Two eyes are better than one (1)

Science and theology both explore different slices of truth. Putting them together yields a more nutritious sandwich.

heart is in my hands

Put them together for a surprising result

We’re still looking out over the ocean of truth, all undiscovered around us. But hand in hand, science and theology help humans see better. Here are some ways science can prod theology out of stagnation and torpor (which can be true when people endlessly recycle old theological models instead of thinking) and make it (or arguably keep it), fit, lean, hungry and relevant.

  1. Origins. Scientific discoveries about the origin of the universe oblige us to re-read and re-think the first 10 chapters or so of Genesis. These Biblical accounts of the origin of language, or of human families, of history and pre-history, contradict the story told by those who’ve dug up the past and thought about it. The best theology does not fear this, but looks to the early chapters of Genesis to do something else, to teach theology through story, to reveal ‘who we are and what we are to do’.
  2. Creation by delegation. Evolutionary theory points to a mustard-seed Creator, who sets up small things brimming with potential and superintends their development through a billion creative steps. This was so of life, of the Universe, of the Kingdom of God and of everything. This is fantastic. For one thing, it gives significance and meaning to every single human action – each of our acts can be preparatory for the Kingdom of God. For another, it makes us ask, what is the connection between human development and New Creation? I have no idea, but it is fun to explore.
  3. The people history never saw. Ancient anthropology tell us most humans died long before Jesus lived or even Abraham was born. They have not known the story we have all heard — told again this Christmas. What does this mean? What does it say about the nearness, or otherwise, of God to those who have not known the Word incarnate? This is a big question, one I puzzle over.
  4. What is the Universe? The Bible is a universal book. But back in the the Bible’s day, the visible Universe was the Earth plus fairy lights. What part of the Christian revelation refers to the world, and which to the entire cosmos? What does ”the end of the world’ mean? Astronomy predicts this (for earth) just as much as the Bible does (but perhaps on a different scale); what happens to the rest of the cosmos?
  5. And on…
  6. For more stuff like this:

Book Review: ‘The language of God’ by Francis Collins

My monthly review of a wonderful book for those of us navigating the space between faith and doubt.

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The copywriter for the book jacket was definitely drinking caffeinated coffee: this book ‘may be the most important melding of reason and revelation since C S Lewis’s Mere Christianity … [Collins] has heard every argument against faith from scientists, and he can refute them.’

Actually, the sound of big guns blazing is happily missing from this book. Francis Collins, code-breaker of the human genome, is personal, gentle, generous, thoughtful, well-informed and honest. He describes his own conversion to Christian faith from an atheist background; the beautiful intricacies of creation; the problems with atheism, agnosticism, creationism and Intelligent Design; and ends up in a quietly stated but coherent place of theistic evolution.

Far from (that copywriter again) proposing ‘a new synthesis’, Dr Collins arrives at the beliefs of most of the people I know. He does so in an elegant style, wearing lightly a thoroughness of thought, and with a keen eye for the pithy quotation.

Far from slam-dunking his foes he ends the book with an appeal that the ‘battles between the scientific and spiritual worldviews [need] to be resolved–we desperately need both voices to be at the table, and not to be shouting at each other.’

This is one of the first books I would turn to for anyone wrestling with the issues of science and faith. (My own More than Bananas isn’t bad either …)