Science and Religion

Science and Religion

WARNING: what is about to follow is full of words and phrases about which most people have some sort of working definition. I intend to give my own working definitions. Meaning that if you don’t like what I am saying, nor my definitions, then please try to understand the concepts I am after.

Science:

I am more of an artsy person. When I say that, I think some people would chuckle and that’s fine. But I don’t think like my close friends who are math, science people. I think differently. Because of that, I have to sort of work things out in a way that I can understand.

So my understanding of science is this: Science is a data gathering tool. I understand the technical etymological definition. But I don’t care right now. I perceive of science as a tool.

What I mean is this:

  • In Biology, science gathers data about a fly for instance. How long are the wings? How think are the membranes? What is the substance of the wings? How fast do those wings beat per minute? How much thrust and lift do those wings provide?
  • In Astronomy, science gathers data about the sun. How far away is the sun? How big is the sun? How hot is the son? How long does it take for the earth to go around the son?
  • In Chemistry, science gathers data about a substance stuck to the back of a stamp. What elements might be in that substance? What is the state of the substance?
  • on and on and on and on I could go.

Science is a data gathering tool.

Worldview:

Worldview is also a tool. However in this case, worldview is a tool for interpretation. What do I mean?

When we gather data, when we have collected facts, usually as we try to make sense of that data, we cannot help but look at that data through our worldview lens.

This is why two people can look at the same data and come away with two different conclusions. What determines how far apart their conclusions are depends on their worldview and how deeply ingrained their worldview is.

Atheists have a worldview. There are basic commitments that they have, basic ways of seeing the world, that give shape to their interpretations.

Christians have a worldview. They too have basic commitments, and they see the world through those lens.

So when a Christian sees the data gathered from: fossils, geology, or chemistry, they most certainly interpret that data through the lens of their worldview and see in creation the creator.

Conclusions:

  1. First, there is objective truth. The sun is only so big. It doesn’t matter if we have determined it correctly or not. It is as big as it is. Our tools and systems of measurement could very easily get it wrong. Or the sun might have fluctuations in its size. But none of that changes the fact that the Sun is what it is. Every one knows that objective truths is real, because we have a thing called science. If there were no objective truth, there would be no science.
  2. Second, it is true, Christians start with an apriori commitment before they examine any data collected by science. As a Christian I free admit that bias. But so does every other worldview. EVERYONE is biased. Everyone has a starting place. Everyone has a basic starting point that cannot be reduced past  the starting point.
    1. For example, a certain kind of atheist might view empiricism, a certain type of scientific method, as the sine qua non of all knowledge. Would that atheist be ready to prove that empiricism is the beginning point? Would they be wiling to PROVE that without ANYTHING EMPIRICALLY related? In other words, can you prove that empiricism is the proper method or knowing all things, without circular reasoning? Can you point to some other authority to prove that empiricism is the source of knowledge or the axiom? If not, then you have to use circular reasoning to prove it. If you can, then empiricism was never the axiom.
    2. Christians are ready to admit that we start with the Triune God who has revealed himself in both creation and in Scripture. Through God’s revelation we come to know. And if you ask me to prove that revelation is the sine qua non of knowledge, I will not go to any other source to prove it, but will gladly engage in circular reasoning, of a sort.
  3. Third, these two definitions are why in my mind science and religion do not contradict one another. Science is simply gathering data, and any data gathered from this world, is data from God’s revelation of himself in creation. So it will always point to him. Even if it seems to contradict our understanding of his Special Revelation (Scripture), we know that his two ways of speaking are consistent with one another. Now there is a thing I call scientism. This is a God-does-not-exist starting point, that claims objectivity and a complete lack of bias.
    1. But how can you say that something is unbiased, if a possibility is discounted?
  4. Fourth, you can be scientific about many things. You can collect data on insects, plants, ancient civilizations, documents, human behavior, and so on. So to say that Creation science is not real science to me is just unintelligible. (this is where I was thinking you might object to my definition of science. So go write your own article. I explained my definition in the beginning, what you want from me?) As Christians we can even approach the Bible from a scientific view point as we gather data about a passage in order to put that data under interpretation.
  5. Fifth, and final, Christians ought not ever be scared to check out “scientific discoveries” Data gathering can be flawed. Interpretations can be wrong. And many things in this life are still out, and our knowledge is still so limited by what we do not know. Because we don’t even know what we don’t know. There is no reason to fear science, God has constructed our brains in such a way that we can come to know something of who he is, because he has revealed it to us in nature and his word.