Reconciling Faith and Science

One of the greatest tragedies of our times is the impression that science and religion have to be at war.  Francis Collins

Science is a very powerful method of gaining and applying knowledge.  While it has a large domain, it is not the end all and be all.  It can tell us truth but, it can’t determine Truth. 

Numerous books and articles have been written ad infinitum, ad nauseam, by skeptics and various unbelievers stating that science and Christianity are antithetical (opposites) therefore, people must choose to be either “superstitious” or a scientist, but never the twain shall meet.  

Two people  can look at the incomprehensible complexity and order in the universe that science has discovered and come to different conclusions about what they have read or seen.  One only sees materialistic phenomena, perhaps not wanting there to not be a God.  The other sees the mind of God in the same data.   Neither can prove the other wrong.  Ultimate issues can be illuminated by science, but not finally decided.

Science had its start about six hundred years before Christ with the Greek philosophers who began to seek non-theological answers for the existence of life and the arrangement of the natural world.  They looked upon the natural world as not to be changed or used but simply understood. Applying rational deductions to nature  they came up with many great and interesting facts but, it never developed into the “scientific age.”

Nor did science originate among the Hebrew people, or the Arab world or in India among the Hindu, or in China among the Buddhist, or among the animists of central or southern Africa.  It took the teaching of Christianity during the 6th Century to produce the phenomenon we know as modern science. 

It was the Christian belief in God as the source of all truth, and in a rational creation where there must exist certain laws and regularities to control it, that led to scientific discoveries.  Science is, after all, a blend of reason and experimentation, rationalism and empiricism and it  is this combination of deduction and induction that leads to science and to all of its achievements.

Some of the greatest pioneers of science were committed Christians.

Johannas Kepler (1571-1630), a German mathematician and astronomer discovered that the Earth and planets travel about the sun in elliptical orbits. He gave three fundamental laws of planetary motion. He also did important work in optics and geometry an astronomer.  Kepler wrote in The Mystery of the Universe  “now as God the maker played, He taught the game to Nature, Whom He created in His image.”

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) a French mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher, and master of prose, laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities, what came to be known as Pascal’s law of pressure, who propagated a religious doctrine that taught the experience of God through the heart rather than through reason.  His principle of intuitionism had an impact on such later philosophers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Henri Bergson and the Existentialists.  His work was so great that he now has a computer language named after him. 

Issac Newton  (1642-1727) an English physicist and mathematician, formulated the universal laws of nature with which he was able to unravel virtually all the unsolved problems of his day. He refined Galileo’s experimental method. creating the compositional method of experimentation still practiced today.  He formulated the classical theories of mechanics and optics and invented calculus years before Leibniz.  It was his strong faith in God that undergirded his scientific world view. 

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was a French Chemist and Microbiologist whose contributions to science,  technology and medicine are nearly without precedent.   In his panegyric of Littre’,  he said:  “Happy the man who bears within him a divinity, an ideal of beauty and obeys it; and ideal of art, and ideal of science,  an ideal of country, and ideal of the virtues of the Gospel.”

Robert Boyle, (1627-1691) a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor, known today as the father of modern chemistry was an ardent defender of the Anglican Church.  He saw no conflict between religion and science.  He wrote widely on religious themes and financially supported the translation of the New Testament into Malayan.

There are far too many Christian scientists to mention but I have provided a list to get you started if you want to do more research.  Joseph Lister, Antiseptic Surgery; George Cuvier Comparative Anatomy; Charles Babbage, Computer Science; Lord Rayleigh, Dimensional Analysis; John Ambrose Fleming, Electronics; James C. Maxwell, Electrodynamics; Michael Farady, Electromagnetics; Lord Kelvin, Energetics; Henri Fabre, Entomology of Living Insects;  George Stokes, Fluid Mechanics; Sir William Herschel, Galactic Astronomy; Gregory Mendel, Genetics; Louis Agassiz, Glacial Geology; James Simpson, Gynecology;  Matthew Maury, Hydrography and Oceanography; William Ramsey, Isotopic Chemistry; John Ray, Natural History; Bernard Riemann, non-Euclidean Geometry; and David Brewster, Optical Mineralogy.

In The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Dr. Francis Collins, who mapped the human genome, writes that “Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world [but] is powerless to answer questions such as ‘what is the meaning of human existence.  We need to bring all the power of both scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen,”  maintaining that those perspectives “not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience.”   Dr. Collins writes that while  he does not believe God is rationally provable, he thinks that natural phenomena — such as the development of conditions favoring life on earth in the face of incredible odds — points toward the Divine.

Christianity and Science may never reconcile because science is always progressing in its search for truth, never arriving at a final or absolute truth because of a desire to know more. It presents one hypothesis and then replaces it with another then another.

The Bible is not a scientific textbook.  It is the Word of God that never changes and when it speaks upon historical or scientific matters, it speaks the truth.   

Source:  What If Jesus Had Never Been Born by Dr. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe

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