Science and Faith: An Introduction

One of my goals whenever I write is to stay within the bounds of my qualification. For example, you will never see me write about the impact of art on American culture. Frankly, I went to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Pete once, and that visit represents the extent of my art knowledge. So, in an attempt to be honest intellectually, I want to write appropriately within the confines of my experience, observation, and research.

In light of this endeavor, Science is a terrifying topic to cover. I am Sophomore Biochemistry student; therefore, in regards to actual scientific credentials, I am almost completely bankrupt. I can, for the sake of the exam on Friday, explain some basic Organic Chemistry to a non-science major. But, in comparison to the breadth and depth of knowledge that even the most basic Graduate program teaches, my knowledge is deficient in a plethora of ways. I am sure that many honest science majors can relate in my personal struggle with the magnitude of material that I still have to learn. The weight of this unknown often places a heavy feeling of inadequacy on my shoulders, especially when discussing scientific matters with peers and professors.

So, as a twenty year-old undergraduate, I will not claim that I have complete understanding of the irreducible complexity within the flagella of certain microorganisms or anything of that nature. I will leave that to men and women who have far surpassed me in hours researching and studying. This excuse from ignorance is temporary, for I am studying to reach competence in these areas. But,

my relative restraint on these matters is, I feel, appropriate on this blog at this juncture of my life.

However, I feel compelled as a young Christian who is pursuing a career in science to open a dialogue about the intersection of Science and faith in our culture. My primary reason for approaching this topic is the fact that two major worldviews of our time, naturalism and secular humanism1, rely on science as the only reliable source of truth. I want to approach this assertion over the course of my next several blog posts. But, I want to emphasize that I deeply desire for this to be a conversation! Whether you are a Christian who struggles with scientific arguments against the existence of God, or you are a non-Christian who sees Christianity as anti-science, I want to hear your input! I look forward to hearing responses! Again, for the time being, I want to tread with extreme caution into highly specified discussions on scientific data that are most likely above all of our expertise. But, let us discuss how our lives should be affected by what science has to tell us.

Ever important in effective communication is the defining of terms. So let me set the parameters for our science discussion in this way. We will define science as the physical sciences. I clarify this because the term science can technically be used to describe any set of theories and observations related to a specific subject. We will, for sake of specificity and, honestly, my own interest, abstain from speaking of the social sciences unless it relates to how we perceive the physical sciences. This series will no doubt contain philosophical discussions, but let us attempt to always return to the relation of the physical sciences with worldview.

I want to begin this conversation with a simple concept that will help strain away any natural dishonesty that can creep into a metaphysical conversation. Though Descartes had his flaws, I suggest that we follow his lead in attempting to strip away layers of rhetoric and presuppositions that often cloud rational judgment. When he said, “I think, therefore I am,” he effectively proposed that an attempt at objectivity can only begin with reliance on the simplest of faculties: the ability to think. Now, as a Christian I must clarify that any correct theology declares that our rational capabilities are not supreme. But, we as Christians must also realize that without God’s gift of rationality, a divine-human relationship would be impossible. So, if we can strip away any preconceived notions and simply think, the path to truth will be much straighter.

This applies to this discussion because both Christians and Non-Christians often rely on name-calling and biting rhetoric as substitutes for logical argument. I dare you to type in Atheist memes on Google and see the unintelligence that is strewn in every direction. Therefore, I plead with you, attempt to ditch “meme-deep” arguments and take an honest look around you. Both you and I were born on this Earth and are currently seeking for the rationale behind existence. Let us journey forth as fellow humans and discuss in civility!

– Christopher Parish

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