Science and Faith

A great debate broke out at our breakfast table this morning. My four year old son, now sporting a brand new light sabre, went to great lengths to prove to my other two boys that “the force” from Star Wars was not real. He even went as far as opening the front door, raising his hand towards it in an attempt to close it using “the force.”

“See, it doesn’t work!” was his conclusion. My middle son ended the debate with some wise words: “Aidan, we are just pretending that it is real.”

There is an ongoing debate that has recently made the headlines again: evolution. Here is a continuing debate which I wish would abate! If you pay attention to the debate, and only the debate, you may begin to think that all scientists lack faith, and that all Christians lack respect for science. But there are many of us Christians for whom there simply is no debate. Science and faith do not conflict for us, but rather harmonise and even support each other, with the views of science fitting quite well with the Biblical teaching on the beginning of the universe.

Personally, I find it a more fruitful exercise discussing the existence of “the force” with my boys than arguing about evolution! And in addition to Christians that have a deep respect for science, I suspect that there are scientists who nurture a deep faith in Christ.

Before I became the pastor of Fourth Avenue Baptist the question was raised as to my beliefs regarding science and faith and the beginning of the world. Interestingly, no one thought to question my views on how science and faith interact with regards to the end of the world. Why do we never think of that?

My seven year old son has a favourite book about space. It has quickly become a favourite book of mine also as the books I tend to read never come with pictures! This book has an interesting section on stars, including our sun, which points out in a matter of fact manner that our sun will go out some day. According to a purely scientific worldview, the possibility of life on earth will come to an end. This means, of course, that according to science there ultimately is no hope for the future of humanity.

One writer, about two thousand years ago wrote: “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:20-22 New Living Translation).

These are the words of the apostle Paul, who presumably was not smarter than a fifth grader in matters of science, but who did speak about the end of the world – but with hope! Here again we find science and faith relating well together, and saying much the same thing – “there was a beginning, there will be an end.”

But where science simply states a fact, faith gives hope. We were created with and for a purpose. “The end” is as much an end for life and humanity as childbirth is the end of a pregnancy. There is something better ahead.

Some, however, may think of faith and the God of faith to be as real as “the force” of Star Wars. Perhaps, like my son, you should open the door, and give it a try. You might be surprised!

(written for the Glebe Report, May 2009)