In a previous article I suggested that, even if it were able to prove the existence of God, science would not be sufficient grounds for us to believe it. It may not be obvious why — and some might even take exception to such a claim. But the reason is found in the fact that a truth that strikes to the core of our way of life requires more certainty than even science is able to provide.
We tend to think of science as establishing truth beyond a shadow of doubt. For example, we regard science as having “proven” that we evolved, and having “proven” that the universe is very old, or having “proven” that matter consists of atoms and molecules. As if the main goal and accomplishment of science is to establish what is true.
But ultimately, science is less concerned about establishing what is true as it is predicting outcomes. Take for example a space probe launched from earth — one of science’s greater accomplishments. Science has an entire body of principles and models for predicting where that probe will end up if it is launched at a given velocity (and a host of other givens). Newtonian laws of motion, the constant of gravity, the weight of the rocket, etc., are all factored into that prediction.
If science (hypothetically) were able to prove the existence of God, what would that look like? And would it be enough for us to believe in Him?
Not only that, but what we know about electromagnetism, the properties of matter and gases are also factored into the calculations during the construction of the spacecraft itself, all in order to achieve the desired end result, which is a landing upon Mars and subsequent exploration of its surface. If science can achieve that goal, it has pretty much done its job.
It matters less, though, whether science is ultimately true. That is, whether gravity is actually real, or Newtonian laws of motion describes something that actually exists. Some scientists have stated as such: That the principles and models that scientists employ to predict outcomes may not reflect reality as much as they provide intellectual constructs to help us think about them. The interesting thing is that it ultimately does not matter so long as science works.
This does not mean that science is not describing something, of course. One of the profoundly fascinating aspects of science is that the world in which we live can be understood at all — not only rationally, but also mathematically. The fact that the natural world operates consistently even to the point that it can be expressed by mathematical equations is astounding. There is really no reason why this should be so. (Or for that matter, that we should be able to understand it – but that is a topic for another time).
Now in most cases this distinction between certainty and predictability does not matter. But when it comes to weightier matters such as the existence of God and its potential ramifications on our very way of life, it becomes far more relevant. Taking an analogy from science, it can be compared to the effect of gravity on time (as predicted by the theory of relativity).
Einstein predicted that the rate of time is not constant. In fact, it varies depending on the strength of the gravitational field it is in (astounding, but true). In everyday life on earth, it matters little. But taken on a cosmological scale, it matters greatly — as any astrophysicist will tell you.
Likewise, in its effort to make our lives better, it matters little whether science is true or just works. But taken on a scale the size of God, the distinction becomes paramount, and science is not up to the task, simply because its strength of certainly is far less.
So what do you think? If science (hypothetically) were able to prove the existence of God, what would that look like? And would it be enough for us to believe in Him? If not, what is the way by which we can be certain of his existence, enough say to radically change our lives for Him? I welcome your comments!