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Christ and science 3

By Gerry Straker, 16 Jul 2020

Christ and science 3

We're picking up our little series, based on our  back at the beginning of June, which you can watch here. It’s my hope that these articles will:

  • Help you think rightly about science and Christianity in the face of pressure and misinformation.
  • Get you excited about God, His creation, and exploring it with his gift of scientific endeavour.
  • And reassure you that you can help people with questions about science and Christianity - you really don’t need to know a whole lot about the details of science to engage with the big questions.

In the first article we saw that there isn't a battle between Christianity and science at all. In the second article we saw that science depends on Christianity:

  • God began science.
  • Christians began modern science. 
  • Jesus rules science.
  • and scientists must believe in God in order to do their work (though many deny this of course). 

Science depends on Christianity, and... 
 

Science is less important than Christianity

This is not to say that science is not important! Christians will absolutely want to do science for the glory of God, for his praise. But I think we can say that science is less important than Christianity. Here's what I mean:

Science can do all sorts of useful things and help us with all sorts of technological advances. But it cannot help us with three key areas: 
  • Meaning
We cannot learn from science what the purpose of the world is.
  • Morality
 We cannot learn from science how we ought to live. Or why we all have an innate sense of right and wrong![1] 
  • Mortality
We cannot learn from science why we die and it cannot help us escape death.
 
Science cannot help us with the most important questions of purpose, or how to live, or how to deal with death.
But, all those questions the Bible can answer. Questions that science can’t answer, but the Bible can include:
 
What is the purpose of life?            Acts 17:24-27
Is it wrong to steal?                         Exodus 20:15
How do we know God?                   John 14:6-10
What is God like?                            Psalm 93
Why is there so much suffering?     Genesis 3:17-19
Does God exist?                              Psalm 53:1-3
Why is the universe here?               Psalm 19:1-2; Revelation 4:11
What happens after death?             Revelation 20:11-15
 
Those passages are just the beginnings of the Bible’s answers, there is loads more to say on those topics.
 
As we’ve said before, it is more important to know that we have a Father who loves us, than it is to know our physical, biological and chemical composition.
 
Science is less certain than Christianity
 
This next heading might surprise you! But when you stop and think about it, it does makes sense.
 
  • Science is all about questions
Although some scientists seem to have forgotten this, and what is sometimes cited as scientific fact, simply isn’t! But good science is about theories and being open to more questions.
 
Professor Brian Cox said this in an interview: ‘We don’t know how the universe began. Full stop. That’s it. We don’t know...I do not know what the origin of the laws of nature is...We are part of the grearetst of mysteries.’[2] In his foreword in, ‘The Book of General Ignorance’, John Lloyd, the founder of the TV programme QI, has this to say: ‘It’s a very well kept secret, which they don’t teach you at school, that nobody has the faintest notion what gravity is. Or consciousness, or electricity, or viruses. We don’t know why there is something and not nothing and we do not know either how, or why, the universe began. Worse, 96% of the universe appears to be missing. The world is not solid; it is made of empty space and energy. But nobody knows what energy is and they are beginning to suspect there is no such things as emptiness.’ [3]
 
That is good humility. The best science is done in humility and awe. And the very best science is bowing down before our Creator in humility and awe.
 
  • Science is man-made
It’s the work of humans, and that means it can never be definitive because we are finite and fallible creatures.
 
  • Science is constantly being updated.
Scientific theories are overturned. The history of science shows that things change when new information is discovered. Scientists keep finding out how much more complicated everything is than we first realised.[4] We think we know some things, but it is only a matter of time before the current favourite theories might well be ditched for new theories.
 
All this is to say that science cannot give us any answers! It is not certain. On the other hand, we have the Bible.
 
  • The Bible is all about answers.
It is certain and clear on those really important questions we mentioned a few moments ago.
 
  • The Bible is God-made.
 The Bible is not man-made, it is God’s revelation to us. And God is unchanging.
 
  • The Bible is complete.
It doesn’t need updating; the Bible won’t change. ‘Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.’ (Hebrews 1:1-3) All that needs to happen has happened: God has spoken by His Son. His Son has died for our sins, and has sat down. It is finished. It is all in the Word of God. All we need is in the Bible which is not going to change. Of course, sometimes man’s interpretations have changed, but the Word itself does not.  
 
And so, science is about questions, it starts from man, and it keeps changing. Therefore it is less certain than Christianity, since the Bible offers answers, the answers are from God, those answers are complete and will never change.
 
Christianity is certain. But Science is very much up for grabs. Good scientists don’t claim certainty about anything. Christians can, not because we are particularly intelligent, but because God Himself has spoken!
 
There really is not a battle between science and Christianity. It is not at all contradictory to believe in the Bible and be a scientist! But, there is a battle. Perhaps all the way through this series, you’ve been thinking: ‘This is all well and good. But none of this is ever going to convince my friend who thinks highly of science. He’ll just say you can’t trust the Bible.’ And you’re right. It won’t convince your friend. And that’s because there is a battle. But it’s not science v Christianity.
 
More on the real battle next time…
 
[1] When someone says that Christians can’t talk about morality because religion is responsible for war, then remember ‘evil has also been done in the name of science. And that it is ultimately only a religious worldview that enables us to diagnose evil as evil.’ Rebecca McClaughlin, Confronting Christianity, (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2019), 123.
[2] Interview with Russell Brand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9LHRfoIhTE
[3] John Lloyd, ‘Introduction’ in The Book of General Ignorance, (London: Faber and Faber, 2006), xvii-xviii.  
[4] See John Blanchard, Is God past his sell-by date? (Darlington, Co Durham: Evangelical Press, 2004), page 64 for his example of the genome.


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