Science has been defined as the systematic study of the natural world, and rightly so. That is a generally agreed-upon definition and there’s nothing particularly controversial about that. However, there is disagreement over whether that definition excludes any consideration of the “supernatural.”
Now, when I say there is disagreement, I don’t mean amongst scientists, although there are those that dissent from the general consensus. I’m referring to virtually everyone who thinks about issues relating to faith and science. Science and religion have, over the past couple of centuries, been knocking on each other’s doors. The question is whether or not that should be the case.
The belief is that science deals in the realm of natural explanations. It carries natural explanations as to why people have different physical traits or natural explanations concerning how and why the weather changes. Yet, the moment one invokes a higher power or a miracle, it ceases to be science. This is even believed amongst religious people.
I take issue with this perspective for a few reasons.
I think that this view of science and theology comes the acidic destruction of post-modern philosophy, which causes many to see scientific truths as objectively true and grounded in reality, whereas religious truths are more abstract, “personal truths.” I can’t be certain as to whether or not this false dichotomy was influenced by the influence of eastern mysticism that crept into the west in the twentieth century. That seems like a plausible factor because when one examines the major world religions, there is only one religion that claims to base its theology on a historical event, and that is Christianity.1
Christianity claims that it is grounded in reality, and that certain facts are objectively true. Additionally, the Bible recounts events in history that we would expect to impact our scientific findings: The most obvious example being the flood of Noah’s day. That impacts what we see in the fossil record. The vast majority of our fossils, including fossils on top of every major mountain range, has been laid down by water.
Then of course you have the fact that we know that there is only one race of humans because everyone descends from Adam and Eve. In psychology we expect what we learn about mental health and human flourishing to align with what the Scriptures say about us.
The fact of the matter is that the as long as we are talking about evidence and truth claims, theology and science, while two different disciplines, are not completely separate from each other. If we are studying creation, we should expect questions about the Creator to come up.
That said, I think that the relationship between science and theology should be considered by Christians. It is difficult to study the world around us and not bring our study of God and His Word with us. In fact, it should be the very foundation of our study of the world.
God created this world. Let’s give thanks to Him as Creator and Lord and give Him the glory that He deserves.
- One could make the argument that Islam bases itself on the historic event of Muhammad experiencing revelations centuries ago. However, there is no real way to test this as Muhammad’s claims must be accepted on faith. It may also be argued that Mormonism is based on god revealing himself to Joseph Smith. However, this religion suffers from the same problem. Smith was to be taken at his word for what was “revealed” to him.