There are three ways that we determine what truth is. Those things are making sure that something is logically consistent or making sense within itself, data collection, which is what we talking about today better known as science and having relevance to us.
So I want to jump in with a quick illustration here, and you’ll notice that I have on the table Jenga game. How many of you have played this game called Jenga before? The general idea of the game is you try to take blocks out from different spots and put them on top without having the whole thing fall over. The reason that I want to use this game is so I can illustrate how the tower needs a strong foundation to be able to continue standing.
If I start removing the blocks on the bottom of this tower, you will see that it won’t take too long before the whole thing falls over.
So today I want to talk a little bit about the foundation of science and where that is rooted.
As we saw in our Jenga game foundations are extremely important. In the Bible, it talks about the importance of having a strong foundation in Matthew 7. Jesus is speaking, and after a long discussion about planks and eyes and correction, he says this say this: 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
So it’s essential for us to build the foundation of our worldview on the rocks, not on the sand. In New York City, if you ever get a chance to be in New York City, you’ll see different places that have large fences around them because they’re building a building. There will be months and months possibly even years that they’re digging a large hole down into the ground to build this gigantic foundation for the skyscraper that’s gonna be on top of it. The taller of the building, the larger of the foundation will have to be to support the entire building
So before I get into the foundation of science, I want to acknowledge a couple things and I tried to define a couple words. First, there are things in the Bible and on the face of it that seem a little strange. Things like talking serpents(Gen 3), floods(Gen 6), massive amounts of frogs and insects(Exodus), parting waters(Exodus), people telling the future(all the major and minor prophets), the sun staying in the sky(Joshua 10:13), virgin births(Gospels), crippled people walking again(Gospels), people rising from the dead(Gospels), hands healed(Gospels), and many other things. Now on the face of it, seems like these things clearly go against science. Well, this is a big part of what I would like to tackle today. Let’s define a few words.
Let’s start by defining the word miracle. Now there are many definitions of the word miracle but the one I would like to use for today is something that God uses to get our attention or point us towards Him. More specifically it would be something out of the ordinary that makes us take notice of what God is doing. The second word I would like to define does the word science.
A general working definition that we can use is: making predictions and testing the material world. Now what I mean by the material world is the matter from which a thing is or can be made of. I’m sure you have studied this in your science classes. The thing I think that people have an issue with and you might find yourself in this position as well is that the miracles in the Bible as I mentioned earlier don’t necessarily square with being able to make predictions and then test them. So a lot of times what happens is that the miracles end up just getting thrown out. We have to remember that science is role is to collect data.
And miracles are clearly part of that data, but science has a hard time collecting it, due to the nature of miracles being not consistent and all. Not only do we have miracles in the Bible, but we also have them in our real world experience as in our third point from last week experientially relevant. Miracles happen. And they might’ve happened to you and in your life. Some of you might have a story about your aunt or your mom or your cousin or your brother or friend, that have had a miracle happened to them. So it’s data that we can’t throw out.
The scientist would often like us to throw out this data. For the data not to be used and even not to be considered. The problem is that the foundation the scientist is using needs to be built on a strong foundation.
So let’s take a look at eight things that the foundation of science is built on and why those eight things are better explained with God at the center of them then just material at the center of them. I’m gonna start by just laying out what these foundations are and what they really mean. Then I’m to go back point by point and show you how without God at the center of these foundations are more like the sand than the rocks. So let’s dive in!
The first one is the existence of a mind-independent external world or reality. Basically what this means is that we have to assume that we’re not a brain in a vat somewhere. That there actually is a world outside of us to even study.
The second thing that we have to assume on the foundation of science is that there is an orderly nature of that external world that we just talked about. So that there is a world outside of ourselves and that world has an order to it. There are laws of nature, and those laws are consistent. If they weren’t consistent at all, then there would no point, or even a way to test them.
And this leads nicely to our third point, the fact that we can know something about that external world. The fact that we can know something about the world outside of us and the fact that there are laws that we can test point to the fact that we can know something about the external world.
The fourth is the reliability of our senses and our faculties things like our smell, our touch, our taste, and our site. I’m sure that you’ll trust these things. You trust that when you see something that you’re actually seeing it. But you’re not crazy or delusional or seeing visions. That when you feel something like sandpaper or a cats tongue or steel wool you know that it’s rough. Or that fire burns us with the sun hurts her eyes we look at it. We have to assume that our senses are reliably telling us information about the outside world.
The principle of making sense within itself or better known as the principle of logic. Let me explain what that means. This might be a tough one. The fact that something can’t be “A” and not “A” at the same time and in the same sense. Something like you can’t have a married bachelor. Or another example would be you can’t have a square circle. And on a more practical note, the principle of logic means that you can’t occupy the same space at the same time as a bus. If you’re walking across the street, like your mom always told you, you have to look both ways. The whole reason to look both ways is that if a bus is coming, you can’t occupy the same space at the same time as that bus the bus will win. This, at its core, is what we will call the principle of logic.
The next one is the truth of mathematics. I think this one probably makes the most sense to you guys because you’ve all take a math class. You know there’s one right answer to seven times seven. You also know that if I have six apples and you have seven apples we have 13 apples. And as for you senior highers you might know if you’ve taken a high-level math class, as you get deeper and deeper into the maths it gets harder and harder but there still a right answer. In science, we have to rely on math to be able to understand many of the principles that we find we were doing those tests.
The seventh one is moral and aesthetic values. Aesthetic means giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty or of pleasing appearance. This one might seem the most out of place out of all of these. “Are you saying that science has to have a moral component to it, Tim?” Yes as a matter fact I am. For the simple fact that there is a right and a wrong way to do an experiment. We have to assume that there is a right and a wrong way to do an experiment before we can actually do the experiment. Right and wrong are a moral or value judgment.
And the last one is pretty simple it’s the fact that I can communicate with you right now means that we have a common language that I can use to describe something to you. The last and final step of any set of experiments is to report those findings. That has to be done through language.
Okay, so now that I’ve laid out those eight steps now we need to connect them to my point earlier about God being the best foundation for all eight of those things.
So the first one, the fact that we’re not the brain in the vat. We have to assume that we’re not a brain in a vat. Which means that there is an external world that the world could not have come about by itself. That world would have had to have been created by something other than itself. Something cannot create itself. The obvious conclusion is that the universe was created by God.
The second one is the orderly nature of the external world. The world has ordered to it, this only makes sense if it was designed. We can see design all around us. We see things like Mount Rushmore. And we know that mount Rushmore didn’t just happen by wind rain and erosion. But there was an artist that painstakingly design what those faces of the president would look like on the side of the mountain. Guys, there are over 200 different values but if they were changed ever so slightly life would not even be able to exist in this universe. Things like if we changed the gravitational pull by less than 2% no life would be able to exist. Also things like the position of the earth in our planetary system. Neptune, Jupiter, and Saturn had to be in the exact spots that they are so that we don’t get hit by meteors on a regular basis. Also, things like the cell working. This is a clearly designed machine to reproduce itself and to sustain life. I could go on and on and on with examples.
This next piece of foundational material that science is built on is being able to know things about the world around us. There would be no point in trying to test the external world if we didn’t have some expectation or some purpose of being able to know what we’re testing. We can know the external world. We can test things. We are not just material in motion being determined by other material. If that were true, we would have no reason to think that we could know anything about the external world with any kind of certainty. It is only for the fact that God has given us the ability and commanded us to test the external world, like we talked about last week, that we can do this.
This one goes along with the last one. The reliability of our senses and our faculties to be able to understand things. The fact that we can touch things feel things see things and understand and be able to realize what those things are can only be built the assumption that this universe has a designer. I don’t think any of you would be willing to argue with me that your senses are not reliable. People usually claim that end up in the hospital somewhere.
Guys our God is not a God of confusion and chaos. We see this in many areas such as the design of the universe that I’ve been talking about over and over and over. Without God, we would have no reason to believe why anything couldn’t be something and not something in the same time and in the same way. The universe would be pure chaos without the designer designing it the way that it is. Kind of like my room and high school. Oh man, that thing was crazy chaos!
The truth of mathematics. I feel like I’m going to sound like a broken record here mainly because this foundational piece of mathematics only makes sense with a designer. The very very small simple math makes sense. And the super huge general relativity kind of crazy math that most of us will never understand makes sense with a designer. Math is one of the key components that we used to make sense of this world.
Moral and aesthetic values. When I first learned about this, it was the hardest one for me to understand at first. But we have to understand that without God there is no ultimate right and wrong. Right and wrong become like what flavor ice cream you like without God. I like chocolate you like vanilla, and somebody else might like rocky road, and your friend might like cookies and cream. Who’s to say what flavor of ice cream is the right flavor of ice cream in the wrong flavor of ice cream. The answer is nobody. Without God and his nature, we have no ability to judge right and wrong. And this relates to science as I mentioned earlier because there is a right and a wrong way to do an experiment. If you perform experiment incorrectly, you’re going to get the wrong results. Results that don’t give reliable information about the world around us that you were trying to test in the first place. The second piece of this, the beauty section of it, really floored me when I first learned about it. It has to do with the fact that some scientist when they run experiments will choose the one that fits the data that looks better or prettier. And I don’t mean prettier like a painting I mean prettier that has less loose ends to it. The more elegant conclusion will be the one that the scientist ends up adopting for further experiments. So again without the ability to judge which one is more elegant or pretty they wouldn’t be able to do science the way that we do it right now.
And the last one is language. Again the fact that I’m communicating to you and that you can understand most of what I’m saying points to the fact that we can understand language. Without this key component, science will fall flat on its face. And like I said some times already this only makes sense with the designer. And that designer is the God of Christianity.
In the 1960s a well know scientist said that there were just 2 factors for life to happen. The right star, and the right distance from that star. So in a universe like ours with 1 octillion stars, that is 1 with 24 zeros after it, 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 there should be 1 with 21 zeros after it plants with life like our on it. The problem was, that as we looked for those stars and planets and have found zero! The more we learned about what causes life, let alone intelligent life, we found over 200 different things that had to be just right, for life to have happened on our planet. The odds of something like that happening are 1 and 10 to the 300. That is more than all the atoms that make up the universe. In other words, it is pretty impossible without a spaceless, timeless, maximally powerful, creative, personal, free mind designed and created it.
As we go about our day collecting data we have to assume all of these foundational principles. And that the data is a very important element of our journey to finding the truth. But what we do with all the miracles that are in the Bible that we talked about earlier. Well, I’m glad you asked. If when you read to the Scriptures, you’re scratching your head and saying I just don’t see the fact that people rise from the dead how can this possibly true in a world where sign seems to dominate. And I can understand your frustration, but as I pointed out with these eight foundational principles, they only make sense with the God in the designer at the center of them. And there is no reason to believe that if God designed the universe that he can’t step in time and perform miracles to get our attention. But he can use things like a lot of water covering a great part of the earth, he can use things like Daniel surviving a night in the Lion’s den, Jesus being born of a virgin, Lazars being raised from the dead, people being healed of leprosy, the blind being able to see, and the lame being able to walk and a number of the miracles that we see in the Bible. See many people think that the greatest miracle and all of the Bible is Jesus being raised from the dead. But the truth is that the greatest miracle in all the Bible is the creation of the universe its self. For God that created stars so big but we can’t even fathom, and for God to have structured everything so beautifully that we could have life and worship him, something like healing a leper is not that big of a deal.
I want to encourage you guys to not be afraid of science. If you have questions about things that you read in an article or see on the Internet about science debunking Christianity, I want you to first pray, then look into what it is really claiming and see if it can’t fit with Christianity, using the method I taught you guys last, do some research and by that I mean more than a google search and finally contact me if you are still hung up.