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Is Science Finding God?
By Rod Robison
The past two centuries, more than any other time in Western civilization, have seen two former partners, Christianity and science, pitted against each other. Or so it would seem to the casual observer. If one only relied on most secular media for information about the perceived battle, one would think that the two were mutually exclusive human experiences. Science, we're told, deals with reality. Christianity, on the other hand, is a matter of faith only, with no practical connection to the real world.
To be sure, part of this misconception has been the fault of the church. In areas of science and art, it has, to a significant extent, abdicated its responsibility to influence our culture. Much of the fault, however, lies with the world of science which has become drunk with its own achievements and denied the Creator of science itself.
But science and Christianity were once happily married. The Reformation gave rise to the scientific method through it's declaration of a rational God whose laws were worthy of discovery. Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler; probably the three most influential astronomers of all time, were devout Christians as were many of science's early heroes. But something happened two centuries ago that nearly caused a divorce. The rift got its biggest boost during the so-called Enlightenment of the 18th century. Rationalism, the Enlightenment's major philosophical pillar, taught that all knowledge could be discovered using rational thought without any supernatural revelation. Naturalism, a close cousin to rationalism, stated that we live in a closed system of natural causes and effects. Not only was the supernatural not necessary, according to the naturalists, it was non-existent. The Enlightenment's philosophical attack on the validity of the Bible had a powerful effect.
These two worldviews could hardly have been more at odds with each other. While the Bible expressed a God who existed outside the natural universe, the Enlightenment taught that since the natural universe was all that existed, there was no need for God. The Bible called humanity to worship a holy God in humility and trust. The Enlightenment taught that man was his own god and was accountable only to himself. For much of Western society the enticement to move from a God-centered worldview to a man-centered worldview won out.
Emerging from the Enlightenment's influence, Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, published in the 1850s, had a profound effect on the relationship between science and Christianity. The book, which popularize the notion that man and all other living things had evolved from lower organisms, further excluded God from the realm of scientific inquiry.
Without a doubt, many in the scientific community have, especially over the past two hundred years, considered God and Christianity irrelevant at best and anti-scientific at worst. One might think, looking only at the surface of the issue, that science and the notion of the God of the Bible never really did have anything in common. But a closer examination of the history of science during those two centuries reveals another story. Many of science's most profound and innovative thinkers were people of faith.
William F. Albright, considered the foremost archaeologist of the 20th century, began his excavations of the Middle East skeptical of the Bible's historicity. But his discoveries turned him into a believer. He concluded: "The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries...has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history."
We all have Michael Faraday to thank for the electric motor, the transformer, and the electric generator. His profound Christian faith drove him to discover the laws of God. Faraday is widely acknowledged as the greatest experimental genius of all time. On his deathbed an interviewer asked him what his speculations were concerning the hereafter. He answered, "Speculations? I have none. I am resting on certainties." Then he quoted 2 Timothy 1:12: "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him until that day."
Sir William Herschel, discoverer of the planet Uranus and other important facts of astronomy saw such Divine design in the universe that he declared: "The undevout astronomer must be mad."
William Ramsey, the foremost archeologist of Asia Minor, was schooled to believe that the New Testament was merely a second century fabrication. However, when he went to the field to examine the evidence for himself he found that the places, topography, antiquities, titles and technical terms accurately matched those of the New Testament. With regard to the book of Acts he concluded: "Luke's history is unsurpassed in respect of it trustworthiness."
Other Christians whose scientific discoveries affect our everyday lives today include Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics; James Maxwell, the formulator of the electromagnetic theory of light; John Michel, the father of seismology and predictor of black holes; Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph; Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the universal law of gravitation; Blaise Pascal, the father of modern mathematics; and Louis Pasteur, formulator of the germ theory of disease. These thinkers and many others like them saw God's fingerprint on the natural world they studied.
Although science and Christianity have never been divorced , the last couple of hundred years have seen a rocky marriage. But in recent years the two have begun to find more common ground than differences. Most of the commonality has come as a result of new discoveries in science.
Prior to the twentieth century the prevailing view among astronomers was that the Universe had no beginning. It was called the steady state theory. Contrary to the steady state theory the Bible clearly states that God created the Universe from nothing at some fixed point in history. Discoveries in the twentieth century by Hubble, Einstein, and others gave unmistakable evidence of a beginning to the Universe. Their discoveries shook the scientific world and forced many scientists to reconsider their theology.
In the last ten to twenty years new discoveries in the fields of micro-biology, astronomy, genetics, physics, and other disciplines have given rise to the Intelligent Design movement among scientists. As science's understanding of our world grows exponentially it is discovering with the same rapidity how finely tuned and carefully designed everything is--from the tiniest cell structure to the countless galaxies. This movement is swiftly finding a place in a scientific community that once scoffed at or ignored God and the Bible as outside the realm of science.
New books on the subject of intelligent design are making their way into science's hallowed halls and the bookshelves of homes. Some secular media outlets are even picking up on the story because the implications of this recent scientific movement in science are too profound to ignore. Intelligent Design is poised to have a deep and lasting effect on science in the decades to come. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of the divorce of Christianity and science is premature. In fact, the marriage is on the mend.
Thanks to Fred Heeren, author of Show Me God," published by Searchlight Publications, for information on scientists of faith referred to in this article.
The above article was posted on this Web site May 29, 2000.
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