Friday, 11 August 2017

Science vs Faith: Can we have both?

By Paddie Denton

I have a confession to make; I love science and I love Jesus. The tension between science and The Church, the struggle between reason and faith, got re-sparked recently over the debate regarding genetic ancestry tests. It's been discovered, through the use of these tests, that there are descendants of the Canaanites (you know, the ones God commanded were wiped out) and some argue that thus, this disproves the bible!!!!!! 

However, what these arguers fail to mention is that the Canaanites turn up in later passages of the Bible. But what these findings really do prove is that there is still a lack of openness and understanding between science and faith among many even today. So let me try to break to some of the myths and stigmas of the science and faith debate. 

(Disclaimer: I am no expert researcher, but I adore science and what it has done for my faith.)

Myth 1: If you believe in Scientific theories and practise you have to be an atheist.

So let's get one thing clear first: Science belongs to no one group of people, it belongs to humanity. I Think the best way to show this is to point out who has contributed so much in science... People of faith! The Big Bang was thought up by the Catholic Priest, Fr Georges LemaƮtre, Origin of Genetics come from the monk and Priest Fr Gregor Mendel. A Franciscan, Friar Bacon (yes, that is really his name) developed the scientific method of theorising then experimenting that is still used to this day. And it's not just the Catholics, Medieval Muslims charted the stars, exceptionally. Even today there is men and women of faith who continue to contribute and teach the amazing world of science.

Myth 2: I have a bible, I don’t need anything science offers.

Well….. you could follow this school of thought, for it's true that in scripture God does provide everything, including Psalm 110:2 - “Great are the works of the Lord; to be pondered by all who love them”. The bible has everything, but God has given us even more than that. God made us human, and it is innately human to want to discover and understand, and if you need more proof that God wants us to keep understanding more and more and more as we become able to, just look at the bible in how God revealed the Truth, over time, and slowly unpacking and fulfilling it more and more and more.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind

-      Albert Einstein

Myth 3: OK, but doesn't what science offer contradict what the bible teaches?

No. Moving on. In all seriousness though, no it doesn’t, the Big Bang for example, doesn't contradict the creation narrative, ‘Let there be light’ sounds like a massive explosion to me. And then you throw at me that science believes it took million of years for people to exist, but the Bible says 6 days!!! What?! But the reality is this, we must always remember that much of the Bible is not meant to be taken literally. Just like how Jesus taught through parables, a lot of the Bible's writings are to be taken as philosophical thought. So, with this in mind, day becomes a period of time. And fun thing: if you look, the order of both Genesis and science are the same, not bad for 6th century BC dessert nomads.

 Myth 4: Yeah but EVOLUTION!! It's only since Pope Francis that the Church is open to it.

Yeah, it is true that Pope Francis did make a statement about the beauty of Evolution.

“and I do not see that 'the accidental evolution of organic beings' is inconsistent with divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.”

- Blessed John Henry Newman, 1868

But the church has shown an openness to the theory for a long time, and as Pope St John Paul II stated, the Church’s position on the theory was to accept modern scientific development, but not forget to stop, think, and ask who? And why? Which brings you to God. Evolution provides the how, while God provides the why. 

Q: But then why does the debate exist?

One of the problems I find with how the debate is shown in the media is that the debate falls between the science community, people such as Richard Dawkins, and fundamental Christians, think Westborough Baptists, and us, as the Church, get paired up with them, when, and you will not hear me say this in any other situation, the Church has more in common with Richard Dawkins (shudder). But this is what the argument often comes down to: creationists versus those who are not.

Q: So how do faith and science fit into the same world then?

Science and faith are meant to compliment each other! When either one tries to answer questions outside their discipline, that is when problems start to occur. Science can never answer the miraculous (by VERY definition of the word) nor can it answer the spiritual. While faith cannot answer how the reality of the world works, nowhere in the bible does it explain planes and how they fly. And when either over step their remit is when problems occur.

Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. 

- Pope St John Paul II

And neither can hold the other back. It's been seen throughout history that when both are working and striving together, great understanding is achieved; just look to the renaissance!

So, let's wonder about The Wonder!

Creation is amazing. It is one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring gifts God has given!! And yes, we want to, and should, strive to learn more about it and understand it better; that is amazing! And as you learn more and more and more about creation, unless you're trying not to, you can not help but see God at work in the world! It is just so wonderful. We are encouraged so often through scripture to have child like hearts, to live simply and truly, but for me it also means to live being amazed by what is amazing. To see something and think ‘Oh,WHAT?! How does that work?! THAT'S BRILLIANT!!’. So please with child like hearts go out and wonder about the wonder

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