A recent article titled, “Many scientists are atheists, but that doesn’t mean they are anti-religious,” by Elaine Howard Ecklund and David R. Johnson share their findings based on their research into atheism and science from the book they co-authored, “Varieties of Atheism in Science.”
From 2013 to 2016 Ecklund and Johnson did “quantitative surveys with 1,293 scientists who identified as atheists” and “81 in-depth qualitative interviews” and “found that scientists’ views of religion are much more diverse than the image conveyed by new atheists. The term “new atheists” is a reference to modern skeptics like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others.
When those interviewed were asked about their perspective of God, they selected the statement “I do not believe in God” even when other answers were available such as “agnosticism, the view that the existence of God or the divine is unknowable.”
According to Ecklund and Johnson many atheistic scientists think religion serves society by promoting charity without and well-being within. Religion is not seen as divine in any respect but promotes a utilitarian good that benefits the culture.
In his book “How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture,” Francis Schaeffer gives the historical account of how Christian views contributed to the development of modern science.
Our modern method of scientific investigation evolved over several hundred years. It consists of five steps, which are: (1) Stating the problem, (2) Formulating a hypothesis, (3) Collection of data through observation and experimentation, (4) Interpreting the data, and (5) Drawing conclusions.
This method of scientific inquiry was developed in European countries whose cultures reflected a Christian worldview. In fact, this method of investigation was predicated upon the following syllogism: (1) God created the heavens and the earth (id est, the universe), (2) God is a reasonable Creator, (3) ergo, the universe and what we observe in it can be understood on the basis of reason.
This presuppositional view of a created universe operating by divine order was the primary foundation for scientific study for such men as Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Faraday and others. Even Albert Einstein defended his research of the Unified Field Theory by saying, “I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos.”
My point is theism has played a more prominent role in the development of modern science than atheism. This is why I believe there is no contradiction between true religion and true science. By “true religion” I mean a proper understanding of Scripture, and by “true science” I mean those things we observe to be true in creation.
Conflicts between science and faith arise when we get to interpreting the data and drawing conclusions. Believers do not have any problems with what science observes, but we do not accept unproven theories that contradict the Scriptures.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1. I find this quote from the Scriptures to be sublime in its simplicity, profound in its scope, and fully supported by science.