True Faith and True Science

“True faith is found in one’s heart, not mind. People who have faith in their mind will follow the Antichrist. But the ones who have faith in their heart will recognize him.” Archimandrite Gabriel (Urgebadze)

At the age of 9, I was called to Medicine. At the age of 10, my science teacher introduced us to Evolution. At 11, I began reading the Bible, which teaches Creation. What followed was a period of confusion and unrest. I could not reconcile the ‘science’ behind Evolution in my brain with what I felt to be true in my heart.

My conundrum between Evolution and Creation was finally resolved during my university life, when I learned about the Scientific Method outlined below in six simple steps:

  1. Ask a question about an Observation
  2. Conduct Background (foundational) Research to learn if the Question has been answered
  3. If not, propose a Hypothesis or Theory that might answer your question
  4. Design and conduct an Experiment (study) to test your Hypothesis
  5. Record your new Observations and Analyze your Data
  6. Draw your Conclusion and make further iterations

Evolution cannot get past step 3, for it is impossible to conduct an experiment to test something that requires millions of years to achieve. The best any honest scientist can do is to stop at step 3 and admit that Evolution is stuck in the theory phase and can never claim to be a scientific truth. It can even be argued that the Theory of Evolution does not even belong in the category of science, since it can never fully satisfy the Scientific Method. And yet, many scientists have not only accepted it as science, but even embraced it and wholeheartedly believe in it.

What I did not know as a child, was that not everything that is presented as science is actual science – “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”  According to this definition, science is not an ideology, but a process that uses observation and experimentation to provide an explanation for something in the physical and natural world.

Let’s examine this process. Science is very complex, and good, high-quality scientific research is difficult to achieve. No scientific process is perfect, and all science has its limitations. These include but are not limited to:

  • The observation may be inaccurate or subjective
  • The background research may provide a poor foundation for further iterations
  • The experimental design (method) may be flawed
  • Even if well designed, the execution of the experiment may be flawed
  • The sample size may not be large enough to provide statistical power
  • The data recorded may be inaccurate, incomplete, or selected with bias
  • The statistical analysis may not be appropriate to the study
  • If any of the above occur, the wrong conclusions will be reached

Let’s apply observation to the Theory of Evolution. By observing natural selection or survival of the fittest, evolutionists claim that this observable phenomenon has given rise to evolution – one species changing into another species. However, natural selection has never been observed to result in the development of a new species. It has only been observed to change the appearance or phenotype of the same species. A classic example is the change in the predominant colour of the peppered moth population in England, from white to black. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most peppered moths were white, while only a few were black. When the white moths rested on the white trunks of birch trees, they were camouflaged from predatory birds, who mostly fed on the black moths. When the birch tree trunks began turning black from the pollution produced by new industries, the white moths became visible and easier prey for the birds who consumed them. As a result, more white than black moths were eaten, and eventually, the black peppered moths surpassed in numbers the white ones. Soon, the predominant colour of the peppered moth population changed from white to black, but the species did not change at all; it was still a peppered moth. The origin of species, therefore, is based on assumption and not on scientific rigor.

Let us now examine some background or foundational research respecting the Theory of Evolution. By using carbon-14 radioactive decay as a foundational basis for dating fossils to the order of millions of years, evolutionists claim that this is scientific evidence that the earth is old enough to have provided sufficient time for evolution to take place. In contrast, other dating methods, such as the magnetic decay of the earth, the accumulation of silicon in oceans, and population formulas, all date the earth as being just a few thousand years old. All radiometric dating methods, such as carbon-14, assume (i) constant and reliable rates of radioactive decay over long periods of time (ii) in a stable environment, and (iii) that all decay began at time zero. In fact, carbon dating is unreliable at best, and at worst, downright inaccurate. C-14 dating of living mollusks has been shown to register at several thousands of years, showing how unreliable this method can be. In short, all dating methods are based on assumptions and not scientific rigor.

Dating aside, other sound background research has completely disproved the Theory of Evolution. Spontaneous generation – the claim that life comes from non-living matter was disproved by Louis Pasteur in the mid-19th century. Despite this, evolutionists still rely on the concept of a ‘primordial soup’ that somehow spontaneously gave rise to a living organism billions of years ago.

The unbreakable Laws of Physics, such as the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy, and the Law of Increasing Entropy flatly contradict the Theory of Evolution. Energy itself does not produce complex, functioning systems. That takes planning and a Planner! Great periods of time do not cause things to improve and get better or more complex. They cause them to break down and decay (Law of Entropy).  Mathematics shows evolution to be so unlikely as to be impossible. The first and second laws of Thermodynamics also prove the Theory of Evolution to be impossible, and yet, many scientists insist on believing in the Theory of Evolution in the name of science.

There are many other problems with the Theory of Evolution. For instance, genetic mutations have never been observed to result in a superior organism, only an inferior one resulting in extinction, rather than evolution into more complex, sophisticated organisms. If different species do manage to mate, their offspring (such as the mule) are invariably sterile and cannot reproduce. In the fossil record, there are no in-between species – not a single bone showing one animal evolving into another. There are only distinct species. All pictures that show humans evolving from ape-like creatures are showing either apes or men, not apes changing into men. Nebraska Man was built up from the tooth of an extinct pig; Piltdown Man was fabricated from the jaw of a monkey whose teeth had been filed to look human; Java Man turned out to be an ape; Peking Man was puzzled together from the mixed bones of monkeys and humans; and Zinjanthropus turned out to be an ape. Much of what postures as ‘scientific’ in evolutionary ‘science’ is fabricated or imaginary, but because it appears in science books or is talked about by scientists, it is believed to be ‘scientific.’

Recall that science is a well-defined, systematic process, not a belief system, which is scientism – “the excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.” A belief system is something that an individual accepts based on faith. Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that which is seen was not made of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-6) In other words, some of us accept based on trust or faith, that God, who is invisible, made everything that is visible. Others accept based on faith that, despite all the solid scientific evidence to the contrary, the Universe was derived through evolution! Since neither Creation nor Evolution can be proven by the Scientific Method, but since Evolution has been disproven by the Laws of Science itself, I wonder which of the two belief systems requires greater faith!

Unlike the teachings of Holy Scripture, science and technology do not have all the answers to life’s questions and never will. They have never been able to create life or stop death. Science cannot explain on a molecular level the differences between identical twins who have different personalities, beliefs, or social outcomes despite identical upbringings and identical DNA. By using the Theory of Evolution, science tries to explain how the physical and biological world came into existence, but it cannot explain why we exist, or why Humanity differs as much as it does from the rest of nature.

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The theory that humans evolved from apes does not explain why our species is the only one capable of reason and abstract thinking. The complex subjects of mathematics, physics, philosophy, medicine, and so on, are not typically studied or applied by animals. Only humans have shown such sophistication as to be able to ask questions, plan, develop, engineer, and create structures of immense diversity and complexity. As for the complexity and engineering marvels of beehives, spider webs and ant colonies, one should keep in mind that the behavior of these animals has never changed over time, because it is driven by innate instinct, and not by choice. Only humans are capable of creativity in what they choose to create, such as the diversity in architecture, literature, fine art, music and so on. What other creature understands the nature of time, reality, and truth, or is capable of reading, writing, speaking, and communicating in multiple languages? No other life form typically engages in research, philosophy, or spirituality, expressing both the ability and the need to engage in spiritual rituals, and pursue integrity and truth, or the opposite, immorality, falsehood, corruption, and greed. Why are we like this and for what purpose do we exist and possess these attributes? Science cannot answer these questions, but Genesis, does: only Humanity was created in the image and likeness of a loving God, and no other life form has this distinction.

In God’s own Image refers to the gifts God gave only to humans, such as abstract thinking, communication, artistic expression, creativity, spirituality and so on. This means that the first humans were given the knowledge, grace, and strength to perfect themselves by using their freedom – another gift – to willingly love God and to freely desire His plans for them by expressing their humility and obedience to Him. They were not created perfect in the absolute sense; they were created good with the potential to become perfect if they freely chose to enter a mutual relationship of love with God, expressed as obedience through trust. They were given God’s image with the potential to achieve His likeness in the training ground of Eden.[1]

Likeness, therefore, refers to the potential to become perfect and immortal. Had they entered a mutual relationship of love and trust with God, by using the gifts of God’s image to freely obey Him, Adam and Eve would have progressed to becoming Truly Human, which was the fulfillment of their perfection, also known as theosis or deification (meaning Godliness or Godlikeness, as opposed to becoming actual gods), a state of perfect harmony and fellowship with God in His Heavenly Kingdom. There, they would enjoy eternal life in a personal union with God, advancing from grace to grace and from glory to glory for eternity, even surpassing the glory of the Angels. This did not happen, but thanks to Christ’s Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, we can still achieve God’s likeness and deification by choosing humility and repentance. No other part of spiritual or material creation was given these gifts and this potential, something way beyond the scope of science, which is limited to the material world.

Still, science and technology are useful man-made tools that help us better navigate our physical lives through the modernization of farming, traveling, communicating and so on. We can also use science and technology to explore our Universe, and here, I would like to put things into perspective. The Universe – the physical, botanical, zoological, terrestrial, and extra-terrestrial infrastructure that has always existed since the beginning of linear time – is why we have science – mankind’s exciting, yet frequently blundering attempts to explore, understand, control, replicate, and manipulate elements of the Universe.

Unlike Evolution which can be disproved by science, there is no science that disproves Creation and there exists an enormous amount of sound science in cosmology, cellular biology, DNA research, astronomy, physics, human consciousness, and other disciplines, that strongly supports Creation by Intelligent Design. Investigative journalist, Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator, presents his captivating interviews of multiple top scientists to uncover compelling scientific evidence in support of Intelligent Design vs. random events. For example, the Law of Thermodynamics agrees with the Church Fathers regarding God’s uncreated Energy and uncreated Light. Neither can be created or destroyed. To take this one step further, with his Theory of Relativity, E=mc2, where E is Energy, m is matter and c is the speed of light, Einstein may have explained how God used his uncreated Energy and Light to create matter.

Because sound science recognizes its own limitations, and that the quality of experimental design and execution plays a pivotal role, evidence-based scientific research is graded according to Levels of Evidence. For example, a well done, prospective, double-blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) carries more weight and a higher level of evidence, than an equally well-done retrospective, observational study, which in turn carries more weight than consensus or expert opinion. Exceptions to these general principles can and do occur when quality comes into play.

OrthodoxChaliceFor instance, an excellent observational study over a very long time with a very large sample size, can provide higher level evidence than a shorter, poorly done RCT with a small sample size. A perfect example of the former is the Traditional practice of the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church – effectively a two thousand year long, longitudinal observational study, with an immeasurably large sample size of study participants spanning all ages, races, and health conditions, that took place during times of population health and illness (including pandemics), where people communed from a common physical element (a cup or a spoon) without transmitting communicable disease. Chinese medicine, another ancient practice, is based on similar principles of experience and time. Since Traditional Medicine accepts Chinese Medicine as a form of Alternative Medicine, what is the difference between that and the Orthodox experience with Holy Communion, the Divine Medicine of the Body and the Soul?

St. Luke the SurgeonAny good scientist knows that science is a cerebral activity that must follow the Scientific Method, unbiased by any personal belief system. Faith, on the other hand, is an activity of the heart. When science descends from the brain to the heart, it loses its dispassionate objectivity and becomes Scientism, an idol for worship. Similarly, when faith in God is in the brain, we are not faithful followers, for we are relying on our very limited cerebral understanding rather than our love for God to follow Him. In the early 1960’s, St. Luke of Crimea, a renowned scientist, attended a medical conference dressed as a bishop. A communist approached him saying, “Do you still believe in God? Don’t you know we sent someone into space, but he didn’t find evidence of God up there?” to which St. Luke replied, “And as a surgeon, I have observed many brain surgeries up close, but I have never found evidence of wisdom in there either.” The communist’s mistake was his tower of Babel mentality in assuming that the Creator would be found residing within His own creation. The boundaries of limited and error-prone science represent our very limited human understanding of life; whereas God’s unlimited wisdom, which always surpasses human understanding (including science) is found by Faith.

While knowledge and understanding are good and can help lead us to salvation, on their own, they will not save us. Salvation hinges on our relationship with Christ and with our fellow human beings who are icons of Christ. Christ wants us to love Him as He loved us. The expression of true love is much more than a feeling. It requires a willing sacrifice of our very selves – especially our pride – submitted to Him in the form of obedience through trust.

Conflict between faith and science can only occur when the two try to occupy the same throne. Rational science, which drives our material understanding of the created, natural Universe, belongs in the rational mind – part of our image of God – a divine gift that enables us to get to know our Creator by exploring His awesome creation. Our personal connection with the supernatural Creator, however, belongs in the heart – where we approach the likeness of God – the place where we develop a relationship of trust and love for the One and only Truth. The rational mind need not conflict with the heart. In fact, if we are honest and humble searchers or scientists, the rational mind naturally leads us to God, who then occupies the heart. When the intricate precision and the unlimited beauty of Creation, from the tiniest organism to the vast expanse of the Universe humbles and wows us enough, we seek the ONE behind it all. When we find Him, that Pearl of great price that surpasses even the great beauty that led us to Him, we fall in love in worship of Him, cherishing Him in our hearts. If we are not humbled by our scientific discoveries or the awesomeness of the Universe but become proud of our own ability to have discovered them, we end up worshipping the discovery itself – the science – which is no different than our ancestors’ worship of the sun, the moon, or the fruit tree that gave them food.

“True faith is found in one’s heart, not mind. People who have faith in their mind will follow the Antichrist. But the ones who have faith in their heart will recognize him.” St. Gabriel tells us plainly that there is no place for science on the throne of the heart, just like there is no place for faith on the throne of the mind. God gave us a mind to think and explore for the purpose of guiding our hearts to the One to Whom we truly belong. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33) If we are to be truly Human, fulfilling His divine plan for us to have His image and likeness – something science can never give us – only He can occupy the throne of our hearts, for He dwells in His saints. (Ephesians 2:19-22) Can any relationship with the Father be closer or more intimate? What an awesome divine plan for Humanity! True science is not at odds with God. It is just one of many exciting and intriguing paths gifted to us that leads us to the heart of the matter – the Lover like no other.

Irene Polidoulis MD CCFP FCFP

[1] The Deification As the Purpose of Man’s Life, 11–14.

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True Faith and True Science