On how science led him to faith

Alister McGrath reflects on ways of explaining the world around us.



Alister McGrath reflects on ways of explaining the world around us.


I was a scientist myself as a younger man, I studied chemistry at Oxford and ended my doctorate in molecular biophysics. Now, for me, one of the most important things about science is the need to develop theories which adequately engage what we actually observe. And we need to make it absolutely clear, this is not about proving, that’s a child’s view of science. Science is much more saying, look there are multiple ways of explaining things, we have to develop criteria which determines what the best theory is. It might be simplicity or elegance or fruitfulness or comprehensiveness.

And I found that way of thinking very applicable to Christianity. Christianity is about giving you this way of looking at things which invites you to judge it by how adequately it’s able to render the world around us. And so as I reflected on how Christianity engages what I observe around me, what I experience within me, I found it did far more justice to these things than atheism ever did. That’s why I transitioned; I suppose I could say that actually, science brought me to faith. It may surprise some of your listeners who have bought into an older way of thinking, but that’s the way it was for me.