God and Science: Friends or Foes?

Pick up your Bible and trace the historical story-line of the Israelites, from Abraham down to the New Testament Jesus and His followers. If you read the story like any other story, you will notice a significant trend. Take Moses and the burning bush, for example. Apparently, this event was unusual to Moses. It was not natural. Bushes just don’t spontaneously ignite; and when they burn, they get consumed; they just don’t burn on and on and on.

science godOr take the case of the Israelites at the shores of the Red Sea. Moses, at the command of God, raises his staff and voila! The body of water divides into two great walls with a dry path between them. Waters don’t just part with nothing but air to hold them in place. That was not natural.

These events and many others, as described in the Old Testament, were considered strange, miraculous and “unscientific” by those who witnessed them. They were considered unnatural, even supernatural, if you’d like to call them that.

What these events, and the reactions evoked, tell us is that there was a norm the people were used to, what they could see with their eyes and perceive with their senses. These Old Testament “primitives” knew a miracle when they saw one. Why? Because their senses and minds were scientific. They could discern a specific pattern or law in nature, and they knew when this law was defied.

These people were not blindly superstitious as they have often been presented.

Science is not a later, post-Christian invention. Experience and experiment had taught the Egyptians that sticks don’t turn into snakes, so it was a miracle to see one doing just that. The Israelites knew that bread doesn’t just naturally fall from the skies, so it was a miracle to see manna.

So, how come people back then accepted these unnatural occurrences in nature? The reason is not because they understood them, but because they knew who was causing them. Science and religion were not enemies to these Old Testament people, and there is no reason for them to be enemies today. The people in the Old Testament understood that there was a being that was bigger than them: a being that did not have to obey the rules of nature because He made nature. A being that could twist, bend and overturn natural laws because He owned them, they didn’t own Him.

These Old Testament people believed in a God who created the heavens and the earth: a God who created everything that we consider natural, including the laws by which they operated.  God was not a scientist, because science was created by God.

So how come Science and Religion seem to be enemies today? And how comes the Bible seems to teach some things that seem to directly contradict Science? Which one do we believe? Science or Religion?

Well, the enmity between science and religion began when some people began to trust and value science as if it was equal to religion. Science is the means by which we perceive the world; it is not the means by which the world came into existence. Science is the means by which we describe the world; it is not the means by which we explain the world. Religion provides the ultimate all-encompassing explanation of the world – God created it. It would serve us well to always distinguish between descriptions and explanations. We can never depend upon descriptions of man, no matter how accurate, but we can always depend on the explanations of God.

When we begin to view religion and science as equally valid descriptions AND explanations for the world, then they will always be antagonistic, simply because religion and science are neither equal nor similar. On the other hand, if we begin to view science as the means availed by God for us to describe the creation and how we relate to it; and if we begin to view religion as the means availed by God for us to perceive and understand God and how He relates to His world, then there is no reason for the two to be enemies.

Science is the wisdom of man in relation to man. Its views are subject to change as people learn and make new discoveries. Our faith may be informed by the wisdom of man, but it does not rest in the wisdom of man.

Our faith rests, and must rest, in the wisdom and power of God.

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