Christianity and Science



Empirical approach - All hypothesis arose out of evidence that came from an experiment or observation.

Rationalist approach - The use of reason was needed to interpret the evidence.

There are 2 ways of gaining knowledge:

Deductive - knowledge gained through observation - if the premises lead to the conclusion then it is true - then the theory is likely true.

Inductive - knowledge gained through evidential observation - the more evidence there is, suggests the observations are true.

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Christian responses to science


The belief that God 'started the universe' e.g the Big Bang - but he then left the universe to work according to the laws he created it with, but he doesn' influence it any further.

Most Christians reject this idea - as it is not compatible with the Doctrines of Christianity. e.g. God is imminent with his creation.


There is no conflict between religion and science. This is the belief that humans define their own meaning in life, the choices they make and who they are.

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Darwin Theory of Evolution

Natural Selection - characteristics of species are adapted and modified for survival. Leading to a new species - those less suited to the environment die - Survival of the fittest.

Christain Responses

Darwin's theory challenges traditional Christian views:

  • Creationists argue it is incompatible with Genesis and Bible teachings - which is the word of God 
  • Evolution explains the development of new simpler forms, but humans are the result of a special creation by God - humans have not descended from God.
  • Most Christians reject creationists views. They see Natural Selection as a way in which God interacts and works in the world.
  • Evolution works by the laws of nature - these laws were created by God.
  • Christain Beliefs and the theory of evolution as compatible.
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The Big Bang

The explanation of how the universe began - the laws of physics have calculated what happened. e.g. galaxies moving away from earth and distance in relation to the speed of light.

According to physicists, the Big Bang happened about 13.8 million years ago - there was a sudden burst of energy, marking the creation of space, time and matter - this was supported in 1964 by the discovery of the microwave background radiation.

Christian responses

Deism - it is compatible as they argue that God started the universe

The God of Gaps - Maurice Wiles anything that can't be explained is God. This diminishes God, as he is being used as an answer, whereas science is able to explain most things

The Catholic Church - accepts the Big Bang

Creationism - reject the Big Bang arguing that it is incompatible with the creation of the universe in 6 days.

Christians - God is the most likely explanation than chance and nothing comes from nothing

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Since Descartes and Dualism and the potential for the soul existing in the brain - this became the norm for Christian thinking.

Recently many philosophers have taken a materialistic view - the brain is linked closely to emotion and thought and sight are linked to certain parts of the brain.

Neuroscience to show how all human experiences even religious ones may be explained in terms of brain activity - e.g the God Helmet - stimulate the pituitary glands.

If neuroscience can prove that the self is an illusion and only caused by brain activity then it implies there is no self morally responsible by God - there can be no personal relationship with God and therefore no life after death.

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Quantum Theory and neuroscience

Quantum mechanics - physics which deals with matter at a small scale - quarks and string theory

Christian Responses

To some Christians - God perhaps works at a level that influences events - the quantum level. 

However, Quantum theory takes us further away from the idea that God runs a clockwork universe.

Quantum physics suggests that we have an element of free will.

Whatever the case God still seems the most logical and coherent explanation as to why everything exists.

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John Polkinghorne

Polkinghorne was a scientist and a Christian 

Because the world is intelligible (we can understand it using science) we require explanation. By inspecting the world with science we are able to understand it - e.g. quantum theory and string theory.

It's easy to say that evolution explains everything but for everything argument, we need to be able to explain why e.g. Cosmological argument, design argument.

We need to be Rational in order to achieve knowledge.

  • The Bible gives evidence for Christians about Jesus that can be rationally examined just like a scientific theory. However, critics would argue that science is based on a series of repeated events, whereas claims about Jesus are on the same repeated events.
  • The claims about God - are made on the basis of evidence and should be treated the same way as a scientific explanation. Christianity is compatible with science. Critics argue that a belief in deism is better than theism. Claims about Jesus cannot have a scientific basis but based on belief. 
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Christian Responses to issues raised science

  • Genetic engineering - in order to improve humans, we genetically engineer ourselves - so we can evolve e.g. as environmental changes are happening rapidly e.g. Global Warming.
  • By creating genetically engineered crops to benefit humans more - but could this have a negative impact
  • Genetic engineering could help develop cures for cancer - oncomouse.
  • Parents are able to select DNA which would lead there offspring to be super smart or fit - transhuman - create the perfect human
  • The possibilities for genetic engineering are endless

Christian Responses

  • Both Catholics and Protestants - support the use of genetically modified crops - to help solve global hunger.
  • Genetic modification can be impractical e.g. xenotransplantation (pig heart transplants)
  • They argue that Somatic - cell therapy correct genetic disorders - only modify human cells, which won't affect genetics) is using our God-given skills.
  • Enhancement therapy - is heavily rejected by Church - not in God's image, children would be viewed as a commodity rather than a gift
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