Science and God
By Dr. Jerry Newcombe
An award-winning scientist recently told the world that science and religion are not incompatible.
The Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports (3/19/19), “The annual Templeton Prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to ‘affirming life’s spiritual dimension,’ was awarded Tuesday to Brazilian Marcelo Gleiser—a theoretical physicist dedicated to demonstrating science and religion are not enemies.”
Gleiser, a professor at Dartmouth College since 1991, said, “Science does not kill God.”
Although he is described as an agnostic, the AFP reports that Gleiser “refuses to write off the possibility of God’s existence completely.” He said, “Atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method…Atheism is a belief in non-belief. So you categorically deny something you have no evidence against…I’ll keep an open mind because I understand that human knowledge is limited.”
I agree with this man’s sentiments. How is it that science and God are somehow viewed as enemies?
The great British jurist, Sir William Blackstone, whose four-volume set of Commentaries on the Laws of England were of great value to our Founding Fathers, put it this way: “Thus, when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. When He put that matter into motion, He established certain laws of motion, to which all moveable bodies must conform.”
I think it is fascinating that virtually all the early scientists historically were professing Christians. They were, in the words of Johannes Kepler, “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” in their scientific explorations. Modern science arose near the end of the medieval period. The early scientists believed that a rational God had made a rational universe, and it was their job – using the words of Kepler, “as priests of the highest God” – to try and catalog what laws of the universe He had created.
Consider some of the thoughts of scientists who were Christians through the ages.
Blaise Pascal was a brilliant mathematician in 17th century France. He is credited with discovering principles that would ultimately lead to the creation of the computer.
Pascal said, “Faith tells us what senses cannot, but it is not contrary to their findings. It simply transcends, without contradicting them.” Pascal also said, “Jesus Christ is the only proof of the living God. We only know God through Jesus Christ.”
Isaac Newton, the discoverer of gravity and one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, wrote more about the Bible and about Christian theology than he did science. Said the great Newton: “I have a foundational belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”
The father of modern chemistry was Oxford professor Robert Boyle, born in 1627. Boyle was not only a diligent student of chemistry but a diligent student of the Bible. In his will, he left a large sum of money to found the “Boyle lectures” for proving the Christian religion.
Nineteenth-century American Matthew Fontaine Maury is credited as the father of oceanography. He got his idea that the sea has “lanes” and currents from a verse in the Bible. Psalm 8:8 speaks of “the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.”
One time Maury gave a speech at the inauguration for a college in which he said, “I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg your pardon: the Bible is authority for everything it touches.” That includes, he said, “physical geography, the earth, the sea and the air.”
Maury added, “[W]hen, after patient research, I am led to the discovery of any one of [the physical laws the Creator has built into His creation], I feel with the astronomer of old [i.e., Kepler], as though I had ‘thought one of God’s thoughts,’— and tremble. Thus as we progress with our science we are permitted now and then to point out here and there in the physical machinery of the earth a design of the Great Architect when He planned it all.”
Indeed, as science professor Marcelo Gleiser points out, “science does not kill God.” Far from it.
The late Dr. Robert Jastrow was an astronomer and a planetary physicist with NASA, and he wrote a book called, God and the Astronomers.
Jastrow noted, “The scientist has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; and as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”