Monday, October 26, 2009

Science, Christianity and the Sovereignty of God

As an evangelical Christian I sometimes feel like a bit of an oddity because, unlike many other evangelical Christians, I have no problem with science. I like science. I think science is useful for understanding our universe. I don't believe that any scientific theory threatens my belief system in any way.

I think most Christians, even a lot of evangelical Christians, feel the same way. The problem is that we don't express our beliefs as often or as forcefully as Christians who oppose science. Today I'm going to begin to explain my position and why I feel that it's well justified by both scripture and by experience.

The obvious thing to do would be to talk about evolution and the book of Genesis, but I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to do it, first of all, because that's a topic that deserves its own post. The second reason I'm not going to do it is because, while that's the hot button issue in our culture right now, that's not really what this debate is about.

At its heart this debate is really about the sovereignty of God.

For a Christian that's the only question that matters in this debate. Is God still in control or not? For some reason people seem to believe that every time scientists invent some new theory to explain how the universe works, God looses some of his power. As though scientists are somehow gaining mastery over the universe merely by understanding it.

The first thing we need to understand is that God is in charge of completely natural processes. The Bible says that he created everything and that he sustains everything. If the universe behaves in an orderly fashion according to scientific principles, it's because God made it that way. In fact, it shouldn't be surprising that it works that way because God is a God of order.

The other reason that people might think that science impinges on God's sovereignty is because scientific theories define what is and isn't possible. This is a more serious concern, especially if you believe that God can work miracles, which I do.

It's this second consideration that prompted me to write the post, Science as a Worldview. In that post I make the claim that, while science is a reliable source of knowledge, it isn't the only source of knowledge. Along with that I would also say that, while the universe usually conforms with known scientific theories, it doesn't always.

Some might argue that because I don't believe that science is always true I don't really believe in the scientific method. It's true that I don't hold scientific claims to be absolutely true under every circumstance. But I do believe that science does provide an explanation for how the universe typically works. I think this knowledge is still invaluable, even if it's not true in every single circumstance.

In any case, scientific knowledge doesn't require absolute belief. In fact, science wouldn't be able to progress if scientists weren't allowed to question accepted scientific theories. The fact that people are allowed to question science is possibly its greatest strength.

There is, of course, much more to be said about this topic. In future posts I'll be talking more about science and miracles. I'll also talk about evolution and the book of Genesis. Please leave a comment if you'd like to hear more about either of those two topics, or if you want to respond to what I've written so far.

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