Bringing Faith & Science Together

September 20, 2018
Dr. David Humphreys

As a scientist and convinced Christian, I frequently encounter people who presuppose that everything can be explained by natural causes. This naturalistic view is especially common among my scientific colleagues. From this a whole set of conclusions follow, which are often assumed without checking the evidence. So, the objectivity which many scientists claim is not as common as is generally believed. For example, many of my colleagues see humans as only independent, biological, creatures. Christians, who see truth revealed by God’s Word as well as by His works, see humans as accountable, spiritual beings, made for a purpose.

What should bring scientists and Christians together is that we are both committed to a belief in the rationality of the universe and we are both engaged in seeking truth based on evidence. One problem that often keeps us apart is that scientists and Christians focus on different questions. For example, when it comes to discussing the resurrection of Christ the question we should ask is “did it happen?”. The scientist, who presupposes that such a thing cannot happen, does not make the effort to examine the solid evidence that it did happen.

So, while my colleagues in science are generally more concerned with mechanisms and the question “how?”, I am also concerned with the “why am I here?” It is a question that physical observation and laboratory experiments cannot answer.

Science like the Christian faith, must rest on evidence because neither the scientist or Christian think that truth is a matter of opinion or consensus. Claims must be tested out by evidence. Truth must be discovered and responded to. It is there like a buried rock that needs to be uncovered. Remember that the “laws of science” do not cause things, they describe them. Deciding what is a sufficient cause for life and the universe still boils down to a choice which we must make based on all the evidence. Accident or design remains the basic choices, and we must make it based on evidence, not presupposition. Scripture is clear that evidence for God’s action in creation is important. Romans 1:20 reminds us “for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

Two examples of many evidences that life was designed by an intelligent creator are the way the whole universe is “fine-tuned” for life, and the vast amount of information found in the key molecule of life, DNA.

As a chemist, I am fascinated by the way in which the key molecules of life – like its basic building block carbon, and simple molecules like life sustaining water, have unique properties that make them just right for life. All living organisms are tied together by their dependence on the properties of carbon, so that the big molecules of life, like DNA and proteins, all require its uniqueness. It is the big molecules of life, like DNA, that give the clearest evidence that an intelligent mind and a purposeful creator is involved.

When you see the four faces of former US Presidents carved in the granite at Mount Rushmore you do not think it was caused by chance through rock erosion. You would never say “it is amazing what wind and rain can do!” Instead, you say “who did this?” You recognize that there is an order that needs more than natural causes, and is best explained by invoking an intelligent mind and a purposeful creator. DNA turns out to be in this category. Life requires the kind of order that must be produced by an intelligent cause. The use of DNA as a genetic carrier of our characteristics is a compelling molecular analogue of the four faces on Mount Rushmore.

All of us began as a tiny ball, smaller than a pin head, which contained our DNA, — the molecule that spelled out all our physical characteristics, such as height, eye color, nose, etc. We can best understand the functioning of DNA as being like a language. Our genes are like paragraphs in DNA language giving instructions for making over 259,000 parts that make us all unique. The genetic code is a molecular communication system, using a sequence of chemical letters to transmit information to each living cell. The molecular sequences in DNA spell out in coded form instructions to a cell. It works just as letters in the alphabet do in conveying information in sentences. In the case of meaningful messages, we know from experience that they always have an intelligent mind behind them. Information doesn’t come by chance. Your alphabet soup never floats to the surface with a meaningful message! So, DNA is a meaningful message. On the basis of analogy, we have to conclude the remarkable information sequences in DNA also had an intelligent source.

For many years, I have followed the efforts of biochemists, working hard to create some of the simplest forms of life, without success. Because of their presupposition that there is no God, many “origin of life” scientists end up claiming that it is credible to believe that chance was able to do what the combined efforts of the best brains in science have been unable to do. They continue to insist that intelligent brains evolved without any intelligence behind the process – just blind natural forces and chance.

What is the most credible explanation for the way the whole universe, which contains some 100 billion galaxies, each with billions of stars like our sun, is fine-tuned to make life possible? Why is our warm wet niche called Earth placed perfectly in relation to the sun and moon, so that we can enjoy life comfortably on this life sustaining and beautiful planet?

Given all I observe as a scientist, I have to conclude that God is the only sufficient cause for the universe and intelligent life. There is more evidence for this than for the claims of naturalism: that nothing produces everything; non-life produces life; randomness produces fine-tuning; chaos produces information; unconsciousness produces consciousness; and non-reason produces reason.

My response is to praise the Lord as I respond to scriptures like Isaiah 40:26, “Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing.” (NKJV)

In the end being a Christian is not so much a matter of scientific evidence and argument, but of faith and conversion. There are no reasons to which we can appeal, to evade the burden of decision. The perceived conflict between science and Christianity is not just about evidence, but about our willingness to respond to the invitation to experience the hope and joy Christ brings to our lives, as we, in the words of Psalms 34:8, “taste and see that the Lord is good…”