Is Christianity at Odds with Science & Facts?
There is a growing liberal sentiment today that having a Biblical worldview means compromising on or even disbelieving in science. Phrases like “science denier” or “Christianity and science are incompatible” get thrown around a lot.
As Christians, we often get taken aback or find ourselves on the defensive when confronted with such attacks. In this post, I hope to provide some reasoning that not only levels the playing field but makes those who doubt the Bible think about what they believe and why.
The primary issue of discussion here will be the subject of origins – creation vs. evolution.
First, let’s define science. Here are two similar definitions:
“the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”
“systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” – dictionary.com
Science, at its core, involves things that can be observed and repeated through experimentation. Many scholars have noted that the origins of the universe are thus outside the realms of science. Regardless of whether you believe: evolution, creation, or something else, it is clear that no one was around to observe the universe coming into being.
What we have left are theories. The theory of evolution, the big bang theory, and the theory of creation (though it pains me to call it that; I am trying to be fair in my treatment of the subject).
When there are competing theories, and no way to prove any of them, any viewpoint that is taken necessarily involves faith. Just as the Bible-believing Christian holds to the Genesis account of how the universe and all within it came to be, so the irreligious person places their faith in Charles Darwin and secular work attempting to explain origins.
It is helpful to start by identifying the presuppositions, or assumptions, both perspectives bring to the table. The secular person often presupposes that God is not involved in origins at all. It may be fair to say they believe there is no God, and the universe came into existence through the Big Bang some billions of years ago, and things slowly evolved into the state they are now. Everything we see began as cosmic ooze, and over billions of years, turned into life, a well-ordered universe, complex beings, relationships and the like.
Creationists, on the other hand, see the astounding complexity of the universe and humanity and find the only reasonable explanation that there is an all-powerful Creator who orchestrated all of it.
Beyond presuppositions, the issue of authority I believe plays a role in which theory someone subscribes to. The Christian submits himself to the power of the Creator God as described in the Bible. When Genesis chapter one and two speaks plainly about how God brought the universe and people into being, we believe it.
The secularist, on the other hand, finds it distasteful or even laughable to believe that an all-powerful Being exists and created everything we see. They clamor to find other explanations, unwilling to concede the idea that the Biblical account is correct. As a Bible-believing Christian, there is a simple explanation for why someone would come to that conclusion. It is found in the book of Romans:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Romans 1:18-21
In that passage, we see that failure to acknowledge God as the Creator is a matter of “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.” I’ll admit that God, in His kindness, has granted me faith to believe His word (Ephesians 2:8). I can also see how a secular-minded person could push back with all their might against such an idea. Why? Because to admit the possibility of an all-powerful Creator is a scary proposition. If God exists, then having to answer to Him becomes something to grapple with, and that prospect is frightening.
“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10:31
Even those who know and love God can at times be overwhelmed at the thought of standing before Him one day. We have the comfort of the whole of Scripture to ease our fears, however (1 John 4:18). It is difficult for me to imagine how terrifying that would be as one who has rejected God or is choosing to ignore Him.
Same evidence, different conclusions
I find it interesting to note that our presuppositions and source of authority lead us to interpret data in a way that supports the conclusion our worldview finds most comfortable to believe in – whether we realize it or not.
For example, let us consider dating the age of the earth through fossils. Educators from all different worldviews access the same information, yet come up with vastly different conclusions. Some conclude billions of years, some only thousands. How can that be? The worldview, or interpretative lens through which the person views the world colors everything.
Do you remember the highly-publicized debate in 2014 between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Answers in Genesis’ Ken Ham? It was a valuable exercise showing how the two men, who are each famous for their respective views, lean into their worldviews to explain the way things are. If you are interested in it, it is a good watch, available here. (Note, it was recorded live so you can forward through the countdown.)
Creation as dismissible foolishness
Many holding the viewpoint of evolution are quick to dismiss creation without much thought. Many even look disdainfully at creationists as non-intellectuals. Those who do that may fail to acknowledge, as discussed at the beginning, that their worldview is also unprovable based on the definition of science. Every single person is biased, whether or not they realize it.
“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14
What will you believe?
I have encountered numerous people who dismiss the Bible without even considering their own biases and presuppositions. Evolution is taught in schools as an assumed fact, but that has only been the case for around 100 years, by some accounts less.
I primarily want to challenge the notion that Biblical Christianity is at odds with science. Before Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, published in 1859, the Genesis account was widely held, believed and taught in schools. There is a vast body of scientific work that corroborates the Noahic flood account in Genesis 6-9 and sheds light on a young earth and a worldwide flood to explain many geological discoveries we find today.
My goal in writing this post is to highlight some of the foundational issues that can go unnoticed in the debate of evolution vs. creation. Clearly, my goal is not to present a scientific case to back up my beliefs. I will leave that to people that are a lot smarter than I am.
The foundational question we all must ask ourselves is – what do I believe about the origins of the earth and why?
For Christians, I want to encourage you to not be intimidated by antagonistic assumptions leveled by non-believers.
For non-Christians, my hope and prayer are that you honestly evaluate your presuppositions about God and His involvement in the world. The Bible presents a compelling, logical, geological, historical and archaeological case for how things are and came to be.
A closer examination of these principles reveals that in fact, Christianity is NOT at odds with science and facts.
Regardless of your viewpoint, I would love to get your comments on this issue. Please be respectful. I will do the same. Thank you for reading!