Post Author: Bill Pratt
I’ve been reading physicist Edgar Andrews’ book Who Made God? and he claims that there are four things science will never explain. Here they are:
- the origin of the universe
- the origin of the laws of nature
- the origin of life
- the origin of mind and thought
Andrews understands that when he claims science can never explain these four entities, all sorts of protests ensue. He says:
Of course, atheists (and even some theists) will immediately cry foul, declaring that just because scientific explanations are not currently available it doesn’t mean they never will be. Science is progressive and new discoveries are being made all the time, so that what seems scientifically impossible today may be scientifically explicable tomorrow.
I recognize the force of this argument but intend to stand my ground. The claim that, given time, science will explain everything is simply the atheist’s version of the God of the gaps. The gaps in our knowledge can be plugged, they say, by future (but as yet unknown) scientific advances. Thus the ‘God of the gaps’ is simply replaced by the ‘future science of the gaps’ — same gaps, different deity. It’s what philosopher of science Karl Popper called ‘promissory materialism’.
You’ll have to read Andrews’ book to see why he thinks these four will not be explained by science, but the basic reason is that each of these four (universe, laws of nature, life, mind and thought) consist of properties that transcend the material world. Since science is only able to investigate the material world and not what transcends the material world, science cannot, in principle, ever explain these things.
I highly recommend Who Made God? as a very accessible and entertaining read that posits the God hypothesis as an explanation for the universe, laws of nature, life, and mind, and then presents evidence to uphold the hypothesis. It might even be a nice Christmas present for the skeptic in your family!