Hello. I have a difficult time understanding science. So I am coming here for help. I would love your input on the best current arguments for the existence of God, that can be suggested from current scientific findings.
For example, is Intelligent Design now obsolete, or is it a view that can still hold weight? What about the improbability of life on earth? What about the complexity of the physical world? What about the fine-tuning of the universe, or the exquisitely designed Big Bang? What about the inexplicable nature of Consciousness? What about how something cannot come from absolutely nothing? Can any of these things be taken seriously anymore? I have some atheist friends who have tried to tell me that these things are just irreducible realities that don’t require God for an explanation, and that, if you add “God” as an explanation, then you just introduce the problem of having to explain God.
I’m a Christian and would love to know if you can point me to some resources or premises that show that science can indeed still point to the existence of an intelligent, relational Designer.
I have some thoughts on your question. Properly understood, science is the study of the natural world - a body of knowledge about a specific subject, not all-encompassing. But God is supernatural. As such, looking to science as the primary source of arguments for God’s existence is looking somewhat in the wrong direction; arguments for God’s existence are part of philosophy, not science.
That being said, scientific findings can sometimes provide support for premises in philosophical arguments for God’s existence. There is much that can be said in favour of the argument from fine-tuning, in particular. I recommend Luke Barnes’ book “A Fortunate Universe” as an excellent, accessible read. He presents the fine-tuning evidence. But don’t forget that such evidence by itself is not an argument - one still needs to move from that evidence to the existence of God by arguing against alternative explanations of the evidence. (In fact, I have a few blog posts summarizing such an argument, starting here.)
I think fine-tuning would be your best starting point. The evidence for the Big Bang certainly makes it quite plausible to believe in the beginning of the physical universe, which supports a premise of the so-called Kalam cosmological argument for God’s existence, but most of the heavy lifting in that argument actually relies on philosophy rather than science (to an even greater degree than the fine-tuning argument).
Short answer: yes. Not that belief in an intelligent designer is obsolete, of course, but the evidence for evolution is overwhelmingly strong. If you believe in an intelligent designer for other reasons, as I do, it looks very much like he chose to design using the means of evolution. This forum is a good place to ask questions if you want to learn about these subjects.
God is an enormous concept. So is a universe that contains observers made of the same fundamental particles as the rest of the universe. There is no reasonable explanation for this that I have heard other then an intelligent creator.
Asking you to explain God is essentially a burden shift from explaining the universe without intelligence behind it.
The other and equally important evidence is the integrity of the Bible where the Jewish prophets predict the Messiah or who we know as Christ. We know from the Dead Sea scrolls that these predictions came before Christs birth,
There are no scientific discoveries that imply or point to the existence of God without having to be combined with some very controversial assumptions in some philosophical argument.
From the perspective of just scientific discoveries, there are just unknowns. Things we do now know why are the way they are.
It is not clear that anything ever did “come from nothing”, so even if there is not any thing that can come from nothing(which is an example of a controversial premise you can’t demonstrate the truth of), we have no reason to think any existing thing would have to.
Every single one of the ideas and concepts you mention rests on some question begging premise that can’t be tested(can something come from nothing?) nor otherwise shown to be true(the probability of life on Earth). Etc.
I’m an atheist so of course I have my biases here, but as best I can tell the history of scientific discoveries seem to have produced a long series of retreats of the supernatural. The invention of electricity lit up our world so the idea that ghosts and demons were causing the floor boards to creak fell out of favor. It was just rats. The wind doesn’t blow at the will of God, it’s because the sun heats up the atmosphere and oceans so increasing pressure causes air to move around. The microscope made us realize people didn’t get sick from curses, witchcraft, evil spirits, or demonic possessions. It was microorganisms. Chemistry made us realize many compounds are toxic when ingested. Etc.
To push back a bit against what Rumraket is saying here, @Audrey - just because certain philosophical premises are controversial does not mean that they cannot be entirely rational to believe. E.g., principles like “everything that begins to exist must have a cause” or “everything that exists contingently must have an explanation of its existence” are controversial, but nevertheless, to my mind at least, there are very good reasons to believe them, and conversely no good reasons to disbelieve them (if they are appropriately formulated).
Some of my religious friends find profound inspiration in how amazing the universe is and how amazing, by extension, God must be to have made it. But they’re starting with belief.
I don’t think there are, or could be, good arguments from science for God if you’re starting as an non-believer. But there are certainly good reinforcing arguments if you already believe. So… which are you looking for?
I don’t know where you are in the YEC → Old Earth Creationist spectrum, or if you are anywhere in that spectrum. But from your questions it appears that you understand that most in the natural sciences pointedly do not suggest that there is evidence of any sort of god. It is not that they are necessarily atheists. Rather, they may hold a range of personal beliefs in that area. There are atheists, agnostics, softer spiritual sorts, and others are definitely religious. But very few (with a few exceptions) go public to claim any evidence of god.
Why do so few naturalistic scientists suggest there is a god? I am sure that many Christians would claim that they would face ostracism from their less religious colleagues. But that demonstrably does not happen. I at least know of no case where any had failed to get tenure, or other career advancements, specifically bc they were not secular. What seems to be the case (I think) is that most do not publicly suggest there is a god because they recognize that there is simply no solid evidence that supports that extraordinary claim . There are mysteries (the Big Bang, the origin of life), but we still know a thing or two about those events, and what we know only points to naturalistic causes. Even the Big Bang.
So in general those who still hold a religious belief manage to do so because they can partition their thoughts. They think secular science at work, and think about god on Sunday because that was how they were brought up, and they can just put away their god-thoughts when they go back to work on Monday.
One scientist who is quite public about their religious beliefs is Francis Collins. He is highly accomplished by any measure, while also being an evangelical Christian. I’ve listened to him on television and You Tube, and have read some excerpts of his writing. I am certainly no expert of the man, but what I’ve seen is, to me, a striking example of someone who has built solid walls of partitioning. I mean it is incredible how he contorts himself! When he communicates about biology, he is clear, accurate, and circumspect as any good scientist should be. But when things turn to religion, its like a different Francis Collins suddenly appears who has no doubts. No doubts at all. I don’t get how he does it.
Still, I sense you’d be curious to learn more from someone who is not far from where you are. He has at least one book on his relationship with science and religion. Here is a link about Collins with info about the book. The Language of God - Wikipedia I am sure its on Amazon, etc.
There are lots of scientific arguments - and scientific evidence - against some versions of ‘God’ (or ‘gods’). Any version that has God exterminating all animals except those disembarking a boat in Turkey 4500 years ago, for example.
There are some versions of ‘God’ or ‘gods’ for which there is scientific evidence (and arguments). The ‘God’ of the Yaohnanen people definitely existed until last year, for example.
The trick is to pin down exactly what is meant by ‘God’, to stop theists shifting between verifiable and unverifiable versions when convenient.
@Rumraket Thanks so much for taking the time to respond! Quick question… Doesn’t it seem, though, that explaining fine-tuning, that we are here at all, etc. etc. is much more challenging than explaining things like sickness, the wind, etc? In other words, getting rid of superstitions doesn’t seem to me to be the same thing as writing off an intelligent Creator altogether.
Here’s an analogy I find useful to understand why theistic “explanations” actually aren’t really
explanations at all.
Suppose you go to a magic show and are amazed by the trick where the magician saws a woman in half and then puts her back together, so that she is unharmed. You are convinced you have just witnessed some sort of supernatural miracle, but your skeptical friend is less convinced and says he can explain how the trick was done.
When you ask him to give his explanation, and he leans in close and whispers, “He made it look like he cut her in half, but he really didn’t.”
Would you find that a satisfactory explanation? If not, you should be aware that it is the equivalent of every theistic “explanation” offered for everything, ever.
If such evidence actually existed, wouldn’t you expect it to be one of the most well-known scientific discoveries in all human history, and you wouldn’t have to be asking about it on a relatively small internet forum?
@nwrickert Thanks! Although I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian, all that I mean by “God” for the purpose of this discussion is something like what the Stoics and other ancient philosophers considered the “logos” - an intelligent, providential force Who must be, in my opinion, also inherently relational given that we our relational. So, in other words, I mean by “God” a force capable of creating the universe we live in that contains rationality and relationality.
I would point out that when we wander into “philosophical premises”, we have diverged from “scientific evidence for the existence of God” into philosophical arguments for the existence of God.
It also seems to me that what constitute “good reasons” for and against such philosophical premises (both in general, and in the case of “everything that begins to exist must have a cause”) is entirely in the eye of a beholder, and generally reflect the person’s preconceptions on the topic of the existence of God – those with a strong predisposition to to accept the existence of God find arguments for the God-supportive premises to be compelling and those arguing against them to be uncompelling. Vice versa for those with a strong predisposition to to reject the existence of God. Those without a strong predisposition either way are, I suspect, unlikely to be swayed either way by such arguments.
This does make me wonder about the efficacy of such apologetic arguments, and whether or not they may in reality be something akin to a(n obfuscated form of) Begging the Question.