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Why Science Does Not Weaken My Faith

Ken Caviness

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Ken Caviness

Professor, Southern Adventist University

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Conference

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  • February 9, 2018
    9:00 AM

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Thank you. So last night we talked a little bit about the discussion of science and religion and when I think of science I think of technology and we have evidence right here that doesn't always work because. There are technical difficulties that crop up. Last night with the general presentation comparing contrast in different scientific world use I ask this to think about atheistic science versus true science based on the biblical foundation and I think this can apply to. All of our fields not just science but today I'd like to share a little bit of a personal testimony so I have to say that the word mind here is underlined because it's why science doesn't weaken my faith each of us has our own story and I could put a subtitle on this Confessions of a former agnostic so I'll give you a little bit of why today science doesn't like. So when I was young I knew all the answers I guess that's not too unusual for our young people I knew exactly what I believed and why I believed it for me it was proof texts everything's based on the Bible and I have a reason for my faith and I don't I don't apologize for that I think it was good that I had done the bible studies I was maybe a little too confident but I did feel that my faith was grounded I had proof text for each step and I could do the speed drills that we called Sword drills in junior Sabbath school. Finding the tech. It's in the Bible. So I knew the doctrines I grew up a Seventh Day Adventist and I actually sort of enjoyed the argument and having the feeling. We have the truth my grandfather was a scientist and I grew up in the home with. I felt that I was exposed to a lot of different ideas my grandfather love to invite people home and have arguments and again the proof texts having a reason for your belief so there might be visiting Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons or other faith traditions and crap I would argue with them so it wasn't maybe the best way to witness looking back but I knew what I believed about God about the Sabbath about the state of the dead etc. All based on God's word but when I was eleven we moved to India and I had new friends my parents entered the mission service and I was surrounded by well there weren't any at innocent all there were some Christians at the institution where my father was. Teaching medicine South India but all my new friends were Hindus or Christians of a different faith tradition or some was limbs and these people didn't necessarily base their worldview on the same scripture that I did and so if I prove my faith from the Bible one of my friends says well why don't you use the Bhagavad Gita or why don't you use the Koran so I've been asking myself again why do I believe what I believe because if I. Can't even have the disc. Action then. It causes me to maybe doubt my position out. My faith. In myself they have this Christian only because my parents were. Because I was born into a Christian family. Well. Those are important questions and. I wanted some sort of proof Eventually I did read. Other holy books books that other faiths considered holy and. This sort of attitude continued in high school was I was beginning to study science I realized I really enjoyed. These certain classes it was a thrill to me to understand the principles but again I wanted proof I wanted a solid foundation. And in studying science I realized that. I enjoyed knowing for certain. The Universe seemed dependable it seemed we could rely on it neat but wasn't nature always work the same way this was truth this is how it works things always work this way two plus two is always four always has been always will be you can rely on it and I devoured books that explains things. But I begin to notice the more I studied and these explanations didn't refer to God. I learned more and more explanations but it was a godless worldview that is to say it was a worldview that did not mention God. I went to school in my first year of graduate school in the University of Massachusetts LOL I was working harder than I'd ever worked before I was a very small fish in a very big pond I was surrounded by professors and other students colleagues who were very intelligent most of them probably a lot smarter than I was and these people didn't seem to need God in their view of the world. I wasn't immediately affected by this because I had had many discussions with people who eat differently but little by little I began asking myself. All of these very smart people have explanations for the world and their explanations don't include God even the professors who were church members here religion seemed to be only weak in religion in church they talked about religious things in the classroom God was never mentioned there was no. The world view was got bless spiritual questions were off limits was a personal thing maybe not allowed to intrude so in fact we had required some in ours. Every week and I began to see that the Big Bang model explained the universe very well in fact amazingly well you see the universe around us and this explanation seems to work and so I begin to have doubts he's my faith only wishful thinking. I showed you a few cartoons comparing science and religion at least from the viewpoint of the scoffer last night here's another the scientific method here are the facts what conclusions can we draw from them or the creationist method according to some unbelievers here's the conclusion what facts can we find to support it well this isn't the way that we actually do creation science but this is the mindset of those who don't believe who look at our faith and see you're just trying to support your view without impartially considering the evidence science is impartial and so somehow more trustworthy this attitude began to affect me little by little science explains so much and it's a logical and I ask myself once I mean intellectually honest. To continue to believe in God was the Christian view illogical this cartoon ridicules it it was a crisis of faith in my life. And it went on for several years I didn't talk about it I didn't tell my wife. I didn't stop going to church but I stopped believe I didn't go as far as becoming an atheist. An atheist of course believes that God does not exist this is a belief in the nonexistence of God We are theists we believe in God Atheists actively believe you know God and agnostic which is what I begin to consider myself his shoes. Though I don't know. There's not enough evidence to decide maybe and this is the position that I was in through I guess about three years I considered myself that Gnostic. I had these mental struggles and I solved it by in church I would take part in the discussion I would. Contribute to the Sabbath school discussion not teach the lesson sometimes I'd say amen but it was disconnected from the rest of my life. I became like my own professors who if they went to church it was not part of their day to day life so during during the week I had my real life my real life didn't involve God. And. Although I didn't actively disbelieve I certainly no longer believe. And after all science explains everything right so what do we need for God What we need how do we need the supernatural if we have our own explanations that works so well this was the position that I had Here's one more little cartoon how to mathematicians talking we have this proof and the one mathematicians is pointing at the step in the middle then a miracle occurs and the one man says to the other I think you should be more explicit here is that too which of course is kind of a joke but the view that religion is not cheerfully based step by step you have to take a leap of faith which is irrational and reasonable whereas science would be reasonable This also illustrates the God of the gaps problem God of the gaps This is the idea which says. There are supernatural events perhaps in the world I don't understand everything I see but maybe next year all understand so the gap has gotten smaller so maybe there is a scientific explanation which will understand later and again I would tell you this is State of faith that I have such faith in science that next year I will understand or someone will discover the answer but there is no need for a guy. I even with a gap. There will be an answer and that as I said is a statement of faith some supporters of science would say the gaps will all eventually close we will all we will understand everything and there will be no need for God to take God out of the equation so this was my mindset and some of the mental anguish was because I was living a lie in church I acted like a Christian and the rest of the week. I acted like there was no got. So I felt that. I was being dishonest at least with myself so. One day I had a sudden idea a sudden thought and I think God reminded me it was not it did not come from. Memory bubbling back up to the surface I think God put that little push that you cause me to remember I had this thought I thought back to my days at what was then Southern missionary college. I took a class I learned a lot of Southern lot of material lot of solid content I had a good preparation for graduate school but I also took a classes specific class where we focused on thinking thinking about the implications what does it all mean and that class was taught by Dr A have a really long time share the physics department and a mentor for many of us this was the class issues in physical science and religion and it's in fact the class that I that I have the privilege of teaching now in the class that I took a course every teacher puts his own imprint on the class so the class I took is not the same class that I teach but in that class we had a book of suggest a list of suggested books to read and I thought back there was one author that had been mentioning this was Francis Schaffer I alluded to him last night Francis Schaffer has sometimes been called the Apostle to the intelligentsia let me explain this word I don't mean intelligentsia in the sense of the very smart people what I mean is the people who think they're smart the people who are soup invents. Point of view they're too well educated to believe in God anymore too well educated to believe in those old fashioned ideas. And prints or had a deep burden to reach these people it's an amazing story if you do a little research the first book I ever read by Francis. Schaffer was actually by Mrs SCHIEFFER. And talking about their faith ministry and how God led and many miracles occurred and they had a chalet in a village remote place in Switzerland and people would come and just live with them help with the garden help out with chores and just stay as long as they wanted and have these discussions at the Schaefer was trying to reach the secular mind the secular human and. We doubt God is still the answer. Well it he came back to me that. Although I had had difficulty it was not easy reading Schaefer I found quite difficult but I did remember that he claimed that leaving in God makes sense the Christian worldview ultimately makes more sense than the secular humanistic world and so I had this law I don't really remember the argument so I don't remember the book but I should go back and read and I decided before I completely decide OK I can't. Hope between two decision between two positions between God and the secular view of what I consider scientific. Anymore I would have to. I was talking to God even though I didn't wasn't sure God existed I said OK I will go by. And I read everything I can find by this author who says Christianity makes sense even. In today's world. And this is the reason that I'm back this is the reason I'm a Christian today. So I read all the books by Francis Shaffer I could find there was he is there and he is not silent that is a cogent concise explanation of this world view. And other books including Shaffer's own conversion story and then later I read many books by. Famous Christian philosopher and. Apologist I Vangelis to the secular world C.S. Lewis for instance Mere Christianity I recommend this to all my students Christianity makes sense. So reading and thinking deeply. In the case of C.S. Lewis he he re he came back to Christianity because it made more sense than the alternatives. And I am a Seventh Day Adventist now because not because my parents were but because this church is the only one I know that tries to consistently apply the biblical principles the book a worldview the whole plan of salvation. Without the whole picture Christ's life death resurrection soon return our relationship with the Lord. The relationship between God's law and grace all these things. In the light of the great controversy this makes sense this is a consistent. And I became convinced that materialistic science is flawed it does not give a consistent picture so I'm back I'm a Christian I'm a Seventh Day Adventists Christian while still he Ching and practicing science but from a different point of view now as we saw last night true science based on the biblical foundation. So. Having an explanation of how the world works really doesn't mean we don't need God in fact it requires a god. That there is any sense in the world the biblical world view is the most logical explanation for what we see around us materialism doesn't explain anything it doesn't explain why there is anything and no longer do I think just because you're educated you will educate yourself out of the belief that I do say there is still some danger in education that is not needed with the Christian worldview can be very dangerous and so I would encourage us all not to avoid science but to introduce true science science based on understanding that we are studying the world the works of the creator gods works alongside God's word is to this so if you Kishen does not mean automatic unbelief and I've told my colleagues who are scientists religion doesn't equate to figure it's this is an alternative choice worldview you've chosen not to believe I choose to believe the consistency of the unity in nature points to God. And science does not disprove religion science. We saw last night was he's a East modern science is based on the Christian worldview so it's really quite ironic that people use science now to try to disprove or they think it disproves religion is proof Christianity it's not so just a couple of summary points from last night Francis Schaffer said Christianity was needed for the beginning of modern science Eric Snow said Christianity was absolutely necessary for the rise of modern science in C. Percy says the rise of modern science cannot be explained apart from the Christian nature this helps me no longer have any tendency to say if I'm practicing science then maybe I shouldn't believe know I should believe this is this is actually support for our world and. Just that we also look at some quotes from scientific pioneers who practiced science according to what I would say is would be the principles of true science we are studying God's works we are worshipping Him honoring him as. Looking at his creation we could have included many more but God is eternal change lives we do not have a squabbling pantheon of gods he is a God of order and. If you want to go back and look at some of those quotes we have the links to all those in the materials for this conference so I would ask you how can science shake my faith in God when actually science may open its existence to the Christian worldview. When great scientists through the past saw their study is honoring God. And when ultimately naturalism materialism doesn't explain how anything can be there even if you say oh matter. May have already always existed that's that's the alternative either God exists and he made it or the atheist would say trying to refuse God would say well it's always been this way that's the doctrine of uniformitarianism Everything has always been. But what about the laws of nature why does it even work this way it still shows design and so. There are more astronomers who believe than than there are biologists because they're faced with the immensity of the universe and see God's design materialism doesn't give any answer. In the course of studying more about Reason Why do I think that logical thinking is the answer and in my class now we we we've just finished talking about limitations of reason. Logic and reason are incomplete they're two forms of two main branches of reasoning logical thinking one is induction one is deduction induction is the sort of proof thing so I have some facts I put them together I prove things from them. Induction is deducing things from Azure. Yes So we have different we observe the universe we observe how things work and then we understand a general rule pattern and that is how science works so we have either proof or pattern and both of those forms of thinking have limitations there are problems with induction generalisations cannot be proven ever no matter how many times I repeat the test it just means it happened this time does not mean it will always happen I could have misunderstood it it's I told my class this wasn't stamped with God's seal of approval it's a theory it's an explanation but it's not proven it's not written on the back of the tables of stone and the Ten Commandments are data is always taken from a limited subset just one quick illustration and this is one I was I actually came up with on my own not from reading I was kind of happy with it. As I told you when we when our family moved to India I was I was young I was eleven and so for the first ten eleven years of my life I had only seen Black Crows some of you lived in other countries and you may be aware not all crows are black but for ten years that seems like a pretty long time every Crow I ever saw was black I could be justified in thinking all crows are black Here's a black crow Here's a black crow thousands of examples can I trust it now when I see the pattern this is how science works we see examples and then we make a rule we make a general rule this is a law of nature all crows are black we moved to India I was eleven and suddenly I saw a crow that was black. Now the the ornithologists would probably tell us oh that's not quite the same says he sees maybe it's has a different Latin name but it's what they call a crow and it's not black it's grey and black and then I told the story in Ukraine when we were on sabbatical and knives teaching it at this campus outside of Kiev and they said oh yeah we have that kind of crow too I showed them a picture Yeah oh well after class We'll show you we had those crows but we have Black Crows also so they had both kinds. I found that very interesting so my students took me and let's go find a crow that's not black. But yeah so this is just illustration you cannot rely on. On your limited knowledge. Our knowledge praise the Lord we can understand anything at all that it is not complete and tomorrow I may see a crow that's not black now just one more side note on this story. Years later I read in a famous works of a famous Christian philosopher. If you see one quite crowed you have disproved the generalization that all crows are black and I promised you I had never read that before I thought I invented something new but I guess there's nothing new under the sun. But as an illustration I find this is this helps me to see the limitations of our thinking so there are problems with induction there are also problems with the other kind of thinking proof there are problems with Dita you must start somewhere you start with axioms in mathematics so in geometry class we have some give it right given this in this given a triangle didn't it on something deduction always works this way you prove stuff starting somewhere so. It's not really a problem but it is a limitation I can't reach truth from logic I must have some tree before I start. So knowing if system and that includes my own thinking no duct system can prove its own starting assumptions. And so this leaves me with a little bit of a problem I can't prove. What is true at least not by logic. It requires faith it requires faith at a very fundamental level a starting point so induction doesn't provide proof. Deduction we have to start with some truths and so our thinking does have these limitations so we might ask is it all fair game just a game what I use what I am choose as truth and then prove things based on my own choice this is the path of relativism and today we live in a relativistic. Mean you a world view we're surrounded by people who don't see truth the way we do. Francis Schaffer used the expression truth truth. Because the word truth has been modified and and denigrated it's been dropped down to a level where oh what's true for you that's not true for me. And we have to face this in talking with the unchurched with the with the secular. Our friends around us people we come in contact with so is truth just again your choice this is how math is done today I have to tell you you choose your axioms and then you go as far as you can go it's arbitrary it's not true that there are true things. If I step off the edge of a. One of these hills. Cliff face I will fall it's not I may fall today I may not fall tomorrow there is there are true things we cannot really live in a world view of relativism this is not possible. So. I'd say this is a dead end relativism is a dead end. So let's look at the bottom line logic require state you cannot put your faith in logic alone you need faith she even think and so there is a an element of faith so even if someone says I don't believe. We can tell them you do have faith you have chosen to have faith in this logical process but here it's not complete. He cannot prove everything there are truths which you cannot prove I think it's important as we have the discussion and this is one thing that helps meet no longer be swayed and. Say well science could shake my faith it can't. We can now actually prove that some true statements cannot be proven truth is not the same as proof. Which is funds in the fund idea this is been known by mathematicians since one thousand thirty one when Google came up with his famous incompleteness theorems logic can prove that logic has limits that's just fun to say so if you say No I base everything on reason alone and some of my colleagues in science think that they are doing that. It's not true. Logic has limits so logic even though it has limits is very useful. In order to be most useful I need to be aware of the limits I encouraged assault last night to be aware of our assumptions we're we starting where do we start our conversation but we also need to be aware of the limits of our thinking process is why when we open God's word and when you look at God The book of God's works around us we need to be. Completely steeped in prayer we've made this understand we have an enemy who is trying actively trying to deceive us the heart of the whole great controversy it's not just my own thinking is free to do and prove things but I I run the risk of being seen faith is essential reason is not enough so. We are left with a scene where this world says if I subscribe to a world view as I was tempted to that leaves got out where will that lead me if I start with the Christian the biblical worldview where does that leave me and this is actually not at all a new idea of course we have this from the words of the Master Himself quoted in Matthew seven you will know them by their fruits Grace are not gathered from thorn bushes and figs from this holes are they every good tree bears good fruit bad bad tree there's bad fruit so we can tell if this set of assumptions if this world view this is the way I I based my wife leaves me to. Garbage. And I need to reexamine where I came from you will know them by their fruits and the biblical world especially in the light of the great controversy and we see there's not just good in the world there's also an evil influence actively working against us. This for me spells the downfall of materialism I can no longer be tempted by this view of the world in an atheistic materialistic universe everything would be determined or with quantum physics we'd say maybe it's random there's there is probable the stick. But everything is there's no free will my thoughts are programs that say it's just the electrical currents chemical reactions in my brain it has new meaning it has no connection to what's out there so if I think. It. A certain way that thought could be meaningless or would be meaningless in in the world view of materialism I don't know how well I do know how you can be a materialist if you don't go deep enough and see the implications you have to take the Lord's and vice or its command you will know them by their fruits. So. This atheistic science itself contradictory it's a paradox to consider that this could be a foundational view of the world I see. Materialism Atheism is the saw in the hand there if we use it to build our science this way and this is a kind of fun thing which I don't think it's going to show on the screen but on my screen when I push the button the tree limb falls. Yes. Imagine it it's kind of fun that oh. He's up there on the branch sawing and separating himself separating science from its own roots from its foundation it falls this is the downfall of materialism and. Science cannot really. Not support this atheistic materialism itself is not the result of science it's an attempt to impose a secular world view on science separate science from its roots it removes any justification for our belief that science should work if I don't believe that God created it and he created be able to understand it then I don't have any reason to think that I should be able to understand. I should have no expectation that the universe is ordered I should have no expectation that the universe makes sense I should have no expectation that humans could understand what we see and I should have no expectation that any thought could be called truth. It's pretty sad for you that tree branch just falls so back to my own story why did I have this period of doubt where I thought the explanations of science were good enough. After I studied for myself I saw that the believing in God is actually very logical logic has limits but logic can really neat words truth. So I began to see that my previous doubt was it was really just peer pressure I was surrounded by unbelievers and I wasn't adequately prepared. I would encourage each of us as we work with young people to make sure that they are prepared that they see not just in science but each field they see the biblical foundation this is so so important we cannot cannot leave the youth to their own devices to show foundation and every study every field is. These are typical worldview which it makes everything make sense so. I'm no longer. At risk. And I would hope that we could. Inoculate those around us in the same way that we could show them this the natural power that you are on the secular world will take you to meaninglessness. Let me just quote with the. Words from Ellen White steps to Christ God desires may and to exercise his reasoning powers the study of the Bible will strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can yet we are to be aware of deifying reason which is subject to this and infirmity and in the same in the same chapter she says to all eternity men may be ever searching ever learning and yet never exhaust the treasures of his wisdom is good this is how that is how I see the delights of heaven the new earth throughout eternity searching. Getting deeper into. This media was brought to you by audio force a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio. If you would like to listen to more sermon leave the music W W W. Or.

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