The basic question goes something like this: Hasn’t modern science and technology shown that religious faith is not based on objective reality?
The issue of scientific method is sometimes expressed in a statement such as: If you could prove Christianity or some other religion to be true scientifically, I would believe. Actually this idea is really pure nonsense because no one lives purely by scientific evidence in any other area of life. Even atheists cannot measure a kilogram of love or a liter of justice, yet most scientific people believe such things exist. Christianity (and all religions) deal largely with things that cannot be observed, such as faith, inner peace, morality, the afterlife, and the supernatural. How could such things ever be satisfactorily proven by the scientific method?
For example, science has mathematically demonstrated the fact of the Law of Gravity. Yet though science can describe how gravity works, no one really understands why gravity operates. The same can be said for electromagnetic and nuclear forces. They can be described, but why they operate remains a mystery, since each of these forces operates “at a distance” from the objects they act upon.
What is science? Science is based upon the scientific method, which is simply a research methodology used to discover facts about the natural world. The scientific method:
• Identifies problems
• Gathers information
• Forms and tests hypotheses through observation, repetition, and experimentation.
Hypotheses that can be proven factually or mathematically are considered scientific laws (such as the Law of Gravity); those that cannot be proven, but seem to be supported by a large amount of evidence are classified as scientific theories (such as the Theory of Evolution).
Scientism and the Supernatural. Scientism is a philosophical worldview which tends to reject religion on the basis of the belief that all claims to reality must be judged and validated by science. Scientism objects to religion with the following arguments:
God (or the supernatural) does not intervene in the workings of the Cosmos. Of course, this is not a scientific fact, but an assumption some people make, and is itself unscientific. Such a statement cannot be proven (just as atheism cannot be proven) because a person would have to have access to all the facts of the history of the universe in order to know that:
• No God exists
• On no occasion has God ever set aside the normal laws of the universe.
If miracles have ever occurred, they are, by definition, unusual occurrences operating outside the normal laws of the Cosmos. In other words, they are amazing because they are exceptions to the rule of natural laws. However, if an all powerful God exists, then it is to be expected that he might, at times and for his own reasons, set aside the normal laws of the universe to display his power and accomplish his purposes.
Accounts of miracles can be explained as mere legends or as psychological phenomena (the parting of the Red Sea during the Exodus, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.). Again, science may dispute miracles, but it cannot always disprove them. For example, the validity of miracles recorded in the Bible is beyond the scope of science because the events are past and therefore cannot be observed with the scientific method. Scientists can say that, normally, water does not turn into wine in a matter of a few seconds, or that dead people do not return to physical life. But it is beyond the bounds of the scientific method to deny that these things ever happened simply because science has never observed natural laws to operate that way.
The biblical writings (and those of other religious books) are unscientific. The Bible and other writings are usually not intended to be scientific. People sometimes object to expressions used in the Bible, such as “the sun rises and sets..” (Ecclesiastes 1:5). They point out that this expression is technically incorrect, yet they often use the same expression themselves. The TV weatherman tells us that the sun will rise tomorrow at 5:52 a.m. and no one seems to be bothered by his unscientific choice of words.
Religious writings are intended to communicate metaphysical truth in ways that ordinary people will understand, so it is not surprising that, for example, Bible writers used common expressions to speak God’s truth.
So, is the Bible really unscientific? When it is read carefully, there is plenty of evidence that the Bible is not at odds with true science. Here are a few examples:
• Nothing truly new is now being created as shown in the First Law of Thermodynamics (the conservation of mass and energy). Ecclesiastes 1:9-10
• The universe is moving towards disorder and degeneration as shown in the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the law of increasing disorder and entropy). Genesis 3:17, Psalm 102:25-27, Romans 8:20-22.
• The earth orbits as part of the solar system. Job 26:7
• The uniqueness of the genetic code in various kinds of plants and animals.Genesis 1:11, 1 Corinthians 15:37-39.
The Bible also seems to describe certain facts and processes only recently discovered by science: the hydrological cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7); the shape of the earth (Isaiah 40:22); the vital function of blood (Leviticus 17:11).
The Special Issue of the Theory of Evolution.
For the past century and a half, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has been offered as an alternative to Creation in explaining the existence of biological life.
Evolutionary theory claims that life arose purely through natural processes. According to evolution, life began as a result of certain unknown causes several billion years ago, possibly through an unusual electrical force coming in contact with a “soup” of mineral rich water. These first life forms were guided by an unknown principle of progress to continually organize their structures in increasingly sophisticated ways. The progressive principle produced the necessary “upward” changes required for evolutionary progress. All life can be explained by these changes (mutations) producing desirable genetic adaptations (survival of the fittest) over enormously long periods of time.
Evolutionary theory is often stated as though it were proven fact in contrast to the “mythology” of the creation account in Genesis. Yet the Theory of Evolution is itself crippled with various fallacies, such as:
• No genetic innovations of a truly positive nature have ever been observed. All mutations seem to be either neutral or harmful.
• According to world-renowned biochemist, Michael Behe, greater knowledge of cell biology shows that time and random change could never produce the complex combination of beneficial changes necessary to produce true evolution.
• The species barriers that separate types of animals and plants do not argue for constant genetic innovation, but genetic conservation.
• The fossil record found in sedimentary rocks, can be interpreted in a number of radically different ways. It does not necessarily support Evolution, but can also be seen as evidence of a catastrophic world-wide flood.