In the opening episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” I accept!
These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.
• Test ideas by experiment and observation.
• Build on those ideas that pass the test.
• Reject the ones that fail.
• Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
• Question everything.”
We will now test four ideas—two from the Bible and two from the materialist. All these ideas will be tested by observation as they cannot be tested by experiment. We will first test the biblical claim that man is “created in the image of God.” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see. The fish does not trace the fishbone pattern in the fowls of the air; or the elephant and the emu compare skeletons.” Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Thus, this idea has passed the test.
Now let us test the materialist idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes. For this idea, we find no observations. Physicist Nick Herbert stated “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.” This idea has failed the test.
What about the idea that our universe popped into existence out of Nothing? If we accurately define Nothing as, for instance, “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we can conclude that this idea has absolutely failed the test.
What about the biblical idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”? When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause. And, since the qualities possessed by this cause describe the God of the Bible, we again find a biblical idea has passed the test.
Therefore, let us begin to build on the two scientifically strong ideas that have passed—the idea that God is the creator and that we have been created in his image. Let us further reject the materialist ideas that have failed—that a universe can come from Nothing and that materialism can account for human consciousness. Join with me and let us question more ideas from the Bible, and question more ideas of the materialist. Then, let us follow the evidence where ever it leads.
Especially, let us build on the idea that overwhelmingly has the most scientific support, with endless supporting observations, the greatest idea ever, that God created the heavens and the earth.
I believe—as already demonstrated by our first four tests—that when we accept the terms presented to us in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, we will find, not only that science and religion are compatible, but that science actually supports what the Bible says. The Cosmos is yours!