Updated: Jan 30, 2020
“Science has shown” is the sure way some people believe they can discredit God, according to Thomas Howard in a Touchstone magazine article.* The writer recounts his conversations with people who perceive that modern science renders impotent the adoration of God as revealed in nature. Howard rejects the idea but, doesn’t go quite far enough in explaining just how complete our rejection should be.
People of faith give too much ground to popular intellectualism that believes scientific discoveries undermine the biblical view of creation. This happens because we don’t grasp exactly why devotees of secular science believe they have refuted the “religious”
interpretation of nature.
Now that We Know
The secularist premise holds that, since we now understand some things once unknown — the universe contains billions of galaxies, cells are intricately organized systems,
atomic and subatomic particles are the building blocks of the world — we’re well on the way to figuring out everything.
No one argues that we know it all, of course. In fact, most realize that one discovery often leads to more questions. But the premise behind the premise goes something like this: “We don’t know it all yet, but we’ll figure it out someday since we now know so much more than we used to.”
This leads to the conclusion that, in the process of understanding
it all, we will eventually disprove God. Although the logic in the conclusion is not clear, it's assumed that our attaining eventual, complete knowledge means we might as well not believe in Him now.
Many Christians go along with this notion at least to the extent that they assume science disproves some of their faith in Scripture and the biblical worldview. But I say the more appropriate response is to recognize what modern science has done to refine our understanding of God.
To use a simple example: While the ancestors we consider “primitive” may have perceived God as the One who physically lifts the sun from the horizon each day, we now understand the remarkable interaction of gravitational fields that allow the system to operate so flawlessly.
But is the engineer of a 4-wheel drive SUV any less amazing because he is not strapped to the undercarriage, rotating four wheels with his own two hands and two feet? No. Instead, we (who notice such things as mechanical engineering) honor the genius that produced such a hardy and reliable mode of transportation.
Is the designer any less worthy of accolades because he doesn’t “do the work” of running his automobiles, or is he perhaps worthy of even more honor because he had the wherewithal to figure out how to build such a thing in the first place?
To make the analogy clear: Our growing understanding of the universe should bring us to regard “designer” as an awe-inspiring characteristic of God. Who and What would it take to do such a thing as to create a universe that operates the way this one does? Whoever it is deserves a round of applause, not rejection.
Engineer or Magician?
We also presuppose that mankind once worshiped the Divine Being because He was a cosmic performer who magically caused the sun to rise or seasons to change, and if we now know those things don’t happen by magic, He’s not worthy of worship.
But who is more to be glorified than the engineers who make our technologically sophisticated society function?
We of all people in history should know that an engineer deserves more respect than a mere magician. Engineers really do things. Magicians only make it appear that they make stuff happen.
Still, many people resist responding to this recognition due to an even deeper reason why secularists prefer to think modern science discredits God. “Experts” have a vested interest in their own prowess. They love learning, science, engineering, and generally knowing how things work, and prefer to think they’re at the top of the intellectual heap.
To look at the universe as a system means someone had the intellectual kahunas to figure it out and make it happen. And that Someone would have to be a whole lot smarter — and have been that way for a long, long time — than anyone in today’s labs or observatories. For these folks, it’s just too hard to accept that we rank so far below another Being in the brainpower food chain.
Finally, one other refining point needs to be made. The Judeo-Christian perspective has never held that we worship and adore God because of what we don’t know. It’s always been because of what we do know that we recognize Him as worthy of praise.
*Thomas Howard, “Just Sayin’,” Touchstone, May/June 2012, 20. Article also posted at: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=25-03-019-v
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