Tag Archives: Reason

Science, Faith, and Reason

Many people believe that there is no room for God in scientific exploration and that belief in God must be based on irrational and unsubstantiated faith. Someone recently said to me:

I have a hard time trying to reconcile your belief in God and your belief in science. The two don’t really mix. I have always been a “prove it to me” person, I know that is why you call it “Faith.”

According to Dictionary.com, science is “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” And the scientific method is “a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.”

Although there are certainly scientists who are atheists, there are many well-known scientists who are (or were in the case of those who are deceased) either theists (meaning they believe in a creator God but not necessarily the Christian God) or are Christians. Albert Einstein was a theist. Blaise Pascal was a Christians. Isaac Newton was a monotheist. A New York Times article title Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science reports:

According to a much-discussed survey reported in the journal Nature in 1997, 40 percent of biologists, physicists and mathematicians said they believed in God – and not just a nonspecific transcendental presence but, as the survey put it, a God to whom one may pray “in expectation of receiving an answer.”

The scientific method, applied in an unbiased way, leads to discoveries about our physical and natural world. But it cannot answer the moral questions of life — why we are here, what our purpose in life is, whether a particular human action is right or wrong.

Scientists who are atheists often claim to be unbiased in their pursuit of truth. But none of us is completely unbiased. Everyone views the evidence before them in light of their own experiences and beliefs. If a person believes there is no creator God, then they will view scientific evidence through that lens or bias, and every piece of evidence will support that belief. If, on the other hand, a person believes in a creator God, then they will view scientific evidence through that lens or bias, and every piece of evidence will support that belief.

For example, scientific evidence of DNA has shown that humans have some DNA in common with other creatures. The atheist sees this as evidence that all life evolved from a single celled organism in a regular progression, even though there is no direct evidence that one species gave birth to a different species. The theist, on this other hand, sees this same DNA evidence as supporting the idea of a creator who used similar building blocks in the creation of various basic forms of life.

Science can never prove beyond all doubt the existence or non-existence of God. But science, coupled with reason and philosophical study, can reasonably lead to the conclusion that God does exist and is the creator of all things. In God: The Evidence, scientist Patrick Glynn “demonstrates that faith today is not grounded in ignorance. It is where reason has been leading us all along.”

I admit that my consideration of scientific evidence is filtered through the bias that God exists. Glynn, however, had no such initial bias. He was an atheist for many years, but the scientific evidence and reason led him to a different conclusion.

In my experience, faith and science, bounded together by reason, mix quite well.

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Filed under Book Review, Faith, Life

The Blessing of Family

One of the most wonderful blessings God has given us is family. The cool thing about family is that there is a connection between family members that defies logic and reason. There is a love for family that transcends understanding.

I’ve experienced a couple of examples of that this week.

First, my husband, son, and I had dinner on Friday night with my cousin’s son. I had never met him before and had only just met his dad (my cousin) for the first time last summer. But we had such a wonderful time visiting at dinner, talking about our shared experiences being related to some of the same people. Even though from a logical standpoint, he was a complete stranger to me, our immediate response when we saw each other was to give each other a hug. As we talked, I realized just how much like both my father and my son he is. I learned that he wears the same show size as both of them – which he referred to as “the Rowland curse.” I also learned that he really likes to talk to people, even strangers, which is another trait both my dad and my son share. As we ended our time together, we talked about the next time he might be in town and that we would get together again. I am already looking forward to that time and getting to know him even better.

Second, I talked on the phone with one of my sisters who is not doing very well right now, though I don’t want to go into detail here as to the struggles she is facing for privacy reasons. Not too long ago I did something that upset her, and so when I called her to tell her about the aforementioned visit that I had planned with our cousin I wasn’t sure she would want to talk to me. But there is something about family such that disagreements like ours become irrelevant when one family member is in need. As we talked on the phone, I just wanted to reach through the phone and give her a hug, to make things all better. I really wished I had a Star Trek transporter so I could be with her instead of just talking on the phone. Even though hearing about her struggles was upsetting, I wouldn’t give up the sadness I feel because of what she is going through for anything if it meant not having her as my sister.

Third, I talked to my other sister on the phone as well. Even though we haven’t talked on the phone in a long time, there was no awkwardness in the call. We share a closeness as sisters that doesn’t require that we talk on the phone or see each other every day or even every week. We can go months without talking and pick up right where we left off the last time we talked.

I know that sometimes the blessing and connection of family does breakdown and family members become so estranged and hateful towards one another that there seems to be no hope of reconciliation. Logic and reasoning step in to keep family members separated to prevent further hurt and pain. I am thankful that in my family that is the exception rather than the rule.

Our Christian family has a similar connection as our biological family. We can meet someone who is a complete stranger but who is also a believer and feel a connection that defies logic. There are similarly the exceptions to that rule. My prayer is that in both biological and Christian families the exceptions would be few and far between and that we would always cherish and appreciate the blessing of family.

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Thinking to God

I have found this interesting blog called Listverse that includes a variety of lists ranging from “10 Rock Bands You Either Hate or Love” to “10 Places You’d Never Want to Visit.” Some of the lists are more interesting than others. Sometimes each item on the list includes a lengthy explanation, other times it is just a list without commentary. Recently I came across the list “Top 15 Quotes by Famous Atheists” and was intrigued to see what those who deny that God exists would have to say. Two of the quotes got me thinking. One was by Ernest Hemingway: “All thinking men are atheists.”

I believe this quote is just insulting because there are a great many thinking men and women who nonetheless (or maybe because they think) put their trust in God and believe that He exists. Two men in particular come to mind, both of whom were at one time atheists but through a process of thoughtfully reviewing the evidence and arguments for and against the existence of God converted to Christianity.

The first is one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. Now anyone who suggests that C.S. Lewis was not a thinking man has no understanding of his contribution to the field of literature and theology. He was brilliant and well-respected. His conversion from atheism to Christianity came when he was in his mid-30s, and was followed by a distinguished career as a professor and scholar at both Oxford and Cambridge. He wrote a great number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, that are still in print today, 47 years after his death.

The second is Lee Strobel, who wrote The Case for Christ. Strobel, an investigative reporter for The Chicago Tribune and has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School. He was a diehard atheist when his wife converted to Christianity. Her conversion annoyed him so much he set out to prove to her that the claims of the Bible were not true. He interviewed numerous scholars and reviewed every bit of evidence he could find. In the end, he was convinced of just the opposite: that the claims of Christianity were true. The Case for Christ recounts the process he went through to reach that conclusion.

The other quote from the Listverse list was by Gloria Steinem: “It’s an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don’t try to make it posthumous.” I thought the inclusion of these two quotes on the same list was a bit ironic, because clearly Gloria Steinem did not really think about the claims of Christianity when she made this statement. It is obvious that she has not even read the Bible, because if she had she would understand that it is not a con job at all.

Christianity is not just a bargain for Heaven. It is not merely an offer of paradise when we die in exchange for doing what is right now. Rather, true Christianity (what C.S. Lewis calls Mere Christianity) is about being transformed here and now by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. It does include a promise of an eternity in the presence of God in Heaven, but it is so much more than that. It is about being changed from a selfish, hardened sinner into a selfless, loving child of God. It is about knowing God and being in relationship with Him daily, allowing Him to change us into something greater than we could ever be on our own. It is about being in community with others who trust in Him. It is about finding the Ultimate source of strength, peace, joy, patience, and self-control in the universe.

Many thinking men and women have seen through the con job Satan has offered to the world and found the truth that God exists and that He loves His creation with a love that is greater than all the treasure in the world. As Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” May God bless the thinking man.

 

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