One of the great public battlegrounds in modern time is science vs. religion. Is this the great unwinnable war, or is there a common ground? I suggest that the issue is not either side is absolutely right or wrong; the issue in our public discourse, in our public theology, is the misinformation both sides present and the failure to understand the complexity of information. As Donald Rumsfeld might say, it is "the unknown known" - a failure to accept that which we do not know.
In 1633, Galileo Galilei was brought before the Catholic Church and tried for heresy. His offense was belief in an earth that revolved around the sun. For the Catholic Church, and much of the world, this idea went ...view middle of the document...
University of Chicago Press 1955, pp. 306-310).
Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy.
The universe, how things began, the words of Genesis, scientific theories and discoveries, have all sparked debate for centuries. Is the church right, or is science right? As we have seen, over the years both have been wrong! Both have held strong to beliefs that were later proven incorrect. Since the dawn of time, our desire for and our use of knowledge has got us in trouble. In Genesis 2, it was the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” This is sometimes thought to be the tree of knowledge, but it is the knowledge of "good and evil" that God was concerned about. To be certain, it is not simply the pursuit of knowledge that has got us into trouble, but rather it is our die-hard, unflinching belief in what we think we know to be incontrovertible; it is continually throwing aside the possibility that we might be incorrect that has got us into trouble. Additionally, it is our belief in the completeness of our knowledge - failing to consider the possibility that there is more about the situation that we do not see.
If I want to understand why I am here, I would turn to the book of Bible. If I want to understand how things work, I would open a scientific book. However, relying solely only on one or the other to provide answers for both how and why would be limiting. To some degree, we must look at both religion and science for answers. But in both cases, we must do so with the proper context of our sourced information. Remember, both have been wrong! Am I saying that God has been wrong? No, it is our understanding of God and our misinterpretation of God's word that has been wrong.
The United Methodist Church does not take any specific position on the argument of science vs. religion in the debate of evolution vs. creation. However, the in the Book of Discipline we state the following:
“Science is a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world, although we preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues” (¶106E, Social Principles, “Science and Technology”).
We must look for answers with humility, understanding that there are some things we are not meant to know and that we are not meant to understand. In our search for the truth, we must approach it scripturally, spiritually, scientifically and with great humility. John Calvin was known to have said, "All truth is from God." What is not always quoted is what follows, "... and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God." Typically, we read the first part of this statement along with scriptures such as John 14:6 ("I am the way and the truth and the life.") and either imply or even directly assert that...