It is important to make decisions and select belief systems based on as much factual information as you can get your brain around. The facts are your guide to understanding what is around you.
Apply critical thought, and do the research required to understand the subject at hand. For instance, take the age of the earth. Many Christian fundamentalists think the earth is only a few thousands of years old. They base this on conclusions drawn by theologians without any science involved at all. This is, however, a belief, a wish, and is not supported by observed fact. To disagree with mainstream science about such a topic (which says that the earth is about 4.54 billion years old) is not reasonable. (Remember, the church was also absolutely convinced (wrongly) that the sun rotated around the earth, to the point of executing people who studied the subject and came to have a different view.)
If a person is going to have an informed opinion on the subject of the age of the earth, he should take the time to study where the 4.54 billion year figure came from. Study the methods of measurement used. Look at the consensus view among geologists who study this subject for a living. Get into it deeply enough that you understand the basis for that view. If you find dissenting views, study them to see if they have any scientific basis (in this case, I haven’t seen any). Do all this before you commit to a decision. Then, if you really are convinced that all those scientists are, every one of them, wrong, you are prepared to argue your case. But it is far more likely that you will come to accept the general view of the age of the earth, if you pursue this honestly. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support this view.
Please note also that there is nothing in the Bible that contradicts the long age of the earth – it is possible without straining to reconcile everything in the Bible with observed scientific fact. Or at least, I have found it to be so.
Somebody, somewhere, is going to say, “What about miracles?”. Now, Biblical miracles are, individually, one of two things – either they are exercises of unfamiliar phenomena that do not contradict the physical laws of the universe, or they are the real McCoy – God himself reaching into our universe and changing things. And, guess what? True science does not have an opinion about miracles. Because they are, lets admit it, pretty difficult to study.
So, science is incapable of ruling out miracles. Good thing, because I choose to believe in miracles. Some scientists will refuse to believe in them, and that’s their call – but if they are honest as scientists, they will admit that they cannot prove or disprove the existence of miracles or God.
Science is like a flashlight in your hand, in a huge dark cavern. Whatever can be illuminated with the flashlight of science is well lit, and can be examined and learned about. Wherever the flashlight can’t reach, or isn’t pointed at, is unknown. Science is a good tool for learning about the universe, but it cannot ever rule out the existence of things outside it’s reach. Such as the existence of God.
By the same token, any belief in God has to tolerate the findings of science, unless it can be shown, using scientific methods, that the prevailing scientific view is wrong.
This is because the methods employed by science do work effectively. Any hypothesis or theory put forth by science is subject to change or removal by the addition of new facts which alter the original view. Therefore, dissenting views can be expressed – if you can back them up with observation and fact. And, in God’s universe, when all is said and done, science will illuminate God’s creation with the light of truth.
Until next time –