Are these concepts really at odds? The “New Atheists” of the day, like the well-known and respected scientist, Richard Dawkins, would have us believe that we cannot believe in both Science and Religion; that to have faith, one must fly in the face of facts.
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence… Faith is not allowed to justify itself by argument.” Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Professor Dawkins is coming to my home town this week, so I have been having a read and a think about this stance of his. Although maybe according to him I needn’t bother… since, of course, I cannot justify my faith by argument. Maybe I don’t need to think or evaluate evidence? On the other hand…Where is Dawkins’ evidence that faith cannot justify itself by argument?
A Rationale (of sorts) for Faith
Let me try and provide some sort of justification for faith in general, but more specifically the God of the Bible.
I could use any number of real life examples for this, but the best by far is my wife. My wife and I have been married for over 10 years. We got married less than a year after we had met. It was just one of those times in your life when you just know (this isn’t my justification for faith yet).
Now, at no point in our marriage have I known with absolute empirical proof or with mathematical certainty that she wasn’t going to leave me because she realised suddenly what a doofus I am. But I have FAITH in my wife and have done for our entire marriage.
And (here’s the kicker), the longer I’ve known my wife and therefore the more evidence I’ve seen of her and her character… the stronger my faith is in her.
According to Dawkins’ theory (that faith is not and cannot be based on evidence), my faith in my wife was at its greatest right at the start of my marriage when I actually had very little evidence to go on. But actually the opposite is true… the more I know my wife, the greater my faith in her is.
And I apply this directly to my view and my faith in God. The deeper I look into, understand and experience the world around me – science, history, philosophy – all of these things increase my faith in God and the Bible.
Why Science isn’t a Hindrance to God
For a lot of people science seems to be stumbling block to a belief in God and I cannot understand this at all. The more I look into this universe we live in through the lens of science the more I cannot believe that it all came about by chance.
Let me give you an example:
There has always been contention around Genesis 1 and the creation of the world to some degree. At the beginning of the 20th century scientists were convinced that the Universe was eternal, which probably rocked the faith of some Christians at that time because science told them that the universe didn’t have a beginning and therefore didn’t require a God.
But, fast forward to Fred Hoyle and the 1960’s when we came to the (current) conclusion of the Big Bang and the evidence of the Universe having a beginning. This began with Albert Einsteins Theory of Relativity and the discovery from Edwin Hubble that the Universe was expanding. Now the scientific community was uncomfortable because they had no way to explain it’s beginning. What could have made the Universe?
And I can give many more examples like.
Science is an amazing tool for discovering things about this Universe. But rather than ignoring it or disregarding it, as Dawkins suggest that Christians do; every time I engage with Scientific Theory it enhances and strengthens my faith in God.
A God who must be there because the Universe had a beginning.
A God who must be there because the Universe is fine-tuned to a ridiculous degree so as to allow life on Earth.
A God who must be there because the most basic living cell is so complex that the odds of it coming together randomly are so far past laughable, they’re in the realm of the impossible.
You see faith is not an absence of facts. Faith is built on a foundation of them.
Science doesn’t hinder belief in God (or vice versa)… Science gives us a richer understanding of his majesty and power.