Some people think that there’s a war between science and religion. This war is fought on various battlegrounds: stem cell research, creation vs. evolution, the Terry Schiavo mess. I was on a radio show once, back in my more fundamentalist days, put in a position to have to defend the seven day creation account. I made the usual arguments, God created the world with age, errors in scientific assumption. Though I stopped short of accepting one supporter’s assertion that fossils were posited by Satan and his minions in order to deceive mankind.
I was much younger, still working on my biology degree and trying to fit together in my mind how my scientific training could comfortably rest alongside my Biblical faith. How do you prove or disprove matters of faith? Why would you want to? Once you “prove” faith, it’s no longer faith, but fact.
There are thoughtful people out there who won’t participate in conversations about God because too many Christians apply the litmus test of evolution vs. literal six day creation on folks before they will let them in. The hubris of those in possession of this spiritual secret knowledge (latter day Gnostics in many ways) chase off serious spiritual seekers.
Again, I’ll point to the modern mindset that places the Bible as the foundation, ultimate authority (personal pope) of their beliefs. People, friends of the Bible, make claims then attempt to prop them up with evidence, proofs, and diagrams. This, by the way, despite the fact that the Bible never makes the claim of it being foundational (inspired and useful, yes; foundational, no.)
It’s just as bad, even worse, when science and religion get in bed together.
Think back to the halcyon days of the Medieval Church. The medieval worldview had the earth as the center of the universe and the heavens as a series of concentric circles radiating from it. Of course it’s natural for us to assume that we’re the center of reality. You see, the science of the age was so entwined with the religious beliefs that to argue against it (memo to Copernicus and Galileo) was tantamount to heresy.
It’s like we forget that science and religion have two different jobs to do. Jobs that can co-exist, but neither need to fight nor join forces. You want another more recent misguided example?
The modern creation science movement, the attempt to apply scientific principles and scrutiny to the Genesis creation account, has led to the founding of the Creation Museum. The Creation Museum is an outreach of Answers in Genesis, a non-profit ministry located near the Cincinnati International Airport, in northern Kentucky, USA. This 50,000 square foot facility will proclaim to the world that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice and in every area it touches on. Scheduled to open in 2007, this ““walk through history”” museum will be a wonderful alternative to the evolutionary natural history museums that are turning countless minds against the gospel of Christ and the authority of the Scripture.
I’m not saying that there’s no room to be both spiritual and free-thinking scientific intellectual. I’d like to believe that I am. Both can co-exist quite nicely alongside each other. But the point of the Bible is not to be a scientific text, so we shouldn’t force that role onto it.
We live in a modern, rationalistic age. That is the model, the worldview, through which we view reality. However, every model is limited by the limitation of the human mind in the context of the age that he’s living in. Models come and go as our frames of reference change. Yet all models eventually reach a point of no room for new development. Where the act of adapting the model, the contortions of logic that we do to maintain that model, is more cumbersome than chucking that model and developing a new one. Paradigm shifts are hard. Letting go of that which we know, that which makes us comfortable, is difficult.
There are times when religious texts are in accord with science, times when they are not (such is the nature of mysteries and miracles). The fact is that while both science and religion attempt to help us navigate our way through reality, religion focuses on matters of the soul and betterment of the spirit. Not to provide proof texts.
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