The God Question Part Two: Does Science Disprove Christianity?
Dave Fields, September 16, 2018
“It is my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be described by science.”
– Allan Rex Sandage
I. The “Two Books” of God’s Self-Revealing
The Book of Nature (Romans 1:20a: Psalms 19:1)
The Book of Scripture (Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1:21)
II. Defining The Roles of Science and the Bible
What the Bible is For: “…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” – 2 Timothy 3:15-16
Science: The systematic study of nature through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and theory. It is built on a philosophical framework, but makes no philosophical claims.
Naturalism: a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted
Scientism: it is not science – not a methodology for testing and verifying hypotheses – but the philosophical claim that, given enough time, science can provide answers to every sort of question.
Science Isn’t Naturalism, or Scientism
a. Miracles are those instances when God works in a way that is outside of the normal functions of the natural world.
The scientific method could be used to rule out claimed miracles, if the evidence shows that there is sufficient natural explanation. But in the face of a legitimate miracle, science could only say: “no comment; there is insufficient data to give us a natural explanation for it.”
b. If we are at least open to the idea that God might exist – and we cannot disprove that scientifically – then we must be at least philosophically open to the idea of miracles too.
c. Miracles are hard to believe in; and, in a sense, they should be. By definition, miracles are beyond the normal, everyday functioning of the world that God initiated and sustains moment by moment.
“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” – Matthew 28:17
d. The Purpose of Miracles.
“They [miracles] lead not simply to cognitive belief, but to worship, awe, and wonder. Jesus’ miracles in particular were never magic tricks, designed to impress and coerce. Instead, he used miraculous power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead. People tend to think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order.
The Bible says that God did not originally make the world to be filled with disease, hunger, and death. Jesus’ miracles are not just proofs that he has power, but wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus came and is coming again to redeem the world where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken.” – Tim Keller
Miracles are signals of hope.
IV. The Fine-Tuning of the Universe
“The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”
– Freeman Dyson
“If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in 100 thousand million millionths, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached its present size into a hot fireball. The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are religious implications.” – Stephen Hawking
Responses: The “multiverse” theory proposes that there could be an infinite number of universes, and so ours just happened to be the ‘lucky one’ that produced life.
- There is no evidence at all for a multiverse
- There could not possibly be any way to test the theory scientifically (so it has to be taken on faith as well)
- Even if there was a multiverse that would still beg the question: what started the multiverse? A supernatural answer is still needed in that case
“…[E]ither you have to take a great step of faith to believe there is a God who designed the universe or you must take a great step of to believe there is not”
– Timothy Keller
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – Hebrews 11:3
How did God create? There’s a discussion that is happening within Christianity. There is an ongoing debate about how to best understand the opening chapters of Genesis, and what that means for how we understand the conclusions of modern science.
The issue of evolution should be a barrier for people considering the truthfulness of Christianity. Many thoughtful, Bible-believing Christian people do not think the opening chapters of Genesis rule out evolution as a potential means for God’s work of creation. (See biologos.org for examples).
Implications of Recognizing God as Creator:
“Everything we see, everything we handle, every creature we meet, every person who crosses our path, is a gift from the Creator’s hands, to be treasured, honored, treated with respect.” – David Atkinson
We are bound to care for the needs of our fellow humanity, but further, as God’s image-bearing creatures, we are given the task to care for creation and use it wisely.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”
– Psalm 24:1
Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:
Open Up: Have you thought that science and faith were locked in a conflict? Why or why not? Did the message help you gain new perspective? Is so, how?
- Miracles are, by definition, “beyond the natural.” They are instances where God intervenes into the normal/natural way he created the world to function and does something “super” natural. Because science looks only at the natural, it is not equipped to declare something “miraculous.” The scientific method could be used to rule out claimed miracles if the evidence shows that there is sufficient natural explanation. In the face of a legitimate miracle, science could only say: “no comment; there is insufficient data to give us a natural explanation for it.” Therefore, science could never be used to prove a miracle, only to rule out false claims of miracles. Requiring scientific “proof” for miracles, then, is to misunderstand the role and realm of science.
a. Is this a new idea for you? In what ways might it be t helpful to understand the definition of a “miracle” and the realm of science?
b. If someone asked you for scientific proof of miracles, what might you tell them?
- In his talk, Dave described about how miracles are “hard to believe in, and, in a sense, should be.” By looking at Jesus’ resurrection in Matthew 28:17, and the fact that some of the disciples “doubted” even though they were looking right at Jesus, we can see that the ancient people were just as skeptical as modern people.
a. What do you think about that idea – that miracles should be hard to believe in?
b. Has the presence of miracles in the Bible made you doubt the validity of the Bible or its message? Why or why not? Did this message help clarify for you that it is reasonable to believe in the miraculous? How so? Or why not?
- In Romans 1:20 Paul, a leader of the early church, writes that “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…”
Based on what Paul says here, our experience of the natural world functions to reveal God – God’s qualities as eternal, powerful, and distinct from the rest of the material world (his “divine nature” means that God is “other than” the natural world).
a. Have you ever experienced a sense of the beauty of the natural world that seemed to point “beyond” – to some sort of supernatural Being, to God? Did it lead to a sense of wonder and awe – perhaps you might think of it as “spiritual vitality” or “fullness” – from that experience?
b. What does this tell you about the relationship between science and faith – between the study of the natural world and of God? Can they be mutually enriching? How so? Or why not?
- Dave talked about the implications of God being the Creator. He mentioned both the social and environmental obligations this places on humanity. Read the quote from David Atkinson again:
“Everything we see, everything we handle, every creature we meet, every person who crosses our path, is a gift from the Creator’s hands, to be treasured, honored, treated with respect.”
How can you live reality out this upcoming week?