Science and Belief


Scientific Method


  • Belief that the world is orderly and intelligible and that evidence and experiment are the means to acquire knowledge. 
  • Desires to challenge and evaluate all claims to truth.

Formal system

  • Observation - Observing and gathering data on something in nature.
  • Hypothesis - Making an educated guess to explain the gathered data.
  • Experiment - Testing the hypothesis in controlled conditions. Confirm or falsify. 
  • Verification - Repeat. The more times the more accurate.

This is based on inductive reasoning and is not complete proof.

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Scientific Method - Strengths

  • Bertrand Russel on scientist - 'his beliefs are tentative; they are not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition. 
  • Inductive Reasoning - although it cannot prove, it can be made highly likely.
  • Popper's falsification - can be constantly updated through time.
  • Objective - "truth is scientific truth" - Dawkins.
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  • Meaning - God revealing himself and his meaning to earth.
  • Natural - Learning about God throgh his own creation. Eg. size of earth shows his power.
  • Special - God revealing himself to a specific person/people at a specific time. 
  • Decisive - Jesus is the decisive revelation as he is God's human form.
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  • Fundamentalism, creationism
  • Bible is infallible - claims to truth. It's word is absolute and cannot be challenged.
  • Genesis 1 - earth created in 6 24 hour periods. John Ussher says the earth is 6000 years old.
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Origin of Human Life - Scripture

Genesis 1

  • Man and woman created at the same time - 1 v 27, "man was created in God's image".
  • Pinnacle of God's creation - stewardship 1 v 31, "very good".

Genesis 2

  • Man was created first and he named the creatures.
  • Woman was created from man's rib.
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Evidence Supporting Evolution

  • DNA/Genetics - Our DNA can be monitored to be shown it has changed/evolved over time.
  • Geology - Layers of strata can show how long the earth dates back.
  • Fossils - Fossils can show that humans weren't around the same time as dinosaurs therefore humans have evolved.
  • Natural selection in action - Darwin's finches and their different beaks.
  • Similarities with animals - eg. tailbone.
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Christian Responses to Objection by Evolution


  • Catechism of catholic church - Led to greater admiration of creator, supported by the fact that he's created a longer universe.
  • St. Augustine - The bible is not meant to be read literally.
  • Wittgenstein - Language games. Migliore said science suggests how and belief suggests why.

Partially Successful

  • Anthropic priciple - Evolution can only take place in a habitable universe.
  • Tennent - Man possesses aesthetic awareness.
  • Temple - If we all followed survival of the fittest, there would be no morality.
  • Evolution is God's mechanism (this challenges an all powerful/loving God.)


  • Evolution is only a theory - it cannot be proved despite it being likely 
  • John Polkinghorne - God and providence. "flexibility of the process".
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Paley's Design Argument/Teleo


  • Analogy - Paley compares a pocket watch to complex and purposeful mechanisms in nature. Because the pocket watch is designed and purposeful, so too are the natural mechanisms.


  • Comparison - The watch is complex and purposeful. It is a product of intellignet design. Nature has complex and purposeful mechanisms. Therefore they also have an intelligent designer.


  • Proportionality - Natural mechanisms are much more complicated than man-made mechanisms. Therefore designer of the natural mechanisms is much more powerful and intelligent than that of the watch. This designer is God.


  • Chance - Unlikely for complex and purposeful mechanisms to come about by chance. Even more unlikely for a more complex, natural mechanism to come about by chance


  • Regularity - Swinburne suggests that regularity points to order, and therefore a designer.
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Teleological Criticisms


  • Hume - Universe could've come about by chance. In infinite time, particle matter could've randomly created a functioning universe.


  • Evolution - Paley wrote before Darwin. Evolution provides a much more compelling alternative than species being created to suit their environment.


  • Evolution variation - Evolution explains why species seem so expertly adapted to their environment


  • Steve Jones - There is no purpose to life, evolution is completely natural explanation.
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Evidence Supporting BBT - unfinished

Edwin Hubble - redshift shows that stars are moving away from us which shows that the universe is expanding. Universe expanded from the Big Bang.

Background Radiation - we can still detect radiation that supports an explosion of that size eg. static in TVs.

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