Faith, Science, & the Resurrection (Part 1)
What the Resurrection says about the nature of the cosmos, and how it might impact the science vs. faith debate.

Did God create the universe in six 24hr days, or was it a gradual process over eons? Were humans made from the dust of the ground, or did we evolve from earlier species of primates? Was there a literal Adam and Eve? What about the fossil record, dinosaurs, and genetic evidence?

Since I was a kid I've loved discovering how our universe works. Despite my layman's appreciation for science, I have stayed far, far away from the faith versus science controversies that our society and media seem eager to engage.

It isn't that I think these questions are unimportant, or that I don't sympathize with those who struggle to reconcile their faith with science. And I am grateful for those seeking to thoughtfully and graciously bridge the divide between the scientific and faith communities. Some members of my own church have done wonderful work in this area. And lately I've been intrigued by the work of BioLogos. The group was started in 2007 by Francis Collins, the brilliant scientist who led the Human Genome Project. BioLogos' mission is to show the compatibility of science and religion. The group's website includes endorsements by many theologians, scientists, and pastors, and it includes articles on many of the questions I list above.

Like those behind BioLogos, I share the belief that science is an indispensable, legitimate, and God-ordained vehicle for truth. It can tell us how our universe works, and these answer become the basis for solutions to many of humanity's most vexing problems. So why do I remain hesitant to allow externally verifiable logic to always trump faith when controversies arise between science and religion? Here's why: While science can tell us how our universe works, it cannot prove the universe has always worked, or will forever work, the same way.

A lot of science, and the worldview behind it, is predicated on one assumption–that the laws that govern our universe are unchanging. From this premise the materialist worldview believes that if we can discover the way the cosmos works now, then we can peer back in time or project ahead and accurately understand both the origins and destiny of our world. But...

What if E has not always equaled mc2 ?

What if light has not always traveled at 299,792,458 meters per second?

What if the laws of gravity, motion, and thermodynamics which accurately describe the universe now, do not accurately describe the universe that was, or the universe that will be?

What if the scientific principles that govern the cosmos are less like an eternal monarch with unending reign, and more like a term-limited president?

None
May 31, 2012

Displaying 1–10 of 25 comments

Vic

June 12, 2012  5:04pm

I don't think there is any scientific evidence that indicates a change in the natural laws within the span of the space-time universe. (In common terms, from "the beginning" to "the end.") What we call natural laws are wisely imbedded in the universe in an elegant way that points to the ineffable wisdom of God. It would be more accurate to say that natural law describes the universe, rather than that it rules the universe. God rules the universe, according to higher and deeper wisdom or laws. Only a tiny portion of his wisdom is revealed to us–and only a tiny portion of his Reality. I think it is entirely reasonable to assume that God's reality has laws that supercede the laws of our universe, without "breaking them." In fact, we must assume that if God can act within our universe without breaking his own laws. When Jesus rose from the dead, he was not bound by the laws of this universe. By definition then, since natural laws are imbedded in our universe, his resurrection body was "higher" or "beyond" the bounds of our space-time bound universe. His body was not less than 3-dimensional, nor was his time less than 1 dimensional; indeed, it was more (whatever that means)! Our future is neither in this cosmos! The multi-faceted, even contradictory descriptions of our future in Revelation point to an existence beyond what we experience or imagine in a 3-dimensional space, 1-dimensional time cosmos. (For example, in Revelation 21:16, the square actually has 3 dimensions.) The Bible clearly says that the "elements" (stoichea: either elemental substances or heavenly bodies) will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10. I understand the desire to say that there is a continuity between our lives here and now and our lives there and then. The answer to that is that we are already living on this earth within God's Reality. Paul says (1 Cor. 15:that our lives here are like a seed–and he clearly indicates that our future is "more" and different, as different as a plant from a seed (1 Cor.15:37-38) Of course then the seed is important–if the seed is our bodies, and perhaps even if our universe is a seed–but it is not the body!

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xdisciple

June 11, 2012  9:17am

Christianity was a Roman Invention: http://xdisciple.blogspot.ca/2012/04/christianity-was-roman-invention.html Tom Landry played the role of Pope John Paul II: http://xdisciple.blogspot.ca/2012/06/football-as-religion-tom-landry-was.html

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Jag

June 06, 2012  10:39am

Science always trumps religion. Always. To take what an uneducated human wrote 2000 or 3000 years ago, a man no better or more holy than you or I, a man who didn't even know about the concept of "science," and place those writings above the continual searching of modern science is the ultimate in self-centered arrogance. Why not decamp to France and get your word from a cave painting? To pretend that the Bible is the same as God, that what is written in the Bible by a man is actually and literally God speaking, is in all intents and purposes worshiping a book. I might as well go out to the pasture and worship a bull. Or write my own book and say God inspired me to relate His word to you. I suggest you worship God, not use Him as a trump card in the game that you are playing.

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sheerahkahn

June 05, 2012  3:15am

"Now, I recognize that I'm not infallible, and that I may very well be wrong." Mr. Williams, for clarity, I'm rereading your post again, however, I am marking this spot as the highlighter for the nascent thought I have...so...hold on... "Genesis 1-11 seems to be making a strong correlation between spiritual death and physical death." Another marker for another thought I am having...still re-reading... I'm not sure you're wrong per se, not right, but I think you have undersold yourself a bit. What I read is not the statement of a defender of a citadel, but rather the measured statement of a hiker using a citadel as a reference point....which, when navigating scripture is a pretty smart idea until you can set your bearings better. Ever stare at the surface of a pond in a hard wind? Perhaps, there are things going on the surface that look like ripples of reflective and indecipherable light, but really are just blurred by a disturbed pond that is to agitated to clearly show the image. Science and history can be like that disturbed pond surface. And so too, our reading of the bible. Perhaps, literalness isn't something we should be hanging on to so tightly...but rather, allowing the author of Genesis to explain himself in the context of his viewpoint.

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sheerahkahn

June 05, 2012  2:10am

"Sheer: It IS quite clear in genesis that physical death is the result of sin. You need to read it again. When A&E ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good & evil, the tree of life was taken from them so that they might not live forever. I.e., Death" What did I just read? Hang on, I need to read what you wrote again. "It IS quite clear in genesis that physical death is the result of sin." Okay, my definition of physical death is biological death, as in when the heart stops beating, all neuro pathways phase out, and cellular decomposition begins...which, seems to be the understood definition of "physical death." "When A&E ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good & evil, the tree of life was taken from them so that they might not live forever. I.e., Death" I don't even know how to respond to this...it makes no sense whatsoever in context with the previous sentence. Would you like to explain this?

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Bill Williams

June 04, 2012  2:03pm

sheerahkahn, you wrote: "Sorry, Bill, you might want to reread that part again. Physical death? Wow, the bible I'm reading makes no mention of 'physical death,' rather only 'death.'" You are free to disagree with my interpretation, of course, but this isn't something I'm making up as I go along. I've put in quite a bit of thought into this issue. The issue of whether the result of sin was physical death or spiritual death was discussed in the comment section of a video Url posted earlier this year of N. T. Wright discussing the "literalness" of Genesis 1. Karen (whom I greatly respect) posted a link to an article arguing for spiritual death, and not physical death, as the result of sin. Here is the link she posted: http://www.proof-of-evolution.com/faq-death-before-adam.html And here is my response to that article: Karen, I read that link that you posted, and it certainly was food for thought. I've been mulling it over for a couple of days, and I do acknowledge that the Bible does refer to "death" in two ways: physical death that all of us experience, and spiritual death that is a separation from God. But the article seems to be arguing that the two are COMPLETELY different and have nothing to do with each other. That is how physical death could exist through the evolutionary process for millions of years before the appearance of "Adam", or "mankind". The thing is, I don't see anything in Scripture that would specifically argue for that conclusion. You simply have to assume that conclusion in order to harmonize with scientific knowledge, which is based on fallible human observation. That's not to say scientific knowledge is not reliable. But it is also not infallible. On the contrary, Scripture seems to correlate the two deaths much more closely than the author of the article would allow. Yes, the "death" that Adam brought into the world according to Romans 5:12 is spiritual death, symbolized by Adam's expulsion from the Garden of Eden which contained the Tree of Life. I will agree with the article on that point. BUT...turn to the next chapter and what do you see? The physical death of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain. Turn one more chapter and what do you see? Generations coming and going, each one punctuated by the same refrain: "And he died...And he died...And he died..." Each of these referring to physical death. I could go on, but my point is that Genesis 1-11 seems to be making a strong correlation between spiritual death and physical death. Physical death is a RESULT of spiritual death. Think of a leaf plucked from a tree. You could say that at that moment, the leaf is spiritually dead according to Paul, because it is disconnected from the source of its life. And BECAUSE of that, eventually, it will wither and dry out and physically die. So, if in fact physical death is the result of spiritual death, then we're right back at our original question, since it turns out that the article never answered the question at all! On the contrary, it raised more questions. If the article is true, then does that mean that physical death is simply a part of God's plan? Does that mean there will be physical death in the New Heavens and New Earth described in Revelation 21-22? And what would be the point of the Resurrection of the dead (the hope of the entire New Testament), if people are simply going to die physically again! And if they're not going to die physically again, why not? What's changed? Why would God allow physical death to exist for millions of years, independent (according to the article) of sin, and then at some point just arbitrarily stop it? Like I said earlier, current scientific knowledge claims that life originated on this planet through the process of evolution. And that's fine. I won't argue that that is what science teaches, although it is well to note that there is a significant number of scientists who point out some pretty glaring gaps in evolutionary theory. Regardless, the claim

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Tom F.

June 04, 2012  1:38pm

Sheer, sorry if it was too subtle for you while you are half-asleep. ;) Glad you enjoyed it.

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alison

June 04, 2012  12:01pm

Sheer: It IS quite clear in genesis that physical death is the result of sin. You need to read it again. When A&E ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good & evil, the tree of life was taken from them so that they might not live forever. I.e., Death.

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sheerahkahn

June 04, 2012  10:34am

"He considered it relevant in His time, and for us as well. Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Ack, fair point...I was regarding the statement in terms of temporal timeline, but you're right in this regard. "You see, the Bible, in Genesis and elsewhere, is quite clear that physical death is the result of sin," Sorry, Bill, you might want to reread that part again. Physical death? Wow, the bible I'm reading makes no mention of "physical death," rather only "death." TomF. I read your posts, realized I'm still half asleep, reread again, and I'm going to have to say that after the third read I finally got it. Thank you for the fun read...though I have to say I never expected that here.

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Tom F.

June 04, 2012  12:48am

Okay, here's a fun website I found listing a bunch of verses that support a flat earth interpretation. http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=54310.0 It seems to me that there are more verses that suggest a flat earth than suggest a bunch of other doctrines that people tend to think way more important. The Rapture (certainly less than 5 verses) Predestination (just because you think its entailed, doesn't mean its actually IN a verse, so probably mentioned less than 5 times as well.) The Virgin Birth (only in TWO of the four gospels, and only a few verses here and there, flat earth is all over the OT, in multiple books, and phrased in different unique ways) I could go on, but the truth is, the flat earth is way more supported than some of these doctrines.

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