On Faith, Soul, and Science

Faith is a complex, yet bold and loving trust about God, God’s grace, and God’s creation that changes our heart, thoughts, and actions. Faith is not proof and does not require proof. It is through this gift from God (Ephesians 2:8), the unconditional trust of faith, that Christians place themselves into the hands of God for care, comfort, reassurance, strength, and protection. Faith is also the trust Christians place in God for the positive future when God reveals himself to us in eternal life. (1 Peter 1:3-5, John 11:26-27)

Lutheran Professor of Theology Dr. Ted Peters describes faith in this manner:

Faith responds to God’s Word. Faith recognizes that God is gracious. Faith believes. Faith trusts. Faith invites the risen Jesus Christ into one’s soul. Faith acts in love. Faith seeks understanding.

In a USA Today column titled “Science and Religion aren’t Friends”, evolutionary biology Dr. Jerry Coyne states, “Recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head. We now know that the universe did not require a creator.”

Dr. Coyne is right to say there is no scientific evidence for a soul for as the soul is one’s inner essence fueled by their faith – thus nothing to do with chemistry, physics, biology, or any other areas of science as the subject is outside the boundaries of science.

Modern technological tools are unable to detect the soul or discover the source of our faith. Faith is from the grace of God, and it is faith that allows us to affirm eternal life while realizing an eventually earthly death.

Yet, science gives us an understanding of the grandeur of His creation. Telescopes and other scientific tools show me hope, heart, awesomeness, and more – all because of my faith – which is something that science can’t address.

Enjoy the spectacular video on YouTube.

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24 thoughts on “On Faith, Soul, and Science

  1. I still don’t have it straight in my mind as to just exactly what is what. For I think of our soul as being our spiritual body, which remains after our physical one dies, but that may not be right.

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    • FishHawk,
      It’s not an easy thing for some to sort. To me, the key lies in understanding the difference between theological and scientific questions. Fortunately, I starting to be able to better sort/identify them. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. I don’t have time this morning to read the USA Today article- I will later. But re: the Coyne quote, neurobiologists will tell you they can’t explain what the connection between the brain and its activity and the mind is. One needs a brain to have a mind but the mind seems to be more than simply the result of brain activity. So to say there is “no evidence” linking the brain with personality, etc is true and yet misleading. Just because we cannot at this time, explain something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. To quote Steven Jay Gould, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

    As to whether we have “souls” as a distinct entity from our bodies, that’s an interesting and different question- a theological question not a scientific question.

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    • A shameless plug follows, Please delete it if you feels it’s inappropriate.

      For those of you interested in the body/soul question, who live near Grand Rapids MI, the Grand Dialogue in Science and Religion will be this Saturday – you may still come! Nancey Murphy, (Fuller Seminary) will be speaking on just that topic.
      http://www.gvsu.edu/granddialogue/

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    • Nancy,
      I always appreciate your insightful thoughts as you continue to deliver excellent examples. Your Gould quote is powerful – so is your point about souls being a theological question, not a scientific one – thus may point. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Dr. Coyne is right to say there is no scientific evidence for a soul for as the soul is one’s inner essence fueled by their faith – thus nothing to do with chemistry, physics, biology, or any other areas of science as the subject is outside the boundaries of science.

    I think this is important to remember. They are separate. It’s a scientist’s nature to look for evidence, but this is something that transcends the tangible.

    Your post reminds me of Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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    • Spinny,
      I really believe that too many don’t know the distinction. (Of course the degree of their distinction is a story in itself, thus probably a future post). I appreciate commenter John’s last sentence, The relationship of science to religion should always be AND, not OR. Thanks for commenting and sharing.

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        • Spinny,
          There is no doubt in my mind that most Christians do NOT know about the interface between science and theology – thus they have the science or theology mindset. Even so, those that do not have a problem with the interface, generally lack the rationale between their views – hence their difficulty in explaining their “stance”. Thus, one of the reasons I’m posting about science and theology. (FYI: Look in the sidebar, Categories > Religion and Science as you may find something of interest). Then again, I did say may. 😉

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        • Spinny,
          Agree … the Giffords news conference by the doctor was great for this post. Just so happened that I had finished the Keller book not long before. Perfect match. Thanks for commenting & glad you liked it.

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  4. As I’ve posted to you before, one of the most devout groups I’ve met are the particle physicists out at Fermilab. As to the measure of a soul or spirit, I would counter with the argument that we do not fully understand how the biological processes of the brain works. We are only just beginning to comprehend how things are remembered, or how actions spring from the mass that is the brain. Fifty years ago, X-rays were revolutionary. 100 years ago, we had no idea how the nervous system worked. 150 years ago, medical treatment was leaches and bone saws.
    Who and what we are, both physically and metaphysically, is an ongoing process. Science does not have to drag us away from God, it can bring us closer in the future than we can dream of today. The tale of creation is not a blueprint nor a schedule – and with the other metaphors carried in the Bible, I see no problem with accepting Darwinistic evolution as the examples of a greater Creator’s work. The relationship of science to religion should always be AND, not OR.

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      • And for you popular entertainment followers, there is a great quote from the movie “Contact”. Matthew McConaughey’s and Jodie Foster’s characters are arguing about science versus faith, and the fact that not all things we know to be true can be proved by data, which she rejects. Matthew’s character asks Jodie’s if she loved her father, to which Jodie’s character says “Yes, of course.” “Prove it” is his reply.
        I’ve seen people with severe diseases live for decades beyond expectation, and people in the exact same situation die in days, rather than months. The only significant differences have been emotional, with romantic or familial love being the primary. Can we measure it? Is there a “love-meters” rating like Newton-meters of force? If we can all agree that love exists, even without measurement or quantification, why not faith?

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    • Mo,
      The interchange of science and theology is interesting … and obviously one that all won’t agree. Then again, if the post stimulated your thoughts, that’s good. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. “Recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head. We now know that the universe did not require a creator.”

    This remark is pretty dickish.

    Religion trying to dictate to science what is real is as idiotic as scientists trying to dictate what is spiritual.

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    • Melissa,
      Well said. Dr. Coyne is known for not being shy with his words. He is an atheist who at one time was religious – both of which are fine. However, his perspective seems to be that the natural world explains everything – including no basis for religion – and – that’s where he crosses the line.

      By the way, stop by tomorrow as I will list a book that I’m currently reading as it puts a lot into perspective. Since I know you also read about this subject, it could be one that you will appreciate. I know – shame on me for not giving the book title now. 😉 Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Pingback: Flashbacks: On the Science-Religion Interchange | A Frank Angle

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