Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Has Science disproved God?

As part of a series on apologetic teaching at church we, this week, looked at the question of whether science has disproved God, courtesy of Tim Wears. Whether the study of science is incompatible with a belief in a God and leads to the view that religion is divisive leading to oppression and violence.

One of the topics I’d like to highlight was that of the different types of Naturalism. In fact there are two distinct types of naturalism: Scientific naturalism and metaphysical naturalism. There is an important distinction between the two and one does not necessarily logically lead to the other. Methodological (scientific) naturalism concerns knowledge and how to get trustworthy knowledge of the natural world. Any hypothesis has to be explained and tested only by reference to natural causes and events; this is the proper way to do science. Whilst Metaphysical (philosophical) naturalism is a world view concerning existence, what exist and what doesn’t. It states that there is nothing beyond nature, that nature is everything.

It is important to note here that a belief in metaphysical naturalism is exactly that, a belief, a philosophical position that can not be proved. A presupposition rather than a conclusion and it is a world view which by definition has no room for God in it. So to say that scientific endeavour has in someway disproved God is meaningless as it either can’t say anything about God or already assumes that there isn’t one. Many scientists would agree with this, for instance Steven Jay Gould, an eminent evolutionary biologists and atheist, said

“To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth million time: science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as scientists.” 1

This was just one of the points that was made by Tim, and in a far more elegant way than I could possibly manage. I would highly recommend listening to entire talk which you can find here, it starts about 5 minutes in. As part of the talk we watched a clip of Alistair McGrath on the ethics and morality of religion. This has been omitted from the recording (approx 39 minutes in) and can be found here. I hope that you find it as interesting as I did.

1. "Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge" (Review of Philip E. Johnston, Darwin on Trial), Scientific American (July 1992): 119. (c)1992, Scientific American

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link I'll certainly have a look at that! Hope all your works going well :)

    It was good to see so many people finding out more about apologetics, great series!