The Bible and Science series: Part 1
There is a tendency by some to question supernatural events mentioned in the Bible – mainly because science has proven these to be ‘impossible’. I mean, how scientifically plausible is a talking snake or donkey, the Red Sea splitting, Jonah emerging alive from a fish’s stomach after three days, or Jesus emerging from his tomb after three days? These are only a few reasons why modern scientists have turned their back on the Bible. And sadly, some of them were Christians.
“Yet historians of science, even non-Christians, have pointed out that modern science first flourished under a Christian world view while it was stillborn in other cultures such as ancient Greece, China and Arabia”.
Science has its roots in the Christian Reformation, and was based on the assumption (belief) that the universe was orderly created by a rational Creator. It is this order in the universe that enables us to study cause and effect, and make certain predictions. Now if science was born from the Christian faith, and some of the greatest scientists of all time (think Kepler, Galilei, Pascal and Newton) were Christians, why is there a modern disconnect between science and the Bible?
It is because modern science has adopted the philosophy of materialism, or naturalism. This basically means that everything that we observe and study in the natural realm, must have a natural cause (i.e. no supernatural or spiritual causes are allowed). It means that all (apparent) miracles must have a natural explanation. So where science has started off with belief in a Creator of an ordered universe, who reserves the right to miraculously interact with His creation, it traded this belief for one in absolute naturalism, or materialism. Look at what Prof. Richard Lewontin, famous geneticist remarked:
“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science … because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism….. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
What he is saying is that science is not satisfied until a natural cause for a supernatural occurrence is given. Science is no longer satisfied with demonic manifestations that can be explained as epileptic seizures.
Science has now basically adopted the belief that everything that can be known about the universe – the sum total of all knowledge – is able to be observed in the natural realm, studied through the scientific method, and explained through purely natural causes. And since the spiritual dimension cannot be grasped by the five senses, it falls outside the scope of scientific investigation, and according to science does not exist. So according to modern (naturalistic) science, spirits, angels, demons and even God does not exist, because there is no direct evidence for their existence.
But what about indirect evidence? The Bible is clear that all of creation bears testimony to the eternal power and Godhead of the Creator. So much so that those who choose to be blind to it, are without excuse (Rom 1:20). In 1802 English philosopher William Paley published Natural Theology or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity in which he argued for the existence of the Creator based on creation. He used the famous watchmaker analogy which basically states that the existence of a watch is as much evidence of the existence of a watchmaker as you’ll get – even if you have never seen the watchmaker, or the process of watchmaking. The shear irreducible complexity of the mechanism begs a designer. Why should nature be different?
The fact that atheist Richard Dawkins attempted to refute this argument with his book The Blind Watchmaker almost 200 years later, not only testifies to the power of this argument, but also to the willing ignorance (2 Pet 3:5) of modern scientists to recognise the obvious Hand of a Designer!
So should Christians embrace science? Science is a God-given gift that enabled us to explore the wonders of His creation, and in turn learn more about His infinite power and character. Science was however hijacked by an establishment that does not recognise God as Creator, nor leaves room for the miraculous. Everything that we see around us – including life – had to have had a beginning outside of God. This in short is the origin of the theories of the big bang and evolution. All are attempts at explaining the world around us without reference to the Creator. When confronted by these so-called scientific theories, we must always be aware of the naturalistic presuppositions (beliefs) behind it, i.e. ‘no miracles allowed’.
The Bible however is a Book of the miraculous. Creation was miraculous. The Flood was miraculous. The exodus was miraculous. Jesus performed miracle after miracle before rising from the dead and ascending to heaven. Just because there is no natural scientific explanation to these recorded events, does that mean it is impossible? If you think so then chances are you will never experience the miraculous in your life.
When Thomas refused to believe without the direct evidence, Jesus rebuked him by saying ‘because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed’ (John20:29).
Written on 15 December 2016.