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Let There be Science: Why God loves science, and science needs God by Tom McLeish & David Hutchings

April 7, 2017

This covers much the same ground as Faith and Wisdom in Science  but for a younger readership. There’s more science and less Bible than in the previous book – more Einstein, less Job.

‘The priesthood of all believers’ is a term to be found nowhere in the New Testament.

He seems to believe that Asaph wrote the psalms attributed to him.

He sees the incarnation as a ‘rescue mission’ and as penal substitution.

On p. 67 he means ‘discoverer’ the noun, not ‘discover’ the verb.

If he really wants to deal with science versus religion argument, he shoud turn his attention to the (in)credibility of miracles.

Why is it that science has consistently thrived wherever the Christian faith can be found? Why is it that so many great scientists – past and present – attribute their motivation and their discoveries, at least partially, to their Christian beliefs? Why are the age-old writings of the Bible so full of questions about natural phenomena? And, perhaps most importantly of all, why is all this virtually unknown to the general public? Too often, it would seem, science has been presented to the outside world as a robotic, detached, unemotional enterprise. Too often, Christianity is dismissed as being an ancient superstition. In reality, neither is the case. Science is a deeply human activity, and Christianity is deeply reasonable. Perhaps this is why, from ancient times right up to today, many individuals have been profoundly committed to both – and have helped us to understand more and more about the extraordinary world that we live in.

The authors examine the story of science, and look at the part that Christian faith has played in that history. As they tell the stories of discovery after discovery, they reveal a powerful underlying reason for doing science in the first place. They argue that Christianity has been involved with and sometimes directly responsible for some of the biggest leaps forward in scientific history.

They uncover a powerful underlying reason for doing science in the first place. In example after example, ranging from 4000 BC to the present day, they show that thinking with a Christian worldview has been intimately involved with, and sometimes even directly responsible for, some of the biggest leaps forward ever made. Ultimately, they portray a biblical God who loves Science – and a Science that truly needs God.

Quotation:

Chapter 2, we sought to debunk the commonly held view that science only came into being when religion began to die off; that real science is, at the most, a few centuries old. By taking a journey back through time, we found that this was most certainly not the case. Our pursuit of wisdom about nature is as ancient as any of our other tendencies. Human observation and analysis of the world have been there all along. Science and faith have walked together, hand in hand, from the very beginning.

Chapter 3 – via pomegranates and moth larvae – showed that science is hardwired into the human being. The Christian teaching that the Creator of the universe also created our minds and our ability to think gives an explanation for this that cannot be equalled in power by any other. Not only did we read in the Bible that the capability to do science is God-given; we found that we are actively invited, by him, to act on it.

Extending this principle, Chapter 4 discussed the high value that Christianity places on wisdom and on following the evidence wherever it leads. The conversion experience – which holds within it a complete change of worldview – also puts the Christian in an excellent position to be “born again” scientifically. The personal revolution of conversion, as the story of quantum mechanics demonstrated, is excellent preparation indeed for scientific revolution.

In Chapter 5, we addressed the fact that science is not easy. Smooth progress is rare, and real-world lab work is more often characterized by intellectual – sometimes even physical – pain. Despite this, scientists keep going. The deeply human instinct that “things are not right” and the accompanying hope that “things really can be better” carry them forward.

We saw that this is a picture, in miniature, of the Christian view of the human condition. We-have fallen away from what was meant to be, but we are given a promise of a fully restored future. In the meantime, we are to work hard, with God’s help, for any restoration that can be achieved now. Believing that life is like this on the grandest of scales, as the Christian does, makes real science more bearable and joyful; it provides the faith needed to press on.

The theme of Chapter 6 was that the Christian God brings order from chaos. Individual events may exhibit an apparent randomness, but God’s plan is eternal, and he maintains a divine big picture. The struggling Christian can trust this God, even when it seems that there has been a loss of control.

We saw this same tight-knit relationship between randomness and predictability in the hyper-modern understanding of chaos theory, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and even geophysics. God’s creation, it seems, shows similarity on all scales. Trillions of unpredictably colliding molecules combine to form well-behaved water; the turmoil of earthquakes and thunderstorms combined to form a safe path for the Israelites.

Far from promoting blind faith, Chapter 7 described a Christianity that has questioning at its very core. Jesus, as presented in the Gospels, asked far more questions than he gave answers. The God of the Bible expects us to have enquiring minds. Often, scientific progress comes as the result of asking a new question, something that Christians should be doing all the time.

Finally, Chapter 8 addressed a topic that some might initially have thought rather unscientific: love. Biblical love, however, is not purely emotion: it is active and committed, treasuring beauty and goodness highly enough to keep going under the harshest of conditions. Love, we are told, carried Jesus to the cross. Just as our selfless love nurtures babies through childhood and into maturity, it also carries young and weak scientific ideas through into adulthood. Love – which the Christian believes has its origin and prototype in God – has long proved essential in science.

These findings strongly suggest that there is some sort of profound resonance between Christianity and science. The principal claims of the Bible about us and our world are echoed in our scientific work time and again. The principal attitudes that God calls Christians to have are those which produce the best scientific results.

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