April 5, 2020

Guest Post — Science and Faith Issues: A Personal Testimony and a Plea for Perspective

Sun, Moon, & Stars, Wilner

Update: Sorry, while I was away today, we received some spam that appeared in the comments. I have deleted these and related comments. CM.

Note from CM: Earlier this year, I was involved in a discussion about Genesis and creation issues on a site where my views were most certainly not welcome. I kept noticing comments from one participant, Garrett League. He also disputed the interpretations and the way of thinking that was being promoted. He did so with such sound thinking and grace that I was deeply impressed. We began corresponding and he became a regular participant here at IM. Recently, I wrote Garrett and asked if he would write an essay describing his own personal journey and how he has come to think about faith and science issues. Thankfully, he agreed. After enjoying this post, you can check out more of his writing at his blog, The Face of the Deep. Welcome, Garrett!


By Garrett League

When Christians talk evolution, the age of the earth, or the early chapters of Genesis things tend to get ugly fast. There are few exceptions to this rule (at least I assume there are since, in all honesty, I haven’t come across any of them myself).

I am the first to admit guilt in this area. There are comments sections online at this moment that will make my face turn bright red when Jesus points them out to me on the last day. As a failure speaking to other failures, I want to briefly give you a sketch of where I’m coming from on these issues, after which I will make three observations that I have found helpful in thinking on matters of science and faith.

I am convinced that life is too short and Jesus is coming back too soon to waste our time on what often amount to nothing more than “foolish, ignorant controversies,” which “breed quarrels” rather than godliness (2 Tim 2:23). If we are to make these discussions profitable, we have to repent, get some perspective, and put these issues in their rightful place by viewing Jesus in his rightful place, namely, front and center.

First, here’s where I’m coming from.

I grew up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. A Sunday school grad, I knew all about Genesis and all the other familiar bible stories. I was also obsessed with dinosaurs and saw JP1 in theaters (against my mom’s protests; thanks dad!). Even at that young age, I knew enough about the Bible to know that something wasn’t clicking. For quite some time I was downright confused. My big sis told me that the fossils in the museums were probably fabricated just to make us doubt our faith, but I didn’t buy that (recall that I had seen them in the flesh with my own two eyes in theaters!).

Fish & Fowl, Wilner

All this confusion was immediately dispelled in junior high when I was introduced to Kent Hovind, a.k.a., “Dr. Dino.” By the end of that first VHS seminar, I was sold. These were the answers I had been waiting for. Fast forward a few years and I’m in my high school biology class handing my teacher a creation seminar DVD and having debates over plate tectonics with my agnostic friend at lunch. I even had one of my calculus buddies write in my senior yearbook, “Evolution will always be a joke to me.”

Long story short, I went to college, became a biology major, lost confidence in Dr. Dino, became disillusioned with Ken Ham, and ended up briefly flirting Hugh Ross-style old-earth creationism. By God’s grace I did not have a crisis of faith. But it still sucked. I found falsehoods, distortions, and well-intended half-truths and I found them the hard way.

This leads me to my first point: we must emphasize options. I was told for many years and in a thousand different ways, both implicitly and explicitly, that young-earth creationism was the only biblically-faithful option for Christians to even consider. All else was sheer compromise prompted by a craven need to be seen as intellectually credible to the “secular” scientists. Sadly, there is often a grain of truth to this. Yet it would take a cynicism of gargantuan proportions to universalize that unfortunate fact, which I believe is the exception to the rule.

In his latest book The God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God’s Story, D. A. Carson states in a chapter entitled “The God who Made Everything” under the section “Genesis 1-2 and Science” that “There is more ambiguity in the interpretation of these chapters than some [I would say most] Christians recognize” (p.13).

One of the first things Christians have to acknowledge at the outset of discussions on science and faith is that the early chapters of Genesis are ambiguous enough to permit honest differences in interpretation. I think we all tacitly acknowledge this and yet it doesn’t seem to stop us from being far too sure of ourselves than the text itself permits us to be. This is not to call into question the perspicuity of scripture but rather to affirm it.

To quote The Westminster Confession:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

As with a whole host of specific eschatological questions, when it comes to relating modern science with Genesis 1-11 Christians have to get used to a healthy spectrum of orthodox opinions. Indeed, the very existence of such spectrums of belief on these issues among orthodox believers ought to serve as a reminder of their relative marginality.

Creation—Day Three, Racz

Second, we also have to keep in mind that, again quoting Carson, “There is more ambiguity in the claims of science than some [again, I would say most] scientists recognize” (p.15). If it’s wrong to be overly dogmatic where the biblical text does not speak with great precision it is equally true that those making claims on behalf of science ought to exercise at least as much caution in presenting the relative strengths and weaknesses of the current scientific consensus. Stephen Jay Gould, in his essay “Evolution as Fact and Theory,” gave this sober admonition to his fellow scientists:

[…] most of all I am saddened by a trend I am just beginning to discern among my colleagues. I sense that some now wish to mute the healthy debate about theory that has brought new life to evolutionary biology. It provides grist for creationist mills, they say, even if only by distortion. Perhaps we should lie low and rally around the flag of strict Darwinism, at least for the moment—a kind of old-time religion on our part.

But we should borrow another metaphor and recognize that we too have to tread a straight and narrow path, surrounded by roads to perdition. For if we ever begin to suppress our search to understand nature, to quench our own intellectual excitement in a misguided effort to present a united front where it does not and should not exist, then we are truly lost.

To be fair, Gould did not have Intelligent Design in mind when he referred to “healthy debate,” whether or not you believe he ought to have. Rather, what Gould had in mind are those reactionary scientists (use your imagination here) who present their respective fields as though they have long since “arrived.” No discussion. No debate. Nothing to see here.

A few semesters back, I took a course on evolutionary biology and speciation in which we read countless articles from some of the top researchers in the field, each of whom had a slightly different take on some aspect of speciation. Heck, there is still quite a bit of ink being spilled as to how we should define a species in the first place! There are lots of angles, opinions, and questions. Nature is like that. Its diversity is such that it defies one size fits all descriptions, and that’s part of what makes science interesting. To pretend as if that complexity doesn’t exist in an attempt to sound more authoritative to the general public than the data permits is to make as great an error as those Christians who divide the sheep from the goats based on whether or not they believe Noah brought dinosaurs on the ark (a fine question, but surely not one that demands a homogeneous response).

Carson later proceeds to lay his cards on the table: “I hold that the Genesis account is a mixed genre that feels like history and really does give us some historical particulars. At the same time, however, it is full of demonstrable symbolism. Sorting out what is symbolic and what is not is very difficult” (p.14). Generally speaking, I see the text the same way, though I by no means came to that conclusion overnight.

Creation—Day Four, Racz

My third and final observation is to simply point out the obvious: navigating the boundary of science and scripture complicated! It takes time, patience, and humility. It also takes listening to experts and reading their informed thoughts on these topics, especially when they disagree with us. Many of the questions involved in understanding the relationship between science and faith require a level of expertise that lies far beyond the layman’s grasp. And yet seminarians pontificate on pseudogenes as if it were no biggie and students in the natural sciences adjudicate on Hebrew semantics as if they were born reciting the shema. Who do we think we’re kidding? You’re certainly not fooling me, granted that you’re saying something silly like “You can’t increase genetic information! Don’t you know mutations only make things worse!” Ha, that’s cute. In overstepping our narrow boundaries we only broadcast our own ignorance. Should we honestly expect “Duh!” answers to such complex questions?

In short, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If it lacks nuance you should be suspicious. If it’s too nuanced, be equally suspicious, as many harmonizations are too clever by half. For now, we must simply be content with not knowing the answers to many of these seemingly pressing questions, at least not with any high degree of certainty. Ask the experts on both sides of these debates and you’ll find that they’re often just as clueless as you are.

What we do know, however, is that Christians need not sacrifice their commitment to the Lordship of Jesus or the authority of the Bible in order to make a living as a practicing scientist. Carson notes a familiar, yet counterintuitive phenomenon:
“I have spoken at many universities, and one of the interesting things I discover is that if I attend nearby local churches and meet some of the faculty in the universities who belong to these local churches and who are committed believers, their numbers
tend to be made up of more science and math professors and the like than arts,
psychology, and English literature professors. It is simply not the case that anyone who is a scientist cannot be a Christian” (p.15).

As one who also attends a university area church, I can personally attest to this. I recently began attending a weekly young adult life group comprised of mostly grad students and recent graduates at the beginning of their careers. One the first night, I met three former biology majors, a statistically significant number given that the group only has a dozen or so members! The group co-leader was a physics major who is currently working on his master’s in engineering. One person jokingly referred to us as the science life group. And you know what? These topics never come up. Aside from a couple of conversations over the age of the earth and intelligent design that I had with the co-leader over lunch a while back (f.y.i., he knows a lot more about astrophysics than I do and no, he does not believe the earth is young), it’s almost as if we’re just blissfully unaware that were not supposed to be worshipping Jesus while seeking careers in science and engineering (If only we knew the depths of our cognitive dissonance!).

It is my prayer that the body of Christ would discuss matters of science and faith in such a way that Jesus would be seen as unmistakably preeminent and infinitely more important. It haunts me that these discussions often exude an insecure, loveless, Christ-ignoring paranoia that gives the impression that the article on which the church stands or falls is located closer to the age of the earth than the good news of Jesus’s dying and rising for our sins. Jesus (you know, the one who made all this stuff) rose from the dead and we’re getting this worked up over carbon dating? The mysteries of God’s grace toward us in the incarnate Lord Jesus outweigh these issues as a mountain outweighs a molehill.

Creation—Day Five, Racz

How should we then live?

We must give Christ and his gospel first priority and view secondary matters accordingly.

  • This means turning the other cheek if goaded into an argument on whether or not Adam had a belly button.
  • It means resisting the temptation to take potshots and those “backwater” creationists or those “compromising” old-earthers, since Jesus died for both of them alike.
  • It means not insisting on our own way when a brother or sister who is weaker in the faith can’t bear the scientific or theological concessions of your particular harmonization, whatever it may be.
  • It means ending the incessant motive mongering and giving those who disagree with us the benefit of the doubt.
  • Often, it may mean not bringing these topics up at all. Our attitude need not always be “Here I stand; I can do no other!” Indeed, in matters of science and faith, it’s more often “Here I stand; but, bro, I totally get why you’re standing over there.”

I’m going to go repent now. I hope you’ll join me.

Comments

  1. Great article, man. As a favorite Bible teacher of mine once remarked, “Major on the majors, and minor on the minors.” The questions surrounding the hows of creation are, in the end, minors. I mean, how much difference is it going to make in our practical living if we think the earth is young or old. Does my decisions to love my neighbor depend on my doctrine of origins? I hope not. But I do understand the pursuit of truth and the desire to know for sure. I think you’re right, though. In this life we’re going to have to swallow the fact that some things cannot be known with certainty.
    In the end, we are brothers and sisters belonging to God, and that matters most. Let us simply enjoy our ability to share and converse with each other, while maintaining an attitute of respect and recognition of the fact that none of us has all the answers, and we don’t need to pretend that we do.

  2. I have really appreciated the articles and discussions on this topic, and, yes, I’ve been through the whole Kent Hovind–Ken Ham–wait a minute it’s not as simple as that progression myself. (Actually Kent Hovind always did drive me nuts.)

    So now I’m OK with the ambiguity for myself–the genre of Genesis is not clear, the lines between symbolism and literalism is fuzzy, and science doesn’t have all the answers either. What I’m not sure is how to pass on a nuanced understanding like this to young children. See, I have some very bright and questioning young children, whom I homeschool, and I honestly don’t know how to start.

    They know the Bible stories, they’re ready to start digging in to history and science, and I can no longer give them the Ussher Timeline as gospel truth. So what do I say instead that still leaves them respecting the truth of the Bible?

  3. Just a quick comment on something that has been re-re-re-brought-up for me just this last week (are there enough “re”s in there to get my feeling across?) is that not everyone view this topic the same as you do.

    I am convinced that life is too short and Jesus is coming back too soon to waste our time on what often amount to nothing more than “foolish, ignorant controversies,” which “breed quarrels” rather than godliness (2 Tim 2:23). If we are to make these discussions profitable, we have to repent, get some perspective, and put these issues in their rightful place by viewing Jesus in his rightful place, namely, front and center.

    For many in this argument the issue of a 6000 year old Earth is not a secondary issue. The statements about how “if Genesis is not a literal account of the Creation, then we can’t trust anything in the Bible” are a dime a dozen, and illustrate why the fervor over this question can rise so high – for some people this issue is on the same scale as to whether or not God exists or Jesus died for our sins.

    A statement that this is a secondary issue to be approached in an among-faithful-brothers manner is of little use in discussing the topic with those to whom the statement is targeted.

    • WebMonk has nailed it: this is primarily an epistemological issue cloaked in a science-vs-faith debate.

    • Notwithstanding how difficult the original point is, this sort of ‘all-inclusive, let’s have a cup of tea, brother’, approach rests on an outlook that says “I have to believe that what the Bible says about Jesus is true, because that bit is really important to me, oh, and it’s only in the near-past. But I don’t have to believe what the Bible says about Adam or Noah, because that’s not important to me, and besides that’s in the far far past.”

      • Thank you very much for providing such a perfect example statement of how a YEC follower would completely misrepresent and malign the view of those with whom they disagree.

        That is exactly the sort of blindness so often spouted in other places on the Internet. I’m not sure everyone has seen that sort of statement out on the web, but if not, you did put together an excellent example.

        Thanks Gregorio. Every once and a while some people don’t believe that some of the YEC followers say stuff quite that ridiculous. However, I don’t think your statement will prove it to those who truly doubt anyone could be that blind; rather I think they would need to see something like that straight from an authoritative source in the YEC world.

        Still, I appreciate the work you did on putting up such a sterling sample. Readers can be assured that this sort of statement does get made for real by many in the YEC camp.

        • Better to light a candle – right?
          and I’ve never been given a bloody nose in quite such a nice way.
          Please just now go ahead and explain how you (personally) pick between the old documents. List out your canon.

          • I always aim to please! 🙂

            I’m not sure what you mean when you ask me to pick between the “old documents” and to list my canon.

            If you are asking me to say which books I believe are the inspired word of God in the Bible and which are not, I’ll answer all of them. If you mean Genesis 1 in particular, I believe it is completely truthful and fully a trustworthy part of the Bible.

            But, I’m just making blind stabs at answering what you’re asking. I’m not entirely clear what you mean.

      • Gregorio, my original point can be summed up perfectly by what Chaplain Mike has said on a previous post on this topic:

        “I am not saying, ‘Let’s all get along,’ or ‘Let’s just give in’ to a certain position. I’m saying, let’s love the Lord with all our minds, people. Let’s learn to talk to one another. Let’s learn to pick our battles, and when we identify them, let’s fight them with the Lord’s own weapons of humility, love, and service. Let’s learn how to be followers of Jesus in the real world.”

        My message is no different. If that sounds like “all-inclusive, let’s have a cup of tea, brother” that’s fine, because I’m a big celestial seasonings fan! And yes, I would sit down with you or any other brother over a cup of tea any day to discuss these topics, and I’d end it with a hug and/or handshake.

        I am a bit horrified at the premise you say I rest that point on, namely, that Jesus is important to me and he lived only 2,000 years ago and Adam and Noah are “not important to me, and besides that’s in the far far past.” I hope I have not imbibed that attitude and I apologize if I even gave a hint of that, because I stand with you in rejecting it.

        My premise rests not on how old the events happen to be or how important I feel they are, but rather on what the bible intends to communicate and how it communicates what it intends to communicate. Those are not simple questions, and I think Christians can disagree on them, not because the events are remote and unimportant, but because of the element of ambiguity that Carson notes. The text itself leaves room for this because, as C. John Collins has said in his Genesis commentary, the descriptions are “broadstroke and suggestive” rather than scientifically precise.

  4. I agree. Jesus died for the sins of young-earthers and old-earthers alike. I don’t take this issue to be a test of regeneration or saving faith.

  5. Josh in FW says

    Very well done. Work like this makes me proud to be a Baylor alumnus.

  6. I’m torn on how to respond to this article.

    On the one hand any attempt to get young earth creationists to wake up and acccept basic scientific realities is something to be applauded.

    However, I cannot just overlook that this is occuring in the context of an argument that science and religious faith can be reconciled, a proposition I simply cannot agree with. They can be held in parallel, so long as one is capable of compartmentalizing their thought processes such that the prohibitions science places on embracing unfalsifiable hypotheses are simply bypassed/short circuited when that hypothesis has the label “religious” attached to it, but I see no possible manner in which they can be reconciled.

    The entire point of the scientific method… the reason we have peer review, and requirements for objective verification and repeatability of observations, and falsifiability criteria… is to *remove* the detrimental effects of individuals personal “faith” on our conclusions about the world around us. Religious faith and scientific methodology are mutually incompatible. It is because science recognized long ago that faith-based conclusions are inherently unreliable and not to be trusted that effectively the entire scientific method exists.

    And that goes double for *unfalsifiable* faith based explanations, which beyond not being trustworthy also lack any actual information content or real explanatory value.

    • And I’m curious how many of the claims you are making in your reply are falsifiable.

      • Would you care to name one you think isn’t?

        • Sorry. I should have said “false” not “falsifiable.”

          • Fair enough…

            I think my question still remains pertinent however.

          • Hi Grant,

            Oh, “Religious faith and scientific methodology are mutually incompatible,” for example. Unless what you mean by “incompatible” allows for both methodologies to be valid and for each to yield truth.

            I’d like to add your “a proposition I simply cannot agree with” statements, as they sound rather dogmatic, and I would hope that your opinions change as your knowledge changes.

            Ever read Ian Barbour on the myth of scientific objectivity, by any chance?

          • “Unless what you mean by “incompatible” allows for both methodologies to be valid and for each to yield truth.”

            Keo: I most certainly do not mean that. For several reasons.

            1. Because science does not yield “truth”.

            Science yields best approximations from available data. Conclusions in which we may have the highest confidence we can currently acheive but which are ALWAYS subject to future revision upon the acquisition of additional information.

            It approaches the truth, ideally always gettting closer and closer to it as it’s findings are refined to ever higher levels of accuracy, but to claim it has been reached is to claim your current results can be neither incorrect nor improved upon. Which would be antithetical to the basic principles of skeptical inquiry science is based on.

            2. Because I have yet to see an example of any actual piece of knowledge religion has provided, whether it be “truth” or simpy conclusions in which we have established high levels of confidence.

            Do you happen to have such an example? Please note that I expect you to be able to either demonstrate that your example actually IS a truth (not just claim it is one) or to be able to provide the support for why we should be highly confident in it’s accuracy…. and that this example actually came FROM religion, and was not simply a bit of knowledge that was already possessed that religion co-opted.

          • Gosh, Grant. You’re baseline of radical skepticism paints us into a pretty tight epistemological corner. Briefly, though I suspect these responses won’t satisfy,

            1. It is hard to evaluate your statement because I don’t know your definition of truth. At face value, though, the statement appears to be a faith- / assumption-based claim. You’d have to prove those assumptions to me.

            2. Again, your “we” is undefined, but apparently you aren’t referring to the billions of people who have had or do have religious knowledge — including the likes of scientific method pioneer Francis Bacon. How to make you see something that so many already have? That might be impossible. Do you want to see — if it means that you have been wrong about so much?

            You asked for an example. “I know God” is my favorite bit of religious knowledge. You’ll say that I can’t *demonstrate* that this is true. I’ll ask how anyone can demonstrate that you know or don’t know anyone, and then I’ll ask who put you in charge of setting the rules. And, sadly, the conversation will probably degenerate from there.

            If you genuinely are open to learn something about this topic, books have already been written. E-mail me from my blog and we can continue the conversation.

          • “1. It is hard to evaluate your statement because I don’t know your definition of truth. ”

            I’m sorry… how do you read the two paragraphs contrasting what science produces WITH “truth” and not know how I’m defining truth?

            100% certain fact. Clear enough?

            I am unclear what part of anything I said in that section constitutes an assumtion, it was a simple definitional statement of the manner in which the scientific method operates. What part exactly were you under the impression was being assumed?

            “2. Again, your “we” is undefined, but apparently you aren’t referring to the billions of people who have had or do have religious knowledge —”

            We’ll see. I have yet to encounter any of this “knowledge” and if billions of people had it you would think I would have bumped into it by accident by now if nothing else.

            “”I know God” is my favorite bit of religious knowledge.”

            Thank you for proving my point for me. That’s just perfect.

            “You’ll say that I can’t *demonstrate* that this is true.”

            I’d comment in amazement at your prognosticating abilities except for the fact that I told you you would have to do this and now you’re just trying to sidle your way around doing it…

            “I’ll ask how anyone can demonstrate that you know or don’t know anyone, ”

            —–“Hi, meet my friend Jeff…”

            Yeah, demonstrating that you know anyone seems an amazingly difficult proposition.

            “…then I’ll ask who put you in charge of setting the rules.”

            Seriously? The place you’d take your argument is “you’re not the boss of me”?

            So to sum up… the only piece of “knowledge you have presented that religion has provided you with is a claim you cannot substantiate (or, I bet, even meaningfully describe… how exactly do you claim to know an entity that is supposed to be beyond all human comprehension? It would be entertaining listening to you try to explain it I’m sure… but let me take a wild guess and wager that the explanation would boild down to you telling me that you can’t explain it you “just know”.

            I can’t think of a more effective demonstration of my own argument, as that mindset is the antithesis of scientific inquiry.

          • My favorite parts were:
            “I have yet to encounter any of this ‘knowledge’ and if billions of people had it you would think I would have bumped into it by accident by now if nothing else”

            and

            “‘Hi, meet my friend Jeff…’ Yeah, demonstrating that you know anyone seems an amazingly difficult proposition.”

            Hi, Grant C. Meet my friend Jesus. But you don’t bump into many deer while sitting quietly with your hunting buddies — on an airplane.

            Go ahead, Grant. You can have the last word on this thread if you want; it has gone past the point of being either enjoyable or fruitful.

          • “Hi, Grant C. Meet my friend Jesus. ”

            Funny.

            Tell you what… you name the place. I’ll bring Jeff, you bring Jesus. The non-invisble version if you don’t mind. Then we’ll see who demonstrates the existence of their buddy to who.

    • I’m not sure where this prohibition of embracing unfalsifiable hypotheses comes from. In my experience as a scientist, the test of scientific integrity is giving a hypothesis the weight it has earned through verification. But this does not mean scientists cannot have beliefs, hunches, and preferences for things that have not yet been verified, or even yet, cannot be verified. A popular theory in physics right now is M-theory (aka String Theory). There are literally thousands of scientists building their careers on it because they believe in it and have hope that it will bear valuable insights. This is despite a common fear that it might turn out to be a completely untestable theory, which would also makes it an unfalsifiable one. Being a scientist simply requires you to say “yeah, I might I might be wrong,” but it does not require you to abandon hope and faith in what you believe to be right.

      And then there are matters of personal experience which, again, may be untestable and unfalsifiable by a scientific community. But that does not make it unreasonable for a person to use that experience to inform their understanding of the world and how it works. Many people (many scientists) are people of faith and it in no way impinges on their scientific integrity.

      • “I’m not sure where this prohibition of embracing unfalsifiable hypotheses comes from.”

        From the fact that unfalsifiable hypotheses make no testable predictions, and possess no explanatory value and conveys no knowledge.

        If you disagree, I am entirely open to you presenting a counter-example.

        “In my experience as a scientist, the test of scientific integrity is giving a hypothesis the weight it has earned through verification.”

        Yes, quite true.

        As verification of an unfalsifiable hypothesis is impossible to perform by definition, the resulting weight would be… zero.

        “There are literally thousands of scientists building their careers on it because they believe in it and have hope that it will bear valuable insights. This is despite a common fear that it might turn out to be a completely untestable theory,”

        And the reason they would fear such an outcome is because IF it should turn out to be unfalsifiable that would render the theory useless. It would be interesting, and thought provoking and all kinds of fun to speculate about… and completely without any actual applicable value.

        “Many people (many scientists) are people of faith and it in no way impinges on their scientific integrity.”

        See my previous statement about mental compartmentalizing. I know quite a few excellent scientists who are religious myself. I have yet to meet one however who does not acheive that outcome by strictly seperating the manner in which they think about religious claims from any of the principles of scientific inquiry they apply to any other claim. For lack of a better way to put it, when the subject of their religious beliefs is raised the scientific part of their brains just gets “switched off” and set aside.

        • From your responses here and below, it seems we may be in disagreement on how we define “reconciled.” It seems you are defining reconciled as not requiring double mindedness in how you approach the subjects. In other words, faith must be able to posit hypotheses that are testable just as science does if both are to be sources of truth. I think a sufficient condition for reconciled is that they do not make truth claims that are mutually exclusive.

          But to an extent, you are right. Science asks you to put emotion aside and consider only the evidence, and the formalism of consideration is more-or-less a well defined set of logical steps. Faith, on the other hand, is inescapably linked to emotion and personal and somewhat messy in the ways it is worked out. That is not to say consideration of evidence is not a significant element of one’s faith walk. I am constantly evaluating experiences in my life against the truth claims of my faith. I feel I bring a similar level of inquisitiveness and skepticism to my faith as I do my science, but in faith there is the added element of a changed heart (theologically loaded term) that compels belief in spite of lingering doubts.

          • “In other words, faith must be able to posit hypotheses that are testable just as science does if both are to be sources of truth.”

            What I require for them to be reconciled is that fundamental principles of one not be set aside or ignored in order to embrace the other. I have yet to see anyone present an example of how this may be accomplished, and it seems to be a fairly minimal requirement of anything we could reasonably call “reconciled”.

            “I feel I bring a similar level of inquisitiveness and skepticism to my faith as I do my science, ”

            I would very much like to hear an explanation of what you are basing that feeling on considering that the level of skepticism involved in science would cause an instant rejection of the utility of an unfalsifiable faith based “truth” claim…. such as, just for example, “God exists and created the universe through unfathomable supernatural means”… which, in one form or another, is a fairly central article of faith with any Christian I have ever encountered.

          • The fundamental principles I bring to both faith and science can be summarized by a few questions: Does the majority of the evidence support the claim at hand? How trustworthy is that evidence? Does evidence exist that directly contradicts or is incompatible with the claim?

            In science there are objective ways of answering those questions, in faith it is largely subjective. In both science and faith you sometimes run into “yes” answers for both the first and last questions, but you do your best to make sense of it all, continuing to gather more data and constantly reevaluating your assumptions.

            In science I am under a burden of proof both to myself and to my scientific peers. In faith the burden of proof is only to myself.

          • “The fundamental principles I bring to both faith and science can be summarized by a few questions: Does the majority of the evidence support the claim at hand? How trustworthy is that evidence? Does evidence exist that directly contradicts or is incompatible with the claim?”

            You presented three questions… in order:

            1. How exactly does this apply to an an unfalsifiable claim, which, by definition, cannot have evidence that either meaningfully supports it, or refutes it?

            2. See #1.

            3. See #2.

            “In science there are objective ways of answering those questions, in faith it is largely subjective. ”

            No, it is not “largely subjective”. Unfalsifiable claims CAN NOT be evidentially supported or refuted. It’s impossible. That’s what unfalsifiable means! You can’t just hand wave that way by an appeal to subjectivity! This is not an “in the eye of the beholder” situation. You are not being asked for an evaluation of whether that girl across the street is attractive, whether God created the universe is not dependent on your personal opinion on the matter.

          • Here’s a problem I think we are having. You are asserting that all faith claims are unfalsifiable. This is not the case. “God Created The Universe” is an unfalsifiable claim, yes? Let me change that to a statement that is now falsifiable: The God of the Bible created the Universe. This is now falsifiable if the Bible’s account of creation is inconsistent with the scientific evidence of creation. But, just because a claim is falsifiable does not guarantee that it is scientifically verifiable (which is why I thought it odd for you to define science in terms of falsifiability to begin with).

            1. Evidence that supports this claim: cosmology points to a Big Bang event that started our universe at a given point in time a long time ago, the Bible claims that God created the Universe out of nothing at a given point in time a long time ago. Does this evidence objectively dictate the scientific conclusion that the God of the bible created the universe? No. But it subjectively holds weight for me as the Bible could have disagreed in any number of ways

            2. I believe Big Bang cosmology is well motivated. I believe the Bible’s veracity is well motivated (much goes into this that I don’t have time to cover here).

            3. Counter evidence? Some Bible interpreters don’t allow cohesion between the bible and Big Bang. M-theorists like to believe in a multi-verse scenario that sidesteps the special circumstances of the Big Bang (ours was just one of many Big Bangs). For various reasons and after some study I disagree with or put little weight on these counter arguments.

            So that’s the just the tiniest glimpse at the process for me. Yes it is subjective, no it doesn’t stand up to the rigors of scientific objectivity, nor would I ever expect it to. Does it mean I’m “compartmentalizing?” Perhaps. Is it compartmentalizing to believe my family loves me without scientifically proving it? I do not believe I’m setting aside my capability for analytical thinking in order to embrace my faith. It is a struggle at times, to be sure, but as I struggle through the seeming incompatibilities of faith and science, I have found that I end up with a world view that on the whole is more faithful to the experiences of my life than objectivity can provide alone.

            I’m sure there are many points you still disagree with me on, but I need to bow out here. Thanks for the stimulating discussion. I enjoyed thinking through your challenges.

          • “Let me change that to a statement that is now falsifiable: The God of the Bible created the Universe. This is now falsifiable if the Bible’s account of creation is inconsistent with the scientific evidence of creation.”

            No, actually it is not. As demonstrated by the simple fact that the Bible’s account of creation IS inconsistent with the scientific evidence but that doesn’t phase people that hold that as an article of faith in the slightest. Because once you invoke an all powerful supernatural entity as a cause of something you can hand-wave away ANY conflicting evidence by an appeal to the unlimited powers of said all powerful entity. Or they’ll re-interpret what the bible “really” means. Oh, THAT part was metaphorical… oh THAT part isn’t supposed to be taken literally silly… oh God obviously created the light on the way from the stars, and/or changed the value of c to alter light speed because God (being God) can do anything he wants… obviously those ignorant paleontologists have the order wrong because the bible says seed bearing plants came before fish and they can’t PROVE they didn’t!!!!!

            Etc… etc… etc… when you can invoke unlimited magical powers and unassailable authority to dismiss any evidence there is no such thing as evidence that can falsify your position.

            I’ve spent fifteen years having these conversations. I’ve heard them all thank you very much.

            “. Evidence that supports this claim: cosmology points to a Big Bang event that started our universe at a given point in time a long time ago, the Bible claims that God created the Universe out of nothing at a given point in time a long time ago. ”

            And here’s where we’re going to demonstrate my point.

            The Big Bang theory? It doesn’t say that. It says that at a given point a long time ago a period of space-time expansion occurred. It does NOT say that was the beginning of the universe, that is a popular misconception. It simply says that was as far back as we were able to reliably physically model at this time given our current understanding of the physics involved.

            I am in fact not familiar with a *single* plausible cosmological model that incorporates the concept of “a beginning” to the universe. If you are, by all means point me at it.

            “Is it compartmentalizing to believe my family loves me without scientifically proving it?”

            First, please don’t make me lecture you on how science doesn’t prove things. You say you are a scientist, you should know this. It supports or refutes them with the weight of available evidence. And there is abundant evidence available to either verify or falsify if an emotion is genuine or not, I cannot find the words to express how sick I am of people trying to claim emotions are an example of unfalsifiable phenomena. There is a RIDICULOUS amount of research available on the subject. We have behavioral analysis. We have FMRIs. If I get caught on camera cackling gleefully while torturing a kitten? The hypothesis “I love kittens with all my heart” can be considered falsified by any reasonable standard.

        • In response to some of your objections:

          While unfalsifiable claims have little to no use to a community of skeptics, they can still have profound importance to an individual. Example: someone (a scientist even) believes they witnessed a miracle. It is a singular event that is untestable by scientific methods. The weight of this event (on a scale of 0-10) to his friends: 0, maybe 1-2 if they consider him very trustworthy. The weight of this event to him: 10. The faith hypothesis that miracles happen has met the burden of proof for the witness. Is he compartmentalizing things in his mind?

          Even though a theory may be untestable, it can still have strong explanatory value. Example: humans are by nature sinful. Science has no test for “sin.” None the less, this faith assertion offers a reasonable framework for understanding the terrible things humans do to one another. Again, the value does not necessarily hold equally for all people, but for the individual of faith it can hold great value in making sense of the world.

          The strength of the scientific method is that it provides the framework for a skeptical community to repeat an experiment and verify a result. At the same time, scientific skepticism would affirm that just because an idea is popular or widely held does not necessarily make it true. The only true way for a skeptic to be certain is to verify something themselves. Faith is something that, on it’s most fundamental level, can only be experienced and known true by the individual. Others can’t test the veracity of your faith (although many Christians like to think they can). A skeptic comes to faith not through the repetition of an experiment, but through the direct working of God. This does not mean the individual of faith has necessarily compartmentalized their thinking. Faith has provided them the most compelling framework for making sense of their life, just as science has provided the most reasonable framework for making sense of nature.

          • “While unfalsifiable claims have little to no use to a community of skeptics, they can still have profound importance to an individual. ”

            So can hallucinations. That’s really not the point is it?

            “Is he compartmentalizing things in his mind?”

            You just rather perfectly described the process of doing so… so yes, obviously. If he had produced any other test result which his scientific colleagues were unable to reproduce or verify he would have discarded it as error. But as soon as he decides to cal it a “miracle” and attach religious significance to it the double standard slams into effect, all the rules of scientific inquiry go right out the window, and all of a sudden the only thing that matters is if he *wants* to believe his results

            If you don’t call that compartmentalizing, then tell me a more appropriate word for it.

            “Even though a theory may be untestable, it can still have strong explanatory value. ”

            No… if it can’t be tested it can have strong entertainment value but it isn’t really explaining a thing if it’s impossible to determine if the explanation is correct, now is it? It’s just story telling at that point. It can be compelling story telling… it can be moving story telling.. it can be really really appealing story telling… but it doesn’t move beyond that.

            “Others can’t test the veracity of your faith ”

            And neither can you… that inability being the root of our problem.

    • The Seeker says

      Grant:

      Science and its methods are very useful in certain domains. However, that does not imply that it is necessarily an all encompasing view that has all answers.
      Just because I can’t apply the scientific method to something does not necessarily say something about its truth value.

      Specifically, I have a much harder time when it comes to the areas of metaphysics or morals. The hard core logical positivist would answer this one by saying metaphysics is bunk, but just because I assert that it does not mean that it is so.

      And the question of morals, there is no set of ought in science.

      I have been a science student, and just as it bothered me when Christians began to make ridiculous assertions about science (and there are lots of those), it bothers me when science majors make unqualified metaphysical assertions. And the most common way to deal with it (for the science major) is to just deny metaphysic exists. The strongest statement one can make would be that something is unproven.

      We simply don’t have the tools to prove or disprove some assertions. We may be able to fault things on the grounds of logic, but I cannot prove or disprove.

      And this is also true in some areas of science. Take a gander at Godels theorem of incompleteness, an interesting conundrum

      • The Seeker says

        Note: I qualify ‘I cannot prove or disprove some assertions.’

      • “Science and its methods are very useful in certain domains. However, that does not imply that it is necessarily an all encompasing view that has all answers.”

        Entirely correct, we have no argument there.

        I am however confused what the point of this statement is. I can only assume it is to imply that because there are questions science does not answer, this means we must admit religion and faith to the field of play to fill the gap.

        I have yet, howver, to be shown an example of one of these questions science cannot answer… *which religion/faith CAN answer*.

        Do you happen to know of one? And by “answer” I do not mean “make an unsupported assertion about”.

        “The strongest statement one can make would be that something is unproven.”

        This may seem nitpicky but it it quite important. Proof is for mathematics and alcohol, it is not for science. Science deals in degrees of evidential support, not proof. All scientific conclusions are considered to be current best approximations of reality given the available data.

        The point being, science considers *everything* to be “unproven” outside of formal mathematical theorems which can be proven within the confines of the logical frameworks they are operating in. All other conclusions are at best strongly supported, but never proven.

        (Godel would be a math issue, not a science issue)

        • The Seeker says

          My point is this, all you can say about Metaphysics/religion is that they are unproven. Just because science and its use of empiricism has found truth it does not then qualify it as the sole arbiter of truth.

          Reason is a tool, and a useful one. Philosophers and people of faith are used to materialists coming in and attempting to use empirical scioence as a battering ram. And in some respects, the attitude of the materialist is not that different than the fundamentalist. Both seem to have a particular axe to grind.

          It belittles science to do so, because science is not about God or metaphysical propositions. And please don’t mistake my comments as being anti-science, but more anti-materialist.

          You may not like it, but there are thousands of people of faith who practice science, it is not the sole domain of the materialist.

          And I am not discussing ‘God of the gaps’ here. I am comfortable with uncertainty.

          But I do know that there are things my science does not address, and the biggest of these is the why. And also the question of how one should live.

          • “My point is this, all you can say about Metaphysics/religion is that they are unproven.”

            And my point is that science says that about *everything* so this statement has no point.

            “Just because science and its use of empiricism has found truth it does not then qualify it as the sole arbiter of truth.”

            I’m just going to pretend you’re not using the word “truth” there and not go through that entire explanation again…

            The fact that science is not the sole arbiter does not however render religion/faith a valid arbiter by default. Science became a “valid arbiter” by virtue of a demonstrated track record, not just because we said “well… religion can’t tell us the magnetic moment of the electron therefore science works.” Science had to actually come up with answers.

            Where are religion’s? I have seen unsupported claims. I see opinions. I see assertions. I have seen dogmas. I have seen “articles of faith”.

            Show me answers. Show me one.

            “You may not like it, but there are thousands of people of faith who practice science,”

            I refer you to my comment on mental compartmentalization.

            “But I do know that there are things my science does not address, and the biggest of these is the why. ”

            I’ll just grant you that one for the sake of argument. Science cannot answer it.

            Your contention would then be that religion can I would assume, and that is why we must make space for it.

            So… lay it on me. Why? If religion answers the question, tell me what the answer is. Answer… not unsupported claim.

            If religion doesn’t answer it either, than what do we have? Science can answer some questions, religion doesn’t answer any questions, so we need both? Because… what’s the reasoning exactly?

        • Grant said:
          “I have yet, howver, to be shown an example of one of these questions science cannot answer… *which religion/faith CAN answer*.”

          Grant,

          I offer an example of the limit of the scientific method for understanding reality. I know this may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but I offer it as an example for the way in which faith can answer a question in a way in which science can’t.

          Take the simple situation of a man walking into a room with a pot of water boiling. Let’s say someone in the room asks the man why the pot of water is boiling. The man, being instructed in science and its methods, explains that the water is boiling because the temperature underneath it was increased. And that’s exactly right. But it’s not the WHOLE truth. You see, the water was also boiling because the man who was in the room desired a cup of tea and so heated up some water for himself.

          Although this may not be the example you’re looking for, of faith answering a question that science cannot, I think it is similar enough. The point being that science is great at providing answers for the HOW of reality, but not neccessarily the WHY. And it’s a good example of the truth that there’s more than one way of understanding reality.

          • “I offer an example of the limit of the scientific method for understanding reality. ”

            No… you don’t. Your example had nothing to do with that whatsoever. The hypothesis “that man wanted tea” is something that is completely within the realm of investigation and verification/falsification.

            That said, I don’t require an example of the limits of the scientific method so please don’t bother making a second attempt. I’m aware of them already and I believe I’ve made that abundantly clear. The only thing I asked for was an example of religion/faith in any way whatsoever filling in those limits in any demonstratable way with anything besides unsubstantiated claims and assertions.

            “The point being that science is great at providing answers for the HOW of reality, but not neccessarily the WHY.”

            Let’s just assume that’s true.

            I have yet to see religion answer a why question, or for that matter… any question whatsoever. Which would leave the score:

            Science: Some (and by some I mean a mind boggling amount of) questions answered.
            Religion: No questions answered.

        • I had a feeling you would reject the example, and that’s ok. But I think you’ve missed the point entirely. Also, you didn’t really show how the scientific method could discover that “why” reality of the boiling water. Perhaps you thought the man could discover why the tea was boiling by simply asking the other man in the room. But what if the man had left? Anyways, we don’t need to beat a dead horse if you don’t want to, as it seems you’re happy where you are in your understanding of these things.
          But I do have a couple of things to say. First, regarding the whole why question that faith purports to offer an explanation on. I have an answer. And this is not my answer but, I believe, the one that the Christian faith offers. The question to the why of life is God’s Love. If you think about, all why questions end up asking, “Why are we here?”, or “Why did God create the world?”. Faith answers that it’s because of God’s Love. In the end, God’s Love is what faith is all about. It’s about knowing and recieving this Love and learning to allow God’s Love to find expression in you and through you. It’s the ultimate answer to the why question.
          I have one more thing to ask of you, if you will. Why are you on this forum? I mean, obviously you’re aware that this is a Christian forum and that materialistic views are probably not going to be embraced. Are you simply looking for a fight? Wanting to make believers feel/look stupid? Or are you really trying to have a constructive dialog with those of faith? I mean no offense by this question, but am genuinely curious. After all, I have no desire to go poking around an atheistic, science-based forum, as they usually just tear you to shreds and try to tear you down anyway that they can. At least that’s been my experience.

          • “Also, you didn’t really show how the scientific method could discover that “why” reality of the boiling water. Perhaps you thought the man could discover why the tea was boiling by simply asking the other man in the room. But what if the man had left? ”

            That is about as valid a point as if I said “maybe you think you could look at that tissue sample under a microscope… but what if someone had hidden it in the closet and you couldn’t find it?

            That is hardly casting doubt on the abilities of science to perform medical research, now is it?

            “The question to the why of life is God’s Love. ”

            I’m going to refer you to the half dozen or so places in this thread where I’ve explained the differences between answers and unsubstantiated assertions. I hardly need religion to acquire the latter if I should ever feel the need to get me some for whatever reason. They can be plucked from thin air at will.

            “I have one more thing to ask of you, if you will. Why are you on this forum?”

            I ran across one of the posts on it while browsing the google blog listings for science discussions, read the post, saw much in it that warranted comment… and commented. And here we are.

          • Hmmm. I see. Well, I don’t think we really have much to discuss. I’m not interested in a nasty argument. If you really wanted to talk and learn about issues of faith and science from perspectives other than your own, and maybe connect with another human being in a way that edifies, that’d be great. But all you seem interested in is disecting each and every little word in a post and showing how you’re always right. In the end, nothing is gained by any of this. Take care, Grant.

          • “I’m not interested in a nasty argument. ”

            I’m sorry you perceive someone not agreeing with you as being a “nasy argument”.

            Have I called you names? Demeaned your intelligence? YELLED AND SCREAMED AT YOU IN ALL CAPS!!!!!?????

            None of the above. All I have done is illustrated where statements you made were in error. You are free to rebut if you perceive a flaw in my illustration.

            If that constitutes being nasty I am unsure how it is possible to have what you perceive to be an “edifying” discussion.

    • The Seeker says

      Actually Grant, I would like to hear your response to the question Why?

      To me, your answer may prove to be more interesting than much of what I hear these days.

      • If you want an answer to the question “Why” in general… my response is “I dont know”. I am perfectly comfortable with that response as it has the virtue of being accurate.

        I never claimed I either had or required an answer to that question. You were the one pointing out science couldn’t answer it as if that had significance. I’m still wondering what that significance is supposed to be…

        If you want an answer to “why” something specific, I’ll need to know the something and then will be perfectly happy to provide a more focused answer., although frankly I still don’t see the point.

        Your turn Seeker. Why? Feel free to use my own response, I’m relatively confident it will remain accurate but will still leave the question of what answer religion is supposed to provide unaddressed.

        • The Seeker says

          I as well am comfortable with ‘I don’t know’, in fact doubt has been a major theme in my own life. My Christianity permits me to doubt.

          I have found that on a human level, my science has not answered all my questions. In particular anything metaphysical/religious.Science is blind in this and I understand why. Because we restrict our field of inquiry.

          It does not particularly inform me in the area of morals. It is like in the end we have to live lives and build a society that works where people can live their lives, raise their children. Science is great within its domain. Now you might challenge me that this is compatimentalization, but the difficulty is empiricism does not work for everything in my life.

          I found that if I adhere to a line that sounds like what you are saying, I end up with determinism and reductionism. All of reality becomes reduced to what I can perceive or perceive with instrumentation and apply some type of logic or symbolism to allow for some rigour in describing or predicting something. And yes, I agree it is about statistical probability, not newtonian certainty.

          So why are you here? (meaning)

          If you have significant others in your life, how does your belief affect your relationships. Are they just a few more cogs in a Darwinian universe?

          Can you suggest how mankind should live, and if so, on what basis? (morals)

          How do you know what you think is true is true (epistemology?)

          I will be disappointed if you just give me first year science text replies.

          • ” as well am comfortable with ‘I don’t know’, in fact doubt has been a major theme in my own life. My Christianity permits me to doubt.”

            I shoud hope so, but not really the point.

            Ok, so science doesn’t answer “Why”, and neither does religion apparently. So at this point we have science providing some answers and religion not providing any.

            “It does not particularly inform me in the area of morals.”

            Dangerous ground Seeker, particularly for a Christian. But if you really want to go there fine, I’ll bite.

            If you had to pick the most consistent moral principle running throughout the entire bible, what do you suppose it might be? (Hint: If you believed God had commanded you to do something, can you conceive of any circumstances under which you could justifiably refuse?)

            “So why are you here? (meaning)”

            If you are looking for some kind of profound transcendent reason I exist, there is no indication there is such a thing that I am aware of. Nor do I have any need to make one up to make myself feel more important.

            If you mean what meaning do I think the actions i take im my life have… the meaning which I assign to them them of course. Currently, at this moment, the “why” of me being here is seeking a greater level of common understanding of this topic we are discussing. Later tonight the “why” of me being here will be spending some enjoyable time with my wife at home. Because that is what I so choose.

            “If you have significant others in your life, how does your belief affect your relationships. Are they just a few more cogs in a Darwinian universe?”

            The universe is not “Darwinian”, that’s limitted to mechanisms of biological evolution. As for that particular limitted field of view, that fact that natural selective forces are responsible for the manner in which the species develloped does not make individuals “cogs”. It does nothing to rob them of unique identity and character, it in no way diminishes their ability to form emotional connections with others… the mechanics of how they came to be does not somehow make what they are any less.

            In short, my beliefs on this matter don’t have the slightest effect on my personal relationships.

            “How do you know what you think is true is true (epistemology?)”

            I don’t think things are “true”, I have had quite a bit to say on that subject in other posts in this discussion so I’m not going to go through it all again here, you can refer to them if you want to read up on it.

            Things are either evidentially supported as *likely* to be accurate… or not. And it is not all that difficult to make that evaluation. Either the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis you are examining or it isn’t. Either the hypothesis you are examining is validly constructed to enable you to meaningfully evaluate it, or it is not. These are not actually terribly complicated concepts, people just like to make them seem much deeper and more mysterious than they really are.

    • Scientists deliberately choose to exclude the non-quantifiable from their field of view. So although that may mean they are seeing more clearly, it also means that they could be seeing less (in terms of all that there is to be seen).

      “Nothing which is important is certain, and nothing which is certain is important.” (I can’t remember who wrote that now, I read it in a book on apologetics, I believe).

      And the very notion of “proof” is problematic.

      A good (but tough) read on science, epistemology and the non-scientificness of the scientific process is Personal Knowledge, by Michael Polanyi.

      • This falls into the “science doesn’t answer every question” category of argument.

        My response to that argument can be read above. The short version is name me a question science doesn’t answer… that religion/faith *does*. And I mean answers, not responds to or makes unsubstantiated claims about… I hardly need religion to do either of those things.

        Name me a piece of knowledge about the world around us that religion/faith has generated. Ever. Just one.

        Lacking the ability to do that all you are saying here is that science answers some questions and religion answers none… which may be accurate but lacks relevance. You might be arguing we need to improve on/augment the scientific method with alternative methods of inquiry, but you are doing nothing to establish that that alternative should be religion/faith.

        “And the very notion of “proof” is problematic.”

        I will refer you to the multiple times I have explained that science doesn’t “prove” things in this discussion…

        • Religious faith answers a whole host of questions science can’t. Christianity purports to answer questions of the meaning of life, how to attain eternal life, how to have one’s sins forgiven, and how one ought to live. I have no idea why nobody has pointed this out yet. Science is an explanatory enterprise that answers the questions of how things work; religious faith is one which claims to answer questions of meaning and telling how one ought to live. Unlike the straw man science fetishists have made it, religious faith is not primarily an explanatory enterprise.

          One piece of knowledge that Christianity answers is why the world exists (as the questions Christianity answers are commonly the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how,’ as the Big Bang does explain rather well.) It exists because God created it, in essence. Just because you reject the truth of the Christian faith (which I doubt you’ve ever seriously studied, anyway) doesn’t mean that it doesn’t claim to give a whole host of facts about the world.

          But beyond this, the Bible gives a tremendous amount of insight into the history of the Israelite nation, its rulers, and the greater historical spectrum of the ancient Middle East. The New Testament says a lot about the Judeo-Roman world of Jesus’ time we otherwise wouldn’t know. None of that knowledge requires you to belief that Christianity is actually true.

          Science itself holds to certain philosophical suppositions that aren’t in themselves scientifically provable. The reality of the past, the validity of inductive reasoning, and others have to be taken as basic beliefs before Science can even get off the ground. Similarly, Christians such as myself hold that belief in God can be a properly basic belief.

          Of course, Christianity isn’t taken in blind faith, but can be believed based on the historical evidence for its truth claims. Unlike some religions, Christianity claims to be about real people and events that are within the scope of the historical method to analyze and evaluate. Issues such as Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection can be studied and evaluated for their truth claims on the basis of the available evidence. If you actually care to study the evidence for God and Christianity’s truth claims then get a copy of William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith and check the scientific, philosophical, and historical arguments. But quit bashing around straw men caricatures of what faith and Christianity entails.

          • “Christianity purports to answer questions of the meaning of life, ”

            Awesome.

            So cough it up. What is it?

            “how to attain eternal life”

            With the one catch that you don’t get delivery until after death… and nobody ever comes back after and verifies the deal is legit… and the explanation for how the whole process works is a rambling illogical mess… and, wait, what exactly is your definition of an “answer”? Because this sounds an awful lot like the “answer” to curing all your aches and maladies that certain types of people used to sell out of the back of a truck.

            Right before leaving town.

            Fast.

            “how to have one’s sins forgiven,”

            …by someone nobody can demonstrate exists to forgive them…

            Want me to tell you “the answer” to how to make the monster in my closet like you? (He likes gummy bears)

            I think I’ll just stop there, I think the point is clear. Your examples of “answers” are, without exception, completely unsubstantiated assertions. I don’t need religion to make completely unsubstantiated assertions, I can pull those out of thin air all by myself thank you very much.

            (And history isn’t religion… it’s history.)

  7. What we believe about creation says a lot about the sort of God we worship, so I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable dismissing creation as a “minor” issue of belief. With that said, I’ll note that most Roman Catholics and Orthodox have no problem with the science of evolution per se (though both would take issue with the materialist interpretation of the science to hold that there is either no God or the distant, Deist sort of God). That accounts for the overwhelming majority of Christians in the world today. Even among Protestants, many denominations have no conflict with science. So this is really just an issue among a relatively small minority of global Christians. It seems that much of that minority is concentrated here in the United States, but let’s not over-inflate the scope of the problem or impose a relatively parochial perspective on the whole of Christianity.

    I’m perplexed why anyone would want to worship the sort of trickster god who would create a reality intended to deceive us. While I can easily postulate such a god, I would never worship, much less love, a god like that. But then, I find that most people who insist that the two creation narratives somehow be harmonized and taken ‘literally’ (in a modern sense) often refuse to take even more significant parts of scripture such as John 6 in the same ‘literal’ manner. So the way they pick and choose what to take ‘literally’ also perplexes me.

    It’s hardly the most important thing in the faith, but it’s also hardly unimportant either.

    • I’m perplexed why anyone would want to worship the sort of trickster god who would create a reality intended to deceive us.

      Well, obviously the YEC person doesn’t see God as any sort of trickster or as having created a reality intended to deceive. You may think that if God did the things the YEC view ascribes to Him that God would be a trickster and deceiver, but that’s your view of their view, not their view.

      So, you’re right that no one would knowingly worship that sort of trickster God. And, no one does.

      • I beg to differ. I’ve followed these discussions here and on Scot McKnight’s blog over the years and there are quite a few in the minority YEC camp who do hold that God created the earth 6,000 years ago with the appearance of being much older. So there are many who do believe in and worship that sort of trickster god.

        • Yes, I am quite aware of them, but they don’t view it as being a “trickster” move – they view it as a “mature creation” and God clearly telling us that the Creation has been made in a certain way and that we shouldn’t mistake the things that are “mature” with meaning that the universe is old.

          Basically God made a really realistic painting and then told us all that it is just a painting – the only reason that people would see that as a “trickster” sort of move is that they “reject” the Bible’s truthful statements which explain the “trick”.

          If I do a slight-of-hand trick and tell you that I am actually transferring the ball from one hand to the other to impress you, I’m not pulling a trick on you even though the ball appears to disappear. I am demonstrating my skill.

          Same thing for God – he created the universe with “age” (made the ball disappear) but tells us that he has done so in the Bible (tells that the ball is really just switching hands) and tells us it is to demonstrate His power, compassion, attributes, etc.

          If a person views it like that, it seems unfair to say that they are purposefully worshiping a trickster or deceiving God.

          • Webmonk, I think I understand what you’re saying about the YECers and their “mature creation” belief. But it still doesn’t add up with the God of the bible that I know.

            The example of the ball “appearing to disappear” is a good one, but it wouldn’t convince me of a trustworthy God. It’s a set-up, and God tempts no one (James1:13). This kind of god more closely resembles the pagan gods. The YECers really need to sober up on this point.

            I just got into a discussion below with M. Simon and used the example of docetism as an early heresy—the belief that Jesus was God but only “seemed” to be human flesh. This sprang from paganism too.

            “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good”—however he created it.

          • Ted, I can’t say it adds up with the God of the Bible who I know, either. But it does help me to keep in mind that someone with whom I disagree does not actually believe that God is a trickster, tempter, or deceiver.

            Though in response to the statement that God doesn’t tempt anyone, you’re right, but they don’t view it as tempting anyone. Remember, God tells everyone about the “trick” beforehand.

            Also, the Bible also says it is to God’s glory to hide a thing and to a king’s glory to search it out. (Proverbs 25:2) And, while I think this is a tenuous argument at best, everyone realizes that there are a LOT of doctrines out there which use some tenuous links of explanation. I consider the interpretation to generate a YEC view as a strictly in-house debate of a shaky position, sort of like Pre-Millenialism. (or, if you’re a Mid/Post/A-Millenial, allow me to change that to offend your particular view!)

            Obviously all of MY beliefs are settled on nothing but rock-solid exegesis of the Bible, though! ;-D

          • Webmonk, you’re right that we should keep this a friendly in-house debate. I’ll accept that the YECers don’t acknowledge that God is a trickster—nobody wants to end up with an inferior God. But like you, I’m settled in my mind that if I were to resort to this kind of exegesis, for me it would be a step backward and God would be smaller.

        • They don’t think of Him as a “trickster” because they would say the Bible states directly how old things are—people have no excuse to be confused by “apparent age.” I’m NOT a YEC person, but in fairness to those who are, that’s the explanation as I understand it. God made it clear from the Bible how old things are so there’s only a problem if one disregards the Bible and comes up with explanations of nature that go against that clear revelation.

        • I have a reply that is awaiting moderation. Weird. No links or anything, and I can’t see any potentially offensive or catch-word language.

        • I wrote WAY too much on this subject on my blog a while back since I had been encountering some really lazy and irresponsible appearance of age arguments and I wanted to exhort my YEC friends to muster the chutzpah to say that the earth really doesn’t look old, just like AiG and ICR have been saying all along.

          http://faceofdeep.blogspot.com/2010/07/signs-of-aging-in-appearance-of-age.html

    • I think you’re right, Scott. The more I’ve been thinking on this topic, the more I realize how emotionally charged it is in my own soul; how easy it is to get fired up over it. Of course, in my mind it seems that it shouldn’t be so important, having so little bearing on practical living. I wonder why.
      As for the trickster God, myself being a YEC for the longest time(not as sure these days), I never saw God as being a deciever, even with the totally contradictory situation with the creation of the stars(i.e. they were created on Day 4, but how would Adam and Eve see them two days later if it takes at least thousands of years to reach Earth). I simply thought that the way God created the world is totally beyond my understanding, even if I can read about it in Genesis; and that if some people are saying that the Earth looks old, but it’s really not, then something’s definately wrong with our understanding. Also, how can we draw conclusions about a world of Old, that has undergone some serious changes(i.e. the fall, the flood) with any sort of certainty? We have no idea how it was really like back then.
      So, to me the idea that God was tricking us, or decieving us never entered my mind to hinder my relationship with Him. If there are things you can’t explain, you humbly recognize that you know very little, especially of the past, and that somewhere hidden in the depths of God it all makes sense. And one day, I believe, we shall all understand. Really looking forward to that.:)

  8. Very well said. I have to admire Garrett’s work of thought which he has invested in this. I wish I had had my head screwed on, as well as his appears to be, at his young.

  9. Great post Garrett! I seriously doubt that any of us have even come close to figuring out exactly how God did it. It is enough for me to know that “Through Him all things were made”. I enjoy reading the various theories, at least until I run across people who feel compelled to argue about these things. My observation has been that those who spend vast amounts of time arguing about (I suppose they would say “discussing”) such things rarely have much time left to love their neighbor, which I think someone said we should do.

  10. I’ve never had an issue with integrating science and faith. Have a degree and theology and my wife is a science teacher, and neither of us has ever seen a conflict between those two fields. So I certainly don’t think a particular view of how things were created is an essential of the faith; I can live and let live.

    But my issue is with those who can’t, for whom science, and particularly the question of creation, is an essential, and for whom it has become one of perhaps many indicators of whether one is in or out, godly or ungodly, interpreting scripture rightly or wrongly, walking in the light or flirting with darkness. How to talk to those people? Or is it better not to and to just speak of other things? As the number of such indicators increases, it eventually rather limits one’s options for converse and relationship. Still working out how to handle that one with the kind of grace and love Jesus calls us to.

    • I try to treat this topic just like I do other topics where the sides are overly enthusiastic. (at least by my standards – they’re being perfectly reasonable by their standards)

      Think of Federal Vision, Penal Substitution, Dispensationalism, Pre/Post/A-millenial, role of women in church, etc – they’re all highly argued over. This topic isn’t any different (at least to me) – those to whom those topics are of central importance will be passionate about them and I will interact with them as far as I feel the conversation is still good. (sometimes that’s short, sometimes that’s long)

      Someone who comes out right off the bat and states that because I am _______millenial that I have denied the Bible and need to come back to the ONE TRUE PATH …. well, it’s going to be a short conversation. 🙂

      But there will be at least a little conversation.

      But, that’s just me. YMMV.

  11. “It means not insisting on our own way when a brother or sister who is weaker in the faith can’t bear the scientific or theological concessions of your particular harmonization, whatever it may be.”

    I like this. It reminds me of the passage in Romans 14 where Paul says to accept a believer whose weak faith drives them to accept stricter beliefs than are necessary.

    The first chapters of Genesis are a splendid example of Hebrew poetry. They illustrate the principle that God is ultimately responsible for the Universe’s current form. But there are those who need to believe that it’s an account of literal events that occurred. If this helps them in their daily life then God bless them. We should exercise charity towards all.

    • And note that the condemnation in Romans 14 is toward those who were not following the stricter-than-necessary guidelines, the ones with “strong faith”. For anyone who believes their faith is the stronger, it is laid upon that person to not challenge toward sin those with the weaker faith.

  12. I am frustrated by this whole discussion, including the contributions of League (above) and iMonk in general. Why?

    (a) The emphasis has been on persuading creationists and evolutionists to tolerate one another, and perhaps find some middle ground. But why on earth should we want that? In order to hold some church together? (Hint: not all of us care what the “Westminster Confession” says.) Suppose a large, vocal proportion of Christianity believed in the geocentric universe (as came up a couple of weeks ago). Should we be hemming and hawing over that too?

    (b) There is much discussion about biology, and to some extent cosmology, but rather little from the perspective of history and biblical studies, e.g. postmodern approaches to Genesis (which call into question the “revealed” nature of the narrative in favor of one which recognizes its cultural assumptions and political aims). Just as League studied biology, and found his beliefs challenged, numerous Christians have had similar experiences from the perspective of biblical history–yet this website tends to dismiss them in favor of their conservative rivals. This means that as a group, you are not so different from the Creationists.

    • Werther, my personal interest has always been in the text, and I did a series of posts earlier this year on my views of Genesis, which gave a pretty in-depth look at some of the biblical issues.

      As for our emphasis, please realize that we post these discussions in the context of people who are dealing in one way or another with evangelicalism, particularly American evangelicalism. That’s our starting point, and yes, the unity of Christianity and the reputation of the Gospel message we proclaim is of major importance to us.

    • Werther,

      Although I am in the minority here with my YEC views, I don’t understand why a discussion of views concerning origins should be treated differently than any other subject. Why must we be silent on this issue, particularly when it is a topic of so much interest?

      I applaud Garrett for his study of the subject and I appreciate that his thoughts were presented for discussion.

      If civil discussions on issues like this one took place among Christians more often, we would be a much better witness to the world.

  13. Christiane says

    I enjoyed reading this post. It is good to know what it was like for someone who is taught Young Earth Creationism to grow up in our culture and encounter different beliefs.

    My own Church doesn’t have a problem with Science. The encyclical ‘Gaudium et Spes’ contains this:

    “”. . . . l research in all branches of knowledge,
    provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws,
    can never conflict with the faith,
    because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.

    The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature
    is being led, as it were, by the Hand of God in spite of himself,
    for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”

    “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth”.

  14. It’s all relative…

    When it comes down to it, we personally decide what the truth is. There is no way we can really know for certain during our time on this mortal coil.

    • I believe religion is a constitutionally protected opinion. So there really can’t be a right and wrong answer just like one’s decision to be a member of a political party. There’s no right or wrong answer there. So when it comes to faith, I’m a post-modernist.

      In most other areas of my life I’m a modernist. I require evidence and approach things from a perspective of skepticism.

      I just chalk it up to my generation and say I straddle between modernism and post-modernism.

  15. I find it intruiging that a plea for perspective should result in another round of arguments and pontificating. I can hardly wait to see the responses to the new piece Chaplain Mike just posted [/sarcasm]

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It has to do with Creation vs Evolution. Only Homosexuality causes as much of a throw-your-brains-out-the-window-and-go-fangs-out-O-Defender-of-The-Faith reaction among Christians.

      And while everybody’s at everybody else’s throat in the Culture War Without End, pastors’ widows are still eating out of dumpsters.

    • Can’t blame a guy for trying!

      • Unfortunately, sometimes that’s all we can do. And I suspect there were those who profited from it, but didn’t want to get embroiled in the shouting match this particular “debate” tends to turn into.

  16. Interesting. These matters have been much on my mind of late – I have even started a small series on my own blog on these matters. What I also found intersting, is that I recently read about the understanding of Creation and the literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis in the earky Church. A wide variety of Church Fathers leaned towards an allegorical/non-literal interpretation: for instance, while Tertullian and Theophilus were literalists, Origen, St. Irenaeus and St Augustine where not. All this is detailed in Peter Bouteneff’s “Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives” (Baker Academic, 2008). He also takes the discussion to St Gregory of Nyasa and the Cappadocian Fathers.

    It is apparent that the “strict literalist interpretation is the only orthodox option” view is a newer phenomenon, one that has more in common with post-elightenment rationalism than anything else.

    • That’s a great point. Augustine’s “literal” meaning of Genesis sure doesn’t match our modern literalism!

    • Not at all surprising. And given evangelicalism’s antipathy towards anything resembling a historical perspective, and our tendency to attribute the restoration of “True Christianity” to whatever leader we’ve anointed (or who has anointed himself) over our current movement, we’re just going to ignore Origen, St. Irenaeus and St Augustine.

      So we casually brush off anything that doesn’t agree 100% with The (aka, our) interpration of the scriptures. Which isn’t an interpretation at all, but is, of course, direct from the hand of God.

      (Dang, man, I’m gonna have to reign in that sarcasm . . . nah, not today. 🙂 )

  17. It’s amazing to me how far I’ve come in a few short years on this subject. I was the one who broke that “Richard Dawkins crashes Expelled viewing” story a few years ago, and at the time I still wholeheartedly believed in YEC and the like, and I’m sure it was helped in large part by the student church community I was a part of. Since then, I’ve been exposed to a lot more, read the Bible a whole lot more, and just can’t agree with YEC at all. Also, it and other factors led to me leaving my church and joining this “post-evangelicalness” that the IM community is built on.

    Crazy how God leads.

    • “Since then, I’ve been exposed to a lot more, read the Bible a whole lot more, and just can’t agree with YEC at all.”

      Stuart,
      I’m interested in hearing a little more. And I’m honestly not looking for a fight, but would just like to hear your thoughts, as I find myself in a similar situation, just kind of the opposite though:).

      • Well Dan, the first step was realizing just how many “truths” YECs shared as scientific fact later turned out to be false without them admitting they were wrong. That led to studying more deeply the differences between positions, and especially how the positions relate to the Bible and the underlining rhetoric of each. For example, I realized just how stupid that “if Genesis is proved false, the whole Bible is false” argument is, because it hinges on one unique interpretation of Genesis, and not on a faith that the Bible is true but our interpretation can be wrong. The IMONK community was influential in this, as well as some local pastors and other national pastors. I realized how it just became a non-issue for me, and should never be a deterrent to anyone’s faith (I’m friends with several atheists on my college campus, and try to see it from their angle in order to discuss with them better).

        Bear in mind that I grew up in fundamentalist Baptist Christian churches and schools, with an unrelenting diet of YEC rhetoric, and maybe only 2 credit hours of true evolutionary theory. My problems with Creationism and Evolution are with the Bible, not with science, because I simply don’t know a lot. I do know that Christians were at the forefront of science for centuries until Darwin came on the scene, and it’s almost as if we turned our back on science. Discarding strict YEC and embracing any alternative, to me, seems to make God more powerful (because a deity snapping his fingers and creating is too easy), and science cool again because it’s no longer the scary domain of evil demonic evolutionists but instead created somehow by God and we’ve been divinely appointed to figure it out as a blessing to us!

        To repeat – my problem with YEC is the relenting ISM of the view, as well as the character and actions of most YEC proponents. Most of my friends are YEC, as is my family, and I have nothing against them believing it and won’t try to pick fights with them. When they pick fights with me is when I will defend myself. YEC is a valid position, but I personally can’t believe it anymore, owing primarily to Bible study and personal experience.

        That clearer? There is a lot more I could throw in that relates.

        • Stuart,

          Thanks, and, if you could, please throw in a little more in terms of Bible study, as I am especially interested in that. I can definately understand your revulsion to adhering to a particular ISM, as you put it, in that belonging to such can sometimes feel as though the party itself does your thinking for you. Also, the attitudes and mannerisms of those involved may not reflect where your own heart is. But I am interested in hearing how Bible study in particular led you too where you stand now, since, as I said before, I stand on the opposite side(I tend more to special creation over evolution for explaining origins, but not sure on the time factor). And it’s been Bible study especially that has been the deciding factor in this issue. Anyways, tell me more if could. And be specific. Thanks, man.

  18. Interesting essay.

    Interesting 5 points. How do you apply them when your former church.

    – all pastors are YEC (and we suspect it’s a requirement)
    – there’s a YEC “classroom” and all kids run through it once a year
    – YEC isn’t mentioned in the new member class or in anything I ever found written down
    – YEC isn’t discussed when parents are told about plans for kids for the year
    – when we find out our kids are being taught YEC/AIG as a scientific view and ask for a rebuttal we are shunned, scorned, eventually told to shut up. Politely but pointedly.
    – When a kid brings up a point that seems to be hard to swallow (mostly high school kids with very high IQs) they are told to shut up and listen. And if they do not stop asking are told to leave the class.

    How can this go on without the parents not knowing. Well when Sunday attendance of church and classes runs 3000+ each Sunday AM it’s easy to miss things if you’re not involved in the student classes. My bad. We have left and about 20 other families went with us and it was let known that they love us but have no interest in our opinions on the subject and please just leave if we will not shut up.

    • You have to be very careful when it comes to the church and your children. I have not let my child go with my in-laws to their church events because of this reason. It is a shame when you have to apply the same scrutiny to churches as you do to R-rated movies or rap music.

      • Well at least with R AND PG-13 rated movies you have notice up front.

        Once we heard my mother talk about how she was going to “fix” her grandkids they were never allowed to be with her again. 🙁

  19. Thanks Garrett. Very well said. Thanks for introducing readers to D. A. Carson. I am taking a class at my local church which is using that book and, like you, I liked his take on Genesis. Can you imagine what it would be like to read Genesis with a mind uncluttered by modern scientific concepts. Reading it, and not tryhing to square it with anything, just learn from our Father essentials about our beginnings?

    • “Thanks for introducing readers to D. A. Carson.”

      Never a bad idea to introduce folks to the Don 🙂

      “Can you imagine what it would be like to read Genesis with a mind uncluttered by modern scientific concepts. ”

      No, and that’s the problem! It’s hard to get rid of all the western, post-enlightenment, materialistic baggage we modern folks tend to carry and step into Moses’ sandals to see the text from “the view from Palestine” as it has been called. Yet I think that’s precisely what we’re called to do if we are to honor God’s word as it was originally intended to be understood.

  20. Garrett,

    I haven’t had time to read through all of the responses to your post, but I very much appreciate your tone and content.

    I have only swayed from a literal view of Genesis for a brief time in Jr. College when I thought the days of Genesis might have been longer than 24 hours.

    Because of the problems in the evolutionary theory, I have returned to a literal view of Genesis 1.

    You appear to be after the truth and not an argument. This is why I appreciate your efforts although I hold a different view on the subject.

    God’s blessings…

    • Thanks Chris. I’ve got a ways to go but I appreciate your kind words.

      I too have vacillated on literal vs. non-literal and 24hr days vs. long periods.

      However, I’m now convinced that those traditional hinge issues are really a misframing of the argument. Personally, I have no problem affirming that those days were intended to be understood as normal solar days of 24hr length. No question in my mind that’s what the original audience would have understood. But that doesn’t settle the YEC/OEC literal/nonliteral debate. I know of many OECs who hold to an old earth yet affirm 24hr days. Likewise, it’s possible to read the text “non-literally,” as I suppose I do, and accept 24hr days.

      So how should we frame the argument? I think the question of genre is critical. Also, what sort of ontology were the ancient Israelites operating out of? Was it materialistic, as we modern, scientifically-minded folks simply assume, or was it mostly if not entirely functional, as John Walton argues. As Carson notes, the texts seem to be “full of demonstrable symbolism.” If that’s the case, what sort of historical information should be expect from the account? What literary license, if any, have the authors taken in re-presenting their raw historical data?

      These questions, I believe, are already beginning to render debates over the length of the days mostly irrelevant. The day-age literalistic reading of Hugh Ross is nothing new (it was fairly popular among fundamentalists for quite some time) and I believe it will go the way of the “Gap-theory” since neither have strong support from the text and both assume a scientific concordism that is becoming less and less plausible as the consensus among OT scholars continues to shift toward accomodationist, or non-concordist readings.

      Just some food for thought.

      • Garrett,

        Thank you for sharing current views of the day/age question. Very instructive indeed.

        You have helped me to see how you frame the debate.

        The Carson statement “the texts seem to be ‘full of demonstrable symbolism'” is something I don’t see. It all seems very straightforward to me.

        If I held your position, I would be asking the same questions.

        May God bless our efforts as we continue our attempts to better understand His glorious Word.

        • I hear you. If I could make a recommendation, try checking out Bruce Waltke’s massive and highly praised “An OT Theology.” His discussions on the genre and historicity of Genesis 1-3 interact directly with your position and I think it would give you a scholarly take on why some folks see the early chapters of Genesis as not merely straightforward history, but history creatively re-told for rhetorical, theological, polemical reasons. It’s an edifying read!

  21. Excellent article, Garrett. I agree completely with the sentiment expressed in the last section.

    If anybody is interested in hearing the views of other scientists who are Christians (not to be confused with Christian scientists) I can’t recommend The Faraday Institute highly enough.

    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/index.php

    They have a fantastic multimedia section that I’ve been working my way through over the years

    • Thanks for the kind words FC.

      And I second your recommendation! The Faraday Inst. is a great resource. I actually had the privilege of thanking Denis Alexander in person a few weeks back for all their great online content. What a trip!

  22. I’m coming back to this really late after my earlier, so I’m unsure if the topic is still open.
    Just on the question of “Why?” and whether either faith or science can answer it.
    If faith tells you that God made the world, then faith also tells you that God did that because it pleased God to do so. That’s why.
    And that answer then informs that faitful one in a whole bunch of trickle down questions regarding destiny, purpose and outcome.
    Faith does this in the way that Faith works, not in the way that Science works.