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It’s assumed that religious people are anti-science and scientists are anti-religion. But this isn’t necessarily true.

Is God “dead?” Time Magazine asked this in 1966, pointing out that in Western culture, many people viewed God as obsolete. But since that time, theists have argued that good science provides reasons for, not against, belief in a supernatural being like God.

[Related: What’s Your Worldview?]

Life-Supporting Planets

The same year Time Magazine published its famous headline, astronomer Carl Sagan announced his two criteria for a life-supporting planet: the right kind of star and a planet the right distance from that star. Statistically, it seemed likely that the number of habitable planets in the universe would allow for many intelligent civilizations to exist.

Life Shouldn’t Exist

The SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life) program set out to find these civilizations, but no conclusive evidence has been found. Carl Sagan’s two criteria for life-supporting planets were not as helpful as first thought. The original two criteria eventually became fifty, and the number of potentially life-supporting planets – as well as the number of potentially intelligent non-human civilizations – decreased. Today, there are over 200 criteria for a planet to support life, every one of which must be perfectly met. It is far more likely that life should not exist than it is that life should exist.

The Universe Shouldn’t Exist

If the over-200 factors necessary for a planet to support life weren’t enough, the universe’s existence requires even more fine-tuning. The values of the four fundamental forces (gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the strong and weak nuclear forces) are so specific that if any one of them were tweaked even slightly, the universe as we know it wouldn’t exist. Even for skeptics like the late Christopher Hitchens, these facts were the strongest argument for the belief that the universe did not accidentally explode into existence.

[Related: Misconceptions About the Universe]

Science itself suggests the unlikelihood of random factors coalescing to form a planet that not only could support life, but does – and not just life, but intelligent life that can ponder its own existence. Statistically, there should be nothing.

Of course, none of this definitively proves the existence of God or any supernatural being. But maybe the issue isn’t as open-and-shut as some would suggest?

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Why do you think the existence of God/supernatural beings is such a hot-button issue these days? Give some examples if you have any.
  3. If you know a bit about worldviews, what would you say yours is? Why?
  4. Are science and religion necessarily opposed? Explain.
  5. What are some questions religion can’t answer that science can?
  6. What are some questions science can’t answer that religion can?
  7. What do you think is the strongest argument for God’s existence? Against?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.