Sermons

Summary: Those seeking truth should consider: 1. Christian faith birthed science. 2. Miracles are not things done against natural law, but according to natural law. 3. To close the door to the possibility of the existence of God goes against the very fabric

How do you explain miracles to a scientist? How do you explain science to a Christian? Can it be done, and is there a conflict between the two? How do we use objective critical reasoning and still believe in things like the parting of the Red Sea, a virgin giving birth to a child, shriveled hands and blind eyes being restored, a man walking on water, a dead person emerging from the grave?

For William Lane Craig, a Ph. D. who has written for the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation and other scholarly publications, the virgin birth was the main sticking point in keeping him from the Christian faith. He said, “When the Christian message was first shared with me as a teenager, I had already studied biology. I knew that for the virgin birth to be true, a Y chromosome had to be created out of nothing in Mary’s ovum, because Mary didn’t possess the genetic material to produce a male child. To me, this was utterly fantastic. It just didn’t make sense.” But as he continued to study the life of Christ and his teachings, he became overwhelmed by the attraction of Christ’s life. He says, “I guess the authenticity of the person of Jesus and the truth of his message were so powerful that they simply overwhelmed any residual doubts that I had.” When he was asked how he got past this problem, he said, “Well, I sort of put that issue aside and became a Christian anyway, even though I didn’t really believe in the virgin birth. But then, after becoming a Christian, it occurred to me that if I really do believe in a God who created the universe, then for him to create a Y chromosome would be child’s play!” The same can be said for the resurrection. If God can create life out of nothing, raising someone from the dead would not be a problem.

Many thinking people over the years have struggled with the supernatural events of the Bible. It seemed impossible to them that there could be a reconciliation between faith and objective rational thought. In an attempt to respond to that I want to bring up three points for people to consider who are seriously searching for truth. The first is this: The Christian faith birthed modern science. Many people think that Christianity and science have been enemies from the beginning, a fact that is simply untrue. The truth is that the earliest scientists were almost all Christians, and the Christian faith is what made scientific investigation possible. The reason for that is that in the not too distant past, and even in many places today, people tended to worship nature. If a tree is sacred you dare not take the tree apart just to study the tree. The ancient religions believed in something we call Pantheism — the belief that God is not only in everything, everything is God. This belief has been revived in our culture, and was popularized by the Walt Disney movie Pocahontas. We hear this idea as many people today talk about the earth as a living being. Pantheism hindered scientific research because it considered the natural world objects for worship rather than objects to study.

The ancient Greeks went the other direction and equated the material world with evil and disorder. They believed it was futile to try to make sense of it. But the early Christians began to introduce a new thought into the minds of people. They taught that nature is good, but it is not a god. It has design because it was created by an intelligent Being. There is intelligence and order behind the universe. The universe is friendly, not hostile and capricious. Nature is not sacred, but is to be used as a gift from a good and loving God. The natural world is not God, or the same as God, it is his creation and is separate from him. He is not the “soul” of nature. In effect, these Christians “de-deified” nature; that is, they taught that nature was not sacred in itself and could be studied without fear. The laws of nature were predictable because they were the laws of a dependable and orderly God.

The earliest scientists were people of profound faith. People like Copernicus, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Kepler and many others were men of deep personal faith and conviction. Isaac Newton wrote that the world arose from “the perfectly free will of God,” and that we must investigate the world by “observations and experiments.” Copernicus was convinced that the world, which the God he loved had made, was mathematically precise, and before telescopes were even invented he theorized that the planets orbited around the sun rather than the earth, because it fit the mathematical formulas better. Galileo, who held to the theory of Copernicus, was called a heretic by the church of his day, but he claimed that even though his work contradicted popular beliefs of the time, which had been influenced by Greek philosophy, it did not contradict a proper understanding of the Bible. Galileo was a man of deep faith who believed he was revealing the laws of God in his work.

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