Science and Religion

Science is meant to help us understand God, not undermine Him*.

There is no reason that Science and Religion have to be mutually exclusive. Various groups contend that they must be. People have gone so far as to stigmatize these terms in an attempt to bring others around to their way of thinking; that you cannot believe in one if you believe in the other. I’ve read literature that discusses Intelligent Design, Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, and Evolution. Specifically, two books that have been prominent in my exploration are Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe and The Language of God by Francis S. Collins. Based on my ongoing exploration, I’ve arrived at the conclusion contained in the opening sentence. Allow me to explain.

Creationism and Young Earth Creationism don’t hold up in the face of scientific support for Evolution; religious conviction is one thing but willful ignorance is completely unacceptable. The Bible is not a literal account of history, it is allegorical and figurative. We take from it teachings, lessons, and stories so that we may be better human beings (or at least aspire to be). Were the Heavens and Earth created by God? In a sense, yes. But not in the literal sense some would have you believe. Were we created in God’s image? Evolution tells me no. If our ancestors from over a million years ago were created in God’s image, what does that say about us today? Are we too made in God’s image? Or has that image changed – “evolved” as it were – over time? There is a glaring contradiction here. As for Young Earth Creationism, it is utter absurdity that the Earth is only 4000 years old and equally preposterous that God is trying to fool us into believing otherwise. No compassionate and loving God would do that to His children.

I cannot accept Intelligent Design in that it comes off as some over-simplified hand-waving and rumblings about complexities all wrapped in the guise of Science. In reality, it’s a poor attempt to illustrate Science’s current failings at explaining various gaps; I’ll even go so far as to label it as a cop out. Simply because we may not fully understand something does not mean we never will, nor that what may seem atomic will remain that way. Science may not have all the answers today but that is not to say we won’t discover more of the answers tomorrow. And, when that tomorrow comes, the arguments for Intelligent Design will crumble. Further, I find it difficult to rationalize that God decided everything in advance, that there is a preordained path for everything to follow. If that were the case, why were we given free will? Free will is what allows us to choose our own path in life and I cannot believe that God has already chosen mine. How boring – not only for us, but for God as well!

In light of all this, I also cannot believe that Science is the be-all, end-all. There is a mountain of evidence that illustrates the natural evolution of all species, including our very own species, Homo sapiens. We are continually making new discoveries in the areas of medicine, genetics, physics, neurology, biology, chemistry, the world, and the universe. Science has explained what used to be thought of as the actions or will of God and, with more time, surely Science will allow us to put all the pieces together to arrive at a complete understanding, right? Not so! If life were only based on Science, why do we feel an innate pursuit of God? What drives, as Francis Collins terms, the Moral Law within us that lets us fundamentally distinguish right from wrong? Science certainly didn’t press these upon us. Stephen Hawking, in his book A Brief History of Time, concedes that there is no way for everything – the creation of our life-sustaining planet, the emergence of life on Earth, the very birth of the universe – to have come about purely by random chance. God had to have been involved. So where does that leave me if Science isn’t everything?

Science and Religion are not two ends of a spectrum but are complements of each other if not wholly interrelated in all aspects of life. Science is the tool we use to understand God’s intentions and actions. With time, we create better tools and arrive at a deeper meaning and understanding of God. Does that mean that we’ll eventually understand everything about God? Absolutely not. We may never fully understand God and His intentions because we ourselves are not God. However, regardless of an inability to grasp God to the fullest extent, we can and should certainly try. One may argue that we should just give up now in the despair of never truly knowing. I say no! We are constantly striving to be better human beings through new understanding and that gives us reason to continue. It gives us hope.

Science and Religion are not mutually exclusive. I have faith in God and I have faith in Science. I can be called a Theistic Evolutionist with my beliefs firmly rooted in BioLogos. It took me until I was 26 years-old to arrive at this point in my life but, now that I’m here, my struggle to reconcile my once thought to be separate faiths is over. The more I learn, the firmer my belief becomes and I take great comfort in that.

* I use male pronouns for God only as a matter of convenience. In all actual fact, I cannot say if God is a Him or a Her or if God has a gender at all.

3 thoughts on “Science and Religion

  • Simon

    You’re totally misinterpreting Hawkins. His argument was that the perfect conditions for us to exist are here through the very fact we are here to observe them. If conditions weren’t right then we wouldn’t be here to question them.

  • wastedgenius

    Yes, he does make that point. However, Hawking also makes a number of references to the presence of God even if it were to only start things up and then let it run according to the laws set down. In his conclusion, he says, “If we find the answer to [why it is that we and the universe exist], it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.” Perhaps we should email Dr. Hawking and ask for clarification.

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