Has anyone ever said to you, “I don’t believe in God; I believe in Science,” as though science and God are somehow incompatible?
Let me ask you are harder question: what can you do today to help ensure you never hear those words come out of the mouth of your child as he or she grows into adulthood?
If your child is in public school, they are being taught that Christianity is irrelevant to their daily lives, and that science and religion are at war with each other.
Most Christian schools are only slightly better. They are taught the Bible, and they are taught science, but they are rarely taught where Science and Christianity intersect. Eventually they conclude that either God is irrelevant to science, or that they must choose between science or the Bible. The reason most science teachers in Christian schools never teach about the point of intersection between Christianity and science is because they never learned it themselves.
The purpose of this blog is to help you better understand that point of intersection between science and Christianity so you can converse intelligently with your co-workers and help inoculate your kids from the false dichotomy that God and science are at odds.
It all begins with three words, “HE IS RISEN!” Those three words gave birth to science as we know it today.
Without those three words:
- You’d still drive a horse and buggy.
- Electricity would not have been harnessed.
- Edison would have never created the lightbulb.
- Alexander Graham Bell would have never invented the telephone.
- We’d have no radio.
- No TV.
- No iPhone.
- No computers.
- No internet.
- No air conditioning.
- No cars.
- No airplanes.
- No space ships.
- No satellites.
- No penicillin.
- No antibiotics.
- No vaccine for polio, measles or smallpox.
- The Scientific Method which underlies all these things would still lie undiscovered.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay Brad, I don’t get it. Are you really saying that Jesus’ resurrection was critical to the development of modern science?” YES! That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Have you ever wondered why the ancient Egyptians, who designed and built the pyramids, didn’t come up with the scientific method?
The Greeks? Remember Plato, Aristotle and Socrates? They were smart guys.
The Romans? They built roads that still exist today. They built aqueducts that are still considered engineering marvels.
The Chinese? They discovered gunpowder. They invented the compass and block printing.
The Mayans and Aztecs? They built great pyramids. They were great astronomers.
These were all highly advanced cultures with extremely smart people.
Do you really believe that Europeans were significantly more intelligent than all the people in all those other cultures throughout all of history? Did the Europeans have higher I.Q.’s? Or was there something else? What made the difference?
European Christians thought differently than any other civilization in all of history. They saw nature differently because they saw God differently.
Atheism, Polytheism, Syncretism, Ancestor worship, Islam, did not give birth to the systematic study of nature, which we call science. Why? Why did Christianity alone give birth to the systematic study of nature?
Your children and grandchildren will not be taught any of this in public school, and they probably will not learn this in most Christian schools. I doubt you were taught this. I know I wasn’t. Furthermore, there is a frontal assault on Christianity today, specifically on our children. Do you really believe your kids are immune?
I remember being at a Christmas party a few years ago. Kathy and I struck up a conversation with a couple who turned out to be Jewish. They knew I was from a high-profile Evangelical family. We chatted for about an hour. At one point the wife confided that her 21-year-old daughter recently dropped a bombshell, saying, “Mom, God is irrelevant to my life.” I quickly said, “Oh, she went to public school.” Clearly surprised, the woman responded, “Yes, how did you know?” I replied, “You said your daughter thinks God is irrelevant to her life.”
I then asked her a series of related questions. “In science class, did they ever teach your daughter how the Bible is relevant to science? What about history? What about literature? What about mathematics? What about civics? What about art? Was there any subject where they taught her how religion was relevant to that subject?”
The wife still didn’t quite follow, so I continued, “For 13 years your daughter learned that you can study all those subjects without reference to God. So, she finally concluded that God is irrelevant to those subjects. It was then only a small step to conclude, that on a practical level, God is irrelevant to her daily life.” The light of recognition flashed on in her eyes, as she blurted out, “Can we talk more?”
I never want you to hear from your adult children, “Mom, dad, God is irrelevant to my life.” However, that means you must engage with them.
The following few paragraphs will help you have the conversation regarding the intersection between science and God with your kids throughout their sojourn to adulthood, as well as with your friends and co-workers.
Most history books will tell you the Scientific Revolution, the systematic study of nature, kicked into full gear in the mid 1500’s, probably starting with Copernicus. But the development of the Scientific Method began 400 years earlier during the Middle Ages as scholars took a deeper look at the Bible. Some historians of the last 150 years mislabeled this period the “Dark Ages,” attempting to undermine Christianity. You probably heard it called that in school. I did. They would have you believe the Scientific Method sprang to life practically overnight.
The systematic study of nature developed over time beginning in the 12th century. Many of those involved were clergy and theologians. All assumed the rationality of God. It was Christian beliefs about the nature of God that gave rise to the scientific method. Natural philosophers (those who studied nature) assumed the rationality of God and therefore they assumed that nature would reflect that rationality in the form of order.
It wasn’t until that latter half of the 19th century, close on the heels of Darwin and Freud, that this underlying assumption was seriously challenged. That is when the perceived conflict between Christianity and science arose. Up until then, the practice of science was generally based on the assumptions that God existed, that He was rational, and that nature would reflect his rationality.
Up until that time most scientists held the following seven assumptions:
- GOD EXISTS, specifically the God of the Bible.
- GOD IS RATIONAL. Where did they learn that? They learned that from the Bible.
- GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE. Where did they learn that? Again, from the Bible, beginning in the book of Genesis. Therefore, they assumed His creation would naturally reflect his rationality, exhibited by its order.
- GOD HAS A WILL. He is not some kind of impersonal force. Where did they learn that? From the Bible.
God chose to make the universe he wanted to make, not the universe he had to make. Contrary to the Greek thought, this implies that you must do more than employ just reason; you must also observe nature in order to discover what God actually chose to create as an act of the will.
For instance, the Greeks believed the planets had circular orbits rather than elliptical, because they assumed a circle was the purest form of motion. Conversely, Copernicus and Kepler first observed the orbits of planets, then drew conclusions. Now we consider observation common sense to the understanding of nature, but this was a complete break from ancient Greek thought.
- MAN WAS CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE. Where did they learn that? From the Bible. Therefore, Europeans assumed man must also be a rational being. This meant man should be capable of discovering the order which God embedded in nature through careful observation.
- BECAUSE OF SIN MAN’S REASON CAN BE FLAWED. Again, this assumption did not come from the Greek philosophers; it came from the Bible. Therefore, hypotheses and conclusions need to be double-checked and triple-checked through repeated observation and experimentation—a critical assumption of the Scientific Method.
- MATHMATICS WAS APPLIED TO THE STUDY OF NATURE: Because mathematics was all about order, it made sense to systematically apply mathematics to the study of nature because of the order embedded in nature. This was a revolutionary concept. Mathematics had never been systematically applied to the study of nature. This final assumption ultimately led to Newton’s theory of gravity and Einstein’s theory of relativity.
In the words of Johannes Kepler who discovered the laws of planetary motion:
“The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony imposed on it by God and which he revealed to us in the language of mathematics.”
As a side note, atheism could never have given birth to modern science because it does not assume order in the universe. In fact, Richard Dawkins, an Oxford biologist, and one of the leading intellectuals of the New Atheist Movement, stated that there is no real order in the universe, only “apparent order.” What he was inadvertently admitting is that atheism could have never birthed the Scientific Method which was built on the assumption that there is order in the universe.
So, the next time someone says, “I don’t believe in God; I believe in science.” Ask them why the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Aztecs, the Mayans, or the Chinese never came up with the scientific method (the systematic study of nature) but the West did. Was it because Europeans were smarter than all those other people and cultures? Did they have higher IQ’s? Or was it something else? What was it? That should start a great conversation as long as you keep your finger out of the air.
And at some point, start having that same conversation with your kids. Don’t lose the battle for your children’s minds by default. When they are young, ask them simple questions:
Can a dog give birth to a cat? Why do you think God made it that way?
Can God think? Can we think?
Does God ever say “Oops!” Does science ever say “Oops!”
As they get older, ask harder questions. By asking questions that involve God’s relationship to science, you will start creating the intersection between God and science in their minds.
In fact, this next week, leading up to Easter, let me give you a fun activity you can do with your kids that will help them begin to make this connection.
Briefly explain to your kids the connection between Easter and Science. Then for the entire week, do the following with them:
When you turn on the lightswitch say, “He is Risen, so therefore we have light.”
When you get in the car say, “He is Risen, so I can start the car.”
When you pull out your cell phone say, “He is Risen, so I can text grandma.”
See how many things you can apply that statement to leading up to Easter. It will help deepen the connection between God and science in their minds.
The resurrection of Jesus gave birth to a new way of thinking about God and nature, which in turn created fertile soil for the birth and growth of science. So, this Easter, when you hear the words, “He is Risen,” I hope you will have an even greater appreciation for the power of those words. Those words changed the course of history. They gave birth to science. They changed the course of my life and my eternal destiny. They gave me peace with God. I hope they have changed the course of your life and give you peace too.
He is Risen!