Misunderstanding of God: Atheism revealed (E2D2)
God or no God? It is a question we have all heard about one way or another, whether directly or indirectly. Personally, I was never aware of the question until it was made known to me in a movie watched, God is Not Dead. I was really interested on how far this idea reached, was it just another philosophical questions for “those” out there to debate and deal with or was it something that hit much closer to home?
I went around asking my friends the question, ‘do you will believe that God exists?’ I was given every answer imaginable. ‘I believe God exists but He just created the world and just left us to deal for ourselves.’ ‘No God can’t exist, why? Cause nothing good has ever come from religion.’ One of my dear friends told me once, ‘I am an atheist by default, all because the alternative is worse’. Yet when I asked him what it means to be an atheist, he couldn’t tell me.
So what is thing? Is it plainly a battle against religion or is it something else. Even so, if not religion, what does it mean to actually be an atheist? For me to say that I am a Kenyan, I fully understand what that means, not only literary as in place of birth but in terms of cultural values, behaviors and traditions, all the unsaid things that come with the name Kenyan, so what did it mean to be an atheist?
I knew after watching God is Not Dead the question of atheism was an actual question worth asking. Close to 90% of my friends said that they are atheist, but none could tell me what it meant. In the world of philosophy this was a throbbing question. So what did they know that I didn’t know? So I listened to Dr. Ravi Zacharias giving a lecture on what it meant to be an atheist with John Lennox on Dr. Zacharias media group, RZIM. To him, atheism is more than just believing there is not God, it is the removing of the basis of moral law, a point to which to justify morality and to John Lennox it is removing the only true explanation of how the world began, the true answer to the unanswerable questions in the world.
I wanted to look at the matter in its whole perspective and I choose a book by the world renowned atheist Steven Hawkins’s book The Grand Design and the response of Christian apologetic philosopher Dr. Richard Dawkins and the response of Christian professor of Mathematics at Cambridge John Lennox. All on the topic of the existence of God as it pertains to the existence of the World.
Hawkins seems to take an interestingly misled perspective on the matter of God as it relates to science. He opens out the first chapter showing his understanding his perception of God as it has relates to life: “Ignorance of nature’s ways led people in ancient times to invent gods to lord it over every aspect of human life. There were gods of love and war; of the sun, earth, and sky; of the oceans and rivers; of rain and thunderstorms; even of earthquakes and volcanoes.”
So according to Steven Hawkins, the problem was the primitive nature of the minds of humans that caused them to magical creatures to call them gods. It is the increase in scientific discovery that led the world to the truth that science can answer the questions, no gods are needed.
John Lennox comments on Hawkins perception if God and deducts that that Hawkins idea of God as it relates to world’s question is that Steven Hawkins seems to look at the whole situation of how God arose in history as a God of the Gaps, an answer to the unanswered questions of the world and everyday life. Since they didn’t understand the sun, the earth, the sky, war or even love they created gods to cover the gap, all part of the lack of understanding. So since science has begun answering some questions about life, now God doesn’t have to be the answer to the missing gap for science is the answer. The question is which fills the gap.
Lennox questions of Hawkins’s perception of god/s and says, “When it comes to atheism, the question is not only, how do you understand science, how do you understand God?” He continues to say, when it comes to the question of science and God, if one believes that God is only the God of the gaps, then it makes sense that one has to choose either science or God, because the problem is which one fills the gap. But most monotheistic religions believe in a “God of the whole show”, a God who created everything, both the known and the unknown.
Hawkins was right when it came to the gods formed of thunder and lighting and more but in relation to the God of monotheistic groups like Christians, Muslims, and Jews he was wrong. God isn’t the answer to the questions that couldn’t be answered but He is the answer to all the unanswered questions and the answered questions. It isn’t that God, just answered the things humans couldn’t like sun, moon, thunder, lightning, and etc. but He created and runs the whole show. He created and sustained the earth, science is not an explanation of the inexistence of God but the proof of His existence.
Steven Hawkins continues and says:
“… 2,600 years ago…. The idea arose that nature follows consistent principles that could be deciphered. And so began the long process of replacing the notion of the reign of gods with the concept of a universe that is governed by laws of nature, and created according to a blueprint we could someday learn to read.”
Hawkins solution was that science will eventually become the ultimate answer, after it answers all the questions worth asking, then we will have the blueprint to life and God will be therefore irrelevant, and in his book The Grand Design, Hawking claims he has found it, though even after reading it and upon the agreement of many scientists and philosophers, like Richard Dawkins, David Berlinski, John Lennox, that claim is far from true.
Steven Hawking comes and finds that there seems to be a fine tuning to the universe in its creation.
“The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned, and very little in physical law can be altered without destroying the possibility of the development of life as we know it. Were it not for a series of startling coincidences in the precise details of physical law, it seems, humans and similar life forms would never have come into being” He looks at the extreme fine tuning of the universe and excuses it as a coincidence and then argues that fine tuning disproves the existence of God, although God was taken out of the equation before the conclusion was made, so the possibility of God being a solution is therefore not a possibility.
Science has brought us to a place where the fine tuning of the universe is unquestioned, but now how can this gap be filled? How can an explanation be given that explains why this universe is the way it is? If the universe created itself because it needed to exist, a completely random spontaneous action, than how did it create such perfectly crafted universe, only perfectly conducive to the existence of man?
In the words of Hawkins:
“The one thing that is certain is that if the value of the cosmological constant were much larger than it is, our universe would have blown itself apart before galaxies could form and — once again — life as we know it would be impossible.”
Science can only tell us that there is a fine tuning, it can’t tell us why it is fine tuned. To say it is a coincidence sounds crazy even to the simplest mind, for how could something so grand that if changed it won’t mean we would have a slightly different universe, but it would cause the existence of life as we know it to be “impossible!” But why? Can science give us the answer? Well, against Hawkins idea that “because there is a law such as the law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself.” But this is a gap that, that can’t answer. Like Lennox said repeatedly, the law of gravity and gravity itself explain why things fall down and the way they will fall once they start falling, the problem is, gravity never caused a box to fall off a table. All the laws and theories that science has, explain what happens when something starts but never why it began in the first place. How can fine tuning be a coincidence? Is a box moving off a table a coincidence of life? Or is it something caused? We all obviously know the answer. But if we can’t call something like a box moving off a table a coincidence, how can we really agree that something as complex as the fine tuning of the universe a coincidence when they pertain to the same laws of nature?
Science can never fill the gap, for there are some gaps that can never be filled by science. It can’t answer the question of purpose, destiny, and morality. It can’t explain why people fall in love. It can’t explain the connection a mother has with his child. Science can’t explain why people go through struggles and painful moments. It describes nature, how it operates, but it can never tell me why the nature is there in the first place. Science isn’t the ultimate answer it is the key to standing in appreciation and in awe of the God that created it.
Sir Peter Medawar in his book “Advice to a young scientist” says, “The existence of a limit to science is made clear by its inability to answer childlike, elementary questions having to do with first to last things, questions such as ‘How did everything begin?, What are we here for? What is the point of living?’ It is to imaginative literature and religion that we must turn to for the answers” For as Francis Collins would agrees and says science is powerless to answer the question of origin, purpose, and destiny.
John Lennox, critiquing the origin on the notions that Stephen Hawkins states says, “The mistake that many scientists make is that they define the range of questions that science is able to answer in a way that God is excluded from the start then go and say that science disproves God. Yet they fail to see that it is their atheist world view not science that excludes God.” All going back to the words of Medawar, this is a discredit to himself and his profession”, to make an illogical conclusion as a result of structured reasoning.
In the words of David Berlinski:
Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good? Not even close to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even ballpark. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.
Science can never fill the gaps. Steven Hawkins was right, there were gaps that needed to be filled that were filled the wrong way. The only problem is that his atheist world view excluded God from the beginning, so he never considered an answer in God. Yes there are gaps, but gods, idols made to represent the things we can’t understand can’t answer those questions, only God can. The question here isn’t just what is our understanding of science, but what is our understanding of God?
“Bethinking 2/6: John Lennox on Stephen Hawking’s “the Grand Design”.” Bethinking. Accessed 10/30, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eHfhbP1K_4.
“God and Stephen Hawking: Do the Laws of Physics make God Unnecessary?” Discovery Institute. Accessed 10/30, 2015. http://www.discovery.org/v/2511.
Ravi Zacharias & John Lennox Respond to Stephen Hawking — FULL. YouTube. Nathan Prindler 2012.
God’s Not Dead. Directed by Cronk, Harold. United States: Pure Flix Entertainment, 2014.
Berlinski, David. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions 2008.