YahooScience ran a story this morning about the possibility that science will one day rule out the existence of God. Whoop-de-freakin’-do. This is nothing new, people. For millennia, many notable thinkers, seeking to understand the cosmos in purely physical or materialistic terms, have all reached a similar conclusion. (Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius come to mind). But then again, this conclusion is not in any way surprising given the parameters and method of inquiry, which necessarily preclude the existence of anything and everything abstract, spiritual, supernatural and/or divine.
To say this another way: studies of things physical or material can only explore/examine things that are physical or material; such studies cannot explore/examine things that are theological, especially God who is–by definition–not physical or material. (1 Cor 2.14 might work well in this case). Thus, the study of science and the study of theology require different approaches and lines of inquiry; and that is a point that John Polkinghorne has been banging on about for years!
Moreover, feelings of superiority in one field do not provide sufficient or acceptable grounds for demeaning the work and conclusions of another. (This practice of demeaning has characterized the recent polemic against religion, where people of faith [i.e. Christians] are considered “lunatics” or uneducated half-wits). Just because there is no place for the existence (and even activity) of God in scientific inquiry, or just because science believes it can answer all questions pertaining to the universe without positing the existence of God; neither of these necessarily displaces or even disproves the existence (or even sovereign providence) of God. All it proves is that God is not a part of the inquiry.
Let me be clear: I am not opposed to the advances made by science, nor do I think the fields of biology, astronomy, physics, or even chemistry are a waste of time. I am simply opposed to the (paradoxical) assertion that such fields of science (either in themselves or collectively) possess comprehensive–if not complete–knowledge of how the cosmos and life function so as to displace the need for God. “Paradoxical” because the moment Science claims for itself “complete understanding of the universe” is the moment it ascribes to itself a fundamental attribute of divinity.