Re: [asa] Is Science an enemy of faith?

From: Nucacids <>
Date: Sun Jan 04 2009 - 20:36:15 EST

Hi Jon,


Your presentation sounds very interesting and good. The seminar idea, to help prepare youth for the challenges to faith as they head to college, is also an excellent idea. What is disconcerting is the speaker before you, the one who repeated "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." That type of message does not prepare Christian youth for college - it sets them up for failure and disappointment. I'm glad you were there to balance that message.



  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jon Tandy
  Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2009 12:08 AM
  Subject: [asa] Is Science an enemy of faith?

  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 mankind.



  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 20:36:47 2009

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