What is a subject that makes your stomach ache? The one that makes your fingers tingle with discomfort at the prospect of having to talk about it. As Christians, there are certain topics that we tend to avoid. The topics themselves might not be bad, just complicated. Sadly, science has become one of those topics for Christians. There seems to be an irreconcilable conflict between science and religion that looks like a challenge to our faith. However, in this week’s episode of the InDepth series, Dr. Leonard Brand, biologist, paleontologist and departmental professor of earth sciences and biology at Loma University Linda and Rich Aguilera, the founder of One Mustard Seed Ministry discuss the alleged disparity between science and religion.
The clash between science and religion begins in our education. For students attending secular schools, non-creation science is taught as the “proper” form of science, a belief that seems to be confirmed by scientific studies. Yet, at home and at church, students learn that creation is the correct scientific perspective confirmed by Bible truth. These double perspectives elicit one of two responses: to merge the two interpretations into an overlapping but contradictory belief, or to polarize the two until science and faith are compartmentalized. The two answers are confused and ultimately incorrect. Dr Brand responds to this by saying:
“There is a very big misunderstanding, this is not really a battle between the Bible and science, it is a scientific interpretation against a different scientific interpretation and the Bible gives tremendous information that can be directly applied to our science.”
This misunderstanding alienated two valid truths: science and faith. Aguilera gives an overview by saying that “I believe the enemy is trying to pit these two against each other so that people think they are two different ideas.” Indeed, the avoidance of science by many Christians for fear that it will contradict or question Biblical truths, as well as the belief of many non-creationist scientists that the Bible has no practical application in the field. scientific, shows a narrow-mindedness that isolates the fuller truth. In fact, for a Christian to avoid science would be to avoid learning more about God’s creation. An invitation to engage with science in its various fields does not imply the prerequisite of checking your Christianity out the door, nor of modifying science to fit the creationist narrative. Instead, it allows our understanding of the God we serve to be the lens through which we study science.
With his background as a biologist and paleontologist, Brand says that “science and Christianity are both based on faith far more than people know.” Although religion is an institution, faith is something we all have, and a benchmark 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 conclusions.” There are no impartial decisions in our lives. Our worldview will define our opinion and function of science. Science itself is constantly evolving, with the understanding that whatever conclusion may prove later on will be wrong. The only steadfast quality of science are the worldviews that propel its study.
In her ministry of bridging the gap between science and faith, Aguilera acknowledged that often we come into discussions with a preconceived idea of what “science” is. In light of this, Aguilera begins each lesson by defining science, thereby removing any preconditioned ideas and allowing her to show how Christianity intersects with science. “There is evidence that the two work together,” says Aguilera, “Christianity is the glasses through which science is viewed, and then go by faith as the events found in the bible and in the natural sciences.” Both sides must be known, the comparison must be seen and shown so that an informed choice can be made. Rather than being inundated with an avalanche of contrary information that could call into question the stability of the faith, teach the Bible as a valid source and not as a separate entity to be compartmentalized.
Science is part of building faith. This generation wants science and evidence to prove that their choice in Christianity is not only valid, but better. In understanding a complex conception, the decision to follow Christianity is supported not only by scripture but by scientific evidence. Brand shared that in recent years, non-creationist biologists have come to recognize that many findings fit into a creationist narrative and challenge Darwin’s evolutionary conclusion. In this way, the proof of the creationist interpretation is proved by the evidence itself.
Engaging in scientific fields like biology, geology, and paleontology educates and enables you to bring God’s creation theory to life, as described in Genesis. Reading between the lines of scientific research to see the Bible account can not only embolden your faith, but also provide opportunities to introduce God to others throughout His world. At the end of all of this, 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 plunge and believe.