So my friend Brad and I went to the car museum, Okoboji Classic Cars, in North Milford - a great place. We're looking at these gorgeous old cars and Brad is excited to look under the hoods at the gears, belts and tranny. Me, I'm looking at the paint, the interior, and thinking about going for a ride around the lake with someone special. We're both looking at the same car, appreciating the maker and the owner's work to make it so nice, but we are approaching it from different points of view.
This is how I feel science and religion differ in their ways of looking at Creation.
Science looks under the hood at the processes that make the universe work. Scientists are figuring out what makes this do that by coming up with a theory and testing the theory with an experiment done over and over to see if its right or wrong. If the experiment can be repeated by other scientists and proves the theory then the theory is accepted as truth.
Religion is looking at the beauty and awe of the universe. Clergy look at relationships in nature and theorize what they tell us about God and how God wants to be in relationship with us. A religious theory can't be tested by an experiment, but it does get "chewed on" by other people of faith who look at scripture, reason, experience and tradition to see if the theory "tastes good". Over much time theories become accepted Truth when enough theologians and people of faith "swallow" the idea and it becomes a part of our belief system.
Both science and religion look for truth, but we look for different kinds of truth in different ways. Each way, I believe, ultimately leads back to the Creator, the one who made all the universe. We are simply focusing on different questions and different paths to truth.
One of the greatest lies that modern society has been sold is that people have to choose between science and religion.
This lie is a new idea begun in the late 1800's when Charles Darwin's work began to make some religious leaders very scared. Darwin himself was trained at a religious college and studied for a brief time to be a pastor but changed to biology. He struggled with the problem of evil in the world - in nature itself - and lost his faith completely when his daughter died at a young age. His published works "On the Origin of the Species" was controversial for religious leaders, but not to scientists. Religious leaders felt that Darwin's work showing the process of evolution negated the hand of God in that process.
I don't feel that this is true. Genesis 1 & 2 show two very different stories of how God created the universe. One is more poetry, it is almost a liturgical call and response.
On day one God spoke, God made, God blessed, God saw that it was good. On day two God. . .
over and over for six days God speaks, makes, blesses and sees that creation is good.
God starts with nothing, but each day creation gets more complex.
Creation gets more diverse.
Water creatures give way to insects then to land creatures and to birds and then to humanity.
And it is good.
Look at the theory of evolution and I see the same kind of process - creation starts with simple one celled amebas and becomes more complex, more diverse. Water creatures give way to insects and then to land creatures and to birds and to humanity.
Evolution describes the process that God used to make the universe. Evolutionary theory does not say who does the creating or who started it all -- it simply says this is how. Religion looks at this process and says - wow, the One who started this and came up with this really is amazing!
The United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline (official laws & beliefs) states:
We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.
Religion and science do not have to be in conflict. And for the most part I think Christians are the ones who have stoked the fire of conflict with science. We need to stop it because young people do not want to turn their brains off at the church door. They want to know that their faith can inform their scientific curiosity and that they do not have to choose between science and faith. The more Christians push people to choose one or the other the more they will choose science and not the church.