A Sciency Person Avoids Theology

I just read that some sciency person wants to be a theologian. So I thought I’d go read what that sciency person had to say about theology. Here’s a sample of what sciency person and astrophysics professor Charles Liu said.

Is there a God?
“What I tell people is that science in general and astronomy in particular do not address the question of whether or not there is a God. In science, conclusions are made based on evidence and confirmation of predictions, and that’s what differentiates scientific knowledge from unscientific knowledge.
“Recently Pope Benedict said something like this: ‘The Big Bang theory is proof that God exists.’ Actually it’s not. It’s only proof that something happened at the beginning of the universe, where there wasn’t space or time and then there became space and time. For many people, astronomers’ discoveries confirm what they thought was true all along: that God is there. And then for many others, the discoveries of astronomers confirm what they thought all along, and that is that God is unnecessary — that God doesn’t exist.”

First, Liu remarks were in the context of a frequently asked question. When asked a question it is generally considered polite to give some kind of an answer. Second, Liu main point is, and I quote him again, “(S)cience in general and astronomy in particular do not address the question of whether or not there is a God.” If that’s theology, theology sure has become a lot crisper, and non-committal, than I remember it. Sure, Liu does say that there is no evidence for a god or gods. But there are many theologians that would agree with that. For many theologians, faith solves that little problem. Third, Liu does contradict Benedict. He does it by limiting the scope of appropriate scientific conclusions. This is a case of the Pope is trying to inappropriately adopt a sciency claim not the other way around.
And what is Liu’s personal opinion on the existence of God or gods? He provides a personal rather than sciency answer.

“One last twist to this answer: People ask, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And what I say is, ‘I don’t know.’ I think that the universe is beautiful, complex and fascinating. And I have not seen any evidence to show that an omniscient or divine being has to exist in order for the universe to be the way it is. But there’s nothing to say that it can’t exist, either.”

That sure doesn’t sound like a sciency type trying to be a theologian to me. It sound’s like a guy who just doesn’t know and doesn’t care all that much. The universe is “beautiful, complex and fascinating,” with or without a god. But I suppose that is the ultimate theological statement. And that may be what upsets a theology person (I don’t know how to formulate the diminutive of theology).

3 thoughts on “A Sciency Person Avoids Theology”

  1. A review of some important ironies in this issue:
    * Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre proposed The Big Bang theory. Very convenient for a creationist.
    * There is nonetheless ample evidence for the observable universe emerging from a singularity some 13.7 billion years ago.
    * However the Big Bang doesn’t prove the genesis of the *entire* multidimensional universe or of “time” itself.
    * The Big Bang only suggests a beginning of the **observable universe**.
    * Unless proven otherwise, the true Universe with capital “U” (both observable and not) is infinite in all dimensions, spatial and temporal.
    * It’s unscientific to merely assume Creation with a capital “C” where there’s no such evidence.
    * So maybe the Buddhists had it right all this time; the Universe is eternal.

  2. I’ll throw in another irony. One of the oppositions to the Big Bang Theory by scientist (before it was accepted) was that it sounded too Creationisty to them; it didn’t fit the idea at the time that the universe (including time) had always existed, and the idea that the universe had a beginning struck them as sounding too much like Genesis. Something However, something that I have wondered is that while the scientific community changed their mind about BB after after the discovery of the CMB in ’64, when did many of the Creationist decide to reject it as some atheistic conspiracy (or whatever they consider it) by scientists?

  3. A profound idea. I like!
    And one more irony: Since existence is the foundation and necessary axiom of logic, there can be no rational means to break existence down into logical terms. Yet, with no rational answer possible, faith can only offer us irrational answers, intoxicating as some may appear at face value.
    Neither science nor faith will ever be able to truly explain “being”. It’s surprising to me that so many so-called scientists will still fancy themselves ontologists and theorize far more than they have to, as with the misrepresentation of the Big Bang theory.

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