A Theology of Science (my story, cont.)
I’m guessing the title of this post alone has grabbed people’s attention. So, allow me to explain.
I’m often asked by atheists how I can love the natural world and science while still being a Christian. Judging by the comments on this blog and my conversations with atheists around the country, they view this as a complete mystery.
And, look, I get it. On the surface, it seems as if science and faith are at complete odds with one another. Many people have tried to resolve the tension in different ways. Some have suggested that faith trumps science every time. Some think science trumps faith. Or, people like Stephen Jay Gould said, both attempt to answer different questions and therefore should stay in their seperate realms.
Of these positions, I have been attracted to Gould’s position. But lately, I have been finding in unsatisfactory in a number of different ways. I think the main reason is that such thinking is completely naive to how human beings function. That is, it’s asking people to leave aside their presuppositions when they do science. And, as I argued in regards to the whole Collins/Harris situation, I don’t think that’s possible. I don’t think that you can have a truly objective science, as that would require a scientist who is truly objective. Such a thing doesn’t exist.
However, thankfully, the whole process and nature of science is built to try and elminate those presuppositions we might bring to the table. The scientific method is a thing of beauty. But, I still don’t think it can make us totally objective, even when we do science. I don’t believe it can fully accomplish the goal of getting rid of our presuppositions about the world.
Why? Because science is simply not designed to do such a thing. Science is designed to help us figure out how the natural world works. And as much as people like Dawkins would like to think, science CANT give us meaning. Why? Because it’s not meant to do so. It can tell us how things function. For example, if they can ever prove there is a “God” part of the brain, it still can only tell us how our physical bodies react to a worship type of situation. To say otherwise, is to step over into philosophy and worldview, not science. Every time science tries to give us meaning, value and ethics, we wind up with things like Eugenics. Before people get crazy about this, read this book by Edwin Black, a New York Times writer. He shows how Eugenics was pushed by the scientists of the day in a fit of complete social Darwinism. It’s a sobering read and a warning against making science mean more than it’s meant to do.
And, further, with something like the “God” part of the brain, it’s no threat to a Christian view of the world about human beings. Why? It goes back to the whole soul/body situation. A Judeo/Christian view of the body/soul is that it’s an organic whole. The problem with Christianity is that has often infected itself with Greek philsophical concepts, namely, the body and soul are divided, and the body is weak at best, evil at worst. This is NOT a biblical view of human beings. Instead, it views humans as integrated wholes, spirit and body intertwined. in a symbiotic relationship.
To take this one step further, a Judeo/Christian view of creation is like this. The created order is broken down in two ways, the seen and the unseen. Now, both of these categories are very large and included a number of different things. Too large to get into at this moment. But, this is the realm of science, the created order. It can investigate anything in this realm and should investigate anything in this realm. The created realm is a great mystery the more we found about it, the more we realize we don’t understand. This is why I love trying to understand Quantum Physics. This whole area of science messes with everything we thought we know about the world.
Science may not solve all of the mysteries of the created order, but theoreticially, it can. You see, a Judeo/Christian view of the world doesn’t recognize the whole natural/supernatural distinction. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly understands that God has interved in the world at certain times and places. But, have you ever noticed how rare miracles are in the Bible? We were made to be on this planet. God intends that we take care of it. One day, from a Christian point of view, it will be renewed. But, it will be this planet, not some ethereal never world of Greek philosophy.
But, there is one thing that science, by definition, can’t solve, that is, whether God exists or not. The reason for this is simply that by definition, God has to stand outside of space and time. If He is bound by either, He is no longer, by definition, god. So, therefore, I find it highly doubtful that we will ever find an experiement to test for God’s existence. This is something neither people like Dawkins or the ID folks like very well. This is why I’m not entirely happy with the ID folks either for the simple reason it often seems like their faith rests on certain scientific mysteries that could be figured out any moment. As in, just because things like blood clotting are a bit of a mystery in biological science, doesn’t mean they will always be. So, if your faith rests on that, and it’s figured out one day, then where is your faith? It was misplaced and it might throw you for a loop.
God stands outside of the created order and therefore outside the realm of scientific investigation. I know that’s frustrating for some people, but it really shouldn’t be. What it says is that scientific investigation is free. It can explore and push boundardies of our knoweldge of the created order. But, it has to realize it will eventually bump into a wall that it can’t penetrate. But, for the Christian, they have to remember that while some of the proofs seems convincing, there are some deep seeded problems with them. As Daniel Dennett rightly said, “I agree with Alister (McGrath) that science doesn’t give all the answers. Indeed not. He says we have to look elsewhere and that we may not agree. I think we can even agree on that if he’ll answer those deep questions that science doesn’t answer if we start looking to other humans for those answers”.
And, that’s exactly right which brings me to my exception with everything I just said. What is God was a human being that we could look to? What if God stepped into the created world Himself? What if He stepped into this process He started at the Big Bang? What if He somehow combined His nature with the created order? You see, Christians believe exactly that when we talk about Jesus Christ. And because He did that, you CAN investigate the claims. Christianity is a historical religion and it rises and falls on the death and ressurection of Jesus. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, the whole thing goes to the toilet, pure and simple. Pascal’s wager is simply not biblical. St. Paul said it himself, “If there is no ressurection, your faith is pointless. Go eat, drink and be merry, because tomorrow you will die”. If it could be proven that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, I would chuck the whole thing tomorrow and put on a Flying Spaghetti Monster t-shirt.
Come to think of it, I might do that anyway. I love that little guy. He makes me laugh.