I could easily highlight David Hume’s work as some of the books that most impressed me in my youth. It was there that I first had contact with what became known as the issue, or the problem of induction. This problem leaves science in a very peculiar situation: you have to accept the fact that, if one takes God out of the equation, all science does is based on the irrational bet that the future will repeat the laws of the past.
In our conversation today, I’d like to talk about how the problem of Induction is absolutely unsolved [1. For those who inadvertently think that Popper solved the problem of induction, we suggest the study of the Duhem-Quine’s thesis. We didn’t address that issue in the post, because it was outside of the scope of this article; but if you have any questions about it, please do not hesitate to write them in the comments section.] in the atheistic worldview, and, on the contrary, how it is not only solved but also predicted in the Scriptures. Let’s see.
The question we have to face is the following: the repetition of facts in the past provides no scientifically verifiable indication that this very fact will be repeated in the future. Yes, in order to predict what will happen in the future, as simple and obvious as this prediction may look like, science has to use a tool that many scientists criticize – faith. It is by faith that science says that the laws of nature that worked yesterday and today will work the same way tomorrow.
I think we can sum up this issue in a question. In order to do so, we’ll use an example that Hume himself used: the sunrise. The question is as follows: using only science, can we honestly say for sure that the sun will rise tomorrow? The honest answer (and the embarrassing one for atheism) that every physicist knows is–no, we cannot. It is by faith that science bets high on the fact that the sun, yes, will rise tomorrow.
We (see that I’m including myself), do the same thing; we always expect that the sun will rise every single day. The fact, however, is that we have to accept that when we take the issue to the extreme, the expectation we have that the Sun will rise cannot be attributed to elements of logic, scientific method, reason, etc. No, it is a matter of faith.
The faith scientists have in induction, is ultimately, faith in God. In a sense, to think seriously about science is only possible through a theistic worldview.
A scientist that doesn’t believe in God could say, “no, I don’t believe God exists, but just like you, I too hope that the sun will rise tomorrow.” In this case, in what does he have faith? Certainly, he has faith in the uniformity of the laws of nature. In both spatial uniformity (physics that happen here–also happen in neighboring countries) and mainly in temporal uniformity: scientists have to have faith, that the laws of nature that worked today and yesterday will work tomorrow.
The inconsistency appears when the scientist stops there. That is, the uniformity of the laws of nature is not something that can be demonstrated; it is not self-evident, and we cannot even say that it comes from the material world. As we know, we can create mathematical models of natural laws that do not occur in nature, because the material world itself can be arranged in such a way that the laws would be completely different.
The fact that physics is the way it is, doesn’t mean it couldn’t be completely different. There is no necessity, either in the uniformity of the laws of nature, nor in the laws themselves.
So all atheist scientists have to face the following question, “if the uniformity of the laws of nature is not something I can explain – but I do have to believe in their uniformity to do everything I do in science–then how did it come to existence?”
Experience tells us that where there are laws, there are legislators. In the case of Christianity, not only the experience but also the Bible tells us that God is the one who keeps the uniformity of the laws of nature, so we can understand Him and His purposes. In the book of Hebrews (11:3 and 1:3, respectively), we can read that God not only created the universe, but He also sustains it by the word of His power. Passages such as Genesis 8:22, Psalm 74:16-17, and Jeremiah 31:35-36, among others, carry the same meaning.
We saw that, when you take God out of the equation, induction remains an unsolved problem. Therefore, only the existence of God is what gives meaning to scientific practice. Only God can explain why we can expect that today’s laws of nature will be the same tomorrow. Only with God can we be really sure that the sun will rise tomorrow, both physically – and especially – in our lives.