Why Christians Ought to Embrace “Science” and Give Up “Faith”

Faith and ScienceIt is common to hear that science and faith are opposed to one another: science is about finding “facts” and giving “proof,” while faith is about “believing” without evidence. It is like having a brick wall that separates the two and never the twain shall meet. This sentiment is expressed by the well known atheist Richard Dawkins. He proclaims that the entire idea of God is based upon “private revelation rather than evidence” [1] , and that “faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.” [2] For Dawkins and other atheists like him, scientific theories are believed because of the overwhelming evidence, and if evidence were found to contradict a particular scienctific theory, such a theory would be abandoned. But not so with faith. [3]

Quite surprisingly, such ideas are also expressed by some Christians. Seemingly taking the lead of Soren Kirekegaard (the 19th century fideist), many Christians today appear to believe that faith in Christ is belief in the “absurd”–that reason must be jettisoned to make room for faith. Science, on the other hand, is the discernment of facts supported by evidence. Science and faith are thus mutually exclusive.

Is this distinction between science and faith acceptable? I contend that if these definitions of “science” and “faith” are maintained, faith itself becomes absurd and thus Christians ought to embrace”science” and give up their “faith.” Let’s see why.

Religious Relativism

One absurdity that results from accepting the idea that “science” is about evidence and “faith” is not is religious relativism. We are all familiar with relativism whether we have studied philosophy or not. It is the idea that truth is dependent upon a person’s feelings, tastes, or cultural upbringing. The common phrase that represents this view is “that’s true for you but not for me.”

By accepting that it is not based upon evidence, “faith” in Jesus becomes “true for you” but perhaps no one else. Jesus is your Savior, but he is not the world’s Savior necessarily. You may have found peace and joy in Jesus but others may have not. One’s faith experience is not the same as another’s. And so “faith” in Jesus (or whomever) becomes isolated from reason, critique, and evaluation; it cannot be questioned because it is simply based upon one’s own personal experience–not facts.

Troll2_l_tnbSurely, this is absurd. Why would anyone desire to believe and put confidence (i.e., faith) in anything that has absolutely no evidence of being factually true? Imagine, if you will, a magical troll named Krull who lives on the back side of the moon, and it is claimed that he travels every night back and forth from the moon to earth on a black sleigh filled with marbles. And, as some have believed, Krull will grant eternal life to those who accept a marble from him. But, there is absolutely no evidence that Krull exists–no letters, pictures, books, or even testimony of Krull sightings. Should we put our faith in Krull to save? I would think most people would say, “no,” and I think with good reason. If no evidence exists whatsoever of something existing, one might as well believe in anything he wants–fairies, unicorns, trolls, and hobbits. Surely, Christians believe in Jesus for good reasons, don’t they? If not, is not their faith the opposite of reasonable, i.e., irrational?[4]

Faith in the Non-existent

Speaking of irrational, placing faith in something that has absolutely no evidence results in the absurdity of believing in the non-existent. To illustrate this, I once made up the following story and asked the subsequent question to a Christian:

There once was a guy named Dan who lived in a two-story house. One day, it rained and rained and rained. The first floor to Dan’s house flooded. As the water continued to rise, Dan decided to head to the second floor. The next day, Dan noticed that the water was still continuing to rise, and so Dan fled to the roof to escape the flood waters.

While Dan was sitting on his roof, a row boat came by, and a man yelled out, “Hey! Do you need some help? I am here to take you to dry land so you will not drown.”

“No, thanks,” said Dan. “I am waiting on Bob to come pick me up. He’ll be here soon.”

“Who’s Bob?” the man in the boat questioned.

“He’s the guy who’s going to save me,” responded Dan.

“Well, where is he? What does he look like?” interrogated the man.

“Oh, some say he has brown hair and lives down the street,” the man said rather hesitantly.

The guy in the boat looked puzzled, thought a moment, and then yelled back at Dan, “Are you sure that Bob exists?”

“Why does that matter?” replied Dan in a very belligerent tone. “I have been told and believe that Bob is going to come right by here in his red speed boat to pick me up. I believe that Bob will save me, even if he doesn’t exist.”

“Uh, how do you figure, sir, that Bob can come by here to save you if he doesn’t exist to come by here and save you?” the man in the boat slowly asked.

“Because I have faith in Bob!” yelled Dan.

The man in the boat shrugged his shoulders and rowed away.

Does Dan have a legitimate belief that Bob will save him? I have had more than one Christian exclaim, “Yes! This sounds just like the faith we have in Jesus!” Really? Even if Jesus never existed, he will still save us? Surely this is absurd.

“Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged”

5.0.2Another absurdity that results from this view of “science” and “faith” is the idea that no one can judge anyone else’s beliefs. We have all heard this cultural mantra. This “non-judging” belief logically follows if “faith” cannot be supported with evidence and facts, as in “science.” Who can judge whether belief in Jesus or Muhammad is false or wrong if it is completely detached from reality? There is no evidence or arguments to evaluate religious claims. It is a blind faith.

But this idea of not judging is absurd, isn’t it? If someone says that we cannot judge another person’s beliefs, is this not a judgement in itself? Yes, of course it is. It is a judgment to say we ought not to judge others’ beliefs. The belief in not judging is simply a contradiction, and so it should be jettisoned just for the reason for being self-refuting.

Moreover, this belief in not judging leads to all kinds of moral absurdities. If we cannot judge, then we cannot say the belief that burning babies alive is morally evil. We cannot say that hating gays is morally evil. We cannot say that anything is morally evil at all if judging is rejected out of hand. For Christians, this would mean that they cannot even judge whether belief in Jesus is true and that he ensures salvation for the world, which leads me to the final absurdity.

The End of Evangelism

If no one can judge another person’s beliefs as false or wrong, then it clearly follows that evangelism is no longer possible. Evangelism entails communicating the gospel, which says that every human is a sinner (i.e., that he is “wrong,” “wicked,” and “evil”) as he stands in the presence of God, and he needs to repent. The gospel at its core is judgmental. And if we cannot judge, then we cannot evangelize. In fact, this logic has been followed by some Christians I have personally spoken with.

Again, this is absurd. Christians cannot do the very thing that their Lord and Savior instructed them to do? This is the primary work of the church: to begin in Jerusalem and continue on into the nations, preaching the good news of Jesus and making disciples (see Matt. 28:19-20 and the book of Acts). Indeed, if this logic were to be carried out to its fullest extent, then the church itself would eventually cease to exist.

Christians, Give Up Your “Faith!”

It is because of these absurdities that I think Christians everywhere ought to embrace “science” and give up their “faith.” What I mean is this: if science is going to take the pride of place in having evidence for its findings and faith is to be understood merely as a kind of sixth sense, then by all means science ought to be preferred. Why? Because belief in Jesus is rational. Evidence does exist that Jesus was and is the Son of God who was crucified and was raised from the dead. And it is objectively true and can be reasonably shown to be such. As long as faith is viewed to be contrary to fact, then it ought to be given up. Anything contrary to fact is false, and if something is false, then it ought to be given up for that which is true.

What needs to be realized is that faith is not contrary to evidence or reason. As the Oxford Professor John Lennox has stated, “Just as in science, faith, reason and evidence belong together.” [5] In fact, “Faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.” [6] This does not mean, however, that all the facts and evidence have to be known and weighed before one commits his life to Jesus. It just means that there is good evidence and reasons for someone to do so. And it means that blind faith ought to be given up for a more reasonable faith.

Notes:

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Mariner Books, 2008), 52.

[2] Ibid., 347.

[3] Ibid., 319-323.

[4] Don’t misunderstand me here. I do not think it is necessary to know some or all the evidence and reasons for believing in Jesus before putting faith in him. It is only to say that such evidence must exist. Most Christians have come to saving faith in Jesus through the mere testimony and preaching of the Word of God. But the veracity of this testimony and Word of God is supported with evidence and good reasons.

[5] John Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Oxford, England: Lion, 2009), 16.

[6] Ibid; emphasis mine.

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One Response to Why Christians Ought to Embrace “Science” and Give Up “Faith”

  1. Harold Orndorff says:

    Theology: queen of the sciences.

    Nicely stated, as usual.