Science, Faith & the Creator

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(By Nathan Busenitz)

Today’s post is adapted from Nathan’s new book, Reasons We Believe: Fifty Lines of Evidence that Confirm the Christian Faith (Crossway, 2008). This article was adapted from part of reason no. 2, discussing the existence of God from the standpoint of His Creation. We will be running excerpts from the book each day this week.

Why do evolutionary scientists deny the existence of God? The answer is found in what they believe (namely, that nothing outside of the material universe exists), and has little if anything to do with true science. As much as any religion, atheistic naturalism is built on faith. “Evolution has deep religious connections,” explains Notre Dame philosophy professor Alvin Plantinga. “A good deal more than reason goes into the acceptance of such a theory at the Grand Evolutionary Story.”[1] Former NASA scientist Robert Jastrow agrees:

There is a kind of religion in science. . . . The religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover.[2]

Because of its prior “faith” commitment to a materialistic worldview, naturalism denies the existence of God even in the face of contrary evidence. Speaking candidly, Richard Lewontin, former professor of zoology and biology at Harvard admits:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, . . . because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes . . . no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.[3]

More succinctly, immunologist Scott Todd notes, “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not materialistic.”[4] Such admissions confirm that evolution, in actuality, “isn’t science. [It] is dogmatism.”[5]

When the “faith” of evolution, and the faith of biblical Christianity are compared, only one can adequately answer the question of origins. There is “a possible explanation of equal intellectual respectability [to naturalism]—and to my mind, greater elegance,” notes theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne, former president of Queen’s College, Cambridge. It is “that this one world is the way it is because it is the creation of the will of a Creator who purposes that it should be so.” [6]

Thus, the existence of our universe points to God, because without a Creator there can be no creation. In the words of eminent British philosopher Richard Swinburne, longtime professor at Oxford University: “Why believe that there is a God at all? My answer is that to suppose that there is a God explains why there is a world at all . . . and so much else. In fact, the hypothesis of the existence of God makes sense of the whole of our experience, and it does better than any other explanation which can be put forward, and that is the grounds for believing it to be true.”[7]

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[1] Alvin Plantinga, “When Faith and Reason Crash,” pp. 113–145 in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, edited by Robert T. Pennock (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2001), 125–26. In short, “the theory of evolution is by no means religiously or theologically neutral” (p. 123).

[2] Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: Norton, 1978), 113–114; cited from Geisler and Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 89.

[3] Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review (January 9, 1997), 31. Lewontin was still an active Harvard professor when he made these comments. Cited from Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise (Green Forest, Ariz.: Master Books, 2004), 43.

[4] Scott Todd, correspondence to Nature 410(6752):423 (September 30, 1999); cited from Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 43. Scott Todd is an immunologist at Kansas State University.

[5] William A. Dembski, The Design Revolution (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 279.

[6] John Polkinghorne, One World (London: SPCK, 1986), 79–80. Cited from Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 48. Polkinghorne’s quote was specifically in response to the idea that life could have risen from purely naturalistic causes.

[7] Richard Swinburne in “Evidence for God,” pp. 229–38 in Does God Exist? by Terry Miethe and Richard Flew (San Francisco: Harper, 1991), 229.

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