|A sign looking over a western canyon proclaims God's majestic creation.|
As a boy, I loved reading science fiction. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, among others, took me on adventures that stretched my imagination. Later I graduated to writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. They envisioned other worlds, solar systems, galaxies and dimensions.
TV shows like “The Twilight Zone” “Outer Limits,” and “Star Trek” fed this fascination, which morphed into the wonderment of viewing films like “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind,” “E.T.,” and the earliest installments of George Lucas’s “Star Wars” series.
Part of this intrigue was the unknown – not just the vast universe measured in light years, but even our own world filled with complexities and perplexities. Nobody would ever confuse me with Bill Nye the Science Guy, but the vast array of organisms that inhabit Planet Earth holds me in continual amazement. And the beauties of nature – whether a spectacular sunset, or an awe-inspiring glimpse of wonders like the Grand Canyon – dare even the most skilled writers to capture in words. Many have tried; none have fully succeeded.
Despite great appreciation for science – I'm able to write this today thanks in part to huge advances in medical science – it's troubling when science is equated with deity. Many kneel at the altar of science, convinced it holds the only answers to life as we know it, as well as what we don’t yet know.
I’m not among them. Even though various scientific disciplines have provided us with an ever-expanding storehouse of knowledge, we flirt with danger when confusing science and fiction.
Take, for example, medicine. We presume physicians will provide definitive diagnoses for all of our various ailments and maladies, but by their own admission, doctors often are limited to very educated guesses, hoping they’re right. Recently I underwent several tests to evaluate my heart functions seven years post-surgery. My cardiologist confirmed everything looks “stable” and “unchanged,” but he offered no guarantees.
|Whether through a glorious sunset or a |
frosted, snow-covered street, wonders
of science and faith can converge.
We hear of comprehensive studies reaching conclusions about everything from the value of having mammograms to the long-term effects of caffeine and alcohol. Then we learn of other research that concludes the opposite. Medical science’s certainties are anything but certain.
Or consider meteorology. Weathermen make grand predictions and then miss by a mile. “It’s going to snow!” and we get nothing. “We might get an inch or two,” and the next morning we’re digging out from more than a foot of white stuff. This applies to tornadoes, hailstorms and other potential disasters, too. It might be better to spell the profession, “whether-men,” as in “we don’t know for certain whether it’s going to do something or not.”
Some treat global warming/climate change as empirical, unquestioned facts, as others do in discussing the theory of evolution. But when emotion and dogmatism are extracted from the equation – if that’s even possible – we find credible authorities armed with strong arguments against prevailing opinion. The dividing line between science and fiction sometimes blurs.
At the same time, I’m not one of those that argue the Bible offers the last word on science. Most of all, the Scriptures are a vast collection of spiritual truth, revealing the God who is and who we are to Him. However, it’s interesting to consider the scientific acumen of the Bible. For instance, long before Columbus, Magellan and other explorers dispelled the notion of the world being flat, the Bible declared God “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22).
Christianity is sometimes termed a “bloody religion,” but thousands of years ago the Bible asserted, “the life of a creature is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). If you’re ever in need of a transfusion, ask your physician if it would be okay to substitute tomato juice or red Kool-Aid instead of blood and see what response you get.
Too often science and spirituality are viewed as adversaries. Sometimes we see evidence of that – people hell-bent on rejecting the existence of God must embrace alternative explanations for life and the universe. But as a person of faith, I applaud science for seeking to understand the workings of everything the Creator God has fashioned.
The book of Genesis opens with four profound words: “In the beginning God….” How can the finite, temporal mind comprehend an infinite, eternal God? It can’t. But it’s easier for me to accept a God unfettered by time and physical laws than the proposition that all we are, all we see and all we can know had its “genesis” from absolutely nothing, and that we’re nothing more than the consequence of purposeless, cosmic chaos.
In the book of Job, God acknowledges our wish to discern matters of the divine: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!... Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?... Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell, if you know all this” (Job 38:4-18).
To me, science and the Scriptures need not merely coexist. They can complement, science gradually unraveling the profundities of creation, and the Bible revealing all we need to know about the One who created everything.
As the psalmist wrote, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts…. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds” (Psalm 145:3-6).