Do Science and Technology Invalidate Faith in God?

Nuclear energy…the microchip…the electron microscope…the internet…we even put a man on the moon! Darn, we’re pretty stinking smart these days, aren’t we? We’re impressing the heck out of ourselves—what will they (meaning we) come up with next?

If we can do all of this, if we can create all of these marvelous inventions…maybe…there…is…no…God…? Maybe we don’t need Him anymore, so why bother?

Am I drawing conclusions that sound extreme? I don’t think so.

A few weeks ago an article came out on the internet asking the following question: Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God? (LiveScience.com, September 18, 2012). It made the point that “…there’s good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.”

Then there’s the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who’s known for his anti-faith pronouncements, saying, among other things, “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers (his reference to the human brain); that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark…”

Wow, really? You may be a brilliant theoretical physicist, Mr. Hawking, but aren’t you stepping out of your realm of expertise by making a declaration about faith?

Anything is possible if you allow yourself enough wiggle room

Do Science and Technology Invalidate Faith in God?
Do Science and Technology Invalidate Faith in God?
The late Carl Sagan (of Nova fame) was prone to preface his theories and prognostications with the qualifier “billions and billions (of years or what ever)…” I don’t mean to pick on Mr. Sagan in particular, but this kind of framing isn’t at all unusual in the scientific community.

I’ll tell you what, give me billions and billions of years or anything else, and I can make any theory walk on four legs too. And I don’t have a PhD.

Here’s my point: when you frame everything within billions and billions of units, anything becomes plausible to the ordinary person. When you’re talking about billions and billions you’re really referring to infinity. Anything is possible within the space of infinity.

But not everything that’s possible is also probable. Just because someone can create a scenario in a lab or within a computer model doesn’t mean that the outcome is what actually happened. It’s a theory, period. Interesting, sure, but conclusive?

Technology blinds us to the work of God

Some years ago, my wife and I were on a trip to a remote part of Vermont. Arriving at night, we were stunned to see the sheer number of stars in the sky. Growing up in the New York Metropolitan area, we were merely aware of the existence of stars, but never the true number. When you live in an area with considerable human development, you see only a few stars. The constant glow of street lamps and other light sources hides stars even though they’re right over your head. In an undeveloped area, it looks like it’s raining stars. That’s how it looked in this rustic corner of Vermont.

Technology does that to us in regard to God. Because of electricity, 24/7 entertainment, central heat and air conditioning and high speed transportation we can easily miss the presence of God right before us. As technology becomes more comprehensive, the awareness that God even exists becomes ever dimmer.

Now add the technology screen to the growing chorus of scientific denial of the existence of God, and we begin to see why faith seems to be on the defensive in Western culture. Scientists seem so brilliant, technology almost magical.

How do these braniacs do it?

The proving or disproving of this or that theory or the invention of the latest and greatest technological gadget does in no way invalidate the existence of God. Yet nearly every time a plausible new theory or technological breakthrough occurs, the there-is-no-God chorus can be heard in the background like a church choir on Christmas Eve.

Can we use science and technology to make God go away?

Why do people believe this? More important, why would anyone who claims to be a scientist have the audacity to believe or infer it? To declare that there is no God is in effect to make oneself out to be God. How could anyone credibly declare that God doesn’t exist short of his or her own complete knowledge of the Eternal?

Hint: no one has that knowledge. No one who makes such a claim or inference should be given any credibility.

What the science and technology crowd don’t get: what faith in God truly is about

Those who believe that science and technology will inevitably replace faith in God miss something fundamental: God is spirit! Science and technology don’t restrain or invalidate God. Consider this pronouncement from Jesus Christ:

”Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”—John 4:23-24

Spirit and truth, not science and technology. These are not mutually exclusive either; the existence of one doesn’t invalidate another. We can have spirit and truth AND science and technology. What a concept, huh?
Here are a few things that I don’t think most people get in the overblown science and technology vs. God and faith equation:

  1. Science does not equal truth
  2. Knowledge does not equal wisdom
  3. Technology does not reduce God’s role in our lives

If you doubt that last one, ask yourself how many people pray to technology when they’re on their death beds. Technology entertains us, makes life more comfortable, and can sometimes prolong our lives. It does not give us life, eliminate death, solve the world’s problems or offer us any hope beyond the grave. Technology is not divine.

I had a biology professor in college who put it best: “there is no conflict between science and religion; science explains how, religion explains why.”

Why then must we believe that the advance of science and technology makes the existence of God less probable? Any thoughts???

( Photo from Flickr by Elvert Barnes )

8 Responses to Do Science and Technology Invalidate Faith in God?

  1. I think that the more advances we have in science and technology, the more powerful it makes many of us as humans feel, and less inclined we are to feel that we need God. If we as a species can control everything about our own destiny, why would we need God? We are God!

    All of human knowledge about the universe and how it came to be are only a drop in the enormous sea of God’s infinite power and wisdom, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think we know even a small bit about God’s amazing creation, and how it came to be.

    It amazes me how many times we’ll hear about how a new discovery in science was made, invalidating some previous “scientific fact” which is now no longer accepted. Our knowledge, and we as humans, are fallible. God isn’t, and we would do well to seek Him out!

    I don’t think science can ever invalidate faith in God. In most instances, for me at least, all of creation points towards the Creator, and only strengthens my belief.

  2. Hi Pete–I think what we miss is that every time there’s a new discovery there are also more questions. If the human race makes another 1000 years we’ll never come closer to the ultimate truth, because as we go along we’ll find that the universe and its secrets are much greater than we can anticipate.

    I really dislike that there’s even a conflict, because there doesn’t need to be one. Science and technology are about the physical, not the spiritual which means we can have both without issue. And only faith can bring us any semblance of wisdom. Knowledge without wisdom is…sort of where we’re at right now. Which is to say it isn’t doing us a whole lot of good.

    Thanks for weighing in on a complicated subject!

  3. Peter is right. This phenomenon is a bit like an inverse the-more-you-know-the more-you-realize-how-little-you-know. I think humanity is going through its adolescence, where we begin to think we know everything and that we can befall do peril. Someday, when we grow up, we will realize how small the universe really is and how tiny we really are.

  4. Hi David–I liken it to a star athelete who begins to impress himself and assume that he’s invincible. Only we’re talking big picture with science and technology. Brilliant point about “when we grow up”. Humility comes with age and accumulated wisdom. I guess we aren’t quite there yet!

  5. The greatest anti-intellectual movements in human history were perpetrated by governments that were explicitly atheist as part of their official political dogma–the Khymer Rouge, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the Soviet Union’s rejection of Mendelian biology by Lysenkoism which led to a famine that killed millions.

    The idea that having the government enforce atheism in the US will bring about some sci-tech utopia is the fanciful dreaming of people who don’t even remember what happened in the last 50 years.

    A new ReligON-ReligOFF meme: ReligiON- A picture of monks painstakingly preserving the great works of the ancient Greek philosophers. ReligOFF – intellectuals being executed during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

  6. Hi Jeremy–That’s an incredible observation, but true! Very often in history it’s been governments–not religions–who have had the greatest negative effect on free thought, even where it pertains to faith. Evil governments can’t stand counter philosophies and will do all they can to stamp them out.

    We also have to consider that unrestrained science has the real postential to become sterile, leaving servival of the fittest as the only perceived way forward–where ever forward is determined to be. It removes the compassion of God from the equation and holds human survival as the only virtue. Absent the concept of God, it can eventually evolve to where only certain human life is worthy of suvival, and that’s exactly what happened in the regimes you list.

  7. How exactly does gathering evidence that the Universe is ordered and understanding the nature of that order (Science), invalidate the idea that the Universe has an ordering Force which we call God?

    It doesn’t.

    Arguing that discovering the laws of nature invalidate the concept of God is like discovering the laws of grammar and thereby claiming that Shakespeare never existed (“Who needs Authors when it’s clear books come about through the laws of Grammar?”)

  8. Hi Jeremy–It actually doesn’t, more likely it confirms the reality of God. The problem is that “science” is now holding itself out as the purveyor and keeper of utlimate truth. They see faith in God as an obstacle to their work. For example, the evolutionists can’t tolerate even the inference of God. They spend much of their “research” refuting the existence of God.

    It’s a futile effort as there is no way they can prove the non-existence of God. To even infer that you can is to deify yourself.

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