Is belief in God compatible with science? Without a doubt! Here’s why.
Science and belief in God are not mutually exclusive
The Astronomer by Vermeer
Atheist P. Wesley Edwards, writing on the Freethought Debater website, declares that “The debate between faith and reason is in many ways the decisive battleground in the debate between theism and atheism.” He goes on to say that reason, which he equates with science, is the application of the principles of logic to the available evidence.
Believers in God can heartily agree with Edwards’ second statement. But most would take serious issue with his assertion that there is a fundamental conflict between science and faith. In reality, the development of the scientific method itself is directly attributable to belief in God.
Modern science is founded on belief in God
British mathematician and philosopher of science Alfred North Whitehead asserts that the foundation of modern science was laid by “medieval insistence upon the rationality of God.” And James Hannam, who holds a PhD in the History of Science from Cambridge University, says it was their belief in a law abiding creator God that gave early scholars confidence to investigate a “comprehensible universe open to their powers of reason.”
Some of the giants in the development of science were quite clear in stating that their investigations were founded on their belief in God. Johannes Kepler, who worked out the laws of planetary motion, and is acknowledged as being the founder of physical astronomy, is a prime example. Credited by NASA with being instrumental in the development of the scientific method, Kepler saw himself as simply “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
Sir Isaac Newton, universally regarded as the most influential figure in the history of science, said, “this most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
So, far from being fundamentally at odds with reason and the scientific method, belief in God is actually the father of modern science. And when it comes to applying “principles of logic to the available evidence,” it is those who refuse to acknowledge God rather than believers who are forced to stop short.
Disbelief in God arises not from science but from naturalistic ideology
The Oxford English Dictionary defines naturalismas “the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.” Note that naturalism (and thus atheism) is not a conclusion of science, but a philosophy. Those who adhere to that philosophy must necessarily deny the existence of an intelligent Creator, and claim that the universe and everything in it arose from purely natural and non-rational causes.
Yet, the most outstanding characteristic of the cosmos in which we live is that it gives every appearance of having been precisely designed to accommodate life in general, and human life in particular. This is not the assertion of theologians with a vested interest in seeing design where there is none, but of astronomers, physicists, biologists, and other scientists, most of whom are committed atheists.
The universe appears to have been deliberately designed
For example, famed physicist, cosmologist, and outspoken atheist Stephen Hawking, Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, finds himself forced to acknowledge the apparent design of the universe. In his book A Brief History of Time Hawking says,
The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. … The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.
It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.
In a similar vein, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, well known for his militant atheism, says in his book River out of Eden, A Darwinian View of Life that the appearance of deliberate design in the biological organization of living beings is undeniable:
The illusion of purpose is so powerful that biologists themselves use the assumption of good design as a working tool.
Although atheists such as these strongly assert that the appearance of the universe having been designed is a false appearance, the fact remains that looking objectively at the evidence, they are forced to agree with Richard Morris, a science writer with a PhD in Physics, who says in The Fate of the Universe:
It is almost as though the universe had been consciously designed.
So, let’s go back to where we started. Science, says atheist P. Wesley Edwards, is the application of the principles of logic to the available evidence. Even the most outspoken enemies of belief in God are forced to acknowledge that the available evidence clearly indicates that the universe did not happen by accident, but was precisely designed for a purpose. And, of course, there can be no purposeful design without a Designer.
Ron Franklin is a pastor, writer, radio broadcaster and producer, computer programmer, and musician. Now the founding pastor of Covenant Community Church in Harrisburg, PA, he was an engineer and manager for high-tech companies such as IBM and EDS. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Denver Theological Seminary.