Science a Major Reason ‘Nones’ are Skeptical of Christianity

'Nones’ are skeptical of Christianity because of science. For BioLogos President Deb Haarsma, science is central to discipleship and evangelism in the church today.

  • I’ll share Deborah’s article with my heathen nephews and nieces. :laughing:
  • And I look forward to Deborah and Loren’s review of the Netflix special, “The 3 Body Problem”, which, IMO, was not “sexist”, although one nephew told me that the “book version” by the same title was “very sexist”.
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I think it’s worth making the point that increasingly in the world we live in, not taking science seriously is simply not an option. There are many, many jobs and careers that demand increasing levels of scientific literacy, and while you may be able to get away with bad attitudes towards science in church, at home, or even in school, you cannot get away with bad attitudes towards science in the workplace. Irresponsible, condescending, passive-aggressive or denialist attitudes towards science can undermine your ability to do your job properly or to progress in your career, can create unnecessary risks or expenses for your employer, and in the worst cases can even end up getting people killed.

This is something that every Christian needs to understand before trying to rush into debates about these subjects with all guns blazing, getting caught up in conspiracy theories, or demanding that science must bow the knee to whatever doctrine you have a bee in your bonnet about. Science has rules and standards, and people who work professionally in any science-related career simply cannot afford to let those rules and standards slip just because they lead to conclusions that you don’t like. To do so would be unprofessional, irresponsible, and dishonest.


This is a great idea! What an encouraging thing it would be if more churches did this

For instance, pictures from the Webb Space Telescope can be used during worship songs about God’s creation. In a sermon, a pastor can refer to new scientific findings, such as the discovery of a rare octopus nursery. Positive words about science are an encouragement to young people who want to be engineers, doctors, or scientists. In fact, church programs for teens can include role models of Christians working in scientific fields. Young people should be encouraged to see science as a place where they can use their gifts, study God’s creation, care for people, or care for the planet.


It would, but I’d much prefer to see churches engaging with science on the level of hands-on, practical activities. Things such as hackathons, or field trips, or scientifically minded church members demonstrating projects that they’re working on, or science fairs, or what have you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the number one reason why so many Christians end up with unbalanced views about science is that they spend all their time talking about it and never actually get their hands dirty doing it. It’s a continual source of frustration to me when I hear “science-based” apologetics rabbiting on non-stop about philosophical topics such as methodological naturalism, or the meaning of infinity, or the theology of randomness, while demonstrating zero awareness of the basic fact that science is done in laboratories, that it involves observation and measurement, or that it is a set of essential skills and disciplines that form the backbone of people’s jobs.


Kind of like metaphysics? Too much talking and not enough thinking :blush:


As long as we do insist that miracles are events that are in conflict with observed reality, that God creates babies by magic and Jesus creates a fake reality by magic, making wine to satisfy materialistic desires of greedy party goers, we imply that God does nonsense your Christianity is in conflict with science and rational thinking. It proclaims a God that fulfils romantic fantasies satisfying materialistic wishful thinking.

Get to grips with miracles to be signs pointing at God, not events that go against rationality, defy scientific explanation. God gave us the power to profoundly change reality by living his word and love our neighbours like our own.

When Jesus lets the master of ceremony serve the water of ritual cleansing as the most valuable wine you can ever drink, only a fool would insist on having physical wine instead as he needs the alcohol to make him presentable to God. To an intellectual it is clear that there is nothing more valuable than the water that cleanses us to come before God, and that Jesus would not defile it by turning it into alcohol to satisfy primitive materialistic thinking.

Get your act together and explain the Logos in God and stop spreading a Gospel that is based on a materialistic value scale. Let the next generation follow his word, show them how to heal others by helping them as in loving thy neighbour, not by praying to God to do magic.

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One could also argue the “feeding miracles” were just developed out of large communal meals by the sea. The accounts, including John 2, narrates miracles though. Jesus turned water into wine as the text stands.

I personally don’t have any issues with Jesus doing this especially not at a wedding. I’m actually quite glad he did.

If we remove the supernatural from Christianity are we left with anything more than a great Jewish teacher from 2,000 years ago who gave us many words of wisdom at times and at a few others was a product of his chauvinistic culture (calling the Gentile woman or her child a dog)?

I can’t see a reason to worship a, human 1st century Jewish teacher, no matter how good. Nor would I identify myself using his moniker if that were the case.

If the supernatural doesn’t happen, most Christianity today and past is junk. Fake news. It is incarnation or bust for me— whether that be the full Trinitarianism of the later church or the adoptive Christology of Mark.

It’s hard in today’s world for many of us to believe the supernatural. If we want to be true skeptics though, I don’t think we could confidently deny the possibility of it happening.

Though I do agree with many of your sentiments which “show them how to heal others by helping them as in loving thy neighbour, not by praying to God to do magic.”

I blame the modern take of salvation by grace and a lack of works. Many Christians have gone too far. Just “believe” and “pray.” As Jesus said, many in this boat will turned away. “I never knew you.” That Pauline literalism is way more of a “magical” belief than any miracle attributed to Jesus.



I think it’s essential for folks outside science to grasp the hands on part you mention, as well as how that hands on work fits in to the development of the current body of “scientific knowledge” and the long, slow, pains-taking work that is involved. One doesn’t simply posit “star formation” or “carbon dating” or …, you name it.

As a librarian with stacks and stacks and stacks of physical, bound science journals from the early 1800s (fairly recent for some), I can look back and see the development of some theories today, some over a very long time. I can also look at what was tested, rejected and why. AND I can look at the development of tools and methods used for research, what problems they were developed to solve and how, and what tools and methods were eventually abandoned and why.

I read some of the posts through the BL forum, and there seems to be an assumption that much consensus science today was just pulled out of a hat, or developed in order to counter a particular view of creation. That simply isn’t the case, and the real process is well documented.


Thank you for your article. In teaching Empathy to students at two medical colleges over the past 3 decades (AECOM (Einstein) most recently and NY Med decades ago) I came across a chapter in a book on Empathy in Medicine by Rita Charon, MD. This chapter was incorporated into a 16 week course given during the first year of medical school as an elective program and unpublished study (1993) I did on whether empathy could be taught. Empathy is needed in learning how to love more completely or accurately. In the session on Empathy and Context we used Rita’s analysis of two realms of knowledge which I found and continue to find very helpful. There are reproduced below. While science pursues knowledge its rules are different than for other realms of knowledge.

Narrative Knowledge & Logico-Scientific Knowledge
(From The Narrative Road to Empathy, by Rita Charon in Empathy and the Practice of Medicine, Spiro, et al 1993). Dr. Charon examines two types of knowledge.
Logico-Scientific Knowledge:
1) Used to collect and evaluate replicable universal generalizable and empirically verifiable information
2) Driven by principled hypotheses and
3) Generated by detached observers,
4) Relies on such formal operations as conjunction and disjunction
5) Establishes testable propositions about general causes.
6) The tools such knowledge are mathematics, logic and the sciences
7) Its’ language must be non-allusive, nonambiguous and reliable.
8) Used to establish universally true features of the world by transcending the particular

Narrative Knowledge:
	1)	Concerns the motivations and the consequences of human actions
	2)	Always particularized,
	3)	Seeks to examine and comprehend singular events, contextualized within their time and place
	4)	Newspaper stories, myths, fairy tales, novels, Scripture, and clinical case histories are narratives
	5)	They account and interpret events
	6)	Bound in some form of chronology
	7)	They bear the stamp of their tellers who are not detached observers but who actively participate in generating the stories they tell
	8)	Rely on metaphor and allusion to convey messages about the particular
	9)	Suggest causal connections among random events
	10)	Resonates with multiple contradictory meanings
	11)	Reveals affective as well as cognitive dimensions of the teller as well as the subjects 
	12)  	Used to reveal the particular and hint at universal truths.
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Thanks for posting. It seems we get into trouble when we try to make narrative knowledge given in the Bible act as logico-scientific knowledge.

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Pulling from my own field, DNA sequencing technology is almost affordable for a smallish group. Nanopore starting kits are about $2k out the door. The actual sequencer is the size of a pen case, and you can use a PC to interpret the results (Nvidia GPU is strongly advised). Alternatively, cloning a gene into E. coli would be lots of fun, something like green fluorescent protein. That could be done on the “cheap”.

Additional equipment like thermal cyclers is an issue though. You would probably need a 3k+ investment into used equipment to get the bare bones. It might work if it is shared across a few congregations, or get donated equipment from a local university.

I often get the feeling that normal people (i.e. not scientists) view DNA as some esoteric material that they could never hope to understand or experience first hand. Having hands on experience where they physically see and manipulate DNA (e.g. cutting a DNA band out of a gel) would probably go a long way toward demystifying it.

Added in edit:

A local Christian university with a basic molecular biology lab setup would also be a great resource. I’m quite confident that both professors and students would be thrilled to participate in community outreach.


This was a fantastic article! I’ve signed up for an apologist training course in order to effectively share my faith with the teenagers of local churches, if they will allow it. I do get concerned in my own church how many people want to disagree, sometimes vehemently, when questions of the age of the earth, of humans, or the universe come up. I let them know what I think, and to my dismay, some feel the need to correct me on the YEC controversy. I have sons in their 20’s who need to know that science and religion complement one another, and not compete with each other. I try to respect all views however, and do agree that our faith relies on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


I would agree, too many I have encountered have told me that since the bible says the earth is 6000 year’s old and it denies science then they cannot become a Christian. I always have to remind them that’s only one view of creation, and that there is many different views that align with modern science.

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It is hard to find a way to approach the subject in a church setting. The more I learn about YEC the more I come to realize is that there is a big difference in how YEC’s view science itself. It’s less about scientific evidence than it is a worldview they are emotionally invested in. That’s a tough nut to crack.

I do think the voices of Christian scientists are helpful, though. That can at least refute the myth that science is just one big atheist conspiracy. I also like pulling this picture out.


Here’s the pop quiz. One of these guys came up with the Big Bang theory and was the first to publish a scientific paper on it. Who was it?

Some may point to the guy on the right, since he is kind of recognizable, but it’s the guy in the middle. That’s George Lemaitre, father of the Big Bang Theory who was also a Jesuit priest.


However, for promoting Christians in the sciences, Lemaire will carry zero weight with some people, because he was a Roman Catholic.


I agree, however, there seems to be another equally, if not more important, front to defend. Contemporary philosophy has moved away from theism and religious thought, with 66.9% of philosophers accepting or leaning towards atheism as opposed to 18.9% accepting or leaning to theism. This shift, and the reasons that caused it, ought to be adressed by the church and not solely in the niche of philosophy of religion.

Add to this the state of contemporary discourse on the subject. When we argue about beliefs and propositions, whether they are justified or not, we are talking epistemology. When we posit arguments we deal in logic. Whenever there is a discussion about God, there’s undoubtedly an aspect of philosophy that is involved. Most people, in my experience, who actively debate the God issue, who do all of the above, generally seem to be misinformed or uninformed. And I argue that the church, dealing in all of the above, ought to make philosophical literacy imperative. How can you know if your belief is justified if you don’t know what constitutes a justified belief? How can you judge arguments if you don’t know what makes them valid? Etc.

So while I agree that the perceived rift between religion and science ought to be closed, I also think it’s very important to keep up with the philosophical challenges that accompany faith, and feel that this has mostly been ignored.

Little disclaimer: my experience has only been with the catholic church in my country, youtube, other forum discussions and my peers. It might very well be the case that other churches or congregations deal with these issues.

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He is a good reason of why I am proud to be a Belgian. Aside from the fries of course :sweat_smile:

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It kind of reminds me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s comment about members of a commune he observed: “Too many wings and not enough feet.” Or maybe the reverse is true as well…

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When my sister was a quality/manufacturing engineer the company was having trouble finding workers sufficiently educated in science. Since she’d spent a few years as a teacher they had her set up remedial classes. The management initially just wanted the necessary knowledge covered, but she insisted on going beyond that and used her own time to run the added classes. It didn’t take long at all for it to become evident that those whose education went beyond the bare minimum made better workers especially in positions where problem-solving was necessary.