Faith & Science
Faith and science are very different in their scope but if both are seeking honestly after truth, they will be complimentary and inform each other.
Science looks only at the facts and not their meaning in terms of life, our purpose, reason for being etc. A child may ask ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why am I?’ and other key questions but science does not address these.
Faith however does address them. ‘Who we are’ and ‘why we are’ are central to faith and extremely important in life in terms of how we see ourselves, our value and our significance. These can be important for our mental health and sense of well-being.
Faith and science speak different languages.
For example describing a kiss:
Science says 'it is an exchange of oral saliva'
Faith says 'its about love and relationship and intimacy between two people'
Science explains ‘what’ and ‘how’ and provides data for us to examine. Faith explains ‘who’ and ‘why’. Let’s look at some of that data.
(If it gets too technical, go to the bottom and click 'See quotes from leading scientists' to see their conclusions after a lifetime of working on the creation of the universe)
Let’s look at some of that data.
Three scientists (Arvind Borde, Alan Guth & Alexander Vilenkin) finally proved the Big Bang in 2003. The ‘Big Bang’ is a description used for the creation of the universe in a single moment of time. They showed by physics and maths how it all happened, back to a point where the universe was smaller than a football and they removed all previous assumptions.
But Alan Guth, one of the three, stated “The Big Bang theory says nothing about what banged, why it banged, or what happened before it banged." He recognized that science has its limitations and informs us of 'what', ‘how’ and ‘when’ but not ‘who’ or ‘why’.
The bible starts with the words ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. It also says Hebrews 11:3 ‘By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible’ i.e. it was created instantly out of nothing by the Creator.
What has science found? Exactly that. The universe exploded into existence out of nothing and started at a single point. We know everything about it back to it first tiniest fraction of a second when it was slightly larger than a tennis ball. It took place 14,500 million years ago. This is widely accepted by physicists and cosmologists.
The bible also says “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20)
In other words the bible says if we study creation we will find evidence of God’s work that is so clear we can’t pretend he does not exist.
What has science found? Again exactly that. The universe consists of just 12 particles and 4 forces. They make up all of matter and energy - everything that exists. These are incredibly finely balanced and tuned together to create the universe. What is most interesting is that it is impossible for it to have ‘happened by accident’.
Here is a quote from Frank Tipler (American mathematical physicist and cosmologist) who, with John Barrow, did the research and wrote the key book on the discovery of fine tuning in the big bang and created universe ‘The Anthropic Cosmological Principle’. In his book he explains how the universe is not some kind of accident but throughout it is very highly tuned and co-ordinated and that is the central principle of its existence. He later said:
"When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics."
He also said "Christianity is not a mere religion but an experimentally testable science." Interestingly he is not a Christian and his theory at the time of writing the book was that somehow mankind in the future must develop an ability to time travel and go back to create the universe. Not accepting a God, he was left with the only other known intelligent being, ‘man’!
Listen to a 30 minute talk explaining what has been found over this last 50 years
Much has been discovered in this last 100 years about the creation of our universe. Up until the 1920's our universe was thought to be static and having always existed. However in the late 1920's it was shown by measurements of star positions to be expanding. That meant it had a starting point. Scientists worked on the mathematics and proved that it started with a 'big bang' and that there would be shock waves if this was true. These were found in 1965. Stephen Hawking with others continued the calculations in the 1970's onwards and showed how it all happened. It was finally proven by calculation with all assumptions removed in 2003. The big shock to everyone was the extraordinary degree of fine tuning that made it possible for the universe to come into being. It appeared to be designed. The talk (given at Harborough Community Church) includes quotes from the many major scientists involved. The talk was entitled 'Has Science Disproved Faith?'
A finely tuned universe
To understand how finely balanced the universe is consider this. Tipler found over 100 constants that are required for the universe to exist. 34 of these constants are more finely tuned than anything man has ever achieved. Our best yet is the atomic clock, accurate to 1 second in 15 billion years but the least of the 34 is billions of times finer than that. To say it another way it is more likely that you could draw the Ace of Spades from a full pack of cards over 20 times in a row or throw 46 dice and get sixes with all of them.
Five of the constants are shown here.
"The universe and the laws of physics seem to have been specifically designed for us. If any one of about 40 physical qualities had more than slightly different values, life as we know it could not exist: either atoms would not be stable, or they wouldn’t combine into molecules, or the stars wouldn’t form the heavier elements, or the universe would collapse before life could develop and so on ..."
We also now know from geology that all the main forms of life burst on the scene in a very short period called the Cambrian Explosion. All the main groupings of creatures alive today formed in 13-25 million years, an incredibly short period of evolutionary time.
"The Cambrian explosion or Cambrian radiation was an event approximately 541 million years ago in the Cambrian period when most major animal phyla appeared in the fossil record. It lasted for about 13–25 million years and resulted in the divergence of most modern metazoan phyla. The event was accompanied by major diversification of other organisms. Before the Cambrian explosion, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. As the rate of diversification subsequently accelerated, the variety of life began to resemble that of today. Almost all present animal phyla appeared during this period."
See full article at Wikipedia (click here)
Interestingly recent studies in genetics around the world have allowed us to trace ancestries. Work has been done on the ‘Identical Ancestors Point’ looking and tracing back to the point from which all living people today are descended. The identical ancestors point for Homo sapiens has been the subject of debate. In 2004, Rohde, Olson and Chang showed through simulations that the Identical Ancestors Point for all humans is surprisingly recent, of the order of 5,000-15,000 years ago.
Ralph and Coop (2013), considering the European population and working from genetics, came to similar conclusions for the recent common ancestry of all Europeans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identical_ancestors_point
This is still being studied.