Science and Reason vs. Faith ?

                                Science and Reason vs. Faith?

Unfortunately Faith and reason are now often viewed as total opposites. While this understanding has developed over time, and been popularized by many from Mark Twain to new atheists like Richard Dawkins it does not correctly represent the biblical view of what faith is, biblical faith is not a blind leap into the dark.
Scripturally one can see what faith means in many passages and verses. John ends the second to last chapter of his gospel, telling the reader(s) that it was written so they believe, or have an active trust in, Jesus. When John the Baptist faced doubts, Jesus pointed his disciples to fulfilled prophecy and miraculous evidence to give John some evidence when they returned to him. Miracles authenticated the message and gave evidence to all, but in Acts 17 and other places we see reasoning used. A philosophical argument can be a type of evidence. Considering the commandment for all Christians in 1 Peter 3:15 regarding being ready to provide an apologetic, a defense for what they believe, it’s clear that even if Christians have blindly leaped and landed into the Christian world view, they must not stay that way, and must understand why they believe what they do so they can defend it.
Belief too is an important and misunderstood word. It doesn’t mean a mere mental acknowledgment, but instead it refers to a place of trust on. I might believe planes exist, but an active trust in them, or a belief with active trust, would be necessary for me to fly in one. True biblical faith is not a blind trust, biblical believe is some acknowledgment, together these words speak to what we might call in modern terms, a continuing trust on God and the sacrifice of Jesus for the payment of our sins, and submitting to him as Lord. This isn’t a very remote concept for us to grasp, as paper money used to only represent gold in the bank, even know it is only representative and we believe that it has value, and we trust it’s use when paying for our groceries and goods. Ultimately to reject reason and evidence in faith, one has to fail to worship God with their mind as scripture commands, and many of the proof texts for this view, are taken out of context.
Even with scriptural reason to use evidence, the Church hasn’t always been keen on using outside sources, despite Romans 1 confirming a general revelation given to all. Individuals like Anslem and Abelard were able to push forward and include reasoning more and more within the Catholic Church. Their progress, and Anslem’s placing reason behind faith, opened up a door. First Anslem just sought additional support for the conclusion he already felt he had enough reason to believe, over time that work continued to grow and eventually develop a focus on general revelation called natural philosophy or natural law.
If we view divine revelation and general revelation (including science) as two books written by the same author, they two should not conflict. What if they appear to? In the end something must be wrong, but it doesn’t automatically mean it is the bible nor the evidence. Men can have fallible interpretations and it may by that science leads us to understand that “sun set” are merely perspective, and not a literal description of the sun moving around us. Science too could be lacking evidence or be a limited sample size. Science needs to be peer reviewed.
Given that general revelation is available to everyone it should come as no surprise that multiple groups have found some elements of truth. The bible isn’t necessary to understanding some aspects of the world God created, because people live in it! Regardless of what ones worldview is, they have to deal with the same reality, and try to best explain it. While one should be careful to draw spiritual truths from others, even those can sometimes be similar, such as remnants of original monotheism, believe in life after death, or common takes on the golden rule. One must never put the outside spiritual claims before the teaching of scripture, especially if the evidence supports the Christian world view as having the most explanatory power.
The real issue is not between reason or science and faith, but instead between materialism or naturalism and any worldview that goes beyond the material. Currently science is full of scientism and over emphasis on the empirical as well as a presupposition that there are no spiritual answers. This attitude merely eliminates a possible answer, it does not solve anything, and with the growing rebirth of Apologetics many Christians are learning about evidence that does support the material. It’s even pointed out often that when materialists attempt to use logic, they can’t help but use something that is immaterial, the laws of logic!

(originally written as a short essay for a class at Luther Rice)

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Is cloning an important topic in the abortion debate?

kid-dressed-as-spidermanCould cloning be an important issue for the very heated abortion debating? It’s gone from science-fiction to reality. Dolly the clone sheep entered our world, “on 5 July 1996.”(cloning) In fact she has already left it as, “she was euthanized on 14 February 2003, aged six and a half” middle aged for a sheep, because she, “suffered from arthritis in a hind leg joint and from sheep pulmonary adenomatosis, a virus-induced lung tumor.” (cloning) Cloning made news wave via during a cult’s 15 minutes of fame when the Raelians claimed, “cloning is the way to immortality” and started a religious movement based on Panspermia and a desire to clone their way to immortality. A young westerner would likely leap to the Star Wars Prequel trilogy immediately, given it’s commercial and merchandizing success with a key story component being a clone army. Beyond all these interesting cultural ripples, which themselves sometimes have offered important thoughts on the broader, philosophers and politicians have had to deal with reality in more practical applications, including the abortion issue.

“The most sophisticated defenders of abortion choice concede that the unborn, long before birth, is a human being, though they argue that it lacks a property essential acquiring the status of a moral person.” (Beckwith Pg. 65) Author Benard Nathanson , known for his 1979 work, Aborting America, has argued that since “Some human beings may not result from conception.” (Beckwith Pg. 74) conception cannot be the beginning of life. He, as others, are not denying the genetic identity of the newly formed distinct human individual (zygote) but sees this exception as a reason we can’t place the beginning of humanness there. He might ask, “Since a clone was never conceived, is it then never human?” Obviously the result would be just as human, just as Dolly was clearly a sheep, who lived, ate, died and even reproduced after being cloned.

The argument faces several difficulties. Beckworth admits that, “Nathanson is correct in asserting that a human clone would be a human being who has come into existence without benefit of conception.” (Beckwith Pg. 75) Beckwith’s defense is worth noting, even if he could have gone a bit farther. He states “This world only mean that conception is not necessary condition for a human being to come into existence,” And demonstrates a flaw in Nathanson’s logic. There is a very serious difference between a necessary and sufficient condition. For example a necessary condition for checking out a book at a library is going to the library (also having a library card, etc.) but that doesn’t necessarily mean one would check out a book, one could leave without doing so. A necessary condition always results in something taking place. So Nathanson’s demonstration only proves that conception is a sufficient but not necessary condition.

The idea that the clone would be originated without any conception is obviously false as well. It would only require material from a previous conception. This is similar to the humorous tale of the scientist who shakes his fist and God and says he is unneeded, that he can create life. God responds with “go ahead” and as the scientist begins to gather dirt from the earth God interrupts him, “not so fast, get your own dirt.” Nathanson is only pushing a problem back and creating a hypothetical situation similar to twins. However the zygote is produced, once it is a zygote it is fully human, and the “clone” distinction only describes origin, not value not value and thus leaves us back at the main question of the debate, should the genetic human be concerned less of a person when in the womb?

 

Beckwith, Francis J. Defending Life a Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice Cambridge University Press New York, NY 2007

Carroll, Robert T. Raelians The Skeptic’s Dictionary http://skepdic.com/raelian.html 1994 (Accessed 9/25/15)  (Note, obviously I’m not going to agree with a lot on this particular site, but it’s use was intentional, we should be skeptical of somethings, and all things should be examined, even our faith, but unlike this site, I think it stands up to examination.)

Cloning Dolly the Sheep, Animal Research.info http://www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/timeline/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/ (Accessed 9/25/15)