[asa] Does science need God?

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Tue Oct 21 2008 - 12:00:28 EDT

I'm in a yahoo discussion board debate, and the following is an essay I wrote. Feel free to critique. I am providing the negative response.

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Resolved: Given the success of science, including evolution, there is
no need for a God as posited by Christians to explain the universe.

<<My negative response to the above statement follows.>>

There are two ways to look at this debate. On one hand, science (by definition) seeks only a naturalistic explanation. In that regard, God is not needed (in fact, He is not allowed in the door). On the other hand, many scientists think that God is the one who created and defined these naturalistic processes. In that case, it would be nave to think that naturalistic processes are the only things that exist, or that something came from nothing, or that the universe is just eternal with no beginning. But because the scientific method is self-limited to natural causes only, many consider this bigger field of inquiry as meta-physics (dealing with something beyond natural processes).

To help explain more fully, I think it would also be helpful to consider a specific example, such as the creation of humans.

How did humans come to be? As an evolutionary creationist, I agree with my atheist friend that humans evolved from apelike creatures. We both agree that humans did not come about because of fiat (a literal interpretation of Genesis says that God created humans uniquely and not from lower life-forms; however, DNA evidence disproves that interpretation). However, while my atheist friend says that this natural process (called evolution) requires no God, I would say that God designed the process of evolution. For example, an automated factory can make some kind of product (naturally and logically), but that doesn't mean the factory, processes, etc. were created without humans. In the same way, God created evolution- which is the factory and system that not only makes products, but also builds other factories.

Another aspect is important to note: the rather immature knowledge we have from science. It is true that science has exploded in knowledge in the last 50 years, but there are still many unknowns which can make us feel like we are still in our infancy in regards as to how the world works. For example, in the last few years we have read the human genome, but we are still trying to figure out what the genes do, how they operate, and how the DNA controls body growth (how to build an eye, brain, heart, etc.). We are also still trying to discover all the mechanisms of biological evolution (although many of them are known; such as natural selection, random mutation, genetic drift, migration, etc.)[1]. However, my atheist friend and I agree that science should still seek only a naturalistic explanation for this, because that is how science works.

Is it possible that God intervened in biological evolution? Could God have guided evolution (thereby being one of the evolutionary mechanisms)? Yes, it is possible, but for scientific reasons, we will not consider that. The reason being is that science, by definition, does not deal with the supernatural world. If we are correct that there was no supernatural intervention in the making of humans, we will discover more and more new facts and information as we study this evolution. However, if we are wrong and God did directly intervene, there is no way we could detect that and we will simply be subject to frustration. As my opponent has written, science has made many discoveries, and so it seems reasonable that things should continue in that vein.

Another way of looking at the debate is by re-phrasing the question as "Since science explains everything without God, is there a need for God?" As the famous atheist scientist Richard Dawkins has advocated, "evolution puts God out of a job." What is there to do if it is discovered that man can evolve naturally? The answer is that God created the very system of evolution itself. But that isn't a question of science; it is a question of meta-physics. And for that, God is the answer.

In summary, renowned biological scientist and evangelical Christian Francis Collins has said that religion and science asks two different questions. Science may ask "HOW did we get here?" Religion may ask "WHY are we here?" If that is true, it would be a mistake to think that science trumps religion or religion trumps science when they are actually operating in two different spheres. In this case, the Bible is important to teach us about theology (thinking about God), but the Bible is not a science or history textbook.

 [1] http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIIMechanisms.shtml

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Received on Tue Oct 21 12:01:32 2008

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