The recent report that scientists are attempting to grow human organs in host animals stirs up the ever-present tug of war that exists in our culture between faith and science.
Since my full conversion to Christ in college – largely on intellectual grounds, I might add – it has been my conviction that faith and science should be allies. All truth is God’s truth, we like to say.
So many of the early great scientists of along ago – Kepler, Copernicus, Newton and Galileo among others – were devout believers in God. And in fact, it was their belief in the Christian God that fueled their research and investigative fire. Why? Because if you believe what the Bible says, God placed an order and design to creation. He set up nature in accordance with fixed laws. Which means the creative order can be studied. These fixed laws can be discovered. It never occurred to them that the study of creation could do anything but redound to the glory of the Creator.
They would no doubt raise their eyebrows at scientists today who study the order, design and laws of creation and conclude that this is all the result of random, unguided, unplanned, unexplainable forces.
This week, I invite you to think with me on why these two odd bed-fellows need each other. We’ll let faith go first, and ask: Why does faith need science? Here’s the first reason that comes to mind:
The pursuit of science is part of God’s call on our lives.
What is science after all but the pursuit of knowledge about how things work in the physical world? And didn’t God invite us to this pursuit right there on day-one of having created us?
It’s right there in Genesis 1, the very first chapter in our Bible. God created man in his image, and then Genesis 1:28, called by many the “Creation Mandate”, says, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
In case you didn’t noticed, God didn’t put Adam and Eve in a Homewood Suites with electricity and indoor plumbing. He put them in a garden. Neither did he download into Adam and Eve’s mind a working knowledge of nature. In feeling his physical heart beat, Adam didn’t say, “Oh, that’s my heart” or seeing the first bird fly overhead, he didn’t say, “Oh, that’s an eagle.”
We can assume that for the sake of their own survival, God gave them some sort of initial tutorial regarding how things worked. While Adam and Eve were not “plug and play”, surely God taught them some of the basic skills and knowledge that they would need to survive.
Honestly, if you or I were to have a chance to meet Adam and Eve back then, we probably would look on them as very primitive. Why, God wouldn’t even name the animals. Such a simple thing – but God left that up to us. And in naming the animals, science is born.
Genesis 4:20-22 describes in a simple way the further development of science. “…Jabal, he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.” (Someone had to be the first one to invent a tent. Someone had to be the first one to milk a cow.) “His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute.” (Someone had to be the first one to invent musical instruments. God didn’t lower a piano into the garden.) “Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.” (Someone had to be the first one to carve out a wheel. There were no Home Depots around the corner.)
Why did God do it this way? How cruel to withhold all that knowledge from them! some might think. No, not at all. It’s actually an indication of how highly God thinks of us. And proof that humans are indeed ‘created in his image.’ Though this is a multi-layered concept, rationality is part of that divine image we bear. And because God made us rational, he didn’t give us all the answers. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”
It’s because we are kings and queens, not animals driven by instinct or robots by programming, that in a very real way, we are allowed to be co-creators with God. God rested from all his creative labors, the Bible says. Now he turns to us and says, “You take it from here. Be kings and queens over this creation. You’re that special in my eyes.”
If you’re someone reading this who just loves to find out how things work, or you’ve got a secret laboratory in your basement, or Mom and Dad come home and you’ve got the lawn mower torn apart on the garage floor, or the periodic table of elements gives you a thrill, or you think chemistry is cool, and algebra is awesome – then guess what? God has great things in store for you. Maybe you’re the one who’ll find the cure for cancer. Or how to make a car get 500 miles out of a gallon of applesauce.
Have no doubt about it. Science is a very good and holy pursuit for a child of God.