Discussing Science

solar-system-emergence-spitzer-telescope-telescope-41951Usually when people discus Christianity, the topic of science is not too far behind, and this can be intimidating. If you didn’t like science in school, or you struggled with it, the temptation may be to avoid that arena all together. The reality though, is that as Christians, we need to know how discuss the question of our origins with unbelievers.

How did we get here? It’s a question that most people think about, and it’s one that every worldview must answer. Examining the evidence for the beginning of the universe can sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. When discussing this issue, there are three guiding principles to keep in mind, and maintaining a grasp on these points will help you to anchor any conversation.

1.) Science is Silent

The first key principle is to recognize that science is a field of study which depends on repeated trials, data collection and interpretation. One of the final steps in the Scientific Process is to interpret the data. As Dr. Frank Turek continually points out on his website, “Science doesn’t say anything, scientist do.”[1] We all have bias, including scientists. Good scientists do their best to look objectively at the data, but the reality of scientific interpretation is something to be considered.

Additionally, since the origin of the universe is not observable or repeatable, every prevailing theory is simply that- a theory. All theories require some elements of faith since they have not reached the realm of fact. Individuals who hold to certain theories may want to treat them as fact, and may even present them in such light, but if you remember this key point, you will ground the conversation, and keep the playing field even.

2.) Evolution isn’t Everything

Many people will want to answer the question of our origin by starting immediately with the theory of evolution. While you will probably need to discuss this theory at some point, it is not the best place to begin. We’ll explore this briefly here, as the next post in this series will focus entirely on the tenants of evolutionary theory.

For now, the second principle is to point out that evolution does not offer any resolution as to the “how of our “universe.” When we speak of the universe we are referring to all space, time and matter. You see, the dilemma for someone wanting to begin by discussing evolution, is that it can only offer a theory on human beginnings. In a nut-shell, evolution suggests that humanity’s development is a result of randomly chanced mutation, but even if true, this would only occur after the universe is already in existence. Matter can only evolve if it already exists. Don’t let someone skip to the final act without acknowledging the opening scene. To fully answer the question of our origin, we must begin with the existence of the universe itself.

3.) The Universe is not Unbound

This brings us to our third, final and most important conversational component. In the last hundred years or so, pretty much all scientists have come to agree that the universe had a beginning. In other words, it is not eternal, which was the previous atheistic view. Instead, there was a point where space, time and matter, otherwise known as “the universe,” came into existence. We know this due to scientific discoveries and principles such as the expansion of the universe and the Laws of Thermodynamics. At some very particular point in the past there was nothing, and then there was something. Now, if matter is not eternal, a fact which both science and the Bible agree on, then to answer how we got here we must first understand what caused the universe into existence. Here it seems we have two potential answers: Either nothing caused it or something caused it.

That may seem like an over simplification, but it really is that simple. Either the universe came into existence from nothing, or something/someone caused it into existence. This is where the conflict lives.

The atheist has to accept that our vastly complex and intricate world came from nothing. Even though something coming into existence from nothing defies the reality of our experience. Even though, other than the universe, no scientist has ever hypothesized a very real thing emerging spontaneously from nothing, this is what a materialistic worldview demands. The Christian, on the other hand, accepts that the universe had a beginning because there is a being who is super-natural, meaning outside or beyond the material universe, who caused it into existence.

Both options are extraordinary if you think about them. Both options are outside what scientist can observe and repeat, so which explanation is to be believed? The materialist view offers nothing else to be explored. Sure, scientists endeavor to discover how something could have come from nothing, but the idea of nothingness itself is pretty self-explanatory.

So what about this alleged being who perhaps caused the universe into existence? Well, if this being created space, time and matter, then it must be beyond those things. This being then, would have to be spaceless, timeless and immaterial. If it caused the known universe to happen, it must also be incredibly powerful. So, if our universe was caused by something, that something, closely resembles the nonphysical, eternal, powerful spirit that Christians call God. Furthermore, the coming into existence of a universe from nothing, sounds ridiculously similar to the Genesis account where a very real God said, “Let there be…” and it was.[2]

Both views require faith, but both views are not equal. The Christian view on the origin of the universe, while astonishing, offers a consistent rationale which is more reasonable than its alternative. I think Dr. Frank Turek may have summed it best when he titled his book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.”[3]

Learn more by watching this video from Reasonable Faith



[1] Crossexamined.org – One particular article of interests on the subjective nature of science is: http://crossexamined.org/science-doesnt-say-anything-scientists-do/

[2] This entire paragraph is a summary of the arguments from Dr. William Lane Craig of reasonablefaith.org and Dr. Frank Turek from crossexamined.org.

[3] I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Geisler and Turek. I highly recommend this read.

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