“In the red corner, weighing in at 3.35 times 10 to the 54th power, with a reach of 93 billion light years, science! In the blue corner, weighing in at his incomparable, indescribable glory, with a reach encompassing all of creation, God!”
Whether you’re a devout believer, a faithful atheist or just someone who’s interested in where God fits in this complex universe of ours, there’s few things that seem to interest us more than a good match between God and science. The typical bout consists of secular scientists facing down religious leaders on a college stage somewhere: Atheists trot out Charles Darwin and Carl Sagan and snicker at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Religious debaters—well, you never know what we’re going to say. They might proffer some thoughts on intelligent design, or riff on Isaac Newton’s watchmaker God, or just say, “Hey, what’s so funny about the Creation Museum?!”
Let me confess something: This whole God vs. science narrative is beginning to drive me up the wall.
The most recent showdown between God and science took place last week as part of an Intelligence Squared Debate in New York City. Secularists Lawrence Krauss (director of the Origins Project) and Michael Shermer (founding publisher of Skeptic Magazine) squared off against Ian Hutchinson (professor of Nuclelar Science and Engineering at MIT) and Dinesh D’Souza (who we know a little about), and was dutifully reported by Fox News under the headline “Science vs. god: doesprogress trump faith?”
But in the end, we all know that this narrative of science and God locked in eternal opposition is just lame.
We’re given two choices here: Either God is a fiction, leaving the battlefield empty on one side; or God is real, and He and science are in cahoots.
God, who is typically understood to be outside the realm of time and space, is by definition impossible for science (under the domain of both) to either prove or disprove. And so the arguments are forever lacking.
For instance: God proponents might point out the astoundingly outlandish odds that the universe just, by chance, created itself and in such a way to support life. (And indeed, you’ve got WAY better odds of winning the Powerball jackpot every week for the rest of your life.) But atheists will note, as Krauss did, that “we would be surprised to find ourselves in a universe in which we couldn’t live.”
Atheists will claim that our fondness for faith and belief in God is just a trick of our genes—that (again as Krauss said) “we may be programmed to believe in certain things.” But Krauss’ own word “programmed,” of course, suggests a programmer.
These debates are impossible for anyone to win. God, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to come down (yet) and say “I told you so.” And secularists have never had much success in dispelling the notion of a deity despite hundreds of years of bluster. Despite the radical advances science has made, atheism hasn’t made any real intellectual progress since Darwin’s day. Only the volume has changed.
Admittedly, the advances we’ve seen in science and technology have also been powerful tools for atheists as of late. If they can’t disprove God outright, perhaps they can suggest He’s no longer relevant. Who needs God when you have Google?
But D’Souza, and most other Christians, know the answer to that.
“The questions to which God is the answer are not scientific questions,” he said during the debate. “Science can show us how we got a universe, but not why.”
And that’s what it comes down to—the why. Why are we here? Why do we hurt? Why do we dance like crazy when we hear a certain song? Why do we gasp a little when we see a beautiful sunrise? Why do we laugh? Why do we care about beauty or integrity or love? Why?
Science can’t answer. Most non-believers don’t want to. Because a world without a why is a bleak one indeed.