The Reason for many modern scientists’ (naturalists) rejection of the miraculous

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is the fact that many scientists say that; but it’s not their science that forces them to say so. They say it, not because science has forced them to say that miracles are impossible; they say it because they start off with the assumption that there is no God, that all there is in the universe is matter and, if that is so, miracles are impossible. Therefore, the story of the resurrection can’t be true. It’s not that science proves it; it’s their pre-supposition that there’s no God that leads them to conduct their science in such a way as they will tell you science proves the resurrection impossible. Now, don’t just take that from me. I want to read you a recent statement from a scientist. His name is Richard Lewontin,4 one of the leading older scientists in the United States. He was a great personal friend of Carl Sagan,5 the scientist who made it his speciality to use his radio telescopes to listen into space. He did it in the conviction that there must be intelligent beings on other planets trying to get in touch with us. Both Carl Sagan and Richard Lewontin are atheists (Carl Sagan is now dead). This is rather difficult language, but I want you to listen to what this atheist scientist says.

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.6

  If you ever hear scientists saying that science has made it impossible for people to believe in God or the resurrection of Jesus Christ, remember what Professor Lewontin says, as an absolute atheist and a world famous scientist. ‘It’s not science that makes it impossible for us to believe in such things as the resurrection of Christ.’ What is it then? ‘It’s our prior commitment to materialism, and we are determined to maintain that standpoint. We’re not prepared for any God to put his foot inside our door.’”

Ftnt. #4: Evolutionary geneticist (born 1929).

Ftnt. #5: American Astronomer (1934–96).

Ftnt. #6: From Lewontin’s review of Carl Sagan’s last book, Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, in the New York Review of Books, 1 July 1997 (italics in original).

David W. Gooding, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: ‘The Rattle of Dead Men’s Bones,” A Myrtlefield Transcript. (Coleraine, NI: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 11-12.