Is It Inconsistent for Believers in God to Look for Scientific Explanations of Natural Things?

Is it inconsistent, as Richard Dawkins claims, for believers in God to look for scientific explanations of natural things, if they don’t think it is necessary to seek scientific proof of God’s existence?

This is a classic example of comparing apples to oranges. Infinite Spirit can’t be examined the same way the physical world can.

According to the Bible, the characteristics of the physical universe have been shaped by God. As the apostle Paul writes, “God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). Because the natural world has been created and designed by God, it reflects His power and divine nature. However, God is of an entirely different order of being. He is not physical, but Spirit, of a higher dimension of being that encompasses our universe but which cannot be directly observed and measured by the physical sciences.

But if God can’t be directly investigated by physical science, are there no compelling reasons to believe that He exists? Someone with a naïve faith in evolution might say there are no compelling reasons, but more objective scientists acknowledge that the rational basis for God’s existence is being continually strengthened as science progresses.

Even if it could be demonstrated at some future time that evolution is a seamless natural process with no “gaps” where God can be demonstrated to supernaturally intervene, atheists have to account for the components and circumstances that make the process possible. Physicists who believe in the probability of God’s existence don’t do so because of gaps in evolutionary theory, but because of the mind-boggling, overwhelming complexity of the circumstances within which natural macroevolution would have to occur.1

The fact that circumstances of such infinite, or nearly infinite, complexity exist as the necessary background to life implies design. The idea that the universe has no origin is a counterintuitive faith assumption, as everything in our experience that is complex is derived from something more complex. It’s hard to see how Dawkins and other atheists consider it more reasonable to believe that the infinite complexity of the natural world is rooted in chance.

The existence of randomness as part of the process of evolution within the space/time universe is not—as some atheists claim—evidence against design. Randomness itself appears to be an aspect of the design, making possible the development of self-aware, free beings (such as we are). Thus the existence of randomness and freedom within the context of natural law imply a much higher order of complexity than a mere “clockwork universe.”

So it isn’t unreasonable to believe in God, even if we can’t “explain” or “define” Him in scientific terms. The choices are to either take the mind-boggling complexity of a universe containing self-aware beings as mere accident, or to assume that the complexity we see within and around us is evidence of a supernatural God.

  1. One of the most startling developments to come from modern physics is that the universe, in some very fundamental way, seems to have been “designed” or “tuned” to produce life and consciousness. Actually, what physicists have discovered is that there are a large number of “coincidences” inherent in the fundamental laws and constants of nature. Every one of these coincidences or specific relationships between fundamental physical parameters is needed, or the evolution of life and consciousness as we know it could not have happened. The collection of these coincidences is an undisputed fact and, collectively, have come to be known as the “Anthropic Principle.” (From the essay, “The Holistic Anthropic Principle,” by Joseph P. Provenzano and Dan R. Provenzano.) Back To Article
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