[asa] Is Science an enemy of faith?

From: Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net>
Date: Sun Jan 04 2009 - 00:08:12 EST

I just got done with teaching a class at a "FaithBuilders" seminar, designed
for high school and college age youth, to help prepare them for the
challenges to faith as they head to college, etc., and have to confront
difficult issues. I got the organizers to schedule a "science and faith"
class, which I titled "Is Science an enemy of faith?" I was unaware that
the person who spoke before me (on the subject "Is there absolute truth?")
had chosen to speak quite a bit about evolution, and repeating the Answers
in Genesis line, essentially that evolution is the root of all modern moral
evils, and it has to be confronted at all costs.


My presentation went something like this (I only had an hour, and later had
a chance to answer a few additional questions on the "bad scientific
arguments" that I mentioned). The presentation started and ended with
scriptures from Psalms on the wonder at God's creation and his care for



This year is Charles Darwin's 200th birthday anniversary, and 150th
anniversary of "On the Origin of Species". We are going to hear a lot about
science and faith this year in the media, mostly negative toward religion.
The "New Atheists" are increasingly mounting the attack on Christianity, and
using "science" to make their case (actually philosophy masquerading as
science). Some Christian leaders agree with the New Atheists that we can't
accept both good science and the Bible, which is not a wise approach to
science and faith.


Science could cause us to lose our faith for several reasons: 1) warfare
model, 2) bad science, 3) bad theology/philosophy, and 4) failure to
acknowledge God.


The warfare model says that science and religion are in conflict, and only
one or the other can be right. The truth is that the early scientists were
Christians who worshipped God as they sought to understand the workings of
nature (Galileo, Newton, Kepler, etc.). There was no conflict in their
minds. Warfare model sets up a false dichotomy between the actions of God
and the actions of nature. (gave examples of "what the Bible says" vs.
"what science says", such as whether God or nuclear fusion makes the light
from the sun, God knits us in the womb vs. sperm/egg as cause of babies
being formed, God or gravity upholds the world, God or
pressure/temperature/humidity is the cause of rain and snow) There is no
reason why these different sets of explanations have to be in conflict.


Bad science taught as "Christian truth" builds our faith on a shaky
foundation. Gave several examples of bad science in creationist writings,
such as decreasing speed of light as evidence of young universe, Grand
Canyon as evidence for global flood, dino and human tracks together in
Paluxy River bed, no beneficial mutations, no transitional species, water
vapor canopy, and no new species formed after initial creation. For many of
these, even Answers in Genesis lists them as bad or questionable arguments
for creationists to use.


Bad theology: "The Bible must teach accurate science, or else it can't be
trusted for anything." "False accusation of fellow believers" (calling them
atheists because they accept the age of the earth, etc.). and "Science has
proved that there is no God" (this is where the atheists bring in
philosophical conclusions and falsely call it science.)


Failure to acknowledge God: If we fail to see God's order, purpose, and
beauty in creation we may lose sight of faith. If we believe that nature is
fully sufficient to account for the origin of everything, then God is
extraneous. Science can tell us "how" and "what", but it can't answer
questions of meaning and purpose, "who" and "why", and ultimate origins.


Revelation and truth: "Two books" of God's revelation (nature and
scripture/revelation). No truth can threaten God, or genuine faith, because
all truth is God's truth. Science is man's flawed interpretation of nature,
and theology is man's flawed interpretation of scripture. There might be
conflict between science and theology, but not between nature and God.


Possible models (theories) of creation: 1) Instant creation. 2) Separate
acts of creation over time (gap theory, day-age, days of proclamation). 3)
Theistic evolution/Evolutionary creation. Each of these models is held by
thinking Christians, who is trying to deal with the evidence, and each has
their own strengths and weaknesses. I didn't have time to elaborate all the
strengths and weaknesses, but throughout the presentation I did comment on
some of the unsupportable young-earth arguments. Later in response to a
question, I talked some about the appearance of age hypothesis and its
problem of a deceptive God.


Some reasonably good arguments for God (mainly philosophical, not
necessarily scientific): 1) anthropic principle, 2) Cosmological argument /
origin of matter, 3) moral argument, 4) argument from religious need, 5)
argument from joy, 6) historical arguments for Christian faith, and 7)
argument from experience with God (miracles, healings, personal ministry of
Jesus Christ or angels, answers to prayer, etc.)



The class was pretty well received. For an introductory class to a group
that were not necessarily all scientifically literate, it may have gone too
deep. But hopefully it will give them something to think about, and
possibly give them something to refer to, for those who do face faith
challenges once they study enough scientific evidences.


Jon Tandy


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Received on Sun Jan 4 00:08:56 2009

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