Reconciling Faith and Science

010Science is a very powerful method of gaining and applying knowledge. In this sense, science per se is amoral, and while it has a large domain, it is not the end all and be all. It can tell us truth (small t). But it can’t determine Truth (capital T). For example, it can tell us what is but it can’t tell us what is right and what is wrong.

Science can’t tell us it is better to be selfless than selfish.  That understanding derives from the subjective realms of ethics, morality, philosophy, and religion, areas of human intellectual engagement in which the purveyors of scientism are actually engaged.

Numerous books and articles have been written ad infinitum, ad nauseam, for many years by skeptics and various unbelievers stating that science and Christianity are antithetical – opposites – and can have nothing to do with one another.  They tell us that people have to choose to be either superstitious (Christian) or a scientist but never the twain shall meet.

Two people  look at the incomprehensible complexity and order in the universe that science has discovered. They explore the uniqueness in the known universe of the human mind. They contemplate our moral agency.  One only sees materialistic phenomena, perhaps not wanting there to not be a God.  The other sees the mind of God in the same data.   Neither can prove the other wrong.  Ultimate issues can be illuminated by science, but not finally decided.

Science  had its beginning  about six hundred years before Christ with the Greek philosophers who began to seek a non-theological answer for the existence of life and the arrangement of the natural world.  Greeks looked upon the natural world largely as simply an exercise for  reason – the world was not to be changed or used – it was simply to be understood. applying rational deductions to nature  they came up with many great and interesting facts but, it never developed into the “scientific age.”

Neither did science originate among the Hebrew people for the simple reason that, to them,  the natural world was simply an occasion for praise to the Creator; nor through the Arabs because of the Muslim religion.  The writings of Aristotle, lost to the Western world from around 500 AD to 100 AD were kept by the Arabs of north Africa and finally reintroduced into Europe  somewhere between 1100 AD and 1200 AD.  Because of the writings of Aristotle, the Arabs, including the Nestorian Christians, generally made greater scientific and mathematical advances than the Europeans during the Middle Ages but during all that time, they never introduced nor created any real science.

Science could not have originated in India among the Hindu, or in China among the Buddhist, for both teach that the physical world is unreal and the only reality is that of the world’s soul; nor  among the animists of central or southern Africa or other places in the world due to the fact that they saw living spirits of various gods or ancestors in stones, trees, rocks or animals.

It took the teaching of Christianity during the 6th Century to produce the phenomenon we know as modern science.  The Christian belief that there is a rational God who is the source of all Truth, that this world is a rational world so there must exist certain laws and regularities that control the universe, laws and regularities that led to scientific discoveries.  Science is a blend of reason and experimentation, rationalism and empiricism and it  is this combination of deduction and induction that leads to science and to all of its achievements.

Some of the greatest pioneers of science were committed Christians.

Johannas Kepler (1571-1630), was a German mathematician and astronomer who discovered that the Earth and planets travel about the sun in elliptical orbits. He gave three fundamental laws of planetary motion. He also did important work in optics and geometry an astronomer.  Kepler wrote in The Mystery of the Universe  “now as God the maker played, He taught the game to Nature, Whom He created in His image.”

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) a French mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher, and master of prose. He laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities, formulated what came to be known as Pascal’s law of pressure, and propagated a religious doctrine that taught the experience of God through the heart rather than through reason. The establishment of his principle of intuitionism had an impact on such later philosophers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henri Bergson and also on the Existentialists.  His work was so great that he now has a computer language named after him.  Pascal used his probing, scientific mind to make a compelling apologetic for Christianity.  He wrote: “Jesus Christ is the only proof of the living God.  We only know God through Jesus Christ.  The Christian’s God does not merely consist of a God who is the Author of mathematical truths and the order of the elements.  That is the notion of the heathen and the Epicurean. . .But the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob, the God of the Christians, is a God of love and consolation.”

Issac Newton  (1642-1727) an English physicist and mathematician, formulated the universal laws of nature with which he was able to unravel virtually all the unsolved problems of his day. He refined Galileo’s experimental method, creating the compositional method of experimentation still practiced today.  Newton formulated the classical theories of mechanics and optics and invented calculus years before Leibniz.  He singlehandedly contributed more to the development of science than any other individual in history.  Newton had a strong faith in God that undergirded his scientific world view.  In Principia Newton wrote that “this most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. . .”  He also wrote that “Atheism is so senseless.  When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light.  This did not happen by chance.”

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was a French Chemist and Microbiologist whose contributions to science,  technology and medicine are nearly without precedent.   In his panegyric of Littre’, whose fauteuil he took, he said:  “Happy the man who bears within him a divinity, an ideal of beauty and obeys it; and ideal of art, and ideal of science,  an ideal of country, and ideal of the virtues of the Gospel.”   Robert Boyle, (1627-1691) a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor, known today as the father of modern chemistry was an ardent defender of the Anglican Church.  He saw no conflict between religion and science.  He wrote widely on religious themes and financially supported the translation of the New Testament into Malayan.

There are far too many names for one article but here is a list of  some of the most outstanding Bible believing scientists along with the branches of science they founded, if you would like to do your own research.  Joseph Lister, Antiseptic Surgery; George Curier Comparative Anatomy; Charles Babbage, Computer Science; Lord Rayleigh, Dimensional Analysis; John Ambrose Fleming, Electronics; James C. Maxwell, Electrodynamics; Michael Farady, Electromagnetics; Lord Kelvin, Energetics; Henri Fabre, Entomology of Living Insects; Michael Farady, Field Theory; George Stokes, Fluid Mechanics; Sir William Herschel, Galactic Astronomy; Gregory Mendel, Genetics; Louis Agassiz, Glacial Geology; James Simpson, Gynecology;  Matthew Maury, Hydrography and Oceanography; William Ramsey, Isotopic Chemistry; John Ray, Natural History; Bernard Riemann, non-Euclidean Geometry; and David Brewster, Optical Mineralogy.

In The Language of God:  A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief    Dr. Francis Collins, who mapped the human genome, states that “Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world [but] is powerless to answer questions such as ‘what is the meaning of human existence.  We need to bring all the power of both scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen,”  maintaining that those perspectives “not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience.”  Dr. Collins says that while  he does not believe God is rationally provable, he thinks that natural phenomena — such as the development of conditions favoring life on earth in the face of incredible odds — point toward the divine.

Will Christianity and Science ever reconcile?  The Bible is the World of God, it is not a scientific textbook. The Word of God never changes and when it speaks upon historical or scientific matters, it speaks the Truth, but there will never be complete harmony between the Bible and science.

Science, unlike revelation, is always progressing in its search for truth.  It never arrives at a final or absolute truth.  It is always seeking to know more.  It presents one hypothesis and then replaces it with another and then another.

Source:  What If Jesus Had Never Been Born by Dr. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe

 

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