reFUNCTIONation suggestion # 29 : Science is not the enemy. Neither is intellectualism.

imageChristine Scheller of the Religion News Service recently wrote:

“There’s the idea that Christians are all young-earth creationists and scientists are all atheists,” said astronomer Deborah Haarsma, who serves as president of the BioLogos Foundation. “It’s so not true. That needs to be communicated in churches, and Christian young people need to hear that there are scientists who are believers and also doing science. It is possible to live in both of those worlds together.”

Those who value science in its purist form and those who follow Jesus actually have a lot in common at the core of their purpose and pursuits.

Science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experimentation” (according to the dictionary). Science derives from the Latin word “scientia,” which means knowledge. P.T. Barnum is credited as saying, “Science is the pursuit of pure truth and the systematizing of it.”

You could metaphorically say that the “church” has been sent by the Creator of the physical and natural world on a divine science experiment in hopes of all nations observing the church’s embodiment of the Gospel then arriving at a knowledge of the Truth.

Science is not the enemy of Truth. Science is not the enemy of the church.

Are there scientists who want to disavow the religious claims of the church regarding the creation of the natural and physical world? Yes. Is this significant? Yes. But why? Because at the core of the Gospel of Jesus is the undeserved love of the One who created us in spite of knowing beforehand we would choose to know more than Him once created.

But scientists who wish to undermine religious beliefs don’t make science the enemy. Instead, their efforts actually highlight our need to keep pressing on toward discovering Truth rather than making assumptions about it. It could be argued whether those kinds of “scientists” are actually scientists, since the foundation of their assumptions, which they teach as truth, are anything but truth as science would define it, because they have not observed nor conducted experimentation regarding their creation-debunking claims.

The hypothesis regarding those kinds of so-called scientists asserted by some who consider themselves “churched” has merit: It takes as much faith to believe what non-creationists claim as it does to believe what creationists claim.

Those who consider themselves “churched” should celebrate science in its purist form. Why? Because scientific findings like the complex changes of the circulatory and respiratory systems of newborn babies AND the death of and birth of stars AND the precise balance of the earth on its axis AND the power of water to carve through solid rock AND even the nutritious value of a singular grain all move us to awe at the improbability of randomness in the physical and natural world as well as the probability of intentionality in the world of the characters and stories of the Bible.

Science does not make the Creation story less believable. Science does not diminish the potential of the miraculous. Science does not disprove God in the midst of us. It provides a mechanism with which we can observe “God with us.” The same goes for intellectualism.

Why is this a reFUNCTIONation suggestion? Because I fear that the longer those who consider themselves “churched” think of science as the enemy, the longer those who think scientifically disregard the message of the “churched” as ignorant.

We need to think. We need to learn and discover Truth. We need to be able to engage both those who give little thought to anything more than how they will be fed today AS WELL AS those who give much thought to new methods of sustainable food sources. We need to be able to engage the hourly worker of Ivy League schools as well as their faculty. We need to recognize that science and religion alike give us a window into the supernatural and divine. We need to be a people who think deeply about the pragmatic side of our Creator as well as the philosophical side.

We need to live as observers of and experimenters with Truth.

Let me give you a very practical example.

The Hubble telescope has now seen a star birthed as well as a star die. The cataclysmic origin as well as the slow-fading perishing of objects like the Sun may point us to the Son more than we realize. Whether the Biblical Creation story is an actual seven days of enormous events or seven ages of enormous events, what effect does it have on “The True Story of the Whole World?” What difference does it make now that we find ourselves on a rock that orbits a star whose surroundings are either being forced to expand or being drawn toward implosion? How would the potential for seven ages take away from the power of the Gospel of the God who put on skin and stepped onto this rock to put an expiration date on humanity knowing good AND evil while providing salvation for those who believe in His goodness? Doesn’t the possibility of both seven days or seven ages magnify the epic-ness of why God created in the first place and glorify His grace extended toward His creation?

The point – don’t prejudiciously dismiss the suggestions of scientists, or they will dismiss the message of the “churched.” Don’t prejudiciously disregard the speculations of intellectuals, or they will disregard the message of the Gospel. Think.

The culture of science and intellectualism does not need the “churched” to check their brains at the door and cling to “blind faith.” The culture of science and intellectualism needs thoughtful conversation inside of gracious relationships with those who follow Jesus AND pursue pure Truth.

If we aren’t willing to go close enough to demonstrate the wisdom of and love of God to those too often thought of as “enemy” by those who consider themselves “churched,” then many scientists may never view the church as anything more than silly circus tricks. Let’s pray for Barnum’s Truth pursuits rather than his circus.


3 thoughts on “reFUNCTIONation suggestion # 29 : Science is not the enemy. Neither is intellectualism.

  1. jdukes May 8, 2015 / 6:52 am

    Excellent snd thought-provoking. Strong affirmation that The One Who IS Truth is not Threatened by the Truth.


  2. alexandermcmanus May 8, 2015 / 8:59 am

    Hey Jason,

    You may know that I came to faith as an adult. Hearing and believing the gospel did not challenge or change my evolutionary frameworks for understanding how the world came to be as it is, in the natural sense.

    Truthfully, science and scientists have never scared me. Christians and churches have. It may be, as I commented on an earlier post this week, that the greatest source of misinformation about God in the world are not atheist scientists but the church and our celebrity spokespeople.

    The universe is some 14 billion years old. The Earth is over 4 billion years old. Organic life came to be expressed in all of its diversity from a single celled life form. Evolutionary theory gains more explanatory power with every passing day.

    But our main challenge is NOT the science. Our main weakness is what should be our strength, namely, that we don’t know how to distinguish poetry from history from metaphor from epic saga. We don’t know how to read the Bible for all its worth.

    When young people today feel a calling to the ministry, I immediately think of directing them towards biology, neuroscience, cosmology. Besides Jesus Christ, The church when on mission, And Hollywood movies, the sciences are where God is revealing Himself most powerfully today.


    • jasoncdukes May 9, 2015 / 9:42 am

      I did know that. And knew of what you shared in your comment. Hence, I asked you to comment this week specifically, although I HOPE YOU WILL CHIME IN OVER THE COURSE OF ALL 95 SUGGESTIONS. 🙂

      I hope you recognized my post’s purpose was to challenge us to both think through other possibilities than what commonly is pushed by the “churched” regarding science, AND to respect as well as engage in learning conversations with those who are intelligent and reasonable but may hold different views than those commonly held by the “churched.” Not because we need to “compromise,” as some criticize. But so we can THINK.

      Grateful for the thinker you are.


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