Friday, October 17, 2008

Science vs. Theology

Generating enthusiasm for understanding the benefits of the intersection between science and faith is a difficult undertaking. The reasons for this are complex, but worth our effort to understand. Acquiring knowledge of scientific principles and scientific discoveries often has a low priority in the pulpit and educational curriculum of our churches. Pastors and teachers feel, rightfully so, that the message of salvation and our daily relationship with God is paramount. Pastors feel more comfortable with these aspects of their instructional responsibility, perhaps because they are more familiar with these topics. But they neglect an existing pillar of faith which could serve to strengthen support for actual belief and faith in God. That pillar is the knowledge of how God designed the cosmos with consistent, discoverable laws and principles as the operational plan for humanity’s home. We discover these laws through our rational mind. To discover, rationally and scientifically, how nature operates is to discover how God operates.

Theology was once known as “The Queen of the Sciences.” John Lennox (October 10 post) has told us, “The biblical world-view played a key role in the meteoric rise of science in 16th and 17th century Europe. The pioneers of modern science, far from regarding their faith in God as a hindrance to their research, found that it was a positive stimulus.” Lennox continues, “The more they discovered of the law-governed universe, the more they worshipped its law-giving creator.” But science and theology have lost this mutually supportive relationship in the last 150 years. This is because science, generally, has taken a significant turn toward naturalism during that time. I quote from paleontologist Niles Eldredge: “If there is one rule, one criterion that makes an idea scientific, it is that it must invoke naturalistic explanations for phenomena…it’s simply a matter of definition--of what is science, and what is not.”

The opposing views of these two famous people remind us of the world-view battle we confront. On one side: naturalistic scientists who deny that the rationality of science principles and truths reflects the character of a creator. On the other side: Christian practitioners of science and Christian science teachers who see that the discoveries of science point to the Creator and are helpful in identifying His divine nature. And finally, caught in the middle: pastors, church school teachers, and youth leaders who are fearful of the world-view-filtered conclusions of some scientists, and whose expertise prevents what could be a powerful apologetic for the existence of the author of creation. The commonality among these groups lies in in their respective searches for truth.