On Science and the Church



                Ask anyone today if there is a war between science and religion, and they will probably tell you that the black robed priests and the white lab coat wearing scientists have been at each other’s throats since the dawn of science. What people will not tell you is that many of our greatest scientists were actually philosophers and theologians first and scientists second. Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, and Robert Boyle are a few classical scientists who believed in God. Even our most esteemed Nobel Prize recipients are theists.
                Another point that I would like to touch on is the fact that much of the foundations of modern science were made in the church. Gregor Mendel was a priest in the church when he did his pea plant experiment that laid the ground work for modern genetics. When the big bang theory, proposed by Jesuit priest Georges Lemaitre started to gain traction, it was the atheist intellectuals who mocked this theory by calling it the big bang theory. The title was meant to be derogatory to the theory but the name stuck and it is a household name now and there is even a television show of the same name.
                But wait, what about the infamous case of Galileo where he was placed under house arrest for his findings about the solar system and how the earth moved? Depending on what you have read, Galileo was placed under house arrest, but some books will say that he was placed in a dungeon and tortured. The dungeon and tortured part is a total myth made by sensationalist writers trying to embellish the story. While he was placed under house arrest for 9 years, I don’t think it is as easy to claim that it was a matter of science versus the church here. The Copernican theory advanced by Galileo was relatively new at this point and would turn many religious and secular intellectuals’ ideals on their head. I would go so far as to say the Inquisition trials that Galileo was subject to had a much more political flavor to it than a religious one. While the church is not completely blameless in matters like this, but I believe that this case is where the leader’s in the church tried to fit their ideals to God’s word.
                Another area that I have yet to touch is what is commonly referred to as the God of the gaps argument. An example of this is the ancient ideal is that lightning and thunder are the gods fighting amongst themselves. With a little bit of science you know that lightning is a perfect natural experience that is explained with scientific law, and now you don’t need gods to explain it. With less science you get more God, and the more science the less room for God. If this kind of argument were actually true, then there would be no point in writing this and you could not find a scientist anywhere who even entertained the idea of a God. I don’t think you will find a serious Christian who believed in a God of the gaps. To put it in the words of C.S. Lewis “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a Legislator (Law-giver)”. Unfortunately this belief has died among many scientists, with people like Stephen Hawking telling people to choose between the law of gravity and the “hypothesis” of God. This is a confusion of the explanatory power of each answer. It is kind of like looking at a computer and having someone give you a choice between two answers as to how this computer came to be: the various laws of electrodynamics that govern the circuits and the laws of mechanics that hold the computer together, or that a person built the computer. Both are perfectly acceptable answers, but are incomplete on their own to explain everything about this computer. So any serious Christian should not believe in a God of the gaps, but of a God of the whole show!
                So on the issue of science versus the church, I believe that this “war” is a false issue brought up to distract believers from their walk with God and to drive non-believers away from God because they fear being mocked for being foolish. Please feel free to study the Book of God, the Bible, and the Book of Nature, His creation, without fear of having to choose between one and the other. May God Bless you and have a good rest of your day!

Comments

  1. Great post.

    The thing that always gets me is scientists not acting very scientist-like. For example, last week I saw a video of Richard Dawkins encouraging a young crowd at some rally to mock people of faith. I wonder why he (and others) step out of the lab and into the public arena to aggressively advocate their personal positions that don't necessarily have anything to do with science. Honestly, for someone who doesn't like the notion of a deity, those actions seem awfully religious, don't they?

    And your point about different fields of science being founded by Christians is an excellent point - there is no intrinsic fight between faith and science, and you're right again, we shouldn't be drawn in to thinking that there is one. It gives credence to those (like Dawkins) who would like to see their own personal tensions projected upon society at large.

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    1. Dawkins is one of those people who has tried and failed to be the next philosopher to try and kill God, and secular and theistic philosophers have torn him to shreds over his book "The God Delusion". As for his remarks over mocking people of faith, Ravi Zacharias has a video up daring Dawkins to go mock people of faith over in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. He would at least discover that not all religions are created equal.

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