How Does Science Point to the Existence of God?
How does science point to the existence of God? In any investigation, evidence is an irreplaceable necessity. When someone is murdered, the detective does not sit in his armchair and spin out as many possible murder scenarios in his head as he can imagine. Instead, he goes to the scene of the crime and looks for evidence. All of his possible scenarios, which he could have thought up without evidence, must be accepted or discounted based upon their alignment with the evidence he uncovers.
In physics, the process is similar. We don’t begin by theorizing random mathematical possibilities, devoid of observation, as if the answer to all motion is forty-two.1 Instead, we observe the motion of objects and particles, plot their coordinates on a graph, and then try to come up with a mathematical function that best fits the curve. This is second-nature to anyone who remembers their science classes: fit the model to the evidence, and not the evidence to the model.
Science provides tools which help us uncover the mysteries of the universe through tested regularity and confirmed inductive reasoning. Every time the scientific method succeeds in telling us more about the universe, it provides more evidence that must be accounted for in a model of reality.
Many observe the universe and conclude that God is the best model that fits the totality of the evidence. There may be other models and other solution curves, but they do not address data points over here, or do not fit with the data points over there. Oftentimes, non-theistic models are reductionistic, in that they apply a model that may work in one scenario to all scenarios, even when the model does not fit everywhere. The modern focus on biological evolution is but one example; while biological evolution may provide a model to explain some of the biological data points we can observe, it falls short in explaining the origin of the universe, the existence of abstract objects,2 the origin of moral laws,3 the laws of logic, or the very cosmological constants4 that enables the evolutionary model to work in the first place.
Richard Dawkins once wrote, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”5 However, Darwin’s revolution was in biology, which is but one branch of evidence among many that must be accounted for in a model for the universe without a god. Success in biology does not translate to success in logic or cosmology. Moreover, Dawkins mentioned being “intellectually fulfilled.” Unfortunately, Darwin’s theory cannot explain what intellect is, nor where it comes from, or why it works. Under Darwin’s evolutionary model, Dawkins cannot account for the subjective and not-very-scientific-sounding word “fulfilled,”6 unless one means a mere psychological or emotional state that has no importance beyond the individual. In light of these things, we should recognize that Dawkins’ statement is biting off more than it can chew.
There is a mind-boggling amount of evidence to explain in the universe, but even the most grandiose (and elusive) Theory of Everything would not actually account for everything. The physicists pursuing the “everything” have redefined the word to include only spatio-temporal physical reality; left outside of the scope of pursuit are many of the non-physical realities we previously mentioned. The existence of consciousness, intelligence, and free will are not accounted for. Do these immaterial realities not deserve a curve fitted to their existence? Surely the scientists pursuing a model for the universe are employing rationality to guide their endeavors—but can they even explain what rationality is or where it comes from?
Science points to the existence of God by providing a mechanism by which evidence may be uncovered, evidence which plots along the curve predicted by the God hypothesis. For example, the standard big bang model of cosmology posits a spatio-temporal origin of the universe, which aligns with the Creation Ex Nihilo (out of nothing) model advocated by the Bible (Genesis 1:1).7 A cosmos with “Laws of Nature” aligns with the existence of an orderly, rational Creator who imprinted his nature into physics. A subatomic world of quantum indeterminacy aligns with the existence of an infinite God who eludes our most intelligent models (Isaiah 55:8-9). The existence of language in DNA and RNA fits a universe created by the Word of God (Gen. 1:3; John 1:1-3). The scope of evidence that may be rationally accounted for by the existence of the biblical God is vast and intellectually satisfying.
What are we to do with those data points that appear to fall outside of the curve predicted by the God hypothesis? What are we to do, for example, with the existence of evil, or suffering in our own lives? We will discuss these things elsewhere on this site, as space limits us here. However, even these are not outside of the fitted curve. It is not as if the Bible and theistic philosophy do not have credible explanations for evil and suffering. In fact, the whole storyline of the Bible details how God chose to save us from evil and suffering through the actions of Jesus the Messiah. Thus, evil and suffering are not outliers to the biblical model of the universe; they are fully accounted for.
In our final analysis, science is an ally to those who believe in God, and not an enemy. Science only becomes an enemy when we force a model that explains part of reality onto all of reality, supposedly in the name of science. If properly considered, the evidence uncovered by science shows us how only one model accounts for it all, and his name is אֱלֹהִים—God.
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- A tongue-in-cheek reference to Douglas Adams. In fact, some non-evidentiary philosophies have not been far from this idea. The Neopythagoreans postulated that the number ten was the basis of all reality. This idea was adopted by Kabbalah, where the number reemerged as the number of the Sefirot, which are the basis of all reality.
- Such as numbers, properties, and tenseless true propositions
- The scientific method can only tell us what is, not what one ought.
- By one estimation, the Standard Model for the universe, employed by most physicists today, requires twenty-six cosmological constants, all of which must be extremely fine-tuned in order for the universe to support the existence of life as we know it. An advanced discussion (with bibliography) of the issues involved with the fine-tuning of the universe is available here.
- Richard Dawkins, Blind Watchmaker, (London: Penguin, 1991), 6.
- If there was anything that Darwin succeeded in making obsolete in the scientific mind, it was the notion of teleology, or purpose. Darwin removed teleological explanations for biological processes, assigning their outcomes to undirected chance through the mechanism of natural selection. However, the language of “fulfillment” is the language of teleology. It implies that an atheist yearns to be able to think intelligently about life in an atheistic way, and when the atheist reaches that goal (telos), one is fulfilled. While attempting to establish Darwin’s revolutionary thought, Dawkins actually subverts it.
- Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 219-66.