19 Jun 2016

In defense of Science and Christianity

[10 minute read]

Science is the study of the natural world, using a self correcting process known as the scientific method to guide us towards truth, through repeated experiment and observation.

Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was sent to earth, died a sinless death and rose again to pay the price for the sins of humanity, so that all who believe in Him would be saved.

By definition, science and Christianity are not at odds with each other. So why should we have to choose between them? Perhaps because of conflicting views on creation, evolution or the age of the earth?

The current scientific view is that the universe began 14 billion years ago in an event known as the big bang. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Life on earth has been evolving for 4 billion years and modern humans have been around for the last 200 thousand years or so.

The Christian view, according to the Bible, is that God created the universe, the earth and all life, each producing offspring of its same kind. God created humans in His own image - He gave them a spirit and granted them authority over, and responsibility for, the earth. The Bible does not say how long ago any of this happened, though it does describe the creation process as taking place over six ‘days’ in Genesis 1 and then in a single ‘day’ in Genesis 2.

These views sound different, but I find myself defending both the scientific view when talking to Christians and the Christian view, when talking to people who are not Christians.

I defend the Christian view because the God of the Bible is real to me and I believe that He is the creator of the universe and everything in it. God created all forms and characteristics of life and He specially created humans in His image with a plan set apart from the animals. I am not concerned with dates because the Bible does not give specifics in this regard. Biblical creation is described once over six ‘days’ and again over a single ‘day’ in the very next chapter, so that these time periods are clearly not referring to literal days. The important message in the Biblical creation account is that God is the creator and humans have a special place in His creation.

I defend the scientific view because there is accessible and convincing evidence, that there was a big bang 14 billion years ago, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, life on earth has been around for 4 billion years and has been subject to changes and adaptations (evolution) during this time.

I defend both the Christian and scientific viewpoints because God could have created the universe 14 billion years ago through the process of the big bang. He could have made the earth 4.5 billion years ago and He could have created the first single celled life. God could have used single cells, with the built in ability to adapt and change, as the building blocks of life to create adaptable, multi-cellular life forms like animals and humans. God could have taken the exact amount of time and used any process He chose (including evolution) to create everything. If science ever truly uncovers all the specifics of how it happened, then we'll properly understand how God did it. As the creator of the universe, God is behind all that we study and discover in the natural world. Science is not a threat to Christianity because true Christian faith is based on Jesus Christ and on the Cross. It’s not about the details of the big bang, evolution, or the age of the earth. Science and Christianity are not at odds with each other.

The elephant in the room is the atheist view, which is the lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. This view has a tendency to present itself as scientific and claims to hold the intellectual high ground over any God based belief. But science is limited to the study of the natural world, which means it’s an inadequate tool for exploring the existence of God or other supernatural beings. If you were unimpressed when I mixed scientific and Christian views, you should be equally unimpressed by science mixed with atheism. Science mixed with something else is no longer science and the argument really comes down to Christian faith versus atheist lack of faith - neither can be scientifically justified. You may have heard someone say, “I'm a man of science, I don't believe in God". However, this statement misrepresents men (and women) of science and it would be more correctly phrased as either, “I'm a man of science, I can not test the existence of any supernatural being”, or, “I'm an atheist, I don’t believe in God".

If supernatural belief could indeed be explained away by simply applying the scientific method, then no scientist (or any other smart person) would be a Christian believer. But there are many scientists who have made substantial contributions to both science and the Christian faith (not to be confused with ‘Christian Science’ or ‘Scientology’). You might recognise the names of Blaise Pascal, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonhard Euler, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel or Lord Kelvin and there are many more examples of scientists who are Christian, including numerous Nobel prize winners across various scientific disciplines. In spite of what many atheists would like you to believe, science and atheism do not necessarily go together and there are good reasons to consider Christianity.

In terms of the number and accuracy of copies, the Christian Bible is the best preserved manuscript in history. Archeological evidence has unearthed people and places that are described in the Bible. In addition, more than 300 Biblical prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled through the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is a coherent story of God’s plan to save humanity that flows through the pages of the Bible, written by many authors over 1500 years - I think these points build a genuine argument for the supernatural inspiration of the Bible and I hope it would make you curious enough to at least read the gospel of John.

Most of Jesus’ disciples were martyred and none of them chose to save their lives by denying their faith in the Messiah, whom they had seen die on the Cross, appear again in His resurrected body and ascend to heaven - Surely none of them would have been prepared to be tortured, or die for a story that wasn’t true. The resurrected Jesus appeared to 500 people other than His disciples. The man who became the apostle Paul was heading up the execution of Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and he was dramatically converted - Paul became the instigator of spreading Christianity, instead of wiping it out in its infancy.

Christianity is the largest religious group in the world today, so perhaps you know some Christians and I hope that you have experienced the fruit of Christianity through their lives, but odds are they aren’t perfect. The matter of perfection is where Christianity is especially different from other religions - Thanks to God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, who paid the ultimate price by dying for your sins, you do not need to be perfect to approach the God of the Bible. If you sincerely look for Him, He promises that you will find Him and He will take you as you are.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.                 
Revelation 3:20

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."                   
 John 3:16

Further Reading