What Galileo's Telescope Can't See


James K.A. Smith

Sometimes a conversation is over before it’s even started. At least, that’s what James K.A. Smith is pointing to with this article about the relationship between Science and Christianity. Drawing on the way this moment in time is being labelled as “a Galilean moment,” Smith argues that this choice of phrasing implies a forgone conclusion: orthodox Christianity will be found wanting just like it was in the time of Galileo. However, as Smith prudently points out, there is an important aspect of the Galilean situation that this framing neglects: geocentrism is not essential to the Christian faith, and as such there is no necessary divide between the positions held by the faith and scientific communities. As a counter example, Smith (in the footsteps of Mark Noll) points to the example of Chalcedonian Council where issues of personhood were rightly debated alongside the nature of Christ’s divinity—science and theology hand-in-hand.

For the church today, we need to ensure that we are not waging wars over the non-essential, calling on the church to defend our personal beliefs as opposed to orthodox beliefs. We do, however, need to recognise those moments when a scientific discovery is apparently in opposition to a foundational Christian belief. And when those moments come, Smith suggests we can turn to the helpful examples that have been provided for us by the historical church.

Are there essential beliefs of the Christian faith that stand in apparent opposition to science? If so, what are they?

Are there challenges to the Christian faith by scientific research that are non-essentials?

Source: Christianity Today

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