On what grounds can one claim that the Christian God is the creator?
In a Nutshell
The science of evolution is consistent with many religions and with atheism. Science alone cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Some scientific evidence, such as fine-tuning, points to a Creator, but even this does not support Christianity over other religions. However, Christian doctrine is broadly compatible with scientific accounts of our origins. Though belief in the Christian God is not scientifically provable, it is not irrational. Commitment to Christ is a reasonable choice supported by a variety of evidence from history, philosophy, and the testimony of others. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit works in each person’s life to bring them into relationship with Jesus.
(Updated on March 10, 2012)
The science of evolution is compatible with many faith traditions. Muslims, Jews and Christians alike can align their faith with the scientific account of our origins, and there is no way to give a scientific proof for one monotheistic faith over another. Therefore, instead of arguing that science supports Christianity over other faiths, this response will simply show the compatibility of Christianity with a scientific understanding of the universe. The Bible’s description of God is consistent with what is seen in the world around us.
Christian doctrine is broadly compatible with the scientific accounts of our origins. The Genesis creation story, for example, speaks of beginnings in a way that reminds us of the Big Bang theory, although this concept would certainly not have been a part of the author’s worldview.
Science shows us a universe that reflects many of the Christian God’s characteristics, such as omnipotence, love and perfection.1 For example, God’s omnipotence and perfection are evident through the laws of nature, all of which are finely tuned to allow life to develop. From a scientific standpoint, these features of the universe are surprising and warrant further explanation. But in light of the Christian narrative — in which a rational God intentionally created a universe congenial to life — the fine tuning of the universe makes sense. The Bible also claims that human beings have been created in God’s image.2 Our ability to love others and engage in meaningful relationships is therefore consistent with the existence of a loving God. And although radical altruism challenges evolutionary explanation, it resonates nicely with Christianity. Why, for example, would Mother Theresa of Calcutta spend her life with the poor? Why would a soldier sacrifice his life for people he does not know? These examples fit comfortably within the story of a God who sacrificed his own life for his creation, and whose image we bear.
Consider the words of Albert Einstein: “The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”3 The simple fact that we have the intellect and skills to inquire and test and make scientific discoveries is remarkable. But with a rational, all powerful God in whose image we are made, it is no surprise that we are able and eager to make scientific sense of the world around us. Oxford University professor Alister McGrath puts it well:
"The Christian vision of reality offers us a standpoint from which we may view the natural world, and see certain things that others might indeed regard as puzzling, or strange — such as fine-tuning — as consonant with the greater picture that the Christian has to offer."4
Many of the underlying themes of the monotheistic traditions are shared. Benevolence and justice, for example, are valued in many faiths. The central difference between Christianity and other faiths is the purpose and meaning of Jesus Christ’s life and the truth of his resurrection. There is nothing about evolutionary science that conflicts with the central Christian trinitarian understanding of Jesus.
Though belief in the Christian God is not scientifically provable, it is not irrational. Commitment to Christ is a reasonable choice supported by a variety of non-scientific evidence from history, philosophy, and the testimony of others. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit works in each person’s life to bring them into relationship with Jesus.
More from BioLogos
- Falk, Darrel. “A Rational Belief” in The BioLogos Forum, May 19, 2009 (Blog)
- Polkinghorne, John. “On Natural Theology”, November 2010 (Video)
Recommended External Resources
- Keller, Tim. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Riverhead Trade, 2009. (Book info)
- Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. Westwood: Barbour and Company, 1952. (Book info)
- McGrath, Alister E. A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. (Book info)
- Myers, David. A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists. Jossey-Bass, 2008 (Book info)
- Polkinghorne, John. The Faith of a Physicist, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1996. (Book info)
- Polkinghorne, John. Belief in God in an Age of Science, Yale University Press, 2003. (Book info)
- Wright, N. T. Simply Christian. London: SPCK, 2006.
- For scripture on God’s omnipotence, please see Psalm 139:1-18, Isaiah 40:10-31, and Job 40. For scripture on God’s love, please see 1 John 4:16, and Psalm 145:8-9. For scripture on God’s perfection, please see 2 Samuel 22: 31. The verses listed here are by no means comprehensive, as the characteristics listed here of the Christian God are found all throughout the Bible, with many verses directly affirming these characteristics.
- Genesis 1:26-27
- Albert Einstein, “Physics and Reality,” Journal of the Franklin Institute 221 (1936): 351, quoted in Alister E. McGrath, A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 105.
- McGrath, A Fine-Tuned Universe, 13.