“All truth is God’s truth.” Although a cliché, this is accurate. Scripture and science cannot contradict because both belong to God. But some churchmen and scientists do have conflict, even animosity, primarily rooted in methodology. Churchmen emphasize faith. Scientists look for evidence. However, both faith and evidence are biblical and contribute to God’s truth.
Conflict between churchmen and scientists related to faith versus evidence is nothing new. In the 15th century, new technology shed light on the prevailing Aristotelian worldview by which the church interpreted Scripture. The most famous incident was Galileo’s heresy trial and conviction. Galileo, observing through a telescope, had asserted that the Earth revolved around the sun, contrary to church teaching. More recently, extremists among both scientists and churchmen have given each group ample reasons for distrust of the other.
Science can rely on extraordinarily complex mathematics which yield non-intuitive answers. Results reported by scientists are thereby impossible for non-scientists to verify and can even vary over time. Medical researchers, for example, can’t seem to settle on whether certain foods are good or bad for our health. No wonder some churchmen are skeptical of science.
Many scientists observe that there are conflicting beliefs within the modern church and that aspects of church teaching have greatly varied over the centuries. Churchmen who claim to get unsubstantiated and perhaps self-serving messages directly from God make scientists scoff. A few within the church are hostile to science even to the point of refusing medical care.
However, faith and evidence together in God’s hands are amazingly powerful. For example, Scotsman James Clerk Maxwell experienced an evangelical conversion at age twenty-two and remained devout all his life. Albert Einstein later credited Maxwell for identifying the foundation on which all modern physics is based. Many other important scientists have been dedicated Christians. The two are not incompatible.
Both churchmen and scientists seek God’s truth. And each can learn from the other. Romans 12:17 admonishes, “… live at peace with everyone.” Let us not allow different methodologies or extremists to cause conflict. Churchmen and scientists working together with faith and evidence will benefit everyone. Remember that all truth is God’s truth.
Future Blog Posts
Scripture and Science – The Case for Faith
Scripture and Science – The Case for Evidence