Suppose that there were no scientific evidence whatsoever for the existence of God, would that disprove God? Or would that necessarily make it irrational to believe in God?
I argue that it wouldn’t – such an overly-skeptical view reveals a flawed epistemology (theory of knowledge). One who makes such a claim is apparently adhering to a strong form of scientism, the view that science is the only source of knowledge. For, there are many non-scientific reasons for belief in God, such as:
- Philosophical arguments– such as the moral argument, the Leibnizian cosmological argument, etc.
- Fulfilled prophecies
- Historical evidence for the resurrection
- Religious experience – it’s at least possible in principle that God could reveal Himself through experiences that would justify belief in Him for that person even if not necessarily for others without this evidence
The purpose of this blog is not to explore these non-scientific arguments but merely to point out that one cannot call belief in God irrational without also refuting these types of non-scientific arguments. Explore the hypertext links for sampling if you’re unfamiliar with these arguments. The claim that science is the only source of knowledge is self-refuting – it’s a philosophical claim that cannot be scientifically demonstrated so if science is the only source of knowledge one could not rationally affirm it. Dr. Turek’s Roadrunner Tactic (of applying a claim to itself) reveals this pretty clearly. Most philosophers have long since abandoned this overly narrow epistemology, but unfortunately, some scientists still hold to it.
Too often skeptics point to prominent scientists who are atheists as though that somehow shows that belief in God must be irrational. I confess that I myself, unfortunately,y went through a period of doubts in the late 1990’s in part because of this fear of how so many of these smart scientists could think that there is no evidence of God.
But is science really even the appropriate discipline for determining God’s existence?
I later came to realize the folly of assuming scientists are best-suited for evaluating evidence for God. Sure a disproportionate number of really intelligent people are scientists but are they really trained so as to be able to best evaluate potential evidence for God? Clearly, they are not trained to evaluate any of the non-scientific evidence I listed above. Many of the most vocal atheistic scientists such as Krauss, Dawkins, and Hawking make numerous philosophical mistakes.
Moreover, science is generally defined such that no appeal to the divine is even considered – this is known as methodological naturalism. Thus, both the nature of the knowledge taught to scientists as well as the methodology they learn for evaluating evidence are not well-suited for evaluating the breadth of evidence and arguments about God.
Dr. Ed Feser, who has been on the CrossExamined podcasts here and here, has an excellent rebuttal to scientism. He critiques Alex Rosenberg’s argument that science can show that God doesn’t exist. First, here is Feser’s summary of Rosenberg’s argument:
1. The predictive power and technological applications of physics are unparalleled by those of any other purported source of knowledge.
2. Therefore what physics reveals to us is all that is real.
Feser goes on to explain: “How bad is this argument? About as bad as this one:
1. Metal detectors have had far greater success in finding coins and other metallic objects in more places than any other method has.
2. Therefore what metal detectors reveal to us (coins and other metallic objects) is all that is real.
Metal detectors are keyed to those aspects of the natural world susceptible of detection via electromagnetic means (or whatever). But however well they perform this task — indeed, even if they succeeded on every single occasion they were deployed — it simply wouldn’t follow for a moment that there are no aspects of the natural world other than the ones they are sensitive to. Similarly, what physics does — and there is no doubt that it does it brilliantly — is to capture those aspects of the natural world susceptible of the mathematical modeling that makes a precise prediction and technological application possible. But here too, it simply doesn’t follow for a moment that there are no other aspects of the natural world.”
But there is also Scientific Evidence for God!
I don’t intend any disrespect for science in this blog – I should mention that I myself have a degree in physics and have worked in scientific/mathematical domains of software engineering for the past 27 years. I have great respect for science and actually, I think that God has also left plenty of scientific evidence for His existence. This blog is an introduction to a series making a case that what we have learned from science actually does support theism over atheism. It’s important, however, to keep things in perspective! Scientific knowledge is just one aspect of knowledge and a skeptic who hasn’t searched out the non-scientific forms of evidence is making a big mistake. Nevertheless, the church too often provides no response or a weak response to challenges to belief in God from atheistic scientists. I think, therefore, that it is important to look at whether or not there are theistic implications from origins science. Over the next few weeks I’ll be making a case in this blog that the following aspects of science provide evidence that God exists:
- Origin of Universe
- Origin of the Laws to Support Life
- Fine-Tuning of the Initial Conditions of the Universe to Support Life
- Fine-Tuning of the Constants of Nature
- Origin of Life
Before we get into the evidence, in my next blog I’ll discuss what would constitute suitable evidence for God from science and some of the objections that invariably arise. A careful philosophical evaluation is in order before laying out the facts so that we can properly interpret them.