The most fundamental theme of the Does God Exist? program and of this journal is that science and Christianity are not adversarial in nature, but rather symbiotic in nature--mutually beneficial. Those who oppose us in this theme are for the most part religious people who hate science and people who hate religion. To view science and faith as antagonists is a very destructive thing to do, because both fields are restricted without the support of the other. Einstein once said, "Religion without science is lame, and science without religion is blind." Science can help religion understand a great deal of what the Bible is talking about and even about the nature of God. Religion can help science determine the use to which scientific discoveries will be put and the ethics and morality of those uses.
Atheists and skeptics argue against these points by trying to bring up cases from the past where religion has opposed or inhibited science, and there certainly have been such cases. What is frequently ignored is all the support Christianity has given to science and how Christianity really made science possible. In this discussion we would like to demonstrate how supportive Christianity has been and how it provided key presuppositions which made modern science possible.
Christianity De-deified the Creation. Historian R. Hooykaas coined the heading of this section, pointing out that the Bible presents nature as a garden, not a god. Most pagan religions turned the natural world into gods. There were sun gods, river gods and goddesses, volcano deities, weather deities, and on and on. All of us have at least heard of gods like Minerva, Sol, Ra, Vulcan, Zeus, Thor, and the like. The Bible's teaching is that nature is God's handiwork, but not God. No where in the Christian system was nature presented as an object of worship. We find the Bible telling us that we can know there is a God through "the things [He has] made" (Romans 1:20); "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise" (Proverbs 6:6); "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). All of these statements encourage the examination and study of nature, but not the worship of it. Only when nature is no longer an object of worship can it be studied scientifically. Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton have pointed out that ancient cultures like the Chinese and Egyptians developed high levels of technology, but that scientific experimentation and mathematical formulation began in Western Europe where Christian belief had provided the presuppositions upon which modern science depends.
Christianity Established Order in Nature. It is easy to look at things that happen from day to day and assume that nature is totally chaotic and senseless. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, pseunomis, and the like do not appear to offer any sense of order on the surface. In the Christian system God is described as, "not being the author of confusion." God is good and reasonable and so his creation must also be good and reasonable. God is also a creator and lawgiver in the Christian system. Historian A. R. Hall says that the concept of natural law was unknown in Asian and the pre-Christian world. Christianity made sense of nature and made nature understandable.
Christianity Taught that Order in Nature is Known by Experiment, Is Mathematical, and Is Understandable by the Human Mind. If God created the cosmos, then God is completely in control of matter. That means that the rules He sets down will be universally true. The Greek word logos from which we draw our English word logic is used 331 times in the New Testament, 126 of these being in reference to the Word or Scripture. The claim is not one of irrationality, but of sense and logic. People like Kepler (and his laws of planetary motion) and Galileo (at the Leaning Tower of Pisa showing the pull of gravity to be the same for all objects regardless of their mass) were people using the Christian view of understandable order to make their discoveries. An expert on Chinese culture named Joseph Needham points out that the Chinese failed to develop science because they viewed nature as unable to be understood by rational human beings because they had no belief in a rational creator.
It is easy to find individuals who made errors in their personal understandings of science and the Bible. The fact is that God repeatedly encourages man to examine the creation and learn from it. It is this spirit of investigation and separation of physical and spiritual things that has led to science and technology. Atheist philosophers from Voltaire to Carl Sagan have attempted to discredit Christianity by portraying it as the enemy of science and progress. The opposite of this view is the actual situation.
--John N. Clayton
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, Jul/Aug97.