The Right Question; The Wrong Tool Set.

Some of the most learned minds of antiquity have held to a fundamental belief in a Supreme Being. Socrates held a belief in the Divine. Plato had his demiurge or “Craftsman.” Aristotle talked about his Prime Mover. Sir Isaac Newton expressed the idea of a Masterful Designer.

These ancient intellectuals are not alone. Many modern scientists and intellectuals also posit the notion of a Creator. For instance, Dr. Francis Collins, one of the foremost geneticists of our day, is a firm believer in the God of the Bible.  Even neo-atheists like Richard Dawkins, in a debate with Dr. Collins moderated by Time Magazine, admits there could be a God.[1] Why do modern scientists and neo-atheists often revere the fruit of thought from such ancient thinkers, yet deny the validity of their understanding of a Creator?

As far back as our modern technology has allowed us to peer into history the physical evidence of ancient cultures has consistently revealed that humanity has an inherent belief in a Supreme Being. The belief in such a Being seems to come with an insatiable desire to worship Him. This desire to worship God has been seen in both, the most remote and unrefined civilizations, as well as, in the most polished and sophisticated ones.

How is it then that we could think that the advancement of modern science could squelch a desire that appears to be so heavily impressed upon the human psyche? As hard as modern scientist try to push humanity away from the notion of God they are only driving us more rapidly toward that metaphysical question by which their methods are so concretely bound.

Modern Scientist and Neo-atheists must understand the dilemma of attempting to discredit a concept of God through the scientific method. In doing so, scientists are attempting to weigh in on a metaphysical question with an empirical tool set. Dr. Collins has aptly expressed their dilemma:

Faith helps answer different questions, ‘Why am I here?’ Science isn’t going to help you with that one. ‘What is the meaning of life?’ No help from science there, either. Science is great at ‘how’ but science is not good at ‘why’.[2]

Clearly attempting to answer metaphysical questions with pure scientific empiricism is a flagrant misunderstanding of the question. However, there has been an increasing effort to bridge the gap between metaphysics and science with a new “naturalized (or, scientific) metaphysics.”[3] While this approach is attempting to use science to answer non-scientific questions, there still exists a glaring methodological divide which at the moment seems insurmountable.[4]

As followers of Christ we must be aware of the bait and switch tactic currently being used by the neo-atheists’ assault on the concept of God. The question of God is a question that cannot be addressed purely by scientific methodology no matter how much effort is put forth to force the issue. The question of God is and always will be a metaphysical question that is best understood in the realm of philosophy and theology. While science has a huge role to play in understanding the universe, science should not be understood as the only source of knowledge concerning the universe. Philosophy and theology both are significant contributors toward piecing the puzzle together. Let us not be bullied into abandoning a legitimate avenue of knowledge simply because someone else doesn’t accept it as valid. Leave science to the task it is most adept at answering –“how?” and allow philosophy to aid in the metaphysical questions science cannot entertain –“why?”

Grace,

Ronnie


[1] David Van Biema, “God vs. Science,” Time Magazine, November 5, 2006. Available online at www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132,00.html. Accessed on January 23, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Richard Healey, “Scientific Metaphysics,” Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 7/22/2013. Available online at www.ndpr.nd.edu/news/41184-scientific-metaphysics. Accessed on January 23, 2013.

[4] Ibid. Andrew Melnyk is cited as sharing such concerns about Naturalistic Metaphysics. Healey states of Melnyk: “His caution arises from a methodological concern: since a priori methods are unlikely to help us answer such questions, we would need to resort to empirical methods – but how could that go?”

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About Ronnie Knight
Follower of Christ, Husband, & Father. B.A. in Theology Masters of Divinity

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