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Can Science Eliminate God?

Jimmy Akin

DAY 285

CHALLENGE

“Science has progressively explained more and more of the world, leaving less room for God. Why can’t science one day explain everything, eliminating the need for (and possibility of) God?”

DEFENSE

This objection makes several mistakes.

First, it commits the fallacy of “God of the gaps” thinking by supposing that scientific explanations somehow take something away from God. They don’t. God is the ultimate explanation for the world, including those things that science is capable of investigating (see Day 246).

Second, it assumes that science will continue to explain more and more, with no barriers to its future growth, but this is not to be taken for granted (see Day 97).

Third, while many physicists have harbored the dream of producing a “Theory of Everything”—a single set of formulas describing the behavior of all physical phenomena—there are serious doubts about whether such a theory is possible.

In 1931, the mathematician Kurt Gödel shocked his colleagues by demonstrating that there will always be mathematical truths that can- not be proved. (He did this using two proofs known as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems.) Mathematics is closely allied with physics, and some physicists have concluded that the same is true of their field— that there will always be physical truths that cannot be proved. Thus Stephen Hawking wrote:

Some people will be very disappointed if there is not an ultimate theory that can be formulated as a finite number of principles. I used to belong to that camp, but I have changed my mind. I’m now glad that our search for understanding will never come to an end, and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery (“Gödel and the End of the Universe,” available online).

Fourth, even if there was a “Theory of Everything”—a single, master law explaining the behavior of all physical phenomena—it would explain only that and no more. It would not explain why that law exists, why there is something rather than nothing, or what may take place outside the realm of nature.

Fifth, we have very good proofs for the existence of God, and the future growth of science will not change that. The scientific method is only capable of dealing with certain types of questions, and it cannot disprove truths that are established by other methods.

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