Science and Christian Apologetics JOHN OAKES, PhD
Our Outline • Science and Religion: The Limits of Science • The History of Science and Christianity • The “Christian” Response • The Age of the Universe and the Age of the Earth • Genesis 1 and Creation • The Flood • Evolution • The Anthropic Principle: Evidence for Design • Scientific Materialism/Scientism/Naturalism • Science and the Bible (other than creation and the flood) • Science and Other Religions
Required Reading • Is There a God By John Oakes • Any other book on the topic of your choosing, but it must be on topic. • Suggestions • Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. BeheNature's Destiny by Michael J. Denton, (The Free Press, 1998)The Science of God, by Gerald L. Schroeder (Broadway Books, 1997)The Privileged Planet, by Guillermo Gonzalez (Regnery Publ., 2004)The Language of God, by Francis S. Collins (Free Press, 2006)Coming to Peace With Science, by Darrel R. Falk (InterVarsity Press, 2004)Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology by William A Dembski and Michael J. BeheThe Source by John ClaytonThe Fingerprint of God, by Hugh Ross, PhD (Whitaker House, 2000)None of These Diseases, by S. I McMillan, M. D. (Revell, 1984)Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael DentonFinding Darwin's God, by Kenneth Miller (Harper Collins, 1999)
Grading (if you are getting credit) • The Reading 30% • Quiz 10% • Exam 30% • Paper 30% A research paper of 5 or more pages on a special topic of your choice.
Defending the Faith History and Archaeology How We Got the Bible (including response to form criticism, etc.) Science and the Bible Contradictions in the Bible Creating Faith World View Prophecy Miracles/Resurrection Claims of Jesus Two categories of Apologetic Topics
Science and religion • Science and religion • Science and religion • Science and religion • Science and Religion
Science and Religion • What is Religion? • What is Science?
Science The use of experiment to test theories about the laws of nature.
Science • Scientific knowledge is a relationship between observations • Scientific knowledge is quantitative • The observations are subject to refinement • Scientific knowledge is progressive and tentative • Scientific knowledge is neither true nor false, but rather consistent with the observations and consistent with prior knowledge
Religion • Religion is a belief in something • The belief is not necessarily substantiated by physical or material evidence • Religious knowledge obtained through holy writings, authority, revelations and religious experiences • Religionists have faith or trust in such knowledge
Religion • Religious knowledge is qualitative not quantitative. • Religious knowledge is not gotten through measurement • In religion knowledge is taken as either true or false. • Religious knowledge is neither progressive, nor tentative.
Questions Science Can Answer • When? • What? • Where? • How many? • By what means?
Questions Science Cannot Answer:(That Religion Does Answer) • Why am I here? • Is that the right thing to do? • How valuable am I? • Does God exist? Does God act (theism)? • Will that God respond if I pray? • Do supernatural events (miracles) happen?
Science, being incapable of answering the question of meaning, will always give the impression of meaninglessness, even though such a conclusion requires metaphysics. As Torrance notes, “patterns may be created [by science] but not meaning...” Naturally, science should not be forced into answering this question – it should be allowed to perform its task under the guise of materialism, even if this results in meaninglessness. Science can never be permitted to insert supernatural or metaphysical explanations into its theories:
A statement a scientist should not make (if he or she is well trained and is not manipulating you): • Evolution is true. • The Big Bang happened. • Better statements: • The theory of evolution is by far the best model we have to explain both the fossil evidence and the genetic evidence with regard to the origin of all species. • The Big Bang model is in dramatic agreement will all known facts about the origin and history of the universe. • Science seeks consistency, not “truth.” What is the simplest and most consistent explanation of the observation.
Assumptions of Science • There exists a single, unchanging set of laws which govern all events in the physical universe. • Human beings are able to understand the workings of the physical universe. • The laws which govern the universe are describable by mathematics.
Why is the universe comprehensible to humans? • Torrance finds the universe's comprehensibility astonishing: “the fact that it [the universe] is comprehensible at all to us is a miracle, indeed the most incomprehensible thing about it.” Torrance, Reality and Scientific Theology, 53.
Basic Assumptions of Science • Assumptions are accepted without proof • Form the basis of all scientific thinking • In other words, the basic assumptions of science are accepted on faith.
Predictions Based on Christian Theology: • The universe will follow a single, unchanging set of laws. • The universe will be understandable to human beings. • The universe will be describable by mathematics. • The universe will be designed so that we can observe it • - (“The Priveleged Planet” Gonzalez and Richards)
Melvin Calvin (atheist expert on the chemical origin of life): “The fundamental conviction that the universe is ordered [cosmos] is the first and strongest tenet [of scientists]. As I try to discern the origin of that conviction, I seem to find it in a basic notion discovered 2000 or 3000 years ago, and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews: namely that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province, according to his own laws. This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation of modern science.”
Conclusions about Science and Religion • Religion and science ask different kinds of questions and define words differently • Religion and science appear as if they were two incommensurate paradigms addressing the identical information area • Are they “Non-Overlapping Magisteria? (NOMA) as Stephen Jay Gould suggests? No! They inform one another to some extent.
Unanswered questions which seem to relate to science • Consciousness (what is consciousness and why are we conscious?) • Origins of life • Origin of the universe. Why is there anything (as opposed to nothing) • Why is this a Goldilocks Universe?
The History of Science and Religion Chaos vs Cosmos God vs the “gods”
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 ) If Christian theology is true, then it must be logical (reasonable) Sought logical proof that God exists.
Roger Bacon (1214-1292) Bacon’s advice: To study Natural Philosophy, use; “External experience, aided by instruments, and made precise by mathematics.” From Christian theology, Bacon reasoned: a. A single set of unchanging laws in the universe b. The universe should be understandable c. The laws of nature should be describable by mathematics.
William of Ockham (1285-1349) His philosophy of science: “Nothing is assumed as evident unless it is known per se or is evident by experience, or is proved by authority of scripture.” Ockham’s Razor; That which is explained by fewer assumptions is exlained in vain by more
Nikolai Copernicus (1473-1543) “True assumptions must save the appearances.”
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) “The Bible was written to tell us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go” “In discussions of physical problems we ought to begin not from the authority of scriptural passages, but from the sense-experiences and necessary demonstrations.”
Galileo on Revelation • “For the Holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the divine Word, the former as the dictate of the Holy Spirit and the latter as the observant executor of God’s commands.” (the debate over this view rages even today) • Is there such a thing as Natural Revelation/General Revelation? (as opposed to special revelation) In other words, can we gather genuine knowledge of God from looking at his creation?
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) “The Mechanical Universe” Is God the primary mover? Leibniz….
The Enlightenment: The rise of Deism and skepticism Voltaire (1694-1778) Creator of Modern Religious Skepticism
David Hume (1711-1776) Says the skeptic: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”
Statue of Joseph Priestley Founder of the Unitarian Church
LaPlace (1749-1827) About God: “I have no need of that hypothesis”
How Old is the Earth? Hutton Lyell
How Old is the Earth? • James Hutton, 1795 Uniformitarianism “No vestige of a beginning, no concept of an end.”
“It is mere rubbish to think at this point of the origin of life. One might as well think of the origin of matter.” Charles Darwin
“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” A. Einstein
The Conservative Christian Reaction Scopes “monkey trial” 1925 Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan
1940’s and afterward: Creationism Movement Very Bad Science!
Intelligent Design: An Improvement? • Irreducible Complexity Does this “disprove evolution?” • Beware of “God of the Gaps” arguments. • Is ID “scientific”? Do they do experiments? Are their conclusions refutable by an experiment? • The Anthropic Principle • A possible explanation for “why” the laws of the universe are what they are. • The laws of the universe are what they are so that we (ie human beings) can exist.
A Christian Response • Remember Galileo vs Roman Curia • Remember Augustine vs Faustus (Manichaeism) • Remember that science and religion are incommensurate • The Bible and science do NOT contradict one another! • Do not overreact 1 Peter 3:15,16 • Do not be defensive 1 Peter 2:23 • Remember, science is your friend: materialism/naturalism is the “enemy” • Be confident. The universe was created, life was created and Jesus upholds all creation (Coll 1:15-17)
Can Science and Religion peacefully coexist? • The Language of God
Reasons Collins believes in God 1. There is something instead of nothing. 2. The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics. 3. The Big Bang. 4. Nature does not solve the problem of why. 5. The existence of time. 6. Fine tuning of the universe. The “Goldilocks Paradox.” 7. Ockham’s Razor. 8. The existence of moral law.
The Age of the Universe and the Age of the Earth Bishop Ussher 1640: The universe was created on Sunday October 23, 4004 BC
Cosmic Speedometer • When a galaxy is receding, light waves travelling to us are red-shifted • Hubble measured the spectrum of these galaxies and found the spectral lines to be red-shifted • The faster the recession, the greater the red-shift
Expansion of the Universe … ‘winding’ backwards, the universe must have had a beginning
Image of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation From COBE satellite red = slightly warmer The “smoking gun” of the Big Bang