Christianity & Science

After several years of owning the book, I’ve started to read The Joy of Pi by David Blatner. It’s a delightful book — beautifully illustrated, witty, filled with fun(!) quotes about the mysterious little π — which I think I’d recommend to others once I finish it; at the very least, I bet Dad would enjoy it.

However, what stands out most in my mind from The Joy of Pi is this paragraph, found on page twenty-nine:

The first millennium C.E. saw the Dark Ages in Europe, which were filled with war and strife following the breakdown of the Roman Empire and the rise in power of early Christianity. Any budding scientific interest in Europe during these years was effectively quelled by religious intolerance or destroyed by warring factions. But knowledge has a way of traveling to where it will flourish, and pi (along with many other facets of Western thought) managed to pop up in the more nurturing academic climate of the Muslim world.

Mmm, pi.

The mathematics of π may seem of little consequence to you, but the fact of the matter is that π shows up in far too many places for it to be ignored. Whether in engineering, physics, mathematics, or astronomy (or any number of other fields), having a solid understanding of π is beneficial. As Augustus De Morgan wrote, “This mysterious 3.14159 … which comes in at every door and window, and down every chimney” (A Budget of Paradoxes, as cited in The Joy of Pi).

Yet the “academic climate” in Europe over 1,000 years ago prevented much progress from being made. The earth was flat, located at the center of the universe, and the sun revolved around it… and the Church was content with that.

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At that point in history, scientific advancement posed no real threat to Christianity; after all, the earth can be a tiny speck in a galaxy which itself is a tiny speck in a vast, expanding universe without it losing its position in the sight of God. Does holding God’s attention require that the earth stand out as the midpoint of everything? When talking about a God who is glorified by turning sinners’ hearts to Him, I find it amazing that Earth is but a speck in the cosmic dance, yet still at the center of His plan. That is how He seems to operate — what is central, magnificent, or glorious from a naturalistic standpoint is overlooked by the Almighty, for He is looking for the broken, the poor, the insignificant… A wretch like me, for instance.

Eventually, science was “allowed” to progress in Europe. And it has continued to grow.

And today, two major scientific paradigms “threaten” the Christendom yet again: the big bang theory and the theory of evolution.

You’d think that … men of faith would finally start to realize that science poses no threat to Christianity.

You’d think that after millennia of unnecessary bickering between men of faith and men of science, the men of faith would finally start to realize that science poses no threat to Christianity. Rather, whatever scientific advances are made seem to repeatedly show God to be all the greater — rather than being the Creator & Sustainer of air, earth, fire, water, and quintessence, He is Creator & Sustainer of hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, et al.

To quote my father:

Science is a study of the physical world around us. As it stands today, evolutionary theory is the paradigm under which science functions. There are literally mountains of data from many different fields that support this paradigm.

He didn’t include it, but the same could be said for the big bang theory; it & evolutionary theory are the paradigms within which modern day chemistry, biology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, and so on are operating.

Is science more threatening than Hell? I hardly think so.

And what’s wrong with that? To my Christian brethren I ask, do you believe what Jesus said? If the gates of Hell are unable to ever to prevail against us, why do we act as though science is out to end all that we hold dear? Is science more threatening than Hell? I hardly think so. It must be that science is simply more terrifying than Hell; after all, isn’t it easier — especially for those who may be weak in the faith or may not even be true believers at all — to fear that which can be seen?

Science cannot prove or disprove God. I’m sorry if you think it can, but you’re wrong, wholly & thoroughly. Even if it could, what would be the point? Unbelievers will still be unbelievers even if they saw the dead raised to life; and believers should be believers, and happy are those who believe & have not seen! Only the Lord can convert the heart of man, so why waste so much of your time on attempting to prove the Lord’s existence to the unbelieving atheists, humanists, and so on of the world? You’ll get nowhere even if your arguments are compelling.

A Real Life Primate

You were not commissioned by God to go out and prove His case. You were commissioned to go out and to preach the gospel. That is the means the Lord has chosen to change the hearts of His elect. No amount of scientific presentation can improve upon that. “Repent and believe…” What? That God created the Earth and that evolution is bogus? No. “Repent and believe the Gospel.”

And within no biblical description of the Gospel and within no historic Christian confessions of the Gospel that I’m aware of will you find believers quibbling with unbelievers over the origins of man and of the cosmos.

And just so there’s no confusion, I have posted a bit about the Gospel recently, so check them out.

But Rick, the Bible teaches us that God created man? You’ll get no argument from me on that. I wholeheartedly believe Genesis 1 & 2. The same goes for Genesis 3 through Revelation 22.

Wait, didn’t you say evolution is okay and isn’t a threat? Doesn’t it teach us that man evolved from monkeys?? What I said is that evolution may very well be a valid paradigm within which science can operate, and no, it is not a threat.

What evolution does is explain how life operates today and presumably for everyday prior. If it bugs you that humans & animals appear so closely related, I encourage you to go back to Genesis 1 & 2 and notice that not only were we all created by the same God, but we were also all created from the same material — earth. How much difference are you really hoping to find? After all, the key difference, biblically, is that man was designed in the image of God. How, pray tell, can science test such a thing? It can’t.

How, pray tell, can science test such a thing? It can’t.

And if it cannot be tested, it cannot be disproven, and so I say again: Science — even the theory of evolution — is not a threat.

After all, what conclusion would you expect science to draw? God has given us life upon the earth which is genetically very similar. Likewise, He has created reproductive mechanisms which allow for mutations within the genetic code. And the environment within which all of this is taking place results in the survival of those creatures best suited for it (a penguin doesn’t stand a camel’s chance in the desert, after all).

Given the similarities, fact of mutations, and so on — the evidential framework within which science works — the paradigm of evolution is derived. It explains — in a secular manner, mind you — the origins of life. Scientists do not come to that conclusion to be hostile to Christianity. Indeed, it is the only conclusion which may be drawn without direct intervention by the Holy Spirit in their souls, enabling them to believe in the biblical testimony.

Scientists do not come to the conclusion of evolution to be hostile to Christianity.

Yet even still, the biblical testimony does not negate the available evidence. To the contrary, the Scriptures reassure us that the Heavens declare the glory of God, that the earth is the Lord’s, and that all of Creation declares His existence. There is rest & solace in those truths, and I do not think they were ever meant to be apologetic battle cries for creation ministries.

Are you saying then, Rick, that ministries like Answers in Genesis are a waste of time? Not necessarily. If I haven’t made it clear yet, attempting to make biblical creation a viable scientific alternative to current accepted paradigms is a waste of time. Biblical creation, while I believe it to be true, is admittedly untenable within science, and that should be wholly unsurprising to anyone who understands science. Miracles (including Creation, the Resurrection, and the new birth of believers), by definition, are scientifically impossible, which is fine. We can rest in the truth that with God nothing is impossible.

To my Christian brethren reading this, I encourage you to step out of the way of scientific progress. Two-thousand years from now — excepting the possible return of Christ — the Church will still be going strong and science will still be seeking the betterment of mankind.

I can’t help but think of what advancements would have already been made if Christendom & science could have been working together from the beginning. And frankly, I’d like to see where science is taking the world today, without causing scientists to waste time responding to & debating Creationists concerning things which are outside the realm of science.

At the end of the day, God’s Word stands true…

Let the evolutionist believe in evolution. Let the big bang theorist believe in the big bang. And let them continue to see where science is taking us. Maybe someday new advancements will overrule evolution & the big bang (effectively making all the Creation vs. Evolution debates that much bigger a waste of time), but we as Christians should let the experts work those issues out. At the end of the day, God’s Word stands true and the Church suddenly has more time to focus on evangelism rather than fruitless debate.

According to The Joy of Pi, π has been calculated out to over 51 billion digits (the millionth is “1”). And wonder of wonders, the Church still survives — nay, thrives. Science has brought us fantastic technologies — such as radio and the internet — which has allowed the Gospel to be spread to countless souls who would have otherwise likely never heard the news.

Science is not a threat. It isn’t even scary. It should be embraced by the Church, utilized to fulfill the Great Commission, rather than striven against to fulfill a commission not found within the pages of Scripture. Preach the Gospel, allow God to give the increase, and trust in Him to transform the minds of the regenerate through His Word.

10 thoughts on “Christianity & Science”

  1. “Rather, whatever scientific advances are made seem to repeatedly show God to be all the greater — rather than being the Creator & Sustainer of air, earth, fire, water, and quintessence, He is Creator & Sustainer of hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, et al.”

    Whatever scientific advances are made seem to repeatedly show God to be completely unnecessary.

    There is no need for a sustainer. The universe works just fine on its own. Also there was no need for a creator or inventor. Nothing needed to be invented. For example, natural selection is just how the world works. Nobody had to invent natural selection.

    There couldn’t possibly be any evidence for an invisible magician who lives in the clouds, so why waste time believing in it? Never has a god belief solved any problem or answered any question. This belief only creates an unnecessary problem – how was the god created. It’s a boring and worthless belief that could never have any real evidence. It’s better to accept only what does have evidence. For what is unknown it’s better to say that problem has not been solved yet, instead of inventing a god to explain anything.

  2. Thanks, BobC. I wonder what in that you expected to be “new” to me? Or how any of that cancels out what I said above?

    The point is that even if the universe is sustained by God, there’s no way for science to know know it. It isn’t necessary that it can be shown. If you keep expecting God to be a concept testable by science, then you keep showing yourself to misunderstand both, as I used to.

    It would be better for you to keep doing what you do with all of your heart — whether that’s feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, developing medicines, or simply being kind & loving to every person you meet within whatever course of life you have chosen — rather than trying to twist the worldviews of others into fitting within the narrow confines of your own.

    Otherwise, I’m curious what makes the thought of an “invisible magician” so threatening to you?

    You can claim it’s unnecessary all you like, but science cannot show it to be thus. The bottom line is, the two are perfectly compatible if one is not bending & breaking either paradigms to make them fit.

  3. BobC

    Never has a god belief solved any problem or answered any question.

    I bid to differ.

    There is a lady in my church who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Multiple tests were done and numerous x-rays were taken. Of course my church has been praying for her ever since they found out. Well, from what the doctors had discovered so far, the cancer was inoperable because it had entangled itself too close to vital arteries. But they hadn’t given her any treatment or medication, and they wanted to perform one last x-ray before they made a decision on what to do. She waited for them to come back with the results and when they did, she was stunned by the news. According to the x-ray, the cancer was completely gone. What was once about the size of a baseball had disappeared altogether. And to this day, nearly a year later, there have been no signs of cancer in her.

    There simply is no explanation for it, medically speaking.

  4. Rick:

    Great post – this seems to signify a change of heart in light of some of your previous post which (if true) is great. It reminds me of an article I read once in http://www.reasons.org title The Unraveling of Starlight and Time the authors (Devout Christians) were discussing attempts by young earth creationists to explain why we can see objects that are millions of light years away when they claim the earth is only 6000 years old…

    The one moral criticism which we would make of Dr. Humphreys’ advocacy of his model, is his failure to heed the counsel of skilled Christian physicists in this matter. This is not a small criticism, for Humphreys’ overconfidence in this matter has led to the widespread dissemination of a false theory. The inevitable collapse of this theory may damage the faith of many Christians who have leaned on it to reinforce their faith. The responsibility for such damage will rest with Dr. Humphreys and those of his associates who have promoted his theory, disregarding the expert counsel which God has made available to them. It is also possible that the widespread distribution and acceptance of his theory will have negative consequences for the credibility of Christian testimony to unbelievers. Again, responsibility for this will lie with Dr. Humphreys and his associates.

    similarly whenever Christians advocate any theory that flies in the face of common sense or over whelming scientific evidence it HAS to evoke a question in the mind of the observer ie “if Christianity can be so wrong on this aspect how can we trust it on any other?”

    I have recently read articles (again by young earth creationists) which try to explain how 1000 feet chalk layers (ie the cliffs of Dover) could be created in a 365 day period under flood conditions. The arguments they use could be considered naive at best and just plain dishonest at worst. So again anyone reading this must surely ask themselves “if they can be so wrong / dishonest on this issue how can i trust them on religious / moral grounds”

    I am sure that for Christians it is far more important to get your key core message out than worry about peripheral ideas ie science.

    Similarly, I notice that even the Vatican has taken a change of heart around science and the need to embrace it rather than fight it. After all, like you say, what have Christian got to lose. You can always attribute whatever wonders science discovers (and I am sure we will have some major surprises to come in our life times as old ideas are over turned to find even more fantastic and amazing discoveries) as evidence of how clever your god is.

    @Justin – I keep hearing stories like this but before you start shouting “Miracle!” at every alleged cure you need to ask a question : ” Why won’t God heal amputees?”

    [Edited by Rick – Fixed BLOCKQUOTE syntax and added paragraph spacing rather than single line breaks. Also fixed quote attribution to read “@Justin” rather than “@Jason.” I hope you don’t mind, Andy!!]

  5. “Why won’t God heal amputees”?

    That’s easy; He doesn’t need to, nor is He required to. In the transitional days of the Church when the Apostles were still around, I believe miracles were evident, primarily to the Jews, to reinforce to them the advancement in God’s plan. But we’re called to live by faith; those things we see aren’t conducive to faith and are often very distressing.

    I recognize that seems like a cop-out to outsiders looking in, but I believe it to be consistent with the biblical message.

    Beyond that, welcome back to the site, Andy. Glad to see I’ve somehow kept your interest even though we disagree on so many things!

  6. Andy,

    You know, I’m glad those people over at WWGHA are reading the Bible, but they seem to have forgotten a verse for consideration.

    1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

    Why would it be God’s will to answer the prayers of countless others and perform miracles for everyone else, but not amputees? I won’t claim to know the answer. But as Rick mentioned, God is not obligated to do so, and as Christians we are called to live by faith.

    Furthermore, the test they put forth would never work because it is just that–a test. They are trying to test God. In the case of the girl with rabies, those people weren’t trying to test God.

    Finally, just because God hasn’t/won’t heal an amputee doesn’t deny that miracles haven’t happened. Again, there is no medical explanation for my church’s lady to have her cancer simply cease to exist without any treatment whatsoever. There is no medical reason that the one girl survived rabies. There is no medical reason that Jesus should rise from the dead.

  7. As I read your article some thoughts crossed my mind.
    Your view that secular science and creation science are at war with each other is built around the premise that God and His Son are liars.
    Creation science views the world from God’s revelations, whereas secular science views the world from man’s speculations.
    When I read articles like this I am reminded of God’s challenges to Job in chapter 38.

    Then the Lord answered Job…..
    Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?
    Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.
    Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?
    What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone…………..and He goes on.
    Its a great read and an eye-opener to who God is and what He does.

    Or how are we to consider Jesus words in Matthew 19:4………the Scriptures record that from the beginning God made them male and female…..

    I could go on but suffice it to say we all have a choice to choose who we will believe about all things great or small, God or man.

    1. If you read the latest posts here, you’ll see that I’ve decided to believe that not only is creationism is far, far from actual “science,” but that God (whatever his name is) probably doesn’t even exist.

      I no longer believe that “secular science and creation science are at war with each other”; rather, “creation science” is simply a pseudoscience alternative to rational thinking & reasoning which provides reassurance to those who choose to believe it. Scientifically speaking, it’s as fringe and untenable as parapsychology, alien abductions, Atlantis, and alien corpses being recovered at Roswell.

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