Atheists demonstrate an amazing “faith” in the power of science. They accuse believers of wishful thinking – or outright foolishness – when believers conclude that an intelligent being is the only reasonable inference to draw from the evidence that surrounds us. Unfortunately, this leads many skeptics to close their minds to proper reasoning, and ironically, leads them into the very error that they accuse the believer of making – the error of placing their trust in something they really haven’t considered.
Here’s why: most skeptics define “faith” as believing something despite the existence of evidence.” Since no one can examine Jesus, nor directly access the time before creation, nor transcend this physical universe and examine what lies beyond, skeptics conclude that there is nothing beyond. And since Christians place their trust in something –Someone – lying behind this reality, the skeptic believes that this is a foolish leap of faith.
Abduction is the process of reasoning to the best explanation from the available evidence. We use this form of reasoning all the time. We see that certain patterns hold true – clothing gets wet when we walk in the rain – and we infer from the presence of a dripping wet raincoat that it is raining outside. We do this intuitively and we take as a given that our sense of reasoning operates correctly to allow us to reach valid conclusions. This is so even though we cannot use reason to prove the validity of reason. Simply put, if I try to use reason to prove that reason is valid I have to presuppose the validity of the very thing – reason – that I am trying to prove. No, reason is a starting point, a given that we must all utilize if we are to discuss – to think – at all.
Christians are not imagining a creator when they look at the evidence of the universe. Quite the contrary: given the nature of the universe – its order, fine tuning and the complex design inherent in life – we quite properly infer that something immensely intelligent and immensely powerful set it in motion. Science seeks to answer the question how was it done? And science performs a very valuable function. But science as a tool for discovering processes cannot explain what first set in motion the forces that it is examining; what the designer sought to accomplish with the laws of nature; and what the ultimate meaning and purpose of life really is.
Consider: imagine a scientist examining the mail he receives every day. Over time, he learns everything there is to know about the type of paper that is used, how the paper was formed, the type of ink, its place of manufacture and its ingredients. Imagine further that he determines how the letters are grouped to form words. Seeking knowledge of this type is laudable. But if the scientist concludes that since he knows all there is to know about ink and letters and envelopes, that there cannot be a letter-sender, or a mailman to deliver the letters, then he has done something worse that making a blind leap of faith – he has closed his mind to the obvious reality of what he is examining. Indeed, the only way the scientist can learn the point of it all, the meaning of the message, is to read what was written, for in it is embedded information, something that simply cannot arise through random or blind processes.
Similarly, an archaeologist examining the ruins of an ancient city can determine the method and manner of construction of the various structures that remain, what types of materials were used and how well they fared over time. She could speculate as to the purpose of the buildings, and what the civilization’s level of technology might have been. But she would be unable to determine what actual purpose the buildings were meant to serve. For that, information from the architects and planners would be needed.
As Christians, we bear witness to a personal God, not because we are grasping at myths, but because we believe the evidence of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection sufficient for us to know Him in a personal way. In other words, we personalize the source of the Big Bang not by myth or wishful thinking but by specific revelation.
In the end, science and the Christian worldview are not in conflict. It is the one who insists despite the evidence that there is no God – and ultimately no one to whom we will one day be called to answer – that is persisting in ignorance.
Posted by Al Serrato