Friday, February 18, 2011

Bridging the Divide Between Faith and Science

Last week on the 13.7 blog there was an emphasis on the conflict between faith and science. In one entry Adam Frank posted a video from Bill O'Reilly where O'Reilly is claiming that God created the moon. In Frank’s post and a follow up post he questions which explanation, the scientific or religious, for the origin of the moon requires more faith. I’m no fan of O’Reilly but I think he is partly right and Frank is partly right. Couldn’t God have orchestrated the formation of the moon via the natural processes that science has discovered?

The leading scientific theory for the formation of the moon is that when the earth was still very hot a large object about the size of mars collided with the earth causing a rocky debris to blow out from the earth. Gravity caused this debris to orbit around the earth and coalesce into a ball that became the moon. One of the main reasons why scientists support this hypothesis is because the oxygen isotope composition of the earth is identical with moon whereas the composition is different than rocks from mars and meteorites. I think this is a very plausible explanation for how the moon was formed.

The moon has been critical for the development of advanced life on earth, from causing the tides to establishing the earth’s steady axial tilt of 23.4 degrees which allows for predicable seasons. Couldn’t we say that science’s theory of moon formation could be our view into how God used natural processes to form the moon? When God sparked the big bang 13.7 billion years ago couldn’t we say that He planned that the moon was going to be formed in this manner so that advanced life forms like mankind could evolve? Science is our view into how God does what He does in the physical world.

As people of faith we need to remember all the scientists that were and are Christians—people like Georges LemaĆ®tre, Newton, Galileo, Gregor Mendel, Francis Collins, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal and ect. Christians need to learn that science isn’t our enemy. We must encourage scientists to keep theorizing and testing because science has much more to teach us about God’s processes. Through science we have learned how the universe was formed and how life has formed, but there is still more knowledge out there waiting to be discovered.


  1. You are agreeing with O'Reilly? Now I have faith that anything is possible!

    The bigger question to me is not what brought the universe into existence (although the big bang has not naturalistic explanation) but why the universe continues to exist at all, or why there developed any sort of natural order to the laws of the universe. From my vantage point, everything operates by the Word of God, and if He were to stop speaking today, all would vanish. That is, his word continually upholds everything. Natural laws are his just as much as any supernatural event. This idea of a God who creates the universe and then sits back idle in heaven is a delusion of those who want to believe they control their own destinies and their actions are not being continually evaluated by a moral, personal deity.

    By the way, scientific laws were not the same at the creation of the universe as they are today? So why are we assuming that scientific laws will not change tomorrow? Science rests on faith of a constant universe, yet it also knows that there is nothing constant about the laws of the universe, we only have the illusion of that because our time here on Earth has been so short.

  2. Ha-ha, yeah, I think I was surprised as much as you were that I was agreeing with Bill O—I guess there is a first time for everything.

    I’m definitely not arguing for Deism—I think that God is still actively engaged with the universe. Since God set the universal constants and created the physical processes, that science has discovered, He can use them, tweak them or suspend them whenever he chooses. I would describe supernatural events as very rare, but possible. So, in most cases your pen falling to the earth can be explained by gravity; thunder and lightning can be explained by friction generated by weather disturbances; earthquakes can be explained by plate tectonics; and viruses becoming resistant to medicines can be explained by evolution. However, God can use these processes for His own purposes and glory. I see God as the ultimate chess player; He can see an unlimited number of steps ahead. He sparked the big bang and set up the physical laws so that intelligent life could evolve all the while tweaking things for his purposes. At times, such as the resurrection of Jesus, He momentarily altered physical processes.