Tag Archives: Science

How Can Christians Claim that Their Faith Is Rational? 

Agnostics, atheists, and adherents of other religions often disparage the “contradictory” doctrines of the Christian faith as reason to reject it. They imply that a true religion or worldview would be free of such complications.

Christians agree that real contradictions imply real falsehood. A proposition cannot be true and not true at the same time. No worldview should be based on irrationalism. But statements that seem contradictory may not really be. Sometimes an apparent contradiction is merely an illusion of language. In other cases, ideas that seem contradictory on the surface assert a truth that we can’t fully understand given the present state of our knowledge. They represent a mystery that, while not irrational, permits analysis only to a certain point. They underscore the limitations—either temporary or permanent—of human thought. The word that is usually used to refer to such seeming contradictions is paradox.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines paradox as “a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.” Regardless of one’s worldview, a number of basic paradoxes exist that no one has yet resolved. Let’s take a look at three of them.

Paradox one: freedom and determinism. 1 If we look at human behavior through the empirical eyes of science, it seems to be shaped by genetic and environmental influences. On the other hand, meaningful human experience and relationships depend on our freedom to choose, 2 as does our way of dealing with one another legally and morally in everyday life.

Paradox two: the “ghost in the machine” (dualism). What is the connection between mind and matter? When I consciously decide to take a physical action (stand, lift my arm, move my pen), what is the connection between my thoughts and the physical actions they command? The greatest philosophical and scientific thinkers have struggled with this problem for hundreds of years. So far they have failed to come up with a convincing model that explains how mind influences matter.

Paradox three: the “anthropic universe.” Scientists have observed that the universe is not only fantastically complex, but that it appears to have been designed specifically to permit the development of life and consciousness, even human self-consciousness—thus “anthropic.” The universe clearly seems to be designed by a Creator, yet no Creator imposes Himself upon us or makes His presence obvious. Just as the paradox of dualism acknowledges that my ability to “will” my arm to reach out and grasp the handle of a coffee cup is mystery, the paradox of the anthropic universe acknowledges that although it seems there must be a Creator, His identity and manner of interacting with the universe are unknown.

All of the so-called “contradictions” of Christian theology are reflections of these and other basic paradoxes of reality with which every thinking person must contend. Every worldview has to deal with the underlying paradoxes (or apparent contradictions) of human experience. Some do better than others.

Atheists, for instance, must live as though their lives and relationships are meaningful, while at the same time maintaining that the universe is a gigantic accident with no ultimate purpose.

Pantheists—including Hindus, New Agers, and neo-pagans—have a worldview that denies any ultimate distinction between good and evil. Still, like everyone else, they are faced with real moral decisions.

Honest, perceptive people don’t expect to find a worldview that contains no paradox or apparent contradiction. Instead, they look for a worldview that is most faithful to the laws of logic while maintaining fidelity to the depth, wonder, and mystery of reality.

At least two and a half millennia have passed since the book of Job was written, but its wisdom still rings true today:

The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:1-4).

  1. Dr. Bill Hodges, a remarkable American medical missionary in Haiti,was also a skilled amateur archeologist and philosopher. He summarized the paradox of determinism and free will this way:

    As any college student knows, the argument about freedom and determinism goes back many centuries. The Westerner has been mightily tempted to regard all freedom—as does the pagan—as an illusion. There really isn’t any. Whether the universe may be regarded as the capricious whims of the spirits, or as the meaningless inter-reaction of electrical charges, it would seem that there is only a senseless destiny in which man and his “will” are merely phenomena of the system. Strangely enough, however, all Western culture conceives of human freedom as real, and the social structures presuppose it . . . .

    Our institutions assume that the human being has a choice: He can obey the law, or he can commit a crime. Our philosophy, on the other hand, is inclined to the view that the crime itself was mediated by dozens of factors ranging from birth injuries to parental neglect,and that therefore the crime is only an inevitable consequence of those factors over which the criminal has no control. The historian, the anthropologist, or the biologist may trace the various meanderings of human history and believe that all events are mediated by a determinism . . . be it economic, cultural, or revolutionary, . . . but subconsciously they believe that they are describing “truth,” and that in some mysterious way their analysis is not subject to the same rules.  Back To Article

  2. The school of behavioral psychology insists that if we are the product of a purposeless evolutionary process, it’s logical to conclude that what seems to be choice is merely an illusion. For these people, free will doesn’t really exist. They consider it to be an “epiphenomenon of consciousness,” that is, only a superficial sensation of freedom that conceals a deeper determinism, a determinism in which we only appear to choose things that our genes and our environment have already selected for us. It seems that this would be an uncomfortable thought for most people, one that is in direct contradiction to human experience. In fact, wouldn’t it have the potential to drive a sensitive atheist mad? Back To Article
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How Can I Prove to Someone that God Exists?

The universe presents overwhelming evidence for God’s existence (Psalm 19:1). But no one can be forced to believe in God. In fact, God’s infinite nature makes it impossible to apprehend Him directly (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16). Because God is Spirit, conclusions about the ultimate beginnings of the universe need to be drawn from the created world and God’s actions within it. Here in the created world, the evidence for God’s eternal power and divine nature is so overwhelming that belief in Him is the only reasonable option (Romans 1:20). While some aspects of God’s nature–His holiness and love, for example–have been obscured by the Fall (See the ATQ articles, Why Would an All-Powerful God Permit Evil? and Why Would God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People?), it is disbelief in God’s existence and power that is irrational, not belief.

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To assume that the universe is just a cosmic accident goes against the grain of everything we experience. Everything that we have ever encountered with our senses has a cause: why not the universe?

There is a remarkable human tendency to ignore the obvious. We all take many of the most important things in our lives (security, family, health) for granted. Similarly, we all tend to take the universe and its mysteries for granted. Instead of asking the obvious questions “Why is there a universe and why am I here?” and “How does the universe happen to exist at all?” we allow a superficial smattering of scientific knowledge to divest us of an appropriate sense of wonder.

The Bible offers us the essential truths about God:

  • He was there “in the beginning” before anything else existed (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:9; Isaiah 57:15; John 1:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:16 ).
  • He has no beginning or end, and He is unbounded by time and space ( Psalm 90:2, 4; 93:2; Isaiah 40:28 ).
  • Everything else that existsminerals, water, plants, animals,angels, demonsis on a lower plane ( Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 45:12; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11 ). Only God is an eternal Spirit, uncreated, other, of an entirely different order.

God made human beings in His image (Genesis 1:26-27 ), but we are still part of the material world. Each of us had a specific beginning, and are bounded by three-dimensional experience and passing time. Being immersed in time and space, we become overwhelmed and confused when we try to understand an eternal God (Job 36:26 ;Isaiah 40:28 ).

Many people simply ignore the overwhelming experiential and natural evidence for God’s existence. Ultimately, faith comes down to a decision of the heart. A mind darkened by a rebellious heart is incapable of perceiving God (Isaiah 44:18,20; Romans 1:18-23).2

The eternal God is transcendent, not part of creation. God’s existence cannot be “proven” in the way that science can prove or disprove a fact about the material world (Hebrews 11:1). We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image, aware of our own existence, and capable of choice. Choosing to believe that there is no God and that the universe is just a fantastically complex accident will inevitably lead to the conclusion that life is absurd and without meaning. To live without meaning is a hopeless struggle at best, and always ends in despair. But if we believe in the God of the Bible we not only have a reason to live, but the assurance of seeing the kingdom of God with our own eyes.

For the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity and whose name is holy says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

Also go to, 10 Reasons To Believe In The Existence Of God.

  1. There are many biblical examples of willful people ignoring the most spectacular demonstrations of God’s presence and power. Consider these: Pharaoh ( Exodus 11:10 ), the Israelites ( Exodus 32:1-4 ), Ahab ( 1 Kings 18:38-39 ), Jesus’ enemies (Mark 3:22 ). Back To Article
  2. Today the ideology of naturalistic evolution is losing ground. Both laymen and scientists are growing increasingly aware that the universe and the life within it are much too complex to have been a mere accident. The so-called “Big Bang” (mentioned over 3,000 years ago in Genesis 1:3) set in motion a series of creative events so complex and perfect that all of man’s accumulated scientific wisdom is just beginning to explore them. Within the limited time frame of merely 15-20 billion years (if current estimates are accepted), a feat of cosmic engineering has occurred on such a vast scale that objective observers are being silenced and humbled, just as Isaiah was humbled by his vision of God’s inconceivable greatness ( Isaiah 40:21-23 ). Back To Article
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Is It Inconsistent for Believers in God to Look for Scientific Explanations of Natural Things?

Is it inconsistent, as Richard Dawkins claims, for believers in God to look for scientific explanations of natural things, if they don’t think it is necessary to seek scientific proof of God’s existence?

This is a classic example of comparing apples to oranges. Infinite Spirit can’t be examined the same way the physical world can.

According to the Bible, the characteristics of the physical universe have been shaped by God. As the apostle Paul writes, “God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). Because the natural world has been created and designed by God, it reflects His power and divine nature. However, God is of an entirely different order of being. He is not physical, but Spirit, of a higher dimension of being that encompasses our universe but which cannot be directly observed and measured by the physical sciences.

But if God can’t be directly investigated by physical science, are there no compelling reasons to believe that He exists? Someone with a naïve faith in evolution might say there are no compelling reasons, but more objective scientists acknowledge that the rational basis for God’s existence is being continually strengthened as science progresses.

Even if it could be demonstrated at some future time that evolution is a seamless natural process with no “gaps” where God can be demonstrated to supernaturally intervene, atheists have to account for the components and circumstances that make the process possible. Physicists who believe in the probability of God’s existence don’t do so because of gaps in evolutionary theory, but because of the mind-boggling, overwhelming complexity of the circumstances within which natural macroevolution would have to occur.1

The fact that circumstances of such infinite, or nearly infinite, complexity exist as the necessary background to life implies design. The idea that the universe has no origin is a counterintuitive faith assumption, as everything in our experience that is complex is derived from something more complex. It’s hard to see how Dawkins and other atheists consider it more reasonable to believe that the infinite complexity of the natural world is rooted in chance.

The existence of randomness as part of the process of evolution within the space/time universe is not—as some atheists claim—evidence against design. Randomness itself appears to be an aspect of the design, making possible the development of self-aware, free beings (such as we are). Thus the existence of randomness and freedom within the context of natural law imply a much higher order of complexity than a mere “clockwork universe.”

So it isn’t unreasonable to believe in God, even if we can’t “explain” or “define” Him in scientific terms. The choices are to either take the mind-boggling complexity of a universe containing self-aware beings as mere accident, or to assume that the complexity we see within and around us is evidence of a supernatural God.

  1. One of the most startling developments to come from modern physics is that the universe, in some very fundamental way, seems to have been “designed” or “tuned” to produce life and consciousness. Actually, what physicists have discovered is that there are a large number of “coincidences” inherent in the fundamental laws and constants of nature. Every one of these coincidences or specific relationships between fundamental physical parameters is needed, or the evolution of life and consciousness as we know it could not have happened. The collection of these coincidences is an undisputed fact and, collectively, have come to be known as the “Anthropic Principle.” (From the essay, “The Holistic Anthropic Principle,” by Joseph P. Provenzano and Dan R. Provenzano.) Back To Article
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