A Modern Western Myth

Posted: November 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

i_believe_in_science_tshirt

Although I probably won’t have time to show it during this weeks Sunday school class, there is a great scene in the middle of a movie called Nacho Libre that would introduce our weekly worldview topic… science. Now this is likely for the best because not everyone appreciates my refined sense of humour! Nonetheless, here is how it goes…

Nacho, a monk who wants to be a pro-wrestler says to his underachieving partner: I’m a little concerned right now. About… your salvation and stuff. How come you have not been baptized?

Esqueleto: Because I never got around to it ok? I dunno why you always have to be judging me because I only believe in science.

The scene is a humorous illustration of what Pastor David Robertson describes as a modern Western myth: that science and religion are polar opposites and that those who have a scientific background and knowledge will de facto avoid faith.

David Robertson, minister of St. Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland and author of The Dawkins Letters: Answering Atheist Myths, goes on to explain how he often deals with it…

I point people to the history of science and to the impossibility of there being any modern science without theistic and, indeed, Christian presuppositions. The original founders of the Royal Society in London were basically puritans who believed, along with Newton, that there were two books of the revelation of God — creation and the Bible. All modern science is based upon the notion that the universe is ordered and can be studied. This is so often assumed that people forget that the assumption itself is a belief that is founded upon a monotheistic view of the universe. The ancient Greeks believed in many gods operating in a chaotic universe. The Christian believes that God brought order out of the chaos and therefore that that order can be studied. This is the philosophical basis of all modern science, without which it could not exist.

Then I look at the current state of science. Recent scientific discoveries have once again demonstrated the glory of God in the heavens. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the discovery of the fine-tuning of the universe. The consequences of this are phenomenal — either one believes that we are incredibly “lucky” or that someone designed our designed universe, or, if you are really desperate to avoid God, you invent the “multiverse theory,” which speculates, without any empirical evidence, that the universe is one of billions of universes that just happens to provide the fine-tuning for life.

Finally, I would point out that it is the philosophy of scientism rather than the practice of science that is the problem. The philosophy of scientism, that only the material exists, is anti-Christian and, ironically, it is also anti-scientific because it is not an empirically provable scientific theory. The Bible is not a scientific textbook and it would be foolish to look for things to prove in the Bible from science (as though the Bible were subject to our current limited understanding). But the presuppositions and teachings of the Bible are, as we would expect them to be, completely compatible with the practice and knowledge of science. As John Lennox from Oxford University points out in his wonderful God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?:

“Far from science having buried God, not only do the results of science point towards his existence, but the scientific enterprise is validated by his existence. Inevitably, of course, not only those of us who do science, but all of us, have to choose the presupposition with which we start. There are not many options — essentially just two. Either human intelligence ultimately owes its origin to mindless matter; or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second.”

“What can be known about God is plain… his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” – Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)

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