What is a topic that makes your stomach drop? One that makes your fingers tingle in discomfort at the prospect of having to talk about it. As Christians, there are some topics that we tend to avoid. The topics themselves might not be bad, just, complicated. Unfortunately, science has become one of those topics for Christians. There seems to be an irreconcilable conflict between science and religion that feels like a challenge to our faith. However, in this week’s episode of the InDepth series, Dr. Leonard Brand a Biologist, Paleontologist, and departmental professor in earth and biological sciences at Loma Linda University and Rich Aguilera, the founder of One Mustard Seed Ministry discuss the supposed disparity between science and religion.
The clash between science and religion begins in our education. For students attending a secular school, non-creationist science is taught as the “proper” form of science, a belief that seems to be further confirmed by scientific studies. Yet at home and in church, students are taught creation is the correct scientific perspective confirmed by biblical truth. These dual perspectives cause one of two responses: merging the two interpretations in an overlapping yet contradictory belief, or polarize the two till science and faith are compartmentalized. Both responses are confusing and ultimately incorrect. Dr. Brand addresses this by saying,
“There is a very big misunderstanding, it’s not really a battle between the bible versus science, it’s one scientific interpretation versus a different scientific interpretation and the bible gives terrific insights that can apply directly to our science.”
This misunderstanding has alienated two valid truths: science and faith. Aguilera gives insight by saying that “I believe the enemy is trying to pit those two against each other so people think they are two different ideas''. Indeed, many christian’s avoidance of science in the fear of it contradicting or challenging biblical truths, as well as many non-creationist scientists belief that the bible has no practical application within the scientific realm does show a narrow-mindedness that isolates the fuller truth. In reality for a christian to avoid science would be to avoid learning more about God’s creation. An invitation to engage with science in its diverse fields does not entail the prerequisite of checking your Christianity at the door, nor does it mean altering the science to fit the creationist narrative. Instead, it is allowing our understanding of the God we serve be the lens through which we study science.
Through his experience as a biologist and paleontologist, Brand clarifies that “science and Christianity both rely on faith, much more than people know.” Though religion is an institution, faith is something that we all possess, and a guidepost by which we measure everything in our lives. “Everyone has a worldview, a philosophy whether they think about it or not ”, Brand continues,” and in science that philosophy controls the conclusions”. There are no unbiased decisions in our lives. Our worldview will define our opinion and function of science. Science itself is ever changing, with the understanding that whatever conclusion can later have evidence prove it wrong. The only steadfast quality to science are the worldviews that propel its study.
In his ministry of bridging the gap between science and faith, Aguilera recognized that oftentimes, we enter into discussion with a preconceived idea of what “science” is. In light of this, Aguilera begins each lesson by defining science, thus removing all preconditioned ideas and allowing him to show how Christianity intersects with science. “There is evidence that the two work together,” says Aguilera, “Christianity are the glasses through which science is viewed, and then go by faith that the events found in the bible and in natural science”. Both sides must be known, comparison must be seen and shown so that an educated choice can be made. Rather than being overwhelmed by an onslaught of contrary information that could challenge the stability of faith, teach the bible as a valid source and not a separate entity to compartmentalize.
Science is a part of faith building. This generation wants science and evidence to prove that their choice in christianity is not only valid, but best. In understanding complex design, the decision to follow Christianity is backed not just by scripture but by scientific evidence. Brand shared that in recent years, non creationist biologists have come to recognize that many discoveries fit within a creationist narrative and challenge Darwin’s conclusion of evolution. In this way, the evidence for the creationist interpretation is being proved by the evidence itself.
Engaging in scientific fields like biology, geology and paleontology both educate and allow you to bring the theory of God’s creation, as described in Genesis, to life. Reading between the lines of scientific research to see the biblical narrative can not only embolden your faith but provide opportunities to introduce God to others through His world. At the end of it all, we must recognize that both beliefs require faith. Just as there is room for doubt in science, there is room for doubt in Christianity, and we are always required to take the leap and believe.