Are Science and Christian Faith Enemies?
Many atheists claim that science and faith are against each other. Christian faith cannot be scientifically proven so they are not friends. This is what Jerry A. Coyne wrote in his article for USA Today entitled “Science and Religion Aren’t Friends“:
The difference between science and faith, then, can be summed up simply: In religion faith is a virtue; in science it’s a vice.
According to Coyne faith is a “vice” within science. This seems logical but Coyne doesn’t engage the real battle. The battle is between worldviews. When it comes to doing science worldviews play a huge role. What Coyne is really saying is that science makes no room for a supernatural worldview. Science can only function within a naturalistic worldview. According to many atheists science = naturalism. But is this really the case? Alvin Plantiga doesn’t believe so. The New York Times published an article featuring Plantiga and this is what he had to say:
‘It seems to me that many naturalists, people who are super-atheists, try to co-opt science and say it supports naturalism,’ he said. ‘I think it’s a complete mistake and ought to be pointed out.’
According to Plantiga equating science with naturalism is a “mistake” and I agree. As I mentioned earlier, the battle isn’t between faith and science; it is between naturalism and supernaturalism and according to Plantiga, science is done better within a supernaturalistic worldview:
[Christian] Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, ‘is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,’ with its random process of natural selection, he writes. ‘Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called the scientific worldview.’
the Christian worldview says that humans are made in the image of God and everything that exists is God’s creative work. This is not a hinderance to science or a “vice” like Coyne said, in fact, the Christian worldview aids in science because it can account for the presuppositions of science. One of those presuppositions is the uniformity of nature. Uniformity is accepted by scientists because science depends on the ability to repeat experiments. If uniformity wasn’t accepted then scientists would have no reason to trust their experiments because each experiment would differ even if everything was done in the same way.
For further discussion comparing the Christian worldview to the naturalistic worldview in the realm of science check out Dr. James White’s article “Evidence for Special Creation From Scientific Evidence“.
Another item that I want to address is the history of science and the men that forged the way for modern science. Will Little posted an article entitled “Faithful Science” on the Resurgence blog and in it he lists some Christian scientists:
* Copernicus turned the world upside-down with his theory of heliocentrism. He was a devout believer who worked for the church most of his life as a canon, or member of the clergy, and physician.
* Galileo, called the “Father of Science,” made extraordinary advances in multiple disciplines in addition to astronomy. He believed in the authority and inerrancy of the Bible and was famous for saying, “The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.”
* Kepler did foundational work on light and forces to better explain the motion of our heliocentric solar system. He was a devout Lutheran who was profoundly and openly motivated by his faith.
* Descartes invented the Cartesian coordinate system and is commonly called “the Father of Modern Philosophy.” He was also a faithful Christian who argued passionately for the existence of God in many of his works.
* Pascal invented the mechanical calculator and made monumental advances in mathematics. He was a philosopher who later in life focused almost entirely on defending the Christian faith.
* Newton was arguably the greatest scientist to have ever lived. He ushered in a new paradigm of mechanics, invented calculus, and developed the law of universal gravitation. Though not Trinitarian in his theology, Newton was a committed theist who wrote more about faith and religion than he did about science.
Even though Coyne says faith is a “vice” within science; science and Christian faith are not at odds with one another. In reality, the battle is between the Christian (supernatural) worldview and the naturalistic worldview. Not only can Christians do science but the Christian worldview can account for the presuppositions science demands. Not only that, but history attests to a long line of scientists that were Christians. With all of that I believe the conclusion is clear…Christian faith and science are not enemies and science is not off-limits to Christians.
Thanks for reading.
Posted on March 16, 2012, in Christianity, Culture, Theology and tagged atheism, Atheist, Christian worldview, Christianity, Culture, God, naturalism, reformed theology, science, supernaturalism, theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.