As mentioned earlier, many people find it impossible to accept the Bible as true because they cannot reconcile the miracles recorded in the Bible with the conclusions of modern science. This reflects a naturalistic worldview, which assumes that things are not real, knowable, or trustworthy unless they can be tested and measured scientifically or experienced firsthand. This view is also called scientism.
This line of reasoning has led many naturalistic thinkers to arrive at the belief that science has disproven the Bible. They assume that because some of the Bible’s claims are scientifically immeasurable the Bible cannot be true.
Several years ago I pastored a small church in central Ohio. During that time my wife and I met Chris and Kathy who both taught in the biology department at a local college. Our two sons and their two sons attended the same elementary school, and as our boys became fast friends, so did we. Chris and I would often meet for coffee to discuss, challenge, and learn from one another in the areas of science and religion. But it was Kathy who posed a question that may prove helpful in this discussion about the compatibility of science and miracles.
The birthday party for our youngest son, Caleb, was in full swing. Close to a dozen kindergartners were there to help him celebrate. In the middle of this barely controlled chaos, Kathy, whose son was among the sugar-fueled horde, turned to Amy and me and said, “I have a question but I don’t want to offend you.” After we assured her that we were hard to offend, she said, “You’re both intelligent people, and Amy, you’re a nurse. How is it that you believe in the virgin birth?”
For Kathy this was a real and well-intended question. How could two educated people—one with a college degree in science—believe that a virgin could have a baby? She was not trying to trap us or drag us into a debate; she was genuinely trying to understand how we could believe something so obviously impossible.
At that moment, Amy and I did two things that seemed to surprise Kathy. First, we affirmed her skepticism. We told her that we too believe that it is scientifically impossible for a virgin to have a baby. And second, we tried to address the real issue that lurked behind her question: How can you trust the Bible (or a religious system) when science (in this case, reproductive science) contradicts it?
Our answer to this question is not found in the Bible itself but in the God the Bible reveals. We believe in the virgin birth not just because the Bible said it happened, but because we believe that the God of the Bible is able to make it happen—He is not bound by natural law. This may seem intellectually lazy, but it is the crux of the issue. We believe something impossible happened—in this case, the virgin birth—because we believe that God, Himself the creator of the laws of nature, has the prerogative and power to work outside of them.
Interestingly, those who hold a naturalistic view of the world hold some unscientific truth claims of their own. For example, when it comes to the origin of the universe, they believe that something—everything actually—came from nothing. They say that time and chance caused life to emerge from nothingness. Some atheists feel so strongly about the truth of “something from nothing” that they repeatedly insist that the universe is a completely random place. They claim that there cannot be a design because of their deeply held belief that there is no designer. If there is design, there must be a designer. No matter how fine-tuned the universe appears, it is still a random place because there is no designer.11
Why does this matter? Because at some level we all believe and claim to know things that cannot be proven scientifically. Everyone has faith in something. Those who believe the Bible do not disbelieve the laws of nature; they simply believe that miracles—exceptions to those laws—are possible.
The truth is that everyone—those who trust the Bible and those who don’t—believes many things that cannot be tested or proven. Science is simply not capable of answering every question. It cannot explain morality or provide a basis for making moral judgments. It cannot tell us what is beautiful nor can it tell us why justice is to be preferred over injustice. Science does not prove mathematical truths—it assumes them to function. And most intriguingly, science cannot validate the scientific method. Even the statement “science has disproven the Bible” is a claim that cannot be proven scientifically. To believe that it has is to believe something that is not scientifically verifiable.
Has modern science made it impossible to believe the Bible? No. Science simply tells us that there are no natural explanations for the miraculous claims of the Bible. But when we think about it, there are no natural or scientific explanations for love either, yet no one would say that science has disproven love. It’s just not something science can do.
11 Alvin Plantinga, “The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism ‘Ad Absurdum’: A Review of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion,” in God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Belief in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, ed. William Lane Craig and Chad Meister (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009), 247-58.