Intelligence and Christian Faith

The [reverent] fear of the Lord is the beginning (the prerequisite, the absolute essential, the alphabet) of wisdom. A good understanding and a teachable heart are possessed by all those who do the will of the Lord. His praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111:10)

(As the Amplified Bible translation makes clear, we’re not talking about actual fear of God, but reverence and respect.)

Solomon may have been the wisest man who ever lived.(1st Kings 10:23) His book, Proverbs, wrote in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Those are big claims the authors are making for “the fear of the Lord”. So were they right? Are believers in Jehovah wiser for it? Let’s do a little research.

MODERN SCIENTISTS WHO BELIEVE IN A GOD: keep in mind that not all of these people are what we would call evangelical Christians. Some have an occasional “wild hair” mixed in with their Christian beliefs. Some are Deists, merely believing that there is a God. Not necessarily a god we would recognize as the God of the Bible, but definitely a God, a Deity. The point is not that scientists believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or in Jesus as their personal Savior. (Although many do.) The point is that many scientists, people who are far above the norm in intelligence, do believe that there is a God, and this proves that faith in God is not an indication of stupidity or superstitious beliefs.

Let’s start off with a seriously heavy lifter: Francis Collins, appointed by Barack Obama to the office of Director of the National Institutes of Health and selected by President Trump to continue in that office. This link is a personal interview with Collins in which he gives an amazing, fascinating, thoroughly Biblical testimony of personal faith in Jesus Christ and how he came to that faith.

See: Biographical Sketch of Francis S. Collins M.D., Ph.D.  for a complete listing of Dr. Collins’ scientific credentials.

What NIH has to say about the office Collins holds:
The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH, responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The NIH Director, with a unique and critical perspective on the entire agency, is responsible for providing leadership to the Institutes and for constantly identifying needs and opportunities, especially for efforts that involve multiple Institutes. The NIH Director is assisted by NIH Deputy Directors including the Principal Deputy Director, who shares in the overall direction of the agency’s activities.”

From Open Court Publishing Company :
The year’s most intriguing book about God was produced not by theologians but by 60 world-class scientists, 24 Nobel Prize-winners among them. “Cosmos, Bios, Theos” gives their thoughts on the Deity and the origin of the universe and of life on Earth. For instance, the co-editor, Yale physicist Henry Margenau, concludes that there is ‘only one convincing answer’ for the intricate laws that exist in nature: creation by an omnipotent, omniscient God.” —Time

From Magis Center , I have selected a very few of the 23 scientists they list. NOTE their powerful scientific credentials. Some of their titles and specialties alone are beyond my comprehension:
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Professor Christian Anfinsen* (Nobel Prize for Chemistry, biochemistry of RNA, Johns Hopkins University): “I think that only an idiot can be an atheist! We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.”

[No, you do not have to be an idiot to be an atheist. But to be a scientist and an atheist, yes, for that, you have to be an idiot. – lawngren]
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Professor Werner Archer (Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine, restriction enzymes and molecular genetics, University of Basel): “I do not think our civilization has succeeded in discovering and explaining all the principles acting in the universe. I include the concept of God among these principles. I am happy to accept the concept without trying to define it precisely. I know that the concept of God helped me to master many questions in life; it guides me in critical situations and I see it confirmed in many deep insights into the beauty of the functioning of the living world.”
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Dr. Arno Penzias* (Nobel Prize for physics for first observation of the universal microwave background radiation, Vice-President for Research, AT&T Bell Laboratories): “…by looking at the order in the world, we can infer purpose and from purpose we begin to get some knowledge of the Creator, the Planner of all this … I look at God through the works of God’s hands and from those works imply intentions. From these intentions, I receive an impression of the Almighty.”
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Rev. Professor John Polkinghorne*** (Theoretical elementary particle physics, President, Queens College, Cambridge University): “I take God very seriously indeed. I am a Christian believer (indeed, an ordained Anglican priest), and I believe that God exists and has made Himself known in Jesus Christ.”
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*member, National Academy of Science

***Fellow, Royal Society UK
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The Huffington Post! Incredible! Incredible that HuffPo should post this next article with such a neutral, even friendly, attitude. Again, I have selected only a few of those listed:

When President Barack Obama nominated the Christian geneticist Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health in 2009, some American scientists questioned whether someone who professed a strong belief in God was qualified to lead the largest biomedical research agency in the world … according to a 2009 Pew Research Center survey, American scientists are about half as likely as the general public to believe in God or a higher, universal power … In the past, this quest for understanding has given scientists both past and present plenty of opportunities for experiencing wonder and awe. That’s because at their core, both science and religion require some kind of leap of faith — whether it’s belief in multiverses or belief in a personal God.”

1. Galileo Galilei: convicted of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church for supporting the theory that the planets revolved around the sun. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God Who has endowed us with senses, reason and intellect, has intended us to forego their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters which are set before our eyes and minds by direct experience or necessary demonstrations.”

2. Sir Francis Bacon, “founder of the scientific method”: “God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

3. Charles Darwin? Yes, Charles Darwin: “I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know whence it came and how it arose. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect; but man can do his duty.”

EARLY SCIENTISTS WHO BELIEVED IN A GOD:
(in addition to those listed immediately above)
From Evidence for God
Scientists who believe in God also lived in the very beginnings of science. Many made major contributions to science. Many of them were Catholics, which is not surprising, considering that the Roman Catholic Church was the only or the predominant church in the Western World for a long time. Again, I have selected only a few:

Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who put forward the first mathematically based system of planets going around the sun. He … became a Canon in the Catholic church in 1497. His new [astronomy] system was actually first presented … in 1533 before Pope Clement VII who approved, and urged Copernicus to publish it … Copernicus … was urged to publish both by Catholic Bishop Guise, Cardinal Schonberg, and the Protestant Professor George Rheticus. Copernicus referred sometimes to God in his works, and did not see his system as in conflict with the Bible.”
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Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)
Bacon was a philosopher who is known for establishing the scientific method of inquiry based on experimentation and inductive reasoning. In De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium, Bacon established his goals as being the discovery of truth, service to his country, and service to the church.”
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Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Kepler was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. He did early work on light, and established the laws of planetary motion about the sun. He also came close to reaching the Newtonian concept of universal gravity – well before Newton was born! His introduction of the idea of force in astronomy changed it radically in a modern direction. Kepler was an extremely sincere and pious Lutheran, whose works on astronomy contain writings about how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity. Kepler suffered no persecution for his open avowal of the sun-centered system, and, indeed, was allowed as a Protestant to stay in Catholic Graz as a Professor (1595-1600) when other Protestants had been expelled!
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Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and theologian. In mathematics, he published a treatise on the subject of projective geometry and established the foundation for probability theory. Pascal invented a mechanical calculator, and established the principles of vacuums and the pressure of air. He was raised a Roman Catholic, but in 1654 had a religious vision of God, which turned the direction of his study from science to theology … His most influential theological work, the Penses (“Thoughts”), was a defense of Christianity, which was published after his death.”
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Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
In optics, mechanics, and mathematics, Newton was a figure of undisputed genius and innovation. In all his science (including chemistry) he saw mathematics and numbers as central. What is less well known is that he was devoutly religious … In his system of physics, God was essential to the nature and absoluteness of space. In [his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica] he stated, ‘The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.’ ”
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Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
One of the founders and key early members of the Royal Society, Boyle gave his name to “Boyle’s Law” for gases, and also wrote an important work on chemistry. Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: “By his [last will and testament] he endowed a series of Boyle lectures, or sermons, which still continue, ‘for proving the Christian religion against notorious infidels…’ As a devout Protestant, Boyle took a special interest in promoting the Christian religion abroad, giving money to translate and publish the New Testament into Irish and Turkish. In 1690 he developed his theological views in The Christian Virtuoso, which he wrote to show that the study of nature was a central religious duty.”
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Others on the list: Michael Faraday (1791-1867), Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907), Max Planck (1858-1947) … These are names I remember from history and science classes in high school. World shakers. Scientific giants. They cast long shadows.

***End Note from duckie-
the feature photo is a Hubble telescope image of spiral galaxy M51

 

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