I have just heard Peter Atkins, Oxford Professor of Chemistry, on the ‘Sunday’ programme on Radio 4. I could not believe the fundamentalist views expressed by this very intelligent man. He said, in the strongest of terms, that ‘religious’ people had absolutely no place in the study of science as they were interested only in ‘obfuscation’ whereas science was solely concerned with observable, verifiable facts. The claim that made me jump up and go and stick something on the blog about it, however, was when he said that science was the “one way to truth and light”.
I trust you will understand me when I say that Prof Atkins is clearly a very religious man himself! He has put his total confidence in the dogma of naturalistic science, and tenet number one of this faith system is, ‘there is no God’. All his conclusions and scientific observations are interpreted in the light of this dogma and any challenge to it must be stamped upon as heresy. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper concerning Atkins and those who think like him said, “on matters of theology their arguments are a disgrace: assertive without substance; demanding evidence while offering none; staggeringly unscholarly. For all the great founders of modern science – Galileo, Newton, Descartes, Robert Boyle, John Ray and their Muslim predecessors – their research was itself an act of reverence. The list continues through the 19th century, with Faraday, Babbage and Kelvin. From our present age, … Sir Ghillean Prance, former director of Kew [says]: “All my studies have confirmed my faith.”” (Colin Tudge, The Guardian 8th December 2007).
Unfortunately, while most people would not have the ability or the desire to emulate Atkins mouth-foaming antagonism towards religion in general, and Christianity in particular, many are still willing to vaguely pin their hopes onto the claim that ‘science’ has done away with the need for God; and therefore with the need to ever give an account of their behaviour to anyone outside of this life. This entry will become a book if we start onto the implications of that idea!
There is an alternative position. I find it hard to believe that Atkins was not directly constrasting his claim for science with the claim of the Lord Jesus when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14v6). The Lord Jesus lived an entirely sinless life for 33 years under intense scrutiny; He performed miracles that even His enemies couldn’t deny; He voluntarily allowed Himself to be crucified; and He was witnessed by hundreds following His physical resurrection 3 days later. These are His credentials to support His claim. What are Peter Atkins?