Has Science Done Away With God?
FOR 50 years, British philosopher Antony Flew was highly respected as an atheist by his peers. “Theology and Falsification,” his 1950 paper, “became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the [20th] century.” In 1986 Flew was called “the most profound of the contemporary critics of theism” (the belief in God or gods). So it came as a great shock to many when, in 2004, Flew announced that he had changed his viewpoint.
What made Flew change his mind? In a word, science. He became convinced that the universe, the laws of nature, and life itself could not have arisen merely by chance. Is that a reasonable conclusion?
How Did the Laws of Nature Arise?
Physicist and author Paul Davies points out that science does a wonderful job of explaining physical phenomena such as rain. But he says: “When it comes to . . . questions such as ‘Why are there laws of nature?’ the situation is less clear. These sorts of questions are not much affected by specific scientific discoveries: many of the really big questions have remained unchanged since the birth of civilization and still vex us today.”
“The important point is not merely that there are regularities in nature,” wrote Flew in 2007, “but that these regularities are mathematically precise, universal, and ‘tied together.’ Einstein spoke of them as ‘reason incarnate.’ The question we should ask is how nature came packaged in this fashion. This is certainly the question that scientists from Newton to Einstein to Heisenberg have asked—and answered. Their answer was the Mind of God.”
Indeed, many highly respected scientists do not consider it unscientific to believe in an intelligent First Cause. On the other hand, to say that the universe, its laws, and life just happened is intellectually unsatisfying. Everyday experience tells us that design—especially highly sophisticated design—calls for a designer.
Which Faith Will You Choose?
Although the new atheists like to wave the banner of science over their camp, the fact is that neither atheism nor theism rest purely on science. Both involve faith—atheism in purposeless blind chance; theism in an intelligent First Cause. The new atheists promote the notion that “all religious faith is blind faith,” writes John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, England. He adds: “We need to emphasize strongly that they are wrong.” The question, therefore, is this: Which faith stands up under test—that of the atheist or that of the religious believer? Consider, for example, the origin of life.
Evolutionists readily acknowledge that the origin of life remains a mystery—although there are many conflicting theories. A leading new atheist, Richard Dawkins, claims that by virtue of the vast number of planets that must exist in the universe, life was bound to appear somewhere. But many reputable scientists are not so sure. Cambridge Professor John Barrow says that the belief in “the evolution of life and mind” hits “dead-ends at every stage. There are just so many ways in which life can fail to evolve in a complex and hostile environment that it would be sheer hubris to suppose that, simply given enough carbon and enough time, anything is possible.”
Keep in mind, too, that life is not just an assortment of chemical elements. Rather, it is based on an extremely sophisticated form of information, which is encoded in DNA. Hence, when we talk about the origin of life, we are also talking about the origin of biological information. What is the only source of information that we know of? In a word, intelligence. Would chance accidents produce complex information, such as a computer program, an algebraic formula, an encyclopedia, or even a recipe for a cake? Of course not. Yet, when it comes to sophistication and efficiency, none of these even begin to compare with the information stored in the genetic code of living organisms.
Luck as the First Cause—Good Science?
According to atheists, “the universe is as it is, mysteriously, and it just happens to permit life,” explains Paul Davies. “Had it been different,” say atheists, “we would not be here to argue about it. The universe may or may not have a deep underlying unity, but there is no design, purpose, or point to it all—at least none that would make sense to us.” “The advantage of this position,” notes Davies, “is that it is easy to hold—easy to the point of being a cop-out,” that is, a convenient way to avoid facing the issue.
In his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, molecular biologist Michael Denton concluded that the theory of evolution “is more like a principle of medieval astrology than a serious . . . scientific theory.” He also referred to Darwinian evolution as one of the greatest myths of our time.
To be sure, the appeal to luck as the first cause does smack of myth. Imagine this: An archaeologist sees a rough stone that is more or less square. He may attribute that shape to chance, which would be reasonable. But later he finds a stone that is perfectly formed in the shape of a human bust, down to the finest details. Does he attribute this item to chance? No. His logical mind says, ‘Someone made this.’ Using similar reasoning, the Bible states: “Every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) Do you agree with that statement?
“The more we get to know about our universe,” writes Lennox, “the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator God, who designed the universe for a purpose, gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”
Regrettably, among the things that undermine belief in God is evil perpetrated in his name. As a result, some have concluded that mankind would be better off without religion. What do you think?