Tag Archives: atheism

On Modern Science and the Existence of God

In his piece “God and Science Don’t Mix” (WSJ, June 26), Lawrence Krauss makes the case that the rational atheism purportedly required to conduct scientific inquiry makes it also eminently rational to suppose that God does not exist in reality.  In his words: “Faced with the remarkable success of science to explain the workings of the physical world, many, indeed probably most, scientists understandably… extrapolate the atheism of science to a more general atheism.  While such a leap may not be unimpeachable it is certainly rational.”

Is that so evident?  I could see how it is understandable, as Krauss himelf said.  Since modern scientists precisely limit themselves to the exploration and recording of observable phenomena, of course, with such limitations, they will tend to think that, with the help of instruments that have expanded our observations exponentially, they have explained almost all there is to explain.  But is this rational?  Is it reasonable to think that the material world that is observable by our experience contains everything within itself to explain itself?

How does this science explain the existence of the primordial cosmic “egg” whose immense amounts of pent up energy eventually broke out in a big bang?  Where did that energy come from?  Smaller elements before the “egg”?  Nothing?  How did random concatenations of the elemental atoms that later cooled themselves into existence decide to come together and form a unit that takes in other exterior matter and assimilates it into its own substance?  What about sensation?  Does the action of electro-magnetic waves upon rods and cones in the eye and impulses to the brain really explain how an animal “sees”?  What about intellectual potencies?  How is it that some of these animals can extrapolate from the individual things that they sense and come to a universal idea, not only of “dog” and “cat”, but also of things that are unsensible, like “free market,” and “communism,” or “the virtue of bravery”?  How are all these things explained from the observable activities of matter?  “Tell me, if thou knowest all things.” (Job 38:18).

Nemo dat quod non habet.  I believe quite firmly in natural causality and the explanations of modern science.  But there are still many problems behind its recent discoveries–the existence of that primordial “egg,” the origin of a more complex species from a less complex species, the origin of life, the origin of sensation, the origin of understanding, etc.  These are examples of activities that simply go beyond the causalities of matter and energy by way of contact and motion.  You can talk about survival of the fittest all you want and how it sufficiently accounts for the species we see now.  But at some point, two fish, even if genetically aberrant fish, have to give birth to a frog with whom only another frog can mate and produce fertile offspring.  How does matter give this, when it hasn’t got it yet?  How does it do this if there is no higher cause than itself?  Most scientists agree that matter and energy, left to themselves, tend to entropy.  But the first billions of years of our universe go in the opposite direction.

The atheism of many scientist is certainly understandable, but I beg to differ when one calls it rational.  They simply haven’t thought hard enough.  As Empedocles put it in the 5th century B.C., “Fools!  For they have no far-reaching minds who think that what before was not, comes to be.”  It’s another way of saying you can’t give what you haven’t got.  Perhaps this is the reason, too, for the Psalmist’s “The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God” (Ps. 14:1).