Does the Success of Science Leave God Unemployed? (Part 1)

Modern science has explained much of our world in terms of natural processes. Does this leave God out of a job?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Hello from a fellow Michigander. I’m very excited about this series, and your introduction really clearly calls out the central problems faced by those trying to understand divine agency as it relates to science.

Two observations:

  1. I’ve noticed that many see this question as an “either-or” situation instead of “both-and.” What if God’s action and natural action are always working at the same time and are only different in aspect? (Aquinas’s different causes might be helpful.)

  2. Another thing I often see is that we think, having completed the material explanation of a thing, there is nothing else to say about that thing. This just isn’t the case - at least according to our general experience of reality! Science, by its own admission, cannot tell us why a thing is or what it is for. It’s success seems to validate naturalism as a philosophy, but it really only validates itself as a method. I’m excited to see Alvin Plantinga’s contributions to the discussion!


Thanks Nathaniel (and welcome to the Forum!). I am very sympathetic to your observation #1, and you’ll hear more about that as the series unfolds. Here is another short series we posted a couple years ago specifically about Aquinas and the different kinds of causes he acknowledged. And I think everyone here would agree with you about the limitations of science as you describe them in observation #2.

Thanks for directing me to the articles!

I’m always amazed when the issue of the physical or natural (e.g. natural law) is somehow removed from the arena of the divine. Is this because of the enlightenment project, ie. the presupposition that God is Deus ex Machina? These presuppositions seem to invite and did invite the sciences which at base describe and observe what is already there in creation. It negates the spiritual because it relegates to a God who is beyond the workings of creation. The confusion of worldviews is part of the disconnect between creationism and pure Darwinian evolution, imo. The issue of naturalism does not need to conflict with divine cause because each area of investigation begins and ends from qualitatively different sources.

What evidence is there of God interacting with the world? How we answer this question is crucial to how effective we are going to be in overcoming naturalism, scientific or otherwise. As Christians we know naturalism is false. Nature is not self-sufficient. God created nature as well as any laws by which nature operates. Not only has God created the world, but also God upholds the world moment by moment.

Daniel’s words to Belshazzar hold equally for the dyed-in-the-wool naturalist: “Thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified” (Dan 5:23 KJV). The world is in God’s hand and never leaves his hand. Christians are not deists. God is not an absentee landlord.

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