Thursday, January 17, 2008

God vs. Science

Several times over the course of my life I have heard sermons from various preachers on why the use and pursuit of science is detrimental to the kingdom of God. I think I've finally reached my limit of hearing this kind of self-serving junk from the elevation of the pulpit without seriously challenging it in every way possible.

Because of the "unhealthy" modern trend of asking people to cite concrete evidence for holding a certain position or opinion, many conservative churches have interpreted the "over-dependence" on science and empirical data as a direct assault on faith.

Bill Watkins, pulpit preacher at Crieve Hall Church of Christ, believes carbon dating and the like are seriously flawed methods of research as they render astronomical numbers of age that cannot possibly be accurate as the earth is only about 10,000 years old. (I think the "about" was meant as 10,000 years and 7 days)

Mr. Watkins explains further that God can create age, and that the well-documented geologic record is God's wondrous sense of humor fooling with our feeble attempts to understand the world He made. While it is certainly true that our ways are not His ways, and that the Great I Am is able to do all things (including "creating age" in the world) I think these kinds of guileless characterizations of God is limiting The Almighty to a plebeian perception of an individual's mind and not the complex and awe inspiring Patriarch that He is.

Let me put it very plainly. Pitting God against Science is pitting God against himself, for science is God's tool for creating and governing the universe. Just because we have an extraordinarily limited understanding of some of His methodology, does not mean we have reduced Jehovah to science books and are no longer in need of His love and mercy. On the contrary, even if we were to understand science in its entirety we would be moving past the "how" we were created into the "why." I think every Christian would believe that the "why" is much more important than the "how."

Although I do not subscribe to much of his politics, Mike Huckabee fielded a question early in the GOP debates on the subject of evolution and creation. Governor Huckabee was asked if he believed the world was created in six days, to which he replied that he didn't know how long it actually took or how it happened (because he wasn't there), but he was sure it was God who created the heavens and the earth. This is the only appropriate response a Christian has for that question.

When the pointed criticism, "Do you not believe every bit of The Bible is the inspired word of God?" is returned from an offended brother or sister, whose intent is to undermine my faith and credibility as a believer, I would respond, "Yes. I do believe every word is inspired." However, I do not believe God (through Moses) wanted to over-burden the scientific capacities of His people following the Exodus when relaying the story of His creation.

Even if He were relaying His story directly to us today, I believe He would find it humorous that we have gotten so caught up in the "how," when it is little relevant as to "why."

All science is faith-based to the believer. When God's tool is turned against Him from the pulpit, I believe it recklessly irresponsible as it is an attempt to root faith in a limitation of God; and to limit God in a narrow (albeit scriptural) understanding of His prodigious and marvelous creation can cause the faith's upheaval when it is challenged on solid grounds.

Science is solid ground, but when it is couched as the anti-God instead of God's method, it can be a powerfully destructive force in the kingdom. If science was ever characterized as the anti-God, I can guarantee that it was an ordained minister who is responsible for painting the misguided picture.

Thoughts to togetha....we stand and sing.


Tiffany said...

Right on, brotha! Right on. You summed it up perfectly when you said, “Pitting God against Science is pitting God against himself, for science is God's tool for creating and governing the universe.”

My feelings on the best way to read the Creation story stem from a class I took with Dr. John Fortner at Harding, when he compared the opening chapters of Genesis to a Hallmark card. The card doesn’t say, "When I am around you, endorphins in my brain are released which result in a higher perceived sensations of pleasure. Simultaneously, the capillaries in my extremities moves the blood more quickly through my system and my pupils dilate slightly…” Instead, a card says something more along these lines: “My heart races when I’m near you and I am moved by the magnificent light you cast on the world.”

Likewise, Fortner argued, Genesis should be read as “God’s love letter to the human race and to the Hebrew people.” That’s such a beautiful way of viewing God’s work in science. It’s not about the physics of it; it’s about the motivation and the emotion behind it. It’s not about what technically occurred but rather, what results from that moment forward.

And isn't a view towards the future what our faith should ultimately be about, after all?

Nicole McIntyre said...

I feel like I need to sing 728B (aka Our God, He is Alive)