High School youth leaders and Bible study teachers are in luck! Here’s one more high school Bible study that would be perfect for high school juniors and seniors who are preparing to attend college soon. This study is on scientific objections to Christianity. This is an incredibly relevant topic, as students are exposed to questions about scientific objections not only from non-believers, but from science class lectures and textbooks. Ideas such as evolution, the age of the earth and the origins of life are presented in high school and college biology and physical geography classes. Here’s the study to help your students answer some of these tough questions.
- Science: Hasn’t science proven that the Bible is wrong?
- Miracles can’t happen or are scientifically impossible (naturalism)
i. The argument goes like this: Science can only deal with natural causes, therefore, there are no causes for natural events other than natural causes that are scientifically explainable. Another way of putting this is “that science, by its nature, can’t discern of test for supernatural causes, and therefore, those causes can’t exist.”
- Alvin Plantinga responds: “[This] argument…is like the durnk who insisted on looking for his lost car keys only under the streetlight on the grounds that the light was better there. In fact, it would go the drunk one better: it would insist that because the keys would be hard to find in the dark, they must be under the light.”
ii. There’s no way to disprove miracles happened, because science by its nature could never test for them. Therefore, a bias against miracles is a philosophical presupposition, not an empirical fact.
- Additionally, a physical explanation for a miracle doesn’t invalidate it, or show that it didn’t come from God. (any more than praying for rain and having rain clouds appear means it wasn’t an answer to prayer)
iii. God of the Gaps warning: However, we can’t just say anything science can’t explain is caused by God. That may not be the case, and in 50 years somebody might figure out the explanation.
iv. Historical evidence for miracles, particularly the resurrection, is quite strong.
- Greenleaf book, The Testimony of the Evangelists
- Greenleaf was a distinguished Harvard Law professor who was Jewish until he examined the evidence for the resurrection by the rules of law, and found the testimony to be impossible to ignore.
- NT Wright book and Anne Rice
- Anne Rice was an author famous for her “Interview with the Vampire” books. Doing research for another book, she read NT Wright’s book on the Resurrection and again, discovered that the evidence was too strong to ignore, and became a Christian.
- Aren’t science and Christianity at odds? Don’t you have to pick one or the other?
i. Actually there are many aspects of science that support belief in God
- Big Bang was initially rejected as being too “religious”. People used to believe in a steady-state universe before the big bang was proven.
- Fine Tuned Universe (also related to the Anthropic Principle)
- This refers to the astonishing number of coincidences that are necessary for life to exist in our universe, and some consider this evidence for God (others as evidence for multiple universes, of which ours happens to be the one in a trillion universe capable of supporting life).
- b. The view of atheistic scientists quoted in Discover magazine:
“Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.
The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.”
- Some examples:
- Argument from design.
- This argument, made famous by Michael Behe in “Darwin’s Black Box”, basically says that science proves God, because the more we know about systems and nature, the more it seems that nature (and biological systems in particular) are irreducibly complex. What that means is that some systems (like eyes, or DNA) are just too darn complicated to have developed a little at a time through evolutionary processes. (half a wing does very little good, for example; you just go splat)
- So science isn’t opposed to Christianity, but there are many arguments for God’s existence coming from science.
- Aren’t all smart people atheists?
i. Academy of Science polling data
- Only 7% of members believe in a “personal” God.
ii. All “smart” people ought to be a little more humble.
- It is logically impossible to be an atheist rather than an agnostic
- Betrund Russel
- The nature of science is that it is always changing. The dogmatic truth of today which seems to contradict the scripture may end up being the embarrassment of tomomorrow.
- The question to ask is, Are today’s scientific textbooks the same as they were 20 years ago? No? Then do you think that the textbooks 20 years from now will be the same as the ones we have today? Do you know which parts will be different? We simply don’t have all the information, and being dogmatic about one point or another isn’t wise.
- There are many examples of people making this kind of mistake from history:
i. The Big Bang, as referenced above. Scientists used to dismiss the first chapter of Genesis as being silly simply for the fact that there was a beginning.
ii. Newtonian Physics. Some scientists used to think that there was no room for God to work in the universe because everything was already determined. If there was a god, he was a watchmaker, who spun the world up and left it alone. The discovery of quantum physics disproved this notion and revealed the universe to be much less certain than scientists had thought.
iii. Many more specific ones in the fields of cosmology and biology, I believe.
- Evolution disproves a creator God
i. Is evolution true?
- There are two types of evolution: Macro Evolution and Micro Evolution.
- Macro refers to large changes, like a dog growing an extra tail, or becoming a cat.
- Micro refers to small, inside the same species changes, like
- It’s not just Christians or people of faith that are critical of evolution
- One of the best books challenging evolution was written by a scientist, Michael Denton, called Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.
- Basically he says that new species are created, that micro evolution is a proven fact, but that macro evolution is entirely without support.
ii. Origin of life issues
- The biggest problem with evolution is the issue of the origin of life.
- It is far easier to get from one single celled organism to the tremendous diversity of life we currently have than it is to get from nothing to that first single celled organism.
- The principles of evolution do not work on non-living matter.
- Non-living matter does not reproduce, and therefore can’t mutate to become better
- Non-living matter does not
- Evolution holds that life was an accident, that the building blocks of life simply came together as the result of chance. The reason for the appeal to chance is that there’s no other good explanation for how life came about.
- The problem with the appeal to chance is that this in itself is not a good explanation
i. There’s not nearly enough time to make the chances reasonable. For this reason, some fairly respected scientists have supported the idea of panspermigia, which basically says that single-celled life arrived here from outer space.
ii. Long periods of time do not make extremely unlikely events more likely to occur.
- Sitting around watching water for 30 billion years doesn’t mean that it will eventually turn to lead, which is extremely unlikely but also possible.
- This problem is such a large one, that a very prominent atheist, Antony Flew, became a theist because of it. There simply is not an intellectually satisfying natural explanation for how life came from un-life without intelligent intervention.
iii. Philosophical problems with Evolution
- If life is an accident, then is there such a thing as moral obligation?
- The Nazis would have been 100% right to kill all the sick, handicapped and what they saw as inferior races for the long term good of the human race.
- On the other hand, if we’re children of God, there’s ample reason to treat one another with respect and honesty.
- If life is an accident, then is there any purpose to it all?
- The sun will eventually explode and erase all traces of anything you might accomplish, even if you’re Barak Obama ;).
- On the other hand, if we’re eternal, created by an eternal God, then life has tremendous significance.
- If life is an accident, can there be any such thing as true beauty?
- Really, you’re no more valuable than a rock. The joy you feel at a sunset or a painting is just chemical reactions, nothing more.
- On the other hand, there is beauty everywhere, true beauty, if God created everything good. Many people intuitively can reach this conclusion.
- How to present these issues to unbelieving friends
i. In general, arguing that the earth is 7000 years old or that evolution is just plain evil is unlikely to do anything other than annoy your friend. The best route is to introduce doubts and questions into their world view gently. If they can doubt their doubts, that may open them a crack to the gospel.
ii. Use your head and your heart. Very few people have only scientific objections to the faith. Listen to the Holy Spirit, but be prepared in what to say if you feel a leading to share, question or confront.
- Age of the Earth
iii. Is the earth really 7000 years old?
- That the earth is 4.3 billion years old is a modern assumption, and you should really just roll with it. I don’t like the evidence for it, other than light in the night sky. That’s the only evidence that seems reasonable to me. (in other words, it seems quite reasonable that the universe is 15 or so billion years old, but less so for our particular planet) The current pattern of thinking basically arose out of the field of geology and assumptions about the time necessary to take a single celled organism to turn into the amazing diversity of live we see today.