Monday, July 18, 2011

The Limits of Science, Part III

This is the last post in an ongoing series of Monday posts...Parts I and Part II can be found here and here. Also, today's post is part of the Christian Writer's blog chain for July, with the topic of "Freedom". (Next Monday I'll start a new apologetic series of posts).

In the last post I talked about science potentially finding chemical or genetic answers to mankind's problems...maybe even the moral ones. It's almost as if we are trying to come up with a scientific answer for what the Bible in some cases simply calls "sin".

Underneath it all, however, is this fact: in many fields of science, there is often a quest for truth. Many of these searches for truth rely on testing and discovery as a means of finding repeatable results that can be developed into laws.

When it comes to God, however, there is this growing perception nowadays that such tests are not possible, and to believe means you have to abandon your intellect or "check your brains at the door". Is that accurate, though? Can't we "test" God to see if He is real, and to see if the results are repeatable?

Yes and no.

In Luke 4:12 (NKJV), when Jesus is being tempted, He responds: "And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”" In some translations, however, it states, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." Additionally, in Luke 20:23 (NKJV) it says, "But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me?"". In this particular situation, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus on the issue of whether it was lawful or not to pay taxes.

But in Malachi 3:10 (NKJV) God tells the Israelites: "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it."

Hmmmm. In some cases it sounds like we are not supposed to test anything, and in others...we can? If you look closer at the passages you'll notice one crucial difference: the motive of the person who is asking the question. In the cases listed above, was the person asking the question in a sincere quest for truth, or just trying to trap Jesus?

The Bible is full of promises...too many to list in a blog post, of course. But there are some basic ones found in the New Testament, for example. Romans 10:13 (NKJV) states: "For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Sounds like something with a repeatable result, doesn't it?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) states: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." I Corinthians 12 lists spiritual gifts that a believer may receive. Phillipians 4:6-7 (NKJV) reads: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Reading these passages, it sounds like there are some results that will consistently occur if you seek out God in a "quest for truth".

Yet there is something a bit different about this quest. Keep in mind that this is a relationship. Believe it or not, with this relationship comes an intellectual freedom unparalleled. In Isaiah 1:18 it is written: ""Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

When we open the Bible or enter a church, no where in Scripture does it tell us to abandon your intellect. In fact, in Acts 17:10-11 (NKJV) it states: "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." In other words, the Bereans checked the Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was legitimate or not.

Some of science's greatest heroes did not abandon their faith or their intellect in their quest for truth. Why should you? If you read through the Word and ask God for help, you will have abundant evidence of who God is, what His purposes are, and you will see how real His promises are. You will see God at work in various fellowships, Bible studies, and through answered prayer.

Yes, some faith is required. Yet in return for that faith, you are given evidence of God's existence and that His laws are the real deal. More importantly, you will find a new level of intellectual freedom. Remember, however, that in this quest for truth that we already have an instruction manual and it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

How about you? Have you ever seen God's truths and promises lived out in your life or the lives of others?


  1. Michael, I really enjoyed reading this, very well thought out and to the point. As a scientist, I am working through answers to my firm belief in God and how it resolves with my scientific background... maybe this is a book for me down the road a ways... and have found the most resounding truth is that God gave us freedom to choose as he wanted purity in His relationship with us... and that as an individual's faith strengthens the relevance of answers to the many possible questions shrink to the point of insignificance. Thanks for a great post series!

  2. Good post Michael. I especially like Isaiah 1:18. It's very cool to think that God wants to reason with us. He gave us an intellect for a reason. You've given me a new perspective on some of those passages.

  3. Thanks chris and collingzone.

    @Chris...good points. I think the freedom that God gives us is both great but also a bit mysterious.

    It's interesting to look at all the freewill choices that people made throughout the Bible, along with the consequences of those choices, and the grace that was continually offered to them...even after they messed up.

  4. Micheal Thank you for this wonderful post. Our styles are similar and I can tell your work is God breathed. I've found God Word to absolutely trustworthy in all capacity. This is one of my favorite passages that has proven true more than once, ""Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." It's God peace that has protected and guarded me through many circumstances.

    Blessings with your writing endeavors

  5. Excellent post, Michael, well structured and logically presented. You definitely have a gift for apologetics. Thanks for sharing this and being part of the CW chain gang. :)

  6. First off, I would like to welcome you to the blog chain. It's great to read new voices and their thought process. You give great examples of the reasons to believe and to question to learn and not just be a mindless sheep or to dismiss Christianity as nonsense.

  7. @ Terrie, Traci, and Christine: Thanks!

    Terrie, that particular verse has always been amazing to me. It's easy to remember, but difficult to put into practice consistently.

  8. Michael, interesting post and something my boys (16, 18) and I constantly discuss -- the compatibility of science and faith. Often, if you peel back the rhetoric and simply observe the facts, faith strengthens science and vice versa rather than weakening either (less a few specific, current theories). It's made for some fascinating and lively discussions and is, I hope, preparing them to live their faith out strong. Thanks for a great post and welcome to the CW Blog Chain!

  9. Mike, so glad you've joined the chain gang! You're a great addition. I loved this. And yes, I've seen God's truths and promises lived out in the lives of others and I've experienced them as well. The Word is living and powerful, capable of igniting faith and giving eternal life. And this requires that divine relationship with the Lord. Thank you for your well-written and thought-provoking post.