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  • Writer's pictureRonald S. Newman, Ph.D.

Seeking balance in science and faith (part II)

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Faith and science complement one another. Some seem to think that science undermines faith through the mistaken notion that faith throws reason out the window. A more balanced view, however, is that faith informs us of a bigger picture that extends beyond reason to an even bigger God. From this perspective, science is simply investigating the world God created, using the God-given capacity to reason. Here are a few areas of research which demonstrate this interconnection of faith and science.

Prayer research. Many studies have demonstrated the beneficial power of a variety of types of prayer (see May 2021 Seeking Balance in Prayer article). When miracles are sought, it is a request to “supercede the rules” of science, which sometimes occurs (see The Case for Miracles by Lee Stroebel). When prayers of surrender are indicated, acceptance of things beyond one’s control can reap emotional and even physical benefits. The strength many receive through prayer to persevere in the midst of suffering is evidence itself to the value of faith (see The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom).

Mind-Body medicine. For nearly a half-century, I have been studying the mind-body connection and research relating to it. The body does indeed suffer from the consequences of one’s mind, or rather, ways of thinking and coping with life. Books such as “The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders” by Dr. John Sarno illustrate this clearly. Others, such as “Deadly Emotions” by Dr. Don Colbert and “Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health” by Dr. Caroline Leaf add the spiritual dimension to the holistic picture. The evidence of science shows that faith in a God who promises us peace has clear health benefits.

Medical Cost Offset. What would be the medical and psychological cost to society if the church had never existed? What institutions would not exist? Consider the hospitals, which began as missions of the church, as did educational institutions, orphanages, etc.? Research in the past has indicated that mental health care actually reduces the use of medical care. What if churches were not involved in care for the souls of people out of prison, homeless shelters, free food ministries, clothing, etc.? Addiction ministries help many souls escape the negative habits that result in the decline of health. If no faith communities existed to show compassion on the needs of others, “survival of the fittest” would crush the needy rather than help them.

Longevity research data. Dr. David Larson’s research decades ago through the U.S. National Institute for Health discovered that Christians live an average of seven years longer than non-Christians. Various hypotheses exist as to why this is so, including their tendency to do less unhealthy behavior, which would lead to premature death (substance abuse, alcohol, criminal activity, risk taking behavior, etc.). Others argue that positive emotional states, such as increased peace and joy, or social relationships, such as more positive supportive people in one’s life, are major factors. Either way, the value of faith is supported by science.

Near death experiences. In “The Case for Heaven”, Lee Stroebel writes about evidence from those who died and were resuscitated, many having out-of-body experiences, and report a spiritual reality beyond our own. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross studied this area of human experience as well. These out of body experiences overwhelmingly bring evidence of a conscious life even after the body has died. Fortunately, most testimonies are positive, while some are negative experiences of regret and torment. Scientists study reports of these human experiences which validate people’s faith in the Bible as the Word of God.

Collaborative Coping and health. Self-directed coping (without God’s help) and defer-coping (putting all responsibility on God) each seem less healthy than our working cooperatively with God, according to my doctoral research of 366 subjects back in the 1980’s. This probably is due in part to the “responsibility factor”, where we accept responsibility for what we can control (choices we make) and trust in God for what we cannot control. The wisdom of the Serenity Prayer comes to mind, reflecting the importance of faith. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Brain research. Neuroscientists have found evidence through brain scans of positive changes in the brain from prayer and meditation. Dr. Dan Amen, a leading brain science guru in his “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” book and PBS series, has research, conclusions and subsequent advice for a healthier brain, which are all consistent with a Biblical perspective and worldview. The research of Dr. Caroline Leaf offers further evidence and support of these things. The neurobiology of the healing process itself clearly offers scientific evidence in support of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the Bible as God’s instruction manual for mankind.

The observation of evil. An understanding of the Bible makes it clear that the problem of evil is complex, yet understandable. We realize that evil flourishes in the world. Consider the hundreds of millions killed over the centuries, most in the past century through godless or anti-Judeo-Christian regimes like Nazi Germany and various communist countries. In contrast, the existence of basic morality in the world is an argument for God, the prime originator of morality who created man in His image. In a world embracing evolution and survival of the fittest, people create their own morality and the growth of evil is inevitable, witnessed by the eugenics of Hitler and the removal of individual freedoms by communism. People of faith are perhaps the only restraining factor to evil in the world, enabling science to move forward in a direction which will help humanity. “But now abide faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13. An appropriate valentine from God’s heart to yours.

Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D. is a psychologist living in South Jersey who does teletherapy. He has been teaching church leaders throughout South America since 1993 and facilitates monthly Christian Counseling Consortium meetings. He can be reached at (609) 567-9022.


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