science vs. faith

I don’t often wade into the arena of science and faith (I’m very unqualified in all things science), but I recently had a discussion on the subject that got me thinking about some important points.

First, any public discussion of science and faith is often framed as “science vs. God.” The starting point is competition, an assumption of incompatibility between the two spheres. No wonder there is incredulity towards each other! Starting in opposition, both sides just end up shouting louder and asserting themselves stronger without any meaningful dialogue around the possibility of science and faith. In this regard, both sides adopt a sort of fundamentalism:
“On the one hand, many theologians have misused the Bible to try and establish or disestablish a scientific theory in a most unscientific way. On the other hand, many scientists have misused a theory in science to try and discredit the Bible in a most unphilosophical way. Both hold onto their extraterritorial theories with a fanatical tenacity” (Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics).
Secondly, the discussion gets worse when the two sides attempt to answer each others questions. Take the origin of the world for example. Science can’t prove or disprove God as creator based on typical methods of observation. It’s a theological or philosophical argument, sure. But not science (sorry Richard Dawkins, but stick to biology!). Similarly, theologians can’t apply their beliefs for God as creator - a belief drawn from the Bible and logical reasoning - to, say, evolutionary scientific theory (sorry Intelligent Design theorists, but I’m not convinced!). Genesis 1-2 is not about biology! Both sides need to recognize this: let scientific method answer scientific questions and let theological inquiry answer theological questions.

With both disciplines doing what they do best, then it can be helpful to consider how they go together. Not to answer each others questions, but to enrich each others answers. Framing the topic as science and faith we move from an argument to a dialogue. Science and faith can “do their thing” without getting mired in unfruitful arguments that drone on and on. And as Christians, then, we don’t have to live in fear that science will somehow debunk or disprove our faith. It’s rather the opposite - science can enrich our faith and what we know about God and the world.

Click the link to watch a helpful video from Biologos that articulates well, I think, how we can bring together science and faith: "Evolutionary Creation"


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