Why Should Christians Care About Science?

From Big Questions Online by Jennifer Wiseman. Dr. Wiseman is an astronomer. Her research uses optical, radio, and infrared telescopes to explore the ongoing formation of new stars in interstellar clouds. She studied physics at MIT where, in 1987, she discovered Comet Wiseman-Skiff. She continued her studies at Harvard University, where she received a Ph.D. in astronomy. I’ve had the opportunity to hear her speak on a few different occasions and it is always fascinating.

Why Should Christians Care About Science?

Jesus told his followers that the two greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”, and to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40). What does this have to do with science? Should a follower of Jesus—since ancient times called a “Christian”— even give much thought to science?

It helps if we consider what science is, as understood today. My online dictionary calls it “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”  That’s a pretty good place to start, along with technology being likewise described as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.”

Next we must recognize that nearly everything in modern life is affected in some way by advances in science and technology.  Agriculture, entertainment, energy production, communications, and health care are just a few of the ways science and technology shape life for people around the globe, and affect all other life on the planet as well. We are all interconnected, with science and technology as the portal for many of those connections.   So if we return to those “great commandments,” practically speaking, “loving your neighbor” involves technology and science. The better we understand the fundamental workings of nature, be it for medicine, food production, or environmental stewardship, the better we can use it to serve others, including people and all creatures, and uplift their lives.

And this is only the beginning.  I encourage you to read the whole article. Big Questions Online also provides for interaction with the author, Dr. Wiseman in this case, for 7 days after posting. Take advantage if you have questions.

  • labreuer

    I would argue that God allows natural evils to prod us into doing more science. One could say that he reigns in natural evils such that we could, if we were to put our minds to knowing God and his creation instead of feeling good about ourselves as we are, ‘keep pace’ with natural evils.

  • Susan_G1

    labreuer,

    Would you please explain the theodicy behind your statement?

    How can we rein in tsunamis? (The Boxing Day tsunami took almost 250,000 lives.) How can a loving God allow this to happen just to give us a nudge toward studying science?

  • Susan_G1

    People should study science regardless of their religious beliefs, but it behooves Christians especially to stop avoiding Science as anti-biblical and instead see it as pro-great-commandment. I think it is mainly through knowledge of science that people will care for the earth (and it’s inhabitants) entrusted to us by God.

  • thesauros

    “If you have seen Me, you
    have seen God the Father.” When we examine Jesus, we examine God. To follow God the Son is to follow
    God the Father. To look for the cause of the universe is to look for
    God. A wondrous reality in which we live, is that when we are
    exploring moral good, or the laws of logic, or the laws of
    mathematics or the laws of nature, when we examine a flower petal, an
    insect wing or the human genetic code, we are in fact exploring parts
    and portions of the very character of God Himself.

  • labreuer

    First, consider if I’m wrong: either God can’t control tsunamis or wants them to happen in a way that humans have no way of fighting such that a quarter of a million people don’t die. After all, a quarter of a million people did die. Note that I said ‘allows’, not ’causes’.

    I happen to know that we can detect the preconditions of devastating tsunamis, and we can also model their impacts along various shorelines. So we could have known the different danger zones, and either prohibited extensive building there, or ensured proper evacuation procedures. We didn’t, and it wasn’t lack of technology. It was lack of sufficient will.

  • Susan_G1

    There was no warning system in place for the Boxing Day tsunami; it was completely unexpected in the Indian Ocean. Again, please, what is the theodicy behind your statement?

  • labreuer

    I didn’t say there was such a warning system in place; I’m saying that we had the technology for it. We decided those 250,000 people weren’t worth the required effort to truly take care of them. Perhaps we ‘decided’ this by not having enough intention to do the right thing, but that is not excusable.

    Let’s be clear: what’s the alternative to what I’ve said? It seems to be something like: A) God wanted those people to die, more than he wanted them to live; B) God couldn’t control the situation. Is there a third, other than what I’ve proposed?

  • Susan_G1

    Your theodicy seems to be that God wanted those people to die.

  • labreuer

    False. It seems like you aren’t really trying to understand what I’m saying, and it is clear that you do not wish to expose your own position. I don’t see that you’re honestly participating in this discussion, Susan_G1. :-(

  • Susan_G1

    I have asked straightforward questions. You have answered with implications. If I make an erroneous deduction, instead of correcting my faulty logic, you accuse me of not really participating. Who is being coy?

  • labreuer

    Will you answer this question?

    • According to your theodicy, why did God let 250,000 people die in the Boxing Day tsunami?

    I’ve laid out three possibilities that I know of:

    1. God wasn’t in control.
    2. God wanted those people to die.
    3. God wanted humans to take measure they were able to take, to prevent this horrible thing from having happened.

    Do you know of a #4? If you don’t, and you think #3 is monstrous, I would say that #2 is more monstrous, and #1 is heretical.

  • Susan_G1

    My theodicy is that God created the universe with mass and energy and laws to govern them. The earth has weather, shifting tectonic plates, flammable vegetation, magma under pressure and other factors that figure in loss of life. My best guess is that He allows the laws He put into play to play themselves out without too much interference; it’s the earth we live on. I do not accept #1. #3 isn’t possible in most situations nor will it be; new devastations will occur (be it a new virus, mudslides, floods from rain, etc.) It’s on this basis that I do not believe your original assertion that God allows these things to happen in order to encourage people to study science. It’s like saying He allows illness to encourage people to study medicine; it’s just too clinical and unsavory. More likely, we study medicine to fight the illnesses He allows. So where does that leave us? Somehow, since He created a planet that not infrequently kills a number of it’s occupants, He knows something that I don’t: either it’s His will and it’s not ‘evil’, or it’s part of a fallen creation He sent His son to experience with us and ultimately redeem.

  • labreuer

    The crux of our disagreement is that you think God has a reason we don’t know for #2, which I view as a worse reason than #3. #2 lays the blame on God—regardless of whether God fixes it—while #3 lays the blame on people.

    Imagine if all the effort spent on war and gaming the economy were spent on educating much more of the population such that they could do actual research, and then funding that research. Actually I’m not sure I can imagine how much progress would be made; the possibilities seem endless.

    Knowing God means both him as a person as well as his ‘engrained habits’ (natural law); we have in Hosea 6:1 that God tears so that he may heal. He definitely tears (or at least allows that to happen) when we are morally wicked; what about when we aren’t pursuing God fully with our minds?

  • Susan_G1

    Lay blame on the people? These things took place before people even existed. Why would I blame people? We don’t see eye to eye here for certain. In RJS’ most recent post, the lesson of Job is to trust God with things we don’t know, not make up some strange reasons why God is good in the face of a fallen creation.

    Here’s a 4 billion year head start: the Milky Way Galaxy will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy, and, according to you, it will be our fault for not applying ourselves!

  • labreuer

    One interpretation of the Garden of Eden account is that God gave the first man/men a sanctuary from which to go out into the world and take dominion. In that account, there isn’t a problem with what “took place before people even existed.”

    In terms of the Milky Way – Andromeda collision, I’m confident we’d have enough technology to avoid harm coming from it. If we don’t, I would be highly inclined to lay the blame at the feet of humanity and any other rationality-capable species out there.

    What’s your take on Jesus quoting Ps 82:6 in John 10:34? “Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” I’m pretty sure one of the purposes of the Bible is to teach us to become like God in all respects. Of course, we will forever be finite, created beings, but that doesn’t mean we are barred from knowing God ever more closely, and benefiting from that faith. (For example, being able to tell a mountain to move and the mountain moving.)


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