Science, God, and Amazingly Tiny Motors

From Feet to the fire: A response to Dr. Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos, a homeschooling mother of seven with a Ph.D. in chemistry and an M.A. in Dogmatic Theology who is an Adjunct Professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, has penned a thoughtful essay over at the Catholic One Faith blog titled, Does Science Prove God Exists? Her answer, in a nutshell, is that while science can provide inductive support for the existence of a Creator, only theology can provide deductive arguments for God’s existence. In any case, we shouldn’t need to prop up our belief in God with scientific arguments. Dr. Trasancos rejects the view that some scientific conclusions are compatible with God’s existence, while others are not. Christians, she says, should start from the fundamental notion that God made everything, and then proceed to view scientific findings in the light of faith.

There is much wisdom in Dr. Trasancos’s brief but profound essay, which is written in a warm and engaging style. She is surely correct when she contends that science cannot provide us with deductive arguments for the existence of God; the most it can do is provide evidence which is best explained by positing the existence of a Transcendent Intelligence, Who designed the laws that govern our cosmos, so as to make it able to support embodied, intelligent life-forms (e.g. human beings). That’s the conclusion argued for by Dr. Robin Collins in his widely cited essay, The Teleological Argument, which infers God’s existence from the fine-tuning of the cosmos. (Biological versions of the argument from design are far more modest, as Intelligent Design proponent Professor Michael Behe publicly stated as far back as 2001: “Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel — fallen or not; Plato’s demiurge; some mystical New Age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being.”)

Could science falsify belief in God?

She is mistaken, however, when she pooh-poohs the notion that “some scientific conclusions are compatible with the idea that God exists and others are not.” This, I have to say, is nonsense. Suppose that science were to establish that determinism is true. If that were the case, then there can be no freedom and hence no moral agency.


Science in the light of faith

With regard to Dr. Trasancos’s suggestion that Christians should view scientific findings in the light of faith, I have no quarrel with this way of proceeding. It was St. Anselm of Canterbury, after all, who famously declared, “I believe in order that I may understand,” and in a similar vein, C.S. Lewis wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” What I reject, however, is Dr. Trasancos’s implied assumption that faith should always be a starting point for viewing scientific discoveries. I would maintain that there are some discoveries that boost faith (e.g the discovery that even the multiverse must have had a beginning), just as there are some potential discoveries that would weaken or even destroy it. For my part, I identify more with Peter Abelard, who declared: “I understand in order that I may believe.”

Dr. Trasancos adds: “Seeing science in the light of faith is an all-or-none proposition. Either it all bespeaks the wonder of the Creator, or none of it does.” Yes, but some parts of God’s creation point to God much more clearly than others. A religious person will see God’s glory in the “unimaginable, ineffable order and symmetry” of Nature, which Dr. Trasancos writes about so eloquently – everything “from stars to dandelions down to the smallest particles of matter.” But a hard-nosed atheist will ask why order could not simply be a basic feature of the cosmos. If I were trying to convince an atheist of the existence of a Creator, I would point to something far more convincing, like the ATP synthase enzyme shown in this 86-second Youtube video by Any unbiased viewer can see at once that ATP synthase is the product of design:

The inference to design here is obvious. As chemist Jonathan Sarfati explains in another video, entitled Evolution Vs ATP Synthase – Molecular Machine:

You couldn’t have life unless you had this motor to produce the energy currency, so it looks like this motor must have been there right from the beginning, and I’d say that because this motor is so much better, so much tinier and more efficient than anything we can design, … the Designer of the motor is far more intelligent than any motor designer we have today too.


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