Wednesday, July 06, 2011

You Don't Have to Punt God for Science

One of the greatest challenges for the modern Christian is to reconcile the relationship between their faith and science. Certainly, this difficulty is not only felt by Christians, but any religion that has an authority that they view as superior to the natural order. Conflict arises when the data seems to be telling us one thing, while our religion tells us that another thing has occurred. In Christianity, this is most obvious in things like the resurrection of the dead, the age of the earth, and miraculous healings, and the fore-telling of the future.

Here is how the conflict generally begins. For example, let us take the idea of the age of the earth as our example. If we take Moses seriously in Genesis chapter one, then God created this universe in the span of six days. He wrote, "And God said, "Let there be light" and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were day one" (Gen. 1:3-5). He put in evening and morning, and he called it day one. Pretty hard not to follow Moses' thinking.

It is scientifically ridiculous to believe that this is possible. This act of creation cannot be duplicated, it cannot be verified as to how it happened, and everything in science indicates that the universe must be billions or trillions of years old, not mere thousands as the Genesis account seems to indicate. If the universe were only thousands of years old, we wouldn't be able to see the stars because the light wouldn't have even reached earth yet! So how is the Christian to reconcile these things.

One thing to do is to punt Genesis One as allegory or poetry. The problem is that everyone knows that this is cheating. Genesis one wasn't written as allegory and it doesn't conform to Hebrew poetry. Moses was writing simple prose, and he was quite serious. Punting is an option for a Christian, but it isn't a very brave or thoughtful one. Much of what the Christian faith teaches is just as scientifically absurd as creation ex nihilo, not least of all the idea that Jesus is fully God, fully man, and that he died, stayed dead for three days, and then resurrected himself. Oh yes, and Jesus did all of this 2,000 years ago in order to save people from the eternal consequences that adultery brings. So really, Christians shouldn't wuss out on Genesis One because they haven't thought through their authority structures with regard to truth, too much is at stake.

If a Christian does go ahead and own Genesis one, then the modern world will look at them incredulously. They seem to be denying the obvious: the universe is 'old', not new. This is, in the end, an appeal to authority, and science is a good authority. It is observable, and it is testable, and it works. It works almost every time.

We can use science to fight disease, determine age, and make a multitude of discoveries about the universe and everything in it. But something God does something unusual, like instantly eradicating cancer, raising someone from the dead, or create an entire universe out of nothing. This is where science will fail. It simply cannot be used to test the veracity of a miracle; it cannot prove a miracle has occurred.

Herein lies the dilemma of the scientist or naturalistic man. The religious man has to decide if he wants to punt on Genesis for the sake of science. The naturalist has to decide if he wants to punt miracles, and ultimately the existence of God, so that science can be his supreme authority.

I do not write about these things merely to convince the naturalist to believe the Bible. I write these things so that both Christians and scientists can understand what is at stake when they discuss these things. This is about miracles, God, and science. The Christian can live with all three. The naturalist cannot.

1 comment:

Norma said...

I love to read science and medical magazines. I've never felt a conflict and I don't "punt." I'm tickled when they have to undo a favorite belief or ascribe something to "Nature" or evolution. I'm also a painter (amateur). I'm certainly not as creative as God, but if I draw or paint an adult human being or a flower or bird, I don't start with a cell.

Also, everything about man and God, good and evil, choice and law, is described in the early chapters of Genesis, which is extensively quoted in the NT. There was no death before the fall, which pretty much rules out billions of years of evolution of plants, animals and humans. The first death recorded was committed by God to cover Adam and Eve, so he's in charge no matter how you look at the story.