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Religion and Science

Written by: on February 20, 2015

“Science can purify religion from error and superstition; 
religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. 
Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish…. 
We need each other to be what we must be, what we are called to be.” (Pope John Paul II) The argument of how religion and science can work together is something that the church has debated for many years. Pope John Paul further explains, “They are not mutually exclusive of each other, but work together to strengthen the truth for the existence of God.” Over the centuries, as man’s knowledge and understanding about the world around him has grown, many have sought to use science to prove that God does not exist. Charles Taylor, in his book A Secular Age, asks “why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?” I believe the answer can be found in the Bible. Genesis 11:1-8 “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” Man, in a collective state, has much capacity and power to do great things. However, man can also collectively cause much destruction and propagate untruths. God had to confuse and scatter man all over the earth to slow us down from achieving anything our heart desired. Now, 2000 year’s later man has walked on the moon, sent space probes to Mars, and explored the deepest depths of the ocean. Is it any wonder that many have turned away from God in light of the scientific wonders we have achieved since the tower of Babel? Yet, despite all of our technological advancements we still cannot solve the mystery of how man and the universe came to existences. Science can help us understand our faith and correct many of the errors in our beliefs. Once such example is that science has changed the dating or age of the earth. Religion supports and strengthens our faith in God, because there are things that science cannot explain or define. Science is only as accurate as our current understanding, yet it helps to uncover and increase our understanding of the world.

About the Author

Richard Volzke

7 responses to “Religion and Science”

  1. mm Deve Persad says:

    Richard, I like the way you’ve tied in the way in which God has dealt with people, through the Genesis 11 encounter. You said: “Man, in a collective state, has much capacity and power to do great things. However, man can also collectively cause much destruction and propagate untruths. God had to confuse and scatter man all over the earth to slow us down from achieving anything our heart desired.” With that in mind, I wonder in how many different areas, fields, interests, have we, as a global community, been slowed down by God, for the purpose of re-discovering our need of relationship with Him. Besides these areas of science, in what other areas do you think we might be ‘spinning our wheels’ while God waits for us to turn to Him?

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Deve,
      One area where I believe God has slowed mankind down is in the medical field. We are always trying to extend or defeat death, but to no ultimate success. For many years, our medical advances helped us to increase man’s average age. However, Scripture tells us that man’s days are numbered. Despite all of our research, we still battle deadly disease and we haven’t found the fountain of youth. I also wonder if God is slowing down church growth in some places due to the lack of obeying Him within the church organization. Why would God allow a church to grow if it has become nothing more than a social club? We also see very large churches taken down quickly when they stray away from operations and actions that glorify Christ.
      Richard

  2. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Richard
    I really like where you wrote, “Now, 2000 year’s later man has walked on the moon, sent space probes to Mars, and explored the deepest depths of the ocean. Is it any wonder that many have turned away from God in light of the scientific wonders we have achieved since the tower of Babel? Yet, despite all of our technological advancements we still cannot solve the mystery of how man and the universe came to existences.” How true! I didn’t see it before, but as you point out, there are some similarities between us and the people who built the Tower of Babel – that desire to progress without God. And yet, as you say, we still cannot answer life’s most profound question. You make some interesting points! Thank you.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Liz,
      It is sad to think that mankind has not made huge advances in spiritual growth since the time of the Tower of Babel. We have the God’s word in the Bible, and yet still seek to live our lives without Him. One would expect, with all the knowledge that we possess, that our spirituality would have matured over the centuries.
      Richard

  3. mm rhbaker275 says:

    Richard, good post, Great perspective!
    Your thoughts on God, creation, faith, and science remind us that there is still much we seek to understand. In a secular age that begins anywhere but with God, those who begin with God have sure footing where they listen to the multiple narratives of the secular.

    Along the line you have written, I appreciated Taylor’s insights on “human flourishing.” He notes “we could ask whether people recognize something beyond or transcendent to their lives” (Kindle 287). He highlights this further, “does the highest, the best life involve our seeking, or acknowledging, or serving a good which is beyond.” Is it possible that God’s creation can and does have an impact on the ability to obtain, achieve, enjoy, and even enhance the world (creation) in which they live? Humankind’s striving / God’s plan. Humankind’s self-sufficiency / God’s all-sufficiency. Here is a philosophy for living that recognizes God’s highest (humankind) while acknowledging the “highest’s” dependency on the Creator. I really like Taylor’s statement, “The injunction ‘Thy will be done’ isn’t equivalent to ‘Let humans flourish’, even though we know that God wills human flourishing” (302).

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Ron,
      I agree with you about Taylor’s insights. I do not think many people can or are willing to look beyond for meaning outside of their lives. I say this as people tend to take action if they really want something or are passionate about it. Many American Christians have become so comfortable with their faith and lifestyle that they are unwilling to look or go outside of their “sand box.” Getting Christians to explore and to be open to new ideas, while maintaining Scriptural principles is a challenge.
      Richard

  4. Michael Badriaki says:

    Richard, thanks for your engaging post. You fittingly applied Pope John Paul II’s words to this week’s reading. There is such a need for believers to learn from history so that Christian may need fall in the trap of repeating certain issues.

    Taylor covers a range of which the Church can ponder and then go back to reflect on the scripture for further discernment. You wisely write, “Science can help us understand our faith and correct many of the errors in our beliefs.”

    We can learn a great deal from science for sure!

    Thank you

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