A friend and I were recently discussing the tension between science and Christianity. As a believer working in a scientific field, he personally believes the two can’t conflict. He points out that science is designed to describe and measure the physical world — and only the physical world — while religion discloses what is true about the non-physical world. “In any area where science and religion conflict, one of the two is overstepping its bounds or being incorrectly applied,” he said.
In this BreakPoint Commentary (first published in June), Chuck Colson addresses how Christianity helped science advance.
As Rodney Stark tells us in his recent outstanding book, The Victory of Reason, when Europeans first began to explore the rest of the world what surprised them the most wasn’t what they saw — it was “the extent of their own technological superiority.”
What made the difference? Why was it that while “many civilizations,” such as the Chinese, had pursued alchemy, only in Europe did it lead to chemistry?
According to Stark, the answer ultimately lies in European Christianity. While other religions emphasized “mystery and intuition,” Christianity “embraced reason and logic as the primary guides to religious truth.” From the start, the Church Fathers “taught that reason was the supreme gift of God and the means to progressively increase understanding of Scripture and revelation.”
I am weary of hearing people say that those who believe the Bible and follow Christ close their minds to logic and reason. Admittedly, I am not gifted in the sciences, but I understand enough to know that human exploration of the physical world points to a Source vastly beyond human comprehension. I hope believers will continue to engage science as my friend is doing and continue to shed light on the truth.
The very Middle Ages Dawkins belittles saw great scientific and technological advancements that Stark chronicles, including the desire to explore God’s created world — the impulse that gave rise to Christians who were scientists producing what we now know as the scientific method. To say that these were nothing more than the Dark Ages is not only wrong — it’s a lie.