Here are four drastically over-simplified responses, to four frustratingly popular (but misguided) assumptions, in the absurdly dubbed “Faith vs. Science” debate… From one very under-qualified skeptic who needs to GET SOME STUFF OFF HIS CHEST! …A few things to know from the outset:
* New readers beware – SPOILER ALERT! – I follow Jesus.
* Where do I get my information? Too many to cite. Here’s an influential and recent source.
* Why add to the noise? Ummm… I’m a blogger. It’s what we do.
* Have I completely covered every aspect of each of these issues so exhaustively as to address every caveat and question that pertains to them? No. If you want that, read a book, not a blog.
MISGUIDED ASSUMPTION #1 – Christians use all heart, no head.
Perhaps the most agitating thing about the entire debate surrounding “Is there a God?” is the manner in which anti-theists (those atheists who seem more against God than for atheism) caricature the religious. They make religious folk out to be some sort of toothless, dim-witted, clan of simpletons who would rather just do good and believe pretty things about heaven than actually think.
“Religion is just a pretty story to numb life’s pain.” It’s a supernatural fairy-tale.” “It’s not provable because it’s incapable of producing testable scientific predictions.”
Pressed hard, many would take the caricature so far as to say, “In order to be religious, you must throw away all reason, and believe blindly.” And while this caricature does represent the approach of some religions and some Christians, it’s false.
First, the Christian God is PRO-using the brain he intricately created. I don’t serve an anti-intellectual God. Jesus gave two great commands. The first being to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Need I say more? God created us, in his image, as rational beings, with the ability to think.
So whether you actually believe in God, the Bible, or the historical Jesus isn’t the point. The point is it’s undeniable the Christian God expected his followers to use their minds to love him. And what better way to love him than to pursue an understanding of him, through science.
God is pro-science! No scientists were hurt in the making of this universe. Only created. In fact, many great scientists were/are Christians.
C.S. Lewis writes, “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.”
Second, it’s worth noting that many tenants of the Christian worldview are, in fact, measurable and provable by scientific evidence.
I could go for pages here but let’s give one common example – The Christian view of creation requires a single beginning point for our universe. Those of the scientific persuasion know the discovery of the galactic red-shift and the cosmic echo of creation confirms a single beginning point for our universe.
MISGUIDED ASSUMPTION #2 – You have to choose, one or the other, faith OR science.
Or in other words, you must choose between physical laws as the force behind everything OR God. Again, false.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. You certainly have the right to choose one OR the other. But I prefer “BOTH/AND” over “OR,” personally.
This is why I don’t like the title “Faith vs. Science” debate. That’s a false dichotomy, proclaimed primarily by the two polarized extremes that embarrass us all – the fundamentalist anti-theists and anti-intellectual religious. I look at this as a continuing conversation, not a debate.
It’s important to note here that physical laws, while undoubtedly a recognizable force in the universe, can’t actually create anything on their own. Physical laws do nothing more than describe what happens in certain circumstances. For example, Newton’s law of gravity doesn’t make gravity, it describes it.
So it begs the question, where does gravity come from? Who or what set these physical laws into motion? And where did the raw substance that interacts with these laws come from? You might believe in the laws of science. So do I. Common ground. Awesome. Slap-hands! But that doesn’t actually get to the bottom of things.
Which brings us to point three…
MISGUIDED ASSUMPTION #3 – Science doesn’t require faith. It’s based totally on evidence.
Most anti-theists claim that: (a) the physical is all that exists, (b) the world evolved from chance natural processes, and (c) it is rational. So, they use reason to examine the visible physical universe to discover the truth within it.
But this viewpoint begs the question, “On what basis, if there is no God, are things rational? Or true? If the world is an accident, just a chance collection of molecules and chemicals that evolve naturally for the sake of advancing the cause of survival, with no purpose, then where is there room for reason?”
Fact is, scientists have faith too, in reason. They see a rational universe, recognize their capacity to reason, but have no good explanation for it. Without God, they can’t explain where reason comes from. But we all know it’s there, and even depend on it for science. Ironically, faith composes the foundation of science. The goal of science is to uncover order and reason in the universe, and with no God, it is sheer faith to believe that reason just exists.
Said different, the fundamental faith assumption of all scientists is that the universe has an inherent rational intelligibility.
Where did such intelligibility come from? Who or what created reason? Why should our cognitive faculties be deliberately designed to discover truth? Aren’t they just, like everything else, a chance collection of molecules that contribute to survival?
American philosopher Alvin Plantinga sums this up well:
If [the anti-theist] is right that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce — including [their] own science and atheism. [Their] biology and belief in naturalism would therefore appear to be at war with each other in a conflict that has nothing at all to do with God.
Because how can we trust reason if the process by which it came into being wasn’t reasonable? How can we trust reason if it exists because of chance unguided natural processes? How reasonable is that?
Anti-theism’s reason is kinda-sorta unreasonable. And ironically, it undermines the very principle (of faith) it’s founded upon. Science (defined as the discovery of order and reason in the universe) is actually impossible without God. Disposing of God is disposing of the rational basis for science and truth.
By contrast, Christianity suggests God is ultimately responsible for the reason and intelligibility behind the universe because he’s a reasonable and intelligible God. And in effect, he’s authored himself into “The Story of the Universe” so we can discover and relate to him.
MISGUIDED ASSUMPTION #4 – There are no smart people who believe in God.
Let me say this to close – Many from the anti-theist camp suggest religion is nothing more than a pretty story to numb life’s harshness. A fairy-tale hope that allows the faithful to avoid thinking too long or hard about the reality of extinction. But ironically, it seems to me, in fact, anti-theism is the “pretty story.” It’s a fairy-tale hope that allows the faithful to avoid thinking too long or hard about the reality of a Creator God who all may be accountable to, both now and forever, based on their relationship with him.
I don’t expect this short blog to convince anyone. It’s a blog. No one fact can convince anyone. In fact, no four facts can. But hopefully, these add to the cumulative evidence that, taken together, points to the reality of a Creator, made profoundly visible, through science.
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