Hasn’t science disproved the existence of God?

It is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of God in the sense that secular humanists and atheists seek proof. It is impossible for a believer to prove the existence of God to a non-believer, and it is impossible for a non-believer to prove that God does not exist to a believer. Science itself does not really deal with such questions in any case, and to resort to such an argument is to misunderstand what science is capable of doing and to abuse the scientific method itself. Science cannot answer these ultimate questions. What science does is to investigate the world. But in order to do this it has need of theories in terms of which to understand the facts it investigates. The facts never speak for themselves, they are always spoken about by a theory. The question is: which theory is correct? Which theory can account for the facts? The scientific method itself can count the facts, but it cannot account for the facts.

When atheistic scientists assume the validity of some theory in terms of which they interpret the facts they are making a faith commitment, even though they may be unaware of this. Such faith commitments are the foundation of all understanding. Every viewpoint is based on an ultimate given in terms of which the world is understood. This is the Archimedian point, the ground on which one stands. The Greek mathematician Archimedes famously said “give me a place to stand and I will move the world.” Archimedes was also a brilliant engineer and inventor. He claimed that if he could be provided with a stable point on which to stand he could move anything by the use of a fulcrum and levers. But the ground on which the fulcrum was placed had to be solid and such that it would not move while the levers were being operated. The same principle applies in epistemology, i.e. the theory of knowledge. There are really only two ultimate positions with regard to the possession of knowledge, namely, exhaustive knowledge or omniscience, and complete ignorance. If, as an independent autonomous thinker, I am to know anything I must know everything exhaustively, otherwise what I do know, or rather what I think I know, may be affected by what I do not know, in a way and to an extent that I cannot know, and therefore my knowledge is not knowledge in any proper sense but merely speculation. If, as a finite being who lacks exhaustive knowledge, I am to know anything truly, it must be revealed to me by one who does know everything exhaustively. On the basis of this revelation and to the extent that my understanding is consistent with it I am then able to go on and build up my knowledge and understanding of the world around me in terms of this revelation. But my knowledge is necessarily based on faith in the validity of this revelation.

This is so for the atheist and those who consider themselves to be rationalists and empiricists no less than for the Christian. All human knowledge, scientific or otherwise, is based ultimately on revelation, that is to say on a given, something that is accepted as self-evident and as foundational, and therefore received by faith. Such givens are considered axiomatic and assumed without question. They form the basis of all knowledge and are therefore not susceptible of rational proof, since to question their validity would be to question the very possibility of knowledge itself. These givens are the ground of all understanding and they function in our reasoning like the stable ground on which Archimedes placed his fulcrum. If the ground on which he placed his fulcrum were to move he would not have been able to move the world. Likewise, if the validity of the givens upon which our reasoning rests were to be questioned our understanding would not be reliable. We accept these gives as the basis of what we set out to prove and they are therefore the ground in terms of which we seek proof not the object of poof. We cannot prove the ground on which we seek to prove anything without moving to some other ground on which to stand, i.e. by assuming some other given on which to base our reasoning, and then the whole reasoning process has to be based on the new ground, which is assumed as a given. This process would become an infinite regress if we sought to prove every assumption we make and knowledge would become impossible. In other words knowledge (science) hangs on faith, not faith on knowledge. The only alternative for finite human beings, because we are not omniscient (all-knowing), is total scepticism and ignorance.

Now, anything that has that kind of authority, i.e. an authority that cannot be questioned and is assumed as self-evident, is really functioning as a God, i.e. as the ultimate explanatory principle for the whole of reality. If this explanatory principle is not the God of the Bible, then of course as Christians we must say that this is an idol, something the takes the place of God in providing men with an explanation of the origin, meaning, value and purpose of life, since the Christian believes that only God has this kind of authority and that only God can provide this kind of meaning and certainty. The atheist therefore worships his gods daily no less than the Christian or the Muslim, but his gods are the ideological and intellectual idols he chooses to put in the place of God.

Science therefore cannot disprove the existence of God. Although scientists can and do deny the existence of God they do not thereby rid themselves and the world around them of God, they merely substitute something or someone else who functions as God in their thinking. Denying God is not scientific, it is merely idolatrous, since if we deny God we shall inevitably put someone or something else in the place of God, wittingly or unwittingly.

Science does not explain everything, and in fact it explains nothing independently of a set of religious presuppositions that give context and meaning to the scientist’s understanding of the facts. The debate between the atheist and the Christian about the existence of God therefore is not a debate between fact and faith, but a debate between two mutually exclusive faiths about how the facts are interpreted. Abraham Kuyper stated this important truth in the following way: “Not faith and science therefore, but two scientific systems or if you choose two scientific elaborations, are opposed to each other, each having its own faith. Nor may it be said that it is here science which opposes theology, for we have to do with two absolute forms of science, both of which claim the whole domain of human knowledge, and both of which have a suggestion about the supreme Being of their own as the point of departure for their world-view” (Calvinism, p. 133 [Eerdmans Edition]). The facts do not speak for themselves. They are always interpreted, spoken about by human beings with theories about the nature and meaning of life that are necessarily religious, and this is so for the atheist no less than the Christian. The assumption that the world exists and can be understood independently of the God of the Bible cannot be proved objectively any more than the existence of God can be proved objectively; it is a matter of faith.

The idea that the conflict between the atheist and the Christian is one of fact versus faith, which has been promoted so much by modern pop scientists who are atheists, is simply not true. The conflict is, in truth, one of faith versus faith, since all facts are interpreted facts, and in his interpretation of the facts of reality the atheist assumes the ability to know and understand independently of God a world that he believes exists independently of God. This is a fundamentally religious belief, that is to say a presupposition that governs the structure of the atheist’s world-view and that is received by faith alone. It is this presupposition that governs the atheist’s thinking and hence his assessment of the facts in any and every sphere. He views the world around him and all things in it in terms a theory that is pre-theoretical—i.e. unproved and by its very nature unprovable. The atheist therefore begins his thinking with an act of faith in his own presuppositions about the autonomous nature of reality and his own ability as an independent autonomous thinker and knower of the world; in other words he sees all things from a religious perspective that requires faith as its foundation.

It is not possible to be religiously neutral in this matter. Man is by nature a religious being. He will seek to interpret the world around him in terms of some ultimate principle. By denying the God of the Bible he has not ceased to be religious, he has merely ceased to acknowledge the true God and has put some idol in his place. These idols may be intellectual or ideological, for example, evolution or socialism, which are very common idols today, but they function as God equivalents and men think and act in terms of them.

Science has not disproved the existence of God. Some scientists who are atheists deny the existence of God (not all scientists are atheists of course; there are many who are Christians and many who adhere to other religions). Atheistic scientists claim that science has disproved the existence of God. But it has not. Thumping one’s fist on the table and asserting that God does not exist does not constitute proof of anything. In making such claims atheistic scientists themselves have to rely on unproved religious assumptions about the nature of reality that are accepted by faith.

Answered by Stephen Perks