Is God a Mathematician? That is the title of a new book by Mario Livio. I am sure it is a fascinating book, but the short answer is, duh! Of course he is, and everything else as well if I read the PR correctly.
In Switzerland, Scientists are touting the new multi-billion dollar, seventeen miles worth of particle accelerator where they hope to find what THEY call “the God Particle” (The glue that holds matter together). It is all nonsense to equate any particle with God, you know. Particles, by definition are neither theistic nor atheistic; but I am sure they are just using the name like some manufacturer might use the terms, “new and improved,” or like so many food venders presently use the terms “natural” or “organic.” It doesn’t necessarily mean what it says.
Then, another recent publication is the book by a former Christian Scientist – a reporter who reportedly went in search of the science part. The conclusion, as I understand it, is she grew closer to some of her Christian Science family and friends, but she did not really find it – not exactly.
I would have been surprised if she found any scientific evidence at all.
Science and the scientific method have a marvelous place in the universe. With mathematics, we may be able to eventually understand everything there is to know about matter and energy and the relationship between the two and science may describe for us the beginning and the end of the universe (especially if it turns out that energy can be created and destroyed after all). But what it cannot tell us is anything of value (for example): why we should be interested in science, mathematics and the scientific method, what good are the scientific laws and discoveries, or why we should care.
To be sure, more of life is understood by means non-scientific than scientific and “proved true” by means other than the scientific method. A BS degree from the university is a valuable commodity, but there are other places where a BA is much more highly regarded.
Consider Art, which is about as unscientific a category as you can find. Greatness (validity) is often a matter of consensus, but not entirely so. The art world depends on documents, expert and eyewitness testimony, and the jury of history in making its determinations. Of course, someone can still insist that the Mona Lisa, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Shakespeare’s Hamlet are not great works of art, and they may try to justify their opinion by suggesting it is all subjective and only (no more than) a matter of opinion in any case. What that suggests to me is one of two possibilities: either the person is a “Contrarian” which I have defined as people who get a kick out of taking a contrary opinion no matter how irrational or unreasonable that opinion may be, or the person is in some serious need of some asylum time.
Of course the above mentioned works are great works of art, and whether we like them or not is honestly irrelevant. The jury of history alone has declared their greatness, as any jury would say, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Consider history, which is totally unscientific no matter how much historians may grumble otherwise. It cannot be understood by mathematics. I cannot be replicated under strict laboratory conditions, and while it may produce some good advice, it does not imply laws that can be applied invariably to the future. History, instead, is again a matter of documents and what the archeologists can discern from their shards. It is determined by expert and eyewitness testimony to the point where it can only be, “rewritten by the victors” (as is often the accusation for unreliability) only so far before it is contradicted by the known facts and again, by the jury of history.
Did Alexander once conquer the oikumene? Did Cleopatra abandon Anthony at a crucial point and thus place Egypt in the grasp of the growing Roman Empire? Did Victoria once rule over an empire on which the sun never set? The answer of history is absolutely yes (true, for real); and while you or I may not see what relevance such things have to our lives, that consideration is, to be blunt, irrelevant. History is one of the only things we have that explains not only who we are, but suggests where we are going, and the jury of history proves the reality of nearly everything quite apart from what science may or may not have to say about it.
The jury would say, “Proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” That has always been the legal answer to the scientific method, and keep in mind that justice is also a thoroughly non-scientific subject; and to be sure, no one (other than a contrarian) wants to honestly live in a world where justice is merely a matter of subjective opinion where one opinion is equal to another. That would put us all in danger of tyranny – subject to whoever was slick enough to obtain the judgeship!
Do juries sometimes make mistakes? Certainly. Juries have been wrong.
Do scientists sometimes make mistakes? Certainly. Science has constantly been revised.
Is this true even when the appropriate procedures are followed to the letter? Yes.
So is science the only arbiter of reality (to determine what is real and what is not real)? Absolutely not. “Proved beyond a reasonable doubt” works just as well for reasonable people. When a jury considers the facts (what hard evidence is available), studies the documents (contracts, affidavits), considers the expert and eyewitness testimony and follows the time tested procedures, they will far more often than not come to a conclusion that is beyond a reasonable doubt. Science (for example DNA testing) may have much to contribute to considerations of the law in a given case, but be clear about this: Law is in no way a matter for scientific inquiry or investigation. Other forms of investigation are involved, and they often relate to motive and opportunity.
I could go on to subject after subject that is essentially if not entirely non-scientific, but in nearly all of it, the truth (reality) is proved in the same way and by the same method, and at this point, someone must be asking, but what about God?
Well, clearly God is not a scientific subject, being neither composed of matter nor energy. God will never be replicated in a laboratory, proved by the scientific method or described by mathematics. So does that mean God is not real? By no means (unless you are truly a contrarian who is also willing to insist that art, history, the law and a myriad of other things are equally unreal). Rather, the “Truth” of God is “proved” by other means.
Consider the documents, the evidence or facts (such as they may be), the expert and eyewitness testimony, the jury of history, and the fact that there are billions of people alive today who will look you square in the eye and declare that God is “Proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” You may not agree, but honestly, it is the atheists who have a terrible uphill battle, and all I can see is Solon, pushing that boulder up the hill only to have it roll down again. I always feel sorry for anyone who has to work so hard to close the mind (and heart).
I will say this again, science and religion have no business being at odds with each other as long as each sticks to its area of study and understanding. It is when the Theologians deign to make definitive statements about this universe of matter and energy and when Scientists draw unwarranted conclusions about reality that excludes any consideration of non-scientific life that we all get into trouble.