Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter 6 ~ Science Has Disproved Christianity

Ni Hao Yall

Summary from Stefanie's blog:
Keller starts out this chapter with the statement “… that science in general, and evolutionary science in particular, has made belief in God unnecessary and obsolete.” (p.87) He uses Richard Dawkins as an example; from Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, Keller says, “[Dawkins] argues that you cannot be an intelligent scientific thinker and still hold religious beliefs.” (p.87)

Aren’t Miracles Scientifically Impossible
A major scientific argument against most religions in general, and Christianity in particular, is a belief in miracles. The claim is “Science has proven that there is no such thing as miracles,” according to Keller. (p.88)
But upon closer inspection Keller reveals how this belief is, in and of itself, a leap of faith. “It is one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others. It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist.” (p.90)
Because science concentrates on the natural world, its adherents suppose there can therefore be no supernatural. Alvin Plantinga argues science is like a drunk man looking for his keys only under the street lamp because the light is better. And then stating that – because things would be difficult to find in the dark – the keys have to be under the street light.
The other premise proposed by the disbelief in miracles is that there is no God to generate such miracles. But if there is a Creator God, then miracles would be a natural, and expected, overflow of His creative genius. “After all,” says Keller, “if he created everything out of nothing, it would hardly be a problem for him to rearrange parts of it as and when he wishes.” (p.89)

Isn’t Science in Conflict with Christianity
Keller argues that much of the debate between science and Christianity is due to the media’s need to portray the news in terms of a good guy and a bad guy – we naturally respond more passionately to a battle between good and evil, regardless of the side you find yourself. And this black and white view gives undeserved weight to the claims that science and religion are divided by an impassable chasm.
There is an argument by Keller that evolution versus philosophical naturalism is the better debate than Christianity versus evolution. “Christians may believe in evolution as a process without believing in ‘philosophical naturalism.’” (p. 90) Keller provides the argument that “When evolution is turned into an All-encompassing Theory explaining absolutely everything we believe, feel, and do as the product of natural selection, then we are not in the arena of science, but of philosophy.” (p.91)
The next few paragraphs present Keller’s examples of scientists and philosophers, most notable Dawkins, Ian Barbour and Francis Collins, who agree and disagree about the interrelated dynamics of Christianity and science. The arguments range from Creationism in Genesis warring against the philosophical naturalism of Dawkins to the opposite end with faith being a so personal of a choice that it “does not speak to the empirical realm at all.” (p.92).
But Barbour, according to Keller, presents a different view and “prefers the spectrum of more moderate and complicated approaches in which science and religious faith recognize their respective spheres of authority.” (p. 92)
So, are Christianity and science really on opposite ends of a battle, like the Allies and the Axis of World War II? Christian Smith, per Keller, in his history of the secularization of American institutions answers it this way: “… the conflict model of the relationship of science to religion was a deliberate exaggeration used by both scientists and educational leaders at the end of the nineteenth century to undermine the church’s control of their institutions and increase their own cultural power.” (p.92) This manufactured ‘war’ was the purposeful product of a cultural strategy, and many have unknowingly accepted as truth.
So, how about all the highly “intelligent” scientists who are atheists? Doesn’t that prove that Christianity is incorrect? Keller tackles these arguments by debunking Dawkins analysis of a National Academy of Sciences members’ study which found only seven (7) percent believe in God. In actuality the real question was ‘Do you believe in a God that communicates with humanity?’ Not ‘Do you believe in a transcendent God?’ Keller comments that Dawkins not only misinterpreted the results but also made a casual relationship between atheism and science that does not exist.
“Alister McGrath, a theologian with an Oxford doctorate in biophysics, writes that most of the many unbelieving scientists he knows are atheists on other grounds than their science.” (p.93) One of the other reasons, a leading sociologist notes, is our relationship with fellow humans, Keller says. “Scientists, like non-scientists, are very affected by the beliefs and attitudes of the people from whom they want respect.” (p.95) Peer pressure rather than science is influencing beliefs.
Another prominent atheist, Stephen Jay Gould, argues against Dawkins’ statements on the disconnect between religion and the sciences by stating, “Either half my colleagues are enormously stupid, or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with conventional religious beliefs — and equally compatible with atheism.” (p.94). Gould is “much more willing to concede that science might not be able to account for everything about human existence to every thinker’s satisfaction.” (p.94)
“There is no necessary disjunction between science and devout faith,” Keller concludes (p.95).

Doesn’t Evolution Disprove the Bible?
“Christians who accept the Bible’s authority agree that the primary goal of Biblical interpretation is to discover the Biblical author’s original meaning as he sought to be understood by his audience,” according to Keller. Of course, he adds, there will always be arguments over the interpretation of the passages, “but it is false logic to argue if one part of the Scripture can’t be taken literally then none of it can be.” (p.97)
Keller says the point isn’t a debate over evolution and the Bible. The correct viewpoint, for those considering Christianity, is to think of the main claims of Christ. “Only after drawing conclusions about the person of Christ, the resurrection, and the central tenets of the Christian message should one think through the various options with regard to creation and evolution.” (p.97)

Healing the World
Keller understands the difficulty some have with a God who intervenes in the natural order. “Miracles are hard to believe in, and they should be.” (p.98) The biblical account of the apostles meeting the resurrected Jesus on a mountainside even depicts some of them doubting; “When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). This passage offers us, the reader, several things: it is a reminder that those who lived and walked alongside Jesus doubted, and so do we. It is also an encouragement to those of us who struggle with doubt. Many who initially doubted became leaders in the church.
But most important is what this text tells us about the purpose of Jesus’ miracles. “They lead not simply to cognitive belief, but to worship, to awe and wonder. Jesus’s miracles in particular were never magic tricks, designed only to impress and coerce… Instead he used miraculous power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead. Why? We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order,” Keller says. (p.99) “The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’s miracles are not just a challenge to all our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” (p.99)
Question: Has the seeming incompatibility between science and the Bible been a hindrance to you in your faith? And if so, has anything in this chapter changed that perspective?
*My Response*

My response to this chapter comes with a huge admission.  I have remained ignorantly silent on this topic of science v. Christianity.  My basic response is, "I just believe."   Call it blind faith; call it lack of intellect; call it whatever you want, but I've concluded that I don't have to fully understand how or why God created everything to believe that He is the Ultimate Authority and no thing or no one is greater.

I believe that God has gifted each of us differently, and many people have great intellect to design magnificent things, from buildings to lifesaving equipment to medications and so on.  But without God we are all nothing.  We don't create anything.  Our imagination and creativity is a result of His creation.

From my back patio I can see the sun rise each morning, and from my front porch I can see the sun set each evening.  Every time I stop to truly enjoy this sight, I am in awe of God.  Not only that He created everything from nothing, but that He desires an intimate relationship with every person.  I've been fortunate enough to have experienced His miracles many times in my life.  Events that only an all-knowing God could orchestrate.

I don't have the intelligence to argue this point, and I will never sit on a panel where I'm required to do so.  The insight from this chapter has been helpful, but I love the last statement ~

“The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’s miracles are not just a challenge to all our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” 

1 comment:

BRIAN said...

I am an anathema to some people. I received my calling to be a minister while still in High School, and then when I went to college for my bachelor's degree, I didn't major in something "useful" for ministry. Instead I majored in Chemistry before heading off to Seminary.

Science and Christian faith aren't in conflict. They are mutually compatible. For Science answers the question "How" and "What" while the Christian faith answers the questions "Why" and "For what purpose."

For me since God is the creator, then the more we understand about creation through science, then the more we may come to know about the creator. As Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

Or as Galileo put it, "Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe.”

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