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Why Would A Scientist Believe?

Why would a scientist believe in Jesus?  Last week, I dispelled the huge but relentless myth that says you can’t believe in Jesus if you follow the science by sharing some examples of today’s leading scientists who do believe in Jesus.  They see no contradiction between their science and their faith.  In fact, for a number of them, it was following the science that led them to faith.  And for all of them, following what the science says continues to deepen their faith and make them more and more certain about Jesus. 

But why would a scientist believe?  What would compel them to believe in Jesus?  One of the scientists I mentioned last week is Francis Collins.  Collins led the government side of the Human Genome Project, mapping DNA.  He presently serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health and is considered to be one of the world’s leading scientists.  In his book, The Language of God, Collins spells out in detail why he, a scientist, is also an evangelical Christian.  I highly recommend reading it. 

Because of space, however, I can only share a shorter overview I found, in his own words, of Collin’s journey to faith.  I came across it in a booklet by Alpha program founder Nicky Gumbel called Is Faith Irrational?  On pp. 19-20 this is what Collins says:

“I was raised by…freethinking parents…for whom religion was just not very important….I became first an agnostic and then an atheist…One afternoon a kindly grandmother with only a few weeks to live shared her own faith in Jesus quite openly with me, and then asked, ‘Doctor, what do you believe?’…I fled the room, having the disturbing sense that the atheist ice under my feet was cracking, though I wasn’t quite sure why.  And then suddenly the reason for my disquiet hit me: I was a scientist.  I was supposed to make decisions based on evidence.  And yet I had never really considered the evidence for and against faith.  As I explored the evidence more deeply, all around me I began to see signposts to something outside of nature that could only be called God.  I realized that the scientific methods can really only answer questions about HOW things work.  It can’t answer questions about WHY--and those are in fact the most important ones.  Why is there something instead of nothing?  Why does mathematics work so beautifully to describe nature?  Why is the universe so precisely tuned to make life possible?  Why do we humans have a universal sense of right and wrong and an urge to do right?

“…Confronted with these revelations, I realized that my own assumption--that faith was the opposite of reason--was incorrect.  I should have known better: Scripture defines faith as ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’  Evidence!  Simultaneously, I realized that atheism was in fact the least rational of all choices…How could I have had the arrogance to make such an assertion?

“After searching for two years more, I ultimately found my own answer--in the loving person of Jesus Christ.  Here was a man unlike any other.  He was humble and kindhearted.  He reached out to those considered lowest in society.  He made astounding statements about loving your enemies.  And he promised something no ordinary man should be able to promise--to forgive sins.  On top of all that having assumed all my life that Jesus was just a myth, I was astounded to learn that the evidence for his historical existence was actually overwhelming.  Eventually, I concluded the evidence demanded a verdict.  In my 28th year, I could no longer deny my need for forgiveness and new life--and I gave in and became a follower of Jesus.  He is now the rock upon which I stand, the source for me of ultimate love, peace, joy, and hope.”

As I mentioned, in his book Collins goes into far greater detail about the scientific reasons for his faith.  But this is a good outline.  And it is proof that it can be rational and scientific to believe in Jesus.  Scientific inquiry doesn’t necessarily lead you away from faith.  In fact, Collins would argue that faith is more rational, more scientific. 

Of course, the question I want to ask is why do some scientists, looking at the exact same evidence, believe while others don’t.  For example, why does Collins believe, but prominent “New Atheist” Richard Dawkins does not?  Both study evolutionary biology.  Both are looking at the same science.  So how do they come up with such drastically different conclusions?  This will be the subject of next week’s blog.

Do you find Collins’ story compelling?  I’d love to hear your thoughts along with any other comments, questions, or feedback you may have.  You can go to the “Contact E. J.” page of the Raising Jesus website and leave them there.  I look forward to hearing from you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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