Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Science has what?!?

It's often aggressively stated, and dogmatically shouted that science has disproved God, but is it true? The short and simple answer is no, and to suppose that it could be true betrays one of two things, either that people are dreadfully misinformed about the facts, or that people are deliberately misleading about the facts. Consider what science is – it is the study of the physical, material universe – how could it ever be that studying the physical universe could prove that there is something non-physical? When someone armed with a microscope or telescope proclaims they can’t see God, or someone armed with a balance says they can’t weigh God, why should anybody think this is a significant statement? It is like searching every square inch of your house and then declaring at the end of it that there was no builder because he isn’t in the bricks, mortar, tiles, paint or wallpaper. The application of the illustration is obvious – the builder isn’t a part of the thing he has built, he’s outside it. If you want to find the builder you need to go beyond an examination of what he has built. So it is with the universe. God is outside of creation, He’s not a physical being, and therefore science can’t examine Him, and certainly can’t disprove Him. Indeed, the more we learn about the universe, the more we see science pointing towards a Creator. Consider again the example of you searching your house for the builder: as you search your house and notice the ordered layout, the structure, the materials etc. at the end of your search you won’t have found the builder but you will have lots of evidence that there was one, and you will have learnt some things about him – you’ll have learnt about his skill (or lack thereof), and the level of his attention to detail, and so on. So it is with science: as the universe is investigated we find it pointing to a source outside of itself, and there are things we can learn about that source. Let’s briefly consider a few ways in which creation points outside itself to an external source, and then see what we can learn about the Creator.

Traditionally atheists have always believed that the universe is eternal. Despite the logical problems this presented them with, they were stuck with the idea because they realised that the moment you said the universe had a beginning you conceded that God existed. However, the 20th Century has seen science wrench the eternal universe out of the grip of atheists, and has shown that the universe, that is, all of space and time, had a beginning a finite time ago. But if the universe had a beginning then the universe must have a cause. Things don’t just pop into existence out of nothing with no cause and for no reason. So the origin of the universe points to a Creator.

Science also shows us how incredibly fine-tuned the universe is for life to exist at all. Scientists are discovering that the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge and that had there been the slightest difference in value of any of a huge number of physical constants then planets and stars, never mind life, wouldn’t exist. Constants such as the cosmological constant, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, gravity, the electromagnetic force, and almost 100 other constants and quantities are examples of this amazing fine-tuning (see here). Suppose you walk into a factory and you see machinery in operation and you’re told that there’s a control panel with 100 dials on it, each dial has a million possible settings, and each dial has to be set to a specific number for the machinery to work. When you look at the control panel you find every dial set to the exact number – what’s the most reasonable conclusion? Chance or intelligence? The answer’s so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated. Yet people are prepared to believe that a universe sprung into existence out of nothing without a cause and just managed without guidance to hit the right number on all the dials. Little wonder the Bible says the heavens declare the glory of God.

Back in Darwin’s day it was supposed that a single cell was a simple thing, but research has shown it to be far from simple. The cell, which is the basis of life, containing about 100 million proteins of 20,000 different types is really like a miniature motor car factory with loads of mini assembly lines and all the different parts performing different functions in a very busy but highly efficient way. A typical cell contains billions of units of DNA making up the chromosomes that make the machines that cause the cell to work. The DNA can only be described in terms of language or code, and has been likened to a computer program, indeed, Bill Gates said DNA is far, far more advanced than any software Microsoft had created. Every single one of the trillions of cells in the human body contains a database larger than the Encyclopaedia Britannica. But where does information come from? Who is the programmer? Who wrote the language and gave the code? The more we investigate the more we see how true the words of Scripture, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’”. In light of such evidence, let no one who denies the existence of God accuse the believer of blind faith!

So when we think about the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, the complexity of the cell and the information carried in the DNA we see creation is pointing outside itself to a Creator. And we can infer from the science that this creator has immense power and wisdom, and is a personal Being, with the capacity to choose.

But what about evolution? Is it not a fact? And does it not put God out of a job? Something needs to be pointed out here: evolution is a very broad term. It covers variation within species – known as micro-evolution, which nobody would dispute, as well as the theory that all living things have descended from a common ancestor, by natural selection acting on random mutations, and it is this theory of macro-evolution that is hotly disputed, and what people need to remember is that evidence for micro-evolution is not necessarily evidence for macro-evolution. The evidence available just does not support neo-Darwinian macro-evolution – it’s a “just-so” story that doesn’t fit with the fossil record (the missing links are still missing), it doesn’t account for the information in the DNA, and it doesn’t account for free will – it makes us all genetically determined, as Dawkins says, “DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” Do we really believe this? Do we honestly think that people are not responsible for their actions? Are we just matter in motion? We know that we are free and responsible beings - evolution can't produce that.

As regards the missing links, SJ Gould says, the lack of intermediate forms “persists as the trade secret of palaeontology”. Listen to Nile Eldridge from the American Museum of Natural History, he said, “We palaeontologists have said that the history of life supports [the story of gradual adaptive change]...all the while knowing that it does not”.

Another problem with the theory is that there simply is not enough time – even on the most generous timescales given for the age of the earth. What this means is that if the theory of evolution by natural selection acting on random mutations happened then it would actually be a miracle! Physicists John Barrow and Frank Tippler in their book, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, investigated ten steps that would have to occur if macro-evolution were true, such as the evolution of the aerobic respiratory system, the internal skeleton, photosynthesis, the eye, etc. and they concluded that each one of these ten steps is so unlikely that before it would occur by natural selection acting on random mutations the sun would have gone through the whole process of stellar evolution, would have ceased to be a main sequence yellow star, and would have incinerated the earth!

Neo-Darwinian evolution is a view that naturalists / materialists are forced to hold, not because of the evidence, but because if it’s not true then a Creator is impossible to avoid. Don’t be deceived by the spin – science doesn’t disprove God. Science has disproved atheism, there is a God – a God by whom we have been created, to whom we are accountable, and before whom we will stand.

It’s amazing to look at creation and know about God, but better still to receive Christ as Saviour and actually come to know God.

“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not; He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”