Last week, I briefly looked at how science and faith might be compatible in the details, and left off saying that I am largely satisfied with what I have, though I don’t have all of the answers. What makes it possible for me to say this? I’ll begin with the statement posed at the men’s discussion that most challenged me, which comes from the leading edge of the science and faith conversation. This Amazon.com description of The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates (which I am still in the process of reading) summarizes it well:
…Primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution.
This is a new and challenging step in this conversation because morality has typically been one of the pillars of Christian argument pointing to the existence of God. If that pillar is put into question by claiming that it is not actually “real,” then the argument for the existence of God seems to become dramatically weaker. This question forces the believer to take a step back and make arguments on even more basic, fundamental grounds than morality.
And so I turn to whether or not there is a spiritual realm. If in fact there is a spiritual world, this is a realm that modern physical sciences cannot and should not speak to. (I’ll stop right here for a moment to respond to those who might immediately think that this is a cop out. This is not a cop out, this is a legitimate question. This is not an attempt to take the debate to a place where debate is impossible. This is actually the opposite. We have taken a question of spiritual concern – the existence of God – and tried to debate it in a purely physical realm – science. That can only go so far. At some point, one has to make a faith decision about whether or not there is more to human life than what can be plainly observed through science – namely, whether or not there is a spiritual realm. If the answer to this question is yes, then the entire conversation around science and faith changes for that individual.)
Now at this point, a skeptic might return to the same line of thinking as with morality and trace the evolution of human spirituality over the past 10,000+ years. Since the expression of human spirituality and religion has most certainly changed over the course of history, a skeptic would take that as proof that the human soul and the spiritual realm are merely inventions of early humans to explain what at the time was inexplicable, and that now we are ready to shed these fables for the cold hard truth of science. While in many ways this interpretation of the history of spirituality could be true, it is false logic that leads to the conclusion that there is no spiritual realm. The existence or non-existence of something is not influenced by human belief about the existence or non-existence of that something. In this case, if a spiritual realm exists, then it exists whether humans believe it does or not, or any other belief about it in between. The inverse is true as well.
So if this logic can’t be used to make a case about the existence of the human soul and a spiritual realm, and ultimately about our primary underlying question of the existence of God, then where should one turn for answers? This is where I turn to the authenticity of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Jesus’ resurrection is where the physical and spiritual realms meet in a uniquely tangible, testable way. From my own research, I am convinced that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is an authentic historical event. (I will not go into detail on this here, but I encourage you to look into it for yourself!) Jesus claimed that there is a God, that he is the Son of God, and that there is an afterlife. He is the only one to make such claims, die, and come back to confirm his claims. This fact singularly legitimizes the rest of the Bible and leads me to have faith in it as the word of God. It also legitimizes my personal experience of God.
In response to Frans de Waal’s camp specifically, Jesus’ resurrection confirms that there is a “real” morality dictated by the character of the living God. Whether human morality evolved or not has less to say about the existence of God than it does about God’s creative process. The same is true for whether humans themselves evolved or not. So while I find these questions quite fascinating, I can have faith without all of the scientific answers, trusting that God holds them all.