Do faith and science contradict?
Can God and science get along, or does one invalidate the other?
Faith in a God who cares is not necessarily measurable, repeatable, and testable like a sixth-grade science experiment. But faith still matters in very real ways.
When the Church Failed Science Class
Faith and science have been placed at odds for a long time, so it’s understandable that each camp voices concern about the other.
In the 1600s, the Church believed the Bible taught the earth was the center of the universe based on a narrow interpretation of a few verses (Joshua 10:13, Psalm 19:4-6, Psalm 104:5). When Galileo published scientific research on Copernicus’ theory that the earth instead revolved around the sun, the Church persecuted him as a heretic because Christians failed to reconcile faith and science. [Sources: Wired, Apologetics Press]
It wasn’t until the 1800s that the Church acknowledged modern science proved the earth revolves around the sun. While science did not correct the Bible, it did cause us to rethink our interpretation of the Bible. It’s a historic example that encourages us to humbly navigate how faith and science intersect in matters like genetic engineering, the origin of the universe, evolution, and more in our world today.
The Good Textbook?
The Bible describes God as the source of the cosmos and of all life (Genesis 1:1-2:25). “All things hold together” because of Jesus (Colossians 1:15-18). God reveals Himself through both the natural and the supernatural, without diminishing the legitimacy of either (Psalm 65:1-13).
While the Bible addresses subjects within biology, astronomy, and the like, science is not explicitly mentioned, nor was it a concern of the authors of Scripture.
The Bible does not spell out how old the earth is, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, or whether climate change is true. The Bible is not a scientific document because it was never meant to be. It is the story of God and humanity and the way our stories intertwine. God is in the business of relationships and making all things new, and we find our place in that story because of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
Not Separate, But Stronger Together
God seems quite content to blur the lines between the physical and the spiritual — not to confuse us, but to teach us more about Himself and His world. Modern science has explored observable, physical implications of spiritual devices like forgiveness, anxiety and chemical reactions, addiction and human connectedness.
Science is an excellent path to discover more about the God in whose image we are created.
Any system that demands the separation of fact and faith, of your head and your heart, is a dangerous one. Humans are meant to be whole — not purely emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or physical, but a mysterious combination of them all. And in seeking for precisely how they are all connected, science is an excellent path to discover more about the God in whose image we are created (Genesis 1:27).
The validity of science does not compromise God’s power or existence but enhances His beauty and genius as the Maker of all things that work together.
God never pits science against faith, so why should we? It’s possible to be both a passionate follower of Jesus and a passionate, science-loving student of the astonishing universe in which we live. We’re not required to abandon spiritual beliefs to accept science, and we don’t need to forsake science to live as a person of faith.
A Scientific Path to Worship
Suffering often pushes us toward science for answers and cures. Discomfort compels us to question things beyond ourselves. In the ancient Middle East, a man named Job brought complaints and passed judgment on God’s justice, but he got more than he expected.
God did not tell Job to stop trying to understand Him. He reminded Job of his place and limited human knowledge in contrast to God’s infinite wisdom (Job 38:1-42:6). And Job’s response, the only real response at which we can arrive when we view the depth and breadth of God’s transcendence, was to marvel at grace. God owes us nothing, yet gives us everything.
Faith and science both require a sense of awe.
Science and faith are two different practices that aim for the same thing: to understand that which seems beyond ourselves. Faith and science both require a sense of awe. And the path of wonder leads to worship — precisely the kind of response God evokes (Psalm 111:2-5). The more closely we look at our Creator and His creations, we realize that the truth is nearer than we first believed.