Scientific experiments and findings in recent times have led many hard-core theistic scientists and philosophers to be believers. American Scientist Francis Collins, Oxford Philosopher Anthony Flew, etc., are a couple of such stalwarts, whom we have already discussed in this column. Renowned American astronomer Allan Sandage is another candidate to this line of scientists. Allan Sandage is one of the greatest and most influential astronomers of the 20th century. He worked along with Edwin Hubble and contributed significantly to determining the Hubble Constant, which describes the Big Bang Expansion.
Allan Sandage was a hardcore atheist for long. However his astronomical knowledge led him to faith in God. According to Sandage, science can answer only the questions of what, when, and how. In an interview he stated that science does not, and indeed cannot, answer within its method the question of why: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is the design that we see everywhere so truly miraculous?
He thinks that there can be no conflict between science and religion if they acknowledge the limits of each other. The grand success of science can no longer be overlooked by the Church. At the same time, the claim of the theology to explain the world at the most fundamental level can no longer be dismissed. “If God did not exist, science would have to invent the concept to explain what it is discovering at its core. Abelard’s 12th century dictum ‘Truth cannot be contrary to truth. The findings of reason must agree with the truths of scripture, else the God who gave us both has deceived us with one or the other’ still rings true.” Sandage continues, “If there is no God, nothing makes sense. The atheist’s case is based on a deception they wish to play upon themselves that follows already from their initial premise. And if there is a God, he must be true both to science and religion.” Probably his statement that “… the deeper any scientist pushes his work, the more profound it does indeed become” is the testimony from his own search for meaning.
Sandage thinks that the scientific knowledge of the creation is not knowledge of the creator. Astronomical findings do not tell us why the event occurred. Creation is something supernatural and by this definition a miracle. “Nature of God is not to be found within any part of these findings of science. For that, one must turn to the scriptures, if indeed an answer is to be had within our finite human understanding.”