In a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled “God and Science Don’t Mix”, the cosmologist Lawrence Krauss argued that science implies atheism, or at least Deism. His argument can be summarized as follows:
- Science tries to explain nature without calling on miracles or Divine Providence.
- Science has been very successful.
- This proves there's no miracles or Divine Providence.
- The big religions assume there is.
- Therefore they’re all false.
- Also, look at Iran to see how bad religion is.
There are many flaws with his argument, and I will discuss some. The fact that science assumes there are no miracles does not mean there never are. Scientists study nature, but their may have been rare, supernatural events in the past. How does science disprove that possibility?
It may be hard to observe Divine Providence, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. I wrote to the Wall Street Journal:
Lawrence Krauss’s argument is similar to that of the 19th-century Materialists. They claimed everything was made of atoms, and if given enough information, the entire past and future could be predicted. Such a proposition left no room for free will or Divine providence. The development of Quantum Mechanics in the 20th century showed that, in truth, nothing could be predicted with exactitude; the smallest particles operated by apparent randomness. This randomness provides a hidden mechanism for God to intervene in the world.
While the letter isn’t exactly publish-quality, my point is clear: The Deism of the 1800’s cannot be justified when facing the mystery of the Quanta.
It would be helpful to compare the attitudes of the two greatest physicists of all time - Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. Einstein had a similar attitude as Mr. Krauss'. To quote an article from Time Magazine:
But there was one religious concept, Einstein went on to say, that science could not accept: a deity who could meddle at whim in the events of his creation. "The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God," he argued. Scientists aim to uncover the immutable laws that govern reality, and in doing so they must reject the notion that divine will, or for that matter human will, plays a role that would violate this cosmic causality.
Einstein strongly believed in absolute determinism, and felt that science precluded both the notion of Divine Providence and of freewill. He felt such an attitude made it easier to forgive both others and himself for wrongdoings. He held these philosophical convictions so strongly that even as the evidence mounted for the new physics, Quantum Mechanics, he refused to accept it. To his dying day he believed that “God does not play dice with the cosmos”. In another case, which Einstein later called his “greatest mistake”, he fudged his relativity equations to maintain a belief in an eternal universe. Einstein may have felt his beliefs were principles of science, but they were just examples of the bias of scientism.
Isaac Newton was, in many ways, the father of science. His theory of gravity united the heavens and the earth. Did this discovery cause him to reject his religion? Actually yes, but he didn’t become an atheist or Deist. After discovering the unity of the universe, Newton rejected the Christian trinity as idolatry, and accepted the One God of Moses. He even risked his career by refusing to take Christian oaths.
Newton realized the order and unity of nature do not point to atheism, but rather to the One Creator. God and science get along just fine, it’s God and scientism that don’t mix.