I did NOT watch the ballyhooed Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate yesterday. The reason is I know all the arguments already, on both sides, and find that arguing about things like this to be silly. People on the pro-creation side will claim victory and send out Twitter quotes and people on the pro-science side will do the same, each attempting to make the other one look stupid or silly. I do not think it is reasonable of science to attack spirituality and I do not think it is reasonable for people of faith to attack science.
So here are some Greenbean perspectives on the issue.
1. The Bible is not a science book. In fact, to attempt to twist the Bible into a science book is to minimize its meaning and alter its message. For example, the point of Genesis is not to tell us how God did anything. The point of Genesis is to inspire us with awe at the wonder of all that God has done.
2. God has revealed himself in the universe, and he has given human beings the ability to study, learn and discover. Therefore, when we learn, study, and discover anything about the universe we are learning about God, and God is bigger than our theological constructs and our limited worldview. To study the universe (at its largest or smallest expressions) is a noble and worthy goal.
3. Even though there are clearly moments when science can be evil (atomic weapons, poisons, human experimentation (i.e. during the holocaust)) in the end science is good and beneficial to the world and for humans.
4. Even though there are clearly moments when religious faith can be evil (jihad, crusades, power abuses and manipulation) in the end faith is good and beneficial to the world and for humans.
5. When scientific data describes things that the Bible or faith does not (i.e. evolution, age of the world, etc…) the response of people of faith should not be “No, you’re wrong,” but instead it should be, “Wow, that is interesting. I wonder what else we might discover if we keep looking.” Truth is truth, and as people of faith we are called to pursue all truth regardless of its origin, and facts are truth. To ignore facts is to deviate from truth. Embracing truth will inform our faith and help us appropriate a knowledge of Christ that is deeper and richer than what we had before.
6. Science cannot explain everything. As wonderful as it is, there are aspects of humanity and creation that are mystery. Love, behavior, emotion, desire, life and and even self-awareness itself are beyond the ability of science to fully comprehend. Science can describe these and inform our understanding of the processes (such as neuroscience and psychology) but it cannot give us insight into the biggest question of all. Why?
7. People of faith and people of science need each other in order to provide balance to the human experience. In the absence of science superstition and magic replace reason and logic and this is no good for anyone. In the absence of faith people become fatalistic and materialistic, and this is no good for anyone. Both results in violence and ignorance. History teaches us that when superstition reigns people die (witch hunts, human sacrifice, holy wars, etc…) and society is stunted. This is the worldview of Islamic terrorists. Contemporary culture teaches us that when people believe and live as if human beings are only animals with no spiritual connections or consequences that they kill and abuse wantonly, and psychopathic behavior erupts. An example of this is the phenomena of school shootings.
8. Arguing solves nothing. I believe in apologetics–defending the faith and offering answers to questions–but not in an environment that is clearly more for show and sport than for spiritual advancement. Solid apologetics are done everyday by pastors, teachers, academics, and anyone who takes the time to be informed on issues and then who speaks with love and compassion, not with ‘gotchas.’ All debating does is drive the wedge ever so much deeper into an already frighteningly divided society.
9. Literature, art, music and coffee shops are the best places to have these discussions. It is one of the reasons I write about the dark side of science (The Deep Cove stories), about the traumas of faith (The Land Begins to Heal, the Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and other Short Stories) and why there is so much pain in the world (yet untitled unpublished novel).
So these are some of my perspectives. I’d love to hear some of yours, so long as we keep it all civil.
Image from npr.org