god vs science
Intro - God vs Science?
Please note this contains some easy things but also some tricky concepts to understand! This is definitely more for 16-19s or those very interested in this. It's presented simply as some questions to think about rather than a traditional 'Bible talk'.
First up, we are definitely not against good science, rightly applied
This is definitely not a talk against science but supportive of good science (rightly applied). This is a talk about science only within the confines on when it relates to God, the Bible, Jesus, and creation etc, especially when it comes from an anti-God perspective (which we don't seek to stop, but seek to respond to). Often this kind of 'science' comes with an agenda and can be very un-scientific in its conclusions and attitudes. It is ironic because one of the criticisms of science towards those who believe in God as the creator of the world is tjhat they have "abandoned the scientific method and the scientific attitude" (Steven Schafersman, Geotimes 1981 p11 quoted in ICR article accessed 18 July 2013). Yet as we will see, this is sometimes a valid criticism that can be levelled at science that intentionally seeks to exclude God.
At other times, it is not the science that is bad. Instead it is the worldview (the 'paradigm') that is bad and that twists the science. So good science when wrongly applied becomes bad science. Let's take for example the age of the earth and radioactive dating. When fossils etc are dated, the science behind the dating of the fossil may be accurate. But if the method of dating the universe is wrong, then when the methods used to date the fossil are applied to the world, the conclusion is wrong. Which incidentally is what happens.
Even in a small way, something can also have wrong or different perspectives. For example, you put on a church event and believe 100 people will come (and say it'll definitely be more than the 25 that came to the first event) and someone else says that there needs to be at least 75 to be worth doing. 65 people turn up. You think it's a success. They think it's a failure. It all depends not on the facts but on how you interpret the facts!
So this talk is about how bad science leads to bad conclusions and the need for good science. Good science raises many issues and questions which is great and should be encouraged. However, we'll show that not all science seeks to find the truth all the time. But science is good - let's face it, God is the original scientist!
This talk was also partly inspired by the story that someone's son had walked away from God because he claimed science had disproved God. This is clearly not true and needs to be investigated further to help youth workers, parents and students take a stand for God especially against those who use (and sometimes abuse) science to try to disprove God.
God vs Science
As a Christian, it's really important to be able to tell people what you believe and why you believe it. Yes, being a Christian is about faith. But this faith has provable truth in it. Christians are not stupid; they haven't been deceived and they haven't left their brains at home!!
This talk is to help arm you in school especially for those times when people claim that science has disproved God or that Christians hate science and things like that. They say things like Christians are against science; that what Christians think has no scientific basis. It isn't true.
I'll let you into a secret... The argument has never been God vs science. The debate is about science vs science and faith vs faith... The faith of belief in God vs the faith of belief in no God.
As one example, you may hear people talk about Galileo being persecuted by the (Roman Catholic) church and presented as a 'science vs religion' thing but this is not true at all. In fact, this was about power games, not science vs religion. "The notion that Galileo’s trial was a conflict between science and religion should be dead. Anyone who works seriously on Galileo doesn’t accept that interpretation anymore." (Thomas Norton).
A further example is given about Christopher Columbus and a so-called argument with the church of the day, with the church of the day alleging claiming the world was 'flat' whereas the 'scientist' Columbus wanted to show the world was round. But again this is completely untrue. In actual fact the debate was about how large the globe was (the "width of the ocean"), not about whether it was flat or a globe! (S.E Morrison book on Columbus, referenced in creation.com accesses 19 Aug 2013). This also explains why the Columbus called the Native Americans 'Indians', because he thought he'd reached India. (Incidentally Columbus also stated his journey to the 'Indies' was inspired by the Holy Spirit opening his eyes to this possibility - see for example ICR article, accessed 19 August 2013).
Isn't science about truth and Christianity about faith?
We all believe things. Some of this comes from our family; from our friends; from school and from the world or community around us. Other things come from the internet; from books and learning. But we all believe things and often these things can't be proved. Nobody is without various beliefs. People believe all kinds of strange things! Yet very often the only thing you get mocked for believing in, are Christian things. You are described as a 'religious nut' or similar by people who religiously believe their own unproven beliefs.
People often say that you can't prove there is a God. I don't agree. But even if that were the case, it's very true that you can't prove there isn't a God. So when people say that being a Christian is 'blind faith', you can argue that they also have a blind faith if they don't believe in God.
So actually faith works both ways. Christians have faith that God exists (and can point to a lot of evidence). People who don't believe in God also have faith (that God doesn't exist) and would also claim to have evidence. So it's an argument of faith vs faith. Science has not disproved faith, nor can it. In the 19th and 20th century people believed in 'rationalism' (that everything could be explained), believing that science would answer every question, but it did not.
Thinking of science, we'll see that many Christians are scientists. Many of the 'fathers of science' were Christians and actually Christianity and the nature of God provide the very best foundation of science. We'll come back to this later. But for now it's important to say that atheists would have you believe that Christianity is against science, but many scientists (many very top scientists) are Christians. Some individuals who were Christians may have been 'against' science. But it is equally true that many people who are not Christians have also been against science!
Christianity is True and does have loads of evidence!
If we take a look at the claims of the Bible and Jesus, we find that time after time they are true. In the Old Testament of the Bible, there were well over 300 predictions / prophecies made about Jesus. Did you know that he fulfilled all of them that he could have done? Many of these are incredibly specific and couldn't have been made up! (The ones remaining are about when Jesus returns).
The Old Testament was also accurate about many things - for example about the state of Israel being created in one day (Isaiah 66.8). It was also accurate about rulers, about kings and events that would happen. For example the prophet Isaiah in chapter 44 gave a prophecy about Cyrus, king of Persia. This was amazing and happened (see 1 Chronicles 36 and Ezra) in the 560s BC.
Jesus also prophecied things would happen - which have happened, like for example the destruction of Jerusalem and all of its stones in the walls being thrown down (see Mark 13.2). This happened in AD70 with the Roman-Jewish battle won by Emperor Titus. These stones still lie on the ground today in Jerusalem.
There are many, many discoveries that archaeology has made that have proved the Bible. One thing found many years ago were the Dead Sea Scrolls. These were found in 1947 and had been written in the languages of Hebrew (Jewish language) and Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) and had both the Bible (except Esther) and many other non-Christian records. The book of Isaiah found in these was 1000 years older than the earliest one found previously. When studied, the Dead Sea Scrolls were 95% accurate to the other copies, with the errors just things like typos! There are more copies of the New Testament original documents (and written nearer the time of their life) than there are about historical people that everyone knows about! (Like Plato, Aristotle and Socrates). In the words of CARM, "So far, however, there isn't a single archaeological discovery that disproves the Bible in any way."
Nearly every person who doesn't believe in God knows and recognises that Jesus was a real person (even when they don't believe in God). Only those who have been discredited believe he wasn't real. We also know from our own lives and the lives of millions of other Christians in the world that Jesus is very real and very much alive. Did you know Christianity is growing faster than at any other time in history. You are 'born into' Islam when you leave your mother's womb. But despite terrible persecution in secular nations, Islamic nations, Buddhist nations, communist nations and Hindu nations, Christianity (which is measured by people saying yes to Jesus in their life) is growing incredibly fast like never before.
Jesus is very real and Christianity is true! The Bible tells us in Romans 1 to just look around us at creation to prove God exists!
Is Science always about the truth?
The answer is no - strange or what! (For more specific details from experts, click here...)
There is a famous British atheist (someone who doesn't believe in God). He is a scientist but his famous book called 'The God Delusion' actually has many insulting names for God. Does that sound like science to you? No! Other people who don't believe in God have even said that even if there were a God, they would refuse to believe in it and all their conclusions would say there is no God, even if it means lying and twisting the truth (a tactic used by many people). For these people, science is no longer their aim; disproving God is their aim and so this is no longer science and no longer about finding truth.
Some scientists, desperate to prove evolutionary process (or make a name for themselves) have even made up claims about 'half-apes' to prove their case. Some even created fake bones. Other findings (eg the 'Piltdown man' where a supposedly ancient 'half-ape' type human) were found to be complete fakes, in reality being a modern day human. The 'Archaeoraptor' bird was also found to be a normal bird, not 'transitionary' species developing through evolution. In this instance, one of the charges against those who faked evidence was that they were 'zealots and cranks'. So when we hear about 'religious zealots' or 'religious nuts', remember that these characteristics can be found in all kinds of people!
Other times, findings are interpreted rather than necessarily having scientific fact. For example if there is something we don't know, the method often used is to assume something, as is common with dating earth's history and timeline. But this cannot always be correct as we were not there. Some scientists are more honest than others with conclusions like, "there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument" (for evolutionary transition between species). Dr Patterson, quoted in Luther Sunderland, 'Darwin's Enigma'.
But there is more evidence that science is not necessarily about truth...
I know someone who is a Professor and he explained about the politics of science and research. Many times research for projects comes from people with an agenda. For example this may be that the conclusion of the research proves evolution (this is quite common). Therefore there are times where the outcome of the research is not necessarily about science, but about contributing in to a pre-arranged conclusion, or having to prove 'success'. This creates a pressure to 'succeed' and potentially to do anything to achieve that. For example if you get major funding from a drugs company, you may feel the pressure to 'promote' their drug etc.
There can also be people who do their research and science on this basis on their own or those who conclude things to get funding, support colleagues or support political or scientific agendas. Often, scientific papers have to be reviewed by others before going to print, but it has been shown that this is often not enough to maintain truth. Like in every area, people who uncover fraud are often unwilling to report any fraud for fear of losing their job and friends (something which has actually happened in hospitals, councils and business in the UK in recent years with 'snitchers' being forced out).
We also have many times where scientists disagree over the same evidence. If anyone ever watched the old 'Time Team' series on Channel 4, you'll see how the same evidence produced a variety of different opinions, for example from an archaeologist and a geologist. Science does not always agree. Scientists often conclude things that are completely opposite to other scientists!
Another thing that has been happening in science and in other areas of research is that people increasingly don't use original sources, but quote other people who may or may not have used original sources. So for example someone quotes someone as saying something. This quote may be totally accurate, but what the person they quote said may well be wrong. This has happened in many cases. So we must make sure we don't just quote what someone says, but we need to check what they say. Otherwise it's false evidence. The good thing about the Bible is that it's God's Word and (in the West at least) we can all get and read the Bible and rightly understand it - as it's the original source on Bible matters! Not everyone is so careful !
There is also politics involved with science as with anyone and pre-existing points of views about things. No-one is ever truly neutral - people always come with beliefs, ideas, theories and faiths. These can at times go against scientific conclusions or can at least aid the scientist in furthering his or her argument.
For example, in the book 'The Origin of Mountains' by Cliff Ollier and Colin Pain, the authors write, “Indeed, the dead weight of orthodoxy and the preference for models over ground truth that prevails today suggest that we have less reason for optimism, not more.” In effect, they are writing (within the context of their findings about geomorphology) that science is more interested in its belief system than in truth. However, this statement could easily be applied to the wider evolutionary scientific community where accepted dogma is often set above anything else.
As Christians we must also be careful not to do this in the wrong way. Truth will always stand, although often repressed.
Science as permanent fact
Science is (or should be) about the investigation of truth. But are those truths that science uncovers always right? Inevitably, science is changing as it is about finding out the facts. In our example of so-called 'half-ape discoveries' faked (in the 20th century), it was science that uncovered it was not true. So science is good when it works well, in that it pursues evidence in an effort to find truth. But of course there are moments when 'science' is seen to say one thing and then another.
In a more recent example, in 199, the UK medical journal 'The Lancet' covered a story from a scientist saying the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella) could lead to autism in a person taking the vaccine. As a result, thousands avoided the vaccine and some believe that people died as a result of it. The science and the methods used for this study were eventually discredited (by science - a good thing!) But it led to all kinds of opinions and 'evidence' being found for and against etc. leaving people confused and leaving science seemingly inconclusive.
So these kinds of things show that science is always subject to change, always one bit of research away from discovering a different 'truth'. One 'truth' may be wrong, or a 'truth' may be found to be wrong with new evidence and new techniques etc and this is good. But it means that for example, science has told us different things about fruit, vegetables, butter, diet etc. These conclusions are often then reversed, with science telling us something different. Other times science contradicts each other (as it often does in court with evidence given by scientists and others for the defence and the prosecution).
So if things change so often, how do we know that what we are told is actually the truth? The answer is that we don't, or often not fully. This is both the good and the downside of science. But it can lead to confusion and uncertainty.
The Bible, however, is God's truth. Can we trust the creator of the entire universe of billions of galaxies with billions of planets and stars; the creator of the heavens and the earth; the creator of every living creature (despite things going wrong when man chose to sin); the creator of every human with a unique hand print, finger print, eyes - to be able to give us his truth in the Bible? The answer is yes. Can we trust the God outside of time who sees all of time to be true? Yes. Can we trust the God who knows all things to be true? Yes. Every time. God's Word is true (the Bible) and God can be totally trusted every time. If things go wrong it's us that is the problem not God! But Jesus called himself 'the truth'. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.
Types of science
There are different types of science which it's important to think about. For example, people who strongly believe in evolution would have you believe that evolution is key to all science. But this is totally untrue. One top biologist has said that evolution is not needed even for biology. It certainly is not needed for any other area of science on the whole (rare exceptions). The only time that evolution is key to science is evolutionary biology!
Secondly, when (for example) speaking about evolution we have to distinguish between evidence science (science that can be proved by evidence and tests) and historical science (which cannot be proved and can only be interpreted by what we think happened and ways we think things happened). So people guess the age of earth by various methods which are not always very reliable and make loads of assumptions (thinking things we don't know are true). Assumptions don't make good science! Another example is when people talk about evolution, they can't prove anything because they weren't there. No-one was there except God. So we need to trust his record of what happened!
So science is not always 'science' as we think of it!
Quantum Physics and some theories
The truth is that science and particularly quantum physics is proving that what we don't see around us is more real than what we do see (movies like The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor are more true than we realise).
A scientist, Bernard d'Espagnat even won an award for his research that he believed showed that 'spiritual reality is veiled from us, and science offers a glimpse behind that veil.' Some believe this research points to God. Link to BBC article here...
We also read in the Bible that God 'stretched out the heavens' (17 times) and that the heavens can be 'worn out' or 'rolled up'. This suggests that the boundary between our 'time' and the supernatural realm is very thin, which would potentially confirm the research from Bernard d'Espagnat and others. This is in addition to the fact that we know that time is not simply 'going forward' but can be stretched or slowed down.
Quantum physics has also discovered that our world is incredibly ordered and logical, being made up of zeros and ones, just like computers are. It has discovered we live in up to 10 dimensions (like time, space etc). Some believe that the Bible hints at much of this kind of science in many places. For example Ephesians 3.18 talks about the height of God's love for us. This can also translated 'heavens', adding dimensionality and some believe 'time' to God's love for us. It's also been suggested that 2 Timothy 1.9 where the word 'time' is used, that this 'time' is not just time going forwards but time before us going back to before when 'time' even began.
Does science answer every question?
Again, the answer is no. Good science would never say that science is the 'be all and end all' of everything in the world. As one famous British scientist said (and we're paraphrasing here): "Science can tell you what temperature water boils at but it can't tell you why someone put the kettle on or what they're going to do with it."
Science, by its nature cannot answer every question of the universe or of mankind. It only has a part to play. So when people say things like 'science disproves God' you have to be very cautious about what that person is really saying or really knows. Even if science 'disproved God' (which it doesn't and can't), it would only be one element of 'proving or disproving God'. There is so much more to being human and to living in this world. So science is limited in what it can ever 'know'! (The same is true of myfishbites, we don't know everything either!!)
Christianity doesn't go against science, it helps!
The 'fathers of science' were mostly Christians. These were people like Sir Isaac Newton who discovered the principle of gravity, about mechanics, things about calculus (maths) and optics / defraction of light and many more things. (He also headed up the Royal Mint and was strong on getting rid of corruption!) Others who were Christian included Louie Pasteur who discovered stuff around germs, vaccinations, pasteurising things (like milk) to make them safe and other things.
Many people have also argued that Christianity, Christian world view, the Bible and the nature of God have proved to be an excellent basis of science. The early scientists saw that God had given them freedom to explore, that God was a God of order and that he gave us the freedom to explore and investigate. This same kind of passion was used by men like Charles Darwin to stand against poverty; by Wilberforce and others to end slavery; by Florence Nightingale (to transform medical care and nursing). Both John Howard and Elizabeth Fry had a strong faith, which, along with Dickens, brought about UK prison reform on a huge scale.
There are also thousands of Christians today who are scientists! Some of these men and women hold very high up positions in Universities and major organisations around the world.
So Christianity does not contradict (go against) science at all !
The 'Flat Earth'
There is a myth put around that Christians refused to believe that the earth was round, believing it was flat, until 'secular science and secular men of learning' found that the world really was round. Even President Obama has fallen to this lie.
In fact, even secular writers now know that there never was a 'flat earth darkness' and that by the medieval period (eg St Thomas Aquinas), everyone knew the world was round! The huge majority of Christians completely accepted the globe was round! Even back to the 7th century England with a guy called the Venerable Bede, this was known. Even when Christopher Columbus sailed in the 15th century (by his own words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!) it was known the world was round, although he also confirmed this.
So how did this myth come about? It came about from the made up writings of a guy called Washington Irving in the 18th century and taken on by two men who were anti-Christian. However, the lies of these three men especially have since been dismissed! In fact there is a Flat Earth Society today with the head of them being an evolutionist.
(Info from - http://creation.com/flat-earth-myth accessed 12 July 14.45)
Creation vs Evolution
We won't go in to loads of details here, but there are three main different views of how the world was created (when thinking about Christian views):
1. That we developed from some kind of sludge / mud / fish over 3 billion years or so - evolution and the world was formed through the 'Big Bang'.
This is the only view that most people are taught to believe in. The trouble is that very often the purpose of this is to get God out of the way and teach that he had nothing to do with the world. The crazy thing is that to have a big bang happen and create the world, the probability of this happening is way beyond what scientists define as impossible! (It is called the big bang theory). There are many questions about evolution (which is also unproven despite disputable fossil finds) that are totally unproven. No link has ever been found that shows (for example) a monkey becoming a human. People are even prepared to lie to defend evolution because they have a strong faith against God. There has never been any evidence found that shows one species of animal turning into another. In terms of the creation of the earth, there is loads of evidence against the world being billions of years old and again, there are many things said about it that are not true.
We won't go into everything, but sometimes people who believe Genesis are slated as being stupid or ignoring the evidence etc. But this is not true. There are many scientists who know what they are talking about who don't believe in evolution and the world happening by accident. I mean, just think about it for a bit... How can the world around us just have happened? Here's a question - if science is about finding out the facts, why do so many people refuse to accept scientific evidence that goes against evolution? How can that be science?!
2. That God made evolution - theistic evolution (theistic means belief in God). Many people who believe this also suggest that God could have used the 'Big Bang' to make the world.
This is probably the point of view that most Christians believe in. They may believe in evolution, or believe in bits of it or have never thought about it. Did you know that Richard Dawkins (who strongly opposes the Bible and belief in God) believes that if you are an evangelical Christian (basically a Christian who believes the Bible), you are a hypocrite if you believe in this 'theistic evolution'!
But anyway, there are problems with believing in this as a Christian.. You do have to decide whether you believe the Bible and that life fits into this - or whether you believe the Bible fits into your life. Is the Bible true? Is it all true? If you believe God made evolution then you have a problem because Genesis tells us that God made man and woman in his image (God is perfect) and that God said it was 'very good'. Yet evolution is about struggle, about killing, about death. The Bible tells us that man and woman sinned in time (Genesis 3). If you believe in evolution then there was 'death and sin' before the Bible tells us sin entered the world - which goes against the order of the Bible. The theory of the world being created by a big bang and evolution is also different to the order we see God create the world in Genesis 1. And if you believe Genesis isn't literal then at what point do you believe Genesis is real fact?
You see, when we start to question what the Bible says we can easily start to not believe the Bible. Am I saying we should never question the Bible? No - you're free to do what you want (that's how God made you) and it's good to think about the Bible and question it. But people want you to believe the Bible isn't true. They want you to believe there is no God, that God didn't make us and that it's all made up. They also want any mention of God removed from history and the present day. That is their atheism faith and it's as biased, bigoted and unbalanced as they accuse Christians of being!
3. That God made the world in 6 days as Genesis says (creationism). This believes Genesis is not just a story but should be believed as being what it says it is - literal. This would therefore make the earth at just over 6000 years old (using the histories of the people of the Bible etc).
What many people want you to believe is that believing God created the world is a myth. They use language that mocks people, believing that those who believe in God or creation as stupid. But here's the thing... There are thousands of scientists who believe in God and believe in creation. These scientists come from the same universities as other scientists who people are happy to listen to. These people are not stupid and are in fact very intelligent (for example, Chuck Missler at Khouse.org and many others).
More than that, there are thousands of elements of scientific research and fact that prove God's account of creation in Genesis. For example did you know there are 101 major scientific facts that show the earth cannot be millions or billions of years old. You probably won't be taught them in school but that doesn't mean they are not true! Many of these can be found on sites far better than this one - for example, www.creation.com / www.icr.org / www.answersingenesis.org.
The purpose of this is not to make you believe one thing or another but to show you that there is good science and there is bad science; that there is plenty of science and evidence to prove the truth of the Bible and the Biblical account of God's creation; that science is sometimes not necessarily true and often changes; finally that God, the Bible and Christianity are not (should not be) in conflict with good science.
The ultimate truth is this: are you going to believe God and the evidence he presents you in the Bible, in history and in the reality of God's true church. Or are you going to believe the conclusions of science (in relation to God, humanity and creation) often deliberately twisted by those with equally 'religious' backgrounds - but intentionally opposed to believing in God or allowing others to believe in God?
At least with Christianity it's a free choice - believe or don't believe but at least have the freedom. The trouble with much of aggressive atheism is that it does not give you any choice except to believe what they want you to believe. Often this is done with great hostility and abuse - telling you something about the nature of where they are coming from!
The proof is in the pudding as they say. Take this talk or leave it; the conclusions are yours. But we believe that belief in God and the Bible is the only real truth. No weapon used against you will stand - Isaiah 54.17.