Joe Deweese, Ph.D.
Do science and faith have to remain in conflict? We find many headlines today suggesting that there is a war: “Science vs. God” or some similar line is used to sell papers or magazines. If we look around, these headlines abound. It is such a powerful line that Christians begin to think: I am going to have to decide whether I will side with science or with God.
In fact, that is exactly the picture being painted in our minds when we read some of those headlines. The question I have is this: is that a real dichotomy? Do we have to decide? As a Christian and a scientist, I have faced this issue head on personally. It has not been an easy journey. In fact, I would say that it has been one of the hardest things I have had to grapple with in my life. However, I would like to suggest that the dichotomy is actually a façade…a false front. When I realized this truth, I was able to push past the rhetoric and see that there is a way to be a competent scientist who does not compromise on God’s Word.
First, we need to recognize that science is only one source of knowledge. Science does not hold the keys to all knowledge. This is critical. Because there are naturalists or empiricists in our day who would tell us that the only knowable truths are found in science. This is simply false. It is proven false on a daily basis in the experience of every individual. For example, we may countless decisions on a daily basis—how many of those are based upon scientific evidence vs. how many are dependent upon authority (God’s Word), rational thought (logical analysis), or some other form of knowledge?
Second, science can be understood from different perspectives. Let’s call these perspectives worldviews. A worldview entails the beliefs and perspectives that a person holds and from which they make decisions about how to live. Can I understand science from a biblical worldview? Yes, absolutely. However, much of what is taught in our science textbooks, especially the information about origins, comes from an atheistic worldview. In other words, the type of science popularized in textbooks, TV, and other media comes from one particular worldview. Why is that important? Well, it is important because science is about evidence, but evidence does not necessarily “speak for itself” as we may say. Evidence has to be interpreted. Did the door slam shut because someone closed it too hard or because of a draft through the house? Well, the evidence is that the door shut; it is a windy day; and windows in the house were open. From that evidence, I can interpret what happened. In a similar way, the evidence in science must be interpreted.
How we interpret the evidence of science is absolutely critical. Interpretations that assume God does not exist and nothing supernatural exists are always going to come to conclusions that support that premise! If we instead approach scientific evidence from a biblical perspective, can we interpret the information in a way that brings science and the Bible together? I would argue that, yes, we can. Is it an easy thing? No. Because much of the evidence of our day is tainted by the overriding naturalistic interpretation. As a scientist, this requires me to dig through some of the details and understand the evidence at a fundamental level.
So, are science and faith compatible? Yes, they are. We simply need to learn to reinterpret the evidence.