Science and Religion

On July 23, 2006 Revs. Jack and Marily Gregory of Independence First United Methodist Church had the following letter published in the Independence paper. I wanted to reprint it here and received permission to do so. It is an excellent letter. The only thing I would add is an aside that the second chapter of Genesis contains a second account of creation and that this would seem to indicate that the Bible is not interested in exactly how God created, but that it was God who created all that is and called it good. Rev. Gregory has informed me that this point did not make it into their letter because of the newspaper’s 400 word limit.

Science and Religion

Conversations about religion and science have moved to center stage. Some assume the scientific endeavor threatens belief in God. Others assume that belief in God makes it impossible to be an unbiased scientist. We believe that God created us to be curious and thoughtful beings and that theology and science need not be in conflict.

Evolution is the most accurate explanation biologists can make for the variety of life. The mechanics of evolution include natural and artificial selection, gene drift and mutation, and adaptation of life forms to their environments. Scientists are not of one mind about the particulars, but there is agreement with the outline of evolutionary theory.

Christians are not of one mind, either, about how we read and understand the Bible. Some believe that the Bible is the direct word from God, without error, and read the first chapter of Genesis as a historically and scientifically accurate description of the origins of life. Others understand that the Bible is a collection of writings by humans whose experiences of God and understandings of God’s purposes bring us into a closer relationship to God. We read Genesis as a witness to God’s creative power and God’s purpose for human beings. Both readings of the Bible take the text seriously and shape readers into faithful followers of Jesus.

Francis Collins, a respected scientist, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute and a deeply committed Christian, said: “I am not aware of any reasons why one cannot be a completely dedicated person of faith who believes that God inspired the writings in the Bible, and also be a rigorous, intellectually honest scientist….” Adam Hamilton, pastor of the 9000 member Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, said, “I believe that evolution is a process that was designed by God.” We have sometimes said that science addresses the questions of “When?” and “How?” The Bible addresses the questions of “Who?” and “Why?”

Christians have a right to be offended when a scientist implies that his research proves there is no God. When religious leaders, in the name of openness, cast doubt upon the validity of widely accepted scientific thought; they, too, have overstepped a boundary.

Let us continue the conversation about science and religion. Let us talk about the Bible, how it came to be and how we are to read it. Let us learn all we can about the origins of life and the relationships between life forms. These conversations only deepen our sense of wonder before our God and Creator.

Jack and Marilyn Gregory