Has Science disproved God?

A lot of scientists don’t think so!

How does science “explain” the existence of the Universe? You could describe it like this:

In the beginning there was an equation. The equation said that the Universe could exist – so it did! It just happened to have the right kind of stars, planets, geology and chemistry so that life could occur. Life was an accident, and the development of human beings was the result of evolution and more accidents. there is no purpose to our lives at all, and really no reason why anything at all should exist!

Is the scientists’ story satisfying? Of course not, but I’m not suggesting we replace this story with an unbelievable one about God creating the world in 6 days. To believe that would be to treat the Bible as a science textbook – it’s lots of things but not that!

What gives purpose to our lives is the faith that the Universe was created by God – who just is… – and after many billions of years, God’s Universe gave, by evolution, people who can love each other – and God.


8 comments on “Has Science disproved God?

  1. Hi! Thoughtful entry from a physical scientist.
    At Keele university I tried to get an idea of what a social scientist would make of this.
    I ended up collecting a lot of ideas, and here I am some 40 years later still trying to make sense of it all.
    At that time I was idealistic and full of religion as crammed into my tiny mind as a child.
    The charismatic movement was just taking off in the UK, and I was active in the Christian Union.
    Here are my conclusions:
    Religion, and religious thinking, are a universal trait – a part of human culture in every society throughout history.
    It is part of human identity because it is in our language, and becomes embedded in our brains as we grow up.
    Religious writings are a product of the people and cultures from whence they come, and are best understood in context.
    It is possible to discern the way human culture has changed over the centuries of recorded history, and to make guesses about pre-historic culture.
    The claim that certain products are divinely inspired is meaningless, and contributes nothing to our understanding, other than alerting us to a kind of special pleading. In other words, scripture is best understood in just the same way as any other artifact – with your brain and all its critical faculties switched on. The question is: is there a place in the church for people like me?

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Bill. I agree that one needs to read scripture with the brain switched on, which means that one should see the Bible as a whole combination of different parts, and not pick out tiny bits to satisfy one’s prejudices. I certainly think that the Church has to welcome thinking (and therefore sometimes doubting) people. However, if one spends all one’s effort doubting, there will be no effort put into doing! That’s just meant as a general comment on our current thoughts about evangelism (see the Newsletter for April).
      Regards, Ted

  2. My problem arises with the doctrine of divine inspiration. This assumes an acceptance of ‘scripture’ as posessing authority in matters of faith and conduct. To me this seems to exclude from honest membership anyone in my position. I am happy to read scripture as literature, alongside other ancient relics, but not to privilege the bible. Take the Noah story – for instance. Lots of clay tablets have turned up in the old kingdom of Babylon, some of them describe the archetypal great flood myth. It appears that the hebrew version is not unique, and that a coracle is closer to the original meaning of the ark. What we find in the bible is a version of an ancient story adapted for the purpose of the editors of the genesis narrative. There is nothing ‘true’ about the story in the literal sense of the word, and yet we teach it to children as if it was. Then we expect them to believe stories about miracles. This might convince children when they are young, but won’t hold water once they are taught scientific method.
    By the way, what exactly is ‘Gopher wood’? Ancient lists of types of material exist, but gopher wood exists only in the hebrew version of this story. To a believer in the authority of scripture, this is a non question, because the assumption is that such a wood existed at the time, but we have collectively forgotten the true meaning. However, this explanation still begs the question, and reveals a circularity of thinking that jarrs with me.

  3. Hi Bill,
    I think the point is that one should distinguish between “divine inspiration” and “literal truth”. I accept the former about the Bible but not the latter. I view the Bible as an account of the (often faltering) attempts of people to discover God & God’s purpose. Along the way, they discover that God is not a part of God’s creation, so one does not worship e.g. the sun, that human sacrifice is not accepted and that God is a God of morality. Whenever one reads a modern translation, one finds comments such as “Hebrew obscure” or “some ancient texts do not contain these verses”. A typical example is the end of the Gospel of Mark in the GNB. Things like this make it clear to me that humans making the Bible were not acting as automatons inscribing God’s words perfectly, but instead were the usual fallible creatures we know ourselves to be. Similarly, there are people who by their lives and words one would say are divinely inspired (let’s take as examples Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa) but who also had distinct flaws in their characters.
    Regards, Ted

  4. Dear Ted,
    Thanks for your reply. The avoidance of ‘literal truth’ – whatever that may be – is a useful beginning. I think the ‘Partners in Learning’ project was a serious attempt to prevent children becoming confused. With the benefit of input from educational psychology, children were shielded from teaching that they could not properly understand.
    I question whether it is useful to mention ‘God’ at all. If it is right to do something, then surely it is right whether or not some ancient text exists that commands or forbids it? We don’t need to bring God into it at all. Just the rational arguments for and against.
    I regard the invention of ‘God’ as an understandable blind alley – every culture has one or more – perhaps every person has their own unique idea of what explains the mysterious. When I say that I understand why people believe in God, this does not mean that I share that belief.
    I still ask the question, is there a place in the church for a person like me?

  5. Dear Ted,
    I thought I had better come clean and say that the answer is definitely “Yes!”
    After years of confusion and stubbornness, I have finally stopped asking “Why?”, and started to say “Why not?” You could say that I have completely flipped! I don’t recall exactly HOW it happened, but I got reading some recent books about the charismatic renewal and the history of the Community of Celebration. Alongside that I dusted off my collection of old Fisherfolk cassette tapes, and listened to the words and music. Somehow it all came alive for me. I became aware of “something” – a kind of warmth and washing – I felt myself to be open to whatever it was that was inviting me – and I began to cry.
    I don’t usually cry, but tears streamed down my face, and afterwards I felt clean and unlocked inside.
    The following sunday I came to church, and was welcomed back home. Joe Blackburn preached on “Doubting Thomas.”
    Since then I have been meeting old acquaintances and have had a new openness in conversation. I am not the dis-spirited and cantankerous individual I was becoming, but feel myself to be connected to the community in a new way. I seem to enjoy housework a lot more now, and have taken to walking instead of driving on local journeys.
    I have started to pray, and this includes a few phrases that are not english, but have a sort of releasing effect. The words of Jesus in John
    and Mark’s gospels have a timeless feel – as if he is speaking to us right here and now.
    I had that sense in the prayer group, reading about the true vine.
    Is it early onset dementia, or did smoke get in my eyes?
    Either way, I think I know something about the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song – “The power of love, a force from above, cleaning my soul . . .”
    Regards, Bill.

  6. Dear Bill,
    I am glad that I was busy away from home and not free to respond to your comment of April 14th. If I had replied then, it might have been with interesting “intellectual” arguments (There is a lot of discussion in scientific circles about whether the Universe has a structure which is “surprisingly” suitable for the emergence of intelligent life (as opposed to one containing only neutrons, neutron stars and black holes, which would occur if a few fundamental constants had slightly different values.) – so is the Universe “fine-tuned” by God, or are we seeing only an “observer bias”? – There might be lots of Universes out there, but of course we are in one which does support life…. ) Alternatively I might have replied saying that regarding God ONLY as a cultural creation of humankind is probably outside mainstream Christianity, though maybe acceptable to some Quakers.

    HOWEVER, in the end intellect can lead one towards faith, but never gets you there, and the last bit of faith is a jump into the unknown. On Easter morning, the “evidence” was an empty tomb, certainly not PROOF that God had overcome death in Jesus. As I said in Church last Sunday, my favourite post-Easter story is that of the two walkers to Emmaus, who leave Jerusalem dispirited, but meet someone who gives them a new way of looking at the events of Easter. That “someone”, even though they didn’t recognise him till he broke bread at the table, was Jesus speaking to them after his death (and let it not be forgotten – only doing so fleetingly). The story continues….

  7. Scientists keep an open mind and carry out experiments to test postulates. So aged 28 I carried out the experiment and addressed the Unknown “Jesus, if you’re there, please help me to believe in you.” 45 years on, I still have a personal relationship with God whom I call Jesus in my prayers.

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