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Oct 27, 2019

Faith Is Irrational and Anti-Science

Passage: Genesis 1:27-31

Preacher: John Huizinga

Series: What's Wrong With The Church?

Category: What's Wrong With The Church?

Keywords: faith, creation, science, evolution, harris, reason, dawkins, schroeder, genesis 1


What’s Wrong With The Church, Part 6 – Faith Is Irrational and the Church is Anti-Science. Richard Dawkins speaks as a secular prophet for this generation when he says: “Don’t follow your instincts, don’t follow a leader, don’t follow a tradition, don’t follow a holy book. Follow the evidence, follow logic and reason.” The implied accusation is that faith and science don’t mix. It’s that faith is irrational. It’s that the only evidence that matters is empirical. As a result, many have left the church, dismissed the Bible, and turned away from faith in Jesus. But is the accusation true that faith is irrational? Is it true that only empirical evidence matters? Should science be looked to for the answer to life, the universe, and everything? Our scripture readings bring a fuller picture. The Creator God has embedded into creation and the natural order wisdom and understanding. Jesus is the Logos, that is, the word, meaning reason. Our reasoning is fulfilled in him. And because of that life has purpose and meaning. In fact, when Richard Dawkins follows his logic and reasoning to its ultimate conclusion he confesses: “We are all doomed . . . but it’s terrible to live your life in the shadow of such pessimism, so I prefer to feign optimism to myself.” So who’s being irrational and illogical now?


I used science and reason this week.

I got a flu shot

in preparation for the upcoming season.

I trust that the medical science

is there to benefit me and our community.

Thursday, I exercised reason

setting the lineup for my fantasy football team,

I compared metrics and probabilities,

listened to so-called experts,

and avoided Bears players.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a win this week!


I also practiced my faith in Jesus Christ this week.

I prayed for those going thru chemo treatments

hoping the science helps,

but I prayed because God is the healer.

I spent two days in prayer and Bible reflection

with other colleagues

at our quarterly deeper journey meeting,

and together we experienced the grace and truth

of God’s revelation in the Bible

and the personal presence of God

with us in Jesus.


I used science, reason and faith this week,

without conflict,

without compromise to either grace or truth.

Science, reason and faith are all good gifts from God.


But often we hear that science and faith are enemies, incompatible,

not friends but foes.

Just look at what faith,

what the church,

has done to Galileo,

to dinosaurs and evolution . . .

to more and more faith isn’t just old fashioned, simple,

but an evil, holding America back.

Richard Dawkins speaks as a secular prophet

for this generation when he says:

“Don’t follow your instincts, don’t follow a leader, don’t follow a tradition, don’t follow a holy book. Follow the evidence, follow logic and reason.”

The accusation is that faith and science don’t mix.

It’s that faith is irrational.

It’s that the only evidence that matters is empirical.


But is this true?

Is our own reasoning enough

to figure out everything?

Right and wrong?

Purpose and meaning?


Does knowledge only come rationally?

And is the Christian faith irrational? Blind?

Sam Harris - Faith is nothing more than

the license religious people give themselves

to keep believing when reasons fail.

Richard Dawkins - Faith is belief in spite of,

even perhaps because of,

the lack of evidence.


Such attacks have resulted in many

leaving faith in Christ and belonging in his church.

Others have set up a boundary between the two.

I live my daily life by scientific reasoning,

my life is fulfilled materially,

and I reserve faith for Sunday worship,

weddings and funerals,

and my heritage, some of my family identity.


Let me ask: is this working?

Is this healthy?

Living this way do you feel close to God?

Have you found purpose and meaning

in your relationships,

in your hard work,

in sacrifice and suffering?


The Bible doesn’t force us

to check our brains at the door.

It speaks grace and truth to us

when the facts don’t make sense

of what we’re going through.

The Creator God has embedded into creation

and the natural order

wisdom and understanding.

 Jesus is the Logos, that is, the word, meaning reason. Our reasoning is fulfilled in him.

And because of that life has purpose and meaning.

Pope Benedicts’ 2006 Regensburg address

was all about reason saying

God is a God of reason. 

Christians didn’t object, nonChristians did.


Faith is not blind.

The disciples acted on the evidence:

personal, miraculous,

knowledge, understanding, authority.

In fact, many disbelieved

in spite of the evidence.


So what can we say to the charge:

the Christian faith is irrational and anti-science?

Our Bible readings give us an overlooked revelation

that show the story of God

far from being opposed to science or its findings,

makes science and reasoning possible.

We started with Genesis 1 and the creation story

because that’s where the conflict usually begins.

How can Christians say

God created the world in six days,

when the evidence for evolution reasonably shows

the universe began some 13-15 billion years ago

by impersonal forces,

and life evolved over some 3 to 4 billion years

by random mutation and natural selection?


I place these verses before us to note a few things:

one, there are no dates here.

The only reference to time is Genesis 1:1

which we didn’t read

but which you know –

In the beginning,

God created the heavens and the earth.

Up until 50-60 years ago,

scientific knowledge proclaimed

this first verse of the Bible incorrect,

thinking the universe always was.

But when science discovered echoes

of what is called the Big Bang

science and scripture found themselves

on common ground again:

the universe did have a beginning.


There is nothing in Scripture that

asserts or reveals the age of the universe

or the earth or human history.

True some have tried to do so

chiefly by studying the many genealogies

listed in various Bible books.

But advancements in scholarship show

that genealogies are not a reliable tool

for historical dating.

Faith in Jesus Christ

does not demand Christians believe

in a literal six-day creation

around 6 to 10,000 years ago.


The days of Genesis 1 declare

the establishment by God of the week,

leading to Sabbath rest in the

peace and presence of the Triune God,

and calling for a response of worship

to the beauty and wonder of the life God created.

From our perspective we don’t have

billions of years;

we have days, and weeks

of work and rest,

Sabbath and celebration.

Genesis 1 proclaims the creation of space and time.

To describe each day with

‘evening and morning’

instead of our usual dawn to dusk

or morning, noon, and night,

proclaims’ the Lord’s creation of time

and the providence within this space.

In any case,

there couldn’t have been the experience

of an earthly 24-hour day as we know it

until day 4 of creation when the sun appears.

So something else must be revealed here.


Second, the history of scripture is not about

the history of the universe,

but rather the history of God’s people,

the grand story of God that we’ve talked about:

those realities of life with God –

creation, fall and brokenness,

redemption, and restoration.


Genesis 1 reveals the beginning of the answers

to questions beyond the discipline of science

and our ability to reason:

why is there something instead of nothing?

How did lifeless matter result in life?

And how come life responds to matter

with spiritual experiences

like beauty, wonder, joy, and faith?


Evolutionary science has its own problems

with time.

More and more we understand

that there is no way

to get from proteins to human life

even in 4 billion years.


The passages from Proverbs and Jeremiah

reveal the answer to why there is life,

how there can be more than the material.

How we are gifted with a person like Brynn

who can grow to know and experience

the blessing and beauty of Jesus and salvation.

And its answer reveals the presence of God

who made us in his image.


Proverbs 3:19-20

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,

    by understanding he set the heavens in place;

20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,

    and the clouds let drop the dew.


Jeremiah 10:12

12 But God made the earth by his power;

    he founded the world by his wisdom

    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.


Do you notice the word ‘wisdom’?

These representative passages reveal

that the Creator God is not only perfect wisdom

but that all creation and life

are founded in wisdom.

This is not something human beings could figure out,

it is revealed in the Bible.

Science confirms it:

Dr Gerald Schroeder –

How come there is something instead of nothing?

The only way is if there were unseen laws,

quantum fluctuations written, coded,

embedded, pre-existing . . .


So how did life come to be?

Science reasons a set of forces:

that are not physical

but act on the physical

that create the physical from nothing

and that predate the universe.

But where did this wisdom come from?

If these laws are somehow written into existence

there must be a Writer.

Not physical,

but acts on the physical,

in order to create the physical from nothing,

predating the universe.

Isn’t that the revelation of scripture concerning God?

In fact, the word for God

in the Hebrew language in Genesis 1 is Elohim,

which refers to:

the being active in the universe

with power and effect on nature . . .


 ‘By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations . . .

‘. . . he founded the world by his wisdom . . .’


Can we acknowledge that there are other reasons

why there is a conflict between faith and science,

that really don’t have much to do with reason at all?


For that we have to look at our verses from John 1 –

John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made;

without him nothing was made that has been made.


We hear echoes of the creation story

in these first verses of the Gospel according to John,

revealing the person and work of Jesus.

We are introduced to the ‘Word,’

in Greek the term is ‘logos.’

Translated as ‘word’

it means more than language or speech.

Logos, word, means something like ‘reason.’

The ultimate reality that lies behind all other things.

And that reality is revealed.

The point is: God is real,

but God is known by revelation,

most clearly in the life of the incarnate God,

Jesus Christ.

Our human reasoning alone is insufficient

for this knowledge;

our reasoning needs the revelation

of Perfect Reason in order to grasp the truth.


Now we get at the real conflict.

The conflict is not between faith and science,

or faith and reason.

For the Lord God made them all.

The conflict has to do with Jesus.


John goes on to say this Word,

this Logos,

this ultimate Truth and Reason and Reality,

became flesh and made his dwelling among us.


That is,

creation is not sustained by impersonal forces,

but by a personal being we worship,

the Lord God, who became one of us,

who died for your forgiveness,

who rose to defeat death and sin,

and who still acts daily in our lives

to bless, to save, to provide, and to restore.


This logos,

which gives meaning and purpose to all things,

is far from being an impersonal principle.

Rather, this logos is Jesus Christ,

the very God of the universe.

1 John 1:1 - That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,

which we have seen with our eyes,

which we have looked at

and our hands have touched—

this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.


This is our response when faith is criticized

or dismissed as irrational

with a false definition:

faith is not blind and irrational,

it is not insistent despite evidence,

faith is not

“. . . the purposeful suspension of critical thinking,”

as Bill Maher arrogantly says.

Faith is in a person.

It is personal; present and active in life and nature.

It is a response to the revelation of Jesus.


When I say I have faith in you,

I don’t mean

I have suspended all critical thinking about you.

It means I trust you,

I know you are there for me and with me,

we’re in this together.


We come to such a healthy relationship

by more than scientific reasoning.

By experiences.

By revelations of character.

By shared witness.


Faith is not irrational.

We know it as knowledge, conviction, and assurance.

Faith is personal,

the person who is ultimate knowledge and wisdom,

righteousness and love,

is known through understanding,

thru authoritative actions,

but also through assurances in relationship,

and through evidences that come by actions like

worship, prayer and sacrifice.


Are important things known by more than natural,

scientific reasoning?

Imagine describing the experience of love

in wholly materialistic terms.

We might describe the way our bodies

release chemicals,

creating a kind of euphoric feeling,

that is sensed by another through

neurons that fire in our brains.

Our genes have a deep desire to survive;

so, in some of these relationships

there is a powerful urge to replicate our genes

in offspring.

This mechanism is crucial for genetic survival.

Is that what falling in love was like for you?

Is that the same as say,

how Shakespeare describes it?

“Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests, and is never shaken”

—"Sonnet 116,” by William Shakespeare


Science may describe the natural chemical side

of what happens in our brains,

but we are more than brains,

we are persons,

with heart, soul, and body.


Just as there is more to knowledge than reason,

so there is to true faith also.

C Steven Evans reminds us: our reasoning is limited,

in fact, it is fallen,

broken by sin,

unable to respond to the fullness of God

our righteousness or humanity’s purpose.

The real obstacle to reason

is not faith but fear, idolatry, pride, rebellion, sin . . .

not wanting God but insisting on being our own god.

The story of Jesus,

God becoming one of us,

calling us to follow him,

accepting his death for our sin,

and being willing to sacrifice ourselves

with forgiveness, service, giving,

accepting scorn and even persecution,

for his glory, not ours,

that story gives us many reasons to reject it.

Reasons that don’t have anything to do

with evidence or empirical truth.

It is painful for sinful people

to recognize and confess one’s sins.

It is offensive to yield in submission to another Lord.


At the trial for Emmett Till’s murderers,

the defense readily acknowledged

the evidence against the accused.

They did it all right, they tortured and killed him.

Then the defense said,

But he had it coming.

And despite the evidence,

the racist jury let the killer go free, not guilty.


It is not evidence and reason alone

that will prove the reality of God,

because of our same brokenness,

fear, and self-interest.


Oftentimes the same people who judge Christians

as living by faith instead of reason and science

are the same people who

approve of abortion

despite the science that shows

they are approving the killing of a human being.

And this is true for other occasions

where biology takes a back seat to politics.


We need the knowledge and truth

 only revelation can supply.

Which is what we profess about belief:

article 5 BC –

And we believe

without a doubt

the revelation of the gospel of Jesus

given in the scriptures . . .

above all because the Holy Spirit

testifies in our hearts

that they are from God,

and also because they

prove themselves

to be from God.


The Holy Spirit speaks to heart soul and mind

in response to our rational limitations,

our imperfect love,

our idolatry of self,

and the pride we have

in our own thoughts and intellect.

In the end we need more than evidence,

because inside we know

that facts aren’t meaning.

In fact, we human beings are called to act

on such supernatural reasoning

at times contrary to our natural conclusions:

to forgive instead of exact revenge,

to give instead of take,

to love when we do not like,

to sacrifice instead of keeping ourselves safe.


So the Spirit uses reason,

but also fellowship,



and mostly the preached Word,

to gift us with faith –

the inner inspiration of God inspires belief.

Our belief rests in the counsel of the Spirit,

not logic,

not against logic,

not without reason,

but to sanctify that reason and logic,

much like one comes finally to love another person, or commit to a cause.

Reasons take you up to a point of faith:

for faith is knowledge,

but also assurance

and the conviction to act on that knowledge.

How do we know God is real,

Jesus is God with us,

the Bible is true and authoritative?

The Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts.


You may scoff at this reason,

but life with God is like relationship,

belonging to him, being a friend of Jesus;

it’s not a puzzle or a math problem.

Add to that,

beliefs formed by knowledge,





and authoritative word

are usually true and worthwhile having.

It is in any case knowledge that I can

in my human limitation reasonably profess.

It comes down to a relationship with Jesus.

And in the exercise of that relationship

thru trust and obedience,

prayer and scripture,

repentance and gratitude

that relationship holds true.

A “leap of faith” is not blind abandonment of reason, but rather “a commitment of the whole person.”


I hope this helps those of us who struggle

to believe in Jesus

because of the challenges of science,

its findings and its practice.

We learned today that

the revelation of the Bible does in fact

reveal basic truths about the origins of life

that are consistent with scientific theory.


We learned that faith is not irrational

but in a person, the person of Jesus.

Jesus is love incarnate,

but he is more,

he is also reason incarnate,

perfect wisdom and knowledge.

Faith is reasonable

as it looks to more than the scientific method

for evidence since things like





and experience

provide authentic knowledge, too.


And we learned that our reason is limited,

like our understanding,

clouded even, broken for sure,

by the effects of sin,

so we base our faith not on human achievement

but the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

That means when we struggle,

sure, we can look at reasons and evidence for faith,

but we should also worship, pray, serve, give,

read the Bible and meditate on it,

for the Spirit works in these ways

to get past the limits of our understanding

to the relationship we are meant to have with Jesus.


So do not shy away from science.

Pray for the scientists we know,

and the study of science in our colleges

and universities.

Gerry Gabrielse, Northwestern U physicist


I do not believe that science and the Bible

are in conflict.

However, it is possible to misunderstand the Bible and misunderstand science.

It is important to figure out

what of each might be misunderstood.


Also exercise reason to the ultimate conclusions

of science.

In fact, when Richard Dawkins follows

his logic and reasoning to its ultimate conclusion

he confesses:

“We are all doomed . . .

but it’s terrible to live your life

in the shadow of such pessimism,

so I prefer to feign optimism to myself.”

So who’s being irrational and illogical now?


So if you doubt the authority of Scripture

and the presence of Jesus with you,

also exercise the spiritual disciplines

in the hope of the Spirit’s revelation:

for relationship is restored

by prayer together,

shared sacrifice,

giving and forgiving.

Then pay attention to your need for God,

look beyond reason to what you long for,

the desire for what is true, good, eternal,

beautiful, joyful, and purposeful.


For we are saved by grace alone

through the gift of faith.