by: Rev. Ed Schneider
Hosea 4:6 ….. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
As the scripture quote from Hosea above indicates, faithful believers in God Almighty are destroyed because they lack knowledge. I am comfortable far too many of us “religious folks” will avoid any serious discussions regarding the possibility of any sustainable compatibility between Religion and Science…much less Christianity….because of some faded hope that those poor misguided or “evil scientists” will someday wake up from their heathen/secular ways and stop bothering us. We say to ourselves, “those scientists aren’t going to destroy my faith.”
Well, beloved, WAKE UP!
Your faith and understanding concerning God, the Bible, religion in general, and Christianity in particular ARE NOT dependent upon what a room full of scientists say. In fact, most of the time religion and science can be most complimentary to each other with only a little effort perfectly aligns with the beginning of molecular activity in matter. A good example of this would be the following examples concerning the Bible’s account concerning the Creation process.
- The dawning of lights in the Genesis account of the “first day” of God’s creation perfectly aligns with the beginning of molecular activity in matter.
- The “second day” of creation supplied by the Bible’s rendition of the creative process speaks of the “dividing of the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament,” or, in more technical terms, separating the liquids from the liquids…fits most comfortably to the dividing of the molten mass of the earth from those of the sun and other planets…better known as an individualization process of the Nebular theory.
- The development of continents, vegetation or even the atmospheric vapors allowing the visualization of “heavenly bodies” from the earth’s surface all correspond nicely with the Archaean and Cambrian periods of development.
The genesis accounts of “animal development” can also comfortably be seated in the time parameters of both the Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods.
The only reason why some religious folks are afraid of scientific knowledge is because of factual ignorance. The only reason why some scientists are profoundly afraid of religion is because of philosophical or theological ignorance. Both sides have much to learn from the other.
The frustrating question for me is,
“If the positive interpretive value of evolutionary thinking within the geological community was well accepted in the mid1800’s, why was the beginning of the modern phase of the theoretical questioning regarding biological evolution so vehemently received in 1858 when Mr. Darwin set to paper what others had already assumed was logical in all other areas of evolutionary discussion?”
The Darwinian Theory and its implications hit way too close to home. It sent shock waves of being helpless to the whims of chance. Chance is a difficult intellectual proposition for most of humanity. For most of us faithful souls we eventually lean on the belief that God is an intervening God. He wills things done and they are accomplished. The Creator steps into time and handles the outrageous difficulties surrounding life’s traumas. God reaches out and carries us to safety or propels us into punishment. The question is NOT does God do that “reaching down thing.” Depending on your perspective of “the deity thing” God certainly does inter act with creation. The question is whether we Christian leaders and followers need to welcome the overwhelming benefits that accompany the expansion of our understanding regarding how science and religion can truly complement each other. We may need to again revisit the ever expanding scientific base of knowledge and see how marvelous God’s grace and omniscience can truly be.
We need not be afraid of new and marvelous scientific discoveries. They merely continue to share the awesome power of what God is and how God continues to enliven and empower His creation as they are enabled to grasp the vastness of the ever-increasing knowledge base. Let me remind all of us that it wasn’t that long ago that humanity couldn’t fly in an airplane, use electricity, value a double-helix or unlock the chemical strands of DNA.
Science is not a series of facts. It is rather a transforming series of artful hypotheses that, more often than not, fail before they can be sustained and then put together in some useful fashion. Religion, faith and the Bible are really no different in that regard. What good is it to know just the facts of the Bible? NONE! What good is it to know just what order the books of the Bible are printed in? NONE! It is what you do with the information that separates the mundane from the marvelous.
Now…let me change my focus to those of a NON-religious bent.
It is not the “how” or the “what” that can make all the difference in the expression of each of our human experiences. It is the “why” that matters most. To date, we have learned tremendous amounts of factual information in the areas of chemical, geological, astrophysics and medical science; of this, there is no doubt. From a purely religious/philosophical view the question that begs to be answered cannot be dealt with by mere facts. Every scientist knows that “accepted” facts change all the time as new discoveries are ascertained. Every sincerely religious person knows that the whole process of faith is a continual journey of transformation from what was old and conventional into what will become the new and improved. The question that has yet to be answered, and will never be answered by scientific means, is the “why.” Why are we here? Why do we continually wonder beyond our contemporary abilities at any moment in history? Why were we created? Why was everything created? Not how. Not what. Why? Much of the “how” can be answered by the “what.” Oh, but the “why,” that is the foundational question where science and religion firmly need each other.
There is plenty of room for commonality and it isn’t that hard to find. PEACE