Science and Christianity–How Should They Relate?

An acquaintance asked me an interesting question the other day:

“How should we respond when someone says they are skeptical of Christianity because of its low view of science?”

It isn’t surprising to me that such accusations are still being made towards Christianity. Historical myth and misconceptions that support such an idea run rampant in our society. For instance, there are high school teachers and college-level instructors that still use the film Inherit the Wind to teach students about the so-called “war” between science and the Christian faith. (Very little of the film is historically accurate. Scopes was never oppressed, mistreated, or imprisoned. He volunteered to be prosecuted in a test case for a new organization–the ACLU–to help them, his economically troubled town, and a spotlight-hungry defense attorney gain publicity.)

At any rate, members of the general public rarely question what they’re fed through pop culture, and as a result, there is this common perception (among believers and non-believers alike) that in order to be an orthodox Christian, you must take a low view of science. This is categorically false. I’m a Christian with an education and career background in biology and genetics–I love science! Few human pursuits are as awe-inspiring as discovering the complexity, elegance, and harmony of God’s magnificent creation.

Consider Romans 1:20-

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (NLT)

Observing qualities of God through our study of the natural world sounds like a very high view of science, don’t you think? My view is that when science and theology are each properly employed, they will be in agreement. This is sometimes referred to as “Two Books Theology,” in which Scripture is our Special Revelation and the Creation is our Natural Revelation–both from God, existing in perfect harmony.

Both science and theology are subject to human fallibility, of course, so there should be a mutual humility among practitioners. As Christians, we should not idolize our pet theological views to the point that we turn a blind eye to what natural revelation is showing us. In the same vein, scientists should not artificially exclude any hypothesis simply because they dislike its metaphysical implications, nor should they support an ad hoc hypothesis because they favor its metaphysical implications.

Over the next several weeks, I plan to profile Christians with high degrees in a variety of scientific fields who are doing amazing work in their endeavor to elucidate our wondrous natural world. Stay tuned!