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How Christianity and Science Coexist 1

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Equipped with knowing the differences between statements, we can prune the wild brush. We can snip “scientific” vines covering up science, and we remove “Christian” branches obscuring the reality of the Christian faith. Only then, do we begin to see the clearing where Christianity and science coexist.

One of those vines is a common cultural assumption that science provides absolute, certain knowledge, or that science makes definitional statements. But the scientific method can only make evidential statements; it gives knowledge to a probable degree, but not a certain degree. We can’t test all possible hypotheses because there can always be another one.

Another vine is the common argument against religion that science has proven miracles impossible. This claim sounds scientific, but at its root, this argument makes a claim about the nature of reality that can’t be proven empirically. As Tim Keller writes, “It’s one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others. It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist.” To make such a claim is to impose on science a philosophical presupposition, or a view of the world needed beforehand, for an argument to make sense. In this case, the presupposition used is naturalism, which holds that everything can be explained by a natural cause and that physical matter is all there is.

An obscuring “Christian” branch is that the majority of religious claims are unverifiable statements. Craig Parton lists several in his book, Religion on Trial: “Brahman is All.” “Muhammad caused the moon to come down and pass through his tunic. This occurred so quickly that no one noticed that the moon was missing.” “The burning of my bosom confirms to me that Mormonism is true.” None of these are true by definition. Nor can we verify or falsify them by observing the evidence.

Even well-meaning, Christians make unverifiable statements in defense of the Christian faith. None more telling than a line from the hymn, “I Serve a Risen Savior,” by Alfred Ackley: “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” There is no way to know if this is true or false. The truth of Jesus’ resurrection is not knowable by examining the heart.

The faith of the Christian is founded not on unverifiable statements like Ackley’s, but on an evidential truth statement that can be tested and known to a high degree of probability. This is where Christianity differs from other religions. And the founding evidential statement is not, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The foundational assertion of Christianity, the one on which the truth of the whole thing rests is, “Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified…has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6; see also Matt. 28:6 and Luke 24:6).
Kyle G. Jones 


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