Evangelization, meaning to help those who already believe in God develop a deeper faith and to reach out to those who have fallen away from Christianity or have never believed, is something near and dear to my heart.
Thus, it is something that is often part of my daily reflections. It has been especially on my mind lately for two reasons. The first is that I have been searching for ideas on how to reach out to those who don’t come to church, asking why don’t they come. The second is that I recently read Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia, following the Synod on the Amazon as well as the final document from that synod.
Both of those documents reflect on the need for evangelization. It is not something needed in just the region of the Amazon. It is something we all need to do. In my recent reflections the question that has come up multiple times for me as I think about evangelization in our own country is, “How do you evangelize a culture that used to be Christian?“
Our society is losing its Christian identity. As one step in my reflection on this question, last week I wrote an article here on this blog, “The Quest for Fulfillment in the Modern World.” We are created to know God. God is the only thing that can fulfill us.
Now, I turn to the question found in the title of this article, “Has Science Eliminated the Need for God?” Some of the people who have fallen away may answer the question with a “yes.” I would not.
The answer is a clear “no“.
Of course, I should explain my answer. Why would one even ask the question? There are atheists today who claim that god was something used by primitive cultures to explain the “unexplainable”. They had no science so they created “gods” who were in control and made things happen the way they did.
Now, for these atheists, science has the answers. At least, it will have all the answers. For them, science can’t answer everything now but it will someday. They think it is just a matter of time.
Some of them even argue that science proves “God” doesn’t exist. They say the scientific theory known as “Big Bang” explains the existence of the universe. They point out how the stories of creation as told in chapters one and two of the Book of Genesis are proved wrong by the “Big Bang Theory.” So, they claim god does not exist.
How are we to respond?
Does the science we know today answer many of the questions that people couldn’t in ages past? Yes. God gave us minds to grow and learn.
However, science does not, and is not meant to, answer the same questions as faith does.
Science answers questions of how things happen. That’s what the “Big Bang Theory” does.
In contrast, faith answers questions of “meaning”. The first two chapters of the Book of Genesis in the Bible are not meant to give a scientific explanation of creation. They are meant to help us understand how God brings order to the universe. God is the “first cause.”
The “Big Bang Theory” says that the universe began to exist as we know it when the atoms began to interact in a certain way. What caused that? Those who support a version of the “Big Bang” without a god might talk about how atoms are designed to interact in certain ways. What caused that? God (see St. Thomas Aquinas’ “cosmological argument for more on this).
Some limit the cosmological argument to the concept of an intelligent designer. They describe such an intelligent designer as one who is of a superior intellect than humans who created the universe but is not “god”.
Now, for the “leap of faith.” Of course, God is of superior intellect. In fact, He is all-knowing. I see a genius evident in what God has created. Why did the universe come to be as it is? Why does every animal species including humans have two sexes, male and female? Why not one? Why not four? Can science answer that? It is God who sets the order of the universe as it is.
Thus, when I think about our society losing its Christian identity, I believe we are losing our humanity. We are losing the sense of what God made us to be.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. God has not become irrelevant. Why do you exist? Science cannot answer that. The Baltimore Catechism tells us that “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven” (question 6).
P.S. For more on what the Catholic Church says about evolution, here is a page on my website with links to some church documents on the topic of evolution.
P.S.S For a better explanation than I can provide, I suggest Quarks, Chaos, and & Christianity: Questions to Science and Religion by John Polkinghorne (Crossroad:New York. 1994). He used to be a quantum physicist before becoming an Anglican priest.