Why lament ‘godless’ science?

Some Christians lament the naturalistic approach that science insists on taking. I think that’s kind of strange. Science and faith have different starting points, even though people of faith believe that they are investigating many of the same things. At least this is so when it comes to what we can observe of natural reality.

Do those who want science to be more godly really believe that the methods of science will be able to make faith unnecessary? Specifically for Christians, do we think that the beauty of nature alone can lead unbelievers to Christ? Here is one response that questions the need for the typical Christian to lament about science referred to above.

The natural universe is natural (free to be and become despite obvious limitations and the unyielding work of entropy). It is also created that way by a loving Creator and sustained through the work of his Spirit. This spiritual interpretation is not directly accessible to natural science - faith is required. So, looking for direct evidence of how the Spirit works to accomplish all of this is not reasonable for science (or apologetics).

However, what the Creator has done and continues to do is directly accessible. Scientists regularly wonder about such things - even biologists who tend to be much more insistent than physicists that we must find 100% naturalistic explanations for everything that we observe.

Saying the same thing in a very different way, here are some observations (questions really) made from a very naturalistic perspective by a wonderful natural history writer. Theologians and other thoughtful Christians would do well to find a tip or two from such naturalistic science.

All quotes are from The Wildlife of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites and Partners that Shape who we are Today, by Rob Dunn.

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“We are human because we chose to try to take control.”

“Twenty-eight thousand years ago, we found religion.”

“Once we learn how to kill something, we tend to do so.”

“…nothing seems more natural to our brains than getting rid of

nature.”

On the Tower of Babel story: “…there is a second moral too, implicit

in the method chosen to divide these peoples—that the failure to

communicate leads to failure.”

“The white patients that were long the focus of much of Western

medicine come from relatively few, and somewhat anomalous,

branches of the human tree.”

“Our parasites and mutualists influenced our bodies. It is the predators,

though, that messed with our minds.”

“Fear, or at least the urge that precedes it, may even be our default

reaction to our surroundings.”

“Ours is a universal struggle not of will power, but between who we

are and who we were.”

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A third approach could go as follows:

All things through him emerged.

Without him emerged not even one thing that has emerged.

In him life was.

The life was the light of men.

The light in the darkness shines.

And the darkness it (the light)

Not overcame.*

These are a few Christian hypotheses. They can only be tested by faith. They are not scientific, nor would it be reasonable to try to test them scientifically.

Yet, through testing these bold statements by faith in the One they refer to, many believe that they are true. This is because they have found that, when faithfully applied to life, they actually work.

Science works this way as well. But the hypotheses tested must be based on natural “touchable” evidence. Hypotheses that work lead to new hypotheses, some of which also work - and so it goes.

But the foundation is natural reality, not spiritual reality. Science is not trying to find out anything about God. Good science is also not trying to disprove God’s existence - it knows better.


* John 1:3-5 . Transliteration from Greek using the Interlinear Greek New Testament of Frederick Henry Ambrose (Kindle Edition)

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Dr. Bev Mitchell is a retired experimental biologist, university teacher and administrator. He is an informal student of theology and is especially interested in participating in discussions that might help Christians who want to find more harmony between their faith and the complex world of biology. He is a regular commenter and occasional contributor on several Christian blogs.

  • ksed11

    Science cannot directly prove or disprove God’s existence. But science can provide support for premises in philosophical arguments for theism.