How can someone believe everything (including mankind) was really made in six days? With the only ages for the universe that have any scientific consensus reaching into the billions of years, how on earth can anyone trust the Bible?
I don’t think there are many Christians alive today who do not have to answer some form of those questions, and I am one of them.
For some, it’s easy to simply dismiss these challenging discrepancies with a “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” or a simple dismissal of the scientific community at large, but that doesn’t work for me. Why? Because I love science. For me, it doesn’t get much better than when Stephen Hawking or Brian Greene writes about the origins of the universe.
However, every time I read any of their works, I am saddened with the knowledge that they, and many of their scientifically-minded peers, are not believers, and I believe its our fault.
For some reason hundreds of years ago we decided to pick a fight with science and tell Galileo that his telescope was wrong and the earth really was the center of the solar system. We lost that one, but we lost much more than an argument, we lost the souls and voices of a whole population, a whole personality type.
Those with a hunger for the empirical, those who thirst for data that confirms a hypothesis, those who are overjoyed when some hitherto misplaced piece of the theoretical puzzle is found, are often absent from the church because we have made it clear that their data has no place in our theology.
In the time of Galileo it was the celestial spheres and in our time it is the theory of evolution, but the problem is not evolution or celestial spheres, it is an unwillingness to grow and question long-held beliefs as a result of new data (a trait at which science excels). As a result, we lose the people who possess that which we lack and the Kingdom of God suffers.
It turns out that if we imagine that maybe God created science like he did everything else (Adam was a Taxonomist after all right?), then maybe science is a theological endeavor. Maybe science is the study of how God acts in the world. If we can situate our self with this theological view of science, it transforms the field into an ally rather than an enemy.
What if the science of the origins of the universe were not looked at as heresy, but theology? What if we opened ourselves up to seeing these people as revealing to the church how it is that God created the universe? What if these works were read with the reverence of theology and the heart to allow them to teach us about our creator?
Even more, what if the church recovered the long-silenced voice of the scientist? What if those same people began to study the Word of God with the same rigor they do the works of Darwin? What amazing things would come from the church who had both the quadrilateral AND the scientific method!
The Rev. Jeremy Steele is the Next Generation pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Mobile, AL and a regular columnist for The United Methodist Reporter