[Vision2020] Creation vs. science (was NSA's accrediting agency)
joekc at adelphia.net
Sat Dec 22 11:33:19 PST 2007
On the whole, I agree with you! A few things to note in particular.
1. Creationism is not really opposed to evolution theory. The former is a theory about the
creation of the universe, the latter about its development. Clearly, the world could have
been created by God AND evolved after that (which is close to what I believe).
2. The real conflict, as you note, is between a certain kind of creation story, accepted by
Christian fundamentalists, and the theory of evolution. I have an opposition to Christian
fundamentalism, in part, because it strikes me as more of a political movement than a
religious movement. I could go on here but I’d like to keep it short for now.
3. In Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues (1997), the physicist and
theologian, Ian Barbour describes four possible relations between religion and science:
conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. I think that you (and I) advocate the last
– the eventual integration of science and religion. Another thing I dislike about Christian
fundamentalism is that they advocate the first: you have to choose between God and
evolution theory. What an impossible choice! The relationship between religion and
science is complex and there are pluses and minuses with regard to any of the choices, so
I don’t want to simplify this discussion. Still, I believe that conflict suits certain political
motivations and this is the main reason why some people select it.
I hesitate to jump in on this because I'm back in the Seattle area with family and I won't be able to get to a computer as often as I'd like, but I would suggest a way to shed some light on any purported science vs. God argument. First, though, I want to assert two things: One, I believe God created the world and everything in it. Beyond that, because of my trust in the beauty and order of the world around us, I believe that true science will never contradict that assertion. Believers should embrace science, and no actual truth will ever contradict the Truth we know in God.
The streetfight appears to be between those who assert the full truth of the Bible, as read literally, and those who argue that all good science points to a conclusion that appears different from what the Bible appears to say. I would offer a third option: Perhaps the Bible isn't wrong, perhaps science isn't wrong. Maybe I'm wrong in my understanding of what each says.
I believe the message of the Bible is true in all it sets forth, when understood in the context of in the intent or formulation of a specific passage -- historical record, apocalyptic symbolism, poetry, law, personal letters of exhortation, etc. Another way to put it is this -- Religion tells me Who, Science tells me How. Could it be that the creation accounts in Genesis were written not as scientific treatises, as science seems to indicate, and instead symbolic passages used to illustrate the truth -- God created -- to non-literate peoples, both water-dependent fishermen and land-dependent shepherds? Maybe science is able only to "see through a mirror darkly," And it can only do what finite persons can do -- offer reasonable explanations for the phenomena of life and order and beauty around us. It's a sacred calling to "do science," to study what the Creator left us, and to always seek greater understanding. If it's true, it will reveal something about God. But scientists, believing and unbelieving, must work with evidence and experimentation as they present themselves; they can't start from a theological belief and bend observable truth to try to complement it. That weakens both theology and science. Likewise, believers must be content to live in a world of seeming paradox, and the tension between revealed spiritual Truth and observable material truth is nothing to be feared. The "missing link" (oops!) is the reality that both can be true and that, in the Providence of God, it will become clear. In the meantime, theologians study and scientists study, and their purported defenders make a mess out of everything. It does God no honor to deaden his word by reading into Scripture what Scripture doesn't intend to communicate, and it does science no favor to scramble like lab mice to come up with evidence tto try to disprove the existence of God.
I am neither a scientist nor a theologian, and I'm content to recognize the tension between the two without panicking that the wonders of the universe have not been revealed to me. God is still God, even (especially) in my non-understanding, and His science is still His truth -- even in my non-understanding, and even when it seems to shake that which is never, in my soul. unshakeable.
More information about the Vision2020