October 18, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

The Role of God in Science and Life

Big science today may seem to be controlled by atheists, but that’s clearly not the case for many involved in science.  Here are two unrelated stories from unexpected quarters expressing support for belief in God:

  • No God, No Scientific Laws:  Noted philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright has a new paper coming out that argues that one cannot have the concept of scientific laws without God.  The full paper, that begins as follows, is available on her personal website.

    My thesis is summarized in my title, ‘No God, No Laws’: the concept of a law of Nature cannot be made sense of without God.  It is not as dramatic a thesis as it might look, however.  I do not mean to argue that the enterprise of modern science cannot be made sense of without God.  Rather, if you want to make sense of it you had better not think of science as discovering laws of Nature, for there cannot be any of these without God.

    Cartwright, a philosophy professor at LSE and UCSD, won the McArthur prize in 1993.  She has previously argued that science gives us a dappled picture of the world, not a progressive, exact, certain image of reality.
        Speaking of God and philosophy, another philosopher of science, Del Ratzsch, was interviewed by Galilean Library.  He talked about God-of-the-gaps, front-loading, intelligent design, scientific motivations and other issues related to science and theology.  He said he has been influenced by a third philosopher of science, Alvin Plantinga – another who has made a case for God in scientific endeavor.

  • No God, No Career:  Shuttle astronaut Jack Lousma said his faith led him to his career in space and gave the program success, reported Petoskey News.  Speaking at a church in Michigan, the 70-year-old veteran of 17 years as an astronaut spoke of his faith that began at age 9.

    It was that belief in God that led him to his career with NASA and helped him through his 17 years as an astronaut.
        “I believe my relationship with Jesus Christ and my decision to do so was the best decision I ever made,” Lousma said during the “Dinner with an Astronaut” evening hosted by the Liberty Baptist Church of Alanson.  “At every juncture … we noted that whenever there was a change it was God directed.  God helped us prosper.”

Cartwright did not argue that one cannot do science without God, and we do not mean to imply she is a believer (which she is not), but rather that it is nonsensical to speak of laws of nature without reference to God.  The word “law” implies an edict that is prescriptive in nature, rather than descriptive.  Maybe scientists and textbook writers not wishing to acknowledge God will have to change their terminology.  It is clear that many scientists in history did not have that decision to make (see online book).  Speaking warmly to his audience after a long and successful career, Jack Lousma held the Bible he had carried with him into space.

Lousma’s testimony recalls Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  Maybe that’s why the Darwinists are in such a hopeless muddle of dogmatism on the one hand, and despair on the other: they do not acknowledge God.
    Great Christians scientists have been known to stop and pray for wisdom and guidance in the lab during their work.  They were not asking for miracles, but for Divine guidance and providence, knowing their own limitations, and acknowledging the wisdom of the Maker of Nature.  That’s perfectly natural.
    Are you reading this and missing out on the vast, spiritual dimension of reality?  Are you adrift with a world view lacking purpose and direction?  Faith in God is not antithetical to science: look at Newton, Faraday, Pasteur, von Braun and so many other scientific heroes outlined in our online book.  They believed, like astronaut Lousma, that God directed them into science and gave them success; Newton said, “All my discoveries have been made in answer to prayer.”  Read the wise words of Boyle, Joule and von Braun about science and God.
    If you are not ready for this, do a controlled experiment.  Live like a consistent Darwinist.  Don’t use the phrase scientific law.  Purge your mind of all thoughts of purpose, beauty, direction, goals and morality (if you can do this for more than a few seconds without pain), and imagine a world where everyone felt the same.  Ask yourself: can I live with this belief?
    That’s one half the experiment.  Now try out Proverbs 3:5-6 on yourself.  It must be sincere, though; no scientific fraud gets past the Ultimate Reviewer.

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Categories: Bible and Theology

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