faith and God Enemies of Reason and Science,” Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target (Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 2011), 31-33.

[3] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Heb 1:2.

[4] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Jn 1:1–4.

[5] Some hold that there are theological problems that arise from “Old Earth Creationism.”  But this is simply not the case.  Adam and Eve would still have been the first two humans.  They still would have fallen from grace.  This means that we would still need a Savior to save us from our sinful nature.

[6] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), 2 Pe 3:8.

[7] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Is 55:6.

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