Faith, hope, God and science

IMG_1785March 25, 2016 – My son and I — an atheist and a believer respectively — have a recurring debate about God’s existence. It comes down to faith, which I have and he does not.

He asks how I can believe in something with no facts to prove it. As a scientific thinker, he questions everything and always has. His mind works the way. I explain that I have faith and I don’t necessarily have to see something to believe it, a response that doesn’t make sense to him.

I offer that since he is unable to prove that God doesn’t exist, his opinion is faith-based, as well. He pauses for a moment, making me believe I gained ground in this never-ending debate. Then he responds that his opinion isn’t born of faith at all, but rather the opposite. He doesn’t have faith that God doesn’t exist because it’s never been proven that he does.

To prove he has faith in something, I look to find an example outside of religion. I say that I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, he says that the sun rises every morning, so there is evidence to back up the claim. I say I have faith that he will do the right thing, he responds that I raised him a certain way, and I can only hope he does the right thing. I say that every successful scientist had faith at the onset of an experiment or theory, he says the scientist merely had hope the theory would be proven.

The conversation leaves me frustrated and aware that faith and hope aren’t as interchangeable as I thought. Faith is based on beliefs that can’t be proven while hope is a desire for something to come. Faith and hope are as different as God and science, but I believe in all of them.

Stephen Hawking said, “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation.”

Why do we have to limit what we believe? Science has not invalidated the existence of God just because it proved the Big Bang. If there isn’t a master designer, are we to believe it is all coincidence, and that everything occurred in such precise order that enabled our existence?

Science has also been unable to answer life’s greatest mystery to me—what gives us the ability to create amazing works of art, literature and music?

I may never convince my son to have faith; likewise, he’ll never convince me that having faith is useless. However, I’ll keep the faith that someday I’ll come up with an example that doesn’t involve religion. At least, I hope I can.

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36 thoughts on “Faith, hope, God and science

    • Thanks for sharing Yonason. Interesting reads. Reiterates that science/scientists don’t like to have “blind” faith in what can’t be proven, even they can’t prove otherwise.

  1. I actually feel the same way you do. I believe in both science and God because there are still somethings that science has yet to explain. Science can explain a lot but not everything!

  2. The problem I see with the son’s thinking is that he has filtered his worldview through assuming ALL truth is scientific and that is not the case. Scientific truth is simply one aspect of understanding reality. When assuming that ALL truth falls under scientific observation, then the worldview is generally materialistic where there is no transcendent value of people. Assuming there is no transcendence of people, then yes, one could possibly assume all the world through such a lens.

    I agree with the parent in regards to the statement about art, literature, and music because they are expressions of transcendence–the soul–which is immaterial, and yet very real. There is no need for any of these and yet, they abound because of that fact.

    I disagree with the parent when they say, “God and science” are different. The statement assumes that ‘God’ and ‘science’ are both ‘things’. And that these ‘things’ are fighting for dominance. In truth, ‘God’ is a being and ‘science’ is merely observations of the world around us. In today’s world, science is a ubiquitous word meant to shut down all arguments of a differing opinion when all it is mere observations, nothing more.

    How often have scientists of any field of study been wrong? Or have had to rework their hypothesis when observations have proven them wrong? All the time and there’s nothing wrong with that. Why? Because people are flawed and flawed people make mistakes. Any scientist worth her salt when exploring a theory starts with a guess because they don’t know the truth. This shows that scientists know very little without observations so why would anyone assume the world can only be view through scientific truth when it’s in a constant flux of understanding? Take DNA for an example — the more studies being completed, the more study there has to be because there’s simply so much more information to discover. The cell was once thought of as a gelatinous blob. Now we know it’s a universe within our bodies. And yet, interestingly enough, ‘scientists’ are being heralded as ‘prophets’. The term ‘scientists say’ and ‘scientists predict’ is the equivalent ‘Thus says the Lord’ or ‘the prophet prophesied’.

    The younger generation, God help them, are being taught to simply accept scientific truth as the only truth (much like the son in the post) simply because a scientist said so — which is causing them to develop faith in humans who get it wrong all the time. Thus it has created a framework of elitism depicting materialistic, atheistic scientists along with those who support them as elites. Oh, there’s lip service to everyone being equal but that’s rarely the case. Then when a scientist who believes in the existence of God shows up, and there are many, she’s looked at oddly as if her brain’s been pulled out and replaced. But it hasn’t. She’s smart and intelligent and she believes in God. That makes her a scientist who believes in God. The other scientist who doesn’t believe in God makes her a scientist who doesn’t believe in God. The who does is just as smart as the one who doesn’t. But in our society, especially in the Western world, she who doesn’t believe is better than she who doesn’t. Which is sad.

    But it all comes down to the this: you can’t disprove that God exists nor can you disprove God doesn’t exist. Both positions are a matter of faith (despite the son’s claim otherwise) and both proponents hope they are right. Thanks for a great post. It really invigorated me.

    • Very good points, Parker! Your response really made me think! I especially agree with two points you made: God and science fighting for dominance — I don’t believe that to be true, either. And the last — both positions (believing in God or not) are a matter of faith since neither can be proven! Bravo!

  3. Without God there is no science. I look at the sky and think” Man, God is an amazing artist,” because it was he who first created or painted it. It’s good to have discussions over what our belief’s are. I am sure God has or will give your son a glimpse someday, so have faith that his opinion may change.

  4. Ever consider checking out St. Thomas Aquinas’s proofs for God’s existence? He was a pretty smart guy; I think his proofs might be able to help!

    • Good suggestion. I’ve studied some of what St. Thomas Aquinas has written, and I know my son has mentioned him a few times during our debates. Thank you!

  5. There are some issues that cannot be settled by science. Science gives value to nothing. Should I risk my life to save someone? Should I be concerned about the extinction of another life-form that neither helps nor hurts human interests? Attempts by Haldane and Dawkins to provide “scientific” answers are illogical because their belief that we OUGHT to preserve our genes, because animals including ourselves tend to do this, is an unsupported value judgement. That does not logically mean the answer must be religion, but it might make your son realise there are important issues science cannot answer, nor reason neither: they can be used as tools to find an answer, but the source of the answer must be in personal, unprovable belief of some sort.

  6. Super interesting read! If you look at it from this point of view, it may be a little less frustrating–in the secular world, if a crime has been committed but there is no trace of the perpetrator, what do detectives do to find the source of the crime? They follow clues. So in a court of law, if there are enough clues and evidence presented against someone, they are convicted based on the evidence, even though no one actually “saw” the actual crime being committed. And this stands in a court of law! The clues and evidence point the way. Same goes for our belief in God; even though we can’t actually “see” Him, the clues and evidence point to His existence without a reasonable doubt! The fact that God remains hidden is frustrating to many people, and theologians have actually termed it ‘The hiddenness of God.’ Science has proved that our planet is so incredibly fine tuned with all the laws that are in place, that achieving such perfection randomly is akin to shooting a dart at a target that is a billion miles away and hitting it in the bulls eye. (I keep hearing that analogy but couldn’t find who said it when I did a quick Google search, but I basically paraphrased it.)

  7. I very much sympathize with your son in that I am very demanding of answers. I’ve been a Christian for a very long time, yet was surprised to find that these answers could indeed be answered logically and scientifically.
    I advise that you and your son watch the following debate between a great Christian apologist and a prominent atheistic orator and defender. I truly hope that your son is in search of truth, rather than clutching unto what he desires to believe. God bless you and your family to the fullest! 🙂

    • Thanks, Silhouete. There is nothing wrong with questioning anything. If he said he were agnostic, for example, I could understand that. I’ll pass along this link and watch it myself!

  8. Jane, I can certainly relate to this post. My oldest daughter, Bethany, was saved at a young age. And then life happened. She too had a very scientific mindset which resulted in a lot of searching. She suffered a few setbacks and watched her two younger sisters grow up with ARSACS, a rare and progressive form of muscular dystrophy. She also felt a great deal of empathy for others and struggled with the biblical stance on moral issues of our day out of a heart of compassion for others enmeshed in sinful lifestyles. A week before Christmas in 2013, I saw exactly how much of her faith had been lost when she said, “I think Christians are the immoral ones. They are always trying to tell other what they can and can’t do, who they can and can’t love.” As we were returning home from spending Christmas with family on the 26th, we got involved in a discussion about evolution and creation theory. I asked her if she would read Deadly Disclosure, a Christian fiction mystery by Julie Cave that includes two men who debate the topic as part of the novel. She agreed to read the book but unfortunately never got a chance as our van was struck by a careless and unlicensed driver just 20 miles from our home. Bethany and my youngest daughter died upon impact that day. As I knelt beside her on the side of the road I remember thinking No More Time, and I was brokenhearted to realize that I was not sure where she would spend all of eternity. Thankfully, that issue was later resolved for me.

    I thought you might find some help defending the scientific evidence for creation theory against evolution or the Big Bang theory at Answers in Genesis. You can read about them at this Wikipedia link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answers_in_Genesis

    Lee Strobel was a journalist whose wife became a Christian, much to his dismay. He ended up writing “A Case of Christ” which chronicles his journey from atheism to faith in Chirst. He also wrote “A Case for Faith” and finally “A Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God”. I thought Strobel’s books might aid in your discussions with your scientifically minded son.

    Praying that the resources and others you may find will make it evident to your son that the Bible is not incompatible with science and that it’s possible to be a Christian and a scientist without checking your brain at the door to faith. God invites us to bring our questions to Him. He says, “Come let us reason together.” He’s not afraid or offended by your son’s questions. After all, He created him to have a logical, scientific mind, and expects your son to make good use of his intellectual abilities.

    Janet

    • Janet, thank you so much for sharing. And may I say I am so sorry for your loss. I believe that God is loving and kind, and understands our hearts and minds, even if we don’t. That said, I’m certain both of your daughters are at peace with him now. I look forward to reading the materials you suggested. Have a blessed Easter!

  9. Science is a method of investigation, based upon observable facts and recorded experimentation. To me, conflating science with matters of the heart and soul is mixing apples and oranges. If the existence of god could be proven and made tangible, then there would be no need for faith.

  10. Science and the belief in God do not need to be in opposition. From what I’ve learned, quantum physics puts forth a scientific explanation of how God operates in our universe. I think quantum physics is proving the existence of God but not the traditional image of God.

  11. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I’ve always thought that faith, by definition, was believing in something not seen or fully understood. I have believed in God since I was a little girl. I don’t have all the answers now, nor do I need to know. Sure, I’m curious and would love to know what God looks like. I’ll find out when I get to heaven and that’s fine with me. ~Connie

  12. I think the health laws outlined in the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch or the Torah) prove not only the existence of an all-knowing God, but a loving God as well, who was kind enough to tell us how to live a healthy lifestyle. The health laws were given thousands of years before man discovered the implications. The Word delivered to Moses has withstood the test of time, and modern science continually proves it so. I found a really interesting site that goes into detail of how the health laws prove scientific foreknowledge, but I don’t want you to think I’m spamming you by posting links. Let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll get it to you.

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