Today’s guest post comes from Andrea Paulson, one of an excellent class of students from Bethel Seminary who recently studied the intersection between theology and science.
If there is one thing I am not, it is a scientist. For as long as I can remember, the sciences were so far beyond my idea of relevant that I saw no reason to engage. It was the science portion of the ACT that skewed my scores down. (Way down…). As I looked at colleges and majors, I intentionally chose based on the bare minimum science requirement. I made it through a bachelors and master’s degree with only one science, an elective. I tell you what, I carry that Astronomy course as a badge of honor; of all the bullets I dodged by never stepping in the Science building.
I humbly acknowledge that my disdain for science stems first from a complete ineptitude of mathematics and a stubborn assurance that I would never, ever in my entire life need the sciences. Doctors could tell me what I need to know for my health. I guess temperature is important, but really, when it’s cold, wear a coat, hot take it off. Water bubbles when it boils, and when it’s frozen, it makes a nice addition to a drink. Cheers! I was good at the observation part.
And yet, the observation part of the sciences is what gave (and still gives) me pause. Not the numbers stuff (that math again) but the way the natural sciences unfold and reveal such beauty about the world. The blazing colors of a painted sunset. The shifting of colors as the seasons melt from spring to summer and into the glory of fall. The movement of a storm front coming across the plains. The intricate development from early pregnancy to birth. The perfect cocktail of drugs that can cure a child of cancer, or extend the life of a patient with HIV. When I observe the world and how the sciences propose questions and provide answers, I am deeply appreciative of the work and passion of those in the sciences.
As disinterested as I am in learning about science, I am more disinterested in the debate between science and religion that plagues the Christian church. I shudder at the assertion by some that science and religion have to live in contrast. I’m sickened that being “right” trumps doing right. Within Christian communities we nearly come to blows, when we should be in the world, caring for the least of these, sharing the good news of great joy with the world. As a church, we are missing the point. It’s not about us, and our being right or making a point. It’s about God.
In their book Origins, Haarsma and Haarsma write:
“When we look at the natural world through the eyes of faith, we see evidence of God’s wisdom, creativity, and glory.”
I choose to look at the world and see evidence of this wise, creative God who is so far beyond our comprehension that we can’t answer the how. I choose not to try and limit a limitless God. I choose to read the entirety of Scripture, to be reminded of the perfect relationship between Father, Son and Spirit and how this God wants to work in and through me, to bring him glory in our world. I don’t need to know all the answers, the whenever, however, whatever. For the Christian our purpose is to live for God’s glory, to give him all glory. And so, by faith, I choose to keep it simple:
“In the beginning, God…”