Science in Christian PerspectiveLetter to the Editor
Dept. of Chemistry,
International Christian University
Osawa, Mitnko, Tokyo 181 Japan
From: JASA 25 (June 1973): 75.
Many articles in the Journal ASA March 1972 were quite informative, including those by Gingerich and Jaki. I would question, however, two similar comments by these two authors.
McCrea raises the issue of the evolution of physical laws themselves. Admittedly the notion of changing laws is not very useful, but, lie continues (and I think rightly), "in this fashion we get away from the concept that physical laws are something that the universe must obey. They are something that our thinking about the universe must obey." That our physical laws are created constructions of the human mind has been maintained for years by many philosophers of science; MeCrea's perceptive remarks emphasize the situation with respect to the origins of the universe. They should serve as a warning to anyone who would "prove" or "disprove" Genesis I by modern astronomy.1
For reasons inherent in the method of physical science, no water-tight proof of the existence of God can he built on its data and conclusions. But this also meant that no refutation of the existence of God could be built on physics either.2
The idea that no proof or disproof of creation or of a Creator is possible is
constantly repeated in modern writing. Strictly speaking, of course, this idea
is correct. The impression given by this continued onesided emphasis, however,
is surely incorrect. It is quite possible to have just as much proof
of (or evidence
for) the creation as the rotation of the earth or the existence of electrons.
No doubt our general unwillingness to face this is due at least partly to our
fear of possible negative evidence in the former case.
We know that we will never have water-tight proofs of the rotation of the earth or the existence of electrons. We nevertheless accept the weight of the evidence and we have found that we can make some sense of the universe by using simple theories. Isn't it past time to balance our views and restore full intellectual honesty by doing the same for the question of creation? This would certainly buttress our testimony for skeptics who accept science. Even if later negative evidence would appear strong, creationists then would still he in no weaker logical position than under the present assumptions.
The prejudice against "proofs" for creation has led to some strange arguments, for example that the Second Law of Thermodynamics may somehow break down on the large scale.3 There is no hint of evidence for this, however, and in other fields we do not accept such ad hoc evasions. Because of statistical mechanics it would be harder to accept a breakdown in the Second Law than in most other scientific ideas.
It is equally fashionable to emphasize that physical laws are just human mental constructs. This often leads to confusing two concepts and overlooking the second, i.e., humanly stated laws, and The Law or Laws actually operating but incompletely known of Nature. We need to get away from the widespread concept and implication that The Law of Nature is merely something that our thinking must obey.
Some objections to this letter can he anticipated but it may he better to let others speak for themselves and see whether further discussion is possible.
lOwen Gingerich, "Is Steady-State Cosmology Really Dead?" Journal ASA 23, 11 (1972)
2Stanley L. Jaki, "Brain, Mind and Computers." ibid., p. 12.
3Private communication from a previous author.