The following is a short article I wrote as part of my Science and Faith page. You can find this, a discussion on the topic with three other writers, book recommendations, and online resources on the main page here: https://www.roseannamwhite.com/science-and-faith.
Science, Faith, and Us
In The Nature of a Lady, I have a heroine who is a naturalist, studying the nature all around her. If you’ve read many of my books, then you’ll know I’ve also featured chemists, nurses, mathematicians, physicians, mechanical geniuses, and more. I’m no scientist—but my liberal arts education did include three years of scientific study and four years of math, covering everything from biology to the beginnings of quantum physics, from geometry to astronomy to calculus. More than learning each fact, we were taught how to engage with scientific discovery, how to value it for what it has right and how to ask questions about what doesn’t seem right in a way that will lead to the next discovery. It’s a way of thinking that I’ve attempted to maintain in the years since my college education came to an end, because it’s one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned.
As a homeschool mom, I’ve come across quite a lot of debate about how science and faith interact. I’ve heard other mothers get angry when an old-universe timeline was assumed in a class taught to our local kids—so angry that the facilitators issued an official apology and assured us that this teacher would not be asked back. I’ve heard moms talk about protecting their kids from harmful philosophies like evolution. I’ve heard, over and over, that a biblical worldview must be protected.
And I’ve recoiled from this. Because my education has taught me that the truth doesn’t need to be protected. The truth simply is. And anything else discovered cannot contradict it. It can only challenge our understanding of it. Philosophies may be right or wrong, but learning about them isn’t harmful—so long as one’s foundation is firm.
I operate from the understanding that God is Creator, God is omniscient, God is omnipotent, God is omnipresent. God existed before and outside of time. He reveals himself through the Bible, but also through the world. The Bible, however, was never intended to be a scientific treatise—it was meant to show us how God interacts with man. This means using words. Meeting us where we are. In the ancient days, that didn’t include an understanding of quanta or the speed of light or astrophysics. This is not a failure of the Bible. And it certainly isn’t a failure of God. But trying to put both God and the Bible into a box of my own understanding…that is a failure. That leads to contradictions and often ridiculousness, as we try to cling to understanding that is clearly faulty.
I approach both science and faith from the standpoint that neither can ever disprove the other. Faith tells me that God is, that God has done these things. Science can help me understand how. And if science shows me something that doesn’t seem to fit with the Bible, then it’s not the science or the Bible that’s wrong—it’s my reading of it. I am the weak link here. I am the one who is limited, who is finite, who is biased. God certainly isn’t—and He doesn’t need my ignorant defenses, either. He does not need me to bend over backwards, trying to dismiss new discoveries or rewrite them to jive with passages from the Bible. God did these things however He did them. He doesn’t have to explain himself to me. And He doesn’t have to apologize either. What if the days in Genesis are literal? What if they’re metaphorical? This does not change my faith, either way. What if He used a Big Bang to get the universe started? What if He spoke it into being exactly as we see it now? What if He chose to use evolution to move the animals from sea to land to air? What if He created each species distinctly, never to cross? The answers can be whatever they are—because whatever it is, that’s how God did it, and that makes it good. Because He is a God without limits, and He is our definition of good.
Science as we know it today actually got its start because godly men believed that our Lord is a God of order—that He created a universe that is not chaotic, but which has rules. It was this belief, this understanding, that inspired them to start looking for that order and trying to understand those rules. But of course, over the centuries, lines were drawn. There came those who tried to use science to disprove God. And there were those who rejected science because discoveries didn’t line up with their understanding. This is a tale as old as time. But it doesn’t need to be our story. We can instead say, “My faith will not be defined by my own limited understanding.” We can say, “I will not put God in the box of what I can comprehend.” We can say, “Nothing we can learn can ever actually contradict His truth.”
I’m not a scientist. And I’m not a theologian. But I’m a thinker. And more, I’m someone who wants my kids to understand that they can seek, they can learn, they can discover…and that whatever they find through observation, it’s okay. Because it’s part of the world God made, and maybe He did it this way…or that way…or some other way. Believing one method over another does not negate one’s faith. God is bigger than our understanding, bigger than our doubts, bigger than our questions. He created a beautiful, orderly, complicated world.
And trying to figure out how, trying to understand His methods…well. That can be a form of worship. As long as we remember that He is at the heart of it all.
How God created actually does matter–because He told us in His infallible Word that He created in six literal twenty-four-hour days about 6,000 years ago.
Scientists and their theories aren’t infallible. Scientists make mistakes. And they lie.
But God doesn’t make mistakes, and He cannot lie. Whenever the Bible speaks of scientific matters, it is true. We don’t have to change our understanding of the Bible because of scientific discoveries. If one of these discoveries contradicts the Bible, the discovery is wrong.
It all comes down to who you’re going to believe–the infallible God or fallible, sinful man.
I’ll have to respectfully disagree, Kristina. =) It says 6 days, but the sun and moon weren’t even in place for the first couple, so how do you know how long they were? “Days” is often metaphorical in the Bible. I’m not saying it ISN’T. But I am saying that if someone thinks it metaphorical, that doesn’t negate their faith. Genesis also talks about a “firmament” and waters in the heavens–an ancient understanding of how the earth was arranged, with a disc of earth and then waters above it. I can’t bring myself to cling to that just because it’s what words Moses had for it. 😉 I fully believe that the important thing is knowing that God did it. But it’s also important to try to understand WHY He gave Moses the words He did to describe it. I don’t think it was to limit us or, frankly, to provide a scientific treatise. I think it was to help us understand His love for us.
Science is certainly fallible, and God is not, yes! But if our understanding of the finite WORLD is so riddled with mistakes…how limited and full of mistakes is our understanding of our infinite GOD? He’s so much bigger. That’s all I’m getting at. He’s bigger than our understanding and bigger than the words we have to explain him. Those words can never contain Him.
Here’s a short article on the days of Creation. https://answersingenesis.org/days-of-creation/jonah-was-in-fish-3000-years/
I’m very glad secular teachings about the origins of this world haven’t impacted your faith, but many people can’t say the same thing. Kids especially struggle with this. If their teacher says that God didn’t really mean what He said in Genesis, why should they believe what He said in John 3:16? They see the inconsistencies that occur when people allow man’s ideas to interpret God’s Word for them.
God’s not the author of confusion. He meant what He said–in Genesis, in John, and in the rest of the Bible. And we can have full faith in Him and in His Word.