Science nature and religion pt 3

Please read parts 1 & 2 before delving into this part. Then you can make some important choices. Do not read this part if you think you might be struck by lightning. Do not read this part if you think you might burn eternally in hell (you might for other reasons unbeknownst to me- but certainly not for reading this part). Do not read this part if understanding the Truth might drive you blind, crazy or some combination of both. And most definitely be concerned about the possibility of having future children.

Do read this part if you want to gain an insight into why Christians believe that there is no conflict between science, the nature that science studies, and a Biblical understanding of the how and why of creation.

The limits of science

Science does have its limits. Normal (operational) science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present. This has indeed been very successful in understanding the world, and has led to many improvements in the quality of life. In contrast, evolution is a speculation about the unobservable and unrepeatable past. In dealing with the past, ‘origins science’ can enable us to make educated guesses about origins. It uses the principles of causality (everything that has a beginning has a cause[1]) and analogy (e.g., we observe that intelligence is needed to generate complex coded information in the present, so we can reasonably assume the same for the past). But the only way we can be really sure about the past is if we have a reliable eyewitness account. Evolutionists claim there is no such account, so their ideas are derived from assumptions about the past. But biblical creationists believe that Genesis is an eyewitness account of the origin of the universe and living organisms. They also believe that there is good evidence for this claim, so they reject the claim that theirs is a blind faith.[2]

Creationists don’t pretend that any knowledge, science included, can be pursued without presuppositions (i.e., prior religious/philosophical beliefs). Creationists affirm that creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the Bible any more than evolution can ultimately be divorced from its naturalistic starting point that excludes divine creation a priori (working from something that is already assumed or self-evident to arrive at a conclusion).

The Christian Roots of science

Informed historians of science, including 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.[3]

There are certain essential features that make science possible, and we will go through them in detail and show where atheism fails.

1) There is such a thing as objective truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). But postmodernism, for example, denies objective truth. One example is, “There is no truth”—so is that statement true?; or, “We can’t know truth”—so how do they know that?

2) The universe is real, because God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1). This sounds obvious, but many eastern philosophies believe that everything is an illusion and that may account for the dearth of science from the Far East because why investigate an illusion by experimenting on it.

3) The universe is orderly, because God is a God of order not of confusion—1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace”). How scientific would the world be if Zeus were in charge? Some Eastern religions believe that the universe is a great Thought- God or who ever will help us when the universe changes its mind? It is impossible to prove from nature that it is orderly, because the proofs would have to presuppose this very order to try to prove it. A fundamental facet of science is deriving laws that provide for predictable outcomes. This is only possible because the universe is orderly.

4) Since God is sovereign, He was free to create as He pleased. So the only way to find out how His creation works is to investigate and experiment, not rely on man-made philosophies as did the ancient Greeks.

5) Man can and should investigate the world, because God gave us dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:28– And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”); creation is not divine. So we don’t need to sacrifice to the forest god to cut down a tree, or appease the water spirits to measure its boiling point. We saw in part 2 that many founders of modern science saw their scientific research as bringing glory to God.

6) Man can initiate thoughts and actions; they are not fully determined by deterministic laws of brain chemistry. This is a deduction from the biblical teaching that man has both a material and immaterial aspect (e.g. Genesis 35:18, 1 Kings 17:21–22, Matthew 10:28). This immaterial aspect of man means that he is more than matter, so his thoughts are likewise not bound by the material makeup of his brain. But if materialism were true, then ‘thought’ is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, and the results of the laws of chemistry. Thus, given their own presuppositions, materialists have not freely arrived at their conclusion that materialism is true, because their conclusion was predetermined by brain chemistry. Genuine initiation of thought is an insuperable problem for materialism, as is consciousness itself.[4]

7) Man can think rationally and logically, and that logic itself is objective. This is a deduction from the fact that he was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27– Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ), and from the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the logos (John 1:1–3– 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. ). This ability to think logically has been impaired but not eliminated by the Fall of man into sinful rebellion against his Creator. But if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage, not rationality.

8) Results should be reported honestly, because God has forbidden false witness (Exodus 20:16-“ You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”). But if evolution were true, then why not lie? It is not that surprising that scientific fraud[5] is now “a serious, deeply rooted problem.”[6] “[T]he dozen or so proven cases of falsification that have cropped up in the past five years have occurred in some of the world’s most distinguished research institutions—Cornell, Harvard, Sloan-Kettering, Yale and so on.”[7] That was in 1981 and we know that has just gotten worse with the climate change fiasco and many more problems. It’s important to understand the point here—not that atheists can’t be moral but that they have no objective basis for this morality from within their own system.

Europe in the Middle Ages had a Judeo-Christian worldview. So it’s not surprising that there were very significant advances in science at that time. But it took the Reformation to recover specific biblical authority. With this came the recovery of a plain or historical-grammatical understanding of the Bible,[8] recovering the understanding of the New Testament authors[9] and most of the early Church Fathers.[10]

Prof. Stephen Snobelen, Assistant Professor of History of Science and Technology, University of King’s College, Halifax, Canada explains the reason why: scientists started to study nature in the same way they studied the Bible. Just as they studied what the Bible really said, rather than imposing outside philosophies and traditions upon it, they likewise studied how nature really did work, rather than accept philosophical ideas about how it should work (extending their allegorizing readings of Scripture to the natural world).

“It was, in part, when this method was transferred to science, when students of nature moved on from studying nature as symbols, allegories and metaphors to observing nature directly in an inductive and empirical way, that modern science was born. In this, Newton also played a pivotal role. As strange as it may sound, science will forever be in the debt of millenarians and biblical literalists.”[11]

It is thus no accident that science has flowered since the Reformation, where the Bible’s authority was rediscovered. And it is no accident that the country with the strongest remnants of Bible-based Christian faith, the USA, the one Dawkins disparages because 40% of its population believe in creation, leads the world by a mile in the output of useful science.

Next will be an article tentatively titled Good/Bad Science. I’ll point out where the atheistic teaching contains much in the way of rhetoric and logical fallacies and little of real science of the type that put men on the moon, cures diseases, etc.

[1] J.D. Sarfati, If God Created the Universe, Then Who Created God? Journal of Creation 12(1)20–22, 1998

[2] Some supporting information can be found in the following works, among others: G.L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982); G.H. Clark, God’s Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 2nd ed. 1987); P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), chapter 18; N.L. Geisler and R.M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990); N.L. Geisler and T. R. Howe, When Critics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992); N.L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1986); L, Strobel, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998 and 2001; See also <creation.com/bible>.

[3] Stark, R., For the Glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts and the end of slavery, Princeton University Press, 2003; see also review by Williams A., The biblical origins of science, Journal of Creation 18(2):49–52, 2004; creation.com/stark.

[4] Thompson, B. and Harrub, B., Consciousness: the king of evolutionary problems, CRSQ 41(2):113–130, 2004; see review by Tate, D., Consciousness: a problem for naturalism, Journal of Creation 21(1):29–32, 2007.

[5] Bergman, J., Why the epidemic of fraud exists in science today, Journal of Creation18(3):104–109, 2005.

[6] Roman, M., When good scientists turn bad, Discover9(4):50–58; 1986; p. 58.

[7] Editorial: Is science really a pack of lies? Nature303:361–362, 1981; p. 361.

[8] Kulikovsky, A., The Bible and hermeneutics, Journal of Creation 19(3):14–20, 2005; creation.com/hermeneutics.

[9] Sarfati, J., Genesis: Bible authors believed it to be history, Creation 28(2):21–23, 2006; creation.com/gen-hist.

[10] Q&A: Genesis: How has Genesis 1–11 been understood throughout history?; creation.com/fathers.

[11] Snobelen, S., “Isaac Newton and Apocalypse Now: a response to Tom Harpur’s ‘Newton’s strange bedfellows’; A longer version of the letter published in the Toronto Star, 26 February 2004; isaacnewton.ca/media/Reply_to_Tom_Harpur-Feb_26.pdf.

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