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The Misunderstood Relationship Between Faith and Science

I have heard people from time to time describe faith and science as being incompatible belief systems. Either your beliefs are grounded in the faith of a Higher Power (the details vary depending on the tenets of a particular religion) or you believe in analytical evidence-based science. Both of these beliefs are frequently described in terms that show a likability akin to oil and water. Frankly, I don’t understand why some people consider science and religion as incompatible belief systems. For me, science affirms my faith.

I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and He was sacrificed for the sins of humanity. I believe that all that was and will ever be was created by God. I believe that our world is God’s creation. I believe in the power of prayer and have faith in what I do not see or understand. I also believe in science. I believe in the laws of gravity to drop objects from the sky along with all of the other empirically proven laws of the physical world. I believe that the cosmos beyond our solar system were created by God, and the myriad of things unseen can be explained through terms of both faith and science. I believe in electricity and other scientifically proven phenomena. I don’t need to see radiation to recognize it is governed by the laws of science and has a power that is beyond my comprehension. In the realm of God and science, there are numerous concepts that I can’t see, experience, or truly understand, but that does not negate its reality. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive perspectives.

I’ve recently started playing the piano again and refreshing my knowledge of music theory. If one has never studied music and one listens to a beautiful song of any genre, the technicalities of music are not always evident. The measures per beat, nor whether it’s a major or minor scale, or even the notes themselves are not obvious to the untrained ear. Music is governed on its sheet through numerous rules and music is created within the framework of these guidelines.

Likewise, who can say that God didn’t create our world and the heavens above within the framework of scientific laws? As I build my knowledge during my free time on various subjects, the more I learn about scientific topics, like astrophysics, the more I see God’s handiwork within everything. God shows Himself most clearly and abundantly in the natural physical world. All that is not created by man was created by God and it is glorious, especially when considering the intricacies of the scientific laws that govern our world. It deepens the complexity. Like a majestic mountain wasn’t just placed on the earth, it was created by the push of tectonic plates. And who wound up the plates for them to inch their way towards one another? Certainly, God did. God’s work is evident in scientific discovery. “The power and beauty of physical laws are that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them,” Neil Degrasse Tyson wrote.

I recently finished reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson. It’s short, relatively speaking. Most books that delve into science topics are famously verbose. What this book lacks in length, it makes up for in substance. It is dense, in contrast to the unimaginable expanse of the universe. The universe, of course, is sparse. Planets and stars are light-years from one another, and it is full of deceptive appearances, like the galaxy of Andromeda hidden in plain sight within the eye of the constellation, Taurus the Bull. When considering the vastness of space, it is easy to feel insignificantly small. Likewise, when considering the awesome powers of God, it is easy to feel insignificantly small.

The parallels between many of Tyson’s quotes, I believe affirms and can be equally attributed to that of God:

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you,” Tyson wrote. Neither is God. “By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

“What we do know, and what we can assert without further hesitation, is that the universe had a beginning. The universe continues to evolve. And yes, every one of our body’s atoms is traceable to the Big Bang and to the thermonuclear furnaces within high-mass stars that exploded more than five billion years ago. We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out—and we have only just begun,” Tyson wrote.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its fittings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? ... Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this,” God’s retort to Job (Job 38:4-7, 38:18).

I could go on, citing Biblical quotes that affirm logical reasoning that can be affirmed through scientific means. But that can be redundant, a digression from my purpose in exploring this topic. To me, these ideas beg the question, is faith so fragile that consideration of an idea that might contradict it would somehow negate it? I dislike the idea that something might have a flaw and rather than rework, repair, or revise the flaw, the whole concept must be discarded vehemently. I dislike this concept in any context.

There is much that I do not understand. The more I learn, the more I recognize that I have gaps in my knowledge, and today, I strive to learn more. The more I learn about science and other topics, the stronger my faith. Subjects like science and philosophy don’t contradict my faith. They affirm it.


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