Science or Christianity? I want both for myself


(Shaun) #1

A little more than ten years ago, someone introduced God (Jesus) to me. It permanently changed my life. Before that , I had been believing scientific principles and rejecting everything else.

One of the scientific principles is that every statement or theory considered true must be verified by facts alone , or if a statement couldn’t be verified or be proven false, then we should also investigate the possible error or risk to warn people about what they can be sure and what they can’t. This is particularly important in engineering.

But this belief couldn’t help me live happily. Lack of sound judgment made me unable to understand why I couldn’t live a happy life.

My life changed when someone introduced Jesus to me. I realized how important love, the right relationship between people and the right behaviors were. Then what about the scientific principles? Should I reject or embrace? I have been thinking about that for a decade.

The answer seems to be both of them are important.
Then how could I have both?

When we believe that we were created by someone, then all of us are his children, and he loves everyone and everything, then this belief will psychologically change our attitude and behavior towards other people and ourselves. It’s our unconscious mental response to people and things around us. It’s positive and important especially because human beings have to live more or less a social way of life. The effect of this belief is more psychological than physical.

But if God truly could heal someone who hasn’t been able to stand up for decades just by touching him, if it’s true, then God must have two or more rules that the world has to follow. One of the rules is God decides you could walk or not. The other rule is cause-effect (mechanism, or if conditions met then statement true). When you meet the conditions then you are able to walk, no matter what your wish is because it’s natural law, it’s cause-effect.

Scientific principles can only work when natural law works. That’s why we have those “principles”. If natural law doesn’t work in that area, the importance of scientific principles would fall. For instance, the result in politics and military heavily depends on your rivals’ decisions. And you have little natural law to follow to determine their choice.

My life is physical and emotional. I need both science and Christianity. Then how could I reconcile science with religion? I am trying “dual life”. When it’s about my emotional life, I go for religion. When it’s about my physical life, I go for science. Creation or evolution? One is belief, the other is a theory.


(Phil) #2

First, Welcome to the forum. I think many here share your thoughts, though we are a diverse group, and opinions differ, so expect variety. Personally, I find much of the information on the site helpful in integrating life in the scientific age with Christianity. The most important thing in my case has been seeing scripture in context, and learning of ways to interpret scripture that allow for truth in scripture and truth in creation to coexist without conflict. I think it is not necessary to have a “dual life” as when looked at correctly, life can be lived without that conflict. There are several books on the website that are good to look at to help with that idea, and while it is a process, I find the the more theology oriented authors are helpful such as Walton in his Lost World books.


(George Brooks) #3

@gmt

To a great extent, we Pro-Evolution Christians have already figured out a general resolution to this question of Science and Faith.

How so? Do not most of us (excluding Unitarian Universalists like myself) already accept the miracle of the birth of Jesus? Or the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus?

These are miracles we accept … and they don’t interfere with our science professions (if that’s where we work), or in appreciating scholarly treatments on the science implicitly describing the great age of the planet Earth, the great age of the Milky Way Galaxy … and of the Universe itself.

We know how to do this.

It’s only because of the False Dilemma of Creationist “troopers” who require some new resolution of how to fit a miracle or two into the overwhelming evidence we have that the Natural Order makes sense… that it belongs to God, and that we are in no spiritual harm for marveling at what God seems quite intent on showing to all humanity.

Eventually, we will arrive at a quiet place on these issues… just as we have arrived at a quiet place that the Earth is a sphere spinning in a vast black space…

And that the Earth’s inner core is not a hidden location for a supernatural being, nor is the space beyond the moon a hidden location for Yahweh’s throne.


(Shaun) #4

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

As long as we follow the principle of “cause-effect”, we all think in a scientific way. Even religious people try to prove the effect of faith (It’s scientific. If there’s no effect or the effect is not positive, people will reject their faith.) But why is it so hard to reconcile science with religion? The conflict seems not to be ours but human life itself. The human life seems to have factors influencing it but separated in two worlds. In one world, the factors are consciousness, knowledge, judgment, decision, will, wish, expectation, etc, while in the other world, factors are physical, chemical, biological, etc. Sometimes the two groups of factors work together, and sometimes don’t.

Science in a narrow sense rejects the effect of will, wish, etc. Scientists would go pure physical cause-effect. They would succeed and fail. Religion in a narrow sense seems not to care about the phenomena in the physical world and the laws govern them. Religious people would succeed and fail too.

Could someone walk down both roads towards a united one?


(George Brooks) #5

@gmt

Perhaps the scenario called “Genealogical Adam” can help Christians claim both the mystery and the science of human creation and human redemption? See this posting:


(Mitchell W McKain) #6

Is that something somebody taught you in your engineering studies? If so I wonder if it has more to do with engineering than science. I studied physics and frankly nobody taught any such thing. We have our plate full just learning the mathematical tools and methods of doing physics. Talk about what science is or how the thinking process goes isn’t something they concern themselves with. Though after you participate in the process of scientific inquiry as I have, then you do come to a few conclusions about how it works – learning the methodology first hand as it were.

Of course not. Science is an activity based on objective observation. Life requires subjective participation.

I think you should seriously question whether those principles are really scientific principles. Science is not about statements. And theories are about the ability to predict what will happen in broad range of situations. It is only the ability to predict events which makes it so they can be verified. And rather than statements, it is mathematical equations which enable you to predict events – at least in the physical sciences. To generalize this beyond the physical sciences, it is a matter of written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same results.

Anyone who does science learns just how central is the role of repeat-ability. If you get a result, the first thing people will do is check whether they can get the same result also. If they cannot then they will conclude that something is wrong with your claims – at the very least you haven’t done a good job in describing your procedure.

Yes. Your religion is important for your life. My religion is important for my life. Science is ultimately important for everybody – not because everybody has to do science but because all of our lives are better because of what it discovers.

Indeed. At the very least, it gives us the confidence that life is worth living. To be sure some people never have that challenged, or they are simply obstinate and full of themselves, and perhaps because they are lacking in social skills, decency, and tolerance, they say such things as, “religion is a crutch.” I would reply that these are the kind of bastards who would abuse the handicapped. We have every right to grasp whatever we need to get through life. But frankly this is an overly simplistic view. Most religion is hardly epicurean just trying to make things as easy for us as possible. On the contrary, it heaps a lot of burdens on us and sometimes even goes too far in that direction.

Miracles do happen, but if they were something you could rely on as well as the corner grocery store then they wouldn’t be miracles would they? If you believe God created natural law then don’t you think He created it for a good reason. And if the laws of nature exist for a good reason then why would you expect God to break them?

Science has restricted applicability, to be sure. But when it is applicable, then we would be foolish not to pay attention to what it determines.


(Shaun) #7

I still find it hard to believe God created everything. If God created everything, maybe including himself, it means God can create something out of nothing. Then everything becomes possibly meaningless because they exist by God’s will. And then you have to suppose that God is actually a will, a powerful will that can make things out of nothing. When there’s such a will, you can have everything. And none of them have to exist because when such a will exists, it can make everything at will.


#8

God is absolute reality in Christianity. He is the one being about which you don’t get to say “How did he get to be that way?” because he absolutely is. All creatures and created things are derivative and exist secondary to his absolute existence. If this seems meaningless, that is based on your own opinion of what constitutes authentic existence, not logic found anywhere near the Bible.

Jesus said that “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). Those in his hearing knew the Hebrew scriptures and understood he was claiming to be God. They thought this was blasphemy deserving death, so they tried to stone him. Jesus did not give us the option to see him as merely a good moral teacher, as C.S. Lewis explained. He is either a liar (intentionally deceptive), a lunatic (delusional about his identify) or who he claimed to be, the eternally existing Creator of the universe, the Son of God, begotten of the Father.


(George Brooks) #9

@jasonbourne4

Wouldn’t you say this is what the Greek readers thought he was claiming?

Wasn’t Jesus merely stating that Yahweh, known by the famous phrase “I AM”, existed before Abraham? Those Greek converts were always taking things to extremes, don’t you think?


#10

I don’t know what Greek readers would have thought unless they had a basic knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures where YHWH self-identifies as I AM.

He was speaking to fellow Hebrews well-versed in their own scriptures. To tell them merely that God existed before Abraham would neither be worth saying (as so obviously true) nor so offensive as to provoke them to want to kill him. I’m not sure who you’re referring to when you mention “those Greek converts.” Luke was the only early Greek follower of Christ whose writings are found in the New Testament (the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts).


(George Brooks) #11

I apologize for not being clear, @jasonbourne4.

I mean… Greek readers who didn’t know the Hebrew for “I AM” might have jumped to the conclusion that Jesus was saying he existed before Abraham…

While Greek readers who knew the Hebrew story of “I AM” from Exodus, would have realized Jesus was cleverly referring to Yahweh’s stated name in Exodus: “I AM, I AM”.


(Mitchell W McKain) #12

I never heard any Christian claiming that God created Himself. On the contrary there are explicit denials that the persons of God like Jesus and the Holy Spirit are created by God, but rather always existed with the Father.

This is not contrary to science. Energy dissolves the distinction between thing and action. It is not only things (like matter) which are composed of energy but actions (like motion) also, and one can be converted into the other. This is what the particle accelerators do – convert the energy of motion into the mass energy of the various particles they are looking for. Thus, there is nothing inconsistent with the idea that God’s action in creating supplies all the substance required for the universe.

Well I don’t like this idea of many Christians because it makes creation sound like nothing more than a dream, which isn’t very impressive to me. Anybody can dream. Thus I insist that what God did was create something real existing apart from Himself by the laws of nature which He established. Thus I take Bible passages about God sustaining creation to simply mean that God acts to protect what he values in the universe when required because, after all, life is pretty fragile.

Thus there is a difference here between saying the universe exists because God desired this, acting to create it, and saying the universe continues to exist only because God continues to will it as if the universe were nothing but a dream or thought in His head with no independent existence. If you are finding the latter unacceptable then I fully agree with you.

Like a few others here I certainly don’t like the idea of God simply making things appear by will alone or magic like you often see in the tv shows “Bewitched” or “I dream of Jeanie.” I think that kind of magic is derived from our experience of infancy where more powerful and knowledgeable beings answer our cries of discomfort. But clear this idea magic doesn’t make sense in the case of God, because there are no more powerful and knowledgeable beings to answer His desires. Instead God’s creation must come from His own knowledge and ability to achieve His desires.

Another issue on which I will complain is thinking that God’s omnipotence means He can accomplish thing by whatever means someone cares to dictate, as if the ends are independent of the means. In particular, I do not believe God can create living things by making them simply appear because this is inconsistent with the very nature of life itself, which is a self-organizing process of growth and learning.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #13

Shaun,

Thank you for your statement of faith.

You are right. People are both physical and emotional (spiritual.) We need science and faith. I will go one further. People are physical, rational, and spiritual, We need science, philosophy (the science of thinking,) and faith. Philosophy, thinking about thinking, not Plato and Aristotle, helps us to understand our faith and helps us to understand science and reconcile them.

The Trinity reflects this. God the Father is the God of Creation or Nature, that is science… God the Holy Spirit is the God of Faith, that is spirituality. God the Son is the Logos (John 1:1) is the God of the Rational, that is philosophy. God is Three and One, just as we who are created by God is God’s Image are Three and One, One and the Many, Unity and Complexity.


(Shaun) #14

Do you think God only needs the powerful will to exist, or still needs both a body and the powerful will?

If he only needs the powerful will that can create everything out of nothing, possibly, he could create his own body, though his body may have already been there (he doesn’t have to create.)
If he couldn’t create his own body, then is his will still so powerful?

For a while, I tried another idea that God didn’t create everything, God is the whole of everything, God is the universe itself, and we are all part of him, and he makes rules for everything though he allows our mind to make decisions. I still have no enough reasons to reject it.


(Shaun) #15

Hi Roger,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

You mentioned the rational part. Yes, it should be considered neither physical nor emotional but related to the two . That’s why we have so many questions to answer and depend on it to make right decisions. Our rational part tends to reconcile everything. But the presumption is all of the part of the world could be explained in one rational understanding.


(Mitchell W McKain) #16

The traditional conception of God is that He is infinite and doesn’t need anything. In Him we see a being who is motivated by love alone, specifically the desire to give of His abundance to others. Bodies are by nature limited so God is not thought of as having a body, except in the person of Jesus who came to Earth as a human being.

In Jesus, God walked among us as a fully human being born as a helpless infant and growing up among us with all of our limitations. A constructed body is not a human body – a human body grows from infancy. The ends are not independent of the means.

That is called pantheism and it is quite popular among some famous scientists like Einstein. But Christianity rejects this largely because of theodicy. We believe in a God who is wholly good but evil exists in the universe. If you are going this route then you might as well believe in the dreamer God for a dream is simply a part of the dreamer, though this would be panentheism rather than pantheism. I think I have excellent reasons to reject both of these.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #17

Yes, but there is nothing wrong with that because YHWH our rational God created the universe as a rational home for humanity. God created humans in God’s Image which means God gave us a Mind like God’s which is able to understand the universe to an amazing degree. God created humans govern the world and gave the ability to do so. Sadly we have failed to adequately govern ourselves so the world is falling apart and govern the world so the biosphere is falling apart

Look at the alternative narrative. The universe came into being out of Nothing, no matter, no energy, no time, no space. The universe, which was not formed rationally, actually has rational form. The universe, which was not formed with purpose and meaning, has purpose and meaning, that is humanity.

The statement of Einstein, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehendible,” is true for the non-believer, but not for t5hose who accept the truth that YHWH is the rational Creator of all that is.


(Shaun) #18

You actually agreed with me.

When we talk about good and evil, we must ask ourselves good for what or whom, then the opposite is evil. Evil doesn’t exist in the universe without what it harms.

In the non-living world, there’s no purpose. (Maybe the universe as a whole has its purpose but a rock may not have a purpose.)

In the living world, every individual of any form of life has its purpose, to exist as a form of life. If they do something against that, they are evil.
But before animals can make their own decisions, they are not evil. They may see what’s going on around them and react unconsciously as if the decisions were preset by God.

After God created mind for human, God let human make decisions, then evil becomes possible. But it’s not God’s. Our mind may have the wrong interpretation of life, make wrong decisions. They are evil. But it’s not God’s fault. God still has the most powerful and perfect law ruling the universe (itself) that nobody could break. When God created mind, he also expected our mind to discover his law, to find what’s right by mind itself, to make the right decisions, and was ready to punish those who fail to do so. God is the universe and wholly good, but what our mind decides to do may not be good for ourselves. If God didn’t give our mind the freedom to make decisions, we may not even make evil decisions against ourselves.


(Mitchell W McKain) #19

You suggested the pantheist idea that God is the whole of everything. I explained why Christians reject this idea. The whole of everything includes people doing evil, thus we do not believe that God is the whole of everything. But I am even more opposed to pan(en)theism than this. I believe it makes God nothing more than a dreamer who does not really create anything with an independent existence. Furthermore, I believe that life, free-will, and consciousness requires that God creates something truly independent and apart from Himself. The people in dreams, holo-novels, and the npcs in hologames are not alive or conscious for what they do is dictated by the dreamer, author, and game designer.


#20

Nah, I don’t find it to come out like that, unfortunately.
To me Jesus is making a very clear statement that He existed before Abraham. It has nothing to do with Yahweh’s stated name. The context is clear - it is all about WHO JESUS is to make such bold claims of people not dying if they believed on His Word. Who has authority to make such claims if all the prophets before him have died? Jesus makes it clear that He is the Son of God and unlike them (Jews) he cannot lie about that.