Faith, Science and Metaphors

faith-and-scienceThis post is originally published at You can view it here. Re-posted here with permission.


People tend to think of metaphors as simple poetic word plays to adorn or illustrate otherwise dull text. Positively, one might think of metaphors as useful for illuminating existing truths. Few, however, see them as indispensable to how we think and, hence, of how we arrive at truth.

Cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson once remarked, “There are few things as toxic as a bad metaphor. You can’t think without metaphors.”1

Cognitive linguist George Lakoff agrees: “A large proportion of our most commonplace thoughts make use of an extensive, but unconscious, system of metaphorical concepts, that is, concepts from a typically concrete realm of thought that are used to comprehend another, completely different domain. Such concepts are often reflected in everyday language, but their most dramatic effect comes in ordinary reasoning.2 ”In other words, a whole network of conceptual metaphors operates in our everyday language, often unnoticed, to support all our abstract and theoretical thinking. So, if we think in metaphors, then the kind of metaphors we use can shape our conclusions, or at the very least, the direction of our reasoning.

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Religion and Science, Faith and Reason

Science and Religion are portrayed to be in ha...
Science and Religion are portrayed to be in harmony in the Tiffany window Education (1890). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(This blog post is adapted from my sermon at ClearView Christian Reformed Church, Oakville, Ontario on Oct. 28, 2012.)

In our society’s popular mindset, religion and science are at war with each other. Often, people see faith as connected to emotions and values, while science is connected to evidence and truth. And, furthermore, people link religion with theism and science with atheism.

So, what we have in popular mindset is a war between theism, religion, faith and emotions on one hand, and atheism, science, reason and evidence on the other hand, as the table below shows. And science is seen as leading us to truth while religion is only leading us to values, at best or delusions, at worst.

Theism Atheism
Religion Science
Faith Reason
Emotions Evidence
= Values = Truth

I think this popular mindset is inaccurate. I want to go down these two columns in the table and talk a bit about: 1) Theism and Atheism, 2) Religion and Science, 3) Faith and Reason. In summary, I want to suggest that only theism and atheism are incompatible but religion and science are complementary to each other, and faith and reason are both necessary for us to find truth.

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Growing Your Faith on a Secular Campus

Death by a Thousand Cuts?

(This post was originally published in The Banner, September 2011. You can also find it online at their site.)

It’s true. Some young Christians do lose their faith while in college or university. We’ve heard the stories and statistics. But higher education is not inherently hostile to Christianity. With proper support, even secular campuses can be powerful fields for growing faith. I know firsthand. I suffered my own faith crisis as an undergraduate student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Today I’m a campus minister.

Death by a Thousand Cuts?

Yes, some professors are hostile to the Christian faith, but they are a minority. Most professors, even those who are atheists, are not overtly anti-Christian. Most operate with tolerance, even respectful tolerance, of religion. It’s just that they run their classrooms under the assumption that religion doesn’t matter. Continue reading “Growing Your Faith on a Secular Campus”

Scripture and Life: Monologue, Silence or Dialogue?

I ended my last post by making the point that Scripture is not authoritative on everything but only on matters of salvation and church beliefs and practices. This might give the impression that I am suggesting that Scripture is irrelevant to everyday life and to learning. That is not the case. Just because the Bible is not an authority or a textbook on science, history or other matters, does not mean that it cannot speak or inform those areas at all. An old article by Sidney Greidanus, “The Use of the Bible in Christian Scholarship” (Christian Scholar’s Review 1982, Vol. XI. No. 2) provides some helpful guidelines. In adapting Greidanus’ points, I will use three metaphors to help us see the three visions for how Scripture relates to life.

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BEYOND Evolution vs. Creation

On November 18, 2011, the York University student club in which I’m Chaplain and Director – Leadership, Culture and Christianity (LCC) – sponsored a special public lecture by Dr. Denis Lamoureux titled: Beyond Evolution vs. Creation. Lamoureux has earned PhDs in BOTH Evolutionary Biology and Christian Theology. He currently teaches at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta, Edmonton and has the distinction of holding Canada’s first tenured track position in Science and Religion. Lamoureux is a self-proclaimed Evangelical Christian and an Evolutionist. He calls his position, Evolutionary Creation. You can also read York’s student newspaper The Excalibur‘s coverage of the lecture. In this blog post, I want to give some of the major points in Lamoureux’s lecture and also a link to his complete lecture with audio and slides.

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Political Visions and Illusions

Cover of "Political Visions & Illusions: ...
Cover via Amazon

I believe it is part of my job as a Christian campus chaplain/minister to encourage and empower students in their spiritual and academic journeys. Hence, I am very pleased to have a guest post by Adrian Paris, a fourth-year Political Science major at York University, Toronto. Adrian hails from a Roman Catholic background and from India. I have asked him to read and briefly review David T. Koyzis‘ book, Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies (IVP, 2003). Here is Adrian’s review.

A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out. – C. G. Lichtenberg

For far too long, we have enslaved ourselves to political theories that have, at best, a misguided view of human nature and are, at worst, deliberately deceitful. Our collective journey to uncover the truth about our lives, and the lives of those around us, has often led some of us to accept many answers offered by these political theorists, economists, sociologists and other “experts”,  at face value. 

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