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Science Cannot Contradict Historic Christianity
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When detractors of Historic Christianity claim that ‘Science contradicts Religion’ or ‘Science contradicts Christianity,’ many Christians succumb. These claims, at their face value, have rattled some Christians because their busy life precludes a possibility of undertaking an adequate research into this theme. Hence, some Christians either believe that science and Christianity are at loggerheads or they are clueless.
The truth, however, is that science cannot contradict Historic Christianity. This article will endeavor to highlight this fact.
Science Cannot Contradict Religion
Does science have authority to judge religion? If eminent non-Christian scientists demarcate science’s jurisdiction from religion, then there is reasonable merit in concluding that science cannot judge religion.
Science cannot deny the claims of religion, let alone Christianity. The non-Christian scientists say so.
Consider Harvard University paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould’s principle of Non-overlapping Magisteria (NOMA). NOMA proposes that science and religion represent different magisteria (domain of authority). Hence, science (which covers the empirical domain) and religion (which covers life’s ultimate meaning and moral value) ought not to overlap. (Stephen Jay Gould was not a Christian.)
Dr. Francisco J. Ayala, a molecular biologist and evolutionary geneticist and the winner of Templeton Prize, contends that science cannot contradict religion. Dr. Ayala is not a Christian. He asserts:
Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters…I contend that both – scientists denying religion and believers rejecting science – are wrong. Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters.
The scope of science is the world of nature: the reality that is observed, directly or indirectly, by our senses. Science advances explanations about the natural world, explanations that are accepted or rejected by observation and experiment.
Outside the world of nature, however, science has no authority, no statements to make, no business whatsoever taking one position or another. Science has nothing decisive to say about values, whether economic, aesthetic or moral; nothing to say about the meaning of life or its purpose. Science has nothing to say, either, about religious beliefs
…Science transcends cultural, political and religious beliefs because it has nothing to say about these subjects…
People of faith should stand in awe of the wondrous achievements of science. But they should not be troubled that science may deny their religious beliefs.
Therefore, since science and religion engage different realms of life, a conclusion that science cannot contradict religion is quite reasonable.
Scientists Contradict Religion
Although science cannot contradict religion, certain non-Christian scientists attempt to falsify the claims of religions. Biologist and renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, in his book “The God Delusion,” ridicules God’s existence, “I am not attacking any particular version of God or gods. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.”
These non-Christian scientists do not merely refrain from dismissing religious claims, but they pour scorn on Christian scientists as well. Richard Dawkins loves to ridicule Christian scientists, “Creation scientists have more need than most of us to parade their degrees and qualifications, but it pays to look closely at the institutions that awarded them and the subjects in which they were taken. Those vaunted Ph.D.s tend to be in subjects such as marine engineering or gas kinetics rather than in relevant disciplines like zoology or geology. And often they are earned not at real universities, but at little-known Bible colleges deep in Bush country.”
These unmitigated assaults intimidate Christians to no end; ergo, some Christians then believe that science has buried Christianity. This is not true!
Trust The Testimony Of Christian Scientists
If science so categorically contradicts religion, how was it possible that many great scientists of the past were committed Christians? Kepler (Astronomy), Pascal (Hydrostatics), Boyle (Chemistry), Newton (Calculus), Linnaeus (Systematic Biology), Faraday (Electromagnetics), Cuvier (Comparative Anatomy), Kelvin (Thermodynamics), Lister (Antiseptic Surgery), Mendel (Genetics) were all committed Christians. They believed in the Triune God and truly trusted the Bible.
Scientists who lived in the past were not the only Christians. There are numerous highly successful and credible contemporary Christian scientists whom we can genuinely trust.
Dr. Francis S. Collins asserts that science and religion cannot contradict, “As the director of the Human Genome Project, I have led a consortium of scientists to read out the 3.1 billion letters of the human genome, our own DNA instruction book. As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God's language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God's plan…So, some have asked, doesn't your brain explode? Can you both pursue an understanding of how life works using the tools of genetics and molecular biology, and worship a creator God? Aren't evolution and faith in God incompatible? Can a scientist believe in miracles like the resurrection?
Actually, I find no conflict here, and neither apparently do the 40 percent of working scientists who claim to be believers… I have found there is a wonderful harmony in the complementary truths of science and faith. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory. By investigating God's majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship.”
Why Christian Scientists Believe?
Christian scientists do not blindly believe in God or the biblical account. They have very clear and valid reasons to believe in God and the Bible.
Dr. James Tour, a synthetic organic chemist specializing in nanotechnology, is a T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering and of Computer Science at Rice University, USA. He holds more than 120 patents in the USA and has published more than 600 research publications.
While discussing the ‘origin of life,’ Dr. James Tour contends that science is clueless about abiogenesis (life from nonlife). He contends that the only reasonable conclusion any scientist, who does not or would not want to believe in God, can arrive at is NOT to negate the Creator, but to, at the very least, acknowledge that the origin of life is a mystery:
Life requires carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins. What is the chemistry behind their origin? Biologists seem to think that there are well-understood prebiotic molecular mechanisms for their synthesis. They have been grossly misinformed. And no wonder: few biologists have ever synthesized a complex molecule ab initio. If they need a molecule, they purchase molecular synthesis kits, which are, of course, designed by synthetic chemists, and which feature simplistic protocols.
Polysaccharides? Their origin?
The synthetic chemists do not have a pathway.
The biologists do not have a clue…
The world’s best synthetic chemists, biochemists, and evolutionary biologists have combined forces to form a team—a dream team in two quite distinct senses of the word. Money is no object. They have at their disposal the most advanced analytical facilities, the complete scientific literature, synthetic and natural coupling agents, and all the reagents their hearts might desire. Carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleic acids are stored in their laboratories in a state of 100% enantiomeric purity.
Would the dream team—please—assemble a living system?
Take your time, folks, take a few billion years.
Nothing? Well, well, well.
Let us assume that all the building blocks of life, and not just their precursors, have been made to a high degrees of purity, including homochirality where applicable—the carbohydrates, the amino acids, the nucleic acids, and the lipids. They are stored in cool caves, away from sunlight, and away from oxygen. These molecules are indifferent to environmental degradation.
And let us further assume that they are all stored in one comfortable corner of the earth, not separated by thousands of kilometers or on different planets.
And that they all exist not just in the same square kilometer, but in neighboring pools where they can conveniently and somehow selectively mix with each other as needed.
Now what? How does the dream team assemble them without enzymes?
Very well. Give the dream team polymerized forms: polypeptides, all the enzymes they desire, the polysaccharides, DNA and RNA in any sequence, cleanly assembled.
We teach our students that when a mechanism does not support their observations, the mechanism must either be revised to support the facts or entirely discounted. They are not required to provide an alternative.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on. It has a ring among prebiotic chemists.
Those who think scientists understand the issues of prebiotic chemistry are wholly misinformed. Nobody understands them. Maybe one day we will. But that day is far from today. It would be far more helpful (and hopeful) to expose students to the massive gaps in our understanding. They may find a firmer—and possibly a radically different—scientific theory.
The basis upon which we as scientists are relying is so shaky that we must openly state the situation for what it is: it is a mystery.
We are grateful to the scientific community. We stand in awe of their achievements. But having said that, let us be cognizant of the fact that science cannot contradict religion, let alone Christianity.
So the next time someone attempts to derail your faith by flinging a random statement that science contradicts religion, do not get rattled. If you are a Christian, do know that the ground on which you stand is rock solid. There is no need to sweat or fret. Keep on and grow in your Christian faith.
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