Children of Science or Faith?

I am a big fan of Doctor Who. The time traveling alien who travels in a machine disguised as a police box tickles my fancy because I never know what to expect. However last week while my wife was out of town I decided to watch an episode from a spinoff series. Torchwood was a more adult series that was on the air a few years ago and deals with alien incursion on earth when the good Doctor is not around. So since I had an afternoon to burn away I grabbed a long scarf, a screwdriver, and started watching the Children of Earth miniseries on Netflix.

While we will not go into the plot details, here is the basic premise: Children all over the earth froze at the same specific time and started to chant “We are coming”, and then unfroze like nothing happened (much like when the TV is turned off after a cartoon marathon in real life). In the course of the investigation, a massive government conspiracy is exposed and an alien menace is destroyed at a great cost. While this sounds like any science fiction show there is some underlying ideas that are talked about in the opening minutes of the first episode that are interesting.

Here is the clip: 

The woman, Gwen, is a main character and she is trying to enlist a medical professional that was just met in the previous scene. He finally opens up on why he wants to join the secret organization.

He explains that his first case was a suicide of a Christian woman who thought that science won because of the appearance of alien life in this fictional world. The characters concur that not only did she lose her faith but it was more than that. It was right that she now felt she was a tiny part in the universe and was nothing significant. After that bit of seriousness Gwen consoles him by saying that the meaningless they all feel is “brilliant, beautiful, magic, and bigger.”

Can that tragedy that was discussed actually happen? Yes, sadly people commit suicide over a multitude of reasons; however, this is a fictional scene written specifically by the author to make a point. That is what we are addressing.

While we need more people who write science-fiction with a religious bent, the argument in this scene shows that there is a divide between Science and Religion. The ones who embrace science are the ones who avoid the feelings of “anomie” and see the world as “brilliant, beautiful, magic, and bigger”. Here is the issue though: it is actually the reverse! God and science can both be true! Here are some reasons how our Torchwood ‘friends’ are wrong:

  • Meeting aliens would not disprove the existence of God or Christianity. This is a non-sequitur. Think of it this way: when we find new species here on earth do they disprove that God exists? No, there is no link between finding life and the existence of God. How then would finding life off of the earth be any different? Also, if aliens exist they would still have to be created because of the conclusion of the Kalam.
  • Science has equivocal meanings. Any good thinker should ask “What do you mean by the word science?” If Science means that we can only know things through the scientific method (‘scientism’), like this scene indicates, then the world is actually smaller since that kind of science self-refutes. “Science” in that way cannot even prove it exits using the scientific method.
  • It commits the False Dilemma fallacy by asserting that a view is either scientific or religious by presupposing that science and religion cannot mix. We, however,  see the blending of science and religion in the existence of a Creator based on Big Bang cosmology as the beginning of the universe.
  • There is a whole field of Scientific apologetics that even has a part here on this blog.  There are many different approaches of dealing with science and religion according to Ian Barbour: conflict, independence, dialogue and integration. [1]. By only choosing the conflict perspective, there is a closing out of all the different approaches that have happened in the past as well as now.
  • You actually need God for meaning! William Craig writes that life would be absurd without God. While this thought is even addressed in the Book Ecclesiastes, that death is the great equalizer we can go further. Not only will we die but the universe will end in a bitter cold whimpering death. There is nothing we can do to stop that. We could lie to ourselves to be noble but even that deception would be meaningless in the end.

So while the Torchwood team did save the day, they still would need a Doctor to save them from their incorrect thinking.


[1]  Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (Harper San Francisco, ©1997).