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Are science and faith incompatible?

Friday, 5 March 2010  | Ethos: EA Centre for Christianity and Society

First, many scientists are people of faith. They are far from being so rare as to be, according to Dawkins “a subject of amused bafflement to their peers in the academic community”. A survey of 1000 U.S. scientists in 1916 showed that 41.8% believed in a God who answers prayer. This percentage had not fallen significantly when the survey was repeated in 1996, despite the enormous growth in scientific knowledge in fields as diverse as cosmology, quantum theory, genetics, neurobiology and so on. If science disproves God or is incompatible with faith, there should be no scientists who are religious, or if there are, they must be very dysfunctional individuals. But consider just some of the prominent Christians who are also scientists. Alister McGrath started his academic life as an atheist, but became a Christian while doing a doctorate in molecular biophysics, and has written extensively in the area of the relationship between the natural sciences and Christian belief, including The Dawkins Delusion. John Polkinghorne resigned his professorial chair in Mathematical Physics at Cambridge to study for ordained ministry, and is a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion. Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, became a Christian while working with the dying, and in 2009 founded the BioLogos Foundation to "contribute to the public voice that represents the harmony of science and faith”. These are not dysfunctional or unthinking individuals, who keep their science and their faith separate or haven't thought through the implications of their science for their faith, and vice versa.

Psalm 19 is sometimes called the Psalm of God's Two Books, because it speaks of how God expresses Himself through both the Book of nature, and the Book of scripture. God does not contradict himself. The study of the natural world can never disprove God. All truth is God's truth. The person who is open to truth will not be drawn away from God by studying the world God has made. On the contrary he or she may be drawn towards God by the beauty and wonder of the world that reflects its creator. “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night declares knowledge”.


Robert Stening
March 5, 2010, 9:38PM
I am teaching an online course on "Science and Religion" at UNSW. Presently I have 300 students enrolled. These come from a variety of religions and beliefs, including a fair proportion of atheists.
I tried to get funding to analyse some of these students' thoughts on the subject but was unsuccessful. This work is is beyond my own capabilities in terms of the time and application required. Just today I noticed that several students started following the religion of their family (not always Christianity) and abandoned it later when studying science.
Linda Bartlett
March 9, 2010, 2:23AM
I guess im very glad that I failed science at school, but i cannot understand if I was NOT created, then why has no other human either before me or now and dare i say future, not have the same eye or fingerprint as I have,
#The incredibly complex genetic code discovered within the DNA double helix is also a prime example of intricate design that is promting many scientists to "switch sides".
Evalutionists have to contend with another major hurdle when it comes to explainng how life originated. Life depends not only on DNA but RNA and proteins. All must be present in life to exist. As Dr John Marcus at the Univercity of QLD notes " Converting DNA information into the proteins ( needed in a living cell) requires at least 75 different protein molecules ( for the process to actually take place) . But each and every one of these 75 proteins must be synthesised by the process in which they themselves are involved. How could the process begin without the the presence of all the necessary proteins?....(And) could it be that a strand of DNA just happened to be in the same place as all these proteins?
source The sceptics guide to God....David Heenan
Jennifer Turner
March 14, 2010, 12:08AM
Listening to Q & A last week with Dawkins in full flight reminded me of the years in the 60s when leading scientists who were Christians in our city (Adelaide) held an anuual science weekend for senior high school students. I wonder what the equivalent way today would be to demonstate to this age group and others that scientists can also be Christians. Not all scientists can argue philosphically about science (as Mcgrath, for example) but many can demonstrate in their love for their professional field as well as their God that the two are not incompatible.
Michael Smith
April 14, 2010, 9:56AM
For those wanting to dig deeper into this topic, especially those in the sciences, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read "God's Undertaker" by John Lennox. As an outstanding philosopher of science and Fellow in Mathematics at Oxford, Lennox systematically examines and deconstructs every commonly-proposed argument for conflict between science and Christianity, and for a scientific justification of atheism. From examining the famous clashes of Galileo and the Catholic church; and the Huxley/Wilberforce debate on evolution, he then looks at fine tuning in the universe, the origin of life, information theory (with regards to DNA encoding), etc. The current edition was updated in 2008 and addresses specifically all the issues raised in recent works by Dawkins.

He does go into a fair bit of detail, but I believe he explains the science well enough to be accessible to a lay audience. Even better, I picked up a copy from Koorong for $9.95... :)

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