Y2K seems like it was only yesterday. Nonetheless, we are now well into the 21st Century. The old saying goes, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” That is certainly true, but with a New Year on the horizon, perhaps it is good time to gaze ahead into the future. So, unless the Lord returns in the next hundred years (always a possibility), I would like to make five prognostications about what will transpire in the future concerning two topics, science and religion.
The two may seem unconnected but they are indelibly linked in many people’s minds. Many skeptics with a naturalistic worldview believe that science has rendered belief in God, or any supernatural religious concept, implausible. Thus, I would like to submit four predictions of scientific discoveries that will effect religious and worldview beliefs in the next century. I will then make a prediction about the future of world Christianity. Those my age may not live to see these forecasts come to fruition, but hopefully coming generations will recognize the implications they will have in the arena of worldview ideas.
Prediction #1: No Life Will Be Discovered Anywhere Else in the Solar-system or Galaxy Except on Earth.
So far, scientists have not found even one small shred of evidence that life exists, or existed anytime in the past, beyond our planet. Absolutely nothing has been detected to indicate extra-terrestrial life. NASA and other nation’s space agencies have planned many unmanned space research probes, manned landings on Mars, or journeys to other planets or moons (Eg. Europa at Jupiter) in our solar system for the coming century. However, even with all that exploration, the investigations done with space-based telescopes, and the work of SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), I predict they will find no evidence of life anywhere but here.
I realize this runs counter to what people take for granted. It is fair to say most people assume that life, even intelligent life, exists somewhere else in the cosmos. Certainly, they say, with all the Sci-Fi books and movies portraying alien beings, they must be real. All we need to do is locate or communicate with them.
The truth is, however, that the odds of life appearing on any world by chance alone is beyond the scope of realistic expectations. Biological science still cannot explain or reproduce the origin of even the simplest forms of life found here on earth. A growing number of scientists are taking the position that life could not have originated on earth at all. Those with a Naturalistic worldview cannot abide the possibility that life was created by a supernatural force or entity. So some are saying it must have come here from outer-space either by asteroids or by intelligent alien beings who seeded it.
As Christians we assert that life began by the creative power of God. The complexity of living things and the fine-tuning of the universe testifies to an intelligent designer. As science continues to unlock more secrets of biology it becomes more evident that Someone must have put it here. That being said, if life does exist beyond earth we will probably never know it (see number 2 below). And, if it does exist, it will have been created by the same God who put it here.
Prediction #2: No Interstellar Travel Outside of Our Solar System Will Ever Be Possible.
If you watch Science Fiction TV shows and movies, you know that in the not-too-far distant future humans will be traveling in starships from our solar system to planets all around our galaxy. When “hyper-drive” or “warp- speed” is finally attained, then we will “search out new worlds, discover new life forms, and boldly go where no one has gone before!”
WRONG. No theory is even speculated as to how to attain speeds possible for leaving our solar-system to travel to others. The universe has an absolute speed limit. It is the speed of light which is 186,000 miles per second (671 million miles per hour)! Nothing can ever surpass that speed or realistically approach it. According to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, no matter how fast an object may go relative to some other stationary or slower moving object, its speed relative to light will never change. In other words, the speed of light remains constant. As an object gains speed, light speed will not slow down. However, the object’s time does slow down relative to the other slower objects.
What this means is that the distances between solar systems are so great that any vehicle we were to build would take many years to reach another star. For instance, the nearest star to earth is Proxima Centauri. It is about 4.24 light years (the distance light travels in one year is about 6 trillion miles) or about 26 trillion miles from Earth. Even traveling at, say, a scorching (and unrealistic) 10 million miles an hour, it would take 300 years for a craft to reach the nearest star! But let’s suppose that somehow a space ship could get to about half the speed of light to travel to Proxima Centauri and back (only about a twenty year journey). When the travelers returned home they would be shocked to see that, though they have aged by twenty years, the earth has moved forward in time by perhaps hundreds of years (its that special relativity problem). The point is, interstellar space travel is never going to happen. The physics laws of time and space prohibit it. The idea of “warp-speed” is impossible (sorry Captain Kirk).
Prediction #3 Darwinian Evolution Will Be Discredited.
As we mentioned above, the origin of life on earth has eluded scientists for decades. They still have no idea how the first biological organism was, or even could be, formed from inorganic materials. The biological chemistry and DNA codes needed to make a life form has never been fully explained or duplicated in a laboratory. Some scientists have claimed in the past to have spontaneously created some basic organic molecules, but in every case the conditions necessary for their formation were carefully controlled by the scientists (intelligent beings).
That problem set aside, most Naturalistic scientists maintain that the mechanism for life to reproduce and evolve from lower to higher species is the process postulated in the 19th century by Charles Darwin in his book: The Origin of Species. That process is called “Natural Selection.” It is the only influential 19th century theory still generally regarded as intellectually credible (the others were Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory, Marxism, and Newtonian Physics). It is still taught in nearly every school as the only reasonable explanation of how life has developed and humanity came to exist. In fact, it is regarded by most scientific establishments as the absolute and dogmatically final answer to all biological questions.
However, in recent decades, that all encompassing explanation has come under fire from various directions. The problem is that the process of natural selection in creating new species has never been actually witnessed in nature. True, scientists have been able to create new forms of certain creatures. However, they always require the intervention of the scientists in the process to alter genetic information. It has never been seen in nature accomplished by random chance mutations. Also, the time necessary on earth for the multi-billions of incremental changes to occur by natural selection has just not been long enough.
This has led a new generation of scientists to conjecture that life has been the product of an intelligent designer. Just as we can assume that the complexity of a computer or rocket required the engineering skill of a highly intelligent person, they argue that the complexity of life (which is far greater than a computer or rocket) must also have been engineered.
We can see the implications of this in the area of religious belief. If the universe and life is designed, it naturally leads to the question of who is the designer? It obviously puts the naturalist in an untenable position. It definitely implies some kind of supernatural power was involved, something he cannot tolerate.
As Christians, of course, we point to the God of the Bible as the Creator of the universe and all life on earth. It is my prediction that in the coming decades, despite the protestations and resistance of the naturalistic scientific community, Intelligent Design will be vindicated as the only reasonable explanation for the origin and complexity of life on earth.
Prediction #4: Atheism Will Become an Untenable Philosophy.
The 20th and early 21st centuries have seen amazing discoveries. Scientists have learned much about information coding in biological systems. They have proven that the universe had a beginning and is finite. They have demonstrated the incredible fine tuning of the earth’s environment and place in the cosmos necessary to accommodate intelligent life. All of these and recent discoveries in physics are slowly turning the tide from Naturalism to a renewed appreciation for Theism. Even some formerly staunch atheists have had to admit that it all seems to point to a designing mind. We would call that Mind God. It is my prediction that in the next hundred years, Atheism as a reasonable philosophical position will become virtually extinct. The naturalistic explanations for the laws and acts of nature will be shown to demonstrate an even greater degree of purpose and planning than ever imagined. For Christians, this will provide an opportunity for opening new frontiers in evangelism and apologetics. The question is, however, will the next generation of believers take advantage of it?
Prediction #5: Christianity Will Continue to Decline in Europe and North America. However, Evangelicalism Will Grow Vastly in South America and the Far East.
Since World War I, the adherence to and influence of Christianity in Europe has dropped to the point where it is virtually irrelevant as a force in society. Due to the destructive effects of liberal Protestantism on belief in God, Christ, and the Bible, church attendance is negligible. Though Marxism has lost the appeal it had in the early 20th century, nihilism and secularism have become the cultural norms, and the naturalistic worldview is predominant.
Unfortunately, North America is on the same course, only lagging behind by about thirty years. This is evidenced by the declining percentages of American adults self-identifying as Christian by any definition (see statistical analysis here: http://www.marketfaith.org/2017/10/the-spiritual-state-of-21st-century-america). That being the case in the West, the story looks quite different in other parts of the world. Evangelicalism is growing rapidly in the Far East (Korea and China in particular), in Africa, and in South and Central America. I predict that in the next few decades there will be a tidal shift in world Christian leadership, missions, and evangelism from the West to the Far East. Christian Theism will slowly replace Far Eastern Thought and Animism as the dominant worldviews in many places in those parts of the world. Of course, the greatest challenge to Christianity will be from Islam.
So these are some of my predictions for the next hundred years. As I indicated, I will not be around to find out if they are correct. But if you are young enough, you may have the privilege of watching the future unfold. Stay tuned, the best may be yet to come!
© 2017 Tal Davis