Friday, October 10, 2008

Science vs. Faith

Let’s explore why so many people of faith view the role of science somewhat suspiciously while building their apologetic system for scriptural Christianity. Perhaps it is because many in the science field have convinced the public that the conclusions of science are “rational” while faith is blind and “irrational.” The very term scientific has acquired an aura of respectability. Therefore, to proclaim a belief unscientific casts that belief in an unfavorable light. The choice of words and their use according to a dominant, perceived meaning becomes a powerful tool of persuasion.

Another example is the role of faith. Many articles are written about the conflict between science and religion, or between science and faith. In the minds of many people, the two terms are not complementary, but mutually exclusive. This idea has been relentlessly promoted in our society as the NOMA principle (non-overlapping magisteria). Part of the confusion rests with the tendency to define faith too narrowly. The term is used by some as if its only meaning involves the embrace of beliefs without either evidence or logical thought. But there is an additional, preferable meaning that is more appropriate: faith must be thought of as an evidence-based belief system.
On October 4, 2007 this blog reported on a debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox, Christian apologist and scientist. To Dawkins, who claimed that faith is blind and science is evidence-based, Lennox countered that faith is clearly evidence-based and stated, “It is the very nature of science that leads me to belief in God.” This statement has enormous power. It should be the framework of every Christian’s belief system. Moreover, we should strive to search for and report on the abundant evidence for the existence of a Creator. As a career science educator, I was in the advantaged position of seeing and understanding, close-up, mountains of evidence for abundant design and fine-tuning characteristics in the world of nature, from the micro-cosmos to the macro-cosmos. I will confess that this extensive knowledge of design and fine-tuning, while not rising to the level of explicit evidence demanded by pure naturalists, has had an impact on this science educator. My faith in the Creator is evidence-based.

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV) expresses, more perfectly, my faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”