Scientific Facts and Christian Faith:
One would think the unnecessary battle between science and Christianity had long ago been resolved; however, recent statements by both scientists and theologians belie that thought. For example, Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist biologist wrote, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." On the theological side, the Institute of Creation Research (ICR), a fundamentalist Christian organization, continues to publish anti-evolutionary material such as, "...the notion that a reptile gradually evolved into a mammal is scientifically unacceptable." Interestingly enough, as flawed as some of the scientific statements of ICR have been, they seem to be more informed in science than the anti-Christian scientists have been in theology.
The causes of the science versus Christianity battle may be traced to three errors. First, the proponents on both sides often fail to define the term, "evolution." Second, both sides have failed to see science as a product of a Christian world view. And, finally, both sides confuse the realms (limits) of science and theology.
WHAT IS EVOLUTION?
The American Scientific Affiliation has published an excellent book, Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy, for high school science teachers. In it they list five definitions of "evolution." Micro evolution (breeding programs which have produced hybrids and species adapting to changing environments in minor ways) obviously occurs. Macro evolution (the hypothesis that homo sapiens evolved from a single cell or even from inorganic compounds) is not obvious and much more debatable. Finally "evolution" is sometimes used as a religiously value-laden tenet of naturalistic faith that "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process..." Few, if any, would disagree that we see minor changes over time in the plant and animal kingdoms. Conversely, few would agree that homo sapiens (along with the rest of the universe) is only a product of chance or random events.
When some biologists refer to the macro evolutionary hypothesis as a "fact," they distort the evidence and cloud the issue. There is considerable debate among biologists and paleontologists about the mechanism and possibility of macro evolution. Consequently, overstating the case for macro-evolution raises a large target for some Christian fundamentalists. This results in attacks on evolutionary biology which distracts biologists from a critical study of their own hypotheses and causes them to band together against a common enemy.
As will be discussed later, extending scientific hypotheses into a theological (metaphysical) world view under the guise of being scientific is completely unwarranted. What ever hypotheses evolutionary biologists espouse (as long as they are limited to biology) say nothing about Who started and sustains the process. Likewise, theologians who read the Bible as a scientific text engage in faulty hermeneutics. It has been convincingly argued that a correct interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative says nothing about the scientific mechanism God used to create the universe.
THE ORIGIN OF MODERN SCIENCE
It surprises many to discover that modern science is basically a product of a Christian world view. The well known Cambridge historian, Herbert Butterfield in his book, The Origins of Modern Science, convincingly argues that what happened in the 16th century and following was not so much a result of new data, but of changed minds. While other cultures have given great discoveries to the human race, such as the introduction of zero from the Hindus and algebra from the Muslims, the Christian West had the unique set of assumptions required by science.
Three main assumptions of modern science are:
The universe (world) is orderly;
this orderly universe can be known; and
there is a motive to discover the order.
The Greek and Roman cultures had none of these assumptions. The gods were fickle and unpredictable; who could know their intentions? Math and philosophy were ends in themselves and not means to discover a rational universe. The traditional Hindu culture saw the universe as cyclical, again with the gods being capricious. Who could know the mind of Kali or Shiva? There was no incentive to show that they ruled over an orderly system.
Islam would adapt the Judeo-Christian concept of a creator God and, therefore, conceive of an orderly universe, but Allah is so transcendent that he could not be known in the Christian sense, nor could his universe. There was, then, little incentive to argue for the order of his universe.
Classical atheism must hold to strict metaphysical naturalism in which everything occurs by chance or random events. To many, such a world view takes more 'faith" than belief in a Creator. At any rate, such a view in the 16th Century would hardly bespeak an orderly universe. If the world is illogical, how can one understand it? If all is a result of chance, what incentive would there be to discover order? Of course, we know that understanding science and technology greatly improves our quality of life, but this is insight after the fact and really borrows from the presuppositions of a Christian culture.
Only a Christian world view seems to fit the three criteria. The created universe is logical as can be seen from numerous Biblical references such as Jeremiah 31:35, "...the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night..." This universe can be known because the Creator can be known as Paul in Romans 1:19-120 declares, "For what can be known about God is plain ...his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made." Finally, the incentive exists in the direct command in Genesis where God says to "...fill the earth and subdue it..." Thus mankind is to be not only a steward but to master God's creation.
What surprises some is that many of the founders of modern science were not only Christians, but they were scientists in order to demonstrate that we lived in an orderly universe. They believed that such a demonstration would be powerful evidence that such a universe was created by an orderly God who could be known.
For example Copernicus (1463-1543), one of the first to question Aristotlean cosmology and the geo-centric solar system, was a devout Christian and tolerant toward the reformation. Bacon (1561-1626), another outspoken Christian, formulated the "scientific method" and brought a more quantitative approach to science.
The conflict between the Roman Catholic Church and Galileo (1564-1642) has been used to support the anti-scientific bias of Christianity towards science, but for one who knows the history (see Hummel's book, The Galileo Connection), Galileo had many high ranking Catholics on his side, among whom was Cardinal Baronius who wrote "[The Bible teaches] how one goes to Heaven, not how the heavens go." Galileo, no paragon of tact, delighted in alienating his fellow professors, who were Aristotelians and believed in a geo-centric solar system. It was mainly they who caused the Pope to condemn Galileo's teachings, but Galileo's other Catholic supporters helped broker the final plea bargain. Unfortunately, professors have a history of irrational actions which continues to the present.
Kepler (1571-1630) upon whose discoveries our space program rests, wanted to be a minister of the Gospel, but was persuaded to pursue his talents in math and astronomy. In his writings, he frequently quotes psalms and explicitly relates the order of his discoveries to God's rational creation.
Pascal (1625-1662) is certainly one of the greatest minds in this line of founders. He is credited with being the father of probability theory, hydrostatics, mass transit, modern French prose, computers, and Christian Apologetics. His Pensees (notes defending the Christian faith) is a classic work.
Newton (1642-1662) considered his theological writings more important than this scientific. Harvey (1578-1657), Boyle (1627-1691), Faraday (1791-1867), and Maxwell (1831-1879) to name a few, were all devout Christians. Boyle, the first to show the difference between compounds and elements, was a lay preacher. Faraday, the discover of electro-magnetic induction, once only read from the Bible for a sermon saying his words could add nothing to God's. Maxwell, who discovered magnetic flux, wrote:
"Lord, it belongs not to my care
whether I die or live
To love and serve Thee is my share
and that Thy guard must give."
It is an interesting historical question as to why, science, conceived in a Christian culture by many Christians, was turned against Christianity and why Christians allowed this to happen. I give the Huxleys, starting with Thomas (1825-1895), considerable credit along with others who saw science, and especially biology, as answers to questions that had previously been attributed directly to God. Christians, instead of realizing that their own creation was being used against them, "threw the baby out with the bath water" and considered science the problem rather than the misuse of science.
There has (and continues to be) a confusion between primary causes and secondary causes. The study of natural science deals with secondary causes while theology studies primary causes. For example, we may explain rain by saying that moisture in the air is cooled below the dew point causing water molecules to condense around dust particles thereby generating precipitation. This is a secondary cause. The primary cause is simply, "God made it rain." In other words, God, who created the physical system, is the cause behind the observable cause.
I think we should interpret these loop divergences,
not as a break down of the supergravity theories,
but as a break down of naive perturbation theory.
In gauge theories, we know that perturbation theory breaks down at strong coupling.
In quantum gravity, the role of the gauge coupling,
is played by the energy of a particle.
In a quantum loop one integrates over… So one would expect perturbation theory, to break down.