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Does Science Put God out of a Job?

One of my favorite movies is Nacho Libre, starring Jack Black as a Mexican monk who becomes a champion wrestler. Although Nacho is a devout Catholic, his wrestling partner “Esqueleto” is a skeptic. Before a wrestling match against an intimidating duo, Nacho tells Esqueleto, “Pray to the Lord for strength,” to which Esqueleto responds, “I don’t believe in God; I believe in science.”

Now, that’s meant to be funny. Here’s a quote that wasn’t meant to be funny, but it says basically the same thing. Jerry Coyne in his book Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible writes, “Faith may be a gift in religion, but in science it’s poison, for faith is no way to find truth.”[1]

Science and scientific achievements are often given as reasons why some people become atheists. The idea is that, because of the onward march of science, faith in God becomes less and less necessary.

But is that an accurate picture of the relationship between faith and science?

A Funeral for Gods

An atheist named H. L. Mencken once wrote a “memorial service”[2] for dead gods. (I think it was probably fun for him.) In it, he memorialized 138 gods, and said of them, “In the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence.”

He’s right. And what has put all these gods out of a job and in their graves? Science. For example, you can read about Thor’s hammer in comic books, but not in science books. To explain thunder and all sorts of stuff in nature, we have scientific explanations.

Science puts gods out of a job. But does science put God out of a job?

True, Mencken is right about those 138 gods. And I’m sure there are even more gods he didn’t get to. However, that in itself is not enough to make atheists sit back and relax, as though their job of convincing the world that there is no God is done. Rather than taking it easy, many atheists appear exasperated, because even though belief in gods is on its way out, worldwide belief in God is on the rise.[3]


“You can read about Thor’s hammer in comic books, but not in science books.”


Jeremiah’s Prediction

Frustrating and puzzling as this news might be to atheists, this shouldn’t be any surprise to believers in God. Why not? Because it’s exactly as the prophet Jeremiah predicted over 2500 years ago:

“The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under these heavens.” (Jer. 10:11).

Science says to gods, “You’re fired.” But what does science say to God? Science says, “Thanks for the job.

Think through the logic: Science studies the universe, which shouldn’t even be here if there weren’t a Creator who created it. Moreover, science discovers the order and lawfulness of the universe, which most certainly shouldn’t be the case if there weren’t a Creator who made an orderly and lawful universe in the first place.


“Science discovers the order and lawfulness of the universe, which most certainly shouldn’t be the case if there weren’t a Creator who made an orderly and lawful universe in the first place.”


Atheists would love to add God to their list of dead gods, but it just isn’t happening. Creation points to a Creator.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge (Ps. 19:1-2).


[1] Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible (New York: Penguin Books, 2015), xi.
 
[2] H. L. Mencken, “Memorial Service,” The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, ed. Christopher Hitchens (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2007) in 143-146
 
[3] According to a study by the Study of Global Christianity (Christianity in its Global Context [South Hamilton: Center for the Study of Global Christianity, 2013], p. 6), “For the period 1970–2020, several global trends related to religious affiliation are apparent. In 1970, nearly 82% of the world’s population was religious. By 2010 this had grown to around 88%, with a projected increase to almost 90% by 2020. Religious adherence is growing largely due to the continuing resurgence of religion in China. In addition, in 1970 Christianity and Islam represented 48.8% of the global population; by 2020 they will likely represent 57.2%. The global North is becoming more religiously diverse, with more countries becoming home to a greater number of the world’s religions. However, religious diversity is decreasing in many countries in the global South with the growth of mainly one religion, most commonly Christianity or Islam.

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