Christians often feel pressured to give scientific answers as authority for what they believe. Those who argue against a Christian stance will often say something to the effect of “Well, statistics show…” Since statistics are scientific, they are authoritative, and Science has the final say.
(Note: when I say “Science” in this post, I’m mostly referring to Naturalism, but no one in normal conversation uses that word. When people appeal to Science as an authority, they’re assuming Naturalism).
I even saw one debate on Facebook (I know, I know) in which a person demanded that the Christians he was debating prove the authority of a moral question without using the Bible. I wasn’t surprised to see the demand, but I was surprised that a Christian then took him up on it! This Christian gave up the authority of the Bible for the authority of Science!! Why would any Christian ever give up the Bible as authoritative? He thought that giving up the Bible as the authority in the conversation would make his argument more “objective,” and therefore more authoritative. He had so bought in to the scientific narrative of our culture that he assumed Science was authoritative even above God’s word. Not intentionally, mind you. This Christian was sincerely trying to defend God, yet he was unaware that he’d given up the only Book that could make his argument truly authoritative. By unwittingly ceding authority on the topic to Science, his argument was doomed from the start. (Actually, he was doomed the moment he decided to debate someone whose intention was simply to rile Christians up, but that’s a post for another time.)
It seems to me that many Christians have adopted such an exalted view of science that they feel the need to use it as THE apologetic for Christianity. The fact is that the authority of the Bible doesn’t rest on it’s ability to match the descriptions that our particular society uses for the world. And make no mistake about it, scientific language is only our way of describing things. It has been a useful and practical description of the world, but it is still just a description. Many Christians unwittingly buy into this description as Truth.
Christians will try to defend the Bible scientifically by demonstrating its ability to match up with the geological record, fossils, or by claiming that the Bible had scientific foreknowledge. I’m not suggesting that the Bible opposes the truth of the world we see around us, or that science can’t corroborate and supplement that truth. I’m suggesting that the way we currently describe the world around us is not The Truth that is the standard. Christians, therefore, don’t need to grovel at the feet of a scientist to prove the truth of the Bible.
There’s only one thing we need to be certain of to defend the authority of the Bible: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible itself says: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (1 Cor. 15:17). It’s the only thing Christians need to defend in order to support the claim of the Bible’s authority.
Follow the reasoning with me. If Jesus was raised, then it means he’s the Son of God. If Jesus is the Son of God, then he speaks Truth. Jesus affirmed and approved the New Testament writings through the Spirit. Jesus affirmed the writings we refer to as the “Old Testament,” when he said “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). The “Law and Prophets” was the Jewish way of referring to what we call the “Old Testament.” Jesus affirms the Old and New Testaments, and therefore affirms the truth of the stories therein.
So, why do I believe the Flood happened? Because it matches a scientific description of the geological record? No. I believe the flood happened because Jesus was raised from the dead. How do I know that the Red Sea was parted? Because Jesus was raised from the dead. How do I know that a donkey spoke to Balaam (something that “science” will never corroborate)? Because Jesus rose from the dead. You’re getting the point. Why do I believe the Bible should guide my thoughts on moral issues? Because Jesus rose from the dead, and if the Son of God approves or disapproves of a moral act, then that is the authoritative word on the subject.
When we focus on trying to make the Bible the Truth by appealing to science or nature alone we end up with things like Ray Comfort trying to prove God’s existence with a banana. Bananas are not the atheists nightmare. The resurrection is. Again, to be clear, science and nature can support Christian arguments (Paul does this), but they cannot be THE authoritative standard, and I’m afraid many Christians get this backwards.
Christians should beware as they debate the current issues not to get sucked into the trap of giving up the authority of the Bible. When someone says you can’t use the Bible because it’s “only your view,” we must realize that that’s a view. They are claiming that the Bible is subjective, while Science is objective. Science, to them, isn’t a view. It’s truth. However, they have no resurrection with which to back up their claims. Everyone appeals to an authority in their debates, it’s just a matter of which authority they’re appealing to. If you’re a Christian discussing any topic, be sure not to cede the Bible’s authority in order to appease an alternative “authority.”