Dr. Arnold Sikkema (CSCA President) was recently interviewed by Pastor Todd Gallahar of Burnett Fellowship Church in Maple Ridge, BC for a sermon on thinking about science.
How should church-goers think about science?
As C. S. Lewis put it, “anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about” (Mere Christianity, bk. IV, chap. 2). It’s no secret that there is a widespread perception of antagonism between church and the Bible, on one hand, and scientific progress, on the other. Prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins argue that science rules out religion, and the church has its own voices that view science with a measure of suspicion, suggesting that the Bible simply trumps science. But neither position sufficiently appreciates that since neither science nor Christianity is very simple, neither can their interaction be so. The challenge for pastors is to communicate about science in Christianity in a way that is both responsible toward these complex realities and accessible to church-goers.
Pastor Todd Gallahar of Burnett Fellowship Church in Maple Ridge, BC recently invited CSCA’s Dr. Arnold Sikkema — both a Christian and a physicist — to do a short video presentation to be included in his sermon on thinking about science. Sikkema makes the following helpful points for churchgoers, among others:
- Neither the Bible nor science tells us everything about everything.
- We should pray for and encourage Christians in the sciences.
- Christians in the sciences can participate in the Christ’s ministry of reconciliation by helping to redeem creation, putting it “back to rights.”
- The Bible cannot necessarily be used as scientific data to prove or disprove scientific theories, and Jesus’ miracles and Resurrection cannot be disproved by science.
- Scientists are not trying to disprove the Bible; they are trying to understand the world.
- Every good scientist actually tries to disprove currently-held theories.
Pastor Gallahar does a great job of communicating these things to his congregation: “If God created nature,” Gallahar reasons, “then science should point to the existence of God.” So it’s not that the Bible or nature communicates falsehood, but that we have fallen interpretations of both — good theology and good science will not conflict because revelation and creation both come from the same God.
Of course, there is always room for further reflection on these matters, and those of us digging deep into theology and the philosophy of science may wish to ask how science may point to God:
- Some might say that it is not so much science itself that points to God (science does not have any methods or tools to conclude anything one way or the other about things outside of nature); rather, it is philosophical and personal reflection upon the findings of science that may point (or not) to God.
- Others of us, advocating Intelligent Design, for example, will say that science does have the tools to point (or not) to God — with scientific authority.
Much more could be said on this, but Gallahar wisely sticks to those things most needful for his congregation regarding the larger discussion of Christianity and science.