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.

About these ads

About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we are expecting our first child in June! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on March 16, 2012, in Christianity, Culture, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I can roll a ball and explain what it took to make that happen. In the explaining I can attribute the ball, the surface it rolls on, my hand that put it there, and the physics behind all that, to a God who made everything. In that way I am giving credit and worship to the One who provided that short bit of entertaining science. And, apart from complexity, isn’t that what science does? Minus the worship and credit part…….

    But if I make the physics of that rolling ball the entirety of my world, forgetting that the ball, gravity, color, space, time, and everyother part of the experiment, at one time did not exist, I will “gravitate” toward a worship and credit which are quite incomplete.

    The point I’m making is somewhat akin to yours. The problem isn’t found in science or even “religion” (what man does according to his personal understanding of God). It is found in the completeness of a man’s mind and heart. I can enjoy science because I know who made it all. Science alone can’t appreciate religion because it is focused on the repeatable data of sensory information; that is, the 5 senses of man. In the 5 senses there is no mention of the spirit. Curiously, the 6th sense we could consider the spirit. Curiously because the number of man is 6.

    • HWC,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I am not sure about the 6th sense because it reminds me of the movie but I get what you are saying. At the end of the day the Christian worldview supports the presuppositions that scientists make better than a naturalistic worldview does.

      Thanks,

      Travis

  2. Atheism cannot be proven scientifically either. Both are decisions based on worldviews. Atheism ultimately must lead to nihilism though, and this is where many people refuse to go. They are casual atheists with a patchwork atheism, adopting certain points (namely no God) yet leaving out others (no God = no standard of morality). By denying God, man decides against an ultimate reason, support, and an ultimate end of reality. For the atheist there is no answer to the ultimate questions, at least no answers that offer hope or significance. Thus life ultimately issues in despair. People who normally tout science over faith don’t usually go to these conclusions but I don’t see how they can avoid them either. What is so harmful in saying that science and faith are absolutely harmonious? Science just doesn’t have the right instruments to detect God.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Hey Kyle,

      Yes, ultimately the naturalistic worldview does lead to total skepticism. Also, the atheist must borrow from the Christian’s worldview for him/her to do science. That is really deadly flaw of atheists. They will use my worldview to support theirs while they deny the foundation of my worldview. Without God the atheist must, as you say, be a complete philosophical nihilist.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Kyle,

      Travis

  3. 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.

    I agree, and people of other faiths can do science as well. There really isn’t a separate Christian science, Muslim science, Jewish science, etc…

    If science is done right, the religious beliefs of the scientist doesn’t matter. This is what science does, it takes the personal bias of the scientist out of it.

    Galileo said “The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.” What he meant by this was that religious belief should not suppress science. The Holy Ghost doesn’t teach how heaven goes.

    • Hey Retro,

      I agree with pretty much everything you said. I am not fully sure that science takes out every personal bias because many in the scientific community approach science with huge biases. Something that I find interesting is that science assumes many presuppositions that a naturalistic worldview simply cannot account for.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting,

      Travis

  1. Pingback: Why Can’t Science and Faith be Friends? « life and building

Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 818 other followers

%d bloggers like this: