“Tonight we will be talking about faith versus science. Our first guest is a former University of Oxford professor, evolutionary biologist, and bestselling author. He believes that science, not faith, holds the answers to all questions. On the other side of the aisle we have Joe Smith, who will speak for the legitimacy of faith and Christianity. Joe homeschools his kids, thinks Oprah is the Antichrist, and lives in a swamp” (23).
It does to Mark Clark. As he explains in his new book, The Problem of God, culture often portrays faith at odds with science: “science is about thinking, evidence, and rational justification, while Christianity and faith in general are about evading evidence and clinging to nonrationality” (25).
But what if culture is wrong?
What if there is no conflict between faith and science? What if, instead, secularism is the one with the problem, not God?
Below we’ve briefly outlined how Clark answers a skeptic’s challenges to Christianity by exposing the problem of science for what it is: a myth.
The Myth of Church vs. Science
“Contrary to the popular narrative of our time that posits faith, and the church specifically, against science, the reality is the church has never been its enemy…” (26)
Clark exposes several exaggerations that perpetuate this myth:
- Giordano Bruno was not executed for heliocentric views of the universe but heretical views of theology
- While the church did persecute Galileo for a time, it neither excommunicated nor tortured him for his views
- There was no Medieval Christian flat-earth conflict, for it did not believe the earth was flat
“Historians agree the science versus religion story is a nineteenth-century fabrication” (26), which perpetuates the faith vs. science myth.
Christianity: The Garden of Science
Rather than waring with science, “Christian theology was the garden out of which modern science grew because it presented a world with distinct form, complexity, and design” (28), which led to experimentation with observable reality.
Clark cites Kenneth Samples’s ten fundamental variables of Christianity that laid the groundwork for scientific inquiry. Here are a few:
- The physical universe is a distinct, objective reality
- the laws of nature exhibit order, patterns, and regularity
- the world is good, valuable, and worthy of careful study
- God encourages, even propels, science through his imperative to humans to take dominion over nature
“The popular picture of Christians being scared of science and deep thinking has simply never been true” (29).
The Faith of Science
Clark insists people who boast “I don’t believe in God, because I follow where science leads me, objectively, without a predetermined agenda” aren’t being honest with themselves. Why? Because such conclusions are “faith-based conclusions rather than beliefs adopted through empirical proof” (30).
Consider Harvard University biologist Richard Lewontin’s admission:
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes….We cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. (31)
“What drives his science,” Clark explains, “is not facts but philosophy. His faith position predetermines his science, not the other way around” (31).
The Science of Faith
One of the most celebrated atheist, evolutionary biologists of the last generation, Stephen Gould, has said science cannot answer “any question within the magisterium of religion” (38), including those about God’s existence.
What if the opposite is true—that “science actually points humanity to God instead of disproving his existence?” (39).
Rather than faith’s enemy, science is “simply one of the means by which we look into nature and learn about God” (39). As Romans 1 insists, the issue isn’t lack of scientific evidence for God, “but the suppression of it…we would rather believe something else” (39).
Clark concludes, “behind all the wonderful beauty of scientific study of this world, he wants us to discover the God who made it” (39).
Clark says he was “led toward Christian faith by reason and the study of science, history, and philosophy—and away from a modern, secular, atheistic worldview. I have come to see that Christianity isn’t a less rational worldview…but a more rational one” (25).
Discover in Clark’s book answers to other skeptic’s challenges to Christianity that are just as problematic as the faith-vs-science myth.
Professors, this book might be a great fit for your undergraduate class. Find out if it is. Request an exam copy here.
To read about how we can fruitfully address the myth of science and faith, purchase your copy of The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book.