Science and faith are often perceived as irreconcilable. Are they mutually exclusive? Can science and faith have a common ground?
Science and faith-Newton & Einstein
There is little doubt that the two brightest scientific minds that ever lived are probably Isaac Newton and Albeit Einstein. The men understand what science is, and they also had something to say about science and faith.
Many know Isaac Newton as a great physicist but not so many know that was an astute student of the bible. One of his famous quotes isThis and other similar quotes are presented in this Wikipedia article.
“Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. At
heism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professor”.
Albert Einstein changed our view of the physical universe. One the matter of science and faith, he said:
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
His views on faith are also summarized in this article.
It might be easy today to dismiss these ideas from these two greatest scientists that ever lived. These two men understood science more than any of us do today, but they also understood faith. The issue with many scientists today who dismiss faith is that they know science, and do not know what faith is, and therefore make conclusions from a unilateral, spiritually blinded perspective. They make the error of thinking they know faith and religion because they have “studied it”, like they do with scientific issues. If the ideas of these two scientific giants seem “childish and even laughable” as it appears to some today, it is very likely they do not understand what these men were talking about. They might have understood the science, but not the faith.
The Scope of Science
The Oxford dictionary defines science as
“The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment..”
Science’s scope is in the physical and natural world. However, there is more to life and our universe than the physical and the natural world. There is a spiritual world, of which man is a part of. Any attempt to make science answer spiritual questions is the beginning of our errors and is no different from a man watching to catch the train to Mars! Space shuttles, not trains, were meant to take us to space!
The structure and behavior of the spiritual world is decisively distinct from the natural world and are simply not subject to scientific principles that govern the natural world. Science should not be made to answer “spiritual questions” or worst still dismiss the reality of this aspect of life.
The study of the spiritual world
Faith deals with the structure and behavior of the spiritual world. When you desire to understand the functioning of microchips, put on the goggles of Science. On the contrary, if you intend to understand why so much evil can potentially arise from the human heart, or the details of life after death, or where humans came from, we will have to take off the goggles of science and put on those of faith.
The world of the spirit is not fictional, superstitious or imaginative. Faith is not abstract. The spiritual world is as real as the physical world around us, and even more; it is simply beyond the detection by our human senses which naturally detect physical reality. The existence of God will not be captured by looking at what our senses can detect in observation without a open heart of faith. That is why one individual can look at the majesty of the universe and see that there is indeed a God whereas another simply sees planets , stars, comets etc. They both have physical senses and a brilliant mind that can observe but one has an open heart and the other does not. God exists out of the scope of the human senses and mind, and reveals Himself to the human heart. The proof of God’s existence is inscribed in the universe around us for those who can see.
Science and faith
I do not see any conflicts between science and faith. I am a scientist, and a man of faith. True science, that is science that stays within its jurisdiction of the natural world, will always be aligned with God’s revelation for God established the structure and behavior of the natural world. New scientific discoveries are new to humans, not to God. He created us to have dominion over nature.
We will do ourselves a great favor heeding to the wisdom of Christ Himself,
“…Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew. 22:21 NIV)
We should give to science what is science’s and to faith what is faith’s. Science hard-pressed beyond its scope is the beginning of error in life’s critical questions with dire eternal consequences.
Truth is from God
God has revealed the truth about Homo spiritus to us and His insights are even more fascinating and intriguing. The Bible is replete with God’s idea about this spiritual man.
To the believer who knows God by believing in the redeeming work of Christ, Truth is what God says in the Bible, and never the product of the human mind or else it becomes as variable and as volatile as the opinions of great minds about subjects of spirituality. Truth is static as a lighthouse and like ships, we cannot change its position but rather follow its direction when we come face to face with it.
Truth is not created, but discovered. It is not subjective, but external to each of us. Man is not the truth, and the truth does not originate from him. If man was the custodian of the truth, our ceaseless toils searching for the truth would not have existed. The longing and seemingly insatiable craving for truth is a subtle clue that truth is not originally in human hands and needs to be sought from elsewhere.
Truth comes from God.
Humility required to know the truth
We will have to be humble to accept what God says is the Truth. It is worth stating again, that God’s primary purpose in revealing Truth in the Bible is not to tell man how many planets are there in our solar system, or give us the history of the early world. There might be a reference to any of these if necessary to convey the truth He wants us to know. The Bible is a redemption book, and gives us the truth about God, the origin of human demise and suffering, the steps taken by God to save humanity and where man is heading to after this life. Our human ego will rather want to be told that we are the masters of the universe. We are not.
God in His boundless wisdom has hidden the Truth from the searching human mind that has a closed heart towards Him
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians. 1:21 NIV)
Human wisdom is embodied by scientific and philosophical principles. The human mind in all it operations and methods will never know God in itself. God has kept Himself beyond its reach. It can discover all sorts of tablets, cell phones, codes, spacecrafts etc. God has given it this privilege, and expects it to stay within that scope.
God is hidden from the closed heart
Today, human pride is worse than the sin and doom that trap man because man’s prideful rejection of what God says is wrong with us and the Way out He has created for us is the reason many will be doomed.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)
Faith begins with humility of heart. Jesus confronted the religious people of His day with these words which are valid to the “enlightened ones” of our day,
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but (John. 9:39-41 NIV)
We will become free when we acknowledge our limitations and open up our hearts to God.
Peace in the heart of a man is the “firstborn son” of truth when it is found. When Truth comes in, it frees a man from the obsession and restlessness of continuous and endless search for this notoriously elusive intangible reality. Freedom comes, with the rest, when truth is found. And what rest it brings to the searching heart!
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John. 8:32 New International Version)
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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