Christians are viewed as having a superficial or even non-existent understanding of science and the world we live in. Non-Christian, humanist, atheist “free-thinkers” would even go so far as saying we turn a blind eye to the world and the scientific knowledge that is to be gained by scientific inquiry.
Although I believe this general characterization of Christians to be pretty accurate, it certainly doesn’t correctly define us all. There are plenty of Christian scientists in the world, countless Christian science teachers, and prominent Christian professors who are able to balance a knowledge of God with the human knowledge discernible through the sciences.
Christians and Science
But, beyond an academic environment, the general population of Christians are from my vantage point less informed than non-Christians about science, the scientific method, and the principles behind scientific study.
And so, I’d like to start by teaching what little I know about the subject, gleaned from others more knowledgeable than I, in hopes of raising the bar on what everyday Christians know about science. And if you are a scientist, feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong on something using the comments below.
Let’s start this multi-article series with a proper beginning. Let’s first answer the question: “What is science?” Then, we’ll go deeper and deeper over time. Sound ok?
What is Science? I’m going to quote from Stephen S. Carey, who is the author of “A Beginner’s Guide to Scientific Method”. Stephen Carey taught logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of religion at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.
On page 5 of his book he defines science as “that activity which aims to further our understanding of why things happen as they do in the natural world. It accomplishes this goal by applications of scientific method – the process of observing nature, isolating a facet that is not well understood and then proposing and testing possible explanations.”
I thought this was a pretty good opening definition. And in future articles, I’ll cover various aspects of this definition, an overview of the scientific method, and important topics like causation and correlation and examples of good and bad science.
I believe as Christians, we are well served by trying to understand why things happen as they do and testing possible explanations. God gave us this world and He gave us our human minds and intellects. I believe we can glorify Him by using such God given abilities to contribute to our human understanding of the world around us.
Science isn’t the only tool in our toolbox, but it does have a valuable purpose and place, and it’s not something we Christians should shy away from. Instead of sticking our heads in the sand, let’s strive to know God AND our world better. When it comes to understanding our world better, scientific inquiry is a pretty good tool for the job. So, join me as we begin to grasp this tool called science and become apprentices at using it in ways that make a positive impact in our collective human experience.