Sun, Dec 10, 2017
Are Science and Christianity in Conflict?
by Aaron O'Kelley
Series: Christianity and Science

- The appearance of conflict between science and Christianity is largely based on reductionism.

- False paradigm: either natural or supernatural; e.g., either wrath of gods or solar eclipse

- Christian worldview brings the two close together b/c God is Lord of his creation.

- Appearance of conflict is superficial; harmony is deep, tied to biblical view of humanity.



- As priest: vertical relationship to God.

- As king: horizontal relationship to creation.


(1) The kingly role of Adam

- Genesis 1:26-28: Humanity given a mandate of dominion over creation.

- Humanity as divine image = mediators of God’s rule, for the good of his creation.

- Contra radical environmentalism: Rom 8:18-25

- God first made a world, then human beings; in the new creation, order reversed.


(2) The priestly role of Adam

- The Garden of Eden is a temple; later descriptions of the Tabernacle/temple refer back to it:

- In the center of the Garden: Tree of life; reflected by lampstand in tabernacle

- Guardian cherubim (Gen 3:24) at the garden; embroidered on the curtain of tabernacle

- God said to be “walking” in Garden (Gen 3:8); same term used in Lev 26:12; Deut 23:14; 2 Sam. 7:6-7 to refer to God’s presence among the people in the tabernacle.

- Adam put in the garden to “work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15); terms used of Levites in Num 3:7-8; 8:26; 18:5-6.

- Adam is a priest who serves and guards God’s holy place.

- Conclusion: Humanity, by design, has both a vertical and horizontal orientation.

- What does any of this have to do with science?

- Science can only be properly done in light of our kingly and priestly callings.



- From an unbelieving perspective, what is the purpose of science? Primarily utilitarian.

- Examples: farmers grow more food on less land; eradication of polio; airplanes

- But how do you decide what is and is not good for humanity? E.g., Nazi experiments.

- Progress outruns ethical reflection: IVF, embryonic stem cell research, designer babies

- What is the proper ethical framework to regulate the utilitarian purpose of science?

- Christian worldview: we are vice-regents taking dominion in the name of our King.

- Our dominion is not ultimately about us; it is about God.

- Solomon as example: 1 Kings 4:29-34; science is an aspect of wisdom.



- But is the only value of science found in its usefulness? Is there any value in knowledge itself?

- Most scientists would say yes; Neil Degrasse Tyson:


“The most astounding fact [about the universe] is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on earth, the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars—the high mass ones among them—went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy, guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems—stars with orbiting planets—and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact I look up—many people feel small because they’re small and the universe is big, but I feel big. Because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life. You want to feel connected. You want to feel relevant. You want to feel like you’re a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.”


- You can hear the sense of wonder in these words; connection to greater reality; worship.

- But in his worldview: no purpose, meaning, value; wonder is merely a physical reaction.

- From Christian perspective, why does he feel wonder? God made him a worshiper.

- The Christian worldview can justify objectively the sense of wonder that science provokes.

- As priests, we pursue science for the purpose of beholding the glory of God in creation.


- Don’t buy the conflict narrative. Conflict is superficial, harmony is deep.

- Psalm 104:24: “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”