Science and Blind Faith
by Jeff McInnis*
We Christians have been guilty of not thinking very hard. We have shied away from putting deep thought into many matters that are (or should be) central to our Christian faith. Questions as important as “why are we all here,” or “what does God want of us while we are on the earth,” are all questions whose answers all Christians should have in their back pocket. However, if asked, many who claim Christ have struggled to answer these basic questions of the faith. This is troubling.
What’s more troubling is that often Christians, not wanting to admit they don’t know the answers to these basic questions, have misapplied the word ‘faith’ to their ignorance. When asked a question by a non-believer, they appeal to the black-box of faith as the panacea. “Why does God allow suffering?” asks the world. Misapplied faith responds “have faith that God is doing what is best.” That is not an answer to the question that was asked, so it is no wonder that the world becomes exasperated. What we call faith, they call blind faith.
Faith’s role is not that of a bridge crossing giant chasms of willful ignorance. Faith’s role is belief in a promise that has been made but that has yet to come to fruition. To believe that I have been saved by Jesus’s death and resurrection and that I will be ushered into heaven upon my death takes faith because that promise has been made but I have not yet received it. To believe that Jesus made that promise, has made and kept other promises throughout history, has the clout to make that promise, and backed it up with a perfect life, an atoning death, and resurrection 3-days later does not take faith – it just takes some light reading. Reading about history has never taken faith – we have just believed because there was no reason to question.
God, you see, has revealed the answers to many of the questions that we find ourselves asking, including the 2 at the beginning of this piece. It doesn’t take faith to understand what God has plainly communicated. We need, instead, to spend the time reading, thinking, and understanding so that we can communicate the answers that God has already provided to those who ask the questions. It is no wonder the world accuses us of practicing blind faith. We tried to substitute faith for answers that are plainly revealed.
The good news is that Christianity seems to be seeing a reformation today. No longer content with blind faith, Christians seem to be diving deeper into the bible and applying critical thought to better understand and differentiate between the truths of Christianity and the promises of Christianity. They are then applying faith where it belongs – put into believing a promise instead of taking the place of knowledge. It is a breath of fresh air that Christianity sorely needed.
But the black-box of misapplied, blind faith is not finished with us humans. Blind faith won’t stand for being thrown aside like yesterday’s trash. It has learned how to dupe us into turning our brains off and hiding behind a word or idea too well to just give up now. When Christians’ minds are opened to the discoverable truths in the world, though, where is blind faith to go? What shall become of it? Well, rest easy. It has found a new home and, like a witness in the witness protection program, even has a new name. Meet the deceiver previously known as blind faith. Meet science.
Blind faith in Christianity was that ignorance that masqueraded as faith. It was faith without knowledge. Blind faith in science is the very same thing – almost. It is typified by ignorance about the actual matters of science in favor of fantastic ideas of science.
Those who ascribe fantastic abilities to science are practicing blind faith. Instead of diving into the textbooks and determining just where science’s abilities start and stop, they look at it with some sort of supernatural expectancy. The word science, in fact, becomes a magic word along the lines of “abra-cadabra” or “hocus-pocus,” because it is capable of making every difficult question about the world disappear. Just a simple utterance along the lines of ‘science has the answer’ can prematurely end sticky conversations about difficult life issues. It takes away the questions of life because we believe, errantly so, that the answer must reside in a lab somewhere and that is enough for us.
Now, in truth, nobody utters ‘Science has the answer’ and then dismisses the whole issue. What they actually do is a lot more complex than that. What they do is change the topic to a matter of science as soon as a matter of humanity is brought up. Pay attention and watch how often this pattern is repeated. When someone’s death is brought up, watch how fast the conversation turns to how science is attempting to find a cure for whatever it was that caused their death. “Did you hear John died of Pancreatic Cancer?” “Oh, how horrible. He was so young. I’m sorry to hear it. I watched on TV the other night how we are a lot closer to finding a cure for cancer.” This pattern is repeated in one form or another all the time. Science is seen as the savior.
Doesn’t this completely and utterly miss the real point? If John hadn’t died of cancer, would he have lived forever? No, of course not. If the right one doesn’t get ya’, the left one will. We act as if we can continue to postpone death to the point that, sooner or later, science will give us a cure to postpone it forever. It is just a matter, we believe, of more science, more knowledge, and more time. We hope the answer will come in our time, but just in case we are wrong, we invented cryogenics to freeze our bodies until such a time as science does have the answers. Doesn’t everything in our inner being testify that this idea is false?
Well, we are a hopeful people. Actually, maybe we are a hopefully deceived people. Science has never kept the kinds of promises that some of its more vocal proponents have tried to make, yet we believe it can. And we believe it can not because we know so much about it, but because we know so little about it. In fact, many willfully stay away from scientific knowledge, for to learn more about it may mean that we begin to pull the veil away – we begin to realize that the great and powerful Oz is just a guy behind a curtain. We willfully stay away from knowledge and fill our lives, instead, with diversion so as to hold on to the idea that science can do all.
Science without limits, then, becomes a great, limitless orb of life answers to the layperson instead of the system of observation that it actually is. Those unfamiliar with act
ual science begin to put their hope and even their faith into this orb called science. They don’t understand its real abilities or its limits, but see it as a safety net below them. They mistakenly believe it has the capacity to save them.
Blind faith in Christianity was the phenomena where people neglected to find the answers that were printed for them in the bible. Blind faith in science is the same, but different. In Christianity, we ignored answers that existed. In science, we imagine answers exist that don’t. Blind faith in Christianity was confusing to me. I never understood why people would willfully ignore the questions that were answered in the bible. Blind faith in science is even more so. Faith in a manmade construct is misplaced faith, indeed, even if that construct were understood fully. When the construct is only sensed in the most general way, faith in it seems ludicrous.
Faith is the belief that a promise that has been made is going to be fulfilled. Christ made a promise; science has made no promises. Faith in the promises made by Christ is real faith, because it is based on a real promise. Faith in science, a manmade construct promising us nothing, is the blindest faith imaginable.
*Jeff McInnis is a contributor to The Poached Egg and author of Everyman’s Apologetic (now only $0.99!)