Science and religion are two of the most important components of contemporary society. The Spokane area is no exception. Unfortunately, I have found many in this area believe these forces to be in conflict. Since the most prominent religion is Christianity, I will make the claim that this is wrong: Christianity and science are not in opposition. Furthermore, there are no necessary points of disagreement between a traditional and orthodox interpretation of the Bible and an educated understanding of the scientific theories such as the Big Bang (please see my post on the Big Bang) and Evolution (please see my post on Evolution).
To support my claim, I make three arguments:
1) Augustine is considered an important church father for most varieties of Christianity. He described a bird which flies with two wings. In the same way, he wrote, Christianity flies with the help of both faith and reason. Faith does not work without reason, and reason does not work without faith. Science and Christianity are not in opposition; they were meant for each other.
2) Science was first called natural theology and was originally a branch of the church. Science broke away in the 19th century and became an independent discipline from theology. But the founders of modern science — Isaac Newton (physics), Robert Boyle (chemistry), Blaise Pascal (math) for example — considered themselves as theologians, not scientists. Today they are retroactively called scientists, but this doesn’t change that they believed themselves to be doing the work of God and the church.
3) The interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis by many of the church fathers and scholastics (Origen, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, for example) was not a literal seven-day creation account. Most academic theologians today see Genesis as a response to the Enuma Elish, the ancient Babylonian creation myth. Augustine wrote that the correct understanding of Scripture was very difficult. Each of us should hold to our interpretations only provisionally. Furthermore, because Scriptural interpretation is so difficult, Augustine said it must be informed with the latest knowledge from science (then called natural theology) and philosophy.
If you agree, please lend your support in the comments below and on our Science page and contribute to the dialog. If you disagree, please explain your position and discuss your viewpoints. I hope we both will be changed by this dialog. Thank you either way for your time and consideration.
Bruce Meyer writes about the relationship between the physical universe and the pursuit of spirituality.