Why Believe In Jesus?

Discovering the fundamentals of Christianity!

The Christian mind vs. the scientific mind?

There is an ongoing argument as to whether you can have faith and accept scientific discoveries. Some Christians dismiss certain things most scientists accept, and some scientists reject religion in return. Big names like antitheistic scientist Richard Dawkins would have us believe that you're either religious, a scientist or neither, but you certainly can't be both. I strongly oppose this notion since I've known all sorts of people who see no conflict of interests and can just as easily accept God as they can science.

It is important to realise that the two aren't fighting against each other, but complement one another. Both religion and science are concerned with our knowledge of the world we live in, and both rely strongly on evidence. While science seeks to ask how things are the way they are, religion instead asks why. It would be absurd to suggest that you can't ask both questions as if having the answer to one means we don't need the other. For example, science might explain how the universe came about - our most popular contemporary theory being the Big Bang - but religion asks why the universe should exist in the first place, a question which science can never answer, no matter how developed it gets, because that's not what science is about.

As mentioned above, both faith and science depend on evidence. Scientists often conduct experiments or look at trends to come to conclusions and establish scientific laws. Gravity is accepted as existent, even though it is invisible, because we see its effects, and many an experiment has been carried out over the years to establish how (but not why) gravity works. God, similarly invisible, can also be accepted on the basis of evidence but not through experiments. The historical evidence for the divinity of Jesus is what gives Christianity its credibility, and not some empirical measurement. The fact that science doesn't answer every question, and never will, irritates some scientists as though they feel cheated, but it just encourages us to embrace science and faith together more rather than trying to play them off against one another all the time.

If this is the case, then why do some people still feel the need to take sides? To me it is like saying you can't support a football team because you support a certain tennis player. Yes, they're both concerned with sport - just as science and religion are concerned with knowledge - but they're completely different ball games and it will never boil down to one defeating the other. Still, the topic of "science vs religion" is often under great discussion, so below I shall explore a couple of concerns that make people believe that you have to take sides.

Evolution and Creation

Anyone who knows me well would know that I am an evolutionist. I don't want to put everyone under the same heading by suggesting that all scientists accept evolution as an explanation for how life has reached the stage it has, but similarly I don't appreciate it when scientists think that all Christians have a "Creationist" view of the world. Before I proceed to explain why I believe in evolution, let me first explain how they are different (oh look, it's those two questions again!)

Evolution is the belief that living species - which can include plants, animals and even humans - have developed slowly from less complex life forms and have adapted themselves for their environment. The champion of this theory is Charles Darwin who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest".

Creationism is the belief that living species have not evolved over time but were once created as they now exist by an omnipotent Creator, normally God. The two theories normally don't go hand in hand although I am aware that some people believe in something called "micro-evolution" (that species can adapt to their surroundings) but do not accept "macro-evolution" (that species have altered significantly over millions of years).

So how can I, a Christian who believes that God created all life, possibly accept the process of evolution?! Quite simply I believe that God created evolution. It's not a cop-out answer, trying to win favour with both sides; it's based entirely on evidence. Even evolutionists have to admit that the process must start somewhere. It's all very well tracing life back to simple single-celled beings, but who else could have inspired life into otherwise inanimate matter but God? It is interesting to note that Darwin himself did not think that evolution was the result of a random act with no cause, but in his autobiography said "I cannot believe with my mind that all this was produced by chance".

Creationists tend to reject evolution on the basis that it is not mentioned in the Bible and that the first book, Genesis, teaches that God created the world in six days, including plants, animals and finally human beings. This leaves no room for the long process of evolution because apparently everything just sprung up as and when God told it to. I am not arguing for one second that God is incapable of creating fully-formed life just like that; I'm rather arguing that all the evidence we have suggests that's not the case. The problem with the six day creation story is that people who subscribe to this literally are not only ignoring the poetic qualities of Genesis, but are also ignorant of what was originally written. Genesis was written in Hebrew and the word for "day", yom, can indeed refer to a 24 hour period, but can also mean an era. If we translate as the second definition, there is no reason to suggest why evolution can't fit into God's design of the world. The reason it's not mentioned in the Bible is because the writers didn't know about it (in fact no one really did before Darwin!) and yet it's incredible that Genesis describes how God created creatures of the sea prior to creatures of the land, then creatures of the air and finally mankind, because that's the exact same order as evolution predicts! That's pretty advanced thinking for people of thousands of years ago...

You don't need to look much further than fossil evidence to see that life has existed for millions and millions of years before humans, and how species (such as the horse) have developed. This is further confirmed for me by looking at the shape of the continents. Notice how South America looks as though it would fit snugly into the west coast of Africa? The theory is that 225 million years ago all the continents were clustered together to make the super-continent, Pangea (check it out!), and have gradually drifted apart over millions of years (explaining why some fossils are found thousands of miles apart on separate continents). Such a theory would collapse if, as some suggest, God created the world in literally six days. That's why I find it hard to accept that we are supposed to read the Bible literally from a modern-day perspective at all times. Amazingly though, if taken in a wider context, the Bible is remarkably close to the scientific discoveries made thousands of years later. This is what suggests to me that Genesis is more than just a pretty story for how the world came about - it's scientifically and historically accurate!

Further Reading

If this topic interests you, whether you regard yourself as a creationist or an evolutionist, you might well enjoy reading this book by Dr Denis Alexander, which I found very engaging:

Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose



Another thing some scientists can't accept is that God, and those whom he chooses, can do miracles. Since these are explained more on their own page, I won't go into much detail here, but miracles are basically events which occur against the laws of nature. Some scientists see this as the end of the matter - anything that goes against nature can't exist, therefore miracles don't and consequently God can't exist. The problem with this conclusion is that it is making the assumption that God is confined to the laws of nature, whereas as the creator of nature, God transcends it and can work outside of the laws of nature. Therefore, if He so desires God can break a law of nature, including, for example, turning water into wine, instantaneous healing or even raising the dead. There seems no reason to argue that science disproves miracles since they go beyond what science is capable of explaining.