No Inherent Conflict   2 comments

In Modernism, science and faith are in two separate and distinct camps. Francis Schaeffer described it well – science occupies the lower story, the nuts and bolts of material reality, while faith has been relegated to an upper story that is not subject to reality’s rules. Both these systems are “blind” – they impose rules on thought and behavior that do not require ordinary people to understand, verify or prove their validity, but we are required to accept those rules because some expert says we must.

For example, we take for granted that the resurrection of Christ is inconsistent with the laws of physics.

How do you prove that?

If you’re not a physicist, you lack the skills to prove it from physics and if you’re not a theologian, you lack the skills to prove it from theology. Just think about that for a moment before you react.

                …Thinking…

If you are not skilled in both subjects, you cannot prove that the resurrection of Jesus is inconsistent with the laws of physics because you do not have sufficient understanding of both subjects.

So, where do we get the idea that the resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics?

Presuppositions based upon worldview! In this, we actually owe a debt to post-modernism, because this philosophy helps us to understand that our perspective influences our perception. It’s not the facts that change, but our interpretation of the facts that change, depending on our point of view and the beliefs we bring to the party.

Fact — We’re constantly surrounded by items and events for which no physical explanation yet exists.

Example — Physicists have not explained the existence of the physical universe itself, let alone life and human consciousness. That’s a rock-solid fact and you can take theories like the multiverse, punctuated equilibrium, and huge spans of time that violate Newtonian laws as signs that the scientists don’t even have a decent theory other than “God did it” (which most of them won’t accept). Chance plus time is not something that can produce or explain anything, but it is invoked precisely where there is no known explanation or cause. The universe exists, but why and how elude the scientists. We who are not scientists should not accept a discussion of “anything is possible given enough time” until we’ve seen a verifiable demonstration of, for example, life emerging from the inorganic. Nobody has yet successfully documented such an example. By referring to a failed 1960s experiment and other loosely-connected minutia that has not proven anything, scientists who really want it to be true create a “scientific” evasion so complicated and culturally protected that most people do not realize the theories are inconsistent with the laws of physics.

Sadly, many religionists invoke similar non-explanations for our own pet theories. We attempt to hold our ground by referencing God’s great power as if that were an explanation requiring no further thought or inquiry. That was the mistake of the Roman Catholic Church when Galilleo confronted their presuppositions concerning the structure of the solar system. Rather than accept that he was observing the physical world and their interpretation of evidence might need revision, they treated his observations as an attack against God when nothing could be further from the truth. Science and religion were not in direct conflict with one another when Galilleo presented his theory, nor are they in direct conflict in the 21st century. They are simply inquiry into fields of knowledge that are distinct. While either can make suggestions concerning the other, neither is qualified to make proofs in the other’s arena of knowledge. Science deals with knowledge of the physical world, while theology deals with knowledge of the metaphysical world. These realms interact, but understanding both to the degree where you can form them into an integrated field of knowledge is unlikely and probably impossible.

God’s personality is a source of energy and causation that produced an intelligible structure that is simply not a physical structure. Science deals with the physical world, but not all knowledge is physical. The problem comes when “authorities” on either side of the issue insist that they have all the answers and exclusive claim to the “right views”. Francis Collins, late of the Human Genome Project, but more recently of the National Institutes of Health, speaks eloquently of a “middle position” in the Language of God. He is an evangelical Christian who is also a world-renowned biochemist. While, I do not wholly agree with every statement Dr. Collins makes, I do see such a middle position as affording us an escape from the cultural deadlock that exists in universities, churches and around the water cooler. This deadlock currently requires people of faith to sequester their faith into an upper story slum where only “irrational” thought is allowed separate from their knowledge of the physical world.

Such sequestration is unacceptable to faithful intellectuals like Dr. Collins and others. It should be unacceptable to every thinking Christian. The world would like us to step back into the shadows and accept the role of superstitious irrational fools society ascribes to the faithful, but it is within our power to reject that dhimmitude. Reconciliation between faith and science is possible, if devoted and qualified Christians will engage with society to bring the Spirit and power of Christ into the authority structures that insist the intellectual professions must be in conflict with genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

They needn’t be in conflict if only we can begin a thoughtful dialogue that allows each credibility within its own field of knowledge.

Posted September 13, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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2 responses to “No Inherent Conflict

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  1. Very interesting post, aurora. I like seeing people using postmodernism correctly; it’s a great shame that most scientifically inclined people just accept science as capable of providing an explanation for everything, without stopping to consider the assumptions nested within the field itself.

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    • It is equally sad how our society has muddled together a mixture of modernism and post-modernism and come up with this weird chimera philosophy that elevates a lack of any convictions to high moral ground. I’m working on that for a future post.

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