Saturday, September 1, 2018

Science and Christian Theism: A Few Thoughts

Here a few thoughts from James Anderson's book Why Should I Believe Christianity? regarding science and Christianity:

Scientific investigation rests on two further assumptions: first, that the universe is an orderly and rational place, and second, that the orderliness and rationality of the universe aligns with the orderliness and rationality of our minds. The idea that our minds are equipped to discover and understand the basic laws of the universe rests upon both of these assumptions. Think about it for a moment. The universe didn't have to be an orderly and rational place. There's nothing logically contradictory about the idea of a universe that is chaotic and unpredictable, without rhyme or reason. When we formulate theories about the laws of nature, such as the laws of gravity, we assume those laws apply in the same way across space and time. We assume those laws will be the same in the future as they have been in the past. We assume those laws operate in other galaxies in the same way they operate in our own galaxy. In short, we assume that nature is basically orderly and uniform, such that we can discover general laws of nature and exploit them for technological purposes.

But once again, science itself cannot prove that nature is basically orderly and uniform. It's impossible for humans to directly observe the universe at every point in space and time. Only God could know in advance that the universe is basically orderly and rational. God would know that, of course, because God would be responsible for it. God arranged it that way!

 I trust you can see, then, that science rests on a host of philosophical assumptions, none of which science itself can prove. Science can be no more rational than the foundations on which it stands. Yet it's extremely difficult to rationally justify those foundational assumptions from an atheistic perspective. If the universe is a gigantic metaphysical accident, with no rational mind directing and governing it--as atheists must believe--why on earth should we assume that it operates in an orderly and rational fashion? And why should we assume that our minds are equipped to accurately perceive and understand it?

In contrast to atheistic worldviews such as Naturalism, the Christian worldview provides a firm foundation for science. If the universe is the creation of a personal God, whose mind is supremely rational and orderly, and if our minds are designed and equipped by God to discover truths about the natural world, then it makes perfect sense to pursue science--and we have an explanation for why science has been so successful. Moreover, the Christian worldview also provides the moral framework within which science can flourish and promote the common good.  It’s no surprise, then, that the pioneers of modern science such as Johannes Kepler, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday were believers in God who looked at the natural world through the lens of a basically biblical worldview. The oft-repeated charge that Christianity is anti-science couldn't be more mistaken.  When we think more deeply about the kind of worldview on which science rests, we can see that the very opposite is true.  Science itself depends on God.  (pp. 129-131)