Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
Those are the basic questions we all learned as children, and one of life’s hardest lessons to learn is there aren’t always answers to all of them. But an equally difficult lesson is understanding which of these six questions we are actually trying to answer at any given time.
All too often, scientists today make the mistake of believing they are philosophers in addition to scientists - capable of answering every imaginable question. They seem to believe science is akin to a philosophical worldview, holding even theological answers.
Science is a field that can answer many great questions about the universe. How does matter interact? What are the mathematical laws that the universe follows? When and where will a planet be in the future? And many others? But the two questions scientists cannot answer are “Who?” and “Why?”
Who made everything and why?
Physicist Don Lincoln of the Fermilab makes this mistake in a recent CNN Opinion piece. Most of the article is actually quite interesting if you find physics enjoyable. If you don’t want to read about neutrinos and particle decay though, I’ll roughly summarize it in a couple sentences. Basically, scientific theories about matter and antimatter don’t match what we actually observe in the universe, and science cannot explain these discrepancies. In the time following the Beginning of time, more matter came into existence than antimatter, and scientists cannot explain how. Reality doesn't match the theoretical model. But physicists in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota may have developed the technology to measure specific particle decay that could begin explaining this discrepancy. Okay, that’s fine. I am not here to dispute any of the research. Mr. Lincoln is clearly brilliant, and I actually find most of his article interesting. But his ultimate conclusion is a bridge too far. He opens and then closes his article with the following paragraphs:
"Why is there something, rather than nothing?" could be the oldest and deepest question in all of metaphysics. Long exclusively the province of philosophy, in recent years this question has become one that can be addressed by scientific methods. What's more, a new scientific advance has made it more likely that we will finally be able to answer this cosmic conundrum. This is a big deal, because the simplest scientific answer to that question is "We shouldn't exist at all."
For millennia, introspective thinkers have pondered the great questions of existence. Why are we here? Why is the universe the way it is? Do things have to be this way? With this advance, scientists have taken a step forward in answering these timeless questions.
No, they haven’t. Not even close.
The realm of science is the study of the universe and everything in it through observation, calculation, and experiment. Thus, science expresses what mankind can calculate, observe, or test. In other words, science is restricted by man. It only expresses how things work in human terms; it cannot change or control the universe. And it certainly holds no power to explain why. That is beyond its scope.
This is one source for why atheists think science and religion are antagonistic. Some people think answering “How?” is the same as answering “Why?” And if science can answer how something happened, atheists think they don’t need to know who did it or who made it possible.
If the Bible says God created the Heavens and the Earth for His own glory, it tells us “Who?” and “Why?”
Investigating how Creation works through science does not nullify God's involvement or motivation.
As Wernher von Braun (the father of Rocket Science) once said,
“Science and religion are not antagonists. On the contrary, they’re sisters. While science tries to learn more about the creation, religion tries to better understand the Creator. While through science man tries to harness the forces of nature around him, through religion he tries to harness the force of nature within him.”
Here’s a thought experiment:
Imagine you live your whole life across the street from an empty lot. One day you wake up, and there is a strange, intricate structure in the formerly empty lot. It is massive and impossibly complex - unlike anything ever built before and without any clear purpose. No one knows where it came from or how it was built overnight. It just appeared. If scientists spend the following years studying it and finally discover the process of how it was built, would they then declare that it built itself? Would they claim to know why it was built? Or why it was placed across from your house? Obviously not. They would know “How?” but not “Who?” or “Why?”
Through observation and research, perhaps mankind gains some small insight into the mind of the builder. But the only way you could fully ever know “Who?” or “Why?” is if the builder knocked on your door and explained himself. Understanding Creation is not the same as understanding its Creator, but it can point you to Him.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalms 19:1