God Galileo

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					         God & Galileo
Are Science and Faith Compatible?
      (The Christian Worldview especially as it relates to science)

Sean Bird

                                                           CYPU conference
                                                           December 28, 2005
Science vs. Religion

Is science diametrically opposed to faith?
    Are the underpinnings of science
     essentially at odds with faith?

Can one believe God created the universe,
 and not be considered an anti-science
                Faith Defined
   Faith is being sure of what you hope for and
    certain of what you do not see.

   But doesn‘t science only deal with things that we
    can see?

        Are the philosophical underpinnings of
         science diametrically opposed to faith?
         On the contrary …
                         FAITH is REQUISITE
     Science depends on
1.   Law of Causality
2.   Values
     – Trustworthy reporting of data
     – Honest analysis
3.   Logic & Reason
4.   Attainability of Truth

Are any of these empirically
     Historic Presuppositions of Science
                                    THE TRUTH:
                                    1.It was not an issue of
1564 – 1642 AD                        religion vs. scientific

                 2. Galileo was not joining Copernicus
                   in dethroning man from his central
                   place in the universe.

                 These views are held by those who have not
                   availed themselves to the available research.
It ―swept man out of his proud position
   as the central figure and end of the
   universe, and made him a tiny speck
   on a third-rate planet revolving about
   a tenth-rate sun drifting in an endless
   cosmic ocean.‖
According to the
cosmology of the
Middle Ages the
center of the universe
was actually the
center of evil. They
placed hell at the
true center as in 13C.
Dante‘s Inferno.
Water           Air



                             384 – 322 BC
                 Martin Luther
                                                                  1564 – 1642 AD

1564 – 1642 AD       (1509-1564)         Protestant Reformation

                           Council of Trent

                    Copernicus        Galileo                          Newton
                    (1473-1543)      (1564-1642)                    (1642-1727)
                                      Kepler – Germany
384 – 322 BC

                                                                    384 – 322 BC
                                     Common-sense objections to
                                     heliocentric system in Galileo’s day
                                     1. Throw object straight up and it would
                                     have to land in a different spot – i.e.
                                     Coriolis effect demonstrated by Foucault
                                     pendulum 1851.
                                     2. Tycho Brahe argued that a cannonball
                                     fired one direction ought to travel further
1564 – 1642 AD                       than one shot the other way.
     This was answered by Galileo‘s development
     of an early form of relativity theory.
 3. A slight change in position of fixed stars should
    be seen when we are on opposite sides of the
    orbit around the sun. – observed in 1838.
 Also the positive evidence heliocentrism was nil.

                                                                      384 – 322 BC
                            In fact Copernicus‘ system wasn‘t
                            even all that mathematically simpler.
                            It only reduced the number of
                            epicycles needed to explain planetary
                            orbits from more than eighty to thirty-
                            four. Whatsmore, until Kepler, the
                            heliocentric model didn‘t even predict
                            observed phenomena as well as the
                            geocentric model.
 Indeed, it wasn‘t till after Galileo‘s
 observations and Kepler‘s Laws of
 Planetary Motion either system was
 simply dogmatically asserted.
Historic Presuppositions of Science
Three main assumptions that had to be in place for
   science to develop
 The world is real
   God is reasonable
   The universe is ordered
Francis Schaeffer noted, ―Christianity believes that
   God has created an external world that is
   really there; and because He is a reasonable
   God, one can expect to be able to find the
   order of the universe by reason‖
  Historic Presuppositions of Science
Schaeffer writes about Alfred Whitehead & Robert Oppenheimer,
  ―As far as I know, neither of these two men were
  Christians or claimed to be Christians; yet both were
  straightforward in acknowledging that modern
  science was born out of the Christian world-view.
  Whitehead was absolutely right about this. He was
  not a Christian, but he understood that there would
  have never been modern science without the
  biblical view of Christianity.‖
  Historic Presuppositions of Science
  The universe is ordered

As I try to discern the origin of that conviction, I seem to
find it in a basic notion discovered 2000 or 3000 years ago,
and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient
Hebrews: namely that the universe is governed by a single
God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each
governing his own province according to his own laws. This
monotheistic view seem to be the historical foundation for
modern science.
                         Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Melvin Calvin
“The chief aim of all investigations of the
  external world should be to discover
  the rational order and harmony which
  has been imposed on it by God and
  which He revealed to us in the
  language of mathematics.”
              - Kepler (1571-1630)
    Historic Presuppositions of Science
    1.   The world is real – If one believes the world is not really
         there, then there is not an incentive to investigate it. But the
         Christian doctrine of a real creation provides an incentive (Gen 1:1;
         Neh 9:6; Rev 4:11).
    2.   The universe is good – Even with the Fall, this
         goodness is not eradicated. This higher view of nature led to the
         Christian belief that the material world is worthy of investigation
         (Gen 1:31; Ps 111:2,3; 1Tim 4:4).
                                               ―There is need of art and
     3. Creator/Creature relationship – God is in
The early chemist Jean-Baptiste van Helmont
                                               more exacting toil
           transcendent, of science is
insisted that the pursuitHe is not created. He is over nature, not the same as
                                               order to investigate the
           it. Thisgiven by God. scientific studies to begin. The monotheism
―a good gift,‖      doctrine enabled
                                               motion of the stars, to
           of the Bible exorcised the gods of nature, freeing humanity to enjoy
           and investigate without fear. When the world is no longer an object
                                               determine their assigned
           of worship, then—and only then—could it become an object of study
                                               stations, to measure
           (Ps 102:25-27; Acts 14:14; Hab 2:19-20)
                                               their intervals, to note
              1580-1644                        their properties.‖
Historic Presuppositions of Science
4. Rational Universe –                So the Christian doctrine of a
     rational God provides the basis for belief in a rational universe
     (Gen 8:22; Ps 104:3-33; 148:6; Job 28:26,27; Jer 5:24; 31:35;
     33:20; James 1:17)
5.   In the Image of God – Christianity teaches Imago
     Dei humans are created in the image of God. And since God is a
     rational Being, we are also rational beings. Even with the Fall, the
     Imago Dei was not eradicated. So the Christian teaching of the
     Imago Dei provides a basis to believe we can understand the
     universe (Gen 1:26,27; 9:6; James 3:9).
6.   Creation ex nihilo – This phrase means God created
     without the use of pre-existing materials. So God would not be
     limited by any ―inherent nature‖ in pre-existing substances in His
     creating. He could create as He willed… Thus the application of
     geometry and mathematics to the analysis of physical motion
     rests on the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo" (Ps 33:6; John
     1:3; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3)
Historic Presuppositions of Science
7.   Motives for science – The                Christian faith provided
     motives to pursue scientific research.

     i) The early scientists believed investigating God‘s creation was a
     way of glorifying and serving Him.

     For instance, In one of his notebooks, Kepler broke spontaneously
     into prayer:
                   „I give you thanks, Creator and God,
                   that you have given me this joy in thy
                   creation, and I rejoice in the works of
                   your hands. See I have now completed
                   the work to which I was called. In it I
                   have used all the talents you have lent
                   to my spirit.‟
―It is especially in sciences … that we
see the wonders of God, his power,
wisdom and goodness; … that is
why, since my youth, I have given
myself to the sciences that I loved.‖

- Leibniz
―The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could
only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and
powerful Being…This Being governs all things, not as the soul of
the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he
is wont to be called Lord God, or Universal Ruler…The Supreme
God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being,
however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord
God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of
Gods, and Lord of Lords…‖
                                  -Newton (1643-1727) Principia
Newton explains God as being personal and
sustaining all things by his powerful word for the
purpose of His own glory. His dominion is evident in

And to see this was Newton‘s purpose
for the work that he did.
   Historic Presuppositions of Science
   7.   Motives for science –
        ii) "Christians found Biblical justification for an active use of nature
        in the creation account (Genesis 1:28), where God gives human
        beings ‗dominion‘ over the earth. Dominion was understood not as
        license to exploit nature ruthlessly but as a responsibility to cultivate
        it, care for it, and harness its forces for human benefit."

                     “Almighty God, who hast created man in Thine
                     own image, and made him a living soul that he
                     might seek after Thee and have dominion over Thy
                     creatures, teach us to study the works of Thy
                     hands that we may subdue the earth to our use,
                     and strengthen our reason for They service; and so
                     to receive They blessed Word, that we may believe
Maxwell 1831-1879    on Him whom Thou has sent to give us the
knowledge of salvation and the remission of our sins. All which we
ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ our Lord”
Historic Presuppositions of Science
7.   Motives for science – The Christian faith provided motives to
     pursue scientific research.
     iii) Christians found significance in Adam‘s naming of the animals.
     In Hebrew, to name something is to assert mastery over it. Also, a
     name expresses the essential nature of a thing. So Adam had to
     carefully analyze the animals to give them appropriate names.
     Thus Genesis gave divine justification to the study and analysis of
     the natural world.
     iv) Science was viewed as one way of alleviating the effects of the
     Fall (Genesis 3). Thus science was permeated with religious
     concern for the poor and the sick, with humanitarian effort to
     alleviate toil and tedium.

     This last point was particularly revolutionary. The idea of
     improving one‘s life cannot occur to people trapped in a cyclic,
     fatalistic, or deterministic view of history. (Ps 19:1-6; 115:16; Ezek
     34:4-Matt 25:32-45; Acts 20:35; 1John 3:17,18).
               Unreasonable Faith of
              Some Modern Scientists
   ―The universe was created by chance‖
    So is chance a scientific law?
    Chance is not a thing. It has no being so it has
    no power.

   ―In this day and age we no longer believe in spontaneous generation.
    We now believe in gradual spontaneous generation.‖
    ―One has only to wait. Time itself performs the miracle. The
    impossible becomes possible; the possible, probable; and the
    probable, certain. What begins as an impossibility becomes
    certain through miracle. And the miracle is performed by the
    causal agent time.‖
    Unreasonable Faith of
      Great Question
   Some Modern Scientists

 Time   + Chance =    Universe

Personal              Impersonal
    Which is fundamental?
Nothing + Nothing =   Everything
  Foundation of science
       1.   Law of Causality
       2.   Values
            – Trustworthy reporting of data
            – Honest analysis
       3.   Logic & Reason
       4.   Attainability of Truth
Obligations and loyalties arise in the
context of interpersonal relationships.
Morality is covenantal in nature.
   Therefore the ultimate authority is an ―absolute
   Accept the God of the Bible or deny objective
    morality, objective truth, the rationality of man,
    and the rational knowability of the universe.
   Jesus demands all, not some of our loyalty
    (Dt 6:4ff; Lk 9:23-26). That includes loving him with
    the mind – which may well entail holding some
    unpopular views on scholarly matters (1 Tim 6:20)
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you
must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the
futility of their minds. They are darkened in their
understanding, alienated from the life of God
because of the ignorance that is in them, due to
their hardness of heart. They have become
callous and have given themselves up to
sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of
impurity. But that is not the way you learned
Christ!-- assuming that you have heard about him
and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus‖
                                     Eph 4:17-21 (ESV)
                  What We Gather
    It is quite obvious that the concept and
     understanding of God presented scientists from
     the time of the Protestant Reformation on with an
     unsurpassed motivation to mathematically model
     the world around them.
    The idea of God as the Law-Giver helped give
     weight to the theory that nature was created with
     a set of its own laws. Job 38:32-33
     Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the
     Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set
     up God's dominion over the earth?
    The Reformation restored the Biblical perspective
     and thereby stimulated an interest in God‘s

    Atheistic scientists today are operating on borrowed capital.