“God, science, evidence”: “The God of Jesus Christ is certainly not a great watchmaker”

How to read the book God, science, evidenceappeared this winter? Its first merit is to offer us a whole historical journey to highlight the fact that, after the growth, during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, of scientific currents – according to which science is the only reliable source of knowledge. in the world, this attitude has been widely called into question and questioned by the very evolution of scientific discoveries. The work thus reviews all these scientific advances which have introduced complexity and incompleteness into the scientific process, whether in thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, or even in natural science, or with the anthropic principle. in astrophysics.

By its own movement, each of the sciences shows that “the substance of things”, the first principle, escapes it. That we cannot therefore make science the origin of everything and the explanation of everything. The pure and hard scientism triumphant of the beginning of the XXth century has been undermined by all the evolution of scientific research for a century.

A new definition of the scientific object

In itself, this is nothing new. These discoveries were already known, since the years 1980-2000. We are now effectively faced with a new definition of the scientific object: an object that we do not study “in itself”, but in its relations, its interactions with others (epistemic), and also with the subject who studied.

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In today’s complexity, therefore, there is uncertainty and incompleteness. But that does not mean that science is delegitimized, we cannot speak of the defeat of scientific reason. Simply, this incompleteness has become the very condition of the scientific exercise. Therefore, a totally materialistic view is difficult to hold. In this sense, I agree with the idea, promoted by the book, that recent discoveries question us on “the basis of things”.

But should we see, as this work claims, in this incompleteness the proofs of the existence of God? No, because the domains are then confused. The anthropic principle, of which the book speaks, raises questions. But it does not prove that there would be “behind things” a God who would have adjusted the mechanisms of the Universe and the living. And the God of Jesus Christ is certainly not a “great watchmaker” God.

Do not confuse the fields of science and faith

Basically, this questioning of current science makes it possible to relaunch the dialogue between Faith and science. But this dialogue must take care to articulate these areas well, and not to confuse them. For example, when we examine the relationship between Creation, in the biblical sense, and evolution, in the Darwinian sense. The two processes are not on the same plane and therefore should not be confused.

Creation is in the order of transcendence. In a way, all that is “exists” because God makes it to be. While the principle of evolution teaches us that everything that has appeared in the course of the history of life is the result of the transformation of energy and matter. We must therefore manage to articulate these two actions, without confusing them. Teilhard de Chardin has a beautiful expression: “God makes things happen. “ God don’t take his screwdriver. It gives the conditions for things to get done. Above all, the God of the Covenant gives autonomy to creatures, who pursue creation. God is neither the maker nor the great watchmaker. He creates by his Word, in a free Love.

God is not a maker

John Paul II, in the encyclical Fides and ratio, clearly highlights these different levels. It is true that we can regret the tendency of our society to separate in a watertight manner the domain of faith and that of science, a tendency which moreover affects Catholics themselves: one is a believer in the Church, scientist in his laboratory. It is showing fideism, and I understand that the book wants to fight against that, in a society that distrusts religion. But between a form of concordance, which brings all science back to God, and a fideism, according to which reason teaches us nothing about the true nature of things, there is an articulation to be made, with respect for the different domains.

→ READ ALSO. To get out of the misunderstandings between God and science

In particular in the field of theology: God is not a maker. It is a God of the Covenant, who created an unfinished world, which creatures must continue. As Basil of Cesarea nicely puts it: “God allowed man to enter the workshop of divine creation. “ But it is different from a sort of superior intelligence, of “intelligent design” which would inevitably lead the liner of the Universe and of humanity. Or rather, it is the intelligence of love and free giving, which inspires and attracts this evolution (from alpha to omega). This is the whole risk of faith, and of the freedom that it gives us.

Science does not prove the inexistence of God, and in this the book is correct. But the reverse is also true: science does not prove the existence of God either. Besides, what would be the faith in a God of which we have scientific proof? It would not be faith… On the other hand, we must know how to account for our faith with rational arguments, our reason, in the context of scientific discoveries in particular. Talk about the intelligence of the Creator God. To be a believer is not irrational.


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