Q: How can you believe in God when Science has disproved His existence?
A: This a very popular sound bite and really amounts to nothing more than a simple category mistake. This category mistake occurs when a person doesn’t realise that there are different types of explanation. They assume that religious explanations should be put in the same category as scientific explanations. So, if science explains why planets orbit the Sun then religion does not. Of course, this is utter rubbish!
A conversation might go something like this:
Sceptic: How can you believe in God when Science disproves His existence?
Christian: How did you come to that conclusion? (We’re not taking on a burden of proof that isn’t ours. We didn’t make the claim!)
Sceptic: Oh come on, look at all the things science has explained. It has made belief in God just another fairytale.
Christian: I understand what you are saying, but can you tell me how science disproves God?
Sceptic: Ok. What about the Big Bang? We know how the Universe works. There’s no need for childish explanations anymore.
Christian: So you think that because you know how something works it means it wasn’t designed? (Notice we’re still asking questions and beginning to put a stone in the shoe of our sceptic friend. Also notice the category mistake. He has unwittingly put God and science into the same category.)
Christian: That computer over there. You could probably tell me a lot about how it works. So by your reasoning it wasn’t designed.
Sceptic: Of course it was designed, it’s obvious. We can easily see form its complexity that it was designed by someone.
Christian: So because you know the computer was designed it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a designer?
Sceptic: Rule out a designer? You need a designer otherwise the computer wouldn’t exist.
Christian: Hmmm…So because computer science has explained how the computer works and that it needs a designer, could we say that because science explains how the Universe works it needs a designer too?
Christian: Why not?
Sceptic: (light bulb moment) Well I suppose you could say that! But that doesn’t mean it was God. It could have been something else.
Christian: Yes it could, but we can discuss that something else. My point is simply that because you can explain how something works it doesn’t rule out that it was designed. Science can explain how a Ford car operates, but it doesn’t remove the need for Henry Ford as the designer. In the same way, science might be able to explain a lot about how the universe works, but we might need God to explain why we live in an ordered and intelligible Universe.
So – because scientific explanations and religious explanations are so different they don’t rule each other out!