On Science vs. God

I mentioned briefly that I was reading Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. I’ve since finished it, and found it infinitely interesting, and a totally great read! There was one thing, however, that frustrated me, something I encounter all too often. Sacks recalls a visit from one of his patients:

What did I think, in the end, of his story, Dr. Cicoria asked me. Had I ever encountered anything similar? I asked him what he thought, and how he would interpret what had happened to him. He replied that as a medical man he was at a loss to explain these events, and he had to think of them in “spiritual” terms. I countered that, with no disrespect to the spiritual, I felt that even the most exalted states of mind, the most astounding transformations, must have some physical basis or at least some physiological correlate in neural activity.

It looks to me as though Sacks, a self-professed “old Jewish Atheist” is presenting that argument, that mind-boggling argument, that science and God cannot co-exist.

When I think of the structure of an argument, I think of the classic “a=b; b=c; therefore a=c”. After you’ve determined that, you can say things like, “we’ve established that a=c, so therefore it follows that x, y and z.”

In the case of the science vs. God argument, all the time I see things like, “Science disproves God, so therefore it follows that:
– You can’t believe in science and God
– Truly intelligent people shouldn’t believe in God
– God / faith / spirituality / religion has no place in academia
– etc.”

Well, with no disrespect to people like Sacks (and I am fully convinced that he in particular is probably a genius), but how did we manage to conclude that God and science can’t co-exist, when there is so little, if anything, to support that conclusion?

Am I missing something here? If supporting evidence exists, would someone point me in the right direction?

I find it shocking that people as brilliant as Sacks can make such assertions without really backing them up, especially when they are so concerned with backing things up with evidence. It’s ironic indeed that I don’t see any convincing evidence, and yet the so-called lack of evidence seems to be one of the qualms held against God-based belief systems.

Here are some thoughts:
– Why would God not use earthly systems and materials to create? Why wouldn’t He choose to determine rules and laws about how things work here on earth? And why wouldn’t he make things discoverable to us?

– One of the names of God is Father. Like a proud parent, I believe God delights in us discovering our world and how things work, even if it takes us a really, really long time sometimes.

– Science and human discovering, as far as I’m concerned, further affirms God’s character as shown in Scripture. God gave us brains for a reason. If He wanted a bunch of mindless drones worshipping Him, He wouldn’t have given us the capacity to seek, question, push, discover and then choose to believe something, to believe in Him, and love Him by our own free will.

– Just because science can prove something doesn’t mean it is not from God. When did people start subscribing to that fallacious notion? I have to admit I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

– A cool example: Recent examination of the Shroud of Turin has produced an amazing hypothesis–that Jesus may have been raised using radiation. How cool is THAT???? That God would use something that we are now learning more and more about and using in our own healing therapies, to perform the greatest miracle and exhibition of love in the entire universe?

– I think the more we learn about from science, the more we are exposed to some of the amazing things that God has created, from laws to rules, energies to matter. What I DON’T think we learn from science is that God doesn’t exist.

I think perhaps people confuse the idea of “science means that there is no God” with “science means that we have no need for God“. That latter is also a disturbing fallacy, but we’ll save that for another time.



4 thoughts on “On Science vs. God

  1. […] Science vs. God Over at Sara’s Ramblings you will find a well thought out posting on the proposition that God and science are not compatible. Sara disagree. Science and human […]

  2. Shanana boat says:

    Well said, Sara! You have a wonderful way of putting things and I completely agree that science cannot be divorced from God. *Links to your post*

  3. Michelle says:

    It’s interesting that while Sacks clearly uses the word “spiritual”, you took that to mean “God”. Also, he uses the phrase, “I felt…” as a way of setting up his opinion. Not fact.

    As an agnostic, I believe God is not for everyone. Therefore, I feel (note: feel) that the separation of Church and State and the separation of God and Science is ideal. I believe it would allow those of us who want to believe in science the room to breathe from those of you who want to believe in God.

    There is NO right or wrong in any of these things. Simply, a difference of opinion. 🙂

  4. Sara says:

    Oh gosh I had meant to respond much earlier but life get so busy sometimes.

    Michelle, thank you for your comment, I appreciate you taking the time to read my post! You’re absolutely right, Sacks uses “spiritual” rather than “God”. Further, I’d argue that Sacks is extremely respectful every time he offers the opinion that spirituality is not behind what’s happening in any of the cases he examines. I really do love this book, and if you’re interested in music at all, I would HIGHLY recommend it.

    It was reading him, though, that reminded me of something that’s always struck me, and for me spiritual = God, so I made that distinction.

    As a Christian with a political science background, I have no qualms with the separation of Church and State, though I don’t pretend that I don’t hope that there will be good Christian leaders who will make morally sound political decisions.

    I would have to disagree with you, though, about the separation of God and Science… I think they go together beautifully. I also think that you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say “I believe it would allow those of us who want to believe in science room to breath from those of you who want to believe in God.” This is exactly what I’m saying! People tend to split it down the middle: those who believe in science, and those who believe in God. But why are the two mutually exclusive? I believe in God AND I believe in science. I believe in evolution, I believe in medicine, and I don’t know too too much about the Big Bang theory, but what I do understand of it sounds reasonable to me.

    I guess my main argument is that science doesn’t disprove God (and the flip side of that is that God doesn’t disprove science), and I find it baffling that people hold that there can be no marriage of the two.

    – sara

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