Every once in a while I will encounter a student who tells me “I don’t believe in God. I believe in science.” This usually comes after I’ve been telling them of the ways they can get involved with our youth ministry, whether the upcoming event or a more regular discussion group. The statement in itself is confusing, really. It implies that you can’t be a rational person and believe in both science and God. Science is the systematic study of the natural world through observation and experiment. God is the creator of the natural world. These are not mutually exclusive. Another way to put it, science answers the “how” but it cannot answer the “why.”
Really, we could say that science should point us to God more clearly. Paul in his letter to the Romans said that “For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:20, ESV).” Essentially, the more we look at the fine tuning of the universe, the balance of nature, the amazing creatures, laws of nature, etc. we would have reason, according to Paul, to say, “There has to be a designer!” Yet, this is often not the case.
One of my favorite apologists, Ravi Zacharias, once told the story about a man who one day woke up and declared that he was dead. His wife rolled her eyes and told him to go to work. Yet the man persisted even after several days. Eventually, the wife was concerned to the point she had her husband see a psychiatrist. The man, though seemingly healthy kept in the belief that he was dead. Eventually, the psychiatrist gathered other doctors to meet with this man and in the course of the conversation one of the doctors was able to get this man to admit that dead people don’t bleed. At that moment, the doctor snatched up a pin and quickly pricked the man’s finger drawing blood. The man stared at the blood slowly coming from the tiny wound and said in astonishment, “What do you know! Dead people bleed too!”
Point is that even with such astounding evidence as the creation before us, people who are set against God may do and say all sorts of things to justify their unbelief. This particular student who made the statement about her belief in science over God later confessed in the conversation that she did, in fact, believe that there was a God but that she wouldn’t trust such a cruel being who either causes or allows such evil to exist in the world.
That changed the conversation trajectory but it sent me on a quest to sharpen my defense for the hope that is within me (1 Peter 3:15). I must look to answer the questioner rather than merely the question, as Ravi Zacharias often says. It also reminded me that we people are not always logical. We can start with one argument but then quickly retreat to another if it will suit our purposes. Paul says this later in his letter to the Romans, that humans’ thinking becomes darker and darker and that God gives them over to futile thinking if they so wish to deny Him.
We are in a war; not of people vs people, Christians vs unbelievers, rather this is a spiritual battle. May the same grace that was poured out to us believers be given to those who are held captive by sin and futile thinking. May we Christians persist in having these conversations in truth and grace.