There seems to be the perception in society today that Christians are inherently biased. Of course Christians cannot be great scientists for example because they are going to bring a religious agenda to the table that will color their research. Is it true? Are Christians inherently biased when they approach a subject?
The short answer is that yes we are, but the same is true of anyone else. Everyone comes to the table with a set of assumptions and a worldview that colors what they do. Everyone is biased.
Let’s talk about the study of the beginning of the universe. A Christian scientist will come to the table with an understanding that there very well could be the supernatural involved. The scientist will not necessarily make a “God of the gaps” fallacy, but he or she would be open to the potential action of the supernatural.
The atheist scientist will come to the same question with the inherent belief that there cannot be any supernatural involvement. There would be a commitment to naturalism. This is a similar bias, and it is certainly just as powerful as the one that the Christian brings to the table.
Everyone has a worldview, and if the question is whether or not a scientist is biased, the answer is that he or she most definitely is. It doesn’t matter what belief systems someone follows, no one is truly impartial.
I suppose that the follow-up question is then how can we trust anything? If everyone has some type of agenda in mind as they are writing an article, how can we possibly discern who to listen to?
Notice that I said that every scientist comes to the table with a bias. It is important to recognize the assumptions up front. That has to be the first step. If I am reading about the origin of morality from Sam Harris, then I know that he is bringing certain assumptions. It doesn’t necessarily mean that his argument is unsound right away, but it is wise to first know where potential areas of bias can come in.
Also implicit in my previous statement that every scientist has a bias is the fact that it does not mean that they cannot conduct good, logical research. There have been great Christian scientists, and there have been great atheist scientists. There are certainly plenty of scientists who are capable of uncovering facts about the world. The differences are probably going to come out in the interpretation of the facts, but it is flat-out inaccurate to say that people of any belief system cannot do science because of bias.
If it was true that no one could do science because of bias, then no science would be done. In fact, nothing could be done. Worldview is not just a scientific issue. Every historian comes to the table with a certain set of beliefs and biases, but it does not mean that he or she is incapable of writing good history and doing good research.
We are then faced with a choice: we can understand that bias does exist and keep that in mind as we read, or we can decide that we need to throw out everything with bias and be left with nothing.