This charge is often made in the secular media. In a recent Time (Oct.3, 2011) article—“How Science Can Lead the Way”—Harvard physicist Lisa Randall disparages American politicians who invoke religion. She singles out Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry for defending the teaching of creationism in public schools, while viewing evolution as a mere theory, as well as for praying for the end of a drought rather than critically evaluating climate science.
Randall accuses Perry of “replacing rational approaches with religion, in matters of public policy.” She pits “empirically based logic” against “the revelatory nature of faith”. According to Randall, the notion of supernatural influences on the world contradicts science.
In her recent book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door (2011), Randall argues that it is inconsistent for a scientist to be religious, since “scientific determinism” is not compatible with belief in a deity who can willfully intervene in the world. She believes that everything in the world—including human thoughts and actions—can ultimately be explained in terms of the laws of physics.
In response, we note that Christianity is not opposed to science as such. On the contrary, logic, empirical data, and scientific experimentation are all tools that Christians gladly apply. What Christianity does dispute, of course, is Randall’s materialist worldview, an ideology that goes far beyond any rational or scientific evidence.
Should science be interpreted and applied in terms of a Biblical worldview—where scientific theories are bounded by Biblical truths—or in terms of a materialist worldview—where miracles are banned? That is the real issue. Not Christianity versus science but, rather, Christianity versus materialism.
As to origins, the empirical data we actually observe is open to various interpretations. If God does not exist then the universe must have created itself. Grand-scale evolution must thus of necessity be the origin myth of materialism. On the other hand, if the all-powerful and all-knowing God of the Bible exists then why should we doubt what He has revealed to us in His Word? Moreover, one’s view on origins has little practical impact on the real-life science needed in applied fields such as medicine or technology.
Further, suppose that Randall were correct in her belief of a “scientific determinism” that reduces everything to a closed system of particles operating under the laws of physics. If true, that would rule out not only miracles but also any human free will or moral responsibility. All our actions would be then determined by physical laws rather than by rational or moral standards. Where, indeed, in Randall’s purely physical universe, is there even any place for abstract norms? And how is one to formulate worthy public policy in the absence of moral absolutes?
In sum, the worldview that is irrational, self-contradictory, and morally bankrupt is Randall’s materialism--not Perry’s Christianity. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).