Olson: Is It Scientific to Refuse to Contemplate the Possible Existence of God?

Roger Olson writes about his participation in a recent “conversation” between scientists and theologians from various traditions, and how that conversation left him frustrated.

He observes that, as far as he could tell, the conversation was really only in one direction, monologue not dialogue; the theologians were expected to listen to and learn from the scientists, but the scientists felt (his perception) that they had nothing to learn from the theologians.

I fully understand and accept the responsibility of religious scholars and theologians to take into account the facts of contemporary science. What I also wish for, however, is for scientists, especially those who consider themselves religious, to take into account religion and theology without reducing them to what science can understand by its own methods.

So now I will leave behind the general and move to the specific. One question that continues to baffle me is why science itself cannot consider the possibility of God (however understood) as an item of scientific investigation and causal explanation (of the  universe as a whole).

Let’s set aside all particular notions of “God” and define God for our purposes here as simply “the creator”—a self-existent, creative power behind the universe that science explores and attempts to explain.

There are things science believes in as scientific facts that no human being can observe. The reason for believing them is that their existence is necessary to explain observable phenomena (e.g., movements of objects). The fact that they are not themselves observed and may not be observable does not hinder scientists from believing in them.

Why is God automatically excluded from such things?

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