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It takes science to make sense of God

By S James, who considers the conscious brain a far greater weapon for understanding our world than faith ~

An example of simulated data modelled for the ...
An example of simulated data modelled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Here, following a collision of two protons, a is produced which decays into two jets of hadrons and two electrons. The lines represent the possible paths of particles produced by the proton-proton collision in the detector while the energy these particles deposit is shown in blue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I grew up in a Christian family. I don’t think we were overly strict about it, but we would say grace at night before meals and we went to church every Sunday. I went to a Christian boarding school when I was older and although I never got involved with the church side of things, I grew up thinking I was a Christian. After all, if you weren’t a Christian, what were you?

I mean who can argue against the fundamental message of Christianity – to be kind to each other and live a good life. The problem is the rest of it just seems a bit far-fetched. For example, apparently there is an old man called ‘God’ who lives somewhere in the clouds in a place called heaven who created the universe and everything in it – I mean really! I remember questioning some of these more literal biblical stories back at school and my teacher just responded that I needed to have faith. It was a completely inadequate response and circular argument.

After I left school I studied math and physics at college where I finally cast off whatever Christianity I still had. I never pursued science past college but I still retain a lot of interest in it and the scientific method. So I was particularly interested with the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, named so (more by the media than its discoverers) because of its fundamental role in our understanding of the make-up of matter and therefore the universe. I think they’re exaggerating its importance by calling it the God particle, but I agree with the underlying sentiment that science can demystify ideologies, such as God. Like the great minds of Hawking and Einstein profess,
“The overwhelming impression is of order. The more we discover about the universe, the more we find that it is governed by rational laws. If one liked, one could say that this order was the work of God. Einstein thought so…We could call order by the name of God.” --  (

I’ve always liked the work of theoretical physicist Paul Davies who, in his book God and the New Physics, suggests that science may offer a "surer path to God than religion".

Now I’m sure the teachings of Christianity made a lot of sense up until a couple of hundred years ago when there was no other way to understand such things like the variety of life on Earth - let alone the creation of the Universe - but they’re pretty hard to swallow now when science has explained so much more about the nature of our world.

I should say I’m not a total convert to the scientific method though. It has an unfortunate limitation where it can’t deal with subjectivity – and it struggles when it comes to something as difficult to understand as the paradox of human nature (i.e. good and evil), which has traditionally been the domain of religions. In my view this should be the focus of the sciences now. There are a few that are trying to address it such as evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson who said ‘the human condition is the most important frontier of the natural sciences’ but Jeremy Griffith, a biologist, makes the best attempt I have seen at providing a scientific explanation for human nature and demystifying our understanding of God.
Anyway, as you can imagine all this makes for interesting conversations when I go home to my parents place for weekends but I think they agree each generation needs to form their own understandings of our world rather than be stuck in the dogma of the past.


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