Having faith in some religion is a bit naive for a Harvard student, don’t you think? At this point in history, one could argue, we understand enough about the operations of the universe so as to not require some “all-powerful” being to explain its complexities. Certainly, past civilizations have needed some “god” figure to explain the mysterious world around them, but aren’t we too good for that? It seems we may we have reached the point at which God has become obsolete.
This is certainly an attractive view, especially at the intellectual hub of the world–Harvard University. However, I think it is one that is incredibly arrogant and just downright incorrect. To treat it with fairness, though, let me explain just what it means to say that we are too smart for God.
Renowned atheist writer Richard Dawkins professes this creed in what he calls “The God of the Gaps.” Essentially, Dawkins thinks that throughout history there has been a gap in the knowledge humanity has to explain the universe. Because we are unsatisfied with this gap, we fill it in with something we call “God.” This has meant different things at different points in time, however. For ancient civilizations, the fact that a ball of fire appeared in the sky each day was wonderful and unexplainable, and so they created a god of the sun. Basically, they did this to explain any and all natural phenomena.
Over time, though, our knowledge of how the universe really works has increased exponentially, and therefore the unknowable gap, that which we have to fill with “god,” has become significantly smaller. In fact, at this point in the history of humanity, the void in our knowledge of the universe has become so small, Dawkins argues, that we do not need to fill it at all. At this point, we know enough that we do not need a “god.”
How terribly vain this is! While I am certainly no science concentrator, I would argue that the universe is infinitely more complex than we can ever possibly comprehend. We do not need God simply as an intellectual comfort to fill this ever-present gap; rather, we need God because He exists. I will not spend any time with intellectual arguments for God’s existence (though those can be found in other posts on our blog), but rather, I would like to present an opposing view to Richard Dawkins’ “God of the Gaps.”
The rebuttal I am referring to comes from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, one of my all-time favorite books. Towards the beginning of the book, Lewis–one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century–proposes a concept of God and science that presumes a lot less about humanity’s ability to explain and control everything in the universe.
Lewis begins by referencing the Christian belief that man was made “in the image and likeness of God.” From this, we can presume that humans in some way resemble God and that God in some way resembles humans. Lewis suggests that God is similar to us in our most abstract faculty–the mind. That is to say, God is not like us in our physical bodies, but rather in our intellectual capabilities, except that He is infinitely more capable than we are. Science, Lewis suggests, is the thought of this omniscient mind. It is not the mind itself, which is to say that science is not its own creator and cannot itself be an explanation. Rather, the science of the universe is a conglomeration of thoughts that came from the greatest mind in existence, that of God Almighty.
Perhaps this is not the comforting view, or perhaps it is. In one sense, it is likely frustrating to settle into the view that no matter how much we would like to, humans simply cannot know everything there is to know. On the other hand, I find great peace in the faith I have of a mind infinitely greater than my own, which has complete authority over this crazy universe.
Haley Curtin ’18 lives in Canaday Hall.