What about Science and Miracles?
“I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so...the battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other.”
It is popular these days to argue that the study of science is incompatible with any sort of religious belief. Both Christians and non-Christians alike seem to think that you have to choose between the Christian faith or modern science. Since this is a widely held belief both inside and outside the church, there are people on both sides who hold it. This chapter seeks to understand some of the motivations behind this position and why it is the wrong approach to take.
Often, when I ask a skeptic why they don’t believe in God, many will respond with the very unfortunate line:
“I don’t believe in God. I believe in science.”
That statement saddens me. When you take the time to look at the real relationship between faith and science, you find the two are not enemies; rather, they are friends. Granted, they are friends that do not always agree on everything. No friendship ever does. They have their points of tension. Every friendship has these as well. As friends, faith and science have a great deal of history together. They work hard to hold each other accountable and challenge one another to be better (I hope you have friends like that too).
What if, after all, you did not have to choose between believing in God and being committed to the findings of science?
Excellent Videos I Recommend:
Here is a documentary style 30 minute take on the topic of miracles.
Here's my approach to working through the question: How do science and Christianity relate:
A historic debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins at Oxford University. This one will be a classic. You need to watch it.
Here are some books I recommend on the topic:
God's Undertaker, Has Science Buried God? - John Lennox. Easily the clearest and most readable of any of the books I have read on this topic.
Reason for God - Tim Keller. This is a fantastic overall apologetic from a seasoned pastor who has engaged with and reached skeptics in New York for decades.
Science & Faith, Friends or Foes? - C John Collins. I loved everything that C. John Collins wrote when I did my master's degree on this subject.
FYI: Here is a podcast episode I did with Dr. Collins:
One Addition Word About Miracles
To many people, miracles are completely off the table. For them, the universe functions as a closed system. Naturalism is the belief that nature is the ultimate reality, and nothing can interrupt or disrupt the way it runs. There is no room for talk of the supernatural. It is outside of the naturalist’s modus operandi. This worldview argues that since there are natural laws that govern the way things happen every time. In fact, those laws govern the way things happen every time with out any outside help.
If there is a God, as theists believe, he can certainly be involved in his created world. The question quickly shifts to the existence of such a being. “Is there a God who can do miracles or not?” This is why this book started with the numerous evidences that point to the existence of God. I believe theism is the most rational explanation for the world we experience. If there is a God, he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants in history. Richard Swinburne explains, “natural laws can be set aside only by the action or with the permission of God who sustains them in operation.”
It is a given that miracles are an anomaly. They are not what we usually experience. They are God’s to give and not ours to demand from him. However, God often chooses to intervene like this. In this chapter we are really looking at only one historical miracle: The miracle of God raising Jesus from the dead, three days after he was crucified. The following paragraphs are what have led me and many others to believe this is what happened.
The relationship between faith and science is an interesting and complex one and it seems like there are public misunderstandings about how they get along. Once considered, we see that Christians should appreciate and feel free to participate in scientific research. It is my hope that scientists would grow to appreciate the contribution of Christianity in order to develop a well-rounded worldview that explains the world around them, answering life’s deepest questions.