“…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
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)
Simply put, as former atheist, Lee Strobel, asserted succinctly,
“The Christian faith is an intelligent faith.”
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?
“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. Scientists commonly cross the line, traveling from science to philosophy, from verifying truth to interpreting truth. It is critical to understand this.
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, rightly states 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.
Dennis Prager, a Jew but not a Christian, incisively writes,
“There is a faith component to everyone’s life, including atheists’ lives. Any atheist who believes good and evil really exist, or life has a purpose beyond one he or she has made up, or that free will exists, or, for that matter, that science alone will explain how the universe came about, or how life arose from non-life, or how intelligence arose from non-intelligence, has suspended reason in favor of faith.”
And apologist, Andy Bannister, asserts,
“The claim ‘only science can discover truth’ is self-refuting, as the statement itself cannot be verified using science.”
Finally, former atheist and Yale Law School grad, Lee Strobel, said it best as he vigorously tried to discredit Christianity:
“To continue in atheism, I’d need to believe nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, chaos produces information, unconsciousness produces consciousness, and non-reason produces reason. I just didn’t have that much faith.”
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 liberating.
McDowell 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.
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.”
The deeper we search, both, outward and inward, we discover evidence for something beyond us – what Kierkegaard called the “Wholly Other.”
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