SCIENCE AND FAITH (Part III)
The idea that science and faith are, somehow, mutually exclusive is a common, but completely misguided concept. In Science and Faith, Part II, I discussed how science and faith, from a philosophical point of view, are not incongruent at all, as they deal with completely different realms. It is entirely possible to be a scientist and a Christian (or a person of another faith) simultaneously! On the home page of my website, SmartFaith.net, I make the comment (yes, I’m quoting myself here – sorry!) –
“Faith and reason are no more antithetical than are heat and light. Belief in God, and a literal interpretation of the Bible, have nothing to fear from rational investigation and rigorous, evidential scrutiny. As Albert Einstein said, “The more I study science, the more I believe in God”. Max Born, the German physicist, who won the Nobel Prize for Science in 1954, said; “Those who say that the study of science must make a person an atheist must be rather silly people.”
In this, third installment of “Science and Faith”, I want to share with you the long list of scientists who have shaped our world, and who also expressed a strong belief in the God of the Bible.
Let us start with the most controversial scientist of all – the man credited with founding the theory of evolution. Exactly where Darwin stood in regard to his belief in God is difficult to pin down. He certainly started out as a strong believer; originally a member of the Unitarian Church, and, in the latter part of his life, an active member of the Church of England. He once stated, “The question of whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the Universe has been answered in the affirmative by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed.” As the years progressed, Darwin was plagued by doubts concerning God, not because of his scientific studies, but as a result of philosophical questions arising from the existence of suffering. Despite his doubts, however, towards the end of his life (after the publication of “On The Origin Of Life”) he is quoted as saying, “Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe as the result of blind chance or necessity. I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind, and I deserve to be called a Theist.” Always reticent about expressing his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God, and that generally “an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind”. Atheists love to use Darwin as an example of a scientists who discarded his faith in God because of the evidence of science, but that simply isn’t true. Firstly, he never discarded his faith. He became deeply conflicted and uncertain, but was never an atheist. Secondly, it was not science that was the cause of these doubts, but the philosophical question of suffering. Darwin never saw science as incongruent to faith.
Known for his work as an astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher and mathemetician, Galieleo has been called the father of observational astronomy. His greatest contribution to science was, of course, the development of the heliocentric view of the solar system, which revolutionised astronomy.
Galileo was a strong Christian all his life. On one occasion, when asked if he thought science and faith contradicted each other, he replied, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect, has intended us to forgo their use!”
LORD WILLIAM KELVIN
Kelvin was a world renowned mathematical physicist, best known for his ground-breaking research into theoretical thermodynamics, and the discoverer of the exact temperature of absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius). Absolute temperatures are stated in units of Kelvin, in his honour.
Kelvin’s strong Christian faith is evident in his statement, “I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism. If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”
SIR ISAAC NEWTON
Widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and the quantifier of gravity, Newton was a devout Christian. He once commented, “God created everything by number, weight and measure. In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” On another occasion, he stated, “I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”
Kepler, a German astronomer and mathematician, was one of the leading lights of the scientific revolution of the 17th century. He is best known for quantifying the laws of planetary motion, making possible space flight today. His work in physics also formed the basis for Isaac Newton’s subsequent work on gravity. Kepler’s devout Christian faith is evident in his statement, “God wanted us to recognize these laws by creating us after his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts”
Proposer of the heliocentric model of the solar system, Copernicus is lauded as one of the most influential astronomers of history. As a committed Christian, he once declared, “I desire to know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of His laws”
The founder of microbiology and immunology, Pasteur’s Christian faith is evident in his statement, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. Science brings men nearer to God.”
The founder of modern chemistry and one of the pioneers of modern scientific method, Boyle is best known for “Boyles Law”, describing the inverse relationship between pressure and volume. He declared his Christian faith in no uncertain terms; “God is the author of the universe, and the free establisher of the laws of motion.”
Founder of quantum physics and the Nobel Prize winner for his ground-breaking work in Cosmology, he is best known for his formulation of “Planck’s Constant”. His unequivocal Christian faith is evident in his statement, “God is the beginning and end of all considerations: He is the foundation”
SIR JOSEPH THOMPSON
Thompson is, perhaps, not as well known as others in this list, but you have him to thank every time you switch on an electric light or boil your jug. Thompson is the Nobel Prize winning discoverer of the electron and the founder of atomic physics. He was also a man of great faith, who once declared, “Every advance in science declares that ‘Great are the Works of the Lord’.”
You must also thank Nicola Tesla for your illuminated cup of tea, as he was the inventor of alternating current (AC). His unquestionable Christian faith is evident in his statement, “Every advance in science declares that ‘Great are the Works of the Lord’.”
Einstein is best known for the development of the theory of relativity and is arguably the most famous scientist of all time. Like Charles Darwin, his faith in God seemed to fluctuate between certainty and uncertainty throughout his life, but, also similarly to Darwin, his uncertainties were NOT a result of his study of science, but rather a result of philosophical questions which he never fully resolved.
The fact that Einstein saw no conflict between science and Christianity is evident in his statement, “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.” On another occasion, he declared, “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are mere details.”
Science and faith are not incongruent. Far greater minds than yours or mine have held them in balance with no difficulty whatsoever. The supposed incongruence of faith and science is an artificial construct of modern atheism that is completely ill-founded. In fact, far from contradicting faith, science actually supports it. The study of philosophy and science has been a life-long passion of mine, and I am more convinced now than ever before that the Christian faith is overwhelmingly supported by the physical and philosophical sciences. Recent developments in cosmology, genetics, palaeontology, physics and molecular biology have resulted in a significant shift within the scientific community towards belief in a theistic first cause for the origin of the universe. (See SmartFaith.net for much more information!).
Science is simply the study of God’s amazing creation, and the so-called “laws of science” are simply the means by which He continues to sustain and uphold it. As Einstein declared,“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”