This was a time when science was on the side of atheism, and the common man was literate enough to understand some of what science said. Should a day come when science moves away from God again, it may be worth the effort to remember how Christians kept their faith during this time.
Gérard Edelinck, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
As strange as it may seem, the truth is that science provides more and more evidence of God's existence on a daily basis. Indeed, it is almost impossible for science to discard God now, at least as a very credible theory. And it becomes more difficult as time goes on. I only call this strange because so much "common knowledge" says that science is not only incompatible with God, but that science disproves God. But despite the bravado of those claiming this, they are about a century behind the times. The 1920's brought about quantum theory, the Big Bang Theory, and the start of aggressive atheistic governments founded on man's "enlightenment" that sought out and removed the "corrupting" influence of religion. By 1945, the dramatic use of atomic bombs to end World War II made it impossible to deny the validity of quantum theory (and this theory was only in its nascent stage then). By the 1960's, not only was the expanding universe proved beyond doubt, but the horrors of atheistic socialism were so widespread that they could no longer be ignored. While science could discretely walk away from its role in the socialist genocides (famous people such as Albert Einstein and John-Paul Sartre convinced people it wasn't the science, but man's capitalistic application of science that caused the horrors), one has to simply stop paying attention to what science is revealing about the certainty of an intelligent design behind the formation of the universe. While science has grudgingly accepted that Genesis 1 - 2:3 was an accurate outline of how our universe developed in the 1960's, since then they have found evidence that went from "God is possible," to "God is at least 50% likely," to "God is very likely," to where science can no longer deny the existence of Jehovah without creating an alternative religion. Of course, national stage scientists won't put it in those terms, but one only has to read between the lines of what they do say to see the truth behind my claim.
But for now, I want to focus on just how fickle science really is. It has to be that way. Science, by its very nature, is about discovery. When one is deliberately looking to find new things, one needs to expect to find new things. And the high degree of credibility science has earned for itself comes from its trying to prove itself wrong (as defined by Karl Popper with his falsifiability criteria). If one honestly attempts to prove oneself wrong in all things, one should expect to be proven wrong on occasion. So while I, as an engineer, have great respect for science, I also have an appreciation for its limits. One should always be careful in trusting what science says today, as the answer may be quite different tomorrow. I do use science to help me apologize the Christian faith because I can, but I also think it worthwhile to look at the great apologists that came after Sir Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes, but before Einstein and Sartre. This was a time when science was on the side of atheism, and the common man was literate enough to understand some of what science said. Should a day come when science moves away from God again, it may be worth the effort to remember how Christians kept their faith during this time. And since so many contemporary atheists are still trapped in this time zone, we have ready-made arguments against them from those that dealt with it when the ideas were new.
There are seven apologists I will focus on, and how their approaches (for better or worse) defended the Christian faith. I will present them in chronological order. They are Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, George Berkeley (after whom the campus in California is named), Immanuel Kant, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.