Are God and Science Mutually Exclusive?
Updated: Feb 7
How Philosophical Truths Exist Alongside Scientific Proofs
Written by Vivienne Juan, Associate Partner, Lighthouse Global
Previously published on Medium
Believing is seeing
When it comes to the matter of faith, I always think of a film I often saw as a kid growing up at Christmastime - The Santa Clause. At the end of the film, Judy, the elf, wisely pronounces “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing”.
While the statement itself is profound on so many levels, in this context, it came to mind because it almost seems like you have to suspend reality - forego your sensory perception of sight - in order to believe.
I guess that’s the kind of condition specifically described by blind faith. My understanding of faith these days, however, is actually such that rational logic and reasoning is encouraged and even required for true faith and belief in God.
“Science is the process of thinking God’s thoughts after him”
Science - the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment - is the preeminent and prevailing way to understand our experience of life. However, there are truths of our experience of life that are reasonable to accept, yet cannot be proven by science.
Can God and science coexist?
It’s incredible how people are taught to believe in one or the other rather than seeing how they can co-exist. Yet 65% of Nobel prize winners are Christ followers. The fathers of myriad fields of scientific and mathematical disciplines (including founders of some evolutionary theories!) are Christian. Moreover, the first, the oldest, and still today some of the best schools and universities where these scientific disciplines were born are also Christian.
While the statistics on Christian Nobel laureates do not in itself justify a belief in God, it does make it abundantly clear that God and science can coexist. And the fact that the overwhelming majority of founders of scientific disciplines have been Christian, again, while not proving the existence of God, does suggest that there are more questions that could be asked about that uncanny correlation.
“It doesn't matter how many people believe or not believe in a God; that doesn't make it true”
With respect to the demonstrable nature of God, it seems that the greats of science like Newton and Einstein saw science as a tool that enabled this, with remarks such as “I believe the more I study science, the more I believe in God”, and, “I believe in God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of the universe” attributed to each, respectively. As business advisor and author Jim Collins writes about successful organisations in his book, Built to Last:
“The "Tyranny of the OR" pushes people to believe that things must be either A OR B, but not both. Instead of being oppressed by the "Tyranny of the OR" highly visionary companies liberate themselves with the "Genius of the AND" the ability to embrace both extremes of a number of dimensions at the same time.” That means "Purpose AND profit, continuity AND change, freedom AND responsibility, discipline AND creativity, humility AND will, empirical analysis AND decisive action, etc."
The same Genius of the AND applies to the coexistence of God and science.
Science doesn’t disprove the existence of God
Just because the big bang theory exists doesn’t mean that God as a creator is disproved. It doesn’t demand the Tyranny of the OR. Rather, the Genius of the AND embraces the existence of God as part of a rationalisation for the beginnings of the universe.
A rational explanation from William Lane Craig in the video below involves the following three statements:
If the universe began to exist - then the universe has a cause of its beginning
The universe began to exist
Therefore the universe has a cause of its beginning
Even if you say that the cause is the big bang, you can still ask, what (or who) caused that to begin? Mathematician and Christian apologist Professor John Lennox points out that both science and Genesis are actually in agreement: there was a beginning to the universe.
The largely accepted big bang theory was posited in the early 1930s (interestingly by Georges Lemaître, who was both a Belgian physicist and Roman Catholic priest!). In the Bible, the first words of Genesis 1:1 begin with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Even if we take the current canonical text, apparently written around the 6th century BCE (as opposed to accounts of it being written by Moses circa 1500 BCE), Genesis has always stated that there was a beginning. What it also offers, that science does not, is the cause of that beginning, in God.
The things we can’t see and still believe
Three of these truths are described in the following one minute video from Lighthouse Global, recounted by philosopher and Christian apologist, William Lane Craig:
As proposed, logical and mathematical truths, as well as metaphysical truths, and ethical beliefs about statements of value cannot be proven by science. In the full video, Professor Craig also lists aesthetic judgements and science itself as two further truths that cannot be proved by science.
Where do morals come from?
The fact that these five truths exist, despite not having been discovered or proven by science, points to the absolute truth of a related, yet higher level of consciousness and intelligence. For example, regarding ethical beliefs and statements of value, I have previously written a blog about the aetiology of human rights, explaining how objective morals can only be derived from one singular source.
The question of choice
Furthermore, the metaphysical truth of a human being’s endowment of independent and free will is discussed in this short video by Ben Shapiro:
What exactly is behind the force to forego or supersede biochemical drives? The fact that we can lead ourselves aligned with (or more to the point, contrary to) basic survival needs, for example, implies the absolute truth of choice and where that comes from, as separate from what is dictated by and within the physical, observable, and measurable realm of science.
Whatever you call that creative source, God or otherwise, that is aware of and can defy earthly ecology, by choice, is irrelevant to the absolute truth of its existence, even if science can’t prove it. When it starts to matter is when you want to optimise and maximise, and live as a healthy human being. Abiding the laws and principles with which God governs quite literally makes or breaks you. Just like the universal law of gravity, the eternal and infinite God-given laws cannot be broken, so it is imperative to consistently make that choice to be in alignment with both in order to live a prosperous life.
By God's intelligence, we are granted the human intelligence that allows us to pursue scientific endeavours, which in turn affords us the opportunity to understand and appreciate the wonder in the workings of His creation, in our surroundings and within ourselves.
“I believe the more I study science, the more I believe in God”
~Sir Isaac Newton
Would you like to learn more about the relationship between God and science? How could you increase your choices, cultivate your ability to choose and direct your independent free will? To learn to increasingly choose wisely, to create value in your life for yourself and others, please visit our mentoring and coaching page, or read one of the many experiences from our community.
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