Science Myths

Next time you're in a bookstore, browse through the science section for some startling titles: The Mind of God, Theories of Everything, and Dreams of a Final Theory. These books promise that physics is on the brink of finding a super-theory capable of explaining everything in the universe. In other words, while most people find ultimate truth in religion, many scientists are urging us to find it in physics. Consider Stephen Hawking's runaway best-seller A Brief History of Time. Hawking promises that science will eventually give us "a complete understanding of . . . existence." A big step toward that goal is finding a unified theory of the four fundamental forces of nature—the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, and gravity. In Hawking's words, a unified theory "would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God." Hawking doesn't believe in God, so what he really means is that humans would attain God-like omniscience. Do you hear echoes of the temptation in the garden of Eden? It turns out that supplanting God is often precisely the motivation in the search for a unified theory. In a new book titled Reason in the Balance, Phillip Johnson points out that such a theory would be so highly theoretical, it would be impossible to confirm by experiment. Which is to say, it would not be strictly speaking scientific at all: Its appeal would be philosophical or religious. You see, many physicists believe that the four fundamental forces were unified in the earliest moments of the big bang, when the universe began. If you assume that the universe is a closed system of natural causes and effects, then those initial conditions determined everything else that has happened in the history of the cosmos. A theory explaining those initial conditions would thus be the key to explaining the entire cosmos by purely natural causes. And physics could finally dispense with supernatural causes—such as a divine Creator. So the real question in science today is whether God exists or whether nature is all there is. It's put bluntly by British physicist Paul Davies: In his book The Mind of God, Davies says Hawking's theories could well "be quite wrong." But so what? The real issue, Davies says, "is whether or not some sort of supernatural act is necessary to start the universe off." Did you get that? It's an amazing admission. Davies is frankly admitting that for him it doesn't matter whether a scientific theory is right or wrong; it matters only whether the theory gets rid of the supernatural. This amounts to admitting that even a myth is acceptable, so long as it's a naturalistic myth—so long as it reassures scientists they don't have to worry about a Creator. This booklet contains the transcript of a special BreakPoint series on naturalistic myths in science—and on their disastrous effects in education, law, and a host of other controversial areas. Please read on. Science is too important to leave to scientists—especially when they treat it as a religion.


Chuck Colson


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