Atheism and science
The views of two scientists
Atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. That’s the view of Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College.
He says that atheism is a statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. “I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe”. Or “I deny something I have no evidence against”. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations. We say, “Okay, you can have a hypothesis, you have to have some evidence against or for that.” And, “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.
Gleiser is an agnostic, he doesn’t believe in God—but refuses to write off the possibility of God’s existence completely. He says, “I’ll keep an open mind because I understand that human knowledge is limited”. However, he opposes biblical literalism and does not see a place for religious texts to “explain or predict and describe natural phenomena in scientific ways”. In this way, he is guilty of making an unfounded declaration! But that is why he criticized atheists!
Gleiser was the 2019 Templeton Prize winner for being an individual “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension”. He has had a 36-year scientific career, but seems unwilling to investigate the claims of the Bible. He doesn’t want to examine the evidence in the Bible. Although he claims to be an agnostic, in practice he is an atheist who rejects the Judeo-Christian God who made the universe. So his “spiritual dimension” must involve human ideas and not God’s written revelation.
Atheists and agnostics have no excuse for not accepting the clear evidence that God created and sustains the universe; “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
How can we trust our minds?
Atheists say we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes. So our brains are the end product of a mindless unguided process. John Lennox asks, “If you knew that your computer was the end product of a mindless unguided process, would you trust it?”. Obviously, no! So atheists have a problem – their belief about the origin and nature of the brain and the mind is running straight up against the fact that they use it to do science, and they trust it.
Evolutionary naturalism has a huge problem, because it undermines the human rationality that you need to do science. In fact, it undermines rationality, that we need to have this discussion. Atheism undermines the rationality that everybody depends on every day.
And that’s why Lennox has a huge problem with it, and why it’s one of his main reasons for not being an atheist. It’s not because he’s a Christian, although that of course is a very big reason, it’s because he’s a scientist and he believes that science can be done. And he’s therefore not prepared to believe a story which undermines the rationality that he and everybody else depends on every day. So science and atheism do not mix; they are inconsistent.
The atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel says: “Evolutionary naturalism implies that we shouldn’t take any of our convictions seriously, including the scientific world picture on which evolutionary naturalism itself depends”! It’s inconsistent!
No ultimate justice
John Lennox notes that atheism has no ultimate hope of justice. Most people have died without justice. If death is the end (and there is no life after death), then they have no hope of ultimate justice.
Lennox says that Christ rose from the dead, which is a guarantee that there is to be a future judgment. This is a marvellous hope, because it means that our conscience is not an illusion, and those who terrorize, abuse, exploit, defame and cause their fellow humans untold suffering will not get away with it.
Although science rules out the supernatural, it’s inconsistent with atheism! An agnostic who hasn’t investigated the truth of the Bible is a practicing atheist.
We can only trust our minds and have a hope of ultimate justice if we have faith in Jesus Christ the ultimate Creator and the ultimate Savior.
Lennox J (2019) “Can science explain everything?”, The Good Book Company.
Lennox J (2020) “2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity”, Zondervan.
Written, October 2020
Also see: God and science