Natural Science and Christian Faith

David Newquist

Physics Department
Tunghai University

Taichung, Taiwan ROC

December, 2000

Copyright © 2002 by David Newquist. All rights reserved.


This book is written for Christians and non-Christians, for scientists and non-scientists, who seek answers about how science and the Christian faith fit together. The focus is on basic issues and "conflicts" that seem to arise as sincere men and women contemplate matters of science, faith and philosophy. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss basic concepts in the history and philosophy of science. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss faith in general and Christian faith in particular. Chapter 5 discusses the relationship between faith and science and conflicts that may arise between them. These chapters form about a third of the book. The next two chapters form the bulk of the book, and consider how we know the God of the Bible exists, and then specifically address a major issue, the age of the universe, that is a focus of controversy between science and Christian faith. The book closes with a chapter on the Author's personal view of the fitness between science and the Christian faith.
Although the author is in agreement with the doctrinal statement of IBRI, it does not follow that all of the viewpoints espoused in this paper represent official positions of IBRI. Since one of the purposes of the IBRI report series is to serve as a preprint forum, it is possible that the author has revised some aspects of this work since it was first written. 

Natural Science and Christian Faith

Table of Contents

Note: Chapter links access the full chapter. Chapters 4 to 7 are large. For these chapters, smaller section links have been provided.  Within each chapter or section navigation links move to the next or last document of the same type (i.e. chapters link to chapters and sections link to sections).

Acknowledgments -- Original Edition
Acknowledgments -- English Edition
        Target Readership
        Summary of logical structure

Ch 1 A Brief History of Science

I Ancient times
Babylon, Egypt, China
Greece: Aristotle, etc.
Aristotle's physics, five proofs
Ptolemy: epicycles
II Middle Ages
Alchemy, Arabic numbers, algebra
Thomas Aquinas: Aristotle plus Bible
III Revolution in astronomy
Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton
space-time, mathematical, vast universe
IV 18th century
Electrostatic charge, Uranus, vaccination
V 19th century
Neptune, electromagnetism, elements, atoms, thermodynamics, evolution, genetics, germ theory of disease, spectroscopy, "small problems"
VI 20th century
Relativity, nucleus, quantum physics, Pluto, Milky Way, galaxies, expanding universe, Big Bang, antibiotics, molecular biology, DNA, neo-Darwinian synthesis, social sciences
VII Conclusion

Ch 2 Philosophy of Science

I Definitions
Three characteristics: Natural science is empirical, objective, rational.
Two assumptions: Nature is uniform and intelligible.
II Development
Thomas Kuhn: paradigm, anomalies, crisis, revolution
III At present
These characteristics are indefinable but still meaningful.
IV Summary
"Explanation" is description of deeper phenomenon.
Limits of science are not limits of reality.

Ch 3 Faith

I Categories
Atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, animism, deism, monotheism
II How to choose your faith
A Believe: two meanings: agree, trust
B Many opinions
        Do good. Be broad-minded.
        Understand completely. Just use intuition.
C The correct question: "Is it true?"
III Four steps to Biblical faith
Feel a need
Sense there must be a God, read the Bible if possible
Find evidence that the Bible is from God
Repent, commit yourself to Him
IV Logic, evidence, and faith: logic and evidence can:
A Remove barriers
B Give a basis for faith
C Prevent deception
D Find events without a natural cause
V Biblical instructions on answering questions

VI The Bible's explanation of other religions

A Their power: deceiving spirits
B Fortune telling: forbidden, dangerous
C Dead people's spirits: gone from this world
D Reincarnation: impossible
E Near-death experiences, etc.
F The truth: other religions have many truths
        but lack the most important parts
G How to tell true from false
Ch 4 Logical Problems in the Bible
I Conflict between Christians

II Narrow-mindedness

A Those who never hear
B Fairness, peace of mind, do good
C Why not marry non-Christians?
III Predestination, prophecy, free will, and prayer

IV Evil and suffering

origin of evil, why create anything, why not stop evil
V The Trinity
Ch 5 Conflicts Between Science and Religious Faith
I Each category’s relationship with science
A Atheism-materialism-humanism
B Agnosticism
C, D Pantheism and animism
E Deism
F Theism, Christianity
1 Separation
2 Priority
3 Consistency
The Word of God cannot conflict with the work of God. If there is a conflict, it is
    • between believers and scientists,
    • between theology and science,
    • not between the Bible and the   facts of nature.
The limitations of verbal revelation
II The Bible provides a basis for the two assumptions of science
III Experts: How do we amateurs dare doubt experts' conclusions? IV General scientific challenges to religious belief
Not scientific, not provable, unsupported by evidence, obsolete
V Specific topics of purported major conflict
A Naturalism and materialism misuse natural science vs.
theism, miracles, free will
B misuse social sciences and humanities vs.
revelation, conversion and religious experience, free will
C misuse astronomy and biology vs. creation
D Some people misuse history vs. the Bible
VI Blind alleys
A Ancient astronauts, UFOs, ETs
B Quantum mechanics and free will
C Quantum mechanics and Easter religions
D Einstein’s relativity and ethical relativism
E Christianity and ecological damage
F Joshua’s long day
G Where did Cain get his wife? Did people live 900 years before the Flood?
Ch 6 How We Know the God of the Bible Exists
I The characteristics of the universe: a beginning, beyond the laws of science
A The Olbers Paradox
B The second law of thermodynamics
C The general theory of relativity
D The expansion of the universe

II The characteristics of living things: a designer, superhuman

A The suitability of the universe and earth for life
1 The basic constants of physics
2 The characteristics of the earth-moon-sun system
B The information content and complexity of life
1 Simplest living things
2 Complex systems
3 The theory of evolution: micro and macro
4 Evidence to support the theory of evolution:
similarities, vestigial organs, embryology, mutation and   natural selection, examples, geographical distribution, fossils, origin-of-life experiments, organic molecules in space, philosophical arguments: intelligent design is a religious concept, supernatural, unscientific
5 Christians' response

6 Criticism from other scientists

7 Considering the "evidence" for evolution:

Not a religious question, but a historical one
Design is not a miracle.
Design of living things is not supernatural, only superhuman.
Similarities could also come from design.
Observed microevolution cannot be extrapolated to macroevolution.
Vestigial organs are not necessarily useless.
Mutations and natural selection are too improbable
Fossils have many missing links, can't prove one type is another's ancestor.
Origin-of-life experiments produced no life, were carefully designed, controlled, and unlike the early earth.
(Is man-made life possible?)
8 Questions still unanswered by evolution
Why is a designer impossible?
Origin of life
Source, cause of major transitions
Origin of complex systems
Random variation an adequate explanation
9 Conclusion

III The characteristics of the Bible: one true God, supernatural power and wisdom

A The Bible writers' claims
the one true revelation from the one true God
B The Bible's concept of God and His standards
infinite, holy, just, loving, omnipotent,...
requires 100% perfection
C The Bible's concept of human nature and salvation
sinful, dead, can't reach God's standard
saved by faith in Christ's death for us
D The Bible's internal unity
complex but convincing and meaningful
E The Bible's historical accuracy
direct and indirect confirmation, no errors
F The Bible's scientific acceptability

G The Bible's fulfilled prophecies

short-range, long-range fulfilled, unfulfilled
H Jesus Christ's recorded life, miracles, and resurrection
many facts in and about the story
I The conversion and ministry of the Apostle Paul

J The date of writing of the original documents

Old Testament long before 200 BC
New Testament before 100 AD
K The preservation of the original text
many manuscripts, no serious uncertainty
English translations and the KJV
the Bible Code
L The survival and growth of Christianity

M The opposition it has faced

N The Bible's influence for good in society

IV The experience of believers

V Conclusion

Ch 7 The Bible and the Age of the Universe

I What recent creation is
A The Biblical basis of recent creation
B Scientific evidence for recent creation
C Recent-creationists’ scientific objections to long ages and the Big Bang
II An analysis of the basis for recent creation
A The Biblical basis of recent creation
B Scientific evidence for recent creation
C Recent-creationists’ scientific objections to long ages and the Big Bang
Ch 8 A Christian physics teacher's personal outlook on the wonders of the universe
I Beauty

II Complexity

III Power

IV Vastness

V Age