Limitations of science

Dr. Keith Miller’s recent essay on the Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution site entitled “Creation, Evolution and the Nature of Science” included the following statement:

In fact, as I have argued, God is unnecessary for a scientific description, but a scientific description is not a complete description of reality.

Someone responded that this appeared to be a God-of-the-gaps kind of position. I responded with the following observations, and thought it a succinct statement of my view that I would like to have here on my blog for any visitors wanting to know my position on these things.

I think the point of Dr. Miller’s quote was that even a full description of what physical things occur and how they occur in a mechanical fashion does not preclude a third descriptor: why. Philosophical materialists insist that satisfactory answers to “what” and “how” questions are sufficient, and since they are answerable in the laboratory, the picture of reality that the laboratory furnishes for us is, by their estimation, altogether complete. Theists argue that we should not ignore the question “why”, even though it cannot be recovered by the scientific method; discounting “why” as a valid question shows a presuppositional bias toward materialism and does not constitute an argument for it.

God created (or “is creating”, some would say) the universe as it is today by willing it to be as it is. His role was/is the role of intentionality, meaning it to happen. If He had not wanted it to, it would not have happened. Out of all the alternative possibilities that could have arisen from our cosmological womb, out of all of the other paths the evolution of our universe might have taken anywhere throughout its 13.73 billion year age (give or take 120 million years), it is this universe that happened. Science can hypothesize about “what if”, but not “why this?” Materialism has no answer – cannot propose an answer – but does this mean there’s no such thing as the question? Philosophical materialism’s denial of the supernatural based on the existence of the natural essentially attempts to argue just that. I’m not saying that the existence of the question “why” proves there is an answer to itself. There may be meaning and there may not be, but materialism has no authority or power to come down on either side of the question.

By definition, a supreme supernatural being’s purpose for the universe is altogether unanalyzable by the scientific method, so arguing that such a being exists and that he/she/it gives it purpose does not qualify as a God-of-the-gaps argument. Gaps in our knowledge of the natural are gaps we should try to fill with natural explanations; we should try to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the supernatural with supernatural explanations. They are non-overlapping and not contradictory in their aims.

Tagged with:
Recent Posts: