Dr Andy Bannister was one of the people we asked to give some input for the Before You Say Goodbye Project. He was asked this question, ‘Hasn’t science disproven God?’ Here is his response.
A common claim made by many of our atheist friends is that science has replaced religion. Atheist authors like Sam Harris claim that “the success of science comes at the expense of religion” whilst Richard Dawkins says the “God Hypothesis” can be scientifically tested and proven false. In short, they claim that there is a war between science and religion which, given time, science will win.
Yet there are many problems with this view. First, there are many examples of eminent scientists who believe and trust in God. Richard Dawkins snootily remarks that whenever he has met a religious scientist and asked them to justify their belief, they always say they have no evidence but believe on faith. Now I’m not sure which scientists Dawkins has been hanging out with, but this is not the position of John Polkinghorne, John Lennox, Alister McGrath or Francis Collins — all scientists who have written about how their religious faith and their scientific careers cohere.
Furthermore, if you examine the history of science, you discover not merely the fact that the majority of scientists in the past were Christians, but it was their very faith that led them to approach the universe expecting to find it coherent, because a rational God created it. This led them to ask how God did it.
Another of the consistent problems exhibited by many atheists is a failure to recognise where the boundaries of science lie. Science can tell you what will happen if you fire 3,000 volts through your grandma; science can’t tell you if you should do this. In short, science is very good at how questions — how something works. It’s utterly useless when it comes to “why” questions — why should I be moral? Why am I here?
Our atheist friends also forget that science itself rests upon a number of faith-based, metaphysical assumptions about the way that the universe works. For example: why is reality rational and ordered? Why are the fundamental laws of the universe written in the language of mathematics, one we can understand?
Where did rationality and consciousness come from and how can we trust our minds? It’s easy to forget that at the heart of the scientific method lie a number of assumptions about reality.
Finally, there’s the problem of reductionism. Reducing everything to what we can measure scientifically leads to some fairly drastic consequences. Atheist Ingrid Newkirk once said that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy — there’re all mammals”. Whatever one thinks of the science behind that statement, it leads to a very obvious problem: once you can see people as no more than animals, what’s wrong with treating them as such? Indeed, a fascinating question to ask our atheist friends is “if humans are just sacks of chemicals, why does it matter what anybody does to them?”
The Christian worldview offers a much more coherent, wholistic view of reality. It says that science is important — all truth is God’s truth. But the universe does not merely consist of physical causes, but also personal causes. Why is the universe understandable and rational, why is science even possible? Because ultimate reality is personal. And the Christian worldview says that we can know that reality — because the personal creator of the universe has spoken: in Jesus Christ, his son.
Dr. Andy Bannister is the Canadian Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He has a background in youth ministry before studying theology and philosophy. Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies. Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber and photographer. He lives in Toronto and is married to Astrid and they have one daughter, Caitriona. Check out Andy’s Youtube Channel that has video blogs about tough questions.