For some, faith and science doesn’t fire you up and it’s a non-issue. But for some, you’d say you cannot be a Christian because of science. You see faith and science as two opposing position where you have to pick a side.
Let’s start off with a just an establishing statement. Everyone has a belief system.
Atheism is a faith system, a belief system. Agnosticism is a belief system. Christianity is a belief system. So are other religions. So is the thing you made up on your own.
Even if you have a scientific worldview there are belief components to it. It’s just the nature of the gap between what we know and what we believe.
You don’t have to be a Christian to believe that life continues after death. Many people who aren’t even religious believe that because of science; the patterns and cycles of nature, ethics, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy give us evidence of life after death.
Einstein, who wasn’t a Christian, he believed consciousness continued after death based on the physics as he understood them. That’s a belief system. Everyone has a belief system.
When it comes to faith and science, there are some widely-held perceptions, misconceptions about Christianity and science that we can debunk before we get to the main points today.
Many people believe this myth that
- Christianity is anti-intellectual.
Christians are people. People are all different. Are there some who are anti-intellectual? Some who reject science and logic and study? Sure. They certainly portray that in the media. It seems like every Christian in a sit-com is a fool, completely unaware of their surroundings, very annoying, trying to make people do stuff they don’t want to do.
The media often portrays or highlights Christians who have some completely ulterior motive. But when you get past the surface and those stereotypes, you see there is a very strong, deep resonate well of intellectual thought that is thoroughly Christian.
Here’s some things a lot of people don’t know.
The university is a twelfth-century Christian invention.
Higher learning and faith have been historically linked, not uncoupled. In fact, where Christianity and the church is strong, you find very helpful science. Eyeglasses, clean water, hospitals, vaccines and so many things. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth and Brown all began as Christian institutions.
Some of the smartest people in human history have ended up being people of deep faith. There are very smart people who have rejected faith. There are intellectual Christians, and anti-intellectual Christians because there are intellectual people and anti-intellectual people.
But there is a rich tradition of philosophy and scientific discovery in Christianity. Christians engage their mind.
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37 NIV
Maybe you feel like you can’t engage your mind to follow Jesus, that’s a misconception.
Second widely-held misconception:
- Science is objective. Faith is subjective.
Let’s just look at evolution as a case in a point. Evolution is a theory that attempts to explain observable, but sometimes unrepeatable, data. A lot of what evolution observes, you can’t repeat.
A lot of science is based on repeatable experiments. So there are science experiments that repeat, but you can’t repeat the big bang. You can’t repeat an era. You can’t go back in time or recreate it in a lab. The universe is expanding, but we can’t repeat it. So it’s trying to explain observable, but sometimes unrepeatable, data.
The reality is:
The data is objective. The explanation is subjective.
That’s why scientists disagree. Some say it happened this way, others say it happened this way. So this idea that all science is objective, any scientist worth his or her weight will tell you, we’re workin off interpretation.
Both science and faith have subjective elements.
They aren’t so different from one another here. Both have data and evidence, both have things they discern from that. Both have objective elements. Both have subjective elements.
Third misconception is this:
- If I believe in science, I can’t believe in God.
Some of you got into a class or college or the internet or read a book or got around a group of friends and and thought, you couldn’t believe in God in that environment.
Science v. Faith – When you see cases, Jones versus Smith, that’s just the way we say it in english. Actually, the latin v does not mean versus. It means and. Jones and Smith not Jones versus Smith.
It’s not science versus faith, it’s science and faith.
Science leads researchers toward faith as much as it leads them away from faith.
You’ll hear atheists say, no one in the scientific community believes in God. That’s not true. If you want to know why that’s not true, look at data science has done for themselves. Look at what a scientific poll discovered about their own community.
American Association for the Advancement of Science showed 51% of scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power.
In the hard sciences like astronomy and biology, it’s higher. In the social sciences, it’s lower. Psychology and so on are getting less religious. In the hard sciences, there’s a much higher belief. The rate is higher for people who are looking at the universe, looking at the evidence.
51% of scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power.
31% believe in a personal God, not just a higher power however you define that.
7% don’t know.
Fact-based science is not perpetually at war with faith-based religion. Maybe science is revealing what God did and does.
Allen Rex Sandage, Astronomer, Successor to Edwin Hubble:
“It is my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated that can be explained by science.”
He didn’t start out in life with a Christian conviction. The deeper he got into astronomy, the deeper he got into the way the universe is created, the more questions got raised. In his fifties he became a Christian. He would say science raised so many questions that led him to faith in Jesus.
Science shouldn’t kill your theological curiosity, it should spark it.
The more you know, the more questions you have. What you discover, is that God has answers.
1. What caused everything that exists?
When you think about the origins of the universe, everyone agrees that everything that begins to exist has to have a cause.
Your kids didn’t just spontaneously appear. You know what happened. If you have a business, where did it come from? You started it. Where did your car come from? A factory. Originally the mind of engineers.
Theists said it was God. Others said it was the universe or the big bang. How do you explain an infinitely complex universe that began out of nothing? The Bible answers this.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV
This takes this all the way back to the question, where did the first cell come from? Where did the first thing of matter come from? Where did existence come from? How did any of it begin?
This is the question of origin. This is what the Bible addresses. Christianity has an answer for origin. It has an answer for how the first cell began. And how existence began. As we discover more, we discover it must be a Creator.
In the first century, the Apostle Paul, a Jesus Follower, put it this way…
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT
2. What caused order?
This is the evidence from design. There’s a world within a world within a world and it’s coded and all works together. The laws explain what we see, but not how they got there. Who or what created the laws of physics? Let’s ascribe to God the worth and worship He is due for his creation.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 NIV
Creation’s voice goes out and the evidence points to a designer. A creator.
3. What caused humanity’s desire for morality and meaning?
The dignity of humanity. We refer to it as human rights. Inherent worth. This idea that every person, just by virtue of being a person, has inherent worth and value can’t be trampled upon and shouldn’t be violated.
This just doesn’t make sense without God. How did we all come to believe, that every person believes humans have worth just by virtue of being human. We think this idea has always been around. Ideas aren’t like that. Ideas have to come from somewhere.
What’s great about this is there’s zero debate. Regardless of what you believe, anyone who has any knowledge of history the idea of human worth and dignity, the idea of worth and dignity came from the Bible.
They’ve tried to find it in another source and it just isn’t there. The basis for human worth is that God made you!
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV
This is why there is some science Christianity rejects. We reject when any science becomes the authority over human life. God is the only one who rightfully exercises sovereign control over human life. To attempt to control who lives, who doesn’t, when someone dies, or do things to place ourselves in God’s position. Clearly, man is not to do this.
If we view man as simply another creature and not as the unique creation he is, it is not difficult to see human beings as mere mechanisms needing maintenance and repair.
But we are not just a collection of molecules and chemicals. The Bible teaches that God created each of us and has a specific plan for each of us. Deep down, we all know it.
“Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.
They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” Romans 2:14-16 NLT
When we are different from the character of the creator who made us, it’s wrong. When we’re like the character of the creator who made us, it’s right. That’s how you decide what truth is.
These are rational explanations as to why we have morals. The idea that these morals just evolved can’t be. As you study it, you find that God created them. And you have inherent worth because you were created in the image of God.
That’s why the Christian faith, at its core, is not only about believing something, it’s about knowing someone.
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” Colossians 1:15-20 NLT
4. How will I respond to Jesus Christ?
If Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, if he’s done all these things and he’s extending his hand to me, how will we respond? In the gospel of John,
“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!'”
“But he replied, ‘I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.’”
He’s got enough evidence to make him a believer, but he’s not.
“Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!’”
“’My Lord and my God!’ Thomas exclaimed.”
One of the great statements and confesses in scripture. He didn’t touch. At this moment he believes, he didn’t have to put his hands in there.
The problem is not the evidence. It’s the human heart.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.'”
There is a special blessing on those today who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” John 20:24-31 NLT
This is written that you might believe that He’s the one who died because of your sins. When you believe, then you’re alive, you’re born again, and have life. Life after death is sweet and wonderful as you are with Jesus.
Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Rethinking School and Work.” How was your school and work week? Any areas you recognized where God is working.
Many believe that science and Christianity are incompatible. Widely-held misconceptions are that Christianity is anti-intellectual; Science is objective, faith is subjective; If I believe in science, I can’t believe in God. However, fact-based science isn’t perpetually at war with faith based religion.
Read John 20:24-31
Discussion & Application
- As a kid, were you quick to question things or did you generally believe whatever was presented to you? How has this tendency changed for you as an adult?
- What was the attitude toward God in your house growing up? Did you parents lead you toward faith or away from it?
- Of the four questions on the outline, which jumps out to you most? (What caused everything that exists? What caused order? What caused humanity’s desire for morality and meaning? How will I respond to Jesus Christ?)
- Even if we fully and completely understood the scientific how of science, we would always wonder who and why. In what ways are who and why more significant questions than how?
- If morality, cosmology and the design of the universe do not point toward a creator, what do you think they point toward?
Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.
Even as you explore the ‘how’ of science, remember to go beyond that and ask who and why? As you embrace those questions, read biblical accounts like the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John to gain a better sense of who God is and why he created us.