I'm on the slippery slope

Well, after years of denying that the slippery slope exists or that it’s something I shouldn’t be concerned about, I feel like I’m on it. I am sliding and cannot finding a logical place to stop.

What’s doing it for me is my attempt to reconcile science and the Bible. Or maybe more precisely, the supernatural with the natural. I want my beliefs to coincide with what we learn from science and nature, but all that has done has given me an ever shrinking place for God. The science, or the natural explanations, are so comprehensive at explaining the world, that I just don’t see room or reason to invoke the supernatural.

So how does this community, with your high view of science, keep from sliding down the slope towards “no God required”? Or another way to ask it, where does the supernatural interface with the natural? How would it even be possible for our natural selves to have receptors capable of picking up anything supernatural?


Put the brakes on, and I hope you have good tread on your tires! :slightly_smiling_face: The distinctions between science and theology and methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism need to be recognized and not conflated.

What helps immensely is having had personal experience of God’s providential intervention in your life, and barring that, recognition and acceptance that he has in others of his children. There may be better, but the best thing I can offer is the accounts of others who have that experience (including myself). A place to start would be here (and if you’ve already seen it, to refresh your memory and allow yourself to be encouraged): Factual evidence for Christians to rejoice in, remember and recount, and for true seekers to ponder.

There still remains the wonderful mystery of how God executes his M.O. of orchestrating the timing and placing of events without breaking any natural laws, the ‘interface’, but we do have the Cause and subsequent effects, just not the ‘mechanism’ by which he does it.


Having come from the other direction, I don’t see science explaining how the universe came about or why it is the way it is. What are your thoughts on those?

There is no scientific method that can distinguish what is natural from what is supernatural. So science cannot possibly “shrink place for God.”

Science can provide explanations for phenomena. It can describe processes by which things occur. It can claim such processes are natural. But that’s not science.


I understand your concern. If you will bear with me, I think a there is a lot to unpack in a phrase you used: “an ever shrinking place for God” It implies what we often erroneously do when we put God in a box, and limit him to a particular space or function. I think that can certainly lead to finding God no longer has a place, when we think of God as having a place in our lives rather than transcending space and time. God is not a magic sorcerer nor does he exist to fill a purpose for us, but rather he gives purpose to our existence, which without God is empty and hollow.


I think it’s helpful to recognize that are things about God that we as humans can’t understand. At least for now, there is still some amount of mystery to what God is and how he works.

A helpful question to ask might be where in your theology are you putting the mystery?

YECs put the mystery right out front: God created the universe in 6 days and we can’t understand how. TEs might put the mystery somewhere else: the earth was created through natural processes we can understand, guided or directed by God, but the exact nature of how God guided those natural processes is a mystery.

Which random mutations in our evolutionary history were actually God nudging life in the right direction? Personally, I have no idea. I do know that just because I don’t know exactly what way God was involved, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved.


Some object to the idea of God being sovereign over chance, but then then how does he orchestrate the details of, say, everyone getting to the right places at the right times in the myriad precursor events required for things to happen the way they do in entire sets of his providences that we have seen.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
Proverbs 16:33


As you can see, there are more than one like myself who are not on a slippery slope because we come from the opposite direction. I started with the scientific worldview and then asked myself if their was anything of value in this religious stuff, when science is taken for granted. That is how I read the Bible, with the vision of science as my perceptive filter.

The point is that you can turn things around and make the same climb we have been making. It likely means that there is much which will be discarded and never be regained… but are these essential to a relationship with Jesus or just a lot of cultural stuff that has come along for the ride over the centuries?

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There are some points to remember when you are reconstructing your worldview.

One is that the methodology of science puts limits on what can be known through science. Natural sciences are basically limited to what can be observed, measured, calculated. That leaves God and much of supernatural outside the borders of natural sciences. Science cannot say whether there is or is not God or gods, or if God occasionally intervenes on what happens in our material world. That is a matter of faith and best experienced through personal contact with God, through Jesus Christ.

Another point to remember is that biblical scriptures are not the focus of our faith. I believe in the God revealed in the biblical scriptures, not the Bible itself. The value of biblical scriptures is in that they reveal something crucial about God and His will.

A third point to remember is that biblical scriptures need interpretation. Even if someone would claim otherwise, the only way to understand what the biblical scriptures tell is by interpreting the scriptures. In less central matters, there are often different interpretations and we just need to think, study and pray to understand which of the interpretations is closest to the truth. Even if this may bring some uncertainty to the interpretation of the biblical scriptures, Bible is the most reliable source of information in matters of faith. Early believers agreed that the biblical scriptures included reliable information about God and His will, and set a milestone or standard that can be used when people disagree about some matter of faith. If something is clearly against the teachings in the biblical scriptures, it is likely to be false.

Personally, I believe that God left us two books. The biblical scriptures includes the spiritual teachings about God and His will while the ‘book of creation’, nature, reveals the creative work of God. If both are books by God, they should not tell a conflicting story. If there is an apparent conflict between the two sources, then our interpretation of the biblical scriptures, or nature, or both, is likely to be wrong.


A lot of what you think of as a slippery slope is more a case of people trying to pull you down.

Be careful with what you read and hear on pro-deconstruction forums and YouTube channels. While some of the people on them genuinely do want to help Christians who are struggling with their faith, there are others who will try to persuade you to go all the way and deconstruct right through to atheism. Some of the people taking part in these discussions have a lot of bitterness and unforgiveness towards the evangelical churches that they’ve left and are driven as much by that as by their understanding and awareness of science.

As far as science is concerned, remember too that while it continues to blow us away with what it has been able to discover, it isn’t omniscient and in fact there are scientific (and even mathematical) theorems that tell us that we will never be able to know everything. (Read up about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and the Halting Problem for starters.) These things aren’t necessarily proof of the existence of God, and they aren’t a licence to deny the legitimacy of things that we do already know, but they do serve as a reminder of our own human limitations and do help us to avoid feeling overwhelmed by all the new scientific discoveries that come out on a regular basis.

One other piece of advice: if you can, try to get involved with something practical that your local church is doing—working with homeless people, food banks, debt counselling, caring for the sick, disabled and elderly, or whatever. Christianity is a very hands-on and practical faith, and what I find strengthens my faith most and keeps me from getting overwhelmed by theological and philosophical questions is being put into situations where I have to work it out in those very hands-on and practical ways.


This is 300 words of solid gold, grade-A advice. :100:


Hopefully you’ve found some help in many of the good replies above.

Here, maybe, is a different perspective about slippery slopes from one who’s also experienced the same motion that is unsettling you. Try thinking of it this way instead.

Just what was it that you feel you are sliding away from? Are you being tugged away from a notion about God that would have him fleeing away at the first sign of understanding or thought about anything? Do you really think the Creator of the universe should have such a limited reign as to be consigned only to the bits (big or small) of our lives that we find inscrutible or incomprehensible? What kind of god is this who must shrink away in fear every time our understanding grows a little bit? Could it be that we need a slope - and perhaps its slipperiness is a blessing? - to carry us toward the more enduring God, the one who is sovereign not only over the chaos and darkness, but over the order and light we are allowed to see and understand too!

I don’t think it’s for nothing that the writer of Hebrews (12:26-29) or Isaiah (54:10) observes that God shakes the world and all its inhabitants - the entire created order - so that what is enduring may be separated from the things that topple. Yes - in these verses it is the entire world that is recognized for its impermanence compared to God’s kingdom. So all our understandings of the created order (whether you deem them ‘biblical’ or not) - are destabilized for us when we look elsewhere, away from God. The general principle I draw from all that here and now, though, is that science, when it recognizes the built-in humility of its own provisionality, an eagerness for things to fall away that can’t pass muster - this changing nature of science that so many Christians try to use to dismiss it ends up being its glory and strength for the things that haven’t fallen. And those who fear any movement or ‘slippery slopes’, ironically end up anchored on a whole lot of stuff that will itself, in the end, turn out to reveal they had already been living on the unstable slope all along (their own understandings of what all of God’s created order must be like) and had mistaken many falsehoods for foundational doctrine.

When you feel the vertigo of motion away from stuff you were told was scriptural or ‘of God’; just look up and celebrate your permanent place in God’s hands and heart. Live into that prayer, and ask for help to recognize your true foundation that has Christ as its chief cornerstone, and that has no fear of any truth or order such as we may glimpse or understand about God’s works. Perhaps then, all the slippery slopes that we must inevitably encounter and live on here (and many of which might actually be a movement of growth) will not provoke so much fear in us.


Frankly there are a great number of things in life where no God is required, (e.g. electronics, plumbing, medicine, etc… the point being is that the alteration from accepting the theory of evolution is a rather minor one in this regard – just one more thing added to a list. OR… you can just say that in all of these the role for God is just more subtle.

For me this is in quantum physics which leaves a gaping hole in causality and preventing causal closure in the laws of nature. The energy-time uncertainty principle might be most helpful in understanding this. It says energy can just appear out of nowhere as long as it disappears with a time inversely proportional to the energy which appeared – and this applies everywhere all the time. This looks a great deal like an open door by which things outside the universe can interact with things inside the universe, everywhere and all the time.

I don’t see that we are required to do any such thing or that this is even coherent. Why would you think we are capable of perceiving God all on our own. The Christian teaching is I believe that God reaches down to us and we only perceive Him because He comes to us.

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Sometimes it’s not the act or the mechanics, but the timing that infers God. Coincidence happens but Sometimes it is just too convenient or beneficial.

We do not have to force God into things. He is often there but not obvious.


This is a criticism I have of The book Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth Miller. He shoves God out the front door only to sneak around and let him back in through the rear door.

I’d rather be labelled a creationist than to engage in such sophistry. Another reason I now distance myself from the Intelligent Design movement. I’d much prefer to say right out that I think God did it.

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So for me it’s not a slippery slope. I use to be very worried , for years, that in order to believe in God I had to have some kind of evidence that was concrete. If not examples of design in evolution then surely there must be something in abiogenesis , once we even land on a solid theory and then I was like well maybe it’s not biology or chemistry that I need to look at but the cosmos. Surely with the size of space, all the laws that seem to hinge on mathematical precision and in the correct order there will be this sign in the stars that a designer is needed.

But with each rabbit hole I followed it landed on one of two positions.

  1. There is a naturalistic explanation.
  2. There is currently no answer and it’s a field still being studied and so there is a gap. With that gap I could fill it in with God or I could fill it in with belief that eventually science will have an answer.

I found myself like the incredible shrinking man going from 6 foot to 5 foot tall to 1 foot tall to 7 inches tall to 1/2 an inch tall thinking…… eventually I’ll be 1/16 of an inch tall and then I’ll just disappear. So I felt that there was this floor that I was going to hit where either science held all the answers or that something would scream a god is here. But then like the shrinking man i realized I was thinking of it all wrong. The end of the shrinking man ( spoiler alert but in my defense it’s been out since 1956 ) he realizes that it goes forever. There is 1/99th of an inch. There is 1/999,999,999,999,999,999 of an inch. That even though he was getting smaller, his world was in fact not only getting bigger but would change until he was smaller than the smallest microbe and who knows what he will find then.

So by that example I mean that science will never be finished. There will always be another layer but that’s not important. What’s important is that we realize our problem is not coming to a forked position where it demands on way or the other.

So your view that the bigger science grows the smaller god is but the space is infinite. Science can get 100x times bigger and still not force God to shrink.

On the side is this.
We hear a lot of wild claims about the supernatural. Often we can do the same thing. Statistically speaking there will always be a naturalistic explanation for something that is more probably than a supernatural one. Even is someone came back from the dead three days later. We would be able to speculate on what the doctors misdiagnosed or what’s possible with medication, technology or even a weird gene that resulted in this man appearing dead for days. All of that is more probable than him dying and something supernatural occurring. For every miraculous story we hear of a Christian witnessing something like speaking in tongues, we hear of a fake. For every person who claims special magical powers, they fail tests. Does not matter if it’s a pagan magician, a Christian healer, a Jewish mystic or a Buddhist monk at the top of a mountain. My default position because of the doctrine of cessationism is that I simply don’t believe anyone who claims magical abilities.

But we hear of stories that are not about a person with magical abilities. We hear of stories here the miracles seem to come from nowhere. These stories comes from all around the world. Muslims girls who said they met a man with glowing eyes that told them to follow them through a path only to find out that place was covered with land mines and the chances of just walking through it was so slim. We read of indigenous people who have a specific spiritual animal seeing it cawing to them and they follow the crow and it takes them 1/2 a mile away to a lost kid who needs immediate help. We read of Christians being stopped by some random man who begins to talk to them. They stop what they are doing to indulge the homeless man because it’s the loving thing to do. They are in a dead end alley and they turn around for me second only to find the man is gone. Only to find out 30 seconds before they get where they are going to open up the store in the morning there is an explosion. They believe it was angel.

With these stories I’m far more likely to believe it. I still don’t accept it as concrete evidence but when a billion people have 1-2 stories of things that are just so strange , I have faith some of them are not just pure coincidences, and some of them are not just pure statistics and that some of them are not delusions or lies. Accepting these stories does not go against my belief in cessationism and they don’t undermine science.


My faith has never been based on the idea that God is required to explain things, it’s been based on encountering Christ in a personal way, experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in my life and witnessing the transformation of others, and feeling God’s grace and love in my life. If all Christianity is for a person is a set of facts or belief statements they sign on the dotted line, I understand how that can be deconstructed down to something that isn’t valuable enough to keep, especially in light of the grievous failures of the church in the US and the wider Western world in the last few decades.

So I guess my answer to “how to you avoid the slippery slope” is less about what books to read and what arguments to consider and what facts to interpret, and more about seeking to relate to God as a personal God who loves you as a child and welcomes you into an eternal family. Put yourself where people are being changed by grace.


I really have no idea what you are talking about.

I haven’t read Miller’s book so I don’t have much idea what you are referring to.

I could care less what I am labeled… don’t see what that has to do with anything. I just check the definition to see if the Christian label applies to me. If it didn’t then I would simply say so… no skin off my back.

did what?

The fact is that “Goddidit” is the easiest and most empty of all claims. It explains absolutely nothing.

??? what sophistry ???

What I gave is one of the important reasons I can even believe in any of this spiritual stuff.

Of course it doesn’t prove God does exist, though I find it suspicious that such a back door in the laws of nature is there… and right where physicists experience an enormous amount of confusion and cognitive dissonance.

If there is no room in the laws of nature for God to interact with the universe then it is theism which becomes meaningless sophistry.

You might like Peter Enns new book, Curveball. Talks abut his journey and where he ended up.


And yet a great deal of Scripture is God explaining things. So perhaps He doesn’t need to explain things, but does seem to think that we need explanations. :slight_smile: