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Science vs. Christianity? by Dr. Peter Payne

Why the success of science does not prove naturalism

by Dr. Peter Payne
Institute for Credible Christianity

When people speak of “the worldview of science” almost always what they refer to is naturalism, the view that the physical world is all that exists and that ultimately everything can be explained in terms of natural laws
Those who argue that science strongly points towards naturalism typically do so because science has succeeded in providing explanations for nearly every facet of our world, from the smallest scale to largest. 

The conclusion of many, then, is that God is squeezed out of the picture, that there is nothing but the natural world. But does the success of science by itself provide strong support for naturalism? In this lecture it will be argued that it does not. Briefly it will be noted that the enigma of consciousness, of the conscious self, provides good reason to think that naturalism is not the last word. However, the majority of the lecture will develop the thesis that a key problem for naturalism is the conflating of what I call order-of-nature miracles and specific-point miracles. The former, if there are any, would be miracles that God needs to perform regularly or periodically to sustain the order of nature, the normal functioning of the natural world. The latter are miracles performed at specific points in time for specific purposes. The success of science provides significant support for the thesis that there are no order-of-nature miracles, but a “gapless” order of nature accords well with the biblical teaching about God. And the success of science does not address the question as to whether there are any specific-point miracles. That is a question that has to be addressed by historical investigation. The lecture will conclude by considering and responding to one objection to this thesis.

Isaiah's Divine Warrior

Better than sons and daughters

Isaiah 56 should be interpreted as the opening panel of a chiastic structure that starts with 56:1 and ends with chapter 66.

A. Righteous foreigners (56:1-8)

B. God's people unable to do right (56:9-59:15a)

C. The Divine Warrior (59:15b-21) 

D. God's righteousness dawns in his people (60:1-22) 

E. Anointed to preach the Good News (61:1-3)

D. God's righteousness dawns in his people (61:4-62:12)

C. The Divine Warrior (63:1-6) 

B. God's people unable to do right (63:7-66:17)

A. Righteous foreigners (66:18-24)

Dan Barker's Easter Challenge

Harmony of the 4 Gospels on the Resurrection Account

Dan Barker, many years ago issues a challenge to Christians to take the 4 gospels and build a reasonable narrative of them. Presumably, he feels it is difficult, when in fact, the 4 gospels harmonize nicely without adding any commentary at all. 

The conditions of the challenge are simple and reasonable. In each of the four Gospels, begin at Easter morning and read to the end of the book: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also read Acts 1:3-12 and Paul's tiny version of the story in I Corinthians 15:3-8. These 165 verses can be read in a few moments. Then, without omitting a single detail from these separate accounts, write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension: what happened first, second, and so on; who said what, when; and where these things happened. ...His premise is that the gospels contradict and cannot be reconciled. 

Paul the Philosopher

Acts 17 and becoming all things to all people

Paul the Apostle said that...


"I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some."  (1 Corinthians 9:22b)


Acts 17 is an example where Paul becomes a philosopher to reason with philosophers. Of particular interest is Paul's willingness to provide reference to God with the idol of the unknown God.

The Minimal Facts on the Resurrection

What is confirmed by even the most skeptical using modern historical methodology?


Dr. Gary Habermas has coined a method to show the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus called the Minimal Facts approach to the resurrection.  These facts are used by Habermas for three main reasons:


  1. The vast majority of scholars accepts these facts as historical
  2. They are well-established by the historical method.
  3. The only explanation that can account for the existence of all these facts is the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

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