Is Christianity Anti-Science?

“…many have come to believe something very odd about Christianity: that it is anti-science, anti-reason, anti-progressive phenomenon fueled by blind faith. That is not Christian faith at all!” (Former atheist, Josh McDowell. Indeed, former atheist, Lee Strobel, a Yale grad, rightly describes Christianity as an “intelligent faith.”)

In addition,  I would encourage the reader to consider McDowell’s quote (above) in light of the arguments for God’s existence from the myriad of Ph.D.’s, scientists, and brilliant men and women, both living now and throughout history. (Significantly, some of the scientists and/or philosophers who argue for the possibility of a creator are not Christians, but are not afraid to admit that there appears to be a designer that exists outside time and space. See, for example: astronomer, Fred Hoyle, and philosopher, Antony Flew)

Biblically, Nicodemus, the disciples, Jesus’ siblings (in particular, James), Saul of Tarsus, the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, and the Roman commanding soldier, Cornelius (just to name a few) were not gullible idiots. They were intelligent people who made intelligent decisions to place their faith in Christ. Luke, a physician, wrote in Acts 17, the Bereans “studied the scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching was true.” (emphasis mine)

Personally, like those mentioned above – and most anyone else who has considered the claims of Christ, I have no interest in fairy tales and fables where my faith is concerned. Nor should anyone else.

So, why doesn’t everyone in academic circles look with, at least, a degree of favor and open-mindedness at the biblical gospel?

McDowell continues, “I am reminded of Richard Lewontin, a renowned geneticist and evolutionary biologist who admitted that some things they propose about evolution is absurd, but he said we must accept these absurdities, because ‘we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

And there it is.

Indisputable proof for or against God’s existence is not a scientific issue. For God can be neither proved nor disproved in a laboratory. Rather, it’s philosophical and theological.  Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University, is well respected throughout academia by people representing all philosophical, theological and scientific positions.  Having been asked about some of Stephen Hawking’s atheistic opinions, Lennox replied, “Hawking is a brilliant, famous scientist.  He [attended} Cambridge just ahead of me.  I have no quibble with his science, [the problem is] what he deduces from it.”  In other words, mere science, as biophysicist and former atheist,  Alister McGrath, asserts is basically agnostic i.e. science neither proves nor disproves anything in regard to the existence of God.  What science does is provide evidence, markers, clues, if you will.  It’s up to the individual to develop their own conclusions, as former atheist, Antony Flew, famously cited, by “following the argument wherever it leads.”   Does believing in God require faith?  Absolutely.  But, so does atheism.

While studying apologetics at Houston Baptist University, I wrote the following based on one of our assigned readings:  “As one begins to study scholarly writing, it is not difficult to discover that philosophy serves (or, at least it should) as a sort of system of “checks and balances” for the sciences. It seems that, more and more, scientists, themselves, are becoming philosophers – perhaps they always have been. However, there is a danger to the lay person/non-scientist who is in the habit of not thinking things through. That danger is to “swallow whole” what the scientist presents as truth, when it is merely a philosophical opinion based on said scientist’s empirical findings.”

Allowing a “divine foot in the door” carries with it implications that affect our everyday lives. And, as is their right, many simply choose to reject or avoid those implications – even though those implications are liberatingMcDowell shares that, in response to statements like the one cited above by Lewontin, “David Berlinski, who is a secular philosopher, defended the theists on this one, saying ‘If one is obliged to accept absurdities for fear of a Divine Foot, imagine what prodigies of effort would be required were the rest of the Divine Torso found wedged at the door… demanding to be let in?”

Planetary physicist, Robert Jastrow, once quipped, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Christianity is not anti-science. Rather, Christianity is evidenced by science. The deeper we search, both, outward and inward, we discover evidence for something beyond us – what Kierkegaard called the “Wholly Other.” McDowell cites as examples “the birth and order of the cosmos, DNA, RNA, transcription and proteins, and 3.1 Billion bits of information in every cell of our body.”

Additionally, Dr. Lennox (mentioned above) once asked a colleague of his – a physicist who is an atheist, “Where does human consciousness come from?” “We don’t know,” replied the physicist honestly.  Further, NYU philosophy professor, Thomas Nagel, an atheist, writes in his book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Neo-Darwinian Conception is Almost Certainly False, “Just as consciousness cannot be explained as a mere extension or complication of physical evolution, so reason cannot be explained as a mere complication of consciousness…If physics alone or even a non-materialist monism can’t account for the later stages of our evolutionary history, we shouldn’t assume that it can account for the earlier stages… No viable account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and information-rich as a self-reproducing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA, or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment.”

Science was given to us by God to serve as a method to discover him. Simply put, scientific findings are God’s “bread crumbs/clues along this path we travel called life.” And, in every clue, he is whispering, “I. Love. You.”

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world…” (Psalm 19:1-4)

The full article by Josh McDowell can be viewed here.

For an additional well-documented, intelligent arguments for God’s existence click here, and here.  The first was published on Yahoo! News, and originally written for Newsweek by University of Maryland professor, Robert Nelson.  The second is written by career police homicide detective (and former atheist), J. Warner Wallace.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Grief is a Part of Life – for Now

“Weeping may last for the night, but Joy comes in the morning.” (Ps 30:5)

In Sep., 2015, shortly after completing  nine days in the Psychiatric Ward of our local hospital (I ended up there due to a cluster of triggers associated with my 19 year old son’s suicide), I sat in my counselor’s office and listened intently as he shared with me how to learn to “live” again. Completely broken, and possessing zero self-esteem, he lovingly said to me, “Part of running the race (of life) is encouraging your fellow runners.”

In other words, you will rediscover joy in helping others rediscover theirs.

Allow me that privilege now.

One of the most influential Christian minds of the 20th century was CS Lewis. The following two paragraphs are taken from his book, “A Grief Observed,” written after the loss of his wife:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid…”

“At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be [around] me. I dread the moments when the house is empty…”

After burying ten children, Job uttered, “My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.”

David, in Psalm 6, cried, “My eyes waste away because of my grief;…”

Bottom line: Grief is a part of life (for now).

But there is a passage in Isaiah that we, as believers, have heard so many times we may begin to miss its significance. About Jesus, Isaiah prophesied, “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief...” (emphasis mine)

It’s this passage from Isaiah that changes everything.

Where is God when we are grieving? He is in our grief, whispering to us, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the believers at Thessalonica, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers (your loved ones) who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”

Because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, our loved ones who have passed on before us are more alive than we are. Alive! Joyful. Free of sickness and disease. In the very presence of Jesus Christ. The Lamb who is our Shepherd. The Alpha and Omega. The Almighty.

On the cross, Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished.” On the throne in Revelation, he proclaims, “It is done.” We live in the “in between.” But, because of the blood Christ shed at Calvary, we have hope not only for the future, but for the present as well. Blessed be his name!

And, until that day we meet him either through death, or when the cosmos peels back for his return, he is whispering to us, “I’ve got this. Trust me.”

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace,” Jesus told his closest friends the night before he would die for us. “In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33; Amplified)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Suicide and the Bible – Part 2

After recently reading my  original blog, Suicide and the Bible,  a reader kindly wrote,

I was reading your “Suicide and the Bible”..and I just have a question. I’m genuinely curious to know what you think about this. So you’re saying nowhere in the Bible does it say suicide will send you to hell. You did call it murder (of yourself) however, which is sin. We are supposed to ask for forgiveness for all of our sins, so what if someone commits this “murder.” And dies instantly and didn’t get the chance to ask for forgiveness?

Here was my response:

That is a very good – and common – question.

Fortunately, the Gospel makes it perfectly clear that, at the moment we profess our faith in Christ, we are redeemed, purchased by Christ’s blood, and seen, in God’s eyes, as 100% righteous and holy (2 Cor 5:17, 21).

The answer to your particular question comes down, actually, to a different (but related) question: Can a child of God lose their salvation?

Clearly, the Scriptures state we cannot. Paul describes our salvation as a gift: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  A gift is something we receive, not earn.  And since we did nothing in our power to earn it (Christ, alone, earned it for us on the cross) there is nothing we can do to un-earn it, or lose it.  In short, you will find no list of sins in the Bible that cause us to lose what was purchased for us by Christ’s blood on the cross.  This includes the sin of un-confessed daily sin.

Further, Jesus uses the phrase, “born again”, to give us insight into this miracle called eternal life. It is significant that Jesus chooses to use this particular phrase.  Consider this:  regardless of how badly we may treat our parents, we can never not be their child. In other words, we can never be “un-born” as their children.  Likewise, we can never be “un-born again” as a child of God.  Our position in Christ is based on God, not us. And our heavenly Father’s grip on us is eternal; it can’t be undone. Read on…

Jesus continues this truth in John 10 where, speaking of “his sheep” (those who have, at some point in their life, professed their faith in him) says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (vss 28-29)  In short, our eternity in heaven with God is as sure as God’s Word is sure.

Lastly, I am 100% confident that, when I breathe my last – whether it is by natural causes, or premature and unexpected as in an automobile accident – I will not have confessed every single sin I have ever committed in my screwed-up life. And I’m fairly certain this applies to every other Christian on planet earth as well. But, thank God Almighty that, like Paul, we can confidently say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…” (Romans 7:24-25)

Moving from the theological to the practical, a brief word:

There is another side of this issue that is not often enough addressed.  That’s the issue of a medically diagnosed Mental Illness (a genuine misfiring of the brain’s chemical make-up; a form of insanity.)  Information and data about the disease of Mental Illness is readily available from many reputable web sites such as the Mayo Clinic, the American Psychiatric Association, and  the National Alliance on Mental Illness. When someone dies of cancer, we never question that a sinful – it wasn’t their fault they contracted cancer.  Yet, there is a stigma attached to a person dying with a medically diagnosed Mental Illness. A person posted the following comment to one of my posts:  “From a mental health perspective, depression is an illness. There should be no stigma attached to death from any illness. “

The great majority of people who experience a mental illness do not die by suicide.  However, of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder.  This would mean they ultimately died of a disease.  This issue can be fuzzy.  But it’s definitely worth mentioning and deserves serious discussion.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

FYI – I included the following at the bottom of my original blog, Suicide and the Bible.  I include it here again.

NOTE:  If you have been, or are, suicidal, please do not misconstrue my intent here by interpreting this blog as it being ok to take your life since the Bible clearly says, if you’ve professed your faith in Christ, you will go to heaven. Suicide is never the answer to one’s problems.  I know from personal experience the devastation suicide has on a family and friends.  If you are depressed and/or suicidal, get help immediately. Talk to someone – anyone.  Help and hope are available in abundance. (Click here for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.) The sole purpose of this blog is to give peace to those of us who have been forced to live through this horrific tragedy.

The Frightening Thought of Being Used by God

Have you ever believed in something so strongly, so passionately, you wanted the entire world to know about it?

I told my wife, Michelle, “You know – when you have a cause you strongly believe in, you want to get the word out to the masses. But, when it does begin to get out to the masses it is somewhat terrifying.”

I recently wrote a blog about suicide and the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Apparently, it struck a chord with the public because, in a week’s time, it was viewed just under 200,000 times in over 150 countries.   In addition, two local TV stations ran stories on it.  You can view those stories here, and here.

As the blog I wrote spread I have been forced to continually fight off fear and insecurity.  I’ve lost count of how many people from all over the U.S. – and close to home – have contacted me to talk about their own painful journeys.  The more people who contacted me, the more I thought to myself, “Am I really equipped to help these people??  I don’t even have my own screwed-up life figured out – how in the world am I supposed to help them?”  The responsibility of “owning the mission” God assigns to a person is sobering – even discouraging, because we tend to feel so inadequate – just like a man in the Bible named Moses.

I’ve thought a lot about Moses – a deeply flawed “failure” who, after a royal and privileged upbringing, had been consigned to herding goats. For 40 years. In relative isolation.

Then, one day God shows up and gives Moses an assignment that Moses clearly believes is beyond his skill set.  As God informs Moses he is to return to Egypt and face Pharaoh, Moses is, like I have been recently, somewhat terrified. Five times Moses tells God, in essence, “You’ve got the wrong guy!”   (You can read the story in the biblical book of Exodus, chapters 3-4.)

As I consider my own insecurities and inadequacies, I return to Moses and his own “burning bush experience.” And I remember what God, in essence, told him: “This is not your mission – it’s mine. And, because it’s mine, I will see it through. I will give you courage. I will speak through you. I will protect you. I’ve got you. Will it, at times, be scary? Of course. But, never forget: the battle is the Lord’s. And I’ve never lost a battle. Now go.”

Last thing: when I think about Moses, my mind is always drawn to a quote by author/pastor, Chuck Swindoll, who wrote,

“For his first 40 years, Moses thought he was somebody. For his next 40 years, Moses thought he was nobody. And for his final 40 years, Moses discovered what God can do with a nobody.”

Use me, Lord.  Please.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick