God Versus Science

Words can clarify, prove, confuse, destroy, be helpful, wound etc. etc.. In our search for God,,and our understanding of faith, words can be all these and more. I received this dialogue from a parishioner the other day, and I think it explains what I mean. Ultimately, as human beings we are finite, and when it come to God, we need to walk humbly and in awe. Enjoy!

‘Let me explain the problem science has with religion.’ The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.
‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’
‘Yes sir,’ the student says.
‘So you believe in God?’
‘Absolutely.’
‘Is God good?’
‘Sure! God’s good.’
‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’
‘Yes’
‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’
The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible!’ He considers for a moment. ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’
‘Yes sir, I would.’
‘So you’re good…!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?’
The student remains silent.
‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.
‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’
Er … yes,’ the student says.
‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. ‘No.’
‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student falters. ‘From God’
‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’
‘Yes’
‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’
Again, the student has no answer. ‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’
The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’
‘So who created them?’
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’ There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. ‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’
The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’
‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’
‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’
‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘Yes’
‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?’
‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat?’
‘ yes.
‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
‘No sir, there isn’t.’
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.’
‘Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’
‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’
‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word.’
‘In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’
‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Fl awed? Can you explain how?’
‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.’
‘It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.’
‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’
‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’
‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.
‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’
The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter.
‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain,
felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.’
‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lecture s, sir?’
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.
Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’
‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’
Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it everyday It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’
To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’

The professor sat down.
If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title ‘God vs Science’

PS: the student was Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein did write a book titled God vs Science in 1921…

God vs Science

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114 thoughts on “God Versus Science

  1. Science and faith arise from two fundamentally different ways of thinking. Science arises from objective thought. Objective thinking deals with objects – things we can see or smell or otherwise sense by some means. Faith and the concept of God arise from subjective belief. They are conceptual ideas devoloped in the mind of man. From a scientific point of view, a formal objective proof of God's existence cannot be written. We have no idea what we're talking about. Jesus of Nazareth said that God is spirit. In the Koine Greek, the word used is pneuma, which provides the allegorical image of a breath of air barely rustling the leaves on a tree. That's all we can say. Beyond that we know nothing about God or the supernatural realm we call Heaven. So when an atheist says God does not exist, he is expressing his own personal belief and nothing more. Atheism is as much a religion as is theism.

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  2. Fr. Bob,
         Did everyone miss the line "You are working on the premise of duality."? It is the central supporting column of the entire piece. The author, whoever he or she was, obviously had some understanding of non-duality which puts a different light on science, faith, life death and the whole idea of a personal god. Sin is missing the mark; missing the point. Omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent eternal Being (God if you will) by the very nature of all its eternal "omni-nesses" is not jealous; is not angry; neither wants nor needs ANYTHING from anyone or anything. All wanting and needing and begging and pleading and demanding arises from a sense of lack. By definition, God lacks nothing; encompasses everything. My personal feeling is that all scripture needs to be interpreted from the level of one's understanding. If I thought that the Pope interpreted scripture the same way a school child does. I would have to flush the entire Roman Catholic faith.  I am not Roman Catholic but I recognize that  for all we know of Jesus, the vast majority of it we owe the Catholic church. Jesus is reputed to have said,"The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." I am unable to interpret this in any way other than from a non-dual viewpoint: I am in no way separate from God- I just think I am; and my spiritual work in this life is to regain this understanding and make it hard and fast.

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  3. Lets call Bob, pastor or elder or teacher bob – Not father, you dont call a man of God, Father or Fr. there is no biblical foundation for it.
    I too enjoyed the message in that story , albeit not from Albert Einstein.
    Glory to God. He is our Father and Jesus Christ is alive.
    God bless you all 

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  4. Kudos to Yvonne… Christians should not have any type of negative feeling (Hatred, resentment, anger) towards non-believers because Jesus always loved everyone regardless of how he was treated. For example when he was crucified, he never rebelled against God, Romans, or the Jewish people he accepted it.
    I would rather live 
    my life as if there is a God, 

    And die to find out 
    there isn't, than live my life 

    As if there isn't, 
    and die to find out there is.
    How would you live your life?

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  5. Hmmm. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I do not believe that religious people should argue about faith. It does not set a good example for all the non believers to want to know God or religion. I like the story. I have forwarded it to many people. If Einstien did not write it, that is a big bummer, but the theories remain the same.
    I have always talked with the people who believe in The Big Bang over the God theory that science believes that for "every action there is a reaction" so what caused the Big Bang? What caused the first movement in space? What caused the action? Which came first the chicken or the egg?
    My belief is that the chicken came first because God created it.

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  6. Extremely interesting debate – I love the dark/light and heat/cold.  Both are, of course, scientifically correct.  Yet in context, we experience both heat and cold.

    Also, the argument about not being able to see or hear the professor's brain and then taking it on faith, simply isn't true.  We can in fact, scan brains, watch the synapses fire etc.  Although it is possible this was written before that technology was available.  Although they were doing lobotomies, so clearly brains are tangible…

    I also spent some time looking up this and it wasn't Einstein who was the student.  Nor did he ever write a book called Religion vs Science – a list of every paper and book he ever published is on wikipedia.  His religious views are well documented and here are some of his more famous comments:

    The question of scientific determinism gave rise to questions about Einstein's position on theological determinism, and whether or not he believed in God, or in a god. He once said:

    You may call me an agnostic… I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
    He also said:

    “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems.”

    One of the reasons I love science is that it is always prepared to say "we don't know yet" or "oh hey – new information has come along – so we were wrong about that…"  Religion is not.

    My own path has been from atheism to hinduism to catholicism and now back to atheism.  A wonderful website is http://www.iamanatheist.com.  Not rabid like Dawking and his God Delusion – just calm and more focused on moral atheism than anything else.

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  7. I think most have missed the point of the initial email which I have seen in many forms-this has a new twist by asserting Albert Einstein was the student.  There's enough evidence that he wasn't and did not write the alleged book.  But the greater impact is the philosphical arguement posited in the diactic.  The arguement for God.  Who cares if  Einstein said it or wrote that book.  The elegance is in the philosophical arguement posited, not in, "Did Einstein say it?" People always expect science and thesism to be mutually exclusive concepts.  Yet, I went to Catholic school K-12 and we were taught both and I don't see a true disconnect.  As a scientist, I can actually see more clearly the wonder of God in all His complexity.  If others cannot, so be it.  But to fight about it seems counter productive.

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  8. #87 Chris says, "I have spent the better part of an hour reading through all these responses, some angry, some rational, some not so rational. Most of these reactions are completely missing the (or actually proving Fr. Bob’s) original point of the posting."
    That it's necessary to falsely assert that a great man said something he didn't and wrote something he didn't in order to try and give a really sophomoric screed a cachet it neither has nor deserves?
    Yeah, I think we all got that. Well, some of us did.
    #95 Jeff Bricks says, "[H]ow sad that anyone who ever hears truth always seams [sic] to somehow totally miss to [sic] point altogether."
    Do you even understand that this isn't true? It's a lie. It isn't a fable, or a parable, it's just a lie.

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  9.  
    Here's some things Einstein really said

    Einstein on the Soul
    From p. 39
    On 17 July I953 a woman who was a licensed Baptist pastor sent Einstein in Princeton a warmly appreciative evangelical letter. Quoting several passages from the scriptures, she asked him whether he had considered the relationship of his immortal soul to its Creator, and asked whether he felt assurance of ever lasting life with God after death. It is not known whether a reply was sent, but the letter is in the Einstein Archives, and on it, in Einstein's hand writing, is the following sentence, written in English:
    I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.
    From p. 40
    In Berlin in February 1921 Einstein received from a woman in Vienna a letter imploring him to tell her if he had formed an opinion as to whether the soul exists and with it personal, individual development after death. There were other questions of a similar sort. On 5 February 1921 Einstein answered at some length. Here in part is what he said:
    The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion.
    Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seems to me to be empty and devoid of meaning.

    Einstein on a Personal God
    On 22 March 1954 a self-made man sent Einstein in Princeton a long handwritten letter-four closely packed pages in English. The correspondent despaired that there were so few people like Einstein who had the courage to speak out, and he wondered if it would not be best to return the world to the animals. Saying "I presume you would like to know who I am," he went on to tell in detail how he had come from Italy to the United States at the age of nine, arriving in bitter cold weather, as a result of which his sisters died while he barely survived; how after six months of schooling he went to work at age ten; how at age seventeen he went to Evening School; and so on, so that now he had a regular job as an experimental machinist, had a spare-time business of his own, and had some patents to his credit. He declared himself an atheist. He said that real education came from reading books. He cited an article about Einstein's religious beliefs and expressed doubts as to the article's accuracy. He was irreverent about various aspects of formal religion, speaking about the millions of people who prayed to God in many languages, and remarking that God must have an enormous clerical staff to keep track of all their sins. And he ended with a long discussion of the social and political systems of Italy and the United States that it would take too long to describe here. He also enclosed a check for Einstein to give to charity.
    On 24 March 1954 Einstein answered in English as follows:
    I get hundreds and hundreds of letters but seldom one so interesting as yours. I believe that your opinions about our society are quite reasonable.
    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
    I have no possibility to bring the money you sent me to the appropriate receiver. I return it therefore in recognition of your good heart and intention. Your letter shows me also that wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

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  10. I stumbled upon your webpage and it really is ideal for I need. It has marvelous and helpful discussions. I read almost all of them and got so much from them. In my opinion, you are doing an impressive work. Carry on! I’d really like to thank you for preparing this kind of nice webpage.

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  11. -458 DEGRES IS NOT ABSOLUT ZERO, is the temperture man aknowlage, speed of light is what man recognises as maximum speed,

    to this DAY MAN CAN NOT SEE THE SMallest particle of mater, not even the largest molecule with a microscope, not even there is the most powerful telescope to see the end of the univerese in detail,

    very simply, like everithing :

    “God is God”

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