Science and Religion
This question comes in a number of forms. Hasn't science disproved Christianity? Is Christianity true? Your Christians are following a whole lot of fables. When you become a Christian you discard your scientific faculties.
History of this viewpoint
Up until 1859 most scientists believed that this was God's world. Then Charles Darwin brought out his book "The Origin of Species" and the battle was soon on. His book sold out in the first day, great debates soon took place in universities, while the pulpits ran red hot. During this time Darwin tried his hardest to withdraw himself form the furor that was raging about him. He was basically a quiet man who hated a scrap. He was astonished at the reaction to his erudite paper.
A year later Thomas Huxley, who was an antagonist of the Christian faith, debated with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, the son of William Wilberforce. The debate was on the now highly controversial issue of evolution. All eyes were on the debate, especially the church and the scientific fraternity. Where did the truth lie, Bible or science? Wilberforce spoke first, but following a foolish remark directed at his opponent ("Which side did you descent from?") he found himself torn to shreds by the brilliant oratory of Huxley. As far as the scientific fraternity was concerned, the case was closed. The church now found itself spurned by the educated elite of the country. The general populous slowly swung behind the scientists until soon they were seen as the priests of the new god technology - all knowing and all powerful.
Today science no longer holds its place of preeminence in the minds of the masses. The nuclear age and the failure of technology to meet the basic needs of humanity, has forced us to look for new answers. Although we may have liked a swing back to the church, the move is toward environmental activism.
The church's mistakes
i] The church at the time was intent on defending it's own narrow interpretation of the Bible. Christians literally accepted such dating systems as Bishop Usher's creation date of 4,004BC. This flew in the face of the growing fossil evidence to the contrary.
ii] The church insisted on treating the Bible as if it were a scientific text book. There was a clear lack of scholarship, and an unwillingness to come to grips with the following:
a) Literary types in the Bible - figurative, poetic, parabolic literary forms which in no way could be used as a source of scientific data. Take for example the Psalms. When the psalmists describes the sun as God driving a fiery chariot across the skies or of God having wings, they are using poetic imagery, not describing fact. The big question becomes clear, is Genesis chapters 1-13 parable or history?
b) The relationship between God's revealed truth and the primitive world-view of the writers. God does not overrule the personality of the Biblical authors. They remain real people expressing revealed truths in their own way. Obviously God would not allow them to confuse or mislead on points of revealed truth, but scientific truth is beyond the purpose of the Bible. Myth and ancient world views are used in the Bible as vehicles to convey revealed truth. It has to be remembered that these truths have had to be understood for over 4,000 years by ancient as well as modern man.
iii] The church had a closed mind. The church tends to be a very conservative organization and so did not consider that anything other than accepted tradition could be true. A resistance to anything new, to anything disturbing, inevitably leads to problems.
The scientist's mistakes
i] The scientists assumed that the theory of evolution was a proven fact, when, of course, scientific theory is never absolute truth. They assumed that even though science had not specifically disproved the claims of the Christian faith, it had thrown such light upon the world that faith could now only be regarded as a harmless private phantasy. Many scientists assumed that as human knowledge increased so the teachings of the Christian faith would arrive at a status similar to astrology. The problem is that scientific method alone cannot discover the core of the Christian faith, namely God.
ii] Secular scientists then went on to apply the theory of evolution in the area of morality. Humanity evolved biologically, therefore we are still evolving. Therefore we are improving and will soon be able to throw away the crutch of religion. The theory came a cropper in the 1914-18 war.
Today we are still affected by the nineteenth century racism that was nurtured by evolutionary ethics. If we accept evolution we have to regard humanity as a random mass of molecules without purpose. Therefore there is no morality as such, other than some branches of the human race are further evolved than others.
iii] The secular scientists had an axe to grind. For too long the church had interfered in their lives and now they had the means of destroying it. The antagonism is well illustrated in "A History of the Warfare of Science and Theology." 1896. A.D. White.
The crucial issue
Scientific study has so far established the autonomy of the natural order. The universe proceeds as though no God exists.
Many scientists have therefore taken the next step and asserted "there is no God." Of course to say this, one has to know everything about the universe and have proven that God does not exist independent of the universe.
The autonomy of the natural order does not preclude the existence of God. The Bible teaches that God has created an environment for mankind to exist in with a sufficient degree of autonomy to enable us to enter into a freely accepted relationship with God. God does not force us by his presence to enter into a relationship with him. Our created humanity demands such freedom.
Yet the Bible does teach that God is involved in our universe. He has acted in history to reveal himself - this revelation is historically verifiable, although beyond scientific verification. This does not make it any less true. He also maintains and directs the totality of events within our universe in such a way that the autonomy of the natural order and the freedom of mankind is in no way affected. Yet even through chaos and rebellion he still brings about his ultimate purposes for mankind without actually affecting our freedom. Again, this cannot be scientifically verified.
Scientific investigation has neither proved nor disproved the existence of God and his involvement in our universe.
1. Science versus Christianity
Science has only shown us that the world we live in seems to function without any external aid or influence. ie. It seems to get along without the involvement of Divine intervention. Science hasn't proved there is no God. It just says we haven't found him. It's a bit like the comment of first Russian astronaut to travel around the moon. "No, God's not here." He then went on to say therefore God's does not exist.
You wouldn't expect God to blast his presence into the world. That would force us to believe in him. No, we have to freely make up our own mind whether we want to be his. So our universe is independent and so are we. Science has shown us that. Yet it is very unwise to use that independence as an evidence of his non-existence and then go against him.
2. Evolution versus creation
The Bible doesn't set out to be a scientific textbook on the origins of our world. It describes truths in a way that are easily understood by both ancient and modern people. For the last 4,000 years people have read these stories and understood the truths they teach. The Biblical truth of the opening chapters of the Bible is simple in the extreme. This is God's world and we've told him to get lost. So our world's in a rotten mess. Who then can save us?
Darwin's "Origin of Species" is an interesting theory. It has been and is increasingly being chopped and changed. It may be true, partly true, or not true at all. In this life we may never know. In the end it doesn't matter, for it is not what the Bible is talking about. The truth is, putting aside how the world was created and how we came to be here, God made it happen. If we don't believe that, then we are an accident of nature standing in front of another accident, without any purpose or meaning for existence, debating the accident itself.
Index of studies. Resource file.
Pumpkin Cottage Ministry Resources
Lectionary Bible Studies and Sermons