Christianity & Science: Can I Believe in Both?
When you think about the relationship between Religion and Science, what are some topics, ideas, or debates that come to mind? (I.e. Evolution)
What is a scientific question that you have about the universe, the world, humanity, or their origins?
Do you think that Science and Religion are friends or enemies? Explain. (10 points).
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We often see the arguments between religion and science on topics such as creation, design, and evolution as a conflict with only two sides:
Atheists: Using science to try to disprove religion
Believers: Reject the explanations of scientific understanding
If this were true then believing in science means rejecting God, and believing in God means rejecting science. It cannot be this simple!
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Deut. 11:14-17, 1 Kings 8:35-36
We read about ‘storehouses’ of rain and snow, God as the mover of the rain and drought!
But, when we ask: What causes the rain? Most of us were not taught about Heavenly warehouses full of water - were we?
Instead, that water evaporates from the ground, rises to the cooler air, and condenses into water droplets that form on clouds!
Meteorologists continue to develop more and more advanced technology to understand and predict all kinds of weather.
Now imagine: Debates arise about what should be taught in schools about weather.
Scientists - “From our understanding about the scientific causes of the weather, it is clear that no divine being controls or directs the weather.”
Believers - “Atheistic scientists have invented godless theories about evaporation, but we can prove that their theories are false with our Scripture.”
While we do not have this argument around the weather -- it is generally accepted that God governs the weather, usually through scientifically understandable processes.
Why don’t you think that we accept this understanding of God and Science working together in other avenues of life?
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Worldview: A belief system that a person uses to answer the big questions of life.
A person could have a Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheistic worldview.
Within these categories, people can have a variety of intricacies within their own worldview - not all Christians believe the same things.
Science: Some scientists argue that science itself is independent of any worldview; that supernatural beings like God cannot exist and impact the discussion.
Example: “The law of gravity causes apples to fall to the ground.” This is a foundational truth, outside of the realms of God, or any gods, participation or cause.
Christian Worldview: We believe that faith is a part of everything that we do, not something set aside when we enter into the scientific world.
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The Bible clearly teaches that natural, ordinary events are governed by God.
God is active, not only in dramatic supernatural events, but also in the small ordinary changes of the seasons.
A scientific explanation of a natural event does not replace God, or mean that God is absent, rather it shows us that God is sustaining all of life.
God consistently, throughout all of Creation, sustains and maintains the natural laws and the very existence of atoms and light waves.
All matter, all space and time, are continually and actively maintained by God.
Scientific study reveal to us small aspects of the repeatable patterns that God has created and maintains in nature.
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Science and religion are not mutually exclusive.
We are called to use all of His created means to learn about His world, and how we can best live in it.
Scientific study allows us to better understand the God of our faith.
Science can move us to deeper worship, a greater understanding of the Creator and His Creation, and a fuller knowledge of who we are as His creation!
“God created and governs the natural world around us; science is a systematic way to study God’s creation,” Deb Haarsma.
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Humans have the ability to study nature and to understand, at least partly, how it functions.
Events in the natural world work by natural cause and effect.
A tree falls because the wind blows it over. Not because it wanted to, nor because a forest god made it all, or even because it was fated or destined to fall.
Natural phenomena are repeatable; they are regular across space and time.
Scientists will find the same experimental result in laboratories all over the earth, the results will be the same today as last week. This consistency allows the phenomena to be studied using logic and mathematics.
Observations and experiments are necessary to build and test scientific models and correctly describe nature.
Science is worth studying, using human time and resources.
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Humans are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Due to this, we have abilities to understand how the world works.
There are no nature spirits, gods, or fate. There is one God (Deut. 6:4) who created and rules the world (Genesis 1) in a faithful and consistent manner.
God has established natural laws (Read - Jer. 33:19-26) with the Universe. So as believers we aren’t surprised that nature typically functions within regular, repeatable, universal patterns. God made them!
God was free to create the world in many ways. Humans are limited, sinful, broken. We are unable to understand God’s ways completely (Job 38 - Remember Job?!). So scientific models based on logic must be tested by experimentation and observation, comparing them to what God has actually made.
Studying nature is worth doing because we are studying the very handiwork of God (Ps. 19:1). God has called us to study his creation (Gen. 2:19-20, Prov. 25:2) and to be stewards of it.
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Should we take every scientific proof to be Gospel? Should we stand firm in a literal translation of the Scriptures and apply it today, even if it goes against scientific scholarship?
No. Instead, we should understand that the Creator of the Universe, is also the Creator who established laws that govern it. Laws that we can better understand as we study His creation, through scientific and knowable means.
What this also means, is that we are entitled to our religious beliefs in light of scientific proofs.
Example: You do not need to believe that the world is billions of years old, or that evolution is an indisputable fact. In the same way, you do not need to believe that the world is a few thousand years old, or that God could not use evolution in His creative process.
Instead: As Christians, we need to respond in love.
We respond in love to Professor’s who begin their class with the statement that “God is dead.” We respond in love to our fellow believers who understand the Earth to be young, or old - for evolution to be used by God, or not. We respond in love.
But love speaks the truth.
“... Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ,” (Eph. 4:15).
We are called to speak what we believe, to do so truthfully, but to do so out of love for the other.
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Write out a scientific belief or position that you find to be in against your Christian worldview. Or someone who adamantly holds one of these views.
Write out a prayer for those who hold this belief. Ask God to continue to convict you of your beliefs, but to also strengthen your Christ-like love for those who disagree with you. Instead of moving to argumentation and tension -- finding a place of disagreement, based on the love that only God provides.