A talk on Science and Faith Incompatibility

(David Heddle) #1

A short talk I gave the other day on science-faith compatibility to the Intervarsity group at our university.

Any comments are welcome.

If this is too much a bleg, then no hard feelings if one of the cruel biologos overlords deletes it!

EDIT: fixed link

(Phil) #2

As this is a general topic for discussion, and not a specific troll for traffic on your website, I think it is fine to let stand.
We Overlords try to temper justice with a bit a grace.

(Phil) #3

I scanned the notes, and looks quite interesting and well done. I am currently reading Newbiggin’s Proper Confidence, and it touches on some of the same points regarding faith, and how faith is necessary before you can have doubt. Gotta go to work, but lots of good topics for discussion in the talk, if it branches off to much, may also need to separate into several posts.

(Stephen Matheson) #4

The overlords here are indeed cruel, and efficiently so. One time they [content deleted by forum moderators]

Edit: I’ve thought hard about this, and I repent of my blasphemous words against the moderators. They are wonderful, amazing people, whose decisions are always correct. Especially Brad. He’s really, really cool.

(Brad Kramer) #5

@sfmatheson Thanks man, kind words indeed.

(John Dalton) #6

hehe I’m writing that one down.

Very interesting and I was nodding in agreement at quite a few points. One question that often occurs to me when reading similar material: Is there any difference between faith and belief? If so, what?

(David Heddle) #7

I tried to stress the difference as I see it: belief only implies intellectual assent. Faith tacks on trust and the acknowledgement that the belief is good. One of the examples I gave was the Jews of the Exodus. They (I’m speculating) didn’t stop believing in God, but they stopped believing that his plan was good for them. They lost their faith but not their belief.

(John Dalton) #8

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense. I was thinking of the “faith in science” page. Such “faith” seems to be based on evidence; that science and its methods have proven themselves over time to be reliable and effective at leading to discoveries. I agree that there is trust, and belief that it is a “good” and worthy enterprise, but these are equally based on evidence. Is this faith in the same way for example that the faith of the Jews in Exodus failed them?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #9

In my opinion science is not compatible with everything as you seem to say.

Namely good science is not compatible with bad thinking. You say that science is following the method which is true, but the method is important to avoid bad thinking. Unfortunately scientists do not follow the scientific method so some “facts” which are considered scientific are not.

My favorite example of this is Darwin’s understanding of Natural Selection which is based on Survival of the Fittest. Sadly this “science” has not been verified and it is not true.

Theology is a science. It is a discipline the name of which ends in “ology” after Logos, which is a definition of Jesus Christ Who is the Word (Logos) of God. John 1:1 Christianity is compatible with the scientific method in that it deals with facts, although these facts are theological facts, not physical facts.

What the scientific method is not compatible with is thinking that that is based on speculation and not on logic and established facts.

(David Heddle) #10

You have to define “bad thinking.” If “bad thinking” means you are incapable of following the scientific method (or refuse to do so) then I agree. If bad thinking means something else, then I probably disagree.

(Ray Bailey) #11

You did a nice job. However, (and I think this is a big one) you did not address the difference between the role the Bible plays versus the Scientific Method.
So many discussion here fail to recognize the specific roles played between General and Special Revelation. Science is definitely General, and the Bible, Special.

Here is a chart I made for my own Genesis Bible study coming up in a few weeks.

Change the Header to John 3:1-23, which is Nicodemus’ conversation with Yeshua Jesus. Yeshua gives him a lesson on Cosmology. The Seen and Unseen reflect the two camps of General and Special Revelation.

  • The Who, What, When and Where all apply to both realms.
  • The Why on the Physical side (General Revelation) only applies to things with in it purview, the physical cosmos and its processes.
  • The Why on the Special revelation side explains both the existence of the Physical, but the reason for its existence.
  • The How for the physical side only applies to that side.
    Likewise the Bible provides all the answers necessary (not exhaustive) for HOW the spiritual side works: “If you believe with your heart, and speak with you mouth, you shall be saved” and so forth. It explains HOW of Yeshua Jesus’ physical death occurred (crucifixion) bu How it expiated sin from the world (propitiation).

So “Render unto Ceasear…” means also "Render unto General Revelation the things that are its, and to Special Revelation (Elohim God) the things that are his."
This is how the entire Cosmos works.

If you really think this through and adopt this understanding, suddenly much of the discussion here becomes more of an exercise in learning rather than debate.

At least it is that way for me.

Ray :sunglasses:

(David Heddle) #12

Thank you, and I like your chart. However I do think I addressed this. Both with a slide (page 21)

and in the conclusion, where I used the analogy

bible : theology :: creation : science

Thanks for the input!

(Ray Bailey) #13

Duh! I missed seeing that! My abject apologies! I admit I didn’t review it as thoroughly as I should have! (bowing and scraping).
I like your work!

Take a look at my newly made website which I have just put up over the last few days. Has a bit of my material I am working on for an advanced Bible Study.

The Mind of Ray L Bailey

(Tom Larkin) #14

I think it is important to observe the scientific method for science and the rules for studying scripture to analyze the Bible:

  1. All scripture must be interpreted in the context of all other scripture
  2. There are different rules for different dispensations (e.g. the garden, law and grace)
  3. You need to know to whom the content is being addressed

This presentation seems to be all over the place (not following scientific method or the rules for studying the Bible) and mixing and matching science and the Bible. I could not follow a logic argument through the presentation that arrives at the conclusion.

(George Brooks) #15


I think the limitations of your three points are obvious.

If you only interpret scripture in the context of other scripture, then you are missing the
context of nature, which is a timeless testimony.

The more realistic set of points would be:

[1] In the absence of demonstrated findings in nature, scripture can be interpreted by other scripture.
[2] When demonstrated findings in nature conflict with human interpretation of scripture, the interpretation of scripture requires modification to be consistent with the demonstrated findings of nature.
[3] Those who reject point [2] will never know what is really true, vs. what is just “really believed”.

(Tom Larkin) #16

Truth is revealed through nature.
Truth is revealed through Scripture.
Where there is conflict, 99% of the time it is our interpretation of scripture that is the issue, as you have said. There are times (much more rare) when our interpretation of the world around us is incorrect. An example is the belief that since there was no archeological evidence for the existence of King David, he was therefore a mythological figure, which now has proven to be false.
We must be aware on both sides of the argument.

(Ray Bailey) #17

As I like to point out, Scientists are not Stupid! They are often fallen! Hence incorrect assessment of the WHY.
I would say that our interpretation of WHY the world around us is incorrect is the point. As you say, our observations of the HOW may be 99% sure (after revisions and rework using Scientific Methodology).

Ray :sunglasses:

(George Brooks) #18


It’s all a matter of perspective. For example, the discipline of Archaeology is far less comprehensive and [far more] bumpy than the discipline of Physics or Geology. So when we can develop a pretty solid understanding of how our Sun functions, we can be pretty sure that this is the same for suns millions of light years from us.

As for the example of King David, you don’t actually cite how you “mean” that the ‘myth of a myth’ is false:

I would think there are pretty high odds there was someone of importance named David in the history of Canaan. But was he based in Jerusalem? Was he based in Jerusalem during the time suggested by the Bible? When exactly would that have been?

In the article below, we read about an apparently famous king, King Mesha of Moab, who left a very detailed text on a stele. “Mesha” is virtually the same name as the Jewish name of “Moshe” - - the Hebrew pronunciation of Moses. There are many things similar between Mesha and Moshe… and many things that are different. Mesha lived in the mid 800’s BCE. Moshe had to have lived after 1130 BCE, or there wouldnt’ have been any Philistines to have influenced the path of his Exodus.

But both Mesha/Moshe “invaded” Canaan from the Moab side of Jordan. Both had strong religious underpinnings for what they were doing. Interestingly, Moshe (Moses) never actually lived in Canaan, right?
Interesting… but different.

King David was supposed to have united 12 tribes under his kingship at Jerusalem. But from the Amarna texts we learn that Jerusalem was pretty much just a small city state for centuries… until the Assyrians conquered the northern territory of Israel, and created a flood of refugees to the south ! Assyria doesn’t comment on “Yaudi” (i.e., Judah) until the mid 700’s BCE. Before this time, when an Egyptian Pharaoh sent his troops into the region, he mentions the cities he conquered, not the kingdom of Judah.

When this David has a son, Solomon (the Hebrew name Shlomo, seems to be a pun on Ur-SLM, City of Shlomo), rules 12 tribes … but then 10 tribes rebel after the death of Solomon (Shlomo). One of the ten tribes is south of Judah, the tribal region of Simeon.

Obviously… something is wrong with the history here…

(Tom Larkin) #19

I have taken a stab at representing this graphically.
If the Bible is the Word of God, then it must be truth. I represented truth with the orange line.
Given an infinite amount of time, science is continually discovering and learning more and will eventually asymptotically approach the truth and is represented by the gray line
Our interpretation of the Bible is the wildcard and it represented by the yellow line, which, even given an infinite amount of time may not ever get completely to the truth.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #20

The Bible is not the Word (Logos) of God, Jesus Christ is. John 1:100:
Jesus Christ is the Truth (Logos.)

Also Science is true and Christianity are true, but they are true about two different aspects of Reality.