Do Both Science and Christianity Require Faith?

by Jeff Zweerink

In a New York Times editorial, Paul Davies made this provocative statement:

Clearly, then, both religion and science are founded on faith—namely, on belief in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws, maybe even a huge ensemble of unseen universes, too. For that reason, both monotheistic religion and orthodox science fail to provide a complete account of physical existence.

Davies basically argues that scientists must largely accept that the laws of physics work without having an adequate understanding of why they work. Nothing about the laws of physics specifies that they must appear the way they do or that they should exhibit the regularity, order, and understandability that they do. As you could imagine, the claim that science is founded on faith produced some rather strong reactions—which you can read in a conversation that took place at the Edge. The responses highlighted three important points.

First, many of the responses seemed determined to sever any connection between the practice of scientific and religious faith. For example, Jerry Coyne replies that scientists’ belief in the reliability of the laws of physics is “not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of experience. In contrast, the tenets of religion are truly based on faith, since there is no empirical data to support them.” He further states that “the lack of a current explanation for why the laws are as they are, however, does not make physics a faith. It only means that we don’t have the answer.”

Second, Coyne’s response (as well as others) shows that many scientists misunderstand the true definition of Christian faith. Lawrence Krauss echoes Coyne’s sentiments and declares that “the scientific method continually refines and changes our understanding of physical law, whereas religious ‘truths’ have remained largely unchanged.” Both of these scientists imply that science operates on logic and facts, whereas religion operates on feeling and belief.

However, as my colleague Ken Samples says…

Do Both Science and Christianity Require Faith?