God and science: “This effervescence shows that the subject does not leave anyone indifferent”

The work of M.-Y. Bolloré and O. Bonnassies, God, science, evidence published in the fall of 2021, rekindled the debate on the relationship between science and faith. While the authors multiply the interviews, their conclusions are discussed by several conferences and published articles. Thus, a column appeared in The cross from the pen of a priest with a scientific background, Thierry Magnin, which has prompted several letters from readers. At the same time, the physicist essayist, emeritus professor at the University of Nice, J.-M. Lévy-Leblond published in Sky & Space an article God and science, the proofs to the test and the March issue of theAstronomythe journal of the Astronomical Society of France, contained the opinion of two fellow astronomers, God and science, a vain debate.

Tuesday evening, June 21, Lévy-Leblond, invited by the Rationalist Union, took up in a conference at the IAP the article he had published in January 2022. And the same evening, the theologian François Euvé, sj, physicist training, presented to the La Procure bookstore in Paris the book he had just published, Science, the test of God?which the banner presents as a “response to the book God, science, evidence ».

A subject that does not leave indifferent

I followed these exchanges because, as a researcher in astrophysics and also a practicing Christian, I have for a long time led a reflection around the science that I practice and the faith that I confess, leading me to give conferences. This effervescence indicates at least that the subject does not leave indifferent.

To sum up briefly, the two authors support the thesis that the results of modern science, particularly those of astrophysics, call into question a purely materialist explanation of the universe and open “a new revolution” where science, instead of fighting God, becomes “his new ally”. The book aims to demonstrate, by bringing together scientifically established data, that for the first time they offer proof of the existence of God. They quote for example the recent observations which make it possible to deduce the precise date of the original event of the big bang, which they bring closer to the first verse of Genesis, “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth” written eight centuries before our era, within the Hebrew people who alone in a polytheistic world affirm their faith in the unique God.

With a selection of other data and questions that science does not know how to solve, such as that of the origin of life, adding in a second part “The Proofs outside science”, with the destiny of the Jewish people, the person of Jesus, the authors claim to construct an objective demonstration of the existence of God.

Two answers

In response to the first part, ignoring the second whose object he does not see, Lévy-Leblond considers these “evidence” like the “scientific missteps”, the still unresolved issues are just awaiting new developments. He recalls that Abbé Lemaître, the father of the big bang model, made a distinction between the natural beginning of the world and the creative act of God. Moreover, from a theological point of view, if God is transformed into a reality accessible to science, he then loses his transcendence.

He concludes that this business is just a “eternal return of concordism”, way of recovering science, to be placed in context “of a political and ideological offensive by the ultra-Catholic right”. Without going into this last point, which is an opinion, these severe criticisms must be taken into account. The use of “evidence” has a media efficiency that has probably not escaped the publisher of this publication, specializing in esotericism and the divinatory arts. Therefore, should this book be recommended to those questioned by the updated relationship between science and faith?

Evidence or “signs”

The latest work of the theologian François Euvé seems more accurate to me. Presented as the answer to the book in question, it approaches the problem by re-examining in the context of modern science the fundamental question of the relationship between science and God. He first recalls the necessary autonomy of science in relation to any divine principle. But in the Bible, the Hebrew people decipher the action of God through their history. Every Christian is called to do the same in examining his life. Likewise, new discoveries in astrophysics, biology or other sciences can provide the believer with “signs” of a divine origin, respecting the autonomy of science and the mystery of God, specifying that “signs are not proof”. They ask “an interpretation that engages the freedom of the interpreter”.

In the conference that I built on “God and the cosmos”, I write: “Modern knowledge of the universe allows us to grasp the extraordinary beauty manifested by the complexity of galaxies, stars, planetary systems, life on Earth, from which arises an astonishing diversity of components, forms, structures. » These are as many “signs” that pave the way for dialogue “between science and faith”which I conclude that this reading translates for me into praise.


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