Our Approach to Science
For many, science and theology might best be described as having “irreconcilable differences.” Discourse around the two topics often results in confusion, division, and even hurt. This reality has not always been the case, nor must it continue to be. Theology and science are both searching for truth and a better understanding of how humanity relates to the created world of which it is a part.
The MI Approach to Science
Why Christians Should Care About Science
Our modern world has been uniquely characterized by the preeminence of science and scientific approaches to the pursuit of truth. This is understandable, since the discipline of science has answered questions that would grind the gears of any other discipline to a stop. Science has undoubtedly impacted our lives; scientific products help us live longer, produce more, and undertake new endeavours. Scientific discovery also opens us up to beauties of the natural world that were previously unknown to us. From the ocean’s depths to distant galaxies we continue to find beauty and awe afresh in both the familiar and unexplored. Growing in our understanding of science allows us to better appreciate its work, and see how it complements the Christian life.
Why Scientists Should Care About Christianity
The Christian story expands the impact and significance of science and its endeavours by providing a setting within which science has deep and prevailing meaning. As an act of love, God both allows for the world to demonstrate his creativity and mystery and yet continually somehow upholds this order that sustains it. This broader story gives science the freedom to do what it does best: carefully investigate the way the world is, theorize how it came to be that way, and project the changes it will undergo. The Christian story provides a wider body of knowledge within which science and other complementary disciplines can be properly understood. While each academic discipline has its own set of limitations, they can together—when viewed in light of a biblical framework—provide a far more comprehensive response to a much broader range of questions.
The Compatibility Between the Bible and Science
Conversations between scientific and faith communities have not always been productive. Historic conflicts such as Galilean and Copernican defense of heliocentrism against the largely geocentric stance of the Catholic Church, and the Scopes Trial over the inclusion of evolutionary theory in education, are well known. Science and theology, however, share common ground in that they love truth and desire to seek it out.
Since our world is coherent, whatever is true is consistently true—whether that be the effects of gravity or God’s love for the world—and remains true across all of life, even if not always apparently relevant. Historical problems, then, have not been the result of conflicting facts, but of conflicting perspectives (e.g. Galileo’s reading of the sky and the Catholic Church’s reading of the Bible). Science and theology both serve Christianity when they seek to answer questions appropriate to their discipline. When reading the articles that follow, consider which discipline is being asked to address the issues articulated.
Science as a Response to God’s Call to Humankind
Genesis tells us that part of our human vocation is to “subdue” the earth and exercise “dominion” over that which lives in it (Genesis 1:26,28). Science, through its investigation of the natural world, is vital to our fulfillment of this call, because it provides informed knowledge about the world in which we live. When we take into account the complex nature of human impact on the earth, scientific contributions become especially important. For instance, knowing how to best manage a river that is shared by millions of creatures demands a level of insight into the cumulative impact of individual actions that scientific methods uniquely provide. Science reveals to us how creation works, and adds richness and depth to the work of God’s hands we have been commissioned to cultivate.
How Scientists Can Serve the Church
As a scientist, exploring a world created, ordered, and sustained by God allows you to make a unique contribution to the church. Within the church, you can help Christians fall further in love with creation by explaining how the natural world works, re-enchanting us with beauty, and revealing how we fit within its processes. Your methodological approach to our love and pursuit of truth can encourage the church to strive for more precise answers, not settling for “rough and ready” responses. As an ambassador for the church in specialized and technical fields, you can provide an exemplar of someone whose discipline highly values logical progression and someone who at the same time recognizes the space for mystery and the role of faith. You are also well placed to voice the limitations of science, modeling a respect for other disciplines as more appropriately equipped to answer certain questions. In response to the articles that follow, consider how the church could be served by what is being presented.
The Long, Strange Trip to Pluto, and How NASA Nearly Missed ItKenneth ChangArticle New York Times
A Young Earth Creationist's PerspectiveAaron DalyArticle BioLogos
LECTURE SERIES: Christianity and ScienceMarketplace InstituteFeature Marketplace Institute
ARTICLE SERIES: Christianity & SciencePaul ArnoldFeature Marketplace Institute