Hello Matthew!! I would like to ask how faith and science can go hand in hand. Thank you.
Hi Simon, this is a fun topic. John Lennox has a new book out on this topic called Can Science Explain Everything?
In brief, some of the “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins would like to say that faith is anti-science, or that Christianity and science contradict each other. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all, for a few reasons:
Many of the most important, most influential scientists throughout history were Christians. People like Bacon, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Babbage, Mendel, Pasteur, Kelvin, and Clerk Maxwell, just to name a few, were all theists and most were Christians. These scientists weren’t hindered by their faith in God—many of them stat that it was their main motivation! They expected order in the universe, and then they went out and found it. If these men were atheistic, and didn’t expect an order in the universe, it’s questionable whether we would have the level of advancement we have today.
Many scientists today are Christians. For example, most Nobel Prize winners have been Christians (https://godevidence.com/2019/06/the-many-christians-crucial-to-science/?fbclid=IwAR0W5aCI8uZtIBimrpWBXcZGCkFWhQXkD2I-iufqbHxMipeyLrxCqpQB-fI).
Most physicians believe in God. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20041220005244/en/Science-Miracle-Holiday-Season-Survey-Reveals-Physicians)
And many other top minds like Francis Collins, John Lennox, or Alister McGrath, are strong Christians.
- How vs. Why – Sometimes the misunderstanding comes from the fact that science and Christianity often are trying to answer two different questions. Science can often answer the how, but almost never the why. So science points to the big bang as the event where the universe came into existence out of nothing. But why did this happen? How does something come from nothing? Science doesn’t answer this question. Christianity can provide a rational answer to this question that fits with the evidence we already have (information proceeds from minds).
There’s a lot more I could say, but I’ll leave it there for now. Does that answer your question? If not, let me know and we can talk more about it!
Thank you . It does answer my question. However, I have doubts with the reason that some of the most important, influential scientists throughout history were Christians. Bacon, Galileo, Kepler, and many of the other scientists were in a time where not much scientific advancement and knowledge that we acknowledge today are present. Additionally, for some of the scientists mentioned, it is a time where Christianity seemed the only intellectual option out there without being feared of heresy or blasphemy. In other words, it seems like there is no diversity of beliefs. How would you respond? Thank you .
Hi Simon, thanks for the follow-up. I think you’re right that it may have been difficult for some of these men not to wear the label of Christian in their contexts. But from what we know about these men, it wasn’t just a label they used to justify their real work as scientists, but actually the motivation to do good science.
For example, Johannes Kepler said “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he revealed to us in the language of mathematics.”
Or Galileo believed that the Creator who had “endowed us with senses, reason and intellect” intended us not to “forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.”
That’s just two examples, but there are many more. These men were deeply committed to God and this didn’t hinder their ability to be incredibly influential scientists.
Also it’s helpful to point out that science itself requires a kind of faith that doesn’t seem to make sense in an atheistic universe. Albert Einstein said, “The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility…The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle”
What does Einstein mean by this? Atheist and Nobel Prize winning Physicist Sheldon Glashow explained this further when he stated, “Many scientists are deeply religious in one way or another, but all of them have a certain rather peculiar faith—they have a faith in the underlying simplicity of nature; a belief that nature is, after all, comprehensible and that one should strive to understand it as much as we can…[this belief] is completely irrational and completely unjustifiable.”
Now to atheists like Glashow, it’s irrational and unjustifiable, but not to the Christian who expects God to organize the world in a rational way, it makes perfect sense. As physicist Paul Davies has said, “Science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview…even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a law-like order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us.”
If you’re interested in reading more about the history of science and Christianity, the book Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? is fantastic. Check it out!
Thanks for the answer Matthew. I now understand. I have another question. How do we Christians justify the Crusades and Adolf Hitler, who has writings saying that he is a Christian. Also, did Stalin kill in the name of atheism?. Thanks .
Hi Simon, I think my answer to Kenny can address some of your questions. Also, check out this video disproving the idea that Hitler could have been a Christian in any way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bqQhDUZCXM