Christian Philosophy and ScienceQUESTION: Christian Philosophy and ScienceANSWER:
People tend to believe in the most likely solution to a problem. That is why most people believe that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and “all things therein” (Acts 17:24). Jean Piaget, a child psychologist, has found that a seven-year-old believes almost instinctively that everything in the universe has a purpose.
Believing the truth of Genesis 1:1 makes more sense than believing that a series of cosmic accidents brought about the orderly, beautiful, meaningful cosmos. Two skeptics, Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, wrote a work entitled Rare Earth1
in which they detail a number of incredibly precise measurements related to the elements and parameters of the earth that had to be exactly correct in order to sustain life on this planet. Yet they concluded that it all happened by accident. On the other hand, the producers of “The Privileged Planet” cannot accept the notion that the earth “got it just right” as a mark of chance. The God of the universe is responsible for such a magnificent creation.2Christian Philosophy and the Scientific Method
The wise Christian philosopher recognizes the scientific method as a limited but valuable ally. In addition to lending support for the teleological argument (that design in the universe implies a Designer), science also shores up the cosmological argument (that God is the “first cause” of the universe). Joad reinforces the idea that science does not threaten Christianity, stating, “It has often been represented that the conclusions of science are hostile to the tenets of religion. Whatever grounds there may have been for such a view in the past, it is hard to see with what good reason such a contention could be sustained today.”3
Stephen D. Schwarz cites four particular scientific discoveries that support the conclusion that God exists: the Second Law of Thermodynamics (stating that the universe is running out of usable energy and cannot be infinitely old),4
the impossibility of spontaneous generation of life from non-life (verified by Pasteur over 150 years ago), genetic information theory (which postulates that specified complexity, like that found in DNA, comes from a mind, never by chance),5
and the Anthropic Principle (that the universe as well as planet earth are specifically “fine-tuned” to accommodate life).
For the Christian, then, science need not be an enemy—indeed, science should be accepted as a somewhat successful method of obtaining knowledge about God’s design in the universe. As C.S. Lewis says, “In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.”6Notes:
Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews
ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry
at Summit Ministries
. All rights reserved in the original.1
Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe
(New York, NY: Copernicus, 2000).2
“The Privileged Planet” was produced by Illustra Media (www.illustramedia.com).3
Joad, The Recovery of Belief, 107.4
J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003): “According to the second law of thermodynamics, processes taking place in a closed system always tend toward a state of equilibrium... The universe is, on a naturalistic view, a gigantic closed system, since it is everything there is there is nothing outside it. This seems to imply that, given enough time, the universe and all its processes will run down, and the entire universe will come to equilibrium. This is known as the heat death of the universe.”5
See Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
(New York, NY: The Free Press, 1996) for the workings of DNA.6
Clyde S. Kilby, ed., A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis
(New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968), 240.