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Most atheists I have encountered demonstrate an amazing “faith” in the power of science. They will often accuse believers of wishful thinking – or outright foolishness – when believers conclude that an intelligent being is the only reasonable inference to draw from the evidence of design that surrounds us. They do this because they have come to believe that only through “science” can anything be known, and that science will someday answer all of life’s mysteries. That is what’s called “scientism.” There is no need for a God, they assure themselves, because “science” has not provided for one.

Is Science the Only Way to Know?

The flaw in this thinking is the assumption that science is the only way one can know something. This is flawed on many levels. Science, broadly speaking, is a method of examining and assessing the physical world around us, using instrumentation and methodology to achieve repeatable results so as to confirm or negate a hypothesis. It is, therefore, an endless process of knowledge acquisition, but only in the physical realm. We employ it because we are first convinced that reality is fixed, and that repeatability is possible. But that is a philosophical belief, not something that science has itself proven.[1] If we didn’t already “know” this there would be no point in attempting to conduct experiments in the first place.

Can Science Handle Moral Values?

Moreover, science does not attempt to provide knowledge as to good and evil, for it is simply incapable of doing so. After all, Nazi scientists were making use of science, but we would hardly accept that what they were doing was good. Indeed, we would not look to the scientific method at all for answers to such questions.

Can Science Address Anything Besides Physical Nature?

Finally, since science is limited to the physical realm, it cannot be used to assess the transcendent. What existed before “time” began can no more be measured by science than can the morality of a decision to use science to achieve a particular end.

What Other Options Do we have?

There are other ways to obtain knowledge besides experimental science, especially in areas where testing and repeatability are not possible. We do this all the time in the study of history, or when we make use of abductive reasoning to arrive at the best explanation from the available evidence. One example often used in courtrooms involves rain: clothing gets wet when we walk in the rain, and we rightly infer that it is raining outside when someone walks into a building wearing a raincoat that is dripping wet. We use abductive reasoning intuitively and we take as a given that our sense of reasoning operates correctly to allow us to reach valid conclusions. This is so even though we cannot use reason (or science) to prove the validity of reason. Simply put, if I try to use reason to prove that reason is valid, I have to presuppose the validity of the very thing – reason – that I am trying to prove. No, reason is a starting point, a given that we must all utilize if we are to discuss – to think – at all.

Christians are not imagining a creator when they look at the evidence of the universe. Quite the contrary: modern science is unlocking more and more of the secrets of the universe and finding that it is incredibly fined tuned to support the existence of life. Mathematical formulae can model what is occurring in nature with remarkable precision, amounting to a “language” scientists use to understand reality. Medical science has peered into the complexity of life, and the billions of lines of a computer-like code – found in DNA – that directs the building of proteins and ultimately structures that allow the vast variety of life we see on Earth. Whenever we see signs of something that is designed and operating according to a finely tuned set of instructions, we quite properly infer that there is an intelligence behind it. For something as massive and breathtaking as this universe, populated as it is with intelligent life, that something must itself be immensely intelligent and immensely powerful. Science certainly addresses this physical domain; it seeks to answer the question how things occur? And science performs a valuable function. But science as a tool for discovering processes cannot explain what first set in motion the forces that it is examining; what the designer sought to accomplish with the laws of nature; and what the ultimate meaning and purpose of life really is. Science addresses the “how” of whatever already exists, but not the “why.”

If Nature were a Note

Consider: imagine a scientist examining the mail he receives every day. Over time, he learns everything there is to know about the type of paper that is used, how the paper was formed, the type of ink, its place of manufacture and its ingredients. Imagine further that he determines how the letters are grouped to form words. Seeking knowledge of this type is laudable. But if the scientist concludes that since he knows all there is to know about ink and letters and envelopes, that there is no need for a letter-sender, then he has done something worse than making a blind leap of faith – he has closed his mind to the obvious reality of what he is examining. Indeed, the only way the scientist can learn the point of it all, the meaning of the message, is to read what was written, for in it is embedded information, something that simply cannot arise through random or blind processes.

As Christians, we bear witness to a personal God, not because we are grasping at myths, but because we believe the evidence of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection are sufficient for us to know him in a personal way. In other words, we personalize the source of what physicists describe as the creation event not by myth or wishful thinking but by a combination of abductive reasoning – a creator is the best explanation – and specific revelation – he is the God described in the Bible.

In the end, science and the Christian worldview are not in conflict. It is the one who insists despite the evidence that there is no God – and ultimately no one to whom we will one day be called to answer – that is persisting in ignorance.



[1] Editors Note: The fixity, repeatability, and knowability of nature are preconditions for science. One can’t do science without them. That is, one must assume such a framework before one can use the scientific method to discover facts about the natural world. Since these sorts of things have to be assumed beforehand they are, properly speaking, the domain of philosophy, namely philosophy of science.


Recommended resources related to the topic:

Why Science Needs God by Dr. Frank Turek (DVD and Mp4)

Science Doesn’t Say Anything, Scientists Do by Dr. Frank Turek (DVD, Mp3, and Mp4)

Oh, Why Didn’t I Say That? Does Science Disprove God? by Dr. Frank Turek (DVD and Mp4)

Stealing From God by Dr. Frank Turek (Book, 10-Part DVD Set, STUDENT Study Guide, TEACHER Study Guide)

Al Serrato earned his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1985. He began his career as an FBI special agent before becoming a prosecutor in California, where he worked for 33 years. An introduction to CS Lewis’ works sparked his interest in Apologetics, which he has pursued for the past three decades. He got his start writing Apologetics with J. Warner Wallace and

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