Faith at Odds With Science?

AP01-TrapsheetA common misconception is that science and faith are in opposition. It can be shown that science and Christianity are not at odds with one another. Let’s take a closer look and draw some conclusions.

A general definition of science is, a method used for quantifying and investigating our universe by empirical verification. A Christian definition of faith is, trusting something we have good reason to believe is true. The word faith, in Christianity, is closely related to the word trust, and in our culture today faith is being redefined as a “blind leap into the dark” which fuels the apparent conflict of “Science vs. Faith” out of ignorance.

The number of Christian Nobel laureates is one example of how science and Christianity are not at odds with one another because Christian thinkers are excelling in the fields of physics, chemistry and medicine. The origins of science has it roots in the Christian faith with noteworthy scientists like Johannes Kepler (1571 to 1630), Galileo Galilei (1564 to 1642), Blaise Pascal (1623 to 1662), Robert Boyle (1627 to 1691) and Isaac Newton (1643 to 1727) setting the stage for our modern advancements.

“Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator” – C.S. Lewis, Miracles (1946)

Christians thought it a service to God to investigate the world and uncover the mysteries of God’s handiwork, as Lewis points out. Is it any wonder that science arouse from the fertile soil of the Christian west?

The truth is that the scientific method doesn’t say anything and the data doesn’t say anything, it’s scientists that interpret the data that say something. The universal volumes of data remain silent, only the interpretations of the data are heard.

The fear is that some evidence might arise that would falsify a cherished belief and yet many scientists remain Christian. But you see the fear of truth works against the scientist also, where their cherished beliefs are vulnerable to the same scrutiny, and many remain unbelieving in Christianity. The Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, John C. Lennox comments about this tension,

“It is rather ironical that in the sixteenth century some people resisted advances in science because they seemed to threaten belief in God; whereas in the twentieth century scientific ideas of a beginning have been resisted because they threatened to increase the plausibility of belief in God,” –God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

Science is not at war with Christianity or visa versa, however, the truth of the evidence has the possibility to undermine our beliefs regardless of worldview. Thus, a vibrant scientific community is built on open discussion, peer review and a spectrum of perspectives, in order to represent reality correctly. A mere difference in perspective does not, by any means, imply incompatibility but it is the necessary vehicle for expanding awareness and pushing the boundaries that science is famous for.

The Christian perspective is where science originated and where it continues to flourish. Christian thinkers shine in their fields which means they understand the methodology of science and have a correct application of the evidence. Christian thinkers provide a different perspective that assists in the vibrant scientific community, therefore, we have good reason to believe that science and Christianity are not incompatible. Christianity is not at odds with science.

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21 thoughts on “Faith at Odds With Science?

        1. I would be very happy to see my blogs on your page! Feel free to use whatever material you wish, I have already exhausted all my outlets. I’d love to be a part of your team of writers. Thanks for the opportunity James, much appreciated!

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    1. Hello, Arkenaten
      Christianity is open to the possibility that there is more to the world than just the physical matter. Science presupposes non-physical entities like numbers, Laws of Logic, Ethics and Philosophy. In those areas Christianity can offer a different perspective that encourages dialogue. Hope that helps 🙂

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  1. Science attempts to explain the world as it really is. Consider that no theory is ever really complete or final as there is room for a closer description of reality as scientific observation advances. My point is simply that Christian scientists are able to explain reality well. Consider the Nobel Prize Laureates. Hope that clarifies.

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    1. Sorry to sound pedantic, but you used the word assist, which suggests that Christianity helps/aids/bolsters science in some way specific.

      Even in a general manner, I’m still unclear how Christianity – whose foundational tenets are based solely on faith and an acceptance that the individual christian is a product of Original Sin, another church construct, and all non-believers are voluntarily separated from the god, Yahweh, and are doomed to eternal damnation in a placed called Hell. Interestingly this is yet another church constructed doctrine, by the way.

      But be that as it may, how does this in any way assist science to explain the workings of a neutron star, for example?
      Or, understand the migratory patterns of certain butterflies, plate tectonics, glacial calving, or neuroscience?
      How does even being a Christian benefit engineering or viticulture, say?

      Yes, one may find Christians who work in these fields but truly, I am at a complete loss as to how Christianity assists such things in any way. Furthermore, your assertion conveys the impression that without Christianity, these fields of endeavor are the all the poorer.

      Can you please offer a more detailed explanation?
      Thanks.

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      1. Hi Arkenaten

        In order to begin to even to be able to do science of any sort there are philosophical presuppositions we must begin with. The two most important that come to mind are: (1) uniformity of nature and (2) scientists are rational. Without these two philosophical assumptions we cannot do science.
        (1) We assume nature is uniform, that it follows patterns. What happened yesterday is a reliable indicator of what will happen tomorrow. In other words all experiments done so far where oxygen reacts with methane produce carbon dioxide, water and heat. We assume that this will be true all conditions being equal of all future reactions between oxygen and methane.
        Without the assumption that nature is uniform we have no justification for believing any scientific theory -what David Hume called the problem of induction.

        The naturalistic worldview cannot justify why nature is uniform. However the christian worldview can justify why nature is uniform – it is produced by a rational mind.
        (2) Humans are rational. This means we assume our perceptions of the external world are reliable and that our cognitive faculties are functioning properly. If we do not make this assumption then we cannot accept that our scientific theories are true or not. An analogy is would you trust a completely drunk person to file your taxes? probably not, similarly with us humans we assume our cognitive faculties are functioning properly.
        Again, can naturalism justify why we should trust our reason? Not really if we are the product of a mindless random process where consciousness is either an illusion or an accidental emergent property. The christian worldview can offer justification for why we can rely on our reason – we are created by a rational God who has made us in His image (to be rational).

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        1. Sorry, no philosophy necessary. N analogies either.
          With dies respect, I have found over the years this is a classic apologist’s approach to introduce a theistic bent to a perfectly straightforward request/question and before long the initial the thread is unraveled .
          Perhaps this is the way Christian Apologetics is taught to New Christians? A method of disarming? I wouldnt know
          However, I think we ought to stay focused.
          I am happy to engage any one on this subject but the question on the table is this: How does Christianity assist science?
          Not religion per se, either,but Christianity.

          Thus, as the host was quite specific there must be specific areas he had in mind. Sounds reasonable, wouln’t you agree?
          I try to avoid making any sort of claim unless I have examples readily at hand to present to back me up.

          So, let’s see if we can establish exactly how Christianity assists science.
          It most certainly had no influence on the early civilizations that prevented Christianity, so this is why I wish to discover what exactly what it is our host is referring to.
          So please, if you have concrete practical examples then present them.
          Thanks.

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  2. I do think that the endeavour would be poorer without Christians in all fields of science and as far as how Christianity “assists” may I remind you of the blog itself my friend. Men became scientific because they expected laws in nature and they expected laws in nature because the knew there was a law giver. Men felt that investigating the known world would be a valuable expression of worship to their God. If you can show me that none of the founders of science were Christian then your right that it cannot contribute to science. My point in the blog is that science originated from a Christian world view and therefore assisted in brining the methodology about. I hope that helps 🙂 Your entitled to your opinion that Christianity hasn’t assisted science. I merely wanted to show that it was not incompatible with science.

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    1. because the(y) knew there was a law giver.

      A false premise, I am afraid. They may have believed, yes, but they did not know, and still don’t.

      My point in the blog is that science originated from a Christian world view

      Again, another false premise, this one even more fallacious.
      You simply discount the Chinese, the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, Sumerians and a whole host of cultures that either preceded Christianity or co-existed without the slightest need or notion of your Middle- Eastern god or the religion that was an eventual offshoot.

      I understand perfectly that the goal of apologetics is to defend your religion, sometimes it seems at all costs, but surely you would rather acknowledge the tenuous nature your position – which is based solely upon faith – rather than promote a falsehood?

      So, I respectfully ask once more how does Christianity assist science?

      Oh, and it is perfectly acceptable to make a retraction by the way when one realises one has made a mistake.
      Scientist do it all the time. 😉

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  3. Hey Ark, that’s a direct quote from C.S. Lewis and your entitled to your opinion, agree to disagree?

    Regarding your question with ” a different perspective that assists in the vibrant scientific community” I like the word assists personally, but if you think that is a biased rhetorical use of the word then perhaps we can agree on “contributes” or “is a part of” instead, yes?

    As far as the origins of science, I agree that we see traces of it through history as far as architecture, engineering and innovations are concerned but as far as development of the scientific a method I’m convinced it was a product of Western Europe in the late 15th century.

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    1. I’m convinced it was a product of Western Europe in the late 15th century.

      That is an opinion not backed by evidence for the facts at hand I’m sorry to say.

      The Ancient Greeks were the driving force behind the development of western astronomy and science, their philosophers learning from the work of others and adding their own interpretations and observations.

      https://explorable.com/greek-astronomy

      We can go back to 415 CE to Hypatia as a perfect example. ( And any passing scholar of history should know what fate she suffered at the hands of Christians, yes?)

      Gunpowder. Chinese Invention
      First invented by the Chinese in 850 A.D., gunpowder was originally discovered during storied alchemical experiments, notably those pursuing elixirs to prolong life. Composed of potassium nitrate, otherwise known as saltpeter, gunpowder is an oxidizing agent that explodes upon percussive impact, which causes sparks that ignite it. When the Song Dynasty realized the implications of what they had, they lost no time employing it against the Mongols.

      Here’s an excellent and very inciteful quote from Kenneth Clarke.

      “What with prejudice and destruction, it’s surprising that the literature of pre-Christian antiquity was preserved at all. And in fact it only just squeaked through. In so far as we are the heirs of Greece and Rome, we got through by the skin of our teeth.”

      We owe the real foundations of science to the ancient Greeks and Romans, not to the Christians.

      With due respect I think you are allowing your Christian apologetics to get the better of common sense here. Sorry.

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