Without Christianity, There Would Be No Science

Posted on August 27, 2016 By

Christian beliefs and science

Christian beliefs are often ridiculed by skeptics of Christianity as unscientific. But the problem with this stance is that science itself is a product of Christian beliefs. In point of fact, without Christianity, there would be no science. The suggestion that science is the product of Christianity would be extremely controversial among everyday people, to say the very least. But among historians of science, this point is actually quite uncontroversial, and in fact enjoys near consensus acceptance. Cambridge University historian of science Ronald Numbers notes:

“Generations of historians and sociologists have discovered many ways in which Christians, Christian beliefs, and Christian institutions played crucial roles in fashioning the tenets, methods, and institutions of what in time became modern science. They found that some forms of Christianity provided the motivation to study nature systematically; sociologist Robert Merton, for example, argued seventy years ago that Puritan belief and practice spurred seventeenth-century century Englishmen to embrace science. Scholars still debate what Merton got right and what he got wrong, and in the intervening years they have drawn a far more detailed portrait of the varied nature of the religious impetus to study nature.”

“Although they disagree about nuances, today almost all historians agree that Christianity (Catholicism as well as Protestantism) moved many early-modern intellectuals to study nature systematically. Historians have also found that notions borrowed from Christian belief found their ways into scientific discourse, with glorious results; the very notion that nature is lawful, some scholars argue, was borrowed from Christian theology.” 

(Efron, N. 2010. Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion. p. 80.)

Peter Harrison, former Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, corrects popular misconceptions about a so-called conflict between Christianity and science, and elaborates on the historical fact that Christianity has been crucial to science, in his essay Christianity and the Rise of Western Science:

“There are contemporary controversies about evolution and creation, for example, which are thought to typify past relations between science and religion. This view is reinforced by popular accounts of such historical episodes as the Condemnation of Galileo, which saw the Catholic Church censure Galileo for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun.”

“Adding further credence to this view of history are a few recent outspoken critics of religion who vociferously contend that religious faith is incompatible with a scientific outlook, and that this has always been the case.”

“In spite of this widespread view on the historical relations between science and religion, historians of science have long known that religious factors played a significantly positive role in the emergence and persistence of modern science in the West. Not only were many of the key figures in the rise of science individuals with sincere religious commitments, but the new approaches to nature that they pioneered were underpinned in various ways by religious assumptions.”

“The idea, first proposed in the seventeenth century, that nature was governed by mathematical laws, was directly informed by theological considerations. The move towards offering mechanical explanations in physics also owed much to a particular religious perspective.”

“The adoption of more literal approaches to the interpretation of the bible, usually assumed to have been an impediment to science, also had an important, in indirect, role in these developments, promoting a non-symbolic and utilitarian understanding of the natural world which was conducive to the scientific approach.”

“Finally, religion also provided social sanctions for the pursuit of science, ensuring that it would become a permanent and central feature of the culture of the modern West.”

Concepts with Christian origins are necessary for modern science

Regarding historian Ronald Numbers’ above comments about the lawfulness of nature, please recall that the purpose of the scientific method is to discover regular, repeatable, and predictable (law-like) patterns in nature, such as the laws of physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics. This is why the scientific method demands that experiments be repeatable. Only a worldview which perceives nature as conforming to laws could give birth to the scientific method.

The Christian worldview declares that nature follows the laws instituted by God. As Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry (and a Christian), put it:

“The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.” 

Or, as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics (also a Christian), put it:

“It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

Metaphorically speaking, science requires a soil in which to flourish. This metaphorical “soil” is a set of underlying philosophical assumptions. And unless one has spent time studying various philosophies, one may fail to realize that there have been, and continue to be, many philosophies in which it would be impossible for science to develop. The most up-to-date example would be the philosophical stance known as “postmodernism.” As this article mentions:

“In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.”

“Postmodernism is ‘post’ because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characteristic of the so-called ‘modern’ mind.”

One is compelled to ask: How could scientific progress ever occur in an intellectual climate which lacks belief in such a thing as scientific truth? How could scientific progress occur among a group of people who don’t believe in objective truth? Among a group of people who believe that all truth is relative, how could there be an acceptance of objective natural laws (such as the laws of physics, chemistry, or thermodynamics)? Nancy Pearcey elaborates on specifically how Christian belief was a crucial ingredient in the birth of science, in that it provided the philosophical “soil” in which science could flourish, in The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy:

Science “demands some kind of unique soil in which to flourish.” Deprived of that soil, it is “as capable of decay and death as any other human activity, such as a religion or a system of government.” What is that unique soil? [Science writer Lauren] Eiseley identifies it, somewhat reluctantly, as the Christian faith. “In one of those strange permutations of which history yields occasional rare examples,’ he says, “it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself.”

Eiseley is not alone in observing that the Christian faith in many ways inspired the birth of modern science. Science historians have developed a renewed respect for the Middle Ages, including a renewed respect for the Christian worldview culturally and intellectually dominant during that period. Today a wide range of scholars recognize that Christianity provided both intellectual presuppositions and moral sanction for the development of modern science.

Science is the study of nature, and the possibility of science depends upon one’s attitude toward nature. Biblical religion gave to Western culture several of its fundamental assumptions about the natural world. To begin with, the Bible teaches that nature is real. If this seems too obvious to mention, recall that many belief systems regard nature as unreal. Various forms of pantheism and idealism teach that finite, particular things are merely ‘appearances’ of the One, the Absolute, the Infinite. Individuality and separateness are illusions. Hinduism, for instance, teaches that the everyday world of material objects is maya, illusion. It is doubtful whether a philosophy that so denigrates the material world would be capable of inspiring the careful attention to it that is so necessary for science.

 Many scientists, too, have noted that Christianity was a necessary ingredient for science.

But the stance that Christian belief is a necessary ingredient for science is not limited to historians of science. Prominent scientists have also taken notice of this truth. Indeed, the very person credited with establishing the scientific method, the 17th century scientist and philosopher of science Sir Francis Bacon, was himself a Christian. Bacon wrote:

“It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy brings about man’s mind to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

(Sylva Sylvarum Century X (1627))

Similarly, physicist Paul Davieswinner of the 2001 Kelvin Medal issued by the Institute of Physics and the winner of the 2002 Faraday Prize issued by the Royal Society (amongst other awards), writes:

“People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature–the laws of physics–are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they came from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is a rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least partly comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”

(Physics and the Mind of God, Paul Davies’ Templeton Prize address, August 1995)

There can be no doubt: Atheism is quite fashionable in current day academia. But, as Davies elucidates above, even a hardened atheist scientist must borrow elements of Judeo-Christian theology in order to perform science. For example, how can the atheist worldview explain why matter so consistently follows natural laws? In short, atheism cannot explain this orderliness of the universe, but rather, must merely assume it to be a brute fact. But to accept brute facts without explanation is, well…brutish. Biochemist Melvin Calvin, winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the Calvin Cycle, echoes Davies’ above points:

“As I try to discern the origin of that conviction, I seem to find it in a basic notion . . . enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews: namely, that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province according to his own laws. This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation for modern science.”

(Melvin Calvin (1969), Chemical Evolution (pg. 258))

Famed English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead discusses how Christian belief furnished the conceptual framework in which science could take root, and his view that the possibility of science was “an unconscious derivative of medieval [Christian] theology”:

“When we compare this tone of thought in Europe with the attitude of other civilizations when left to themselves, there seems but one source for its origin. It must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered: the search into nature could only result in the vindication of the faith in rationality. Remember that I am not talking of the explicit beliefs of a few individuals. What I mean is the impress on the European mind arising from the unquestioned faith of centuries. By this I mean the instinctive tone of thought and not a mere creed of words.”

“In Asia, the conceptions of God were of a being who was either too arbitrary or too impersonal for such ideas to have much effect on instinctive habits of mind. Any definite occurrence might be due to the fiat of an irrational despot, or might issue from some impersonal, inscrutable origin of things. There was not the same confidence as in the intelligible rationality of a personal being. I am not arguing that the European trust in the scrutability of nature was logically justified even by its own theology. My only point is to understand how it arose. My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative of medieval theology.”

(Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, p. 18-19.)

Christian beliefs provide the conceptual framework for science to flourish

Philosopher William Lane Craig elaborates on the specific philosophical assumptions (or “soil”), derived from Christianity, which serve as an underlying conceptual framework necessary for science to flourish. As Craig notes, prior to Christianity, this philosophical soil did not exist:

“Christianity furnishes the conceptual framework in which science can flourish. Science is not something that is natural to mankind. …Although glimmerings of science appeared among the ancient Greeks and Chinese, modern science is the child of European civilization. Why is this so? It is due to the unique contribution of the Christian faith to Western culture. As [science writer] Eiseley states, “it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself.” In contrast to pantheistic or animistic religions, Christianity does not view the world as divine or as indwelt by spirits, but rather as the natural product of a transcendent Creator who designed and brought it into being. Thus, the world is a rational place which is open to exploration and discovery.”

“Furthermore, the whole scientific enterprise is based on certain assumptions which cannot be proved scientifically, but which are guaranteed by the Christian world view; for example: the laws of logic, the orderly nature of the external world, the reliability of our cognitive faculties in knowing the world, and the objectivity of the moral values used in science. I want to emphasize that science could not even exist without these assumptions, and yet these assumptions cannot be proved scientifically. They are philosophical assumptions which, interestingly, are part and parcel of a Christian world view. Thus, religion is relevant to science in that it can furnish a conceptual framework in which science can exist. More than that, the Christian religion historically did furnish the conceptual framework in which modern science was born and nurtured.”

(What is the Relation Between Science and Religion?, William Lane Craig)

The Galileo affair was not a religious opposition to science

 “Hold it,” I can almost hear atheist readers of this post shouting, “The church’s suppression of Galileo’s scientific insights show that Christianity was a hinderance to science!!” This, however, is another widely held historical misconception. Tom Gilson describes what REALLY happened between Galileo and the church in True Reason

“Galileo’s problem was not simply that he challenged the authority of the Church. The issue was far more complex. Galileo also upset secular professors whose careers were dedicated to the older cosmology. Prior to the 16th century, most educated people (regardless of religious persuasion) accepted the primary cosmological model of the ancient Greeks, who believed Earth sat stationary while the sun revolved around it. When Galileo offered scientific evidence against this model, he ‘rattled the cages’ of both the Church and academia.”

“Galileo made three costly mistakes in his diplomacy (or lack thereof) that led to his reproof. First, he broke his promise not to teach that Copernicanism was true. Given that the evidence for heliocentrism was inconclusive at the time, Galileo agreed not to teach its truth. But he went back on his word with the release of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.”

“Second, Galileo openly mocked the pope in this same book through a fictitious dialogue between two people— himself and the pope. This was especially odd since Pope Urban VIII was both a friend and supporter. Galileo named the pope Simplicio, which means “simpleton” or “buffoon.” Galileo’s character was articulate and elegant as he responded to the foolish and simplistic remarks of Simplicio. Needless to say, the pope was not amused.”

“Galileo was neither executed nor persecuted by the Church for his diplomatic blunders. After his trial before the Inquisition, he was placed under the care of the archbishop of Siena, who housed him in his beautiful palace for five months. Galileo was then released to his home in Florence where he received a Church pension for the rest of his life. He was able to continue his scientific research in areas unrelated to heliocentrism.”

For those still inclined to doubt that Christianity has been crucial to science, please consider the percentage breakdown of the religion of Nobel Prize winners in the following chart:

Christians crucial to science

According to statistics compiled in 100 Years of Nobel Prizes, published in 2003, between 1901 and 2000, a total of 654 Nobel Laureates belonged to 28 different religions. Most (65.4%) have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference. Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace, 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, 62% in Medicine, 54% in Economics and 49.5% of all Literature awards. According to U.N. statistics, in the last three centuries, among 300 outstanding scientists in the world, 242 believe in God.

Religion of Nobel Prize winners.png

Below is a short list of just a few of the many devout Christians who were ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL scientific contributors:

1) Sir Joseph J. Thomson, the founder of atomic physics.

2) Max Planck, the founder of quantum physics.

3) Sir Isaac Newton, who requires no introduction.

4) Gregor Mendel, the founder of modern genetics.

5) James Clerk Maxwell, the founder of classical electromagnetic theory (whose contributions to science are regarded to be of the same magnitude as those of Newton and Einstein).

6) Louis Pasteur, the founder of microbiology and immunology.

7) Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry.

8) Allan Sandage, the father of modern astronomy.

9) Wehner von Braun, the founder of space science.

10) John Ray, the English naturalist who is regarded by many to be the founder of modern biology.

11) Werner Heisenberg, the founder of quantum mechanics (which is absolutely crucial to modern science).

12) Michael Faraday, the British scientist who made crucial contributions to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

13) Alexander Fleming, the Nobel Prize-winning British bacteriologist who discovered the life-saving antibiotic penicillin.

14) Sir Francis Bacon, the 17th century scientist and philosopher of science who is credited with discovering and popularizing the scientific method, whereby the laws of science are discovered by gathering and analyzing data from experiments and observations.

15) Ernest Walton, who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics for his “atom smashing” experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom.

16) James Joule, propounder of the first law of thermodynamics (on the conservation of energy). He also made important contributions to the kinetic theory of gases. The unit of heat known as the “Joule” is named after him.

17) Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, the eminent English astronomer, physicist and mathematician known for his groundbreaking research in astrophysics. Eddington was the first person to investigate the motion, internal structure and evolution of stars, and is widely regarded to be one of the greatest astronomers of all time.

18) Charles Babbage, the mathematician and inventor considered to be “the father of the computer” for his invention of the first computer.


Citations regarding God and Christianity from the above individuals appear below:

“As we conquer peak after peak we see in front of us regions full of interest and beauty, but we do not see our goal, we do not see the horizon; in the distance tower still higher peaks, which will yield to those who ascend them still wider prospects, and deepen the feeling, the truth of which is emphasized by every advance in science, that ‘Great are the Works of the Lord’.”

Sir Joseph J. Thomson, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who is recognized as the founder of atomic physics. Thomson was a devout Christian.

(In Presidential Address to the British Association, as quoted in Arthur L. Foley, ‘Recent Developments in Physical Science, The Popular Science Monthly (1910), 456)

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“Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls.”

Max Planck, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who made the crucial scientific contribution of founding quantum physics. Planck was a devout Christian and a member of the Lutheran Church in Germany.

(Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 184)

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“Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and everywhere, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing.”

Sir Isaac Newton, who is widely regarded to have been the greatest scientist of all time, as cited in Principia Mathematica, which is widely regarded to be the most important scientific work of all time. Newton was a devout Christian.

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“Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection in various forms. He appeared to Mary Magdalene so that they might take him for a gardener. Very ingeniously these manifestation of Jesus is to our minds difficult to penetrate. (He appears) as a gardener. The gardener plants seedlings in prepared soil. The soil must exert a physical and chemical influence so that the seed of the plant can grow. Yet this is not sufficient. The warmth and light of the sun must be added, together with rain, in order that growth may result. The seed of supernatural life, of sanctifying grace, cleanses from sin, so preparing the soul of man, and man must seek to preserve this life by his good works. He still needs the supernatural food, the body of the Lord, which received continually, develops and brings to completion of the life. So natural and supernatural must unite to the realization of the holiness to the people. Man must contribute his minimum work of toil, and God gives the growth. Truly, the seed, the talent, the grace of God is there, and man has simply to work, take the seeds to bring them to the bankers. So that we “may have life, and abundantly.”

Gregor Mendel, who is regarded as “the father of modern genetics,” partly due to his pioneering work on plant hybridization. Mendel was also an Augustinian friar (Catholic priest). The above is an excerpt from an Easter sermon which he delivered. The text is undated, but it was delivered in a moment after he became an abbot in 1867. The excerpt is found in Folia Mendeliana (1966), Volume 1, by Moravian Museum in Brünn. It was first made public by the Mendel-Museum.

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“I have looked into most philosophical systems and I have seen that none will work without God.”

“Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.”

—Physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who is credited with formulating classical electromagnetic theory, and whose contributions to science are considered to be of the same magnitude to those of Einstein and Newton. Maxwell was a devout Christian.

(James Clerk Maxwell, W. D. Niven (2003). The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, p.376, Courier Corporation)

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“The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. Science brings men nearer to God.”

“In good philosophy, the word cause ought to be reserved to the single Divine impulse that has formed the universe.”

“Little science takes you away from God but more of it takes you to Him.”

Louis Pasteur, the founder of microbiology and immunology. Pasteur was a devout Christian.

(Pasteur, as cited in Lamont 1995; see also Tiner 1990, 75, Pasteur, as cited in Guitton 1991, 5; see also Yahya 2002.)

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“God [is] the author of the universe, and the free establisher of the laws of motion.”

—Physicist and chemist Robert Boyle, who is considered to be the founder of modern chemistry. Boyle was a devout Christian.

(Robert Boyle (2000). The Works of Robert Boyle: Publications of 1674-6)

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“I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”

–Astronomer Allan Sandage, winner of the Crafoord Prize in astronomy (which is equivalent to the Nobel Prize). Sandage is considered to be the father of modern astronomy, and was widely regarded to be the world’s greatest cosmologist until his death in 2010. He came to belief in God as a result of his science, as he announced at a conference on the origin of the universe in 1985. He also became a Christian.

(Willford, J.N. March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.)

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“The vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator. I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”

“They (evolutionists) challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun? They say they cannot visualize a Designer. Well, can a physicist visualize an electron? What strange rationale makes some physicists accept the inconceivable electron as real while refusing to accept the reality of a Designer on the grounds that they cannot conceive Him?”

“God deliberately reduced Himself to the stature of humanity in order to visit the earth in person, because the cumulative effect over the centuries of millions of individuals choosing to please themselves rather than God had infected the whole planet. When God became a man Himself, the experience proved to be nothing short of pure agony. In man’s time-honored fashion, they would unleash the whole arsenal of weapons against Him: misrepresentation, slander, and accusation of treason. The stage was set for a situation without parallel in the history of the earth. God would visit creatures and they would nail Him to the cross!”

“Although I know of no reference to Christ ever commenting on scientific work, I do know that He said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Thus I am certain that, were He among us today, Christ would encourage scientific research as modern man’s most noble striving to comprehend and admire His Father’s handiwork. The universe as revealed through scientific inquiry is the living witness that God has indeed been at work.”

Werner von Braun, the father of space science and the most important rocket scientist involved in the development of the U.S. space program.

(Religious Implications of Space Exploration: A Personal View, Belmont Abbey College, North Carolina, November 22, 1971.)

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“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

“In the history of science, ever since the famous trial of Galileo, it has repeatedly been claimed that scientific truth cannot be reconciled with the religious interpretation of the world. Although I am now convinced that scientific truth is unassailable in its own field, I have never found it possible to dismiss the content of religious thinking as simply part of an outmoded phase in the consciousness of mankind, a part we shall have to give up from now on. Thus in the course of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on the relationship of these two regions of thought, for I have never been able to doubt the reality of that to which they point.”

Werner Heisenberg, who was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics for the creation of quantum mechanics (which is absolutely crucial to modern science). Heisenberg was a devout Christian, publishing and giving several talks reconciling science with his faith. He was a member of Germany’s largest Protestant religious body, the Evangelische Kirche.

(Hildebrand, “Das Universum,” 10., as cited in: Joseph, Selbie. The Physics of God (p. 187). New Page Books)

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“Yet even in earthly matters I believe that ‘the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,’ and I have never seen anything incompatible between those things of man which can be known by the spirit of man which is within him, and those higher things concerning his future, which he cannot know by that spirit.”

Michael Faraday, the British scientist who made crucial contributions to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. Faraday was a devout Christian.

(Jones, B. 1870. The Life and Letters of Faraday: Volume II. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 325-326.)

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“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.”

Sir Francis Bacon, the 17th century scientist and philosopher of science who is credited with discovering and popularizing the scientific method, whereby the laws of science are discovered by gathering and analyzing data from experiments and observations. Bacon was a devout Christian. The above citation is from his book Of Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Human.

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“One way to learn the mind of the Creator is to study His creation. We must pay God the compliment of studying His work of art and this should apply to all realms of human thought. A refusal to use our intelligence honestly is an act of contempt for Him who gave us that intelligence.”

— Physicist Ernest Walton, who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics for his “atom smashing” experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom. Walton was a devout Christian.

(V. J. McBrierty (2003): Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton, The Irish Scientist, 1903-1995, Trinity College Dublin Press.)

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“It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

James Joule, propounder of the first law of thermodynamics (on the conservation of energy). He also made important contributions to the kinetic theory of gases. The unit of heat known as the “Joule” is named after him. Joule was a devout Christian.

(J.P. Joule, in a paper found with his scientific notebooks, as cited in: J.G. Crowther, British Scientists of the Nineteenth Century, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1962, p. 139.)

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“We all know that there are regions of the human spirit untrammeled by the world of physics. In the mystic sense of the creation around us, in the expression of art, in a yearning towards God, the soul grows upward and finds fulfillment of something implanted in its nature. The sanction for this development is within us, a striving born with our consciousness or an Inner Light proceeding from a greater power than ours. Science can scarcely question this sanction, for the pursuit of science springs from a striving which the mind is impelled to follow, a questioning that will not be suppressed. Whether in the intellectual pursuits of science or in the mystical pursuits of the spirit, the light beckons ahead and the purpose surging in our nature responds.”

— Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, the eminent English astronomer, physicist and mathematician known for his groundbreaking research in astrophysics, as quoted in his classic work The Nature of the Physical World. Eddington, a devout Christian, was the first person to investigate the motion, internal structure and evolution of stars, and is widely regarded to be one of the greatest astronomers of all time.

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“In the works of the Creator ever open to our examination, we possess a firm basis on which to raise the superstructure of an enlightened creed. The more man inquires into the laws which regulate the material universe, the more he is convinced that all its varied forms arise from the action of a few simple principles… The works of the Creator, ever present to our senses, give a living and perpetual testimony of his power and goodness far surpassing any evidence transmitted through human testimony. The testimony of man becomes fainter at every stage of transmission, whilst each new inquiry into the works of the Almighty gives to us more exalted views of his wisdom, his goodness, and his power.”

Charles Babbage, the mathematician and inventor considered to be “the father of the computer” for his invention of the first computer. Babbage was a devout Christian.

(Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, Charles Babbage (1864), pp. 396–402)

 


  1. Scott Youngren says:

    I am posting the following comment on behalf of Ron Mitchell, who had technical issues which prevented him from posting this comment on his own:

    The most convincing argument to me that God is the supernatural creator of our natural universe is the fact that the more deeply we drill down into the nature of things, the more puzzling and indecipherable the universe shows itself to be to our pathetically finite and hopelessly unenlightened intellects.

    We thought Newton had it right, and then Einstein showed him to be wrong. Then as we drilled down deeper and deeper, we found that a mysterious quantum mechanics thing confounded even Einstein’s heralded findings and also defied the most common logic … but has still somehow proven itself to be strangely true. How can it be that such a weird and utterly logic-confounding phenomenon as quantum’s spooky “entanglement” wonder really defy all logic and still be known to happen? We don’t know, but we believe it because we see it and experience it.

    And so we pursue fantasy theories like string and M theories with no basis in fact but only as a desperate attempt to try to add some sense of understanding of the actual unknowable, Then came floating membranes, multiverses, and other chimeras in a hopelessly and totally vain attempt to show that we have the answers to a creation that is so completely beyond anything that we can ever even begin to marginally understand.

    God has even given us a hint of his power of creation when he revealed actual proof that there really was a “beginning” to things when he exposed the Big Bang to our feeble understandings. And I think he was trying to drive us to a much simpler and purer understanding of his Creation written many ages ago when he gave us the real explanation of how it all works when He told us in the very first verse of the Bible that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And that, in fact, is the deepest and most profound answer that there is, and, sadly, most of us will never discover or understand that simple and very real truth.

    • Scott Youngren says:

      Ron,

      You are right on the money when you write, “the more deeply we drill down into the nature of things, the more puzzling and indecipherable the universe shows itself to be to our pathetically finite and hopelessly unenlightened intellects.”

      One of the most common fallacies of atheist thought is the idea that scientific explanations can substitute for God. Atheism lacks a first cause or a first organizing principle, which can easily be seen, for example, by the fact that atheism cannot explain why matter so consistently follows natural laws such as the laws of physics and thermodynamics. Why isn’t there just chaos? This is a question which atheists would rather avoid. Further, science can never answer this question because it is a meta-scientific (or ontological) question, meaning that it is question which underlies science. In other words, since science is built upon the assumption that matter behaves in law-like ways, science cannot explain why matter behaves as such. Atheism frequently confuses scientific questions with ontological questions.

      My essay titled The Mythology of Atheism further exposes the atheist fallacy that science can substitute for God because it “explains things without the need for God.” Some excerpts:

      There can be no question that science has been very useful to modern society. Computers, space exploration, and air travel (not to mention nuclear weapons) are all the products of modern science. But as Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson, one of the most distinguished living scientists, notes in his March, 2011 essay How We Know, the usefulness of scientific theories should not be confused with their truth:

      “Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it. Distrust and productive use are not incompatible. Wikipedia is the ultimate open source repository of information. Everyone is free to read it and everyone is free to write it. It contains articles in 262 languages written by several million authors. The information that it contains is totally unreliable and surprisingly accurate. It is often unreliable because many of the authors are ignorant or careless. It is often accurate because the articles are edited and corrected by readers who are better informed than the authors.”

      “The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries….The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.”

      “…Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries. It is an unending argument between a great multitude of voices. It resembles Wikipedia much more than it resembles the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

      Atheism is frequently promoted as a “scientific” belief system, but atheists would be well advised to abandon this line of propaganda in light of the fact that what constitutes science is in a constant state of flux. Biologist Lynn Margulis, winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science, put it best in her book What Is Life?:

      “…Science is asymptotic. [“asymptote” is derived from a Greek word meaning “not falling together.”] It never arrives at but only approaches the tantalizing goal of final knowledge. Astrology gives way to astronomy; alchemy evolves into chemistry. The science of one age becomes the mythology of the next.”

      Those with a short-sighted view of the history of science are prone to overlook the fact that alchemy (which believed that metals such as lead could be turned into gold) and astrology were once considered scientifically respectable. In fact, as Margulis alludes to above, the scientific consensus of one age usually becomes the myth or superstition of the next age. Elite physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin cite examples of this trend among scientific theories in their book The Matter Myth:

      “A classic example concerns the ‘luminiferous ether.’ When James Clerk Maxwell showed that light is an electromagnetic wave, it seemed obvious that this wave had to have a medium of some sort through which to propagate. After all, other known waves travel through something. Sound waves, for example, travel through the air; water waves travel across the surface of lakes and oceans. Because light, which Maxwell discovered is a form of electromagnetic wave, can reach us from the Sun and stars, across seemingly empty space, it was proposed that space is actually filled with an intangible substance, the ether, in which these waves could travel.

      So sure were physicists of the existence of the ether that ambitious experiments were mounted to measure the speed with which the Earth moves through it. Alas, the experiments showed conclusively that the ether does not exist.

      …For nineteenth-century physicists, however, the ether was still very real.”

      Scott

  2. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Perhaps your right Mr. Youngren but do you expect me to believe that a woman named Eve was created from a man’s rib. This is just anti-scientific thinking. Its not possible. Eve being created from a rib is just as mythical as Muhammad flying to heaven on a winged horse or Hercules’ twelve labors. The so called miracles of the bible are purely anti-scientific.

    • Scott Youngren says:

      Jeff,

      If God created humans, then why is one method of creation more difficult to believe any other? This just brings us back to the question of whether God created people or not. By stating that you cannot believe God created Eve by taking Adam’s rib, you are just restating your disbelief that God created humans by any method. Your argument that God could not have created Eve from Adam’s rib is therefore a circular argument.

      And, as I have mentioned before, the Bible uses a variety of genres, some of which are literal, and some of which are allegorical. The genre used depends in part on the context. If, for example, someone is expressing praise to God, we should not expect him/her to use literal language. Rather, we should expect him/her to use poetic language…such as William Shakespeare used in his sonnets to express the emotion of love, etc.

      Tim Keller provides an excellent commentary on this point in this brief video (please watch). As Keller discusses, in most cases, the genre is easy to discern, but there are a few places in the Bible where the genre is not easy to discern (literal, poetic, allegorical, etc.)

      Not all Christians think that the Adam and Eve creation story is supposed to depict an historical event. Many Christians believe that this story is intended as an allegory. However, I find Gerald Schroeder’s commentary on this subject to be fascinating. Schroeder is unique in that he is both a scientist (a former Professor of Physics at MIT) and a biblical scholar. He explains how Adam was not the first physical human, but rather, the first spiritual human. A copy and paste from this article written by Schroeder:

      Adam was not the first Homo sapiens. Maimonides in The Guide for the Perplexed (part 1 chapter 7) described animals co-existing with Adam that were identical to humans in shape and intelligence, but because they lacked the neshama [human soul], they were animals. The Guide for the Perplexed was published in the year 1190, seven centuries before Darwin and long before any evidence was popular relative to fossils of cave men and women. So from where did these ancients get the knowledge of the pre-Adam hominids? They learned it, correctly we discover, from the subtle wording of the biblical text. Those animals in human shape and intelligence would be the “adam” listed in Genesis 1:26, when God says “Let us make Adam.” But in the next verse God creates “the Adam,” the Adam, a specific being [a nuance in the Hebrew text first pointed out to me by Peggy Ketz and totally missed in the English translations!]. The Mishna in the section, Keli’im, discusses “masters of the field” that were animals but so identical to humans that when they died one could not tell them apart from a dead human. Masters of the field implies farming – a skill that predates the Adam by at least 2000 years according to pollen studies in the border area between Israel and Syria. Nahmanides (year 1250; the major kabalistic commentator on the Torah), in his long discussion of Genesis 2:7, details the flow of life that led to the Adam, the first human. He closes his comments there with the statement that when this spirituality was infused into the living being, that being changed to “another kind of man.” Not changed to man but another kind of man, a homo sapiens / hominid became spiritually human. The error in the term “cavemen” is in the “men.” They were not men or women. Though they had human shape and intelligence, they lacked the neshama, the human spirit infused by God. Cave men or women were never a theological problem for the ancient commentators. And they did not need a museum exhibit to tell them so. It is science that has once again come to confirm the age-old wisdom of the Torah! (For a detailed discussion of the ancient sources cited here, see the two relevant chapters in my second book, The Science of God.)

      • Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Youngren, evolution does not deal with creation but deals with the changes that may have taken place in things already created. Now here’s where it gets interesting and the question may sound silly. Did Adam and Eve have navels? Now if the answer is yes then God played the biggest prank on the author of Genesis. Here’s why Adam and Eve could not have had a navel. According to Genesis 2:7 “then the lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life; and man became a living being”.
        Eve was created from a rib so I’ll assume that she didn’t have a navel either since her creation was a supernatural. Now clearly this is a supernatural event and in science, supernatural events are impossible. Scientists are skeptics of the supernatural so that’s why I wonder why your article concludes that Christianity and science can be friends. If that claim was were sure enough then I wonder why even the likes of Stephen hawking are atheists. Science doesn’t accept the supernatural. And if there’s a stumbling block, scientists are patient enough to work through it out.
        Even modern biology does not accept such supernatural creations because they are on par with other fictional creation myths. Even the scientist Francis Collins sees the book of Genesis as poetry. Now if it’s just poetry and it didn’t happen, that goes against almost everything the Bible teaches since from Genesis leads all the way to Jesus Christ. How can I seriously take these claims seriously when science offers much more evidence? As in justice systems, we follow where the evidence leads to and I am doing just that. The question of whether Adam and Eve had navels may seem silly if you think about it but if you read the book of Genesis while knowing the scientific knowledge, you will see why I am skeptic of the religious claims of Christianity and other religious creation myth. This leaves with ourselves to set our purpose and wee learn and adapt and see how things work without having to invoke a higher power.

        • Scott Youngren says:

          Jeff,

          To claim that, “Scientists are skeptics of the supernatural,” you would have to exempt a majority of the most important contributors to modern science, as I demonstrate in Quotes About God to Consider…If You Think Science Leads to Atheism

          This would include such figures as Robert Boyle (the founder of modern chemistry), Louis Pasteur (the founder of microbiology and immunology), Isaac Newton (the founder of classical physics), Max Planck (the founder of quantum physics), Charles Darwin (the founder of evolutionary biology), Werner Heisenberg (the founder of quantum mechanics), Werner Von Braun (the founder of space science), James Clerk Maxwell (the founder of electromagnetic theory), Sir Joseph Thompson (the founder of atomic physics), Allan Sandage (one of the founders of modern astronomy), Albert Einstein, etc., etc. Here are a couple Einstein quotes from the above mentioned post:

          “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”

          –Albert Einstein

          (The Wall Street Journal, Dec 24, 1997, article by Jim Holt, “Science Resurrects God.”)

          “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.”

          –Albert Einstein

          (From E. Salaman, “A Talk With Einstein,” The Listener 54 (1955), pp. 370-371, quoted in Jammer, p. 123).

          Your claim that “science doesn’t accpet the supernatural” is patently fallacious since science cannot accept or reject anything. Only people can.

          As I discuss in Is There A God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?, Hugh Ross, a former post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology observes (in his book The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God) that:

          “Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join ‘The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’”

          For example, Arno Penzias, the 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics, stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978:

          “The best data we have (concerning the Big Bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”

          Similarly, the astronomer, physicist and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Robert Jastrow, writes:

          “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment of time, in a flash of light and energy.”

          I am not going to dignify your discussion of Adam’s navel with a response since it does not have any relevance. You reject the Adam and Eve creation story, but you fail to respond to my previous comment, in which I cited the biblical scholar and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Physics Gerald Schroeder. As I mentioned, because Schroeder is both a scientist and a biblical scholar, he is uniquely qualified to comment on this area. Do you have any response the excepts from Schroeder’s article about Adam and Eve which I posted in my previous comment, or do you intend to continue ignoring them since you cannot coherently respond?

          • Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Youngren, Dr. Schroeder is just putting in his own assumptions. Even Dr Rich Deem from God and science website does the same thing with genesis. They are both using the same verses that help them support their claim. Even you are putting your own assumption when you say that biblical creation suggests relativity of time. The same young earth creationist Mr. Ken Ham such as use the verses to support their claim of a young earth. If both sides can’t even agree whether the three sides are literal or not, then why expect me to take you seriously? God decided to describe his creation time with six days. If God knew this would contradict science then clearly God is the biggest prankster on earth.

            • Scott Youngren says:

              Jeff,

              Stop for a moment and take a look at the patently fallacious nature of your reasoning. You write, “The same young earth creationist Mr. Ken Ham such as use the verses to support their claim of a young earth. If both sides can’t even agree whether the three sides are literal or not, then why expect me to take you seriously?” Suggesting that I should be held responsible for the argument that someone else (Ken Ham) made is extremely bizarre. I know very little about Dr. Ham, and I have never endorsed young earth creationist views. By trying to tie me to the views of young earth creationism, you are committing a straw-man fallacy.

              And no, Dr. Schroeder is not putting in his own assumptions. The ratio for time conversion that he uses comes straight from “a dozen physics textbooks,” as he puts it, and has been accepted by the peer reviewed journal Nature. A copy and paste of his article about the age of the universe:

              14 billion years or six days?

              Today, we look back in time and we see approximately 14 billion years of history and those years went by. But how would they be perceived from the Bible’s perspective of time? Looking forward from when the universe was very small – billions of times smaller – the Bible teaches that six days passed. In truth, they both are correct. What’s exciting about the last few years is that we now have quantified the data to know the relationship between the perception of time from the beginning of stable matter, the threshold energy of protons (their nucleosynthesis), looking forward and our measure of the history of the universe. It’s not science fiction any longer. A dozen physics textbooks all bring the same generalized number. The general relationship of the stretching of space between the era of proton anti-proton formation, that time near the beginning at the threshold energy of protons when the first stable matter formed, and time today is a million million. That’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it. Space has stretched by a million million. So when a view from the beginning looking forward says “I’m sending you a pulse every second,” would we see a pulse every second? No. We’d see one every million million seconds. That’s the stretching effect of the expansion of the universe on the perception of time.

              The biblical text shows us (and the Talmud confirms) that the soul of Adam was created five and a half days after the big bang creation. That is a half day before the termination of the sixth day. At that moment the cosmic calendar ceases and an earth based calendar starts. How would we see those days stretched by a million million? Five and a half days times a million million, gives us five and a half million million days. Dividing that by 365 days in a year, comes out to be 15 billion years. NASA gives a value of just under 14 billion years. Considering the many approximations, and that the Bible works with only six periods of time, the agreement to within a few percent is extraordinary. The universe is billions of years old but from the biblical perspective those billions of years compress into five and a half, 24 hour days.

              The five and a half days of Genesis are not of equal duration. Each time the universe doubles in size, the perception of time halves as we project that time back toward the beginning of the universe. The rate of doubling, that is the fractional rate of change, is very rapid at the beginning and decreases with time simply because as the universe gets larger and larger, even though the actual expansion rate is approximately constant, it takes longer and longer for the overall size to double. Because of this, the earliest of the six days have most of the 15 billion years sequestered with them.

              CORRECTION TO THE CALCULATION OF THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

              Following a talk I gave at AZUSA Pacific University, February 2011, a participant noted that when calculating the expansion ratio of space (that is, the fraction by which space had stretched) from the era of proton formation to our current time, I had neglected to correct for the fact that the rate of universal expansion is actually increasing. The million million expansion ratio is gotten by calculating the averaged ratio of the temperature of space now (2.76 K) relative to the threshold temperature of proton anti-proton pair production that marks the start of the biblical clock. The correction for this increase in the rate of universal expansion is in the order of 10%. Had the expansion been constant [and not super-linear resulting from the increased expansion rate], the temperature of space would be, not the currently observed 2.76 K, but 3.03 K. Introducing this correction reduces the expansion factor of the million million ( that is, a trillion) cited above, by 10% to 900 billion. As discussed above, the biblical time prior to the creation of the soul of Adam is 5 and half days. Expanding those biblical pre-Adam five and a half, 24 hour days by the expansion factor, 900,000,000,000, (i.e., 900 billion) results in age of the universe as viewed from our perspective of 13.6 billon years.

              An exponential equation can be developed that details the number of years as measured from our perspective of time compressed within each of the five and half 24 hour days of Genesis Chapter One, taking each day as one “half life.” However rather than using the highly rounded off expansion factor of 900 billion, this equation uses the exact expansion factor (the ratio of the energy or temperature of space at the threshold energy of protons [10.9 x 1012 K ] to the “AZUSA” corrected current energy or temperature of space [3.03 K ]). The result gives an overall age of the universe of 13.9 billion years and also the number of those 13.9 billion years of cosmic history held compressed within each of the biblical five and a half, 24 hour days of Genesis prior to the creation of the human soul of Adam. Starting with Day One, the results are, approximately: 7; 3.5; 1.8; 0.9; 0.5; 0.2 billions of years compressed within each successive 24-hour biblical day. This is in close agreement with the NASA number of 13.7 billion years. Interestingly, several years ago an article in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Nature, used this identical approach to discuss the time from the beginning of the universe, but with a totally different agenda and so started its clock at the very creation which they projected as a singularity. The significance of this is that this respected science journal has given its stamp of approval for the methodology used here.

              • Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Youngren, I won’t lie to you. The claim that Christianity opened the world to science is a tough pill t swallow. Isaac Newton may have been a Christian but some of his ideas of Jesus Christ are not orthodox. He considered worshiping Jesus Christ a great idolatry. It seems that either he couldn’t speak out on his views because of Orthodox Christianity since his ideas weren’t orthodox. He did see ‘God’s marvelous work’ in the universe but had different views that were conflicting with Christianity’s main teaching such as the issue of the trinity.

                As for Genesis, why did God tell his prophets to put down six days if he knew this contrasted with science. Trying to say that Genesis is scientific is not good. Especially when the issue of the raqia comes about at Genesis 1:6 “And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”” This to me or the third reader seems like anti-scientific. I don’t which vault is there. The hebrew word raqia is firmament so even a non solid raqia stands in contrast with the word Hebrew word itself.

                When I read Genesis, I know God could have done a much better way to describe the creation week without using those six days. With all his omniscience, I don’t think it would be hard for God to describe the billions of years to the people who didn’t know science since he’s omniscient.

                • Scott Youngren says:

                  Jeff,

                  I do not know all of Isaac Newton’s views, but he was definitely a Christian. Would you cite an historian from an accredited university to back up your claims about Newton’s views? I am betting that you cannot. Your claims about Newton’s views on Jesus are probably unhistorical hearsay that originated on an atheist forum, or some other unreliable source.

                  Jeff, you have yet again failed to respond to my citation of Gerald Schroeder, who is both a biblical scholar and a physicist (formerly a Professor of Physics at MIT). He shows how the six day creation is in perfect accord with modern science. This is because (as Einstein demonstrated) time is relative to the observer and Earth time converts to cosmic time at a million million-to-one ratio. Again, this ratio is accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Nature, which is probably the most respected scientific journal in existence. So, to the question of whether the universe was created in six days (as according to the Bible) or 13.8 billion years, the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE. How could the inspirer of the Bible know about both the relativity of time (thousands of years before Einstein) and the exact ratio at which Earth time converts to cosmic time, if the Inspirer of the Bible is not God?

                  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE answer this question and do not try distract attention from your inability to answer this question (with another “red-herring” diversionary tactic)!!

                  Click here to read Schroeder’s article about the six days of creation, or click here to watch a video about it.

                  • Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr. Youngren, I don’t know about your so called diversionary trick. I simply asked what’s the difference between what Dr Rich Deem from his God and science. Here’s the link http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis.html. Are you going to tell me that Dr Rich Deem is wrong and Dr. Schroeder are right. I’m simply asking you who’s interpretation is correct. No sir, I’m afraid that you are the one using the diversionary tactic. If Dr. Schroeder was correct, other Biblical scholars like Dr William Lane Craig would have agreed with him.

                    • Scott Youngren says:

                      Jeff,

                      This is very, very strange. I presented Dr. Schroeder’s argument, so of course I support Dr. Schroeder’s argument. I don’t know a single thing about the interpretations of Genesis made by Dr. Rich deem. Further, I have already said that I don’t support young earth interpretations because I think they are ridiculous.

                      I don’t think that a single third-party viewer of our discussion is going to fail to notice the diversionary nature of your arguments. I asked you to SPECIFICALLY respond to Dr. Schroeder’s arguments, and instead of doing so, you cited a different interpretation of Genesis made by someone else, and say that they cannot both be right. Well, of course two different interpretations cannot both be right. But why on Earth are you citing a different argument for the correct interpretation of Genesis, rather than responding to the argument by Dr. Schroeder which I presented?!

                      As far as I can tell, there can only by one explanation: You are trying to divert attention from your inability to respond.

                      Please recall that people who believe in the biblical account of creation come in many different stripes (Jews, Christians, young earth creationists, etc.).

                      Atheists also come in different varieties. For example, some atheists accept the Darwinian account of gradual evolution. Conversely, some atheists have bitten the bullet and accepted that the fossil record provides no support whatsoever for gradual evolutionary change, and have therefore endorsed a view known as “punctuated equilibrium.” This is a theory in biology which admits that change in life forms happen very rapidly, rather than gradually (as according to Darwin).

                      Supporters of punctuated equilibrium include Stephen Jay Gould (a paleontologist from Harvard) and Niles Eldridge (a paleontologist from Columbia University).

                      Gould, despite being atheist, admitted the following: “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology…Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

                      By your strange logic, evolutionary theory must be wrong merely because there are two different interpretations which cannot both be right.

                      Scott

  3. Jeff Mwangi says:

    Mr. Youngren, I’m responding here because the respond button is not present on your reply. You asked me in a previous comment to provide evidence that Isaac Newton’s Christian views differ with Orthodox Christianity. I’ve put the link and you can check it out. I’m already aware of you telling other atheists on this website that wikipedia can’t be trusted but the good thing is that wikipedia gives references just as you do so I hope you won’t do that. .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton#Religious_views

    As for Dr. Schroeder article. Its not the first time that I’ve read a Christian’s views on trying to console Genesis and science. Of course you say you don’t know Dr. Rich Deem’s work. I don’t know whether you look at it. As our knowledge in science continues, scientists will remove the unnecessary theories as the ones you state there. For the Bible, there’s no way to verify that and I know third party readers know that. As Dr. Francis Collins clearly states in his book The language of God ‘Despite twenty-five centuries of debate, it is fair to say that no human knows what the meaning of Genesis 1 and 2 was precisely intended to be. We should continue to explore that! But the idea that scientific revelations would represent an enemy in that pursuit is ill conceived’. This is in page 153 of his book

    • Scott Youngren says:

      Jeff,

      Assuming that Isaac Newton was an unconventional Christian, how could this possibly be interpreted as evidence in favor of atheism?

      You write, “As our knowledge in science continues, scientists will remove the unnecessary theories as the ones you state there.” I am not totally sure what you mean by this, but I think that you are trying to suggest that advancements in science render the Bible unnecessary. But this is grounded in a fallacious understanding of scientific knowledge. As Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson, one of the most distinguished living scientists, notes in his March, 2011 essay How We Know, the usefulness of scientific theories should not be confused with their truth:

      “Among my friends and acquaintances, everybody distrusts Wikipedia and everybody uses it. Distrust and productive use are not incompatible. Wikipedia is the ultimate open source repository of information. Everyone is free to read it and everyone is free to write it. It contains articles in 262 languages written by several million authors. The information that it contains is totally unreliable and surprisingly accurate. It is often unreliable because many of the authors are ignorant or careless. It is often accurate because the articles are edited and corrected by readers who are better informed than the authors.”

      “The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries….The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.”

      “…Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries. It is an unending argument between a great multitude of voices. It resembles Wikipedia much more than it resembles the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

      Dyson’s above comments highlight one of the fundamental flaws of reasoning which absolutely permeates atheist thought: The belief that science can provide final, or ultimate, explanations which can substitute for theistic belief. This is a confusion of scientific reasoning with ontological reasoning. No less than Albert Einstein (as I cite him in Riddles for Atheists) dispelled the notion that science can produce ultimate explanations:

      “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

      The fact that this miracle is constantly reinforced (rather than diminished) as our knowledge expands is likely one reason that Einstein commented:

      “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”

      Atheism is frequently promoted as a “scientific” belief system, but atheists would be well advised to abandon this line of propaganda in light of the fact that what constitutes science is in a constant state of flux. Biologist Lynn Margulis, winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science, put it best in her book What Is Life?:

      “…Science is asymptotic. [“asymptote” is derived from a Greek word meaning “not falling together.”] It never arrives at but only approaches the tantalizing goal of final knowledge. Astrology gives way to astronomy; alchemy evolves into chemistry. The science of one age becomes the mythology of the next.”

      Those with a short-sighted view of the history of science are prone to overlook the fact that alchemy (which believed that metals such as lead could be turned into gold) and astrology were once considered scientifically respectable. In fact, as Margulis alludes to above, the scientific consensus of one age usually becomes the myth or superstition of the next age. Elite physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin cite examples of this trend among scientific theories in their book The Matter Myth:

      “A classic example concerns the ‘luminiferous ether.’ When James Clerk Maxwell showed that light is an electromagnetic wave, it seemed obvious that this wave had to have a medium of some sort through which to propagate. After all, other known waves travel through something. Sound waves, for example, travel through the air; water waves travel across the surface of lakes and oceans. Because light, which Maxwell discovered is a form of electromagnetic wave, can reach us from the Sun and stars, across seemingly empty space, it was proposed that space is actually filled with an intangible substance, the ether, in which these waves could travel.”

      “So sure were physicists of the existence of the ether that ambitious experiments were mounted to measure the speed with which the Earth moves through it. Alas, the experiments showed conclusively that the ether does not exist.”

      “…For nineteenth-century physicists, however, the ether was still very real.”

      • Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Youngren, it was a mistake to mention that science is closing the gaps. However, that still doesn’t do well to theism or atheism. In your article “there’s nothing random about evolution”, you conclude that the ‘direct processes’ are a result of God. I won’t advocate for random mutation since clearly you’ve demonstrated that random can’t be verified neither will I ignore Barbara Mcclintock’s experiment on transposition. However, if these direct processes are a result of God, then can’t we seriously blame God for genetic diseases such as cancer? This will bring us to the problem of evil. Can atheists seriously be blamed for not believing in God because if these ‘direct processes’ are a result of God’s work, then why shouldn’t atheists blame God for all these genetic diseases and mutations since he’s responsible for this.

        Dr. Francis Collins seems to touch on random mutation problem here ‘The most major current objections to BioLogos arise, however, from believers in God who simply cannot accept that God would have carried out creation using such an apparently random, potentially heartless, and inefficient process as Darwinian evolution. After all, they argue, evolutionists claim that the process is full of chance and random outcomes.’ Looking at that argument like that. Even Dr. Francis Collins seems to recognize my point on random mutation than direct processes (I will still not ignore Dr. Mcclintock’s experiment despite this) in his book the language of God honestly don’t blame that atheists for thinking like that. If direct processes are a result of God, then shouldn’t we blame God on genetic diseases. It seems to me that God can’t bring about life without problems. God is responsible for genetic diseases and mutations thanks to the direct processes from your article. I would to hear your take on this.

        As for Genesis, there’s literally no way to interpret Genesis. You were asking me to respond to Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s article. Who knows, there might be another interpretation in the future that may disprove Dr. Schroeder’s work. However, don’t forget that Dr. Schroeder’s interpretation is not taken as objective truth. As Dr. Francis Collins puts it in his book the language of God ‘In looking closely at chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Genesis, we have previously concluded that many interpretations have been honorably put forward by sincere believers, and that this powerful document can best be understood as poetry and allegory rather than a literal scientific description of origins (page 206).’

        Again, even if a correct interpretation comes about. Like one objection is where did Cain get his wife from? If Adam and Eve were the only humans on earth, then there’s no way the population would increase other than with incest yet it’s the same God who forbids us to commit incest. It’s no wonder that atheists see the Bible writers than nothing people who never understood science. Other than this objection, there so many objections I could raise with the Bible.

        • Scott Youngren says:

          Jeff,

          Your point about genetic diseases goes back to what I wrote about in my essay If God Is Real, Why Is There Suffering? An excerpt:

          God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (such as genetic diseases, earthquakes, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

          “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

          All of this is not to say that God plays no role in guiding worldly events or that he never intervenes in earthly affairs. Rather, it is to say that much of the time he must step back and allow us to experience the consequences of our decision to embrace evil so that we can understand what we need to be redeemed from. By allowing natural evil, God is thus responding somewhat like the parents of a 12 year-old who, upon catching the child smoking a cigarette, force him to go into the closet and finish the entire pack so that he can grasp the consequences of his choice. And if one will stop to think, people often don’t give God a fair shake. We humans are very adept at taking credit for all that is good in the world and blaming God for much of what is bad: How could God allow the holocaust? Isn’t it wonderful that we found a cure for polio? Why did God allow those children to starve? Isn’t it great that we successfully (and very narrowly) avoided total nuclear annihilation several times during the Cold War?

          Jeff, your citation from Francis Collins about Genesis containing poetry and allegory brings us back to what I mentioned in the past. The Bible contains a variety of genres, some of which are literal, and some of which are allegorical or poetic. As that video I linked to by Timothy Keller points out, there are only a few places in the Bible where the intended genre is difficult to discern.

          And regarding your point about the implication of incest in the Adam and Eve story, please recall what Gerald Schroeder argued regarding Adam: Schroeder argues that Adam was not the first homo sapien (from a physical or biological perspective). Rather, Adam was the first homo sapien with a soul (neshama is the Hebrew term).

          • Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Youngren, my point is that these direct processes have lead to many animals becoming extinct. There are so many ‘fails’ in evolution so I wonder what you mean when you say God is involved because if God is involved. I question he’s benevolent. Also, many weak animals have become extinct due to these direct processes so I have to ask is how many do overs does God need? Its no wonder atheists say that evolution is random because there’s no way God can be good if that’s the case.

            Why did God intervene if Adam was the first homo sapien? Also, in Genesis, animals keep appearing from nowhere so the idea that Genesis cannot be in conflict with evolution is just an illusion. Forgive me sir but your points to reconcile Genesis with evolution is not working. Even CS Lewis never believed in an actual couple in a garden but the Bible makes it seem that this was a real event. There’s no evidence of this.

            • Scott Youngren says:

              Jeff,

              They are directed processes, not direct processes. This means that they are not the result of randomness, but rather, have to be directed.

              Any intelligent third-party viewer of our discussions will notice a pattern emerging: 1) You make an objection. 2) I respond to the objection. 3) You ignore my response, and then proceed to make a different objection.

              Again, this clearly demonstrates that you cannot coherently respond to the points which I make in my replies. If you could respond, you obviously would respond. Your point about the ‘fails’ in evolution just goes back to the same old point about “natural evil” (diseases, earthquakes, etc.) that I have made several times, but which you have consistently failed to respond to. I don’t know who you think you are fooling by consistently changing the subject whenever you cannot furnish a coherent reply. A copy and paste, yet again, from my essay titled If God is Real, Why is There Suffering?

              God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (such as genetic diseases, earthquakes, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

              “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

              All of this is not to say that God plays no role in guiding worldly events or that he never intervenes in earthly affairs. Rather, it is to say that much of the time he must step back and allow us to experience the consequences of our decision to embrace evil so that we can understand what we need to be redeemed from.

              By allowing natural evil, God is thus responding somewhat like the parents of a 12 year-old who, upon catching the child smoking a cigarette, force him to go into the closet and finish the entire pack so that he can grasp the consequences of his choice. And if one will stop to think, people often don’t give God a fair shake. We humans are very adept at taking credit for all that is good in the world and blaming God for much of what is bad: How could God allow the holocaust? Isn’t it wonderful that we found a cure for polio? Why did God allow those children to starve? Isn’t it great that we successfully (and very narrowly) avoided total nuclear annihilation several times during the Cold War?

              I do not know what you mean when you ask, “Why did God intervene if Adam was the first homo sapien.” Would you please rephrase the question?

              You say that, in Genesis, animals keep “appearing from nowhere.” The fossil record simply does not provide any support for Darwin’s theory. Some atheists have bitten the bullet and accepted that the fossil record provides no support whatsoever for gradual evolutionary change, and have therefore endorsed a view known as “punctuated equilibrium.” This is a theory in biology which admits that change in life forms happen very rapidly, rather than gradually (as according to Darwin).

              Supporters of punctuated equilibrium include Stephen Jay Gould (a paleontologist from Harvard) and Niles Eldridge (a paleontologist from Columbia University).

              Gould wrote,

              “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. … to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

              Gould also wrote,

              “The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”

              Jeff, I strongly encourage you to watch this video about what is known as “the Cambrian explosion.” This term refers to the fact that almost all of the major phyla appear in the fossil record suddenly, fully formed, and with no ancestors. Darwin was well aware of the threat that the Cambrian explosion posed to his theory, but he assumed that further study of the fossil record would vindicate his theory. But the opposite happened…the problem for his theory got worse. Watch the video I linked to above and please respond.

              In The Altenberg 16: An Expose of the Evolution Industry, Oxford University and University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor of Biology Lynn Margulis (winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science) discusses the persistence of neo-Darwinian theory, despite its deteriorating scientific basis, with journalist Susan Mazur:

              Margulis: “If enough favorable mutations occur, was the erroneous extrapolation, a change from one species to another would concurrently occur.”

              Mazur: “So a certain dishonesty set in?”

              Margulis: “No. It was not dishonesty. I think it was wish-fulfillment and social momentum. Assumptions, made but not verified, were taught as fact.”

              Mazur: “But a whole industry grew up.”

              Margulis: “Yes, but people are always more loyal to their tribal group than to any abstract notion of ‘truth’ – scientists especially. If not they are unemployable. It is professional suicide to continually contradict one’s teachers or social leaders.”

              • Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Youngren, if you were designing a car, wouldn’t you make sure that there are no problems. Since these directed processes are from God then clearly God is the one responsible for all genetic diseases.Its just like you blaming the car manufacturers for making a mistake in your car designs.

                For Genesis, I tell you that it seems most likely that the early church fathers could have possibly thought of 24 hr days since it seems like the most likely situation. Of course this comes into conflict with science. The fact that theologians have been debating this for centuries show that Genesis is contradicting and no supporting evidence to show that the world was created in six days. For centuries, human beings have been crying out to God and the only answer we get is silence.

                • Scott Youngren says:

                  Jeff,

                  YET AGAIN, you are repeating your genetic diseases argument while simultaneously ignoring the response to this argument which I have presented AT LEAST a half dozen times. It should be thoroughly obvious to all third-party viewers of this discussion that you are avoiding responding to my response to your argument. Instead of responding, you choose to ignore my response, and merely repeat your argument over and over again. This is the logical fallacy known as Argument by Repeated Assertion. A copy and paste, YET AGAIN, from my essay titled If God is Real, Why is There Suffering?

                  God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (such as genetic diseases, earthquakes, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

                  “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

                  All of this is not to say that God plays no role in guiding worldly events or that he never intervenes in earthly affairs. Rather, it is to say that much of the time he must step back and allow us to experience the consequences of our decision to embrace evil so that we can understand what we need to be redeemed from.

                  By allowing natural evil, God is thus responding somewhat like the parents of a 12 year-old who, upon catching the child smoking a cigarette, force him to go into the closet and finish the entire pack so that he can grasp the consequences of his choice. And if one will stop to think, people often don’t give God a fair shake. We humans are very adept at taking credit for all that is good in the world and blaming God for much of what is bad: How could God allow the holocaust? Isn’t it wonderful that we found a cure for polio? Why did God allow those children to starve? Isn’t it great that we successfully (and very narrowly) avoided total nuclear annihilation several times during the Cold War?

                  Regarding the six days of creation in the Bible, you have YET AGAIN failed to respond to my citation of Gerald Schroeder, who is both a biblical scholar and a physicist (formerly a Professor of Physics at MIT). He shows how the six day creation is in perfect accord with modern science. This is because (as Einstein demonstrated) time is relative to the observer and Earth time converts to cosmic time at a million million-to-one ratio. Again, this ratio is accepted by the peer-reviewed journal Nature, which is probably the most respected scientific journal in existence. So, to the question of whether the universe was created in six days (as according to the Bible) or 13.8 billion years, the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE. How could the inspirer of the Bible know about both the relativity of time (thousands of years before Einstein) and the exact ratio at which Earth time converts to cosmic time, if the Inspirer of the Bible is not God?

                  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE produce a logically coherent reply to Schroeder’s argument, and do not try distract attention from your inability to answer this question (with another “red-herring” diversionary tactic)!!

                  Click here to read Schroeder’s article about the six days of creation, or click here to watch a video about it.

                  • Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr. Youngren, you write “In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

                    This seems to support the view of the young earth creationists that everything was perfect or good until Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. There was no problems in the garden of Eden but everything went wrong when Adam and Eve ate the fruit. I honestly don’t see why a generation of humans had to be punished with earthquakes so to prevent us from ‘reverting back to it’ as put by Dr. Dembski. I think any reasonable human being will find it unfair.

                    In a response to Dr. Schroeder’s arguments. This is what talk reason.com had to say about the no contradiction in Genesis. In a paragraph, the page read “It is easy to imagine how laymen may be impressed by the above explanation, which looks so elegant on its face. Let us avoid discussion of some minor dubious points in Schroeder’s exercise, concentrating instead on the most egregious misunderstanding of the matter by Schroeder, which renders his alleged explanation meaningless”.

                    Here’s the link if you want to read the article which show loop holes in Dr. Schroeder’s books. http://www.talkreason.org/articles/schroeder.cfm

                    Another major problem with trying to say that Dr. Schroeder is right that Genesis is open to interpretation. Theology will keep changing in trying to keep up with science which is also changing.

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