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"Thus God made the world, because He conceived it in His mind, as if from the outside, before it was created, and we do not know its rule, because we live inside it, having found it already made."
Brother William to Adso, from The name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Is there a God and how can a scientist live with it?

I don't know. That is the honest answer. If anyone should offer a definitive yes or no answer to the question of God's existence they must have some supernatural knowledge for nothing in the methodology of science (i.e. reason) can provide such an answer. But I do choose to have faith that there is a God and that God is Christ Jesus who willfully gave His life in payment for our sin which His justice demanded be punished.
I see no conflict between science and religion nor do I experience any in my academic setting. The atheists in my department are more than happy to team up with the Jews and Christians against the Muslims to ensure that alcohol is permitted at the end of year party. Over tea we discuss science and other stuff and will occasionally talk about religion and then go on with our happy business of discovering the rule of the world (as Umberto phrases it). Where we chose to focus on what we have in common, and concentrate one what we can discover rather than fighting over what we can't, we can all live in peace.
It is important to remember that science is a philosophy, a way of thinking, developed to learn about the universe we live in. This method of careful study, analysis, theorizing (i.e. the invention of ideas to explain our observations and the analysis thereof) and experimentation to test the theories we invent has proven very successful in providing a working knowledge of the universe. I am careful to state "working knowledge" because our theories are still not the absolute truth but our inventions to explain what we see. As technology advances we find we can see a whole lot more than before and a lot of what we see is unexplained by what we have theorized in the past. There is no end in sight for this process of knowledge synthesis, this "refining of everyday thinking" as Einstein called it.
There is a barrier to our knowledge which can not be penetrated by our science. Imagine a box. You are in the box and never been outside it. With science you can test and explore everything in the box and develop a complete working knowledge of the inside of the box. So what is outside the box? You can poke a hole in the side of the box and look out to the other side and study the other side but sadly, you still don't have any clue about what is on the outside of your box. You don't know if you were in a yellow, red or purple box. With our technology and scientific method we can't even poke through our box-the universe-to see what is outside let alone get a complete picture of the box we are in because we can't look at it from the outside nor at the smallest scale at the things inside the box. Our technology and science can never yield absolute truth, it can only ever point out which ideas are false and which have not been disproven. The only way we can know about what is on the other side of our box is if something from the other side reaches in and tells us about the other side. This is Divine Revelation.
Every religion (a word implying relationship with the Divine) claims such revelation and has generated tomes of theology. Theology is the scientific study of what is believed to be Divine Revelation. Yes, I call it a scientific study. While Theology's evidence is questionable so is all other evidence raised in other scientific inquiry. Using the rules for systematic inquiry invented by Aristole1, which we call science, we can analyze the various theological claims and develop tests to verify such claims. Some people, like Richard Dawkins and others, will claim that theology is unfalsifiable and thus unscientific. Well, if it isn't falsifiable how can Dawkins and others claim to prove that God doesn't exist? Richard Dawkins spends a lot of time trying to disprove theological claims. Obviously they can be tested and thus theology is open to scientific inquiry, i.e. it is a science. It is, however, a science that precludes controlled testing-we have no God-positive nor God-negative control samples to which to compare our data! It is a science of theory (like much of analytical psychology) and thus a very weak one. (It is the ability of controls which makes natural science so strong and effective at advancing knowledge.) But let us not confuse theology with religion.
For a brief time I attended evening classes at a local Bible school (but I dropped out to pursue my PhD in cell biology instead). In the class we were warned that this particular class can cause one to lose one's faith-i.e. renounce your religion. The year before someone, having started studying theology, had left the school and his religion because he felt what he had learnt disproved what he believed. A religion is a personal relationship with God. Some relationships, like human relationships, are shallow while others are deep. Shallow relationships (such as those who do lip-service to God and cling to the outer fringe of their religion without actually living it) don't cost much and so don't break as easy but deep relationships can shatter. Imagine a happily married couple and one day the one spouse arrives home and suddenly tells the other that his life is a lie and that they don't know him or her at all (for example, they had told their spouse they were an investment banker when in reality they were a mob enforcer). Well, the trust which the relationship is built up on is shattered. Theology is what we think we understand about the other person in the religious relationship: God. If we suddenly find out that God isn't who we thought he was, after devoting a lot of our time to Him, then we are likely to lose faith. Theology can destroy religion, but it can also build it if we follow the advise of Rene Descartes: "If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
Much of theology is us wanting to worship a God (or not worship a God) of our own design. (Christians, Jews and Muslims don't identify with the God Dawkins and other routinely build up in their books and then systematically knock down.) Theology is a effigy of the real God which has been fashioned to our convenience. For some people this theology becomes their God and their religion. It is a lie and nothing comes from lies but trouble. If, on the other hand, we start from a position of doubting the theology we have received and test it against God as he reveals himself to us then we can begin to truly know and commune with God. But how can we even think that there is a God? And if there is a God how does it reveal itself to us?
Before we get to that bit lets just back track to the conflict between religion and science. Science cannot yield absolute truth and therefore can say nothing about morality (right and wrong). To discuss moral issues in any sensible fashion you need to assume an absolute truth beyond scrutiny, i.e.: God. Without such a moral yardstick morality is nothing more than calculated selfishness, that is, deciding the best course of action rather than the right one. On the other hand, having Creationists operate nuclear power plants according to their Bibles is not a good idea (see below for the reason for this analogy). Nor should they be allowed to build bridges according to their Bibles believing that God alone will stretch out his hands and support the bridge like He does the heavens. There is a place for everything. Religion's is personal, and critically important for assessing eternal outcomes in a transient world. More importantly it is central to fully experiencing life with purpose. A life unfilled with a God or gods quickly finds meaning in nature (pantheism) or philosophies, like science or communism, with disastrous effects. To have a sense of purpose in our lives which is useful it must have a sense of continuity (permanence) which neither nature nor philosophy offers. Our purpose of living must out live us so that we are beholden to it for our actions. Science is for practical matters, for developing an understanding of the physical universe which is useful to our living. It is purposeless and its "truths" are transient. We can live and operate without science and in ignorance as to what has been discovered with it (while few of us understand the theory of quantum electrodynamics we rely on it everyday when we use electrical equipment) and as we make it up as we go along it can't give our lives purpose (perhaps meaning but meaning is what we make of life rather than what our life is made for which is purpose). Science and religion will overlap as the practical matters of every day decisions will intersect between religion and technology. A Jehovah's Witness can, based on his or her faith, refuse medical treatment but his or her faith cannot invalidate the effectiveness of that medical treatment. The conflict comes when one side chooses to force its self on the other, such as in forcing a Jehovah's witness to give their baby a blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant. People cause conflicts. Intangible things like ideas (even bad ones) about science and religion don't. If religion and science seem to butt heads it is because there is someone wishing to force their theology on reality or their perception of reality onto someone else's theology. Science isn't the truth, but nor is theology. As Kant makes clear in his Critique of Pure Reason2, the absolute truth concerning the physical world is unknowable by means of reason. We can only approximate based on our experience. But let us now return to the eternally important issue of whether or not there is a Creator God.
Well, the box we are in had to come from somewhere. This is the Cosomological argument as expounded by Newcomb3. It is important to realize that his argument or proof is theoretical and doesn't satisfy the actual answer which would require physical proof. Mathematical theorems are theoretical proofs as well but you can physically test them. It is an argument based on logic and reason assuming certain things we all assume to be true are indeed true. While the logic4 is sound it is unconvincing to many atheists, but they like many other people with strong theological opinions, are not so much looking for the truth as much as trying to get reality to conform to what they believe is the truth. They are no better off than the Bible thumping Creationist who argues against the age of dinosaur fossils because he/she doubts the methods of radioactive isotope dating (while happily using the electricity from the local nuclear reactor which runs according to the same math we use to date fossils) because the Bible has to be literally true according to the translation they prefer, ignoring that the word for "day" in the original Hebrew of the Genesis 1 text (which is "yom") can also mean "period" or "chronological stage"5. Those who are confident of what they know to be the absolute truth never find truth.
So, it is only logical to believe that there is a Creator and that this Creator seeks relationship because we seek relationship and this desire has to come from the Creator which means It has this desire also. Where to from here? Thanks to Dawkins' superb book, The God Delusion we can comfortably push aside all the world religions except for the Big Three Faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, trusting to Dawkins' careful and thorough analysis of the other "faiths". None of the others conform with what we know about the universe6 or what we can deduce about the Creator being of the Cosmological argument. This being must, by definition, be omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and must care (i.e. be loving7) because we have this quality and it has to come from It. By default such a being is also just and honest (remember, justice and honesty are traits we intrinsically desire and are thus reflections of the First Cause): It loves and knows everything and can do anything. Again, such qualities are only embodied in the B3Fs. How can we weed through these last three?
One of Aristole's rules for analysis is noncontradiction. Something can't both be A and B if A is A and B is B; and A can't be the same as B if A is A and B is B. Or put it another way, a banana can't be an apple and an orange if apples are apples and oranges are oranges; and apples are not oranges. Lets test a theological claim.
Mohamed claims that he is a prophet and prophets cannot lie. Mohamed also claims that Jesus and Moses are prophets and thus cannot lie8. Moses says that God has given the land of Caanan (i.e. modern day Israel or as some may prefer: Palestine) to Israel as a possession forever (see Genesis 15v18-21 & 17v18; Numbers 34v1-15 and Exodus 23v31). Mohammed has this to say:
Fight those who do not believe in Allah or the Last Day, or acknowledge that Islam is the religion of Truth, even if they are Jews or Christians, until they submit to jizyah to you willingly and feel themselves subdued.
Qur'an 9:29
How can Muslims tax (jizyah) Jews (people of the book) unless it subjugates them by taking possession of the land-their land, given to them by God? For Mohamed to speak the truth, to give a Divine law, God's promise to Abraham must be set aside. What is worthy of worship and adoration in a God who breaks promises? If Mohamed is a prophet then shouldn't he be telling his converts to respect the Jews and their right to Canaan instead of subjugating them? Furthermore, this law contradicts the Word of God through the Prophet Balaam to the Canaanite kings who sought to kill the Jews:
"Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee."
Number 24v9
"I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Genesis 12v3
Clearly, God wants to bless the Jews and will curse anyone who curses them, and what is singling out non-Muslims for a tax other than wishing them ill-i.e. a curse?
How does this compare to Qur'an:
"And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of God; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of God; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may God destroy them; how they are turned away!"
Qur'an 9:30
Or how about this quote from Mohamed from one of their accepted religious texts:
The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.
Sahih Muslim, Book 41v6985
So, the God of Moses blesses the Jews and the God of Mohamed curses them as evil. So which is it? It is important to note this isn't a matter of an inaccuracy in details but of the theologies (built up from many portions of scripture) are at odds with each other. The theological spirit of the two religions are mutually exclusive.
Mohamed claims that what God says last is what he really means but how is this commensurate with God who knows everything and is just (i.e. doesn't lie because lying is wrong). If Mohamed speaks the truth then Moses is a liar (and he makes God out to be one as well). If Moses is a liar then he can't be a prophet and if Moses isn't a Prophet then Mohamed is a liar because he said Moses is a prophet. Both Mohamed and Moses cannot be correct. There are only two options: both are wrong or Moses is right. Mohamed makes a lot of claims which don't stand up to careful scrutiny without having to undermine the religious texts which he relies on to make his case that he is a prophet. For example, Mohamed claims to be the prophet described by Moses in Deuteronomy 18v15-22 but to support this he has to undermine the writings of Moses by claiming that God changed His mind since then. Talk about sawing off the branch you sitting on...
Mohamed claims that Jesus is a prophet and only through Mohamed can man serve God. What does Jesus say about himself? Jesus claims to be God. Read the book of John or simply look at 6v35, 8v12, 11v25-26, 14v6 and 14v9. Jesus claims to be God and to have the power of God. Jesus goes further in 14v6 to say that He is the only one through whom one can have true religion: a real relationship with God (Mohamed makes the same claim, see quotation Qur'an 9:29 above). Again, Mohamed cannot be right, he can only be wrong. Only Jesus can be right.
Even if one ignores the injustices of Islam (such as severing a man's clean hand for stealing leaving him an outcast to suffer and be unable to make an honest living) it's theology falsifies itself. It is in utter contradiction with what it claims. Muslims will claim that their text, which is the most recent, must be the most accurate but all the evidence we have says that the Hebrew Torah has gone unchanged since the time of the first Diaspora (when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple).
There are several lines of evidence for this. The first is the seeming incoherence of the five books of the Torah. If these books were cobbled together by scribes long after the fact one would think that it would show some semblance of organization and structure. Instead the narrative jumps around from serious laws to historical events and back again. This is more in line with how a (single!) human mind works (i.e. the Mind of God in whose image our mind is formed) jumping from subject to subject as one thought triggers another in an unpredictable fashion. Also, these scribes never bothered to correct any of the inconsistencies in the details which Atheists are quick to pounce upon9. If you are going to revise a text to make it support your claims aren't you going to get the facts right? In the original Hebrew, if you count every 50 letters moving forwards though the first 2 books it will spell out the word "TORH" (Torah, or way)10. If you count every 50 letters through the last 2 books it will spell "HROT" which is TORH in reverse. If you count every 50th letter moving forwards through the 3rd book (Leviticus) it will spell the name of God: YHWH. The Torah is the way to God. The gap of 49 letters between each letter is also significant. "7" is the perfect number in Jewish numerology, representing completeness and if often chosen by the YHWH to represent Himself (7 days of creations, 7 lights on the Menorah etc...). YHWH and the Torah are 7×7, in other words: perfect. The inconsistencies are there on purpose, perhaps serving as a lesson not to get bogged down in the details, to show that a super-intelligent entity was behind it, i.e God. Did some scribes conspire to cobble the 5 books together with mistakes and a code or was the whole set dictated to Moses by God as the Torah claims? If the Torah has been modified over the years the code would have been lost. A further nail in the Muslim coffin is the first Diaspora. When the Yemeni Jews met up with their Eastern European brethren in the last century for the first time since the first Diaspora (3000 years!) there were only 9 single letter differences11. 9 differences in 2500 years is very few for a hand copied text. The Torah is virtually unchanged since God gave it to Moses in 1386 BC.
Regarding the Christian texts, we have the Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians which dates back to 110-135 AD and contains word-for-word quotes from scripture from all four Gospels and the letters of Paul, Peter and John. We have over 25 000 New Testament manuscripts which all mostly agree with each other (except for small translation issues). What is important is that we know they were around from before the last eye witness to Jesus Christ died. That John, who is quick to point out the fulfillment of Prophecy, does not mention the destruction of the Temple in any of his writings even though Jesus predicted this and it is recorded in the three other Gospels, is evidence that his and the other Gospel writers concluded their works before 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed and these works were available widely enough for Polycarp and Paul to quote from to make their cases. Importantly, this also implies that those who copied scripture were loyal to what they were copying and did not feel entitled to go back and add in information which would advance their cause or make corrections. That so many alternative translations exist is a great asset to Christianity. The different translations can be compared with each other to arrive at the original meaning12. With the destruction of Israel in 70 AD and its rebirth in 1948 the Jews had to rely on the Greek translation of the Torah made around 100 BC to understand the old Hebrew. Sadly, Islam lacks the benefit of multiple translations and today can't be certain whether 72 virgins or grapes await the faithful in Heaven13. It has been very difficult presenting the above Qur'an verses for this very translation issue. The translations vary so much as to be totally different in meaning from each other. All that is left is Judaism and Christianity.
It is easy to tell between Judaism and Christianity: simply read the Gospel according to John and compare it with the prophecies of Isaiah. You will need a good commentary (they are freely available on the internet) to help you as you need to understand the history and culture of the Jewish people to understand John's argument but all the evidence is presented in John14. The Hebrew scriptures promise a Messiah, who will be God, and will die and save His people15.
Rene Descarte says "When it is not in our power to follow what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable." I do not know if there is a God but I have faith in Jesus Christ as the most probable manifestation of the true God who instilled in us the desire to seek Him and, because God can only be just, made it possible for us to find Him.
I understand that the contents of this page may upset you because it threatens what you believe, but how can you be so certain of what you believe? Have you, yourself seen God or searched all the universe and beyond and proven him not to be there? Follow Rene's advice, he was smarter than you (and me). Based on what is probably true we build bridges, gain power from nuclear reactors and apply Darwin's theory of Natural Selection to all spheres of biology. Why not have faith in the probable when it comes to the matter of your soul.
What cements my faith in Christ? Well, I have been party to several miracles (i.e. events that defy probability and have no natural cause)16. These all involve other people so I can't write about them here.
Why not start doubting by going on an Alpha Course in your vicinity. It and the food is free and the food is normally good.


2Kant inadvertently provides a proof for God: The ontological argument of Bishop Anselm goes that if we can think about God then He must exist. Kant proposes that there is a real world and a phenomenal world which we experience. This phenomenal world is the real world colored by our understanding of it. Let us consider the sensation you get in your limbs when you restrict blood flow to it and then that blood flow returns. The English refer to is as "pins and needles" and to English speaking people it feels like pins and needles stuck into the skin. The French call is "ants" and to them it feels like ants walking on the skin. I wish I was French because ants sounds more pleasant than pins and needles. If we can think about God we must have had some exposure to Him which is transmitted through our culture. If we hadn't experienced God we would not have a concept of him. To say that God was invented by cave men terrified by lightning strikes and thunder is preposterous. How could cave men attribute lightning to God unless they already thought there was a God, and if they did do this then where did this thought of God come from? If we can think of God then He must exist but who is He?
3I don't agree with where Ron takes his argument with "Theory of Evolution, or: How Low Can Probability Go?" If you read Paul Davies' "The mind of God", "The Origin of Life" and "The Goldilocks Enigma" you will understand that in the Universe the odds are stacked in favour of life and not against it.
4To quick recap: Aristotle's science assumes there is a cause behind every event. We have no evidence to doubt this assumption. The Universe exists and our best available data (what we call the Big Bang Theory) says it was an event and this had a cause. Everything in the Universe is a result of the initial action which caused it. We have free will and seek relationships thus the first cause must have free will and be a relationship-seeking being to be able to instill this into the unfolding Universe. Therefore there is a relationship-seeking independent thinking First Cause, i.e. a God. Attempts to avoid this logical conclusion delve into absurdity. The multiverse idea still requires a multiverse generator which will require a First Cause. An Eternal Universe is contrary to observation. Where does the First Cause come from? This is hardly a reasonable objection to accepting that there is a First Cause. We don't need to know where our coffee came from to drink it, we don't need to know where the First Cause came from to accept that there was a First Cause. In any case, as time and space only come into existence with the Big Bang the First Cause doesn't have to come from anywhere except itself. The God of the Bible claims to be eternal, i.e. He simply exists-I am that I am.
5See This interpretation was adopted by Saint Augustine long before it became the issue it is today, see
6No, Buddism does not compare with what we know about the Universe. The Big Bang Theory implies a definite beginning and is not eternal or cyclical (which would defy the laws of thermodynamics to which we have found no violations in spite of looking really hard) which is at odds with Buddist theology. That we can doubt our existence (I think therefore I am of Descartes fame) also implies that we are not a dream. As the Buddist "non-god" is nothingness this god can't have a relationship which the cosmological argument reveals as the quality of the First Cause which is an intelligible entity.
7Real love, not that soppy, romantic and lustful kind, the real type which would go into the slums of Calcutta and minister to the outcasts without regard to personal health or safety and without the certainty of any reward.
8To be fair to Islam, the Qur'an says that a believer may lie in order to deceive his enemies and live but when Mohamed, Jesus and Moses address their believes in scripture they are not addressing enemies. See Qua'an 3v28: "Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah."
12If you think this isn't a real problem consider Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. In it Frodo is described as having a "gay" time in the Shire and Sam as tossing "faggots" on the fire. The meanings of the words gay (happy) and faggot (a bunch of sticks) have changed a lot in 50 years. In another 50 years time one will need to examine the alternative translations of the Lord of the Rings to understand that Frodo wasn't gay and Sam didn't burn homosexuals.
13See and scroll down to "72 Virgins".
14John's Gospel is a long argument for why we can believe in Jesus while the other three are historical accounts. As consequence John's recollections are ordered to make a point rather and to be read as chronological history. It is important when reading John to notice how many names are dropped in conjunction with the place where the event transpired. John was giving testimony with the expectation that those listing could go and verify what he was saying by themselves-just as Luke eventually did in order to write his Gospel.
15This is only sensible. God created the world and us. He is responsible for us and since we are incapable of saving ourselves by His own design, it is up to Him to make a way out for us. In Christ God takes on the punishment we would have received. The wages of sin is death, but God's free gift is eternal life in Christ (Romans 6v23). Only the God of the Bible is fully just, suffering to save His creation. Importantly, God as/in Jesus experiences the same human suffering every other human being must experience. God doesn't spare himself. He is not remote from the human condition. Some will say that this is bad theology and it probably is but I don't think God cares for theology as much as He cares that we believe that He saved us and can forgive any transgression.
16Having a baby or finding a parking spot close to the mall entrance when your foot hurts are not miracles. A miracle is a doctor surgically removing a women's womb and she conceiving, or the car that occupies the space you want simply disappearing into nothing so you can park there instead. Miracles are by definition SUPERnatural events which defy the laws of universe and have no natural explanation. They are beyond the magisteria of science and so its OK if they contradict science. That is why they are used as proof of God: a supernatural being which can act in a supernatural fashion. Importantly, any miracle must be tied to a supplication to or a prophecy from God. Random events and coincidence don't qualify as miracles. For this reason there is a lot placebo effect when it come to prayers and miracles which makes it very difficult to tell miracle from natural event.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.86.
On 22 Jan 2010, 13:13.