Are Christians anti-science? This is a common objection to Christianity. The perception is that Christians will hide behind the Bible and refuse to acknowledge that science has proved that belief in God is unwarranted.
As we say so often here at TMC, this attitude can be true of certain Christians. It would be foolish to argue the point. Rather than ask if Christians are anti-science, a better question is “Is Christianity opposed to science”?
Is There A Conflict?
Contrary to what many atheists say, there is no inherent conflict between science and belief in God. Science studies the natural world. It does not and cannot measure the spiritual world. There is nothing in the scientific method that requires us to disregard the possibility of supernatural events.
There is a common misconception that science tells us things. This is incorrect. Science doesn’t tell us anything. Science is a methodology, or a tool. Scientists use the scientific method to draw inferences about repeatable phenomena.
What Is Naturalism?
What Christians will take issue with is the underlying philosophy held by some scientists. This worldview is known as either Naturalism or Materialism. The underlying philosophy behind both of these ideologies is that the natural world is all that exists. The claim is that everything that exists has a natural cause.
And this is where Christians will object. It’s not the science that’s the problem, it’s the ideology behind the scientist’s conclusions that creates difficulties. If you assume naturalism, it’s going to taint your objectivity. You are in a sense, stacking the deck in favor of certain conclusions.
Think of it like this. Suppose you were trying to find the answer to the question, “What is 2+2?” Before you give your answer, I tell you “Oh, and by the way, the answer can’t be 4”. What are you going to do now? You’re going to have to find another answer, one that is wrong. The reason you have to do this is because I have ruled out the correct answer before you even began to look at the problem.
So does holding this view make Christians “Science stoppers” as some atheists claim? I couldn’t disagree more. The Christian explanation actually give scientists greater freedom to follow the evidence where it leads. It doesn’t put a restriction on the types of answers we can reach.
One final note on what is often termed “settled science”. When certain fields of science are challenged, we are told that these areas are “settled science”. In other words, you shouldn’t challenge these ideas or fields. This is an absurd statement to make. Science is continually making new discoveries that force us to re-evaluate our conclusions about the natural world. Practically all science has changed in its understanding of our world over time. It would be reckless to assume that the scientific understanding we have now will remain unchanged in the future.
So in conclusion, Christians are not anti-science or anti-scientist. They are simply open to more possibilities as to how to interpret the data collected. Science doesn’t tell us anything. Scientists tell us things. And there is nothing in the scientific method that would inherently preclude supernatural explanations to scientific questions.
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