Science vs. Religion

I like to consider myself to be a budding scientist; I would like to make science my career. I also consider myself to be a religious person who has strong convictions about the existence and nature of God. And I am perfectly comfortable with letting these two interests mix. That's why I often find myself scratching my head over debates that pit science against religion. One recent headline caught my attention.

Stephen Hawking, a well known physicist and author, recently came out with a new book, entitled "The Grand Design." In this book, Hawking purports that "God did not create the universe and the 'Big Bang' was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics" (read the article here). What arrogance! How could he pretend to dismiss the existence of a God by learning a little more about the nature of the universe. Did his discoveries prove that the existence of God is impossible? No. No study could prove that. A high IQ and ownership of a large body of knowledge does not qualify one to make any claims about religion. Why? Because, as Paul the Apostle said in his epistle to the Corinthians, "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10).

Unfortunately, the claim that human reason and knowledge can disprove the existence of God did not arise with modern physics. It is age-old and present in all fields of thought. One example that readily comes to my mind is the reasoning of Korihor, an Anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon, who claimed that "that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime" (Alma 30:17). Again we see brash arrogance. Korihor was dead wrong and, in the end, miserable. On the other hand, I really enjoy the prophet Alma's response to him, "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator" (Alma 30:44).

During the summer of 1855, people living in Provo, Utah, had an experience that illustrates my views about how science and religion are mutually supportive. After a freezing winter, spring floods, and a grasshopper epidemic, the settlers were on the verge of starvation. They prayed for help from God. At the end of July, they found sugar on the leaves of trees nearby. They called it "honey dew" and "sugar-manna," probably in response to it's similarity to the blessings received by Moses and the children of Israel. The people were in sore need of sugar, which was too expensive. The appearance of the sugar was looked at as a miracle (read the whole story here). The truth is, it is not uncommon for the substance to appear on trees. But the fact that this substance was not new or unusual does not diminish the idea in my mind that the sugar was a blessing from God.

God works through natural means and laws to bless His children. I do not know how the universe was created, but I have no qualms about staying open to the Big Bang theory, evolution, or any other scientific theory that is supported by evidence. I also find peace in my knowledge of the existence of God, a knowledge I gained through earnest seeking. In both science and religion I find my thirst for knowledge satisfied. After all, are they not both means of finding truth? What do you think?

Posted September 13th, 2010 in Religion, Science.