Science and Religion

There’s no such thing as “Science.”

Baptist Times, April 2011



Evolutionist guru, Jerry Coyne has, this week, claimed that trying to find accord between science and religion is a mug’s game.  Deploring the Templeton Foundation’s enthusiasm to finance those who see no conflict between science and religion, Coyne, along with other militant atheists, have criticised the latest recipient of the prize, Professor Martin Rees.


I think it’s Aristotle who usually gets the blame for believing that science is ‘a body of knowledge’.  Whether or not it’s true, there seem to be plenty of contemporary celebrity-scientists who should know better, but who still promote their brands of aggressive myth-based atheism as science.


The logic runs something like this: ‘Science’ is an ever-expanding body of knowledge. The crusading forces of science are gradually conquering the realm of mystery (where God lives) until one day, all the mystery is gone and God is left homeless!


The trouble is, there is no such thing as ‘Science’.  It simply means ‘knowledge’, and human knowledge is acquired in many and various ways.  Interpersonal experience is every bit as ‘scientific’ as astrophysics.  They require different ways of ‘knowing’.  So whether we are seeking to hear Scripture or split the atom, we are doing science.


We may be doing it well, or doing it badly.  But any unscientific reading of Scripture is utterly unbiblical.


To read Scripture scientifically, is to seek to ‘know’ that to which the Scripture points us.  If we see Scripture as nothing more than a literary store-room of divinely ordained ‘facts’ about life, the universe and everything – we are treating science, again, as a body of knowledge.  Scripture, like science, is simply a way of knowing!  We may want to get passionate about a seven-day creation; we may want to believe that trees clap their hands; we may argue that a dragon with a rather large tail sweeps stars out of the sky: but in doing so, we are not reading the Bible Biblically.


To listen to Scripture, requires that we listen to poetry as poetry, prophecy as prophecy, law as law, history as history.  If we simply cram the varied melody of voices that harmonise throughout scripture, into a single, monotonous two-dimensional statement of scientific fact, we have missed the entire point of Scripture.


Christians who read it this way, are not reading Biblically.  But equally, scientists who claim that science is disproving scripture are reading scripture in precisely the same ‘unscientific’ way!  A real scientist would not read the bible in a way that betrays such massive ignorance about scientific method.


Real science, like real Christianity, proceeds with humility.  That is, a deep inquisitiveness that is genuinely open to the fact that everything we have learned up to this point may have to be thoroughly revised.  The same is true of Christianity: it is the language of resurrection, as made real in our lives.  If the resurrected Christ is the one we call ‘Lord’, he becomes the epicentre of our lives so that everything else we think and treasure and believe in, is subject to revision.


Resurrection is not simply an objective fact that sits there in history requiring the readers of scripture to base their lives on the impossible.  Belief in the Resurrection, is the capacity to allow precious aspects of who we are and what we believe, to be broken and remade.  And of course, you cannot both be scientific and claim that resurrection is impossible.  The most that can be said by a sceptical scientist is that, if the resurrection of Christ did happen, its mechanics are beyond our understanding.


If you’ve committed your life to the cult of evangelistic atheism, then the capacity to be broken and remade is hugely diminished, as is your ability to believe in the resurrection.  And Christians are no less prone to building Christian lives and ministries which, despite the very best of intentions and fervent prayers, keep Christ himself locked out of the church’s own ministries.


If we seriously believe that science disproves scripture, or vice versa, then our arguments are destined to be both unscientific and unbiblical.  This strand of the science-religion debate, though popular at present as the Templeton debate shows, is nothing other than a mutual barrage of ignorance that diverts both the combatants and the spectators from the real struggles in the real world that actually deserve our energies.