Is Christian Belief a Science Stopper? Seven Quick Points
Saints and Sceptics
Many atheists allege that Christians use “goddidit” as a lazy approach to explaining phenomena. Every mystery is erased by invoking an all-powerful, all-knowing creator. “God-did-it” functions as a ‘science stopper’: it encourages us to abandon enquiry and research, to foresake the quest for scientific answers. However, these allegations do not withstand scrutiny.
1) History falsifies these allegations! For Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Hooke, Descartes and Newton, “God-did-it” did not function as a “science stopper”, a phrase that explained away mysterious phenomena. They believed that theism predicted that the universe would be governed by laws and that these laws would be written in the language of mathematics. This was far from obvious at the time. So theism did not inhibit research: it encouraged it.
2) Theistic belief only predicted an ordered universe: it did not predict how God would order the universe. A personal, free, omniscient God could choose from an immeasurable number of plans: so we cannot deduce a priori the sort of universe that God would create. Observation, measurement and experiment were necessary for a thorough understanding of creation. The fact that we are rational agents in a world designed by a rational agent gave the pioneers of science confidence that they could uncover fathom the laws and mechanisms which govern our universe.
3) In other words, Christianity only holds that God-did-it. However, it does not predict how-God-did-it. To discover the mechanisms and laws governing the universe, one must use observation and measurement.
4) Modern physics is premised on the belief that there are fundamental laws of nature which use mathematics to describe a universe composed of some elementary physical substances (relativistic quantum fields, for example). Physics requires laws to make predictions. Now some laws (Kepler’s) can be explained by other laws (Newton’s). But sooner or later we’ll reach a set of laws that are just foundational to science. They can’t be explained by any other law. At this point scientific explanation breaks down…
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