Monday, June 20, 2016

"Because It's True": Why We Need to Engage Science for the Sake of the Gospel

I'm writing a book on why we need to integrate Christian faith and mainstream science, especially for emerging adults (18-30 years old). This is the current version of my opening paragraphs ("the lede" in publishing speak)--I'd be interested to know what you think.

I write this book because it’s true.

      And it here can refer to at least three things. Each of which is also true. I'll post just the first two of these today.
      First of all, it’s true that we as Christians believe that Jesus is Lord of all. Therefore whatever forms of human knowledge—and thus whatever the sciences—truly discover, we are bound to bring it under Christ’s Lordship. In other words, no form of human insight and knowledge is outside of Christ. Put another way, God knows far more about science than Albert Einstein.
      Secondly, it’s true because whatever human knowledge discovers in nature, we are bound to follow it. Because God made the natural world.
      This realization emerges from the fact that when we begin by confessing that God has created this world very good, we are in the proper starting place for the study of nature as Christians and as scientists.
"O Lord, how manifold are your works! 
    In wisdom you have made them all; 
    the earth is full of your creatures." Psalm 104.24
Or from The Message
"What a wildly wonderful world, God! 
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, 
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."
      I was at a conference on science and theology and a biologist commented, “Every scientist I know began with a profound experience with nature.” The message of the Bible is that we are created to relate to the world around us. The thrill of the scientist is that the natural world is exciting to discover. That begins the process of science.
      Consider the daughter of a friend, Eva. As we were hiking in the Sierra Nevada
mountains together, she would find beautiful rocks and bring them to her father (who has a degree in geology)—“Aren’t these amazing? Isn’t this one pretty, dad?” He affirmed her scientific impulses and dutifully collected each of these geological gems (and they gradually filled and weighted her his backpack.) 
Eva essentially summarizes my point.
            And so does the great astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus: 
“The universe has been wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.” 
Or, the head of the National Institutes of Health and one of the top scientists in our country—and also a follower of Jesus—Francis Collins
“I find that studying the natural world is an opportunity to observe the majesty, the elegance, the intricacy of God's creation”
Collins, Copernicus, and Eva agree: I need to write this book because it's true.

3 comments:

Julie Holland said...

Greg, I simultaneously love that you are writing this book and am astounded that we as Christians don't see its premise as 100% obvious. How could we possibly *not* see any scientific discovery as beyond what we experience of God? I love it, and I shake my head that it need be written at all.

bob sprague said...

I like your post and look forward to the book. Could you expand more on your second premise?

"it’s true because whatever human knowledge discovers in nature, we are bound to follow it. Because God made the natural world."

While I may misunderstand, it seems you are binding the follower of Jesus to
"whatever human knowledge discovers." I'm uncomfortable with this since history is filled with revisions of what we thought we knew. The "discoveries" made by human knowledge might also conflict with your first "truth."

I appreciate the spirit of your comments and understand I am reading them apart from your completed thought in the book. Other questions come to mind and look forward to the development of your thesis. Thanks Greg!

Greg Cootsona said...

Thanks, Bob, and sorry to be so slow...
I think, as Christians, we are bound to follow whatever human knowledge discovers. Three examples: Following often means, if the knowledge is well-established, that we agree. In science, I think the church was wrong to set geocentrism as its cosmology, even if Joshua 10 (where Joshua tells the sun to stop and it does) or Psalm 19 (the sun runs a circuit around the earth) need to be re-understood. A kind of middle case: I am convinced, with 99% of scientists, that evolution is a powerful and true scientific theory. About 35% of Americans (according to Pew) disagree that human beings evolved from other species. I think they are resisting what a wide variety of sciences over the past 150 years have discovered. (By the way, in my HuffPo blogs I offer two ways to understand Adam and Eve in light of evolution.) Final example: It may often happen that following implies that we debate and engage. I believe, as a Christian, that human beings are unique. Many scientists are challenging this view quite energetically. So, I engage in healthy listening and debate.
I hope that helps.