I just listened to a really interesting Intelligence Squared podcast, where the debaters were all scientists (two atheistic or non-religious, two Christian) debating whether science refutes the existence of God. Although it was really interesting, I don’t think they really got at the point of this question.
First it seems important to define God in this question. I would say God is not religion, not the Bible, not it’s teachings. God is a non-human, non-physical being who can listen, can take action in the physical world, and created the universe. (I think God in this question must be described as the correspondence of the Gods in all of the world’s religions; descriptors beyond this are not universal and not necessarily true of God.)
I would argue that modern scientific knowledge does not refute the existence of a being such as this.
First of all, the possibility that the universe was created by God does not seem to me to be disproved or refuted by science. Modern science shows us that everything in the universe did originate at one point, the big bang.
Evolutionism, to me, does not refute God. Why couldn’t evolution exist alongside God? Perhaps if he were perfect, he would have created perfect beings to begin with. But is there a reason why he couldn’t have created the universe and allowed the physics, biology, chemistry of that universe that he created to eventually lead to the current reality? Based on my initial impressions of the idea (not the details) of God, this is possible.
My other main perception about God is that he is necessarily able to take action in the physical world. Science hasn’t disproven this either. Although an important foundation of science is determinism (the idea that given a set of initial conditions and physical laws, the reality of the situation will evolve in the same way each time, even if our measurement of that situation may vary with some uncertainty), quantum mechanics and more modern physics ideas disagree with this. The main principle that seems to directly not disprove God is the idea in quantum mechanics that infinite experimental results are possible, and the probabilities of different outcomes are specified by a continuous and infinite function—indicating that really, nothing is truly impossible. The highly unlikely may be highly unlikely, but still impossible. In this way, acts of God, though highly unlikely, could still be described as conforming to laws of physics.
I think I need to go back to my modern and quantum physics classes and look at these experiments (where electron wave functions have minute but real probabilities of being outside their classical physics confines) and see if these ideas make sense along with the idea of God playing a role in the universe in a way that cannot be described by classical physics law.
What are other universal descriptions of God, and how does science regard these descriptors?
What questions can science answer that religion can’t? And what questions can religion answer that science can’t? What questions can both answer; what questions can neither answer? Complementary, supplementary?