This post is number six of a six-part blog series introducing the science and God debate.
Catch up on the series here:
6. Conclusion: Follow the Evidence Where it Leads
Naturalism, the view that only material things exist, is a means of eliminating God from our lives—an “escape mechanism” freeing us from moral accountability. 1
Scott Smith explains this well,
“Naturalism is broader than its philosophical description. It is an attempt to steal our focus from God’s authority, love and power. It’s a denial of his personal investment in each heart and mind.” 2Naturalism is broader than its philosophical description. It is an attempt to steal our focus from God's authority, love and power. It's a denial of his personal investment in each heart and mind. - Scott Smith Click To Tweet
If we can get rid of the Moral Law Giver, then we can get rid of God’s moral law. If we can erase a framework of how humanity should conduct themselves, then we can remain independent and unaccountable.
As atheist Nagel transparently admits, “I don’t want there to be a God.” 3
But this attitude precludes true human flourishing. “Blessed are those,” the Psalmist says, “Who walk according to the law of the Lord.” And furthermore, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:1-8).
As we’ve stated in our previous post, there’s a God-sized hole in every human heart that can only be filled by the infinite love of God. As long as we trade our Creator for created things, we will never discover meaning and fulfillment.
The Limitations of Science
In light of what we have learned in this blog series, it is evident that science is limited in answering the big questions of life: where did we come from? why do we exist? how should we live? where are we going?
What atheism struggles to adequately explain, theism thoroughly and systematically answers. 4 But to know them we must reject naturalism, and open our hearts to supernaturalism.
C.S. Lewis observes, “The naturalists have been engaged in thinking about nature. They have not attended to the fact that they were thinking. The moment one attends to this it is obvious that one’s own thinking cannot be merely a natural event, and therefore something other than nature exists.” 5
There’s an experiential reality of God’s kingdom that fills the empty space around us. This kingdom is a spiritual reality that gives life and vitality to those who rely on Jesus.
As philosopher and Bible teacher Dallas Willard explains, it’s “an eternal kind of life now available to us within the present governance of God.” 6
Even Albert Einstein was smart enough to acknowledge this reality of God who is a “spirit vastly superior to that of man.” 7 Only under Jesus’ rule, can we experience that presence.
God’s kingdom, which is “joy and peace through the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17),” lies outside of the scientific realm.
Consider the makeup of your very soul.
Humans aren’t simply an indivisible unit of matter only. We are made of two natures, body and spirit. Genesis 2:7 says God, “took man from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him; thus the man became a living being.”
We are made up, therefore, of material and immaterial. Physical and spiritual. God took matter and breathed consciousness into it.
The “heart,” as the Bible often refers it, is actually our spiritual center. The “flesh,” as the Scriptures put it, is our mortal bodies. We are a wonderful mixture of matter and consciousness.
Every person is, as J.I. Packer describes him, “a personal, self-conscious, Godlike creature with a Godlike capacity for knowledge, thought, and action…”
Thus we study God’s two books: the skies which “proclaim the work of your hands,” and the scriptures, God’s law, which is “perfect, reviving the soul.” The natural sciences of biology, physics, chemistry, and astronomy cannot revive your soul.
That spiritual work belongs to God.
Because the whole person is integrated spiritually, emotionally, and physically, health and wellness includes spiritual development and formation.
God desires to restore the whole person. But he can’t if that person trusts in a naturalistic worldview.
The Instrument that Finds God
It’s worth noting briefly the simple nature of spirituality.
“Spiritual” is not physical, but it does have substance. In fact, physical things are put into motion by spiritual agents.
The fine-tuning of the heavens speaks of a Fine-Tuner. Motion speaks of a Prime Mover. Information speaks of an Information Giver. The global innate desire to do good speaks of a Moral Law Giver.
The most brilliant minds using the most intricate technologies will never discover God. No matter how far their probes explore. NASA’S 40-year-old probe, Voyager 2, has now entered interstellar space into very far distances no probe has ever gone before.
It has and will continue to capture many great images. But never God’s image. Natural means cannot discover a spiritual God. The instrument that finds God is not made by human hands.
It was made by God’s Spirit and it is the human heart.
You don’t need to be a scientist to find God, just a seeker. As God so graciously reminds us through his word, “You will seek me and you will find me when you search for me with your whole heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Millions of lives today attest to the supernatural reality of the good news of Jesus—that by believing in his substitutionary life, death, and resurrection, and by submitting to his rule and care, we can experience “life more abundantly” (John 10:10).
A Starting Point
There’s so much unspoken in this blog series on the conversation of science and God. My purpose was to wet your appetite to study into these things further and to encourage you that your faith isn’t built on wishful thinking or superstition.
Before I close this blog series, I’d like to introduce you to a place to begin your further study on the harmonious relationships between science and Christianity: Origins Session 1: Why It’s Not Science Vs. God.
The link above is from Francis Collins’ website, BioLogos.org, who just won the Templeton Prize, an annual award given to a living person, “whose exemplary achievements advance Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision: harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.” 8
At the award ceremony were congratulatory remarks from former Presidents, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama, and theologian N.T. Write, and BioLogos President and scientist, Deborah Haarsma.
This is a practical example that you can be educated and believe in God. You can be a scientist and a Christian.
Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project is one of today’s most respected scientists. He currently serves on the White House Task force fighting against Covid-19, and is aiding in the process of creating a vaccine.
He is one of those “productive scientists” who does not draw a line in the sand between his beliefs and his practice.
From the video series posted above, Collins writes, “One of the great tragedies of our time is this impression that science and religion have to be at war.”One of the greatest tragedies of our time is this impression that science and religion have to be at war. - Francis Collins Click To Tweet
When I wrote the first post in this series about many young people leaving the Christian faith, I could sense some sadness in the comments on social media.
These statistics are alarming for sure. But there are also great signs of renewal, and the future of religion is in no real danger.
Our Religious Future
Our country is seemingly growing more secular (anti-religious), more atheistic, and more agnostic. And there is some truth to that. However, the media makes us seem more secular than we are.
The truth is we are a deeply religious country and that isn’t going to change.
According to Pew Research Center, “People who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%.” 9 That means that 74% of the US population ascribe to belief in a Creator.
Because of globalization, hundreds of people move to the United States every day. This means as our country increasingly becomes more religiously diverse, anti-faith secularism is a dead end.
Christianity is projected to be the dominant religion 100 years from now, with a growing openness to spirituality.10
Atheism is making a splash now, and as Dawkins hopes, “a lot of noise.” But it’s not that alarming because it’s not holding up against the scrutiny.
The reason that 60% of Nobel prize winners in physics and science in the last century were Christians is because there is a reasonable basis for the claims of Christianity.
Of the 19 major world religions, Christianity is the most testable and verifiable. It is archaeologically proven, geographically accurate, and historically consistent. It has underwent scrutiny for centuries and has withstood the test.
The challenge ahead will be helping a new generation discover this truth, defend it, and learn how to joyfully and resiliently live it out in the context of their lives.
Follow the Evidence Where It Leads
In his book, Can Science Explain Everything?, John Lennox explains why we should not give up when our natural processes don’t work. We should be prepared to “follow the evidence wherever it leads,” even if that conclusion involves supernatural dimensions.
Lennox shares the story of philosophy Professor Anthony Flew, a lifelong atheist, who changed his mind later in life and acknowledged the existence of God.
He writes of Flew,
“He gave as the reason for his conversion, after over fifty years, the fact that biologists’ investigation of DNA has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.”
Then he adds,
“My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s [account of] Socrates, ‘Follow the evidence where it leads.’ And what if people don’t like it? ‘Well, that’s too bad,’ said Flew.” 11Follow the evidence where it leads. - Socrates Click To Tweet
Flew isn’t the only atheist who became a believer. There are many more like him. 12
As an American college student, Josh McDowell traveled throughout Europe visiting museums and libraries with the intention of disproving Christianity. He couldn’t wait to get home and share with his Christians friends that they were wrong all along. But after immersing himself in research for three months, he came to the conclusion, “Oh my God, it’s true.”
Many decades later sitting at the table with his skeptic son, he encouraged him to do the same: follow the evidence where it leads. He even encouraged him not to believe in Christianity if the evidence didn’t support its claims.
Today, Sean McDowell is one of the leading apologists of our time. Together they wrote one of the most masterful and comprehensive apologetic books, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. 13
Faith is certainly involved, for without it we cannot please God. But the act of faith is substantiated by the object of faith—verifiable truth about the historicity of Jesus and the reliability of the Scriptures.
If you have wondered at the existence of God and the claims of Christianity, I invite you also to follow the evidence where it leads.
This may be the end of the series, but not the subject. Join me as we probe further into the big questions of life that we all ask. The goal, of course, is that you too may live joyfully and resiliently in an age of skepticism.
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