Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Christians Don't Believe in Science" and 3 Other Misconceptions

Presented this brief sharing to the Ripples youth group at CDPC Subang today on common misconceptions people have on Christians and Christianity in general. Download the full text here

Christians Dun Believe in Science and 3 Other Common Misconceptions

One day, as I was having a conversation with my secondary school friends, someone asked if I am a Christian. I said, “Yes”. Immediately, he responded by saying, “Oh, in that case, you don’t believe in science.” To my surprise, my friend already has a misconception that Christians don’t believe in science. When you introduce yourself as a Christian, some misconceptions may already have colored his perception of our faith.

Misconception #1: Christians Don’t Believe in Science

a) Famous Christian scientists who contributed to the scientific movement because of their belief in an intelligent Creator who made an orderly world that can be discovered: Copernicus was an astronomer who put forward the first mathematically based system of planets going around the sun, Francis Bacon established scientific method of inquiry through experiment and inductive reasoning, Kepler established the elliptical nature of planetary motion about the sun, Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity etc.

b) The problem is not with the Bible but with some people’s misinterpretation of the Bible. i.e. Even today we say, “The sun rises in the east” (as it appears to our eyes) even though we know it is scientifically inaccurate. Others mistook a non-biblical popular view (i.e. earth is center of solar system) for what the Bible teaches when it doesn’t teach so.

c) Sometimes some Christians may be careful of accepting a certain ‘scientific’ view not because of their faith but because of the lack of scientific evidence to support this view. But when we do real discoveries of the world, our body and the animals, we are finding out more about how God has designed the universe that reflect His wisdom and power. It motivates us to be better scientists.

Misconception#2: Christians are judgmental! Who are you to judge others?

Who are you to judge his or her lifestyle is wrong? Live and let live! Nowadays, you are forbidden to forbid. No one has the right to judge my own values and lifestyles. It’s my life. On the other extreme, there are people who are critical, resentful and narrow who loves to judge people to make themselves look more important. Jesus was speaking to both groups when He said, “Do not judge or you will be judged” (Matt 7).

Jesus is not saying we should not discern right from wrong or never point out wrong practice/beliefs in others for the sake of unity and tolerance. We are called to make good judgments about false prophets etc (Matt 7:6, 15, 21-23).

What He meant was we should not judge like the Pharisees who judged the wrong things (wrong to heal on Sabbath?) or make right judgments for the wrong reasons. They had a ‘holier than thou” superiority rather than humility. Instead of removing the plank in their own eye, they want to remove the speck of dust in others’ eyes. We need to deal with ourselves first, we will see clearly to help others. We do not claim perfection or superior than others. But we are commanded to know God’s word in order to find out what God wants us to believe and how He wants us to live. Discernment determines our destiny.

Misconception#3: Christians are so intolerant. They always force you to believe what they believe.

We need to be winsome, gentle and respectful when sharing the gospel with our friends. There are two dangers of just stopping to evangelize because we don’t want to offend our friends and to be over zealous in being too pushy when people are not yet ready. Very often, our role as witnesses is to ask them questions, drop hints and be like a guide on a journey to a wonderful new country.

But another cause of this misconception is due to our friends’ belief that all religions are valid paths to God. What they really mean is, “Yes, yes, yes… Jesus is the way to God, but there are other ways to get there too. So why insist everyone else to follow Jesus? All roads lead to Rome.” But if you come to think about it for just a minute, actually not all roads lead to Rome. You can’t drive to Rome using Jalan Puchong or Old Klang Road or Federal Highway. You just can’t pay the toll at LDP and get to Rome. Not all roads lead to Rome.

Jesus did not claim to be just one of many ways to God. He says: “I am the way; no one comes to God but by me.” That’s quite a big claim to make. A man who makes a claim to be the only way to God cannot be just another religious guru. He is either a mad man, a bad man or He is really who He claims to be. Jesus did not leave us the option of regarding him as just another wise human teacher. Great human teachers point to the truth, but they don't claim to be the truth. And yet, here we are confronted with the unique claim of Jesus to be the way, the truth and the life.

This is something that many people find hard to accept. In one of our family conversations about Christianity, my dear relatives told me, “How can you Christians believe that Jesus is the only way? That’s too narrow and exclusive. All religions are lead to God. We are like the ten blind men trying to describe an elephant. One guy touched its trunk and said “The elephant is like a snake”. Another touched its body and said, “No, it’s like a wall”. Yet another touched its leg and think it’s like a tree. As they argued amongst themselves, the King walked by and set them straight, “All of you only got part of the truth. The elephant is a huge animal and each of you touched only a part!”

At first, the story appears to be very humble and inclusive: The truth is greater than any one of us can understand. But the only way you can know that all religions have only part of the truth is if you have the whole truth. The only way you could know that none of the blind men have the whole truth is if you can see the elephant. The only way you can tell this story is if you are the King who sees everything. There is an appearance of humility but actually there is a hidden, almost arrogant assumption that the storyteller has a knowledge that is superior to all others. But how did he get this knowledge? How can he see when everyone else is blind? If I am blind and you are blind, then how can you possibly know what the elephant is really like? You see, the problem with this story is it is actually making a very exclusive statement that no one else got it all correct except himself.

And the funny thing is: the story also contains an important truth. Because the only Person who can see everything and know the complete truth is the King… It’s God Himself. No one else can do that. Like blind men, we humans are all limited and sinful creatures who can only see part of reality. There is nothing we can boast about because we are blind like everyone else groping in the dark. We won’t know what the truth is like unless… unless the King has spoken. Unless the King who knows everything reveals Himself to us and corrects our mistakes. And guess what? That is exactly what the gospel is all about. God has already revealed Himself in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “I once was blind but now I see…” because God has revealed Himself to us. The only way we can know the truth is because He has made Himself known in Christ. He is not just one of many ways or one of many gods. Jesus is the way so let us walk in Him with confidence.

Misconception#4: Christianity is just a crutch for weak people

People need to believe in God because of psychological weakness, unable to cope with life, the desperate need for a father figure or emotional need for comfort or to overcome fear of unknowns.

a) We all need a crutch. In a sense, all of us are crippled (needy sinners) so we need a crutch to help us. So it’s a matter of whether we see our real needs and get help; or we ignore our needs and unable to walk properly.

b) People are often attracted to imagine up a religion for emotional needs – find comfort ad consolation even in self-made beliefs. That’s true. The Bible condemns this practice as idolatry – making substitutes of God who alone can meet our needs.

c) But emotional and psychological needs may also cause us to reject God too. Belief in an all powerful, all holy and all knowing God can be scary and uncomfortable to sinners too. So rejecting belief in God can also be a crutch for psychologically ‘weak’ people to run away from their fear of a Judge so they can live however they like. If we want a comfortable religion, we will not invent an awesome, holy and ‘traumatic’ God like the biblical God.


Megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

I've generally found that people who believe that all Christians don't believe in science (I'm glad the term "belief" was used) have classified an entire religion as intellectually inferior, to make themselves feel "smarter".

Hedonese said...

Thanks for ur comment, Megan - that is certainly true from the way some people like Dawkins speak.