Science and Religion contradict each other?

(Emily) #1

This is an argument I’ve heard before. As a Christian, I don’t understand this. Science deals only with facts, the natural world, etc. Therefore, in my opinion, it can’t prove that God doesn’t exist because God is supernatural. Outside the realm of what science deals with.

A talk given by Ayn Rand is what got me thinking about this. I found it offensive that presenter said “If you want to support science and facts, there’s no room for God.”

So just because we can’t see, hear, touch, smell, God etc, He automatically doesn’t exist? I can’t accept that answer and it strikes me as illogical.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

In a sense, the presenter is technically right with that sentence, but not in any way that they intended. Here is what I mean: If some room was found for something that was then called a god – it could not be God in any Christian sense of that concept, because god is not some item or being within our universe for whom any “room” could be found!

Solomon’s observation is relevant (1 Kings 8:27) “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

These ancient writers seem to understand something that even the modern writer you quote still fails to grasp: that any god they can corner or “find room for” could not be God at all. Yet we all, young-earth creationists, idists, and so many of us are still down here trying to erect temples for God be it in science or education or design inferences. It seems that Solomon’s early insights have yet to reach so many of us.


The tools of science can only deal with the natural world. That’s about it, IMHO.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

Very true, but humans do not live in the natural (physical) world, but in the human world.

Life is not about physics, life is about relationships, so if our knowledge is limited to physics, we are not really living.

There is also the problem that humans are a part of nature, according to evolution, but people and other organic beings are more than physical. They feel and think. They are alive, so science does not even deal with the natural world properly.




You might be interested in Stephen Jay Gould’s essay “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” where he discusses this topic.

(Colin Cooper) #7

I agree Emily.

God is put forward by theists and deists as the reason for nature, the explanation of why things are the way they are (why we have something rather than nothing, to reference Leibniz); as such God is outside what the realm of science can viably investigate and test - because science has physical and principal limits contingent upon what we are physically able to observe, whether directly or indirectly (in terms of testable consequences).

As Professor George Ellis, a cosmologist, notes:…-knocking-philosophy-falsification-free-will/

"…Ellis: Many of the possible high-energy physics experiments and astronomy observations relevant to cosmology are now in essence nearly complete. Physics experiments are approaching the highest energies it will ever be possible to test by any collider experiment, both for financial and technical reasons. We can’t build a collider bigger than the surface of the Earth. Thus our ability to test high energy physics – and hence structures on the smallest physical scales – is approaching its limits…

The belief that all of reality can be fully comprehended in terms of physics and the equations of physics is a fantasy…I make strenuous efforts to consider what aspects of reality can be comprehended by a strict scientific approach, and what lie outside the limits of mathematically based efforts to encapsulate aspects of the nature of what exists.

Many key aspects of life (such as ethics: what is good and what is bad, and aesthetics: what is beautiful and what is ugly) lie outside the domain of scientific inquiry​…"

(Colin Cooper) #8

Also, the very concept of the universe operating according to pre-existent, immutable “physical laws” or the “laws of nature” courtesy of an underlying mathematical order, is a profoundly theological one derived from the Christian worldview: which presupposes the existence of a Supreme God who created the world and ordered it in a rational, comprehensible manner. And yes, the first forays into empiricism as well.

The earliest scientists like Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Newton et al were motivated to employ the scientific method for that overarching purpose. Their shared Christian worldview was not a mere unfortunate appendage to their scientific endeavours.

If I might quote the cosmologist and theoretical physicist Paul Davies:

"…The orthodox position in science is that the universe is governed by a fixed set of laws in the form of infinitely precise mathematical relationships imprinted on the universe from its birth. In addition, it is assumed that the physical world is affected by the laws, but the laws are completely impervious to what happens in the universe — they are immutable.

It is not hard to see where this picture comes from: it is inherited from monotheism, which asserts that a rational being designed the universe according to a set of perfect laws. And the asymmetry between immutable laws and contingent states mirrors the asymmetry between God and nature: the universe depends utterly on God for its existence whereas God’s existence does not depend on the universe.

Historians of science are well aware that Newton and his contemporaries believed that in doing science they were uncovering the divine plan for the universe in the form of its underlying mathematical order. As Scott Atran points out, the argument that science is based on faith is not new.

Evidently Western society is so steeped in monotheism that the monotheistic world view, which was appropriated by science, is now regarded as “obvious” and “natural.” As a result, many scientists are unaware of its theological origin. Nor do they stop to think about the sweeping hidden assumptions they adopt when they subscribe to that scientific/theological world view, assumptions that are in fact are not shared by most other cultures…"


Religion and science will always be in conflict wherever there is a fundamentalist view of scripture that will not allow for differences in cultural developments and tries to treat the bible as some infalliible text dicated to Moses and others.

Where we allow for some theological limitations of the text we can easily accept that science may have a very different view of the world.

The church had to adapt to the fact of astronomical observations that showed the earth travels round the sun as is not fixed. We can continue to go further we findings of the last 100 years+

We need to be realistic about the orgins of the religious text and what “inspiration” means in relation to the content.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #10


Thank you for your excellent information on the relationship between theology and science. OI am not about to argue with your main points, but I think that I need to point out that there are some problems.

First of all the philosophical view that has been the view of all of these basic disciplines is western dualism, based on the physical and the metaphysical. However philosophy and western dualism are under attack today generally from the point of view of science.

Science, as with Hawking, is convinced that western dualism does not work. The mind/body problem indicate4s this is true. The mind and body are separate as dualism indicates, but interdependent as science indicates. The mind and body are Many, And also One.

Furthermore E = mc squared indicates that there are no absolutes in Nature and that time and space are not absolutes, but related and relational. This is a much different orientation than the linear.

Theology which has sought theoretical support from western dualism has rejected the monism called for by scientism, but this does not mean that reality is dual and it is not. Scientism can refute the dualism of philosophy, but that does not mean that reality is dual and it is not.

We are in a deadlock and a standstill philosophically which is bad news for everyone, but no one seems to be interested in finding a way out of this mess. Maybe because no one wants to adept the reality that humankind is in a mess, regardless of the confusion that engulfs us.

The good news is that a viable answer is at hand, a threefold reality to replace the one and two fold., based on sound Christian Trinitarian theology. The bad news is that I feel that I am the only one taking this seriously.