(2012 January RE:NEW Magazine)
People always think science and faith cannot intertwine. When people find out that I am a pastor’s wife as well as a college professor teaching science, they look at me with bewilderment. The truth is: I love science; nothing reveals God’s wisdom to me more than science does. The Bible says “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your work is wonderful. I know that full well.” (Ps. 139:14)
Whenever I read a textbook on Biology, Anatomy, or Physiology, I feel as if I am reading a devotional book that helps me to see and appreciate the wonderful work of God. It strengthens my faith and draws me closer to God, and I would love to share how you can also integrate your faith with science or with other academic disciplines.
First, you have to firmly believe that God is the creator. There is no real controversy between science and faith as far as the scientific facts are concerned. The differences come from your worldview and thus how you interpret the facts. Both Christian and non-Christian scientists have long regarded “observation” as the first step of the scientific method. But the latter do not hold God, the Father of Jesus Christ, as the one who created this world. Without that belief, observation, and all the steps that follow (hypothesis, experiments, and interpretation), could lead you away from the truth. For example, in Genesis 2:19, Adam is commanded by God to name all the animals and birds. If at any point during the naming process, Adam denied that God is the Creator of all things, then Adam could have been led to spend countless hours wondering which animal came first and how much time has passed in between their appearance, which is exactly what some biologists are doing nowadays when they erase God from the picture.
Did you know that Adam is the first taxonomist? Biological taxonomy is the science of classification based on structural comparison. No doubt it takes a lot of observation. Since Adam accepted God as the Creator of all things, he did not waste his time on guessing which being evolved into which other being, instead, he focused his energy on admiring the creative works of God by coming up with many suitable and funny names. What Adam did was express his creativity. Isn’t that fascinating? We the created beings have the ability to create just like the Creator! When we express our creativity with gratefulness, we are fulfilling our purpose and bringing glory to Him. Such fulfillment in Christ, whether through the fine arts, dance, music, speech, writing, sports, and etc,. is exactly what Paul meant when he told us “to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship (Rom. 12:1b).
Next we need to know our Bible, believe it, and memorize key verses. Some of us may know our Biology books much more than the Bible, but it should be the other way around! While science reveals to us how God created the world, the Bible tells us why He did it. Though the two are not mutually exclusive, it is so much more important to know the reason than the method. The Bible is written using the inside-out approach (starts from internal conviction or the unseen realm), while science books are written using the outsidein approach (starts from the external world or the things detectable by our five senses). There is a wise sentence from the book A Little Prince: “What is essential is invisible to the eyes.” The inside-out approach starts out from the essential. When you start out from the essential, you are assured of the promise of an eternal life and a rich purposeful life here on Earth; the details from science simply help you to appreciate more of His handiwork and to come up with ways to improve this world. Whereas, if you start out from the details, you may be drowned by a vast sea of knowledge and miss catching a hold of the Hands of the Savior.
Once you know the Bible, it becomes your foundation, allowing you to filter through the scientific facts to find details which further strengthen your understanding and application of Biblical truth. Since science reveals to us how God created this world, studying science could reveal to us His creative principles. Let me give you an example: Many scientists do not believe that we have a non-materialistic spirit. Instead, they believe that every part of us is made of matter and when we die, all the elements will decompose, gradually be recycled in the environment, and that is the end of our existence. But the Bible tells us we do have a soul and it is our duty “above all else, [to] guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Scientists do not believe in this “heart” or innermost essence of our being because they simply cannot “see”, “smell”, “hear”, “taste” or “touch” the spirit. Again, they miss the essence of life. What God created to be the innermost has often turned out to be the most important, and we can see another example of this principle in our body. Our genetic makeup or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) has been arranged into chromosomes hidden within the nucleus or the innermost area of the cell, so it is very inconspicuous and cannot easily be detected by the naked eye. Yet in each individual human cell there is a total length of 2 meters of DNA! If you isolate all DNA from a human body and put them from end to end, the entire length could go from the Earth to the Sun and back for 70 trips!
The question is: why did God make such an essential material to be so tiny? Isn’t it obvious that God wants to protect DNA so the genetic information would not be easily accessible and thus changed (or mutated) by many environmental factors? Any change of the DNA sequence could result in the creation of an incorrect protein that may be lethal to the body. Therefore, when scientists realized that DNA sequences determine protein structure and thus function, they began to take a more inside-out approach and shifted their focus from protein to DNA.
In a similar way, God created our spirit or heart to be invisible because as the key regulator of our attitude, motives, emotions, and behavior, it is something that needs to be protected. No wonder Paul also advises us in Romans 12:2 (the theme verse of RE:NEW) to take the inside-out approach, “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This world keeps changing and our body keeps perishing, instead of trying to keep up with so many unpredictable and uncontrollable factors in the environment, we should channel all our energy on a very small area: our own heart. By positioning ourselves in Christ and in His words, the inner transformation of our heart will bring about a renewal of our thoughts and behavior.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20) If you have seen God’s invisible qualities in science, I congratulate you and encourage you to strengthen your insights with biblical truths. As you can see, science and faith are not mutually exclusive, in fact, science lends a louder voice to our faith.