Science as Worship

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The heavens declare the glory of God, and science explores His handiwork.
Why are we, the Church, so afraid of science? Are we fearful that our God will turn out to be a sham?
I will always maintain that we have nothing to fear from science. If science is man’s way of figuring out our world, of using our God-given intellect and reason to understand the works of God, than we should be able to enjoy the breakthroughs of science rather than trembling every time a new discovery is made.
After all, truth is truth. Truth cannot disprove truth. ~ Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project
When we attack the findings of science without fully understanding the facts, we bring ridicule on Christ’s Church, driving away those who are seeking His truth.
It happened before, between the Church and Galileo. I believe it is happening now, between the Church and Darwin.
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There is no real conflict between theistic religion and the scientific theory of evolution. What there is, instead, is conflict between theistic religion and a philosophical gloss or add-on to the scientific doctrine of evolution: the claim that evolution is undirected, unguided, or unorchestrated by God (or anyone else).  ~ Peters and Hewlett, Theological and Scientific Commentary on Darwin’s Origin of Species
Why does evolution threaten us so? It doesn’t say anything about what was before the Big Bang, whether anything set things in motion so as to produce our current existence, or of what value is our existence.
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What goodness or beauty is, why we are here, and what happens next are all questions for theologians, not scientists.
Why can we not follow the urging of Copernicus? To know the mighty works of God; to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful working of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.
Science can be worship.
Seeking to understand the stars and the oceans, attempting to comprehend the laws that govern our universe, yes, even the study of evolution, all of this can be worship.
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Science is moving forward. New breakthroughs are being made and people are deciding what to do with those discoveries.
The ethics of how to use such new findings will be debated with or without people of faith sitting at the table. We, the Church, have a responsibility to join in the conversation, to learn the facts and not get defensive about where those facts will lead.
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The need to succeed at (figuring out these ethics) is just one more compelling reason why the current battles between the scientific and spiritual worldviews need to be resolved – we desperately need both voices to be at the table, and not to be shouting at each other. ~ Francis S. Collins
So let’s stop shouting and begin talking. Please. For the sake of the Church. For the sake of us all.
Note: I am not a scientist. I am not qualified to argue the specifics of whether or not evolution is true. Yet like it or not, evolution is now the accepted truth of how life came to be, and we must have a conversation about how to accept evolution within the Biblical worldview of our Christian faith, or to at least accept those Christians who do accept evolution as truth. Why? Two reasons: The first is that so many intelligent people are being driven away from Christ because we, the Church, continue to dismiss evolution out of hand, becoming defensive and angry whenever the topic is broached. The second is one I brought up at the end of this essay, the ethical issues that are here now and those that will be coming in the future. We must be present for both of these kinds of conversations. Our world needs us, as representatives of Christ, to be present, not fearful and defensive, for conversations about evolution. God can handle evolution. Evolution is not something to be feared but something to be thought about deeply, pondering how it could fit within our Biblical framework.
If you are truly interested in reading more about this topic from a Christian and scientific perspective, I highly recommend The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins. Collins is a committed Christian and a brilliant scientist. You may be familiar with his scientific work as the head of the Human Genome Project.
I understand that this can be an inflammatory topic. If you choose to comment, please keep your conversation seasoned with grace and, above all, love. Thank you, dear readers.

Art credit: all space photos are from NASA; all other photos are my own, copyright Elizabeth Giger, 2017

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Science, Faith, and Fear

Why are so many Christians afraid of science?

So many Christians get incredibly defensive and angry when it comes to debates and discussions about science, particularly when our origin is the topic under scrutiny. People will argue fiercely and loudly against theories such as evolution or big bang cosmology.

Some would even go so far as to state that Christians cannot also be scientists.

Why do we get so defensive and angry?


While most would not admit it, many are, deep down inside, afraid that if such theories are true than their God does not exist. They fear that God is unable to defend Himself and so they get angry in order to drive out their fear.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship

I have fear too.

I am afraid that this divide between Christians and science is driving people away from our faith rather than drawing them in.

How can we possibly think that science could destroy God? How can we believe that science could ever come up with a truth that would cause God to cease to exist?

We worship and serve God Who is Truth and science cannot help but point to Him.

Perhaps part of the trouble is that Christians have mistaken the purpose of science.

Science tries to figure out how things work. Science does not give ultimate explanation for the origin and existence of the universe or answer questions concerning the purpose of the universe or of our existence.

What if evolution is true? What if the big bang theory is true? Does that take God out of the picture at all?

God created our universe. The Bible is clear on that point. 

As Richard T. Wright writes in Biology Through the Eyes of Faith:

Whether you believe that His gifts were bestowed at the outset of creation, or periodically over time, or all at once recently, you should see design in what He has done. What we see doesn’t prove His existence, but it does point people in the right direction, and for Christians, what we see and learn should cause us to thank Him and give Him the glory for such a wonderful creation.

Why should we fear science when science can give us more and more insight into how beautiful and complex is God’s design? Science doesn’t deny God, science glorifies God! 

God reveals Himself through His Word: 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching…

God also reveals Himself through His created world: 

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Why do we try to throw out one of His revelations?

At the end of one of his papers, the biologist David Wilcox says this:

In our speculations, we must be limited by God’s self-revelations – both by Scripture and in His created world. As we seek to be guided by these two sources of truth, let us humbly acknowledge that our interpretations of both sources of knowledge are worldview guided and fallible. We will always need to be guided – and corrected – by the Spirit of Truth, in science or in theology. And when we get home…won’t we have a good laugh at ourselves?!

Perhaps we should trust God. Trust that He is able to defend Himself, trust that He is Truth and that science can never knock Him off His throne.

Whether you believe that the earth is young or old, whether you believe that we humans were created in one day or over billions of years through evolution, when we have debates and discussions with other Christians and with non-Christians, please remember that the most important thing to God is not our origin but that we love Him and love each other.

It is not wrong to have your opinion, to study science and debate with others about various issues, but don’t fear those who disagree–love them. In the end, our love and respect, our willingness to listen and prayerfully consider new ideas is a much stronger way to show Jesus to the world around us than attacking others or becoming defensive out of fear.

…But perfect love drives out fear…

As we think about how we love, may I end with one last thought from Wright’s book?

Over the years, I have realized that even though it is necessary to look at these origins issues and problems, the more important problems are those that are facing us today as we try to learn how to take care of the creation and how best to use its gifts. (If God were to ask us a question about His Creation,) would He ask us what we thought about how He made the world, or would He ask us what we did with it?

Art credits: DNA photo by Tomislav Alajbeg; photos of Eagle Nebula and Supernova from NASA; microscopic view of a lime tree by Kriss Szkurlatowski