Science and Faith


At a recent international trade event in London, a BBC reporter asked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution…do you believe in it?” Walker ‘punted’ the question, a thinly veiled attempt at ridicule. Perhaps he could have been more prepared. 

The question arises from the belief that science has settled the ultimate questions of life, so there is no need for answers from faith. And in the extreme, science is the means to explain away the existence of a Creator. Some in the faith community are too eager to accommodate, and in doing so render its doctrines incoherent, and dismiss its texts as metaphor. 

Science should not be so confident that its present ‘conclusions’ on a subject will not change, if for no other reason than the scientific method requires hypotheses to be challenged by new data. 

In the early half of the 20th century, the common scientific position was that the universe had no beginning. Philosopher Bertrand Russell defended this conclusion as sufficient to end any further debate about God’s existence. 

In the 1960’s a new hypothesis gained support in the scientific community, but met resistance from the atheists. New data suggested that the universe began at a point in time. That in itself does not prove the existence of God, but it does realign a scientific conclusion to allow that possibility. Kings College Professor (and former atheist) Alister McGrath wrote, “This fundamental shift in the scientific consensus has changed the tone of the debate about God. It reminds us how science changes its mind about very important things.” 

In 1998, philosophers William Lane Craig and Anthony Flew re-debated the issue that Russell ‘settled’ decades prior. In light of the Big Bang Theory (not the TV show!), Craig applied this logic: Whatever begins has a cause; the universe began to exist; therefore, the universe has a cause. Flew found it difficult to argue otherwise. 

Not long after, Flew renounced atheism. He may not have embraced Christianity, but he at least admitted that science cannot answer ultimate questions. Regarding the origin of the universe, he wrote, “If you had an equation detailing the probability of something emerging from a vacuum, you would still have to ask why that equation applies.”  It seems quite unreasonable to think that the universe caused itself, and for no reason. 

It is more reasonable to consider an outside cause, such as the Christian doctrine of creation, which speaks to the act and the reasons for it. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). In Fatherly love, God created a world that makes Himself known to created people. 

Gov. Walker later issued a clarifying statement, “Both science and my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God.” He wasn’t prevaricating, but was stating a hopeful thought that science and faith can sincerely coexist. 

Racing for Change


 At the National Prayer Breakfast this month, the keynote address was by NASCAR great, Darrell Waltrip.  He told of two racecar drivers, and what made the difference between the two. 

 The first went at it all the wrong ways.  People called him brash, ruthless, pushy, cocky, conceited, aloof, boastful, arrogant, and downright annoying.  The fans hated him.  The drivers despised him.  Richard Petty once told him “I don’t know how you keep a sponsor.”  His personal life was mess.  He drank too much.  He did everything to satisfy himself.  That was his lifestyle. 

 The second was a driver popular with the fans, respected by his competitors. 

 Waltrip was both drivers.  In his words, “In 1983, my horrible wreck knocked me ‘conscious.’  It was a wakeup call.  If I died would I have gone to heaven or to hell?  I thought I was a pretty good guy, but good guys can go to hell.  I started attending church.”  In time, with his wife and the preacher, “I got down on my knees and prayed that the Lord would come into my life and forgive me of my sins and be my Lord and Savior.” 

 “That changed everything.  I felt like a new man!  I knew I was different.  When the Lord comes into your life you’re going to be different.  You have to be different.  The Lord changed me for the better.  I still had wrecks.  I still had problems.  But now I wasn’t in it alone.” 

 He was describing the life change that accompanies conversion to Christ.  He discovered a basic Christian doctrine, that right living is not the way to right relationship with God; it’s the other way around. 

 This is a theme in Romans 6:  “As Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” “Our old self was crucified with Him…so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”  “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  “Sin shall not be master of you, for you are not under law but under grace.” 

 If you concede that God has an ethical demand on your life, surely it is good news that to truly know Him is to be empowered to live rightly!  By faith, you participate in the change.  By faith you are in Christ, and in Christ you no longer have to yield to sin.  People are not independent; either we are subject to sin or to God.  God’s grace is the only power which can break the mastery of sin. 

 I appreciate Mr. Waltrip’s account of his life.  Look for his humorous, heartfelt speech on YouTube (see link below).  He may have had a 30-year career turning left, but he turned out right! 

A Love Story


 I stepped from the evening cold into a room warmed by the stove in the corner, and by the welcome of a pastor for over 50 years. I sought writing insights from Danny, who is my predecessor in writing a column for the local paper. As we sat by his wall of well-used books, I listened to his heart for people as he shared his story. 

 I finally asked about the subject at hand, love and marriage. “Well, marriage is of God, instituted before the church,” he started. I injected, “Tell me about you and Regina?” 

 “I asked God to give me someone to love, and to be loved by.” Danny doubts the notion of ‘falling in love,’ but believes that God chose Regina for him. Perhaps evidence for that was their first outing together, a double date when he thought he was paired with the other girl! But it was Regina that sat next to him in the car, and the rest is history. 

 “Well, marriage is about leaving, cleaving, and weaving.” What a wordsmith! Actually that comes from Scripture: “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Stories from his life unpack that idea. 

 He and his young family left parents, church, and Fannin County in a U-Haul and VW after church one Sunday night, moving to New Orleans so he could attend seminary. Leaving means starting a new life together, finding your own way. 

 “Everything we have done, we have done together.” Cleaving is having Regina as his partner in life and ministry, so she is always close by. In a service, they usually sit together until sermon time. A friend dubbed their pew ‘the love seat!’ Stepping into the pulpit, he will “look for God, then Regina” before he starts. 

 Sometimes hardship weaves lives into one. It was hard to hear of his nearly tragic crash in a ’52 Ford with his expectant wife and son. But through it, God firmly called them into their life’s work. “I can see the hand of God at work in difficulties, learning the lessons of life.” Good times and bad weave lives into one. 

 Please don’t let this example of a long, loving marriage cause you regrets. Danny has seen “so many people thrown on the scrapheap of life.” No, this example of a faithful relationship gives hope that the love of God is real, and can reach into our world and even touch you. The New Testament uses marriage to teach about Christ’s love for his church. You are included in that great love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall…have eternal life.” 

 Pondering 55 years of marriage, Danny declares, “I love her far more today than when we first married.” Still weaving, I suppose. Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Finding Freedom

Angola Prison

 In his recent book, Why Suffering, Ravi Zacharias recounts a conversation with an inmate in the infamous Angola Prison in Louisiana: “I asked him, ‘How do you handle the prospect that you will never get out of here, and that this is where your life will now be spent?’ He answered, ‘You know sir, if you knew the kind of person I was before I came here, and what I have now become because of the freedom Jesus Christ has brought to my soul, I can only say that if this is what it took to bring me to my senses, I am happy to spend the rest of my life here.’ Then he paused and said, ‘Please pray for my parents. They think they are free, but they are in a prison of their own darkness without God.’ That evening it was all I could do to fight back the tears as I watched this same man leading more than 700 prisoners in worship.” 

 There is a man changed by freedom, though in prison for life! Christians believe that Christ sets us free, which implies that we are in a kind of bondage. It’s usually offensive to suggest something’s wrong when you didn’t ask, but consider me a former prisoner trying to show others the way out. 

 Look, life is not supposed to be like this. Temporary love, broken trust, and subjective truth are too common. Children are at risk, addicts choose wrongly, and money is loved. The big Ten are just suggestions. Our churches can be showcases for saints instead of hospitals for sinners. We do what we don’t want, and don’t do what we do want. We have conflicting passions and goals. Such is the human condition – it is bondage, and it hurts. 

 What can you do? Attend meetings, join something, set new rules, cover bad by doing good. But all that just leads to more bondage. If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean. 

 The Hebrew prophet Isaiah foretold a Savior who would release captives and set free the oppressed. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of that message. He explained that if we continue in his word, we are his disciples. His disciples know the truth which sets us free. Free indeed, but from what? Free from the demands of the law by his gift of grace. Free from sin to live godly lives. Free from death to be eternally alive. Author T.W. Hunt says, “God’s intention is that we be free from this world’s mind-set. In doing that, God binds us to His mind-set, the mind of Christ.” 

 God accepts and forgives according to your faith, not how well you perform. By faith, he transforms your mind, and your life reflects Christ. By God’s grace, that is freedom!