November 2018 // Hasn’t science disproved God?
There are many questions that stop children and young people wanting to know more about God. Rather than trying to answer questions they’re not asking, we thought we’d go straight to the source and hear from the experts themselves. Welcome to ‘What does yellow taste like?’
“You can’t do science and be a Christian!”
“Science is about facts. Religion is about faith.”
My friend Ben was a committed member of his church youth group growing up. Then he went to university to study science. Ben says the things he was taught in his lectures didn’t match up with what he had learned at church. “Why should I believe a book written thousands of years ago rather than modern science?” he asked. It was the start of a journey that led to him becoming an atheist.
It’s a shame people like Ben have been given the impression that there is a conflict between scientific facts and Christian faith. I believe that church should be a place where we can grow more confident in the partner-ship between good science and thinking faith. In fact, having spoken to a lot of Christian and non-believing scientists on my Unbelievable? show I’ve become convinced that Christianity actually makes more sense of science than atheism does. Here are a few reasons why.
How did we get here?
By scientific standards, human existence is incredibly unlikely. Advances in science in the20thCentury began to reveal that when the universe came into existence the fundamental forces at work were ‘fine-tuned’ to make room for life. Things like the force of gravity, the rate of expansion of the universe and the ratio of electrons to protons in the universe are so perfectly balanced that if these numbers were even a smidgen more or less than their actual value, life could simply not exist.
The odds of the finely tuned universe we live in coming about by chance are so unlikely that it’s difficult to imagine. The probability is a bit like sitting a monkey at a computer and that monkey randomly typing the entire works of Shakespeare, followed by every single book in the entire world!
Science has also thrown up a second major surprise. The universe itself has not always existed. In fact, our best theories suggest that energy, space, matter and even time itself came into existence around 14 billion years ago in a sudden period of expansion, known as the ‘Big Bang’. Before that there was nothing physical in existence.
So what made everything suddenly begin to exist from nothing?
The term ‘Big Bang’ was actually invented by physicist Fred Hoyle in the 1950s as a way of poking fun at the idea! As an atheist he was deeply suspicious of the theory because it seemed to suggest the existence of a God. If the universe had a beginning, it makes sense that something or someone kick started it. In the end, Fred was forced to accept the Big Bang theory because the evidence for it was so overwhelming.
Fred had good reason to be nervous. For time, space and matter to come into existence the thing that caused it must be outside of time, space and matter. There is only one clear candidate for that job: God.
Why can we even do science?
There is another point to consider. Science itself needs an explanation. The very fact that the physics of our universe can be mapped out in elegant mathematical equations is one of the most bizarre facts of reality. When BBC broadcaster and atheist scientist Jim Al-Khalili came on Unbelievable? he admitted: “It’s a huge philosophical question: why does nature speak the language of mathematics?” For atheists there is no rhyme or reason to the universe and our place in it. They would argue that we are here purely by chance. The fact that the universe seems to contain perfect conditions for humans is just a gigantic coincidence.
If you have an open mind, I think the evidence clearly points away from atheism and towards God. Some of history’s most famous scientists – Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler – and many today, such as Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project, were (or are) committed Christians. They all recognised the divine fingerprints that seem to be scattered across our cosmos. Who knows...maybe the Bible got it right 3,000 years ago when King David declared in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”