I’ve never really understood the standoff between conservative Christian faith and science. I have no problem reconciling my faith with the findings that science brings; in fact, I see them as mutually helpful. Where science tells me how things work, faith tells me why. God is behind creation and within it, in an on-going relationship. The Bible’s purpose in telling us the creation story is to remind us who initiated the process and why God created–out of love for us and the world that God made. This week’s lectionary Gospel lesson in John 3:16 affirms that, indeed, “…God so loved the world….”
So where does science fit in? Our best science is rational, empirical, and well-thought-out. If faith is the work of the heart and soul, science is a fitting use for the human brain and God-given wisdom. And Jesus told us to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. Christians need to reclaim the mind part of loving God. Faith and science are good neighbors. There’s no need for barbed-wire fences between them.
The United Church of Christ’s General Minister and President John Thomas has released a Pastoral Letter this week. It’s a statement of faith that addresses the complexities of technology and theology, suggesting that the two can be complementary.
In an introduction to the Pastoral Letter, Thomas quotes Barbara Brown Taylor, an excellent preacher and writer, from her book “The Luminous Web”:
In Sunday School I learned to think of God as a very old white-bearded man on a throne, who stood above creation and occasionally stirred it with a stick. When I am dreaming quantum dreams, what I see is an infinite web of relationship, flung across the vastness of space like a luminous net. It is made of energy, not thread. As I look, I can see light moving through it as a pulse moves through veins. What I see “out there” is no different from what I feel inside. There is a living hum that might be coming from my neurons but might just as well be coming from the furnace of the stars. When I look up at them there is a small commotion in my bones, as the ashes of dead starts that house my marrow rise up like metal filings toward the magnet of their living kin.
Reverend Thomas goes on to say
Indeed, science, far from threatening our faith, can make God even more exciting for us. I pray that the Pastoral Letter will open up a new dialogue between faith and science, encouraging our deep respect for scientists while opening our faith to provocative questions and discoveries that can only enrich us.
You can download or read the Pastoral Letter from the ucc.org website here.