There is a lot of talk these days about the relationship between science and religion. The Internet is full of websites and blogs devoted to the topic. Walk down the aisles of your favorite bookstore or library and there are all sorts of books on the topic from every imaginable perspective. I have been (and still am) involved in groups that discuss the nature of the relationship between science and religion. But really, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
I understand that there are people who view science and religion as incompatible. Both people of faith and people of no faith hold this view, and can hold it very tightly. They have thought about it, reached a conclusion, and in my experience, are generally not interested in changing it.
However, I think those who are very certain are a minority. My hunch is that there’s a larger bunch of folks who are simply confused about the whole topic. These are people who want to accept science and who want to believe in the Bible. Unfortunately much of what they hear and read tells them (from one perspective or the other) that it is not possible. If you are one of the confused, let me suggest that you don’t need to be. You can reconcile science and religion and not have to abandon either your brain or your faith.
Most Christians agree that God is the creator of the universe. For most of us that means there is nothing that exists that God did not create. And, it seems to me, that includes science. It just doesn’t seem possible to me that something exists in the universe that God doesn’t already know about.
Now before you start thinking, “but what about this”, or “what about that” let me say I know this way of looking at things doesn’t make all the problems go away. But I think it does re-frame them. It doesn’t put science and God in opposition. What we perceive as conflicts may just be the result of lack of information. We may not have enough data, we may not have thought things through sufficiently, or we may have thought things through incorrectly. But ultimately there ought not to be a problem.
We sometimes have a tendency to forget that “science” is not a finished, completed subject. So when you hear someone state that science can’t explain this or that, it only means that science currently can’t explain something. It doesn’t mean that science will never explain this or that. Scientists still have a lot more to discover and explore and explain.
By the same token, we Christians need to remember that we do not and cannot know everything about God. We know some things about God, but we don’t know everything. Theologians (and all believers are theologians) still have a lot more to discover and explore and explain. And we need to be willing to admit that some of what we know may not be exactly right. I am not saying that God changes, but I am saying our ideas about who God is and how God acts may need to change.
So none of us, neither scientists nor theologians, know everything and some of what we know is faulty or incomplete and needs more work. It seems to me there is plenty of room for humility all around.
I am quite sure that this proposal is unsatisfactory to the true believers on either extreme of this issue. Unsatisfactory is probably putting it mildly. But I also think for many of us this approach can help us leave this unnecessary battle behind. I don’t mean to suggest that we stop thinking about the relationship between science and religion. It is a good thing to think about, it is a good thing to discuss, but we don’t need to fight. What do you think?