We have just examined evidence that supports the fact that that the Bible is the Word of God. Hopefully, you agree with this evidence. However, you may still have some reservations. In your mind, there may be a word that keeps yelling out as if it wants to argue with the word “Bible” – that word is “science.”
Because of its success in explaining the natural world and bringing many technological advances, science itself has virtually become a new religion. Some think that science has completely replaced God. “In this scientific age, how can anybody believe in God?” they say. Although nobody ever really cared to explain this to me further, this sentence seems to imply one of the following:
1) Science can provide everything
2) Science can explain everything, and religion is merely superstition
3) Evolution has proved that God does not exist and that the Bible is wrong
Let us analyze these statements.
I do not think that many people agree with the first statement. Even if we only consider material possessions, science cannot provide us with everything. On the contrary, more and more people are becoming disappointed with science and technology. They consider it a threat as much as a benefit. The dangers of nuclear war and pollution have become a reality for all of us. Computers, instead of serving humans, are slowly gaining control over us.
Coming from the perspective of an Asian culture, I can clearly see the emptiness of Western civilization. Underneath the flashy clothes of technology and in the midst of florescent urban lights, people are extremely lonely, silently fighting against each other for a living. Finding peace with oneself is difficult in itself, let alone finding true peace in God.
The second statement is also difficult to justify. Not only are there many unsolved problems in science, many problems lie beyond the scope of science.
The main purpose of science is to answer the question “How?” not “Why?” Science lets us know how the human body is formed, but it does not study the reason for our existence. Science has no authority to discuss the values behind poems, music, and paintings. Who can use science to analyze Shakespeare? Who can use science to define love?
Because the word “superstition” is very vague, let me define it as “religious activity that attempts to answer questions that science has not been able to.” How can I win somebody’s heart? One answer is to burn her picture, mix the ashes with water, and drink up. And then when television said, “Apply ‘Capricorn’ perfume, with added pheromones,” burning pictures became superstition. How does lightning occur? One answer is that the gods are fighting each other. When science came up with its explanation, the gods quietly disappeared.
Yes, using religion to fill in the gaps of science is superstition. But this is not the view of a Christian. To Christians, all phenomena, whether explainable by science or not, are controlled by God.
Science is built on the idea that our universe always follows certain laws. If you throw a rock upwards, it will fall down. If you put a kettle of water on a stove, its temperature will rise. The purpose of science is to discover these laws and to predict what will happen. Science does not try to understand the ultimate origin of the laws, but Christians know that they all came from God. He created the universe and gave the universe a natural order so that humans can live in.
Before Newton discovered the law of gravity, apples still fell down when they were ripe. Science does not make the apple fall, but it only helps us understand this phenomena. God makes apples fall, regardless of whether science can explain or not.
Therefore, Christians do not shun the benefits brought about by science. When I am sick, I go to see a doctor. When I need to travel a long distance, I use an airplane. Christians not only use science, but history records many brilliant scientific discoveries by Christians such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, and Newton.
I myself was trained in science and am still doing research for science. I have met many famous scientists who are Christian. Not only do they feel that science and religion are not in conflict with each other, they feel that science helps them in their belief. The more we know about anatomy, the more we admire our Creator who designed our bodies so intricately. The more we know about physics, the more we believe in the All-Powerful who gave the universe such a wonderful order.
Christians who are also scientists therefore do not try to find mistakes in science in order to bring back God. Like all other scientists, they try to bring science closer to the truth, so they can appreciate more and more the power of God though the understanding of His creation and providence.
Now let us talk about evolution. Evolution is the idea that plants and animals change from generation to generation. Those with more favorable genes will have an advantage in surviving and having children. Cockroaches that survive a bug spray will continue multiply while those who die will not. Pretty soon, the bug spray will be useless because all the cockroaches will be able survive it. Germs regularly evolve and bypass the body’s defenses. That is why there is a new flu vaccine every year, because flu viruses continuously evolve.
Nobody denies evolution in this sense. However, many scientists claim that, over millions of years, all life, including human beings, came about through this process and evolved from simpler animals such as monkeys.
First of all, this kind of macroevolution can be wrong. It is a hypothesis that has several technical difficulties. One of the biggest problems with evolution is scientists don’t know how large changes, which results in a new body part or a new organism, developed. There is no evidence to support that these large changes were the result of a gradual set of infinitesimal changes at the micro level. Simple logic would expect that somewhere within the millions of species alive today, at least a few should have been identified as being in the process of transition. So far, none has been discovered.
But what if human beings in fact did evolve from simpler animals? Yes, suppose that we disregarded evolution’s technical difficulties. If – I want to emphasize the word if – in the future, someone can conclusively prove this, then what?
Surely, more people would use evolution to attack religion. Communism, for example, considers evolution as something that can liberate people from God. This is a big mistake, because even if evolution is correct, such a conclusion is still wrong.
As we have discussed before, the Christian God is not a “God of the gaps” of science. Evolution cannot push God away from our lives. Even if evolution is correct, then in his power, God used evolution to create human beings.
“But the Bible says that God created the universe in six days?” Yes, but we have to remember that the Bible is not a scientific document but is the Word of God, telling us about His plan of salvation. Therefore, the Bible uses common language and images of the people of the time, rather than the precise scientific language that would have been hard to understand. For example, the Bible talks about the “sunrise” and the “sunset.” When talking about the smallest seed, Jesus referred to “a mustard seed”139 rather than a scientific name of a yet discovered smallest seed. When he died Friday evening and resurrected Sunday morning, the Bible said it was three days, similar to the way Vietnamese calculate age, instead of calculating the exact number of hours. Similarly, in discussing creation, the Bible only uses 34 sentences140 and was written in the genre of poetry in a very primitive society. We therefore cannot conclude that these verses serve as a scientific document. We should not insist that the universe was created in six earth days according to our time measurement.
I need to emphasize that even if God used evolution to create human beings, it does not mean that human beings are merely animals. Clearly, we do not only live to satisfy our instincts, but we have thoughts, morality, arts, and most importantly, a concept of God. This shows that if evolution took place, it was only God’s means of creation rather than the author of creation itself. Furthermore, if evolution is right, then somewhere along its process, God interfered, “breathed the breath of life”141 giving human beings a soul so that they can have the image of God.
Actually, science disagrees with the Bible not in what it can explain, but in what it cannot. More precisely, science does not accept what the Christians refer to as “miracles.” Miracles are events contrary to the supposed universal laws of science. For example, if I let go of a rock and it flies up to the sky, then I have a miracle, because this goes against the law of gravity.
The Bible records many miracles preformed by God, the prophets, Jesus Christ, and his disciplines. The parting of the Red Sea – allowing the Jews people to cross – was a miracle. Giving sight to a person blind from birth is another miracle.
We can consider this universe as a watch. Science observes this watch-universe and then discovers some laws causing the watch to operate and therefore can predict what happens to the watch. These discoveries only bolster the existence for its Creator. Now let us assume that this Creator, for some reason, decided to change the time of the watch. He can do this easily because he created the watch, but sadly, scientists inside this watch-universe refuse to believe it happened because they do not believe in miracles.
Actually, God did not just create the universe and occasionally perform miracles, as we occasionally adjust the time on our watches. The universe is like a mechanical watch that needs to be wound continuously. If He ignores it, it cannot survive. Unlike man-made “gods” built of rock or wood, God has power over human beings and always pays attention to us. He expresses His will through history, even through the weather. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”142
Let’s suppose that one day, God decides to cause the sun to stay still for a few hours. Those who witnessed the event would surely agree that this was a miracle. But many others would not believe, and demand that they see the miracle for themselves before believing. Let’s suppose further that God agreed to repeat this miracle everyday so that everyone could see it. Ironically, because this phenomenon would now occur daily, and thus science would be able to predict its occurrence, people would no longer consider it a miracle.
Every day, we see God’s miraculous wonders in seemingly mundane events such as the existence of four seasons in a year or the gravity between two masses. Regardless of whether science can discover any law, regardless of whether events occur daily or only once, the hand of God controls everything.
“I might accept the providence of God,” you think, “but, being raised in a scientific environment, how can I blindly believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ?”
Actually, all civilized people engage in “belief” every day. When I am sick, I take medicine, believing that it will cure my illness, even if I do not know anything about the medicine. When I step into an airplane, I believe that I will arrive at my destination, even if I do not know anything about aerodynamics. These beliefs are not blind, because although we may not understand them thoroughly, they are reasonable from what we do know. Also, they have been showed to be credible in the past.
Believing in the salvation of Jesus Christ is similar. Although we cannot completely understand everything, we must agree that whatever we can understand is reasonable. The blood of Jesus Christ mixes wonderfully with God’s love and justice and satisfactorily answers many questions in the minds of people searching for a meaning in life. Christian education always encourages people to learn more about God and his salvation. The Bible is not a book of meaningless incantations, but rather contains very clear teachings. To those who believed in him, Jesus Christ said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”143
Christianity also shows concrete results. Many Christians are be prepared to testify about how their faith in Jesus Christ has changed their lives completely. We only have to look around to see.
There are many blind faiths in this world, but believing in the blood of Jesus Christ is a faith based on a solid logical foundation.
While we have seen that science and religion are not in conflict with each other, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that science is comprised of many disciplines, each of which studies the universe from its own perspective. Life, on the other hand, is comprised of many aspects related to each other in an extremely complicated manner. As there are people who only appreciate the material world, there are also many people who judge everything only according to discoveries within certain specific disciplines. This can lead to a mechanical, one-tracked worldview that is dangerous.
An example relates to sex. Nowadays, many researchers study this subject and there are many books teaching us how to sexually satisfy our spouses. While I do not diminish these discoveries, I believe that many people have gone to the extreme, paying attention only to techniques and disregarding the most important aspect of marriage that science does not study and has no ability to measure, that is love. Without love, sex, even with the best techniques, degrades people to the level of animals.
A second example is Communism. Communists only know life through the lens of economy. Karl Marx therefore explained that, like opium, religion was created by the rich to suppress the masses.
Once, Mr. A confided to me that his life was now nothing. He said so because when he went to the doctor, the doctor said that he was too old. When he tried to learn English, his teacher said that he would never be able to speak the language fluently. Although these people may have been right, his conclusion that his life was now nothing was wrong because his life is not simply his body or his language.
He is a painting ignored by its owner because some time in the past, a expert in material science came along and commented that the canvas was old and the paint was cracked.
Then one day, he read the Bible and he discovered that his life is a painting, painted by God-the-Artist. With the purifying blood of Jesus Christ cleansing the layer of dust-sin covering him, he became a masterpiece that people could admire, compelling them to praise the power of the creator.
When the artistic aspect of a painting is ignored, scientific analysis can become useless if not dangerous. Yet, when its artistic value is appreciated, science is an effective means of helping us to appreciate the ability of the artist. Einstein wrote, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”144