Can Science and Theology Resolve the Issue Legitimately Together?

Wow! Is that possible? Can they really work together to resolve the basic issue of creation? We have examined science and what it claims about creation including the Big Bang Theory. And we have seen what the Bible says about creation. Is there a common ground to explain creation?

One of the books that I studied was God, Creation, and Contemporary Physics by Mark William Worthing. He examines both physics and theology and looks at how each one offers valuable insights in the three subject areas listed in his book title. However, he begins with “two key assumptions.” First, he says that “science can legitimately address questions related, at least indirectly, to the existence and role of God in our world.” Second, he points out that “while theology cannot critique the specifically scientific and technical aspects of physics, it is certainly free to analyze the relevance of the results of physics for theology as well as to critique the validity, consistency, and significance of those conclusions that are clearly metaphysical or theological in nature.” However, he favors a dialogue between theology that respects nature and a more humbled attitude by scientists instead of their usual know-it-all attitude.

Worthing discusses what he considers to be the three major arguments for God’s existence. The three are ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments. The ontological argument, he says, contends that God exists necessarily. Aristotle first proposed and Thomas Aquinas later expanded the second cosmological argument that comes about because people have observed that everything in the world, including matter or movement, exists, even if it appears to exist by uncertainty or by chance is actually caused to exist. This cause is God. The third teleological argument is based on the natural, observable world. Worthing cites eighteenth century theologian William Paley in his 1802 work Natural Theology, who poses the concept that there is “so much beauty, order, harmony, and precision in the natural world that it must have been designed by a higher being who continues to govern the world.”

Worthing addresses the question about whether or not God could create out of nothing, or in other words, the concept called creatio ex nihilo. He points out that natural science talks about matter, physical laws, and the relationships that exist between and within the physical realities of the universe. He states, “But most of all, natural science deals with explanations.” It seems to me that the statement that natural science “deals with explanations” indicates that science cannot deal with a situation that has no apparent explanation. In other words, one could say that if they cannot explain it, it cannot exist. It also demonstrates that science is a discipline in which the existence of anything must be physical and have a cause. All of this means that science cannot comprehend any notion that a superior being can create something out of nothing. This means that science dismisses creato ex niliho as a concept of theology instead of one of science.

Another issue arises when Worthing tries to question the existence of God in terms of space and time. He poses the question, “How free could a Creator have been in choosing the initial conditions of the universe?” This question leads some cynics to think that God must have been subject to the restrictions of the initial conditions or less than a creator. If God is the Creator, he must have had complete freedom to create creation as it happened, when it happened, and how it happened. Even if he had millions of options from which to choose, it does not obviate his ability and power to sort through the options, to select the options he needed, and to create universe, galaxies, planets and everything else he chose to create. He had the power and ability to create the laws of science too. Since we humans were not there at Creation, how can we dispute his power? Some humans may be very smart, but who can be smarter than God?

Therefore, it must be true that if God created the universe, he must be greater than the universe. How can we refute the idea that he created the universe out of nothing? What grounds do we have to argue with God? We cannot replicate what God did. We cannot reproduce another creation. What physical proof do we have to argue? Who among us was present at the moment of Creation? What did we actually see at that time?

It is worthwhile for physics and theology experts to discuss and to compare notes while respecting the expertise of both sides in an effort to learn more and to grow in our knowledge. I favor such an exchange of views as humankind develops on the path of human growth. Both sides can learn from each other, as I see it.

What do you think? Do you believe in one of the three arguments about God’s existence? Is God capable of creating the universe out of nothing? Did God have complete freedom or limited freedom to create the universe and all things in it? Please feel free to share your opinion(s) about these questions and other thoughts you may have and write to garylindberg85@gmail.com. Help us to learn from each other.