The Science of Faith

By Doy Moyer

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

The evolution-creation debate is often depicted as being "science versus faith." This is deceptive, for it assumes that macroevolution is a scientific fact; and it assumes that faith has no basis in factual evidence. It is a prejudicial statement, for it elevates science and downplays faith in ways that prevent honest investigation.

We want to consider the religious nature of evolution, the nature of biblical faith, and try to determine whether or not faith is reasonable. We contend that the evolution-creation issue is not about science vs. faith. Rather, any belief about the way things were in the past demands faith in some form. We want to know how faith plays a role in both evolution and creation.

The Religious Nature of Evolution

In the broadest sense, a religion is anything that elicits devotion, zeal, and dedication from its adherents. It generally involves a code of ethics and philosophy. It is a worldview, a bias through which one sees all of life.

Evolution is, really, the major tenant of the secular religion known as "humanism." This is not to be confused with "humanitarianism" (being kind to people, etc.). Humanism is a belief system that is devoid of God, regarding humans as purely natural objects. It is a religious viewpoint because it zealously stresses human progress and ethical and moral standards through natural means. Its god is nature (or even humanity) itself. Compare this with what one can read in Romans 1:18-32. Note how those in this passage put God out of their minds, then turn to serve (worship) the creature rather than the Creator. This becomes the basis for their doing whatever they want to do.

The humanist bias is seen in the Humanist Manifestos I and II. This is, in essence, the humanist creed. It explicitly denies God, arguing that belief in the supernatural is "either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival or fulfillment of the human race. As non-theists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural" (Kurtz 16). Note how they begin without God; every explanation for everything is naturalistic. They have no room for God in their thinking. Yet, it is from this worldview that they establish their own ethical and moral standards by which they think everyone should live.

If there is nothing supernatural that is meaningful or relevant, then they need some way to explain how humans and the universe came to exist. Enter the theory of evolution. It provides an "intellectual" means by which they can answer such questions, reject belief in God, and establish their own ethical system. If we are merely the result of chance, natural processes, then we should have the ability and freedom to pursue anything and everything that makes us "happy." This is what humanism is all about, and evolution provides the mechanism for being able to think this way.

Evolutionists generally argue that there needs to be a separation of religion and science. Yet, they seem eager to use their science "as a basis for pronouncements about religion. The literature of Darwinism is full of anti-theistic conclusions, such as that the universe was not designed and has no purpose, and that we humans are the product of blind natural processes that care nothing about us. What is more, these statements are not presented as personal opinions but as the logical implications of evolutionary science" (Johnson 8-9). This is why there is such a debate about the creation account in Genesis. What Genesis represents clearly contradicts the evolutionist agenda.

Humanists and evolutionists are religious in their zeal to evangelize the world, "by insisting that even non-scientists accept the truth of their theory as a matter of moral obligation" (Johnson 9). So even though there is no God in evolutionary and humanistic thinking, its devoted followers still have a basic religious philosophy that affects their lives just as much as anyone who believes in God. So the question is not really whether or not they believe in God, but in which "god" do they trust?

What Is Faith?

Many who think there is a contradiction between science and faith define faith as being "unquestioning belief" or "belief without evidence." This pictures faith as being blind, sometimes even believing something when evidence exists to show this belief wrong. Such faith is said to be "common in religious contexts" (Burr and Goldinger 533). This may describe the faith of some, but is this the picture of faith given to us in the Bible? Not at all; in fact, such a view of faith seriously misses the truth.

In the Bible, faith can be defined as complete trust, confidence, or reliance. "Trust" is perhaps one of the best words to describe faith. It goes beyond simply believing something. Many believe things, but are unwilling to put their trust in their beliefs. This is not faith. True faith is achieved when people know what they believe, why they believe it, and are devoted to acting upon their beliefs. James 2:14-26 shows that such action is necessary in order to exercise faith that is pleasing to God. When true faith exists, it stands as the foundation for hope, and provides the means by which we can be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

It is a mistaken concept to think that all faith is devoid of evidence. Faith does not require one to be an eyewitness of everything believed, but it should rest upon proper evidence. For example, I have faith that my mother really is my physical mother. I have not scientifically verified this, but the evidence is such that it would be unreasonable for me to think otherwise. There are eyewitnesses and documents as evidence. Now I trust that this is true, but it is not blind faith at all. I also have faith in my wife. I trust that when she promises to do something, she will do it. I have not witnessed everything she has ever done, but her record is such that I should have faith in her. This is not belief without evidence, but neither can I scientifically verify this faith.

When it comes to faith in God as Creator, we believe that the evidence is such that it warrants the response of faith, even though one cannot scientifically prove everything about God. In the Bible, many examples show an appeal to evidence in order to confirm a claim and promote faith. Read John 10:37-38 and Matthew 11:2-5. Jesus Himself appealed to what could be seen and heard. No one was asking others to believe without evidence. Biblical faith is not gullible.

Now what does all of this have to do with the conflict over evolution? First, it shows that the representation of this being a contradiction between "faith and science" is a false one. We admit that faith is involved in believing creation, but this does not negate or contradict scientific study. Secondly, however, is the need to understand that the practice of science itself involves a degree of faith. Those who accept evolutionary theory do so on the grounds of faith. They believe they have evidence for thinking the way that they do, and based upon this they put their trust in their theories.

Science itself is based upon certain presuppositions ó such as the reality of truth, the ability of the human mind to properly perceive the world, and the idea that numbers and language have true meaning. These things cannot be scientifically proven, and so a certain degree of faith must be exercised. Further, the evolutionary system itself requires belief. The whole concept that life began without intelligence and that everything exists and came to the present state through an unguided process is a belief. It cannot be scientifically verified or falsified. The idea that life began in some "soupy" substance and then gradually evolved into land animals, then into flying creatures, is a belief. One must "trust" that this belief is true, for it has never been scientifically proved.

The issue, then, is not whether or not faith is involved in the battle over creation and evolution; faith is involved. The issue is the evidence itself, and how this evidence is to be interpreted. How this evidence is interpreted depends upon the faith and the bias that one has. The real question then comes down to which faith, or which bias, is the most reasonable one to have.

Is Faith Reasonable?

Faith is an essential part of everyday life. We trust that things will operate normally, and we live out the day with such trust. We rarely think of it in these terms, though. Think about it. When we eat a meal, do we not trust those who prepared it? If we buy something in the store and eat it, do we not trust that those who made it and put it there did not poison it? When a parent or spouse puts a meal on the table, do we not trust that he or she did not put something in it that would kill us? Do we not trust other family members when we go to bed at night? We trust our friends, our employers, and others to be what they are. We normally donít go through any scientific investigation, but we generally believe and put our faith in others daily. We would all go crazy if we didnít do this.

When I get into my car and turn the key, I trust that it will start. When it doesnít, I might get irritated and start saying that it is an "unfaithful" vehicle. Still, there is an exercise of faith. We go places, engage in activities, and live our lives with beliefs and with faith. Is it reasonable to live this way? Once again, imagine what it would be like if we didnít live this way. It would be chaos, despair, and paranoia. In fact, we would argue that it is unreasonable not to live this way.

When it comes to faith in God, we realize that we cannot scientifically prove everything, but this does not change the reasonable nature of our faith. The evidence exists, and we trust it (cf. Psalm 19:1). Faith is reasonable when presented with the evidence for a Creator.

It is unreasonable to argue that faith is opposed to science, as science itself requires a degree of faith. So the reasoned position is that faith is a part of life; what we put our faith in depends upon how we view the evidence presented to us.

Summing Up

Faith and science are compatible. We should avoid viewing these as opposites, and start seeing how they can work together. One does not disprove the other; instead, they can enhance and help each other.

Belief in evolution really has a religious nature to it. Many devoted followers seek to evangelize others about it, and they pronounce negative things about belief in God. Evolution is a part of secular humanism, a system that is without God. Macroevolutionism is opposed to creation at its core.

Faith involves trust. Those who believe in a Creator do so by faith, but those who believe in evolution also have a faith. So it is not that science is all for evolution, while religion is just superstitious belief. Evolution is a faith, and so is creation. With this in mind, one can put creation and evolution up for comparison to see which is more reasonable. Our contention is that creation is the reasonable position.


Works Cited

Burr, John R. and Milton Goldinger. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues. Seventh ed. NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Johnson, Phillip E. Darwin on Trial. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991.

Kurtz, Paul, ed. Humanist Manifestos I and II. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.


Doy Moyer
Doy Moyer is a native of California. He is 41 years old and has been married to Laurie (Teel) Moyer since May 1986. They have three children: Caleb (17), Luke (14), and Audrey (12). He has been preaching the gospel for over 20 years, working with congregations in Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio, California, and Florida. He presently resides in Florida and works with the church in Cork, outside of Plant City. For five years he was an associate editor of Focus Magazine, and has written numerous articles for various publications. Since August, 2001, Doy has been teaching Biblical Studies, Evidences, and Philosophy at Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL. He has his own web site located at http://studywell.org. You can write him at moyerd@floridacollege.edu.

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