Not Only Compatible – Contingent: Why Faith and Science Belong Together

Name and Place for Tuesday, 13 January 2015


Many modern scientists profess to have a ‘completely secular’ approach to their practice (as though this were honest, noble, and academic). In an effort to convince the world that science need not depend on God, and that the true intellectual is the one who abandons Him, they have set the Christian worldview apart as a target for scorn and mockery. Instead of addressing the clear issues in their reasoning they attempt to misrepresent and discredit their opposition. Atheists follow suit, acting as fedora clad foot soldiers for this campaign. Many Christians have allowed this slander to intimidate them, and have even begun to believe that the practice of science is somehow separate from faith and religion.

I often hear Christians say, “Science and religion are compatible in many ways! I don’t see a necessary contradiction between the two”. While this is a valid statement, I fear that many miss a greater truth that can equip us to confidently respond to ridicule from the scientific community. Science is not only compatible with the existence and involvement of our Creator, the practice of science is contingent upon Him. It presupposes that the universe is orderly, intelligible, and predictable. It depends on laws and constants that cannot be accounted for in a universe that popped into existence without cause and is forming in unguided chaos. It assumes that we can trust our senses to feed us information that is consistent with objective reality, and that we can make meaningful observations about the world we live in.

For this reason, it should not surprise us to find that modern science was birthed in and built upon a Christian worldview.

Francis Schaeffer says the following in He Is There and He Is Not Silent:

In my earlier books I have referred to Whitehead and Oppenheimer, two scientists – neither one a Christian – who insisted that modern science could not have been born except in the Christian milieu. Bear with me as I repeat this, for I want in this book to carry it a step further, into the areas of knowing. As Whitehead so beautifully points out, these men all believed that the universe was created by a reasonable God, and therefore the universe could be found out by reason. This was their base. Modern science is the original science, in which you had men who believed in the uniformity of natural causes in a limited system, a system which could be reordered by God and by man made in the image of God. This is a cause and effect system in a limited time span. But from the time of Newton (not with Newton himself, but with the Newtonians who followed him), we have the concept of the “machine” until we are left with the only machine, and you move into the “modern modern science,” in which we have the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system, including sociology and psychology. Man is included in the machine. This is the world in which we live in the area of science today. No longer believing that they can be sure the universe is reasonable because created by a reasonable God, the question is raised that Leonardo da Vinci already understood and that the Greeks understood before that: “How does the scientist know; on what basis can he know that what he knows, he really knows?”

So rationalism put for at this point the epistemological concept of positivism. Positivism is a theory of knowing which assumes that we can know facts and objects with total objectivity. Modern “scientism” is built on it.

It is a truly romantic concept, and while it held sway, rationalistic man stood ten feet tall in his pride. It was based on the notion that without any universals to begin with, finite man could reach out and grasp with finite reason sufficient true knowledge to make universals out of the particulars (38).

Not only does the ‘secular’ scientist encounter a dilemma in accounting for the uniformity of nature, they also face the epistemological question of “how does the scientist know that anything that he knows is actually true?” Abandoning God is not only impossible in practice; professing such a thing is intellectually dishonest. The truly ‘secular’ scientist has no reason to believe that anything he does is meaningful; that the knowledge pursued through the scientific method can truly be acquired.

Be bold, Christian. Science belongs to us. It depends upon the Christian worldview. They cannot take it from our hands.

 

 

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