The false dichotomy erected between faith and reason has greatly damaged the convictions of many Christians who have felt forced into a bitter dilemma. It has also frightened many other believers, prompting swift rebuttals to this question and the preparation of stronger defenses in favor of mutual compatibility. As frazzling as this dichotomy between faith and reason has been, however, equally damaging has been the apparent conflict between God and science. Scientists are often quick to explain the mysteries of nature in purely secular terms according to their theoretical presuppositions. In effect, they portray a Godless creation, a sort of Rudyard Kipling universe whose elements are arranged “just so” to permit certain benefits for survival.
But why this separation between God and His creation? Have scientists actually discovered anything that disproves His existence? Absolutely not. Rather, they tend to take some discovery or biological feature and promote it most peculiarly as an infallible proof that a Creator would never have designed the world in such a way: that nature somehow contradicts God’s existence.
Working from purely secular presuppositions, this perspective is, perhaps, understandable. If one believes that there is no God, he will use every shred of his intellect and discovery to disprove His existence. If he is less hostile to God’s existence, but wishes to remain loyal to the scientific establishment as a more credible body of knowledge, he has just run into the imaginary faith-reason dilemma and taken the road more traveled. Either way, the scientist in question, having chosen his presuppositional course, will affirm the dominance of scientific discovery above the possibility and probability of God’s presence.
Nevertheless, an understandable approach is by no means necessarily a wise approach. A baldly naturalist presupposition that denies God as Creator is remarkably close-minded in the fullest sense of the term. If there is a God, and if He created the universe and everything in it, is He somehow constrained by our ideas of common sense and utilitarian design? Is He, too, a product of the Bauhaus?
The questions raised by even a simplistic survey of scientific theory have been presented as a sort of challenge to Intelligent Design. Why do men and monkeys bear resemblance? Why are some rock formations apparently billions of years old? If there’s just one God and one way to find Him, then why do the brains of all religious adherents react the same way in prayer and devotion? If God has written His law on men’s hearts, then why are there neurological, psychological, and sociological explanations for conscience and morality?
And honestly, my first thought is: Whoa, calm down bro. If God wanted to make things that way, He could. Care for any more coffee? But I’ll flesh out my thoughts a little more for you in the following paragraphs. I speak not as a scientist or sociologist, but as a layman considering the sovereign creativity of our Lord.
1. Why do men and monkeys bear so much resemblance? (A: Because they do. That’s why God made women.) In more seriousness, though, I would respond that (1) God could create in His own image whatever creature He wanted. If in His good pleasure (and good humor) He had made us to skeletally resemble giraffes, that would not have made us any less His image-bearers. Apes, I understand, possess mannerisms similar to Homo sapiens. So what? God is the Creator; He can create as He pleases. He didn’t have to create a radically, bizarrely different creature from the monkey in order to bestow upon it His image. (2) Would it not be more glorifying to Himself to create a being that was both similar to the monkey and yet radically different from anything in that family of appearances, and bestow upon it the Imago Dei? Biologists may attempt a sweeping refutation of any claim that humans bear outstanding superiority to the family of apes; good luck with that. I cannot simultaneously call myself a rational being and deny an incredibly vast difference between the two. If God were to create in His image, why not do it with the hilarious irony of radical distinction? Monkeys aren’t stupid, but there is certainly a greater testimony to the Imago Dei when it is manifested in a being unlike any in its family of appearances.
2. Why do some rock formations appear to be billions of years old? This is hotly debated amongst old-earth and young-earth creationists, with strong arguments, weak spots, and unsolved mysteries on both sides. As a young-earther, I am more hesitant to jump on board with the old-earth camp, despite some of the very interesting arguments they do have. Part of this is due to interest in the Flood and the effects of water pressure upon continental shift, rock formation, and carbon dating; the other is that even if the Flood had no effect, if God wanted the earth to look that way, He could. “But I don’t think God would try to deceive us like that,” objected an old-earth friend of mine. It’s creative sovereignty, not deception. I could point, as many have, to the age of Adam and whether his formation as a man is misleading. But again, I would prefer to appeal to the effects of a global Flood to bolster this argument.
3. If there’s just one God and one way to know Him, then why do the brains of all religious adherents react the same way during prayer and devotion? Because that’s how God created the brain. I believe there is only one way to get to God, and that Jesus is that only means of salvation, but I don’t believe that God somehow completely bypasses the natural world. We’re not Gnostics here. Sure, we will never be able to explain how a mighty and transcendent God interacts with our finite frames, or how our souls are tied to our bodies and yet distinct. But if God meant us to know Him, and if He created us for that divine relationship, then it should be no surprise that He created the brain for that capacity. When sin and deception enter the picture, mankind is not united in its adoration of a holy, Triune God, yet the brain still functions the same way. I don’t see this argument about brain function as a very good proof for universalism or against the exclusiveness of Christianity.
4. If God has written His law on men’s hearts, then why are there neurological, psychological, and sociological explanations for conscience and morality? Again, because that’s how God created man, and it’s not a proof against Him if those are the mechanisms by which He writes the laws on men’s hearts. My reasoning for this answer is essentially the same as in #3. If a holy and transcendent Creator desired to make Himself known to finite man, should it surprise us when He chooses to create us with mental capacity to know Him?
These are but a few questions that have been raised as a challenge to Christianity and the existence of a Creator God. My answer to them is simple: God can do what He wants to do and create the way He wants to create. We don’t have to leap to our feet to defend the Sovereign of Creation. Therefore, any attempt by proponents of the faith-reason dichotomy to pit science against its Maker falls flat. God didn’t create us so that we might confine Him within the fragile bounds of our scientific theories. God created us in His good pleasure that we might delight in the awesome, untamed wonders of His sovereign creativity. He is the God of irony. He brought the Savior into the world by a virgin and laid Him in a cattle manger and by death made Him destroy death. He works against our expectations. And I choose to rejoice and rest in the only One Who is ultimately able to do that.