What Science Is Really Teaching Us

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Professor, Biola University

The Scriptures tell us that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and that God’s “invisible attributes . . . have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). Yet many Christians today are fearful of studying science, and there’s more to this fear than math anxiety. Many believers have bought into the propaganda that science destroys faith and that science is at war with Christianity.

As a Christian and a scientist who has been working in the discipline long enough to see some major scientific theory and paradigm shifts (such as from an eternal, “steady state” universe to a “big bang” universe with a beginning in space and time), I can say with confidence that “science destroys faith” may be a popular myth, but it is simply false.

“Many have bought into the propaganda that science destroys faith and that science is at war with Christianity.”

What challenges Christianity at times is not the scientific data, but the naturalistic interpretations of the data that many insist must be given, no matter what. The trend I see over time is that the more we study and understand the creation through science, the more clearly we see that it must be the handiwork of God. No good art critic can say that a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa is just “random splotches on canvas” or “somehow painted itself.” Similarly, our growing awareness that nature is a masterpiece makes it increasingly hard for a scientist today to shrug and say that “it just happened somehow” or “it’s always been here.”

What Naturalism Blinds Us from Seeing

For example, since the 1930s we have a growing body of data which show that the universe is expanding in a way which implies that everything in it came from a single point and an enormous burst of energy. Thus, it convincingly looks like our universe had a beginning and that something outside of this universe started it. Sound like God? Sure, and Christians can point to Genesis 1:1 and other verses as confirming this interpretation.

But if science is restricted to only providing naturalistic answers to explain what we see, then no hypothesis can include God. Therefore, scientists must postulate “imaginary time,” or “a multiverse,” or some kind of preexistent “nothing” that somehow has the laws of physics embedded in it. Many only consider it “science” as long as the answer is strictly naturalistic.

But note that the problem is not the scientific data — which clearly imply a beginning, a creation of our universe — the problem is the philosophical bias of naturalism that excludes God as a scientific explanation for it. The heavens are declaring the glory of God just fine, but naturalism blinds us from seeing it.

And it is not only the universe’s beginning which is startling. Our universe just happens to have the right size, density, chemical composition, and balance of forces to make life possible anywhere in it. The same applies to planet Earth. Secular scientists today describe Earth as “rare” and “lucky” that it has precisely the right balance of size, mass, composition, spin, sister planets, and a friendly sun to make complex life possible on it. The more exoplanets we discover, the more our earth and solar system look like an incredibly lucky throw of the dice. At some point, “chance” becomes so improbable that “miracle” or “design” become far better explanations — if only science was allowed to use these terms. But Christians can state the obvious.

What the Design of Life Is Shouting

“The more we study the creation through science, the more clearly we see that it must be the handiwork of God.”

I see the same trend over time in biology, biochemistry, and genetics. With almost every new discovery, the overwhelming sense grows that life is not simply chemistry, but rather life is stupendously complex information-processing systems.

Years ago, “the simple cell” was called a “blob of protoplasm.” Today, cells contain “intricate, interlocking networks of protein machines” and assembly lines that are carefully regulated and controlled by multiple feedback loops.

Could complex systems like this have evolved through blind, unguided mutation and natural selection? Could I construct a model of the Death Star by putting a bunch of Lego bricks in a bag and shaking it until the model formed? No. The plastic bricks would rub against each other and turn to dust long before some might lock together to form anything of interest. Similarly, evolutionary “just so” stories cannot explain the beauty and design of life that shouts of its Creator. No series of accidents can ever replace skill.

From the telescope to the microscope, God’s creation is declaring his glory. Being a Christian working in the sciences is beautiful, as new discoveries stretch our imagination and open new vistas of complexity, ingenuity, awesome power, and unimaginable fine-tuning. And as a Christian, I am able to think outside the box of naturalism and see the handiwork of God for what it is.

Let the Data Speak for Itself

What science is really teaching us is that God’s glory is clearly visible. But sadly, many people would rather not see it and embrace other explanations. But this was also true in Paul’s day. After explaining that God’s power and divine nature are clearly seen in creation (Romans 1:20), Paul says,

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21–23)

“From the telescope to the microscope, God’s creation is declaring his glory.”

Most do not bow down to these kinds of idols anymore, but many do bow to naturalism. And the scales of naturalism over our eyes can be thick, obscuring even the view of some confessing Christians. I must admit that it has fouled my vision of science and the world sometimes, but when I realize that the problem is with the naturalistic straitjacket that is keeping me from interpreting the data in a better way, science gets exciting because it offers a clear signpost to God.

Sadly, what science is also teaching us is how strongly secular cultural influences and peer pressure can blind us today to God’s glorious handiwork. But if we let the data speak for itself, science will reveal God’s eternal power and divine nature, as the Scriptures repeatedly say!

serves as chair of the Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering Department at Biola University, and as the academic director for their Master of Arts in Science and Religion. His research interests include the integration of Christianity with the sciences and apologetics. He lives in La Mirada, California, with his wife and son.