An imaginary dialogue taking place in the 16th century
Priest: So explain to me
why moon revolves around earth and not just drift off into the space?
Scientist: I don’t know.
Priest: Ha! But I know! God keeps it revolving. Why don’t you scientists accept that there is a God?
An imaginary dialogue taking place in the 19th century
Priest: So explain to me why moon revolves around earth and not just drift off into the space?
Scientist: Because of Earth’s gravity.
Priest: Oh, the gravity. So tell me, if larger objects keep pulling the smaller objects, things should keep collapsing. Why hasn’t the universe collapsed into a single massive object?
Scientist: I don’t know.
Priest: Ha! But I know! God keeps the things apart through the divine force. Why don’t you scientists accept that there is a God?
An imaginary dialogue taking place in the 21st century
Priest: If larger objects have more gravity, pulling the smaller objects, things should keep collapsing. Why hasn’t the universe collapsed into a single massive object?
Scientist: Because the universe is expanding and this expansion is accelerating due to the Big Bang.
Priest: How did the Big Bang happen?
Scientist: I don’t know.
Priest: Ha! But I know! God made it happen. Why don’t you scientists accept that there is a God?
What is wrong with science? Why doesn’t it accept that there is a God? In the shortest possible answer: God is none of science’s problems.
Science is the study of nature, using natural means, understanding natural phenomena and their natural causes. It does not and cannot resort to supra-natural if it fails to find a natural cause of a natural phenomenon. As implied by the three imaginary dialogues above, science has no problem, never had, saying “we don’t know” when science cannot find an answer from the natural realm and as implied by those very dialogues, some people keep pushing science to replace God with “we don’t know” which will never happen.
Existence or non-existence of God is not something science concerns itself with and yet the demand of science to accept the existence of a supreme creator never relents. From Galileo to Darwin, scientists have come under criticism and sometimes persecution for just doing science. In none of his books did Charles Darwin say, “there is no creator of life” and yet he is criticized and ridiculed day in and day out by religious folks because his “science” differed from the creation stories of all major religions.
Of all the questions posed to science by people who want science submitted into accepting the idea of a divine creator, the most famous question is “what was there before Big Bang”. I have heard this question hundreds of times and hearing it always leaves me a little bit frustrated because I feel that whoever asks this question should first invest some time to understand the things because this is not a valid question. It has a word before in it which implies backward continuity of time through the Big Bang which is nothing more than a hypotheses. According to all we know, the time was also created as the result of Big Bang. This is just an example, a prime one actually, of getting into a quarrel with science without knowing how science works or what it’s conclusions are so far. Most of such questions are based on human intuition which has been shown, time and again, by science to be completely unreliable. Our brains have been evolved to survive and recreate and not to intuitively understand the deep universal realities. If you want to test the reliability of human intuition, go read the theory of special relativity or quantum mechanics and just try to understand them based on nothing but your intuition.
While my basic assertion is that science is not in the business of accepting or denying the existence of a God, it’s true that some practicing scientists are and have been very vocal about their atheism. The first names in this regard that come to my mind are Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins. Carl Sagan famously said. “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and Richard Dawkins, in an interview, said, “I am an atheist for all practical purposes. Meaning I don’t claim that there is no God but I don’t see evidence of existence of a God”. The common thread in both those assertions is evidence. Science deals with measurable, empirical and falsifiable evidence. All these scientists are saying that there may very well be a God and everyone is free to believe in one, or two or a whole army of Gods but there is no measurable, empirical and falsifiable evidence of any. Once again, they art sticking to what’s called the scientific method and that method insists on keeping natural in the study of nature.
And by the way, holy books foretelling scientific discoveries cannot be treated as evidence in scientific halls. People coming from all religions claim that their particular scripture foretells scientific discoveries but those claims are usually a matter of interpretations and those interpretations invariably follow the scientific discovery and not the other way round. There are many other problems with that approach, which requires a separate examination which I am not going to do here, due to which almost all leading scholars, very wisely, have advised there followers of not going that route,
Thanks to science, the amount of things we know today about our universe outnumbers the things we don’t know about it. There are only a handful of questions left unanswered. It’s true that during the investigation of those unanswered questions, we might discover a whole new set of unanswered questions. Science will keep trying to find the answers and in the meantime it will keep pleading it’s ignorance about those answers saying, “we don’t know.” If you feel the urge to say “Oh but I know and the answer is God”, read the top of this article again.
Note: However unnecessary this maybe, I must say that I am not trying to prove any religion wrong. All I am asking is to keep the faith and science in different realms.