Faith, Science, Wisdom

Faith, Science, Wisdom July 28, 2014

Science and faith seem to be at odds. Many have suggested that’s because believers look to faith to do thing faith can’t do; if we adjusted our expectations about what kind of truth religion gives, science would be freed from the annoyances of the faithful,

Tom McLeish (Faith and Wisdom in Science) suggests an rapprochement that works from the other direction. Taking the old notion of science as “natural philosophy” as a starting point, he suggests that the deep roots of scientific investigation are in our human awe at the natural world, and our desire to grasp its cunning wisdom. Science shouldn’t be the preserve of the “nerdy expert” or the media celebrity. It’s about “loving wisdom about nature” – philo-sophia. Wisdom seeks not only to understand the structures and processes of the creation, but to discover how to respond to a world of wonders.

Taking this approach, McLeish departs from the norm by beginning with Scripture texts other than Genesis 1-2. He starts with Proverbs 8’s depiction of Wisdom “playing” with creation. He expounds on the intricacy of creation by noting how order seems to bubble up from an underlying chaos. He argues that the Bible’s greatest reflection on science and the natural world is found in the book of Job, with its terrors and monsters.

Throughout, he emphasizes that “science emerges from an ancient longing, and from an older narrative of our complex relationship with the natural world” than our standard science textbooks give us. It’s science whose “primary creative grammar is the question, rather than the answer.”

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