Science and Christianity
How can you as a scientist believe that crazy Christianity stuff? I was asked this question twice last year; once by a visiting mathematics professor attending our EFL classes and the other by a former high school classmate at our 50th year reunion. My answer was the same one I have given on previous occasions and is based on 1 John 1, as outlined here.
- As a scientist, the best evidence I can gather comes from direct observation (what we have heard, seen and touched, as John puts it). In many research endeavours, direct observation is not possible so we must test possible hypotheses with suitable experiments or predictions from fundamentally based mathematical models. These approaches rely heavily on the current state of scientific knowledge (which evolves over time) and can never be as reliable as direct observation. In many areas of science, the capability for direct observation has improved greatly in recent years alongside the development of advanced analytical facilities such as high powered electron microscopes that can now even resolve atoms and molecules. In some cases where direct observation has become possible, previously long-held theories have been significantly modified or even abandoned.
- If I had lived in Israel 2000 years ago, I could have had the best possible evidence for belief that Jesus was who he said he was, (John 14:9, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”). I could have directly observed (heard, seen and touched) the one true God as the man Jesus, even in his resurrected body, just as Thomas, the sceptical disciple, was able to do. Jesus’ claims are so profound and consequential that they deserve our mature consideration.
- Despite today’s pop culture opinions, there is massive scholarly evidence (Christian and non-Christian) that the integrity of the Bible over the centuries has not been compromised. It is more than worthy of our attention as God’s spoken Word. So, many years ago when I was first really challenged by the gospel message, I undertook to check the evidence of the eyewitnesses and began to seriously read their accounts recorded in the Gospels. In brief, I found their evidence compelling and I accepted that Jesus was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that I needed to follow him. Last year I had the privilege to directly observe fragments of New Testament papyri (Papyrus 45) in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. This dates back to about 250ad and is consistent with the equivalent passage of the Greek New Testament we have today.
Discussions of questions like this always should be relaxed and open. Although our faith is well grounded, we can’t truly prove it in a scientific or mathematical sense. Nor should we expect to. As Paul points out in Romans 1:18-20, despite the evidence, people can still choose to resist the truth about God.
Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who convinces us that Jesus is who he said he was. So as 1 Peter 3:15 urges us, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do it with gentleness and respect”.
(11am and 5pm congregations)
Ed.: Jim is a metallurgist who was Manager Product Development at Bluescope for two decades.