Another inflammatory title, to teach what should be a commonly understood point. The reason why it is inflammatory is both Christians and Scientists misunderstand what it is they and their counterparts stand for.
In another forum, I had a discussion with an evolutionist of my faith. It boiled down to a fundamental question: If a theory is correct, should it agree with reality? That is, should experiments contradict the predictions of the theory?
It may surprise you that I, the creationist, took the side that yes, theories should agree with experiment. If experiments contradict the predictions of the theory, then the theory is wrong. The evolutionist took the side that theories are mere suggestions, and it really doesn’t matter what reality has to say about it.
What a world science would be in if we hailed back to the era of Roman gods, capricious and untrustworthy! Let it not be so!
Now let me explain why Christians should be scientists, and scientists Christian.
First, some history. It wasn’t until people like Isaac Newton and Francis Bacon began to write about their ideas about a subject called philosophy (what we might call physics today) that we could definitively say that modern science began. Up until that point, what the intelligentsia was doing wasn’t much different than what witch doctors were doing, with roughly equivalent results. Sure, we had engineering marvels, but to those who were not deeply entrenched in Christian thought, these were mere curiosities, aberrations, not descriptive of the universe as a whole.
The definitive attributes of people like Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton was their attitudes toward Christianity. Or rather, their sincere and devout faith in it. Before you dismiss this as the illusions of a crippled mind, let me propose to you that perhaps there was something about their particular brand of faith that was different than all the millions of very intelligent people before them. There was some aspect of their faith that translated into microchips and airplanes, while the beliefs and actions of all who went before merely rendered the most simple chemistry and mathematics.
That aspect, I believe, was their fundamental belief that truth was very real.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” When you ponder this statement, a statement that no other philosopher or religionist has ever said with any degree of authority until Jesus, you begin to see the foundation of modern science.
- “I am the way” — meaning, there is only one way to do things, and Jesus is that way.
- “I am the truth” — meaning, there is only one truth, and Jesus is that truth.
- “I am the life” — meaning, there is only one life, and Jesus is that life.
The verse continues: “No man cometh unto the Father except through me.”
To the religious who believe in God, God is the possessor of all truth. If we want truth, we need to go communicate with God to receive it. Jesus in this verse is explaining, “You can’t have the truth unless you do things my way.” What is his way? Truth. Sin. Faith. Forgiveness. Compassion.
(This is also why no one should accept Jesus as a mere philosopher. Either he was the most lunatic man to walk the earth, or he was the Son of God. You can’t have a serious philosopher make pronouncements such as the above.)
These principles that Jesus embodied were the scientific method. Or rather, attitudes and practices that allowed the scientific method to exist.
Let me walk through them.
Truth: Jesus never lied, and he lived the truth, even when it made his life difficult. Scientists should also be unceasingly interested in the truth, and ready to sacrifice everything for it, even their political power or standing. As scientists, we cannot compromise on the truth anymore than Jesus can. Just like Jesus taught us to be perfect, we as scientists should teach others to seek absolute truth.
Sin. In science, we know that people make mistakes. It’s very easy to forget something or to misinterpret something. Scientists do not put their faith in experts or opinion, but in scientific results. Likewise, to a Christian, we know that all of us are fallen and in no way worthy of the blessings God would like to bestow on us. We cannot put our faith and hope in humanity, but in God.
Faith: Faith merely means “trust”. As scientists, we need to trust in the scientific method. We need to trust reality above our own ideas. If what we think conflicts with reality, it is our thoughts that are wrong, not reality. As Christians, our faith is in Jesus Christ. If our ideas conflict with his, we should adjust our thinking, not his. The second part of faith is active: Once you trust, you do. As scientists, we perform experiments and compare the results with what we believe. As Christians, we should be doing the same, putting Christian principles into practice and seeing if the results line up with what we believe. As Christ said, “If any man will do his will, he will know of his doctrine.” Meaning, you cannot know until you try.
Forgiveness. In science, failure is not the end. It is, in fact, a new beginning, a rebirth. It is upon the failed theories that science grows and progresses. It is because we know that failure is not hell, but the opportunity for starting anew, just like Christians. When someone sins, they are in a bad place, but merely accepting Christ, repenting, and moving forward despite the failure is enough to overcome any sin.
Compassion. Christians believe that all mankind are the sons and daughters of God, and that all possess the power to become like God through Christ. So too, scientists believe that truth is universal, and anyone can try their hand at experiments, and anyone could be the person who proposes the next theory that will be the prevailing thought for some time.
Scientists and Christians are not at all unlike. Science is a natural branch of Christianity. There is no war between science and Christianity, and there never was.