Youth Science/Faith Apologetics
Recently I was challenged to create posts affirming the usefulness of science to promote faith–belief in the existence of God and the past and present action of the Creator to sustain our present existence. In particular, the request was framed with young people in mind. Presenting evidence for the existence of God and his ongoing works in our present creation is a vital foundation for acceptance and establishment of a Christian worldview. Science as an apologetic tool does not provide proof for God’s existence, but we consider the discoveries of science to be faith strengthening evidence for the existence and attributes of God, the Creator.
Faith, as used in the above paragraph, is meant to convey a life-encompassing belief system. Used in this manner faith connotes “complete confidence or trust.” A secondary definition includes a belief system not supported by any specific evidence. In discussing two variant definitions of faith, we illustrate a characteristic of language: some words possess different shades of meanings. Linguists are faced with a challenge of presenting meanings of words and interpretations of language as clearly as possible.
We could have (1) faith, a belief system of complete confidence or trust based on supporting evidence of one sort or another, or (2) faith, a belief system supported by little or no supporting evidence. The latter faith could be strengthened by personal presuppositions. We could believe because our parents or someone else believed a certain way and we adopted their beliefs as our own. Or we could believe because of what are termed “properly basic beliefs” which require no evidence. By this standard, belief in the existence of God and the author of the created features of our Earth is essentially intuitive.
Truth—correspondence with reality—is a constituent of both definitions of faith as outlined above. Does an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God exist? Did he create all things and does he sustain all things from moment to moment? Within the limits of their children’s maturity level and their ability to understand, wise parents wish to instill in their children an answer in the affirmative. Our position has been that the knowledge of science is an important apologetic for the existence of a caring God of order and purpose. To offer substantiation for the existence of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son we humbly beseech God’s wisdom in offering an age-appropriate apologetic for strengthening the faith of our own children and grandchildren at various ages. This includes the age when children first learn language and continues through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college age.
Parents, pastors, teachers, and counselors who wish to strengthen personal faith in the existence of God search for strategies to accomplish their goals. Comprehension of our orderly and purposeful physical system as created by God and sustained by him from moment to moment is supported by the discoveries of science. Understanding of our environment is a goal of science, not only as an end in itself, but also in support of our belief in the existence and ongoing role of the Creator.
The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy is full of intense instruction to the Hebrews for firming up their faith structure. The book contains three separate Mosaic sermons to establish the belief system of the Hebrew nation before they entered the promised land. On two occasions Moses instructed parents regarding how they should train their children to believe in, honor, and obey the Lord their God. We quote Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV): “Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In Deuteronomy 11 identical sermon points were made concerning children. What a powerful set of instructions for the spiritual training of children!
We take poetic license in interpreting how Hebrew parents may have implemented these remarkable commands of Moses in the days of their wilderness wanderings. We trust that our sanctified imagination may have basis both in historical fact and contemporary validity for faithful parents raising their children in the 21st century. Parents and supporting leaders bear a heavy responsibility to focus their children’s awareness on lessons to be acquired from observing their environment. What were they talking about with their children when they sat at home, walked along the road, when they went to bed, and when they got up? There were many lessons from the natural world; animals and insects manifested beauty and design. In Deuteronomy 4:19 Moses referred to looking up at the sky and seeing the sun, the moon, and the stars, together with all the heavenly array. In the context of Moses’ sermons, the animals and heavenly array call attention to the God of creation. In those days technological distractions of our modern life were non-existent. There was ample time for parents and religious instructors of that day to observe such wonders while walking along the road and contemplate what they discovered before they went to bed.
In future posts we plan to elaborate on opportunities for devoted parents to affirm the reality of God and the beauty of His creation using the support of scientific knowledge. In Moses’ time there was no formal “science” as we have in our day. Observation and study of natural wonders, however, inspired worship and devotion and affirmed God’s attributes—a sort of natural theology. The 21st century provides potential to make use of myriad discoveries of modern science in a faith-strengthening manner.