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James Meehan - Doesn't Science Disprove the Bible?

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    James Meehan - Doesn't Science Disprove the Bible?
TOPICS: Science, Bible

This week we're kicking off part two of our series Questions for God where we're asking doesn't science disprove the Bible? For a lot of years, I was absolutely convinced that science had disproven Christianity to the point where I thought the idea of the Bible and believing in God was just ridiculous because of all of the things that I was learning in school and on the internet. And it wasn't until years later that I was introduced to brilliant Christian thinkers who helped me to rediscover what science really is, how to properly interpret the Bible. And how would you do that these two different worlds can come together to be a beautiful picture for how we're meant to discover truth. And that's what we're gonna be talking about today, this really, really common misconception that science has disproven the Bible.

I think this is important for us to recognize because the reality is, is that question of science disproving the Bible is a relatively new question. Like a long time ago, right? The early church fathers, some of the most influential Christian leaders in the beginning of Christianity, they believed that all truth could be revealed through two sources, the book of nature, and the book of scripture. So, what is the book of nature? That is the natural world, and that is the world that science helps us discover the truth about. The book of scripture is exactly that, it's the Bible and that's where theology the study of God comes into play. And what they believed was that the God who is the God of all truth, if anything is true, it's gonna point back to him because he is the source of truth.

So if it's true in science, it will be true in scripture. What's interesting is there's a guy named David Berlinski who actually wrote a book titled "The Devil's Delusion" in response to Richard Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion" where he was criticizing the view that science can explain everything. And, he went so far as to say in this book that, "Science without religion is lame, but religion without science is blind". Now, to make sure that we're all on the same page, David Berlinski is not a Christian, right? He's not even a theist, he's agnostic but he is absolutely convinced that if we try to pit science in scripture against each other, then we're gonna end up with something that is so much less than truth. Science is a tool that we use to discover the truth about the natural world. Scripture is the tool that we use to discover the truth about our supernatural God.

Another author and historian his name is Tom Holland who again is not a Christian, but in his book, "Dominion" how the Christian revolution remade the world went so far as to say that without Christianity we would not have science. So if that's the case, then where does the conflict come from? Why is it that so many people are convinced that science disproves the Bible? Well, I think Saint Augustine said this so beautifully. He was a Christian thinker who lived a few 100 years after the start of Christianity after the death of Jesus and way back then he wrote that the conflict between science and faith comes from either misunderstanding science or misinterpreting the Bible. And honestly, for the next 1500 years that was the dominant belief in Christian circles that science and scripture can go together to help us understand the truth of our natural world and our supernatural God.

And it wasn't until the enlightenment in the 1800s where science and scripture began to be seen as opposing forces. This was because this was a time where the advances in science were coming so rapidly that there were some people who believed it was only a matter of time before science explained everything. And if science explained everything then there would be no need for religion or the Bible. And we could just throw those things out all together. And unfortunately, there were a number of Christians that felt threatened by the scientific discoveries and they began to react to what they believe were attacks from science with attacks of their own. And so, the result was an increasing gap between science and scripture, between Christians and people who valued science to the point that many people today are convinced that science and scripture are incompatible.

But like we already talked about that just isn't the case. The challenge so is that in order for us to properly understand how science and scripture actually work together we need to know what science and scripture are and how they're meant to be used. So what is science? Science is the systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation, right? The process that we do science through is the scientific method where we start with a question, we formulate a hypothesis, we begin to experiment. And through that experimentation we make observations that lead us to a conclusion that is the scientific method. Although science and scripture are not incompatible with each other, scientism and scripture absolutely are.

Now, you may be unfamiliar with that term. So I will allow Ian Hutchinson who is an MIT physicist to define that for us. He describes scientism as the view that science is the only source of real knowledge. Basically that means that if you can't prove something scientifically then it's not true. Which the problem is is that the actual statement that science is the only real way to find knowledge is a statement that cannot be proven scientifically, right? So the problem with scientism is it is a view that cannot be proven scientifically.

So, it defeats itself now to be fair though I really get why there are some scientists who think that science can explain everything because the more involved we are in a specific field or passion or hobby, the more we start to see the entire world through that thing. Like, for example, if you've ever like seen some nutritionists on YouTube, like some vegans, they will tell you that veganism is the cure for every problem, right? Just like pastors like me we try to explain everything with the Bible. In the same way, oftentimes scientists try to explain everything with science. And while science is an incredibly powerful and important tool for finding truth, and isn't the only method for finding truth. But don't just take my word for it.

Francis Collins, who is the director of the National Institute of Health here in the United States and was actually a scientist who led the Human Genome Project said this. He said that science investigates the natural world. And if God has any meaning at all, then God is outside of the natural world. Therefore it is a complete misuse of the tools of science to apply them to this discussion. Now that we've talked about what science is let's talk about the Bible. What is it? Because unless we know what the Bible really is it's gonna be really hard to read it wisely. So, just to help all of us be on the same page the Bible is not a textbook with the answers to all of our questions. The Bible is a story that imparts wisdom and leads us to Jesus. It's the story of God and his redemptive plan to rescue humanity from sin and to restore creation.

When we try to read the Bible as a science book we are setting ourselves up to read the Bible poorly. But when we understand what the Bible really is move you so much closer to actually knowing how to read it. One of the greatest examples of how to misread the Bible comes with Genesis one, the first chapter and the first page of the Bible where for so long people have debated and argued about whether or not that God really made the entire universe in six literal days. Let me just make it super clear. That is not the point of Genesis one. Genesis one is not trying to tell us how God did it, but that God did it. Genesis one is trying to show us what it means to be human and how we're meant to live as people created in the image of our loving God. The more we can understand the context of who the author is, who the audience was, the point that the author was trying to make the better we'll be able to see that actually Genesis one doesn't conflict with science at all. Instead, it really lines up with it in some super powerful ways. And it helps reveal truths about what it means to be human, about who God is, about how we're meant to live that we cannot discover through the use of science alone.

Now, I don't have time to get into all of the details of Genesis one and unpack it, but we actually did a message about this specific issue earlier this year that you can find on our YouTube channel, it's switched a youth. The message you wanna look for is how to actually read the Bible. And if you're somebody who has ever struggled with the creation narrative in Genesis one and the way that seems to contradict science then I think that message could be a really really helpful place for you to dive a little bit deeper and have some better understanding of how this beautiful piece of literature is meant to help us understand some fundamental truths about who God is and what it means to be human. So we talked about science, we've talked about the Bible. Now let's talk about that tricky word that I think can throw some people off. And that word is faith.

What is faith? Unfortunately, I think that there are a lot of people who have settled for a really really bad definition for faith, that sounds something like faith is believing without seeing, but that is so far from the biblical understanding of faith. Faith is more like trust based on the evidence. As a matter of fact, John Lennox, who is the professor of mathematics at Oxford defines faith this way. He says faith is not a leap in the dark. It's the exact opposite. It is a commitment based on evidence. The thing about faith is it is more than simply believing that something is true. So an illustration that's been helpful for me is to think about skydiving, right? So if you look at the statistics of people who go skydiving, the number of people who actually die is really small like it's .00000002%.

And so, what we know is that based on the evidence when you jump out of the plane you can trust that that parachute is going to open and you will descend safely to the ground. And here's the challenge though is that while skydivers can't be certain the parachute will open. They still trust based on the evidence that they will be just fine. That's what faith does. It bridges the gap between what we know, the evidence that we have and that little percentage of uncertainty. And that's why it's so important for us to understand faith, right? It's not believing without seeing, it's trust based on the evidence. Now, some of you might be asking the question, "Okay, but what about those Bible verses that say faith is believing without seeing"?

Now, to be clear no Bible verse says exactly those words. The second thing we've got to understand when it comes to reading the Bible is that we should never read a single verse, right? Because if we take a single verse, rip it out of context, then we can get it to mean whatever the heck we want it to mean. And I think two verses that oftentimes people will take out of context that leads them to misunderstanding what faith really is are Hebrews 11:1. The first one that we're gonna talk about where it says that "Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see". So there's the see part, but what's important is to put this verse back into the context of the chapter that it starts out because the rest of this chapter tells the story of one hero of the faith after another who trusted and followed God, wherever God led them because of their previous encounters with him, right?

We start out by discovering that by faith the universe was formed at God's command. We trust based on the evidence that everything that has a beginning requires a beginner. We trust that that beginner is God. By faith we're told that Abel brought an offering. The thing about Abel is his parents literally walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden. Later we're told that God spoke to Abraham and then Abraham trusted that God would fulfill the promise he made, right? Abraham had no guarantee, he had no certainty that everything that God said would come true, but he trusted based on the evidence. In 2nd Corinthians 5:7 the apostle Paul tells us to walk by faith and not by sight.

Now at first glance, this can make it seem like faith and sight are opposed, but when we put it in context we discover that right before this verse Paul describes the Holy Spirit as a deposit that guarantees what is to come. That means we trust that God's future promises will be fulfilled based on the evidence of the Holy Spirit filling us and transforming us. And for the Corinthian church, the church that Paul wrote this letter to that Holy Spirit was performing Iraqi signs through the people of God. So faith is not believing without seeing, faith is trusting based on the evidence. It's not a leap into the dark, it's a leap into the light. It is a commitment, not just to an idea, but it's commitment to a person. So, if faith is trust based on the evidence, what evidence is there to support that Christianity is true?

Now, before we get to the arguments for the existence of God I wanna look at three Christian qualities that led to the scientific revolution because you may not know this, but actually the scientific revolution was started by committed Christian scientists, scientists who went into the world of science and started to discover these truths about the natural world because of their faith in God. As a matter of fact, like we mentioned earlier Tom Holland would argue that without Christianity we would not have science. And he identified three Christian qualities that led to the scientific revolution. Those three qualities were first and foremost that an orderly universe comes from an orderly God, right? The idea that our universe is a universe of order with laws of nature that can be tested and discovered comes from an orderly God.

The second one is that our rational minds come from a rational God. It's the belief that our minds can discover truth that we can reason, we can ask questions, and we can discover answers to those questions that can be trusted, right? Not just the product of random chance, but intentionally crafted to be able to wrestle with rational thought. And the third idea is that doing science is an act of devotion. Yohanas Capler famously said after discovering the laws of planetary motion that he was thinking God's thoughts after him. These early Christian scientists believed that science was an act of devotion. Science was a way to worship and glorify God. And it was those different factors in order of the universe coming from an orderly God rational minds coming from a rational God and the idea of science being an act of devotion that led to the scientific revolution that completely reshaped our world today. And that scientific revolution was born in a Christian culture from committed Christian scientists doing the work of discovering truth about our natural world.

So let's look at my favorite four reasons to believe that Christianity is true. The first reason is that something came from nothing, right? So, as science agrees and scripture agrees that at some point in the finite past everything that exists began to exist. Science calls this the big bang theory, we call it Genesis one where God spoke and he created the heavens and the earth. And what's so powerful is when you look at this idea that both science and scripture agree that the universe had a beginning, that then leads to the question, okay, what caused the universe to begin? Because the argument goes like this that everything that begins to exist has a cause. Well, if the universe began to exist in the universe must have a cause, what is that cause? As Christians, we believe that that cause is God. So why do I believe that Christianity is true? Because something came from nothing.

Not only that, but order came from chaos. One of the most perplexing facts of the universe is the elements that appear to be designed for the existence of intelligent life. Author Christopher Hitchens, who was one of the four horsemen of new atheism said that this argument, the argument from design was the most challenging argument for him to counter as an atheist because he found it to be so compelling that when you look at the universe there are a number of different cosmological constants that if they were off by even the tiniest amount not only would human life cease to exist but the entire universe would no longer be life permitting.

Cosmologists estimate that there's between 100 and 150 of these different quantities that if they were off by even the slightest, the universe would not be life permitting at all. So the question becomes these elements of design, the universe being so finely tuned for the existence of intelligent life is that the result of random chance or an intelligent designer, but it seems much more likely that these such specific ratios are not the result of an accident, but the result of intention. Why do I believe that Christianity is true? Because something came from nothing and order came from chaos.

The third reason is that morals come from mayhem, right? If you believe that there is no God that there is no intelligent creator behind everything then really our entire universe is the result of random chance. But that's not how we live on a day-to-day basis. No, we actually live as if good and bad are real things. We live as if people, us we are morally responsible for our actions, right? We believe that there are things that are wrong. Not just things that are unpleasant, but things that are wrong and things that are wrong should be made right. But where does that come from?

If at the bottom of the universe was nothing more than random chance, then there would be no such thing as right and wrong. There would be no such thing as good and evil. There would just be things we like and things we don't like but that's not how we live. We live as if good and evil are real. We live as if racism and murder are wrong. We live as a beauty and truth are good to be sought after. What explains that? Well, the thing that explains that is an intelligent creator who is the source of all that is good and true and lovely in our world. Therefore, when things that are done are wrong it's not just something we don't like, it's a violation of ultimate goodness. Why do I believe that Christianity is true? Because science and scripture agree that something came from nothing. That order came from chaos. And we live everyday as if life is based on morality and not mayhem.

The final reason I believe that Christianity is true is because life came from death. You see one of the most significant events in history that has actually reshaped how we tell time, right? The reason we're living in the year 2021 is because 2021 years ago, Jesus entered history. This idea of this man who lived, who died, and then rose again has completely reshaped the world. And the apostle Paul said very boldly that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead then Christianity is false. But I believe based on the evidence that the best explanation for the rise of Christianity the historical facts surrounding the resurrection is that Jesus did what he said he was going to do that he rose from the grave because if Jesus didn't rise from the grave, then there wouldn't have been an empty tomb. If Jesus didn't rise from the grave then his followers who were literally willing to die for the belief that Jesus rose wouldn't die, right? People will die for things that they believe are true but people don't die for things that they know are a lie.

And so if these transformed followers weren't convinced that Jesus had really risen from the grave why would they go to their death claiming that he had? Not only that but the apostle Paul who started out as a guy named Saul was persecuting Christians one day and then planting churches the next, because he believed that he had an encounter with the risen Jesus. And then beyond that, we have to look at the reality that at the day of Pentecost there were about 120 or so Christians in Jerusalem. And then over the course of 300 years, those a couple of hundred Christians grew, multiplied, into the point where the entire Roman Empire became Christian. The empire that killed Jesus ended up calling him, Lord. What explains that? Not that some random uneducated dudes came up with a really convincing lie, but that Jesus did what he said he was going to do, that he rose from the grave.

This is why I believe that Christianity is true. Because When I look at the origin and the design of our universe I'm convinced that there's no better explanation than that the God of everything created everything. When I look at the fact that every single day we live as if good and evil are real things, I'm convinced that that's not the result of random chance or chaos but an intelligent designer who created everything as an act of love. When I look at the course of human history and the rise of Christianity I'm convinced that the best explanation is that Jesus really rose from the grave because the idea of these 12 uneducated dues coming up with a lie that convincing that idea seems really unconvincing to me. So, what will you say? What will you do? Will you choose to have faith? And again, I'm not talking about believing without seeing, I'm asking you to trust based on the evidence.

And maybe you're not convinced yet at the very least would you be willing to think scientifically about this idea? Would you be willing to test the hypothesis that Jesus is Lord, what would happen if you chose to put your trust in him, would he hold up? It's really important for you to understand that you don't need to have enough faith to answer every question. All you need is enough faith to follow Jesus. Because if you do he will show you everything you need to know. That has been his invitation from the very beginning. And that is still his invitation to this very day. So long ago as Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake because they were fishermen. And this is what Jesus said to them. He said, "Come follow me. And I will send you out to fish for people". The thing that you've been searching for meaning significance, purpose, love, acceptance, grace, all of those things are made complete in the person of Jesus. And he's inviting you to follow him. He's inviting you to trust him. Will you have faith? Let's pray.

Heavenly Father I thank you so much that you are the God of all truth that you put truth in nature. You put truth in scripture and when we follow truth it will lead us back to you.

I know that there are probably some of you right now that as you're listening to this message you realize that you've been wrestling with these questions for a really long time. And you've been searching for answers, but you haven't known where to look. What I hope you'll be willing to do is to bring those questions to God, to process your doubts with people you trust and commit to following Jesus. And what I wanna do is I wanna pray for you to have the wisdom and the courage to begin to do exactly that to trust that God will lead you to truth and that when you follow truth, it will bring you back to him. And so, if that's you and you're wanting prayer for that to wrestle with these questions wisely then simply type it in the chat, lift up your hand. And I'm gonna pray for you right now that God gives you wisdom and courage.

Heavenly Father I thank you for those students who are willing to be honest wrestling with these questions admitting that they are searching for answers. And God would I ask that you would do is that you would guide them to the right people, the right places to find good answers to their questions. Because what we know is that these questions are so many of us are dealing with today have been wrestled with and talked through by Christians throughout the ages. And so God what I ask is that you would remind them of your presence, that God you would fill them with your peace. And that God you would guide them into the places where they can find the answers to these questions. And even when they don't find those answers that they would still be willing to trust you.

Still in an attitude of prayer with heads bowed and eyes closed there are others of you right now who it's exactly these questions about science and the Bible that have kept you away from God. Maybe those are the questions that drove you away from Christianity altogether. But today there's something that is stirring inside of you that you don't even know how to explain. What I hope you'll understand is that as long as you have been alive, God has been seeking a relationship with you so much so that before you were ever born God entered history in the person of Jesus. What's so important for us to understand is that as human beings we were created to live in a relationship with God. But because of our sin the things that we've done to hurt ourselves and others we have actually turned our backs on him but our God has constantly been pursuing us so much so that as the person, Jesus, God lived a perfect life. He died a brutal death on the cross so that anybody who puts their trust in him could be forgiven of their sins and the gospel. The good news is that death was not the end of the story.

Now, Easter Sunday so long ago Jesus rose from the grave. The tomb was empty, hell had lost its power. And because of that, anybody who says Jesus I want to follow you can be made new. And I believe that there are so many that is exactly why you are here today. To begin a relationship with Jesus, to open yourself up to his grace, his mercy, and his peace to be made new. If that's you and you're ready to begin that relationship to say Jesus today, I'm giving you my life then wherever you are, lift your hand right now, type it in the chat. Leave a comment below this video on YouTube. Let us know that you're making the choice to put your trust in Jesus, because there is no better decision that you could ever make. Because when you choose to put your trust in Jesus you are no longer defined by your sin or your shame, but you become defined by God's love for you. And as people are making that decision we're gonna pray it together as a switch family. Because even though you had to make that choice on your own you don't have to pray alone. And so, will you pray out loud with us together as a switch family, as we declare the new life that we have in Christ. Repeat after me:

Heavenly Father forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace, and I need your mercy. It's in Jesus' name. Amen.

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