Name: Bart Leeuwenburgh
Position: Programme director
Faculty: Faculty of Philosophy
“Of course, I can’t say with absolute certainty that God does not exist. In that sense, Christians and atheists are very similar: I believe that God does not exist, while they believe that God does exist. I do think it is extremely likely that God does not exist, so I will continue believing that, until the opposite has been proved. Let me give you a comparison: I could also posit that a teapot is circling around Saturn, but it really is more likely that this is not the case.
When I was about fifteen or sixteen, I pulled away from the Christian religion because I got stuck on theodicy, which is a well-known problem among philosophers: ‘If God is almighty, why is there so much suffering?’ Later, while I was doing a PhD on the way in which Darwin’s theory of natural selection was received in the Netherlands, I was strengthened in my conviction that God does not exist.
A scientist’s religion should not affect their work. If a scientist allowed their religion to do so, they should resign from their position. Not that this actually happens, I think. People work at universities not to be religious, but rather to engage in science.
I do find it hard to believe that people who take the Bible literally – i.e., people who believe that planet Earth was created in six days and is six thousand years old – can be scientists. Of course they are free to hold such beliefs, but to me, they border on insanity.”