A “Fairy Tale” Existence: Can Evangelicals Be “Thinking” People?

As a pastor and a trustee on the board of two institutions of higher learning, I often encounter the paradigm that conservative, evangelical Christians cannot be “thinking” people.  Rather, a belief in the Bible as absolute and propositional truth can only mean that one is an unintelligent, closed-minded, bigoted, irrational Bible-thumping, hillbilly bumpkin redneck (incidentally I have been called all of those names).  My point in this post is to simply attempt to demonstrate that conservative, Bible-believing Christians can and are capable of high levels of critical thinking and that belief in God does not in any way mean that someone has checked their brains at the door.

Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist, made the news yesterday by stating that, “There is no heaven or afterlife; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”  His comments illustrate what I have mentioned above- people who believe in God are like children reading stories at bedtime.  These claims are made by Hawking, Dawkins, Tyson, et. al. who, incidentally, often sound much more like evangelists than scientists.  Their campaign against the existence of God is based on their epistemology of empiricism and thus they roundly reject any notion of the existence of or faith in God.

But think with me on this.  These now well-known champions of empirical reasoning who base everything on the evidence always throw that perspective out the window whenever religion comes up.  We are told that the scientific evidence “proves” the theory of naturalistic evolution as the answer to our origins.  However, any armchair apologist (either Christian or atheist) who is honestly and objectively looking at the evidence could not possibly claim that naturalistic evolution can be empirically “proven.”  So, because belief in God is irrational, much of the scientific community approaches this topic with extreme pre-commitments.  In other words, “Believing in the supernatural is such an uneducated approach, I will make the evidence say what I want it to say.”  Phillip Johnson, in his book Darwin on Trial, adeptly refers to this as the “fact” of evolution.  The scientific community makes the assumption that God could not exist and so all evidence is viewed through this skewed filter and considered “fact” when in actuality it is not.

My point is that the scientific community stops using their powers of empirical weighing of the evidence when it comes to religion.  The reality is that there are very good scientific and philosophical reasons, arguments, and evidence for the existence of God and creation.  And yet these prophets of doubt and reason will not even consider weighing evidence that any theory other than Naturalism could possibly explain our origins and responsible worldview.  This lack of consistency by the scientific community is alarming and also leads them to stand on quite shaky ground in their own claims (although to question the “fact” of evolution will at worst get a science teacher fired or at best be branded unintelligent).

For example, in the movie Expelled, Ben Stein shows a clip of an interview of Richard Dawkins where he makes the same claim as Hawking that those who believe in God are believing in “fairy tales.”  Stein then shows interviews of renowned scientists trying to answer the question of how life on earth began.  It was long believed that life began when the first life forms were formed in the primordial ooze.  The famous Miller-Urey experiment supposedly replicated what happened billions of years ago in the primordial ooze thus “proving” that naturalistic evolution started it all.  However, science has now admitted that the Miller-Urey experiment was not an accurate depiction of conditions on early earth and in fact the entire notion of the existence of a primordial ooze has been dismissed.  So, how did life begin?  Their answer today sounds something akin to Riley Poole in National Treasure– “The aliens did it.”  Francis Crick, discoverer of DNA, has postulated that some form of primordial life was shipped to the earth billions of years ago in spaceships- by supposedly more evolved (therefore advanced) alien beings.  One wants to ask, “Who are the ones believing in fairy tales?”

I deeply respect the amazing intellect of Stephen Hawking, but wish he would use those same powers to give consideration to the evidence of the existence of Jesus and His resurrection.  Just reading that last sentence will cause some to say, “Come on! Are you kidding!”  But again that demonstrates my point of the “fact” of evolution and that biased pre-commitments to its veracity hinder science from objectively exercising their worldview.  Our culture sees Hawking as the intellectual giant, and rightly so, but Christians as pitiable children unable to think properly.  Is that correct?  Consider this poignant response to Hawking by N.T. Wright:

“As for the creation being self-caused: I wonder if he [Hawking] realizes that he is simply repeating a version of ancient Epicureanism? i.e. the gods are out of the picture, a long way away, so the world/human life/etc has to get on under its own steam. This is hardly a ‘conclusion’ from his study of the evidence; it’s simply a well known worldview shared by most post-Enlightenment westerners… The depressing thing is that Hawking doesn’t seem to realize this and so hasn’t even stopped to think that there might be quite sophisticated critiques of Epicureanism, ancient and modern, which he should work through.  Not least the Christian one, which again focuses on Jesus.”

In conclusion, science should give the evidence for the existence of God a “fair shake.”  Yet it refuses to do so because of its pre-commitments, which is anything but an objective measuring of the empirical evidence.  It is not irrational to believe in God.  From the evidentiary cosmological arguments of the Anthropic Principle to the solid philosophical reasonings of First Cause, there is ample reason to believe in God.  Yes, we believe in God and His Word on the basis of faith, but such things illustrate that faith is not unintelligent.

Dr. Hawking stated that Christians are afraid of the darkness.  Given what you have just read, is it possibly more accurate to say he is afraid of the light?


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4 Responses to “A “Fairy Tale” Existence: Can Evangelicals Be “Thinking” People?”

  1. Awesome post!! Noticed you quoted N T. I have enjoyed reading
    his extensive work ” The Resurrection of The Son Of God”. This may
    not be the exact title.

  2. Thanks, Todd! Great post.

  3. Name (required) Reply May 18, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    Great post! I find the “science” involved in the theory of evolution to be ironic in the sense that the “scientific community” does not adhere to it’s own scientific method of proving a proposed hypothesis. In science, when an idea or theory is proposed it must be evaluated using the scientific method. For the theory to be proven true, the experiment must be able to be repeatable and the results reproducable. I am one of those “redneck christians” but I also have a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Chemistry. With that being said, I have yet to see the theory of evolution produce a repeatable experiment with reproducable evidence. The fact remains that the scientific community that beleives in the theory of evolution uses a very common fallacy which is the hasty generalization fallacy. This fallacy simply makes an argument based on insufficient or nonexistent evidence. Also, I believe the scientific community has fallen into an Abilene paradox. I believe they are afraid of being blackballed by the political side of the scientific community that doles out the grant money and positions so they just simply go along with the bad science.