False choices - faith or science

I wrote this devotion last year entitled “FALSE CHOICES - FAITH OR SCIENCE”. When I saw this website I could see that I was not the only one who saw that this was a false choice. And new evidence pours in daily in archeology, paleontology, biology, chemistry, astrophysics and all other areas of science demonstrating what ROMANS Chapter 1 has said all along: That men "suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…" It is not than man can’t see the truth, it’s that he has used ‘science’ as a means of clouding what is obvious in order to justify his desire to self-govern, or as Satan put it in the Garden of Eden, to "be like God knowing good from evil." Under this construct, man is his own sovereign.
What do you think? Are faith and science compatible?

Also See: “FALSE CHOICES - FAITH OR REASON”

Hi Dave, welcome to the forum. I hope you find what we have to say useful and constructive, and likewise that we can learn from you too. As they say, “iron sharpens iron.”

Science and faith, or reason and faith, are definitely compatible, and you are right that it is a false choice to insist that we have to go for one or the other. But the relationship between the two and how they can interact together is often badly explained.

I like to illustrate it by referring to the TV series Dragons’ Den:

Every successful pitch to the Dragons consists of two parts. The first is where they ask the candidates about the basic facts of their pitch. Have they researched their potential market? Have they calculated production costs and likely profit margins? Do they have any balance sheets to demonstrate existing sales? Do they even know what a balance sheet is? And so on and so forth. This part is the part that illustrates science and reason: it is about establishing the integrity of the information that they are being given.

The second is where the Dragons actually make a decision about whether or not to invest, and if so, with how much. Usually there is a certain amount of risk involved in doing so, and sometimes one Dragon will see an opportunity in something that others think is going nowhere. This part is the part that illustrates faith: it is about acting upon the information that they are being given.

Without reason, the Dragons would end up investing in people who don’t know what a balance sheet is, or who are only pitching vapourware, or who are trying to enter into markets that are already saturated with overpriced products that bring nothing new to the table, or who are flat-out lying to them. On the other hand, without faith, they would end up not investing in anything.


Now having said that, a word of caution is in order here. One of the mistakes that many people make when trying to get into science-based apologetics is that they attempt to make ill-informed challenges to well established scientific theories such as evolution or man made climate change.

I’m not saying this to try and argue that “evolution is a fact, get over it,” but to make the point that challenging a scientific theory is difficult. It is difficult because you need to make sure that you are challenging what scientists actually do and say in reality when they research and teach it. You need to make sure that any evidence that you cite in support of your challenge is accurately described and measured, and you need to understand the basic rules and principles that apply when analysing and interpreting evidence. These things require extensive study and a thorough grounding in the subject matter at hand. Most challenges to the theory of evolution that I see contain serious misunderstandings and confusion about what the theory actually says. For starters, it is often viewed as if it were a fundamentally atheistic concept, when in reality it says nothing whatsoever to challenge the existence of God or His involvement in the process.

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What are your God thoughts on social justice?

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We share similar conclusions but I disagree with much of your post. The fields of “archeology, paleontology, biology, chemistry, astrophysics and all other areas of science” as you list them have eroded confidence in “traditional” biblical interpretation. There are science errors galore in the Bible and we now know much of the OT did not happen as narrated and also that the gospels are not history in any modern sense of the word. Many of these books were not written by who they or church tradition claim them to have been. I also disagree emphatically with the notion that Satan was in the Garden of Eden. For me that story is mythological and it never included Satan. Later interpretation added him in, correctly or incorrectly. As an etiology I can certainly see how such refinements might be useful. As a literal historical occurrence or as telling us factual information about the disguise and whereabouts at that time of some fallen angel, I must reject it.

I think science and faith are absolutely compatible and at times nature proclaims the work of God’s hands and reveals his glory to me. Other times the problem of evil and natural disasters loom large. Life predicated on eating (destroying and killing) other life is not an easy system to glean from a God who loved us so much he sent his only son to die for us. There is much cooperation in nature but also conflict and competition.

I also agree with Romans 1 “That men "suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is in them, for God has shown it to them..” This certainly happens in religion and all areas of life but I would disagree with making this a universal statement or attaching the label to anyone who identifies as an atheist or agnostic in the typical sense. Or anyone who disagrees with me doctrinally (it happens). As a Christian I do agree that sin and the “world” can certainly obstruct us from God and I think this happens but in the apologetical or philosophical sense, I don’t think intellectual “proof” is abundant. This rejection must occur on a deeper spiritual level. Everyone rationalizes things according to their worldview. We are no different. Paul is also talking about the law in Romans and the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. It is the closest in the NT we have to one but it is still a situational letter and not a systematic theology. We must be careful not to over-press Paul’s statements or strip them from their context.

Those who think science clearly confirms God or clearly denies him are both engaged in confirmation bias in my opinion. I do operate under the principle that God is shown in nature but I do so as an after-the-fact rationalization of my beliefs and faith based on feeling, emotion and my spiritual experiences. I never looked at a star or a lion eating a zebra and concluded “therefore God.” But there are enough hints in nature (fine tuning) in my mind to keep this question very much open and I’ve never seen a cake bake itself. There are also a lot of questions that want to shut the door, namely in regards to evolution and how God chose to create the universe and allow life to unfold. But science and theology generally operate in different areas and address different questions. They usually only conflict when one doesn’t stay in its proper lane. So I don’t see science really as confirming or denying God. We usually bring that to the table. I am sympathetic to the universe being fine-tuned for life and kalam type arguments but I don’t think either is unassailable or absolutely provable.

Vinnie

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Hi Dave,

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We are glad you are here, welcome to the discussion.

@Klax thanks for your question. It’s a hot topic right now and I wrote about it in a devotion I entitled, “A DIFFERENT GOSPEL”.


I hope you find it thought provoking.

Thanks for letting me know!

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@Vinnie, I always enjoy researching and giving thoughtful consideration to the views of others. To help me understand your comments above, can you share specific examples of ‘science errors galore’ and historical inaccuracies within the gospels? Sometimes apparent inaccuracies are easily answered and some not so easy. Similarly, apparent scientific errors may be addressed by doing a deeper dive into the original text. I’m sure we both have much to learn so let me know specific references and I will spend some time digging in and seeing if we can find out more. I do agree with your comment about trying to get science to confirm the existence of GOD. I write about that here:

Two Cosmogonies: Darwinism and Theism (Part 1)
Exploring the false notion that these two cosmogonies represent a clash between science and religion.

Science is unable to prove that we came from nothing [or] that we were created. So the best we can do is look at the evidence and decide which construct makes the most sense. Both are theories about the origin of matter, life, mankind. And both worldviews are subject to interpretation and confirmation bias.

Appreciate your comments.

Thanks mate. About you yes. The arc of the moral universe is long. But it bends toward justice.

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For one thing, according to the Bible, the earth doesn’t move. It is covered by a hard firmament, and the sun, the moon, and the stars are set in the firmament and move across it. Above the firmament are the “waters above.” This reflects an ancient understanding of the universe and is not confirmed by modern science.

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I don’t think it’s fair to say that the Bible contains “science errors galore,” for the simple reason that it isn’t trying to do science as we understand it in the 21st century. Sure, modern science has falsified certain naive readings and traditional translations of Scripture – we now know that the earth is far older than just six thousand years, for example – but most of these are on questions that the Bible actually leaves wide open to interpretation anyway. There’s also a lot of figurative language used throughout the Bible (I’m not convinced that the hard firmament and “waters above” were ever intended to be read literally) and to try and read figurative and metaphorical language as if it were literal scientific statements does the text a grave injustice.

Some of the claims that modern scholars make that certain epistles traditionally attributed to Paul were not written by Paul after all seem rather questionable to me, because many of the methods that they use to determine this particular fact don’t work when applied to modern texts of known authorship. There was an interesting discussion about this on this forum a while ago here:

Are you familiar with Denis Lamoureux who writes for BioLogos? He’s a biblical scholar who writes for BioLogos and is an expert on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Are you familiar with any of his work?

@DOL your help would be appreciated.

Speaking of Denis Lamoureux and science errors or misconceptions in the Bible, he wrote a book on it, found here, and very interesting to peruse:
https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Ancient-Science-Principles-Interpretation/dp/1951252055

He also goes into how we make sense of it as modern readers. Recommend it highly.

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I’ve read his book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution. it’s very good.

There are a number of his talks on youtube

He also has a free course about science and religion on coursera.org:

Science and Religion 101

About the course:

This course examines the nature of both science and religion and attempts to explore the possible relationships between them. The primary purpose is to dispel the popular myth that science and religion are entrenched in a never-ending conflict. As a result, this course argues that if the limits of both science and religion are respected, then their relationship can be complementary.

Topics include: Science and Religion Categories and Foundational Principles, Definitions of Science and Religion, Science-Religion Models and Relationships, Intelligent Design and Natural Revelation, the Galileo Affair, Geology and Noah’s Flood, Evolution and Darwin’s Religious Beliefs, the Modern “Evolution” vs. “Creation” Debate, the Problem of Evil, and Interpretations of the Biblical Accounts of Origins in Genesis 1-11.

The course employs a Constructive Teaching Style in order that students can develop their personal views on the relationship between science and religion and on each of the topics listed above.

St. Joseph’s College is a Catholic, undergraduate, liberal arts college on the University of Alberta campus. It is an independent institution that is affiliated with the University of Alberta.

*Denis O. Lamoureux is Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. He is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (2008), Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! (2016), and The Bible & Ancient Science: Principles of Interpretation (2020). Lamoureux is a Research Associate in Paleontology and has contributed to a dozen scientific papers. He is cited in the Who’s Who of Theology and Science and has delivered over 600 lectures throughout the United States and Canada. Lamoureux holds three earned *
doctoral degrees—dentistry, theology, and biology.

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The firmament is solid and speckled with stars, holding up a sea of water. Sun god Re is in a boat crossing the heaven. Re enters the underworld (lower right), goes through the underworld, and rises in the east again. Earth is flat.

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Thanks for your assistance.

Here is another image of the heavens with a firmament. Heavenly sea of water (wavey lines) held up by the firmament. Wandering stars (planet) next to the firmament.

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Is this one Babylonian?

Yes. Shamash plaque. Shamash is the Babylonian sun god. 885-850 BC. The first one Egypt 1570-1085 BC.

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Welcome to Forum, GodThoughts.
I read your piece, “A Different Gospel.”
I recognize that any piece of writing is equivalent to a snapshot of our thinking at that moment. Most of us continue to change and develop our thinking with new learning and understanding. I found your piece problematic in a number of ways, which serious study and time may help remedy.

Your blog post provoked the following thougths. It would be improved, if you worked on these items:

  • You need to clearly identify the “false Gospel” Paul was addressing in Galatians and ICorinthians, which was not Gnosticism.
  • You need an accurate, clear and detailed definition of “social gospel” and actual examples of what that is.
  • Drop any mention of CRT and Marxism. They are social theories/philosophies. Their mention adds nothing to your piece except to provide dog whistles, which are not part of any well-developed point.
  • The connections in this piece between the Gospel, justice and sin are messy.
  • There is a whole detailed sermon by Jesus himself about justice and our individual role in it, and the connection between justice and righteousness. Your piece would be vastly improved, if you addressed the roll of promoting justice in the lives of Christians.

Here are a few articles and podcasts that might help with that last point:

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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