Science and Scripture | Different Questions, Different Layers

In our last post, we saw that you can believe God made you and also accept the scientific explanation for where babies come from. We concluded that science and faith can work together to describe the world in different ways.

Unfortunately, many people never recognize this.

Many people think science and the Bible are locked in a zero-sum competition to offer a better explanation for why the world is the way it is. They think you must choose between faith and science, between God and scientists, between Genesis and National Geographic.

That position is unwise.
Science and faith are not incompatible.

They are like two layers of a cake—they ask different questions and provide different answers. You don’t have to believe one and dismiss the other. You can and should honestly explore both.

Consider how Jonathan Sacks puts it:

Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.” | Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership

Francis Collins agrees:

Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science. It must be examined with the heart, the mind, and the soul—and the mind must find a way to embrace both realms.” | Francis Collins, The Language of God

So when we study science—astronomy, biology, geology, etc.—we shouldn’t feel like our faith is being threatened. We should realize that science and faith are separate domains, asking and answering different questions. Science asks “how?” and “when?” and “what?” and “where?” Faith asks a different question altogether: “why?”

“Science is about explanation. Religion is about meaning.” | Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership

It’s sad that many Christians never realize this. They think they have to reject parts of science outright because of what the Bible says. No telling how many people have walked away from Christianity because they thought science somehow disproved their faith.

But when we realize that science and faith address separate questions and offer different answers, then we can:

A) better appreciate science

B) enjoy a solid faith that isn’t threatened by scientific discoveries

So go ahead—look around at creation with a sense of awe and wonder. Enjoy learning about scientific ideas that help us understand the universe we live in. Appreciate the scientists who expand our knowledge of the natural world. Don’t be afraid to read Nature and Scientific American and National Geographic.

Science and faith…as we’ve said before, neither one is going away anytime soon. Happily, they can coexist. You don’t have to choose one or the other. It is fully possible to be a scientifically literate person of faith.

By faith, we understand that
God created us and everything else.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. | Hebrews 11:3

Through science, we have the
opportunity to learn how he did it.

“The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate and beautiful—and it cannot be at war with itself. Only we imperfect humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.” | Francis Collins, The Language of God


Key takeaway: science and faith are not contradictory, but rather they help us explore and appreciate our lives and the universe in different ways


Welcome to Science and Scripture, where we seek to read the Bible in a healthy way by respecting the worldviews of the biblical authors. Click here to read more about our new science and faith initiative.

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