Ken Ham’s “Answers in Genesis” inspires a counter idea in me. If Ham’s fundamentalist Christianity claims to offer definite answers to all the “big questions” such as “how did we come into existence, or “what happens when we die,” then I will offer clear and specific questions and skepticism to fundamentalist Christianity.
For this particular article, I will consider the following passages from Genesis 1:1-4: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (biblegateway.com) In this passage that claims God created matter I ask where God fits into a much simpler scientific phenomenon like a combustion reaction. Could scientists measure and verify God as an agent or participant in a combustion reaction?
My first question: What answers does Genesis actually provide? While Genesis does mention that the earth came into existence,does saying “God did it” actually give us an answer; or does that answer shut down all further inquiry? Sure, we could say “God did it” and then use the scientific method in physics and chemistry to explore how God did it, but there are possible complications if we assume God exists without first measuring or verifying his existence.
If we say God did it, and then say science figures out how God, for example, willed us into being, how do we measure God? Both physicists and chemists base their data on calculations and measurements and conclude their results from that calculated and measured data. How does a finite being like a scientist measure an infinite being like God? With the example of fire, or a combustion reaction, one answer could be that God can be equated to a given or an assumption, like all combustion reactions in nature happen in air unless otherwise noted. For this discussion, air is the chemical mixture composed of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, argon, and carbon dioxide. (About.com, http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryfaqs/f/aircomposition.htm)
A problem with comparing God to air as an assumption is that air can be measured and verified by scientists all over the world. The different scientists that do fire experiments will not spend any time debating what air is. Unlike air, God cannot be tested through experimentation which makes God problematic as a part of the given conditions. What one scientist assumes about what God is or is not may contradict what another scientist claims God is. Without verifiable measurement, the scientists would be debating the God-given at length, nullifying the universal applicability of the assumption, and thus nullifying the assumption.
A more general problem with God’s immeasurable and unverifiable presence in scientific phenomenon is questioning God’s interaction in these natural events. If we assume the God-given in combustion but cannot measure or verify God’s action in this reaction, then how can we know if God is actually a part of the phenomenon? The “God did it” answer turns to a “how do we measure and verify God’s interaction in combustion” question in chemistry and physics. Scientists can agree upon and verify air’s existence and measure how much a specific reaction consumes; and as a result, they can discern how air interacts with combustion before, during and after it happens.
“God did it” or “God willed it to be” is not an answer; it only raises more questions. How can a scientist measure God in simple, combustion reactions if God is an immeasurable assumption? Scientists would consume their time with debating God’s exact role in combustion as well what they can and cannot assume what God is. Air, though invisible like God, can be measured and thus verified. Contemporary scientists spend little or no time measuring and verifying air in combustion reactions. Unlike God, air is quantifiable, and verifiably functional. Though the specific theoretical mechanisms of air’s participation in combustion reactions may raise debate, each scientist would have experimental data, documentation, and test data that they could physically and visually share with their colleagues. The God-given assumption works on a non-physical and visual called faith. Air’s existence and participation in scientific phenomenon doesn’t require faith, just verification. Air, not God, works as a given condition in a simple combustion reaction. If scientists can’t measure or verify God in something as simple as fire, how God could exist, participate, or cause the heaven’s and the earth to come into existence? How could a non-existent and immeasurable being interact with existent and measurable phenomenon? That is the question for the next article.