In a book called “Dangerous Ideas,” an eminent scientist says that the probability that there is a God is very low. As a scientist, I object. How does one calculate the probability that there is or isn’t a God?
In scientific research, probability is calculated after one has gathered the data. The conclusion that something has such and such a probability is shorthand for saying that there is an X chance (for example 1 out of 100 or 1 out of 2 ), that the results one has found in the sample used for the research can be extrapolated to a wider group.
For instance, if I pull ten pennies and five nickles out of a sack of a thousand coins, it is possible to calculate the chances (or probability) that the entire sack is filled with twice as many pennies as nickles, and that there are no dimes and quarters in the collection at all. But what research data would a scientist analyze to determine the probability of God? Science has no conceivable way of calculating the probability that there is or isn’t a God. The question is simply outside the area of scientific competence.
Some scientists believe in God and some don’t. But scientists really should not try to use science to argue the case for or against the existence of God. Any more than one should use religion to argue that the theories of quantum mechanics or gravity or relativity or evolution might be right – or wrong.
I am quite convinced that any concept of God should be robust enough to survive the discovery that the universe is, for us humans, a shocking surprise. Faith in God does not require that we deny evolution anymore than we need to deny that the earth revolves around the sun.