God Is Not a Science-Gap Filler

I sometimes hear atheists say that as science advances, religion retreats, and soon there will be no need for religion. It's a particularly narrow understanding of our relationship with God (speaking as a Christian here)—as if God's main function in our lives is to provide an explanation for events in nature. While some primitive, pagan religions may have focused on explaining and manipulating nature, the Bible presents quite a different picture of the true God. He's a Person Who interacts with us in all aspects of our lives—not just in the area of nature, but also love, morality, guilt, meaning, justice, forgiveness, worship, and so much more.

Along these lines, philosopher Bill Vallicella (not a Christian) has a post titled "Why Science Will Never Put Religion Out of Business," in which he discusses the aspects of our humanity that only religion can address. He concludes that since religion responds to problems science is not equipped to solve, no amount of scientific knowledge could ever take its place:

But I have said enough to make clear what sorts of problems religion addresses.  It follows that the salvation religion promises is not to be understood in some crass physical sense the way the typical superficial and benighted atheist-materialist would take it but as salvation from meaninglessness, anomie, spiritual desolation, Unheimlichkeit, existential insecurity, Angst, ignorance and delusion, false value-prioritizations, moral corruption irremediable by any human effort, failure to live up to ideals, the vanity and transience of our lives, meaningless sufferings and cravings and attachments, the ultimate pointlessness of all efforts at moral and intellectual improvement in the face of death . . . .

I should add that anyone who doesn't feel these problems to be genuine problems will have no understanding of religion at all.  And I remind the reader that I do not assume that any religion can deliver on its promises of salvation from the above litany of problems. My point is that natural science and its resulting technologies are powerless to solve these problems.

My point is not to say that we (Christians) embrace God because we need Him to fill these unfilled gaps. Rather, I write this to widen atheists' understanding of the areas of our lives in which we relate to God. And notice that I put this in terms of His "interacting with us" in these areas, not merely saying that His existence answers questions in these areas. Our experience of God as a Person entails far more than a provision of intellectual answers.

(HT: @thinknz)

Amy K. Hall