Does Science Make God Unnecessary?

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Here’s what makes some people reject science.

They see the famous, late physicist Stephen Hawking—who held Newton’s chair at Cambridge and who wrote the multimillion bestseller A Brief History of Time—declare:

“One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. But science makes God unnecessary.”

Or they read physicist Lawrence Krauss, in an op-ed piece from The New Yorker titled, “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists”:

“It’s ironic, really, that so many people are fixated on the relationship between science and religion: basically, there isn’t one. In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word ‘God’ mentioned in a scientific meeting.”

Then they say to themselves,

“If God isn’t a factor in science, and since I want God in my life, I’ll let go of science.”

Rice Kernals of Truth

Yes, these scientists have impressive credentials, but why do their words speak so loudly?

A few months ago, on a hot, humid day in a stately building at Rice University, I found myself around the table discussing the social scientific findings with a team that Elaine Howard Ecklund had assembled. It filled in some blanks about why I, as a Christian, love science, but so many other believers aren’t so sure when they hear Krauss and Hawking.

Ecklund and her colleague in sociology, Christopher Scheitle, indeed found that most Americans want God and science. About two-thirds of Americans and almost half of evangelicals (48%) believe science and religion have a collaborative relationship. But they reject this attitude that God isn’t a part of scientists’ work. And this indicates why religious Americans generally agreed with this statement:

“Scientists should be open to considering miracles in their theories and explanations.”

Ecklund and Scheitle found that “38% of Americans agreed with that statement, while 21% disagreed and 41% had no opinion. Among evangelicals, 60% agreed that scientists should be open to considering miracles.”

Honestly, this is a bit funky since scientists study the interactions of nature. Yes, God is outside of nature and can do things that scientists, who solely study nature, might not talk about. So I’m not convinced they should be considering miracles in “their theories and explanations.”

Still our gut instinct is we want God and science. And this leads to a question: Are there places that talk about both science and God? Yes, starting with some of the resources here:

  • Testimonies with leading scientists, historians, philosophers on religion
  • This church describes itself as one “that takes God and science seriously”
  • Like many science and faith geeks, we’re big fans of Francis Collins. We wrote about the importance of his public voice and his life of faith here.

Hear It From an Expert

The “Dive Deeper” section above includes a couple of resources from Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health and the geneticist behind the Human Genome Project.

Collins doesn’t blur science and God, but knows they are complementary, as he told National Geographic, “At the most fundamental level, it’s a miracle that there’s a universe at all. It’s a miracle that it has order, fine-tuning that allows the possibility of complexity, and laws that follow precise mathematical formulas. Contemplating this, an open-minded observer is almost forced to conclude that there must be a ‘mind’ behind all this. To me, that qualifies as a miracle, a profound truth that lies outside of scientific explanation.”

That all seems to make better sense. And it keeps God and science in view.





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