Religion and Faith in Science

In my last post I tackled the issue of belief vs. acceptance in science, and now I’m following-up with a series on religion and faith in science.

A large number of mainstream atheists, professors and scientists are openly hostile to religion, and they don’t want it creeping into science. As I’ve pointed out before, faith, to these people, is the antithesis of science. Faith implies religion. So they demand that faith and religion be kept separate from science at all costs.

Case in point is the atheist biologist, Jerry Coyne, who states, “Science and faith are fundamentally incompatible, and for precisely the same reason that irrationality and rationality are incompatible. They are different forms of inquiry, with only one, science, equipped to find real truth. . . . Science helps religion only by disproving its claims, while religion has nothing to add to science.”

So we can see the open hostility and total disregard he has for faith and religion. But I hope you can also see the irrationality in his statement. If science and faith were really incompatible, as he claims, then how can science disprove religion? In theory, that would only be possible if they were the same form of inquiry and were compatible, which he denies. I’ve also had other atheists tell me that science is not about truth, but about the best explanation of the evidence available at the time. Coyne’s statement is wrong on so many levels and is more of a statement of faith.

Richard Dawkins has made similar comments, saying, “Faith is the great co-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate science. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” He goes on to say, “Religion is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness.”

Lovely. This type of sentiment is pervasive in mainstream science and has made its way into our colleges and culture so that we hear similar statements any time religion and faith are mentioned in the same breath as science. But even if the comments don’t come across as personal attacks, those who adhere to secular science tend to take issue when faith and religion are mixed with science, as if that’s taboo, including many who profess religious beliefs.

But there are many serious problems with this position. For one, modern science was founded by Bible-believing Christians who were young earth creationists, and they believed it was possible to gain knowledge and understand God and his creation through observation and rational thought. Francis Bacon, for example, is considered the one most responsible for the scientific method, stressing experimentation, observation and induction. But he also read the Bible to avoid error in his work and encouraged others to do the same. Creation scientists developed the different fields of science, and they maintained a Christian worldview. Others include Johann Kepler, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, James Clerk Maxwell, Joseph Lister, Michael Faraday, Robert Boyle, Louis Pasteur, and even Galileo Galilei. So it’s insincere to suggest that religion should be kept out of science; it was never meant to be that way.

The truth is, science has been hijacked by secularists who adhere to naturalism; they are the ones who wish to separate religion and science. And they do so for their own selfish motives. So, what makes it acceptable to impose their religious views of secularism, materialism and naturalism into science? Majority rule, or having access to the bully pulpit? It’s certainly not because the evidence speaks for itself and can only be interpreted one way.

Honestly, few scientists would admit that their adherence to naturalism constitutes a religion. But make no mistake, if one denies evolution, questions the age of the earth, the Big Bang or abiogenesis, they will come after you with religious fervor, proselytize their faith, and dogmatically insist you convert to their religion and become a believer or be damned. I’ve seen this time and time again. They have an origins story that is in conflict with the Bible, and they want to win as many converts as possible.

Ideologies like secularism, materialism, evolutionism and naturalism are religions because their proponents adhere to statements of faith that cannot be substantiated- such as the belief that life can arise from non-living chemicals via naturalistic processes. This is a belief based on one’s worldview, not because it has ever been observed or substantiated by experimentation. Yet, despite the lack of evidence, they maintain- by faith- that it did happen. And they want everyone else to believe it as they do… even as they deny believing it themselves.

One competing worldview maintains that we’re here on purpose. More specifically, the Christian worldview contends that God created life on purpose. This is at odds with the secular worldview which insists that science can only allow for naturalistic explanations.

Of course, if God really did create the heavens and earth in six days- just as the Bible claims- then the secular worldview is hopelessly searching for something that doesn’t exist, while ignoring that which does. The fact is, life only comes from life, and there are no exceptions to this law of science that has been thoroughly and rigorously tested. All scientific and observable evidence confirms this. Yet, by faith, secular science must deny it in order to maintain their belief system.

Again, most secular scientists won’t admit to maintaining a religious worldview, but consider this quote from the prominent evolutionary biologist, Richard Lewontin, which illustrates the point: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. 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 to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Here we can begin to see just how religious these atheists are. Their bias is clear. If science were really about discovering truth- as some claim it is- then they would not settle for naturalism (or materialism). They would follow the evidence wherever it leads… even if it concluded with a supernatural creation. But because ‘science’ has become its own religion, secular scientists are forced to settle for unsubstantiated just-so stories.

In my next post I’ll expand on faith and belief in science because I think it’s important to expose what is known as scientism- an approach to reduce everything scientifically to materialistic, blind, undirected causes. Scientism has, indeed, become a religion in its own right, and we need to be aware of it, see it for what it is, and call it out. I also think everyone who loves science should be aware of their own beliefs, and how their beliefs shape the way we think about science. And that is commendable.

3 thoughts on “Religion and Faith in Science

  1. “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
    ― Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

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