Friday, July 20, 2012
What Science Says About God
Its a pretty common debate these days, questioning the existence of God based off of scientific evidence. Both sides are extremely passionate and dead set on their beliefs. While this debate has been around for millenniums, with theists overall weighing in as the champions, in the mid-1800's Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection began tipping the scales in favor of atheism. With the theory of evolution, the debate became even more heated and that heat promises to continue for many years into the future. So I want to ask a question, what does science say about God? Does it say God exists? Or not?
To give you my take on this question, first I want to establish what science is. Science, as we know it today is the (1) logical search for truth, (2) utilizing the measurable and predictable physical world or universe. Without the existence of logic or truth science is a worthless endeavor. I totally agree, logic and truth exist and are the foundation of all science. If atheists and theists agree on any one thing it is this, and they passionately agree on this together. Without logic or truth no one could prove, understand, or know anything. You couldn't even know that you exist or not. In this though lies what I see the first problem for science itself. Science does not have the ability to prove the existence of truth and logic in itself. Science is limited to studying only the measurable and predictable physical world. Logic and truth are not physical or measurable, therefore science has nothing to say about them. Rather science must assume they exist, relying on the field of philosophy to prove the existence of truth and logic.
This leads to the next issue. Atheists and theists using science to claim that something non-physical, and therefore not measurable or predictable, does or does not exist have a fatally flawed argument. The leap from science to philosophy is logically difficult if not impossible. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, philosophy easily makes the leap into science. Philosophy is all inclusive in nature, so it obviously must include science. Science however, is limited only to the physical. What does this say about Darwin's theory of evolution? This very clearly says that evolution (science) is incapable of coming to a conclusion about the existence of non-physical beings such as God. Conclusions about the existence of God therefore fall into the study of philosophy or theology rather than in the study of science. Biologists that use evolution to disprove God are using faulty logic. On the other hand, if we stick to the strict definition of science mentioned above, theists that use science to prove the existence of God are also using faulty logic. In a pure sense, the physical cannot prove the non-physical.
Does this leave us with nothing? Neither theists or atheists can prove their point using physical sciences. Science still can be used to study origins of the universe and organisms though. To determine whether God exists or not we must rely on philosophy and theology. So back to the same old, millenniums old debate on the existence of God. Over two thousand years ago Plato's "Timaeus" used philosophy to prove the existence of God. "Timaeus" claimed that the universe requires one eternal creator outside of the physical realm to make and start all time and physical objects off. Realistically, the debate hasn't move much further than this in over two thousand years. The debate of course has matured and become more refined, but its still pretty much the same. Any claims of "new" philosophical or scientific findings help refine the debate, but haven't really moved the overall debate anywhere nearer to a conclusion. Which is to say, the so called "New Atheism" which heavily utilizes science for its conclusions is nothing new. In fact, when I have heard proponents of the "New Atheism" speak or have read their materials, I am astounded at the fact that they claim they have found something "new". Actually, the "New Atheism" sounds pretty much like the "old atheism" of 100 years ago or so. Same with "intelligent design", this is not a new scientific or philosophical finding, it has been around since the beginning of time.
This blog entry opens a whole can of worms and we have barely scratched the surface. As you may be able to tell, I fall into the theist category. It is not logically possible for anything to exist unless there was something outside of time and the physical to create it. Logic and truth also require a creator. Science, being dependent on logic and truth, is therefore dependent on a Creator of logic and truth. Without a creator, we have no logic or truth and therefore no meaningful science.