In centuries gone by, the driving force for many scientists to explore and understand the universe came from a belief in God and that a God-created universe has order and structure which can be studied and understood, at least in part. In our own time there seems to be a popular view that somehow science and religion are irreconcilable, that scientists “don’t do God”, or at least that is the impression given by a certain former Oxford Professor for Public Understanding of Science. Ironically the very book written to convince intelligent people that God is simply an illusion, has spawned a wave of publications that show the intellectual argument against God is certainly not as self-evident as it might seem to some. An understanding of science does not equip us to explain meaning and purpose. In any case there is no scientific evidence that scientists as a community are any more agnostic or atheistic than society as a whole.
If you have been impressed by the “God Delusion”, or indeed, if you have not, you might like to read the somewhat shorter tomes from fellow Oxford academics:
- John Lennox, Reader in Mathematics at Oxford University offers a scientific challenge in “God’s Undertaker: Has Science
- Prof. Keith Ward’s “Why there Almost Certainly is a God” provides a philosophical challenge.
Rebuttals to God Delusion now abound, though some arguments against religious belief should not be dismissed. There is a lot of bad religion about, as there is also much pseudo-science. There is also more serious intellectual enquiry concerning the compatibility of science and faith.
The website of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion provides a wealth of
scholarship and comment on this topic for those seeking a rationalist approach.
The Robert Wright interviews with leading scientists and thinkers, some believers from different faith traditions, some atheists, should convince even the greatest sceptic that there is much to think about. Listen to the interview with Lorenzo Albacete, if you want a challenge your presumptions about the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church!
The bottom line is that whereas science can explain how, it cannot explain why. There are things beyond the grasp of scientific reasoning and verification (love between two people, for example) that require us to seek out truth in another way. This is then the starting point for a search for meaning beyond the realms of science.