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That is a Great Question -Week 7: Can You Believe in the Bible and Science?
Richard Root
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That is a Great Question -Week 7: Can You Believe in the Bible and Science? Nov 1, 2020
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Richard Root Genesis 1:1-27 Sunday Online
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Sermon -Sunday Online -2020/11/01 11am -Richard Root
-"That is a Great Question -Week 7: Can You Believe in the Bible and Science?" -Genesis 1:1-27

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7. Can You Believe in the Bible and Science?

November 1, 2020

Can you believe in the Bible and science? Has the rise of modern science shown that faith is irrational or irrelevant?
“Ever since men were able to think, they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there.” —C.S. Lewis
This is a conflict between two worldviews. Neither one of them is new. They’ve both been around for centuries:
• The Materialist View: Matter and space just happen to exist and they always have existed. Nobody knows why. Matter behaves in certain fixed ways. It’s like a giant machine that evolved randomly. This randomness has produced creatures like us who are able to think.
• The Religious View: There is a “force” or an “intelligence” at work in the universe that is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. It is conscious, and has purposes. The artistry and order of creation is evidence of this mind at work. As the Psalmist writes:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (19:1)

1. Is science the only way to reliably know about something?
• Because science has made such amazing progress in certain fields like medicine or technology, some people claim the scientific method is the only way to attain reliable knowledge. This view is sometimes called scientism.
• Scientism is a system of belief. Accepting it as true is an act of faith, one that would mean there is no such thing as moral knowledge or personal knowledge or spiritual.

2. Has science proven the universe has no purpose; it’s just a random machine?
“There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead... There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.” —William Provine
• There is nothing in all the literature of evolutionary biology, not a single article in a peerreviewed journal, any confirmed study at all, that addresses a single one of those mammoth claims. Yet there’s this idea out there in the ether that something has been discovered that has discredited faith.
“We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” — Carl Sagan
• The idea of statements like this is that somehow science, by showing us how immense the size and the age of the universe is, has shown us that little tiny human beings do not have dignity or value or worth in ways that faith has taught.
• The psalmist said thousands of years ago,
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
The psalmist goes on:
“Yet, God, you have created human beings with glory and honor. You’ve crowned them, made them something like transcendent beings.”
“You have made them a little lower than the angels, and crowned them with glory and honor.” (v. 5)
• The universe evokes a sense of wonder in us that is remarkably stubborn. Wonder is the indistinguishable realization not just that something is, but that it is good. It’s the human heart echoing those words way back in Genesis:
“God spoke and it was so, and God saw that it was good.” (ref. Genesis 1-2)
• Wonder moves us to worship. If you’re thoughtful, you have to ask, “Is our hunger for wonder and meaning a clue to something just beyond material reality?”

3. Haven’t science and religion always been at war with each other, offering rival explanations of the way things are?

• This warfare view is a very common one and, admittedly, it has happened periodically in history. For example, in 1633 the Catholic Church found the scientist Galileo guilty of heresy because he wrote that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way around.
• People of faith, Christians, can get into trouble if they assume too quickly that they understand the way the Bible should be interpreted around an issue where God actually wants human beings to do scientific investigation.
• However, the notion that science and religion historically have been at war with each other is actually a myth. As a matter of fact, historically, science emerged primarily from people of faith.
“...the scientific enterprise as we know it would probably not exist had it not been for Christianity.” — Paul Chamberlain
• Faith in God is based on observations of meaning and value and order that actually underlie the rise of science itself.

4. Hasn’t evolution disproved Genesis?
• This has become a hot-button topic in the United States and it trickles into Canada. Most of the world is not caught up in that debate the way schools and teachers and pastors and politicians are in North America.
• In studying the Bible, you always have to begin by asking how it would be understood by the audience reading it in that day when it was written. How was God speaking to them then? The Bible always emerges out of a conversation in its day.
• There is a kind of arrogance in assuming, “I can ignore the conversation God was having with his people at the time and just read into the Bible whatever I see based on my own culture, my own place in history, my own agenda.”
• There was a conversation going on in the ancient Mesopotamian world: “Where did we come from? How did the earth get here?” But it was very different than the conversation in our day. In the ancient world, they weren’t concerned about how something got here from nothing. They were very concerned with how order triumphed over chaos.
• Genesis is primarily about the one true God, the good God, who was fashioning the cosmos into a kind of temple (Genesis 1-2 is filled with imagery). Creation is a temple:
… where he would take up residence
… and then deploy his image bearers (human beings made in God’s image)
… to extend his reign to exercise dominion
… so that all the earth could be ordered
… and become sacred space where God could dwell with his community.
“This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 8:14)
• Of course, in our day, some Christians interpret Genesis 1-2 differently. They want to read it as a story about “how” or “how long” or “the role of mutation” or “natural selection,” or any other twenty-first century term.
• Those questions were not around in the ancient world. Genesis is addressing the questions that were around back then in ways that have laid out the identity of human beings and our place in the cosmos with matchless, world-changing truth.

5. Doesn’t the big bang show that the universe didn’t need God to create it?
• For scientists to come to grips over the last century with the notion that there was a beginning was quite astounding. In The Language of God, Francis Collins writes:
“The existence of the Big Bang begs the question of what came before that, and who or what was responsible. It certainly demonstrates the limits of science as no other phenomenon has done. [...] The sense of awe created by these realizations has caused more than a few agnostic scientists to sound downright theological.
In God and the Astronomers, the astrophysicist Robert Jastrow wrote this final paragraph: ‘At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.’”
• That little phrase from Genesis, “in the beginning,” (1:1) starts to look a whole lot different than it did a century or two ago.
• There is something even more staggering than the evidence that the universe had a definable beginning. The universe appears in the strangest way to have been designed to support life. This is called the anthropic principle.
• The universe seems remarkably fine-tuned for life in a bunch of amazing ways. This is so striking that Stephen Hawking, who was not a person of faith, writes:
“It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun [the way it did], except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.”

Counsel for the Church
• To all of you who do science, all of you who teach or research or are involved in engineering or medicine or education or biology or chemistry or physics or neuroscience, you’re doing a noble thing.
You are thinking God’s thoughts after him.
• You are reading the big book of creation while you’re reading the little book of the Scriptures. You are obeying God’s command, given way back in Genesis, to exercise dominion, to learn about and discover and steward the earth.
• For all of us, let’s be people who are humbly submitted to the truth. If you understand nothing else about Jesus, understand this: Jesus would be the first to tell you: “You must follow truth wherever it leads.” And, it all leads back to him:
“I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

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