Science Is a Bad Reason for Apostasy
Certain high-profile Christians have been in the news for questioning or leaving their faith. Science is the worst excuse.
Christian blogs are abuzz with news that well-known author Joshua Harris has abandoned his faith. More recently, contemporary Christian singer Marty Sampson has been questioning what he believes. Some reactions:
Franklin Graham on Christian ‘leaders’ who renounce faith: For shame (WND). This article by WND staff shares reactions by Christian leader Franklin Graham, who says they will have to answer to God, and by Fox religious news reporter and talk show host Todd Starnes, who calls on fellow believers to pray for them.
Questions for Hillsong leader who renounced his faith (WND). Michael Brown is incredulous that Harris and Sampson allege that Christians never talk about difficulties in the Bible. Brown says that these topics are widely discussed in apologetics circles, and have been for millennia. Harris apparently pointed to science as one of the causes of his apostasy, saying “I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion.” Brown retorts,
Well, I’m thrilled to hear he wants “genuine truth” as opposed to simply taking things by faith. But I must ask once more, “What Christian world has he been living in?”
Is it just me and my colleagues and the people who follow my ministry who want “genuine truth”? Who are willing to ask the hard questions? Who actually encourage honest seeking? (These are rhetorical questions. The answer is, “Certainly not! There are countless millions who want more than just a simplistic, ‘shut off your brain’ kind of faith.”)
As for science “piercing the truth of every religion,” I will simply say this. If Marty and I were standing next to wall of solid, academic Christian books responding to scientific challenges and that wall of books collapsed, we would not survive the avalanche.
What is happening in Christianity? (John Cooper, on Facebook). Christian singer Cooper of the band Skillet blames the church for giving celebrities more influence than their spiritual maturity deserves. Cooper was featured on Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio program on August 14.
A Failure of Faith Formation: What We Learn from Public Disavowals of Christianity (Breakpoint). John Stonestreet chastises churches that teach a flimsy faith of “moralistic therapeutic deism” instead of theology. He has no issues with having doubts; every Christian does at times. “Apparently, he was in a church where no one was talking about the questions he struggled with,” he says. “The church failed him.”
Science, he says, “keeps piercing the truth of every religion.” I’m not completely sure what that even means, but it seems to buy into the classic science vs. faith narrative. It’s just not true that science is ultimately opposed to faith. It’s not true historically, nor is it true today. Faith doesn’t need to reject critical investigation.
How Science Shapes Culture: The Case of Marty Sampson (Evolution News). Editor David Klinghoffer, an orthodox Jew, looks at Sampson’s questioning as a fruit of materialistic science:
The premise of everything the Center for Science & Culture does is that science shapes culture, just as culture shapes science. The reigning materialism of our culture, in the media and in academia, warps scientific thinking, including about biological origins. And that feeds right back into shaping how people feel and think about other matters, including their faith. With the story of Marty Sampson, taken simply at face value, that premise would seem to have received another confirmation.
A Strange Time to Lean on Darwin
Potential apostates are often lured away from the Bible because of scientific claims. They are led to believe that science has proved Darwinism and that the Earth and the universe are billions of years old, casting doubt on Genesis. It’s not clear how much this was a factor in the present cases, but to the extent that Harris and Sampson (or any others) began to wobble because of science, they must have been unaware of the quicksand that their scientific ground is turning out to be. Despite scientists’ bluffing confidence and media’s triumphalism, evolution is still a theory in crisis.
On August 5 here at CEH, Jerry Bergman reported on two prominent defections from Darwinism: University of Oklahoma physics professor Dr. Michael Strauss, and Yale professor David Gelernter. Evolution News has also been following individual and group movements away from Darwinism:
Abandoning Darwinism: Gelernter Talks with Meyer, Berlinski (ENV). Peter Robinson interviewed David Gelernter, Stephen Meyer and David Berlinski to try to understand how highly-educated and knowledgeable professors could abandon Darwin, and why. The interview was prompted by Gelernter’s bold article at the Clarement Review of Books, “Giving Up Darwin.”
How Does a Religious Studies Professor Become a Darwinian Skeptic? (ENV). Robert F. Shedinger, a professor of religious studies at Luther College in Iowa, is another of many educated people, including Michael Behe, Phillip Johnson and others featured at the Discovery Institute, who abandoned their unquestioned faith in Darwinism when they dug into it. Shedinger says he was “shocked and intrigued” by the weakness of Darwinism’s foundations once he began reading its supporters’ key works:
To my utter amazement, I found this literature to be filled with caveats, hesitations, grand claims backed up by a dearth of empirical evidence, and most significantly to me, “religious” terms such as orthodoxy, heresy, blasphemy, and dogma. It became clear that a century and a half after Darwin, no one really understands the mechanisms by which the evolutionary process unfolds, and therefore that the ID position cannot simply be set aside as of no value. It has just as much of a chance of being true as the materialist Darwinian view — and probably a better chance.
Have Religion Scholars Been Deceived by Darwin? (ENV). In this follow up article, Shedinger proposes that religious leaders have been snookered into thinking Darwinism is scientifically necessary to accept. Some preachers and colleges bow the knee to Darwinism because of its hubristic claims to scientific fact.
One thing that initially surprised me was the degree to which well-known religion scholars were willing to fully capitulate to Darwinian evolution and attempt to find ways to fit their religious reflections around it. Now that I understand the ideological nature of this grand narrative of Darwinian triumph and the force of its perpetuation in academic culture, I am no longer so surprised. These scholars must capitulate to Darwinism in order to be taken seriously within the academy where dissent from Darwinism brands one as an anti-scientific religious zealot not to be taken seriously. Yet in their rush to capitulate, these scholars end up subverting religion, the very topic of their academic work. Have these scholars been deceived by Darwin?
The deception that evidence supports Darwinism is perhaps only exceeded by the fear of being thought a fool by the scientific establishment for denying evolution. And as David Gelernter observed, “To challenge Darwinism is to take your life in your hands” (ENV).
Note to prospective apostates: You had better be sure of what “science” is offering before abandoning what Luke promised his audience, “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).
If you are wobbling in your faith, please give us your attention. To begin with, everyone has problems. Everyone has questions. You should not be surprised that there are difficulties in the Bible, and questions that are hard to answer. Theologians and thoughtful laymen have wondered how God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility work together. They have struggled to watch man’s inhumanity to man, and to harmonize human suffering with a loving God. Creation scientists tackle a host of questions about fossils, adaptation, and the ages of physical processes. None of this is a secret. You should watch former atheist Lee Strobel tackle some of the big questions in his book and film, “The Case for Faith.” It’s OK to ask hard questions and seek answers, as long as you do it honestly, and are not looking for rationalizations to support a previous commitment to apostasy.
But do you really think materialistic scientists are in a better position to address the big questions? Look at what they believe:
- There is no reason, purpose, or goal to anything, including science.
- Nothing banged and became everything.
- Cosmologists believe they only can observe 5% of what exists.
- They simplistically think that if a body has water, life will “emerge.”
- They rely entirely on the Stuff Happens Law to explain the intricacies of cells and all life.
The Stuff Happens Law is not science, it is the opposite of science! In addition, many of them believe in a multiverse, which is not only completely outside the bounds of possible observation, but is a logical absurdity that guarantees absurdities will happen, like brains popping into existence. They think space aliens are everywhere, when no life has ever been found beyond Earth. They are completely baffled by the origin of life, attributing it to pure dumb luck, which is outrageously far beyond impossible. Their faith is light-years more unreasonable than anything you could find problematic in the Bible. See the probability of getting one short protein by chance in this video, “The Amoeba’s Journey.” One protein! The simplest cell would need hundreds of them, plus a genetic code, a membrane, and much more.
Don’t think that apostasy will lift you from religion to science, or from the miraculous to the scientifically provable. Scientism is full of supernaturalism and miracles! Materialists see the universe and life, with all its beauty and design, as products of chance. What Biblical miracle could ever be as incredible as that? And what about the mind, consciousness, logic and reason? Those are not made of atoms. They are supernatural. If you abandon trust in the Word of God, you are jumping from a warm pan into a blazing fire.
I tried to think of an analogy to try to put your quandary into perspective. Try this one, imperfect as it is. You have some questions about the Bible and Christianity. Understood. But visualize a barren desert of sand, in which people are wandering around, looking for a way to get out. In this desert, there are some boxcars lying upright in the sand, facing various directions. At the door of the boxcars are charlatans calling out to the naive, telling them they know the way out of the desert. Some stationary boxcars are full of people; others less so. One of the shiniest and biggest trains is labeled “science” – it is loaded with people, and looks like the popular one to board! Get on that one and you will be thought well of; nobody will call you funny names. You balk when you hear some of them saying the five absurdities listed above, but you are tempted to go with the flow, because the “science” train has also demonstrated some ability to move a few feet before getting stuck in the sand. Big groups of people organize to push on it from the rear. You hear the engineers arguing about which direction they need to go to get out, but you feel hopeful seeing that they are all confident they will make it some day.
Off to the side is one plain-looking train that actually has an engine, and lies on a solid track. You’ve watched it take off and return empty. The cars are not fancy, and the seats are hard. You have a lot of questions about the reliability of this train, but the Instruction Manual tells about a great cloud of witnesses to its trustworthiness; some of their stories are told in the manual. They say the Engineer did miracles and rose from the dead. The Engineer speaks words of truth and love, and says things no one else could possibly know. He warns of a coming judgment, and says that this train is the way, the truth, and the life. The other trains, he says, lead to destruction and death. You can board for free, but you have to trust the Engineer, and choose it against all the other train cars sitting on the sand without tracks.
Choose you this day whom you will serve. If you follow the other apostates, then like Franklin Graham says, “Shame on them,” he said. “You’ll stand before God one day and give an account to him.” Never choose your beliefs on the basis of popularity, or because of the fear of rejection. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Error is often more earnest than truth.” Jesus said that the way is narrow that leads to life, and the way is broad that leads to destruction.
If you are still struggling, there are apologetics ministries in abundance that can answer any hard questions you might have. Try Stand to Reason and Cross Examined. Watch Illustra Media‘s excellent films and browse the free videos at The John 10:10 Project. Once you become convinced of the emptiness of scientism, next become convinced of intelligent design, then of theism, then of a personal God, then of Jesus Christ, and the veracity of the Bible. Follow the signposts at our Site Map. At that point, it’s up to you; will you abandon what you can see to be true (despite any remaining questions), or take a step of faith in the direction the evidence points?
One more thing. Please check your motives for questioning the Word of God. Do you really want the truth, or do you want to be thought well of by the world? Here’s a thought experiment that is historically credible. There were probably some really nice Baal worshippers in Canaan who were very smart and attractive, and knew how to put on a good sales pitch for joining their cult. “Why do you want to follow that old man Moses? His way is hard; that’s no fun! His people are narrow-minded and not politically correct. We are inclusive; you can have your god and ours, too! Come with us and we can party! We have lots of experts who can teach you all about the science of Baal. Moses teaches a weird religion that all the world’s experts reject. All the smart people are with us. Don’t be so backwards. Don’t be such a prude!”
Those stupid-looking idols of Baal now lie in the dust of the ancient Middle East. God’s Word endures. It’s an anvil that has broken many hammers.