God Created the Integers, Man Created God

Michael Atiyah gives a presidential address on Mind, Matter, and Mathematics (good alliteration).  In it he discusses the difference between mathematical philosophy and natural philosophy.  It’s an interesting read throughout.

But, near the end he says:

Mathematical physicists believe that there are indeed simple and beautiful mathematical equations that govern the universe, and that the task of the scientist is to search for them. This is an article of faith.

An alternative faith is to believe in a God who created the universe and kindly provided us with laws or equations that we would be able to understand.

He touts that these are compatible philosophies.  As faiths, they are similar (I take issue with the first idea:  Mathematical equations do not “govern” the universe, they are just really good at representing it.)

But, more importantly, I disagree with the idea that belief in God is always compatible with science (an implication I think he was making).  In physics, it’s an easier sell.  There is nothing alive in physics.

A harder sell is in biology.  Belief in God is one thing, but belief in a soul is problematic.  If one believes in a soul, that every human (homo sapien) is singled out from among God’s creatures as different (better), then all of biological evolution (and what it can tell us about who we are) falls apart.

If it is true that humans ARE totally and fundamentally different than all of the other creatures on earth (and potentially on other planets), and if this is due to our having a soul, then we MUST abandon much of what we believe to be true in biology.

If biology is right, then we are not different in any fundamental way than other species.  Unique, sure.  (So is the norwhal.)  But, not totally different.

I am hesitant to say that a belief in a God-given soul is compatible with biological science, and from there science generally.

(HAT TIP:  Noncommutative Geo)