Science – supporting faith
Probability and Statistics in Faith Decisions
Many events in life, and in faith, are statistically driven, i.e.specific outcomes may be desired but in fact many outcomes are unpredictable. The following is a Power Point presentation given to the Christ United Methodist Church youth in 2010 on this subject where the next is an example drawn from the New Testament where the outcome is not clearly drawn.
The probability of events occurring naturally must be considered in gaining confidence in biblical teachings. In Jesus response to his disciples question in John 9:1-3, he dismissed parents sinning and the man sinning as causes of the man’s blindness. This leaves open a number of naturally occurring events including staring at the sun too long (e.g. Galileo) and industrial accidents such as a vat of boiling oil exploding or being hit in the head with a swinging timber member.
Jesus’ parables are the closest thing that we have of his actual thoughts. The following is the result of an analysis of the parables, identifying topics which are mentioned indicating that his exposure to life experiences extended to a wide variety of topics, most likely during his working years, before he began his ministry. The rank order indicates the frequency of a particular topic being addressed in these parables.The parables are linked to Jefferson’s Bible as well as Barclay’s book on the subject.
The presentation below traces the initiation and evolution of the cosmos from the initial Big Bang to present day. The Power Point file is downloaded to your computer.
News on Faith and the Universe
If we follow the business as usual pattern of life on Earth, there is a sure route to extinction within a few hundred years. Below, Rev. Michael Dowd presents steps that can be followed to assure there is a future for Mother Earth.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) asked a small, but impressive group of authors to bring science and faith on the same page. The booklet linked below does not answer all the questions, but it unites the conversation in a way that values and respects both faith and science.
Michael Dowd Youtube video on faith and the future- One hour long but the message is very meaningful. 01/06/15
Laws of science, life and the wedding 04/22/15
At the wedding, Jesus’ admonition about not putting new wine in old wineskins and patching burst skins shows an appreciation of the laws of science in container storage, as well as in material properties. Although the discussion is strictly about delivering good wine to the wedding feast, there certainly can be other implications.
New, freshly squeezed wine will contain pulp and grape skins which will tend to plug the pores of the skins and the walls will become brittle, non flexible. In that event, gas from the further fermentation process cannot escape and the pressure will build. More brittle materials are more prone to burst when handled and when overpressurized. A burst skin can be repaired much like a bicycle innertube but the flexibility (elasticity) of the parent material and the patch material must be close to the same lest the joint initiates a crack and further failure occurs. Interestingly, this principle was being applied at the time by Roman engineers in designing earthquake resistant structures.
Why was Jesus group enjoying the party and not fasting; could be that he was simply acknowledging one of the laws of life? The festive atmosphere prevails at the reception (feast) while the bride and groom are there, but it changes significantly when they (the bridegroom) depart. The party is over.
One interpretation of this parable is that in any action, one should collect all of the facts and be governed accordingly, i.e. make your actions consistent with the laws of science and laws of life. This liberal interpretation of scripture is merely to demonstrate where the laws of science have played a role in societal events. In this case, Jesus in his early life must have observed happenings demonstrating these laws.
New Testament, Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:21-22, and Luke 5:37-39.
The wineskin warning appears earlier on in Job 32:19 in the Old Testament (around 1000 BCE). The solution to the wine processing problem would be to filter the skin and pulp from the juice before placing it in the wineskins so that only the purest liquid is used. The pores of the wineskins then would remain free to vent the gas produced in the fermentation.
Faith in the Face of Science – Christ UMC, College Station 2008
In addition to the above, other presentations and events included:
Rev. Matt Idom, Senior Minister at Bryan FUMC describing his experiences as an amateur archeologist
Dr. Don McLeroy, Chairman of the Texas Board of Education describing his position as a creationist.
Presentation of video on the Star of Bethlehem with discussion led by amateur astronomer Dr. Mark Spearman.
Tour of the TAMU Nuclear Science Center to learn about nuclear power.
Tour of the Gibbons Creek Coal Fired Power Plant to learn about electric power generation.
Tour of the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural Science.
Other comments and sources
… and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. John 8:32
“I am personally persuaded that a superintelligent Creator exists beyond and within the cosmos, and that the rich context of congeniality shown by our universe, permitting and encouraging the existence of self-conscious life, is part of the Creator’s design and purpose.”
– Owen Gingerich, God’s Universe, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006, p. 39.
“For what sense can science or religion make if we don’t find means for reconciling offenses? Very little, I suspect; very little indeed.”
– John Lienhard, “Science, Religion and Forgiveness,” No. 1445, Engines of our Ingenuity
“Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
New Testament, Matthew 12-32. The Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version, National Council of Churches, 1989.
“What Is Man? “When I consider thy heaven, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man” Psalm 8:3, John Wesley, Sermon 103, http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-103-what-is-man/
“It is not an improbable conjecture, that David wrote this psalm (8:3) in a bright starlight night, while he observed the moon also “walking in her brightness;” John Wesley, Sermon 103, http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-103-what-is-man/
Barr, Stephen, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2003, 312 pp.