Oil and water. Nitro and glycerin. Politics and Thanksgiving dinner.
There are some things that should just not be together. Many also think that science and Christianity is one such pair up as well. However, by rejecting Science, one of God’s creations, evangelical Christians are denying a gift God has given us, and once again they are putting their all powerful God into a box that they declare he is not powerful enough to get out of.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the tenets of progressive Christianity is learning and researching things and discovering with the awesome brain that God gave us to do exactly that. Combined with the allegorical nature of much of the Bible to better aid in understanding to a pre-scientific civilization, and we have no problem seeing the creation story for what it is, a way to explain an unfathomably-old universe to those who had no way of figuring that out. For many centuries Christians, curious about the world around them, have sought to learn more about the world, and God has only been too happy to help them. Giving them the knowledge of how to make telescopes, God revealed a heliocentric solar system that we didn’t know about previously. The big bang theory, one of the cornerstones of the scientific understanding of the universe as opposed to the creationist view, was first discovered by a Catholic priest and was mocked as a way to try to have religion explain away what science hasn’t discovered yet. (And could you blame them? Everything being created out of nothing (the primordial atom that predates the Big Bang)? Sure sounds like the Biblical literalist’s view of creation!) But fundamentalist Christians often get hung up on the literal view of creation, they hang their whole faith on the fact that God must have created the world in six days, they fear that if they are wrong about that, if the Bible is not meant to be literal, that their whole faith system will come crashing down.
This obstinance has led to persecution of scientists like Copernicus and Galileo in the middle ages and ridicule of the aforementioned priest that developed the big bang theory, followed by an official denial of his work by the church. But progressive Christians don’t mind having their notions challenged, that’s what we love to do. Our faith is on Jesus, an unchanging solid rock, not creation. When God created the universe doesn’t matter. How God created the universe doesn’t matter. What matters is God. And our studying of His creation can bring us a lot closer to knowing Him and how He works.
I build molecules for a living. I can’t begin to tell you how difficult that job is. I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God. – James M. Tour, nanoscientist
Related to the topic of science and Christianity is the miracles in the Bible. On one side is the same Biblical literalist who sees that many of the Bible’s miracles are scientifically impossible (and thus, “miracles”), and on the other is the progressive Christian, aware of the science God created to do things on earth and recognizes God’s use of science to achieve what a pre-scientific people would call a “miracle”. I have heard fundamentalist Christians bemoan the fact that Christians in the developing world report miracles (the kind that are found in the Bible) all the time in the present day whereas we have, according to them, drifted away from God, depriving us of miracles. Yet God has given us the knowledge to see the same things that some call “miracles” through his great creation of science. The same event would be seen by one who can’t understand science as a “miracle” and to a Christian who can understand science as the same gift of God, and how He did it. I suppose there is something to be said for not spoiling the fun by revealing how it’s done (which is why magicians never reveal how their illusions are done), but “pulling back the curtain” is a great way to understand God even more.
As progressives we need to defend this God that has no limits from the box that fundamentals want to put him in. Our God can easily have created the world via the scientific process. This is easy to believe if you believe that God is all-powerful and has no limits. We also need to learn about God’s awesome science, and teach it to our children since God has let us learn about it. Christianity and science is a mix that not only complement each other but also help us understand God and the Bible better. He cared enough to give us the gift of scientific understanding. The least we can do is acknowledge the giver.