You could be excused for thinking this title is a bit facetious. Everyone knows there’s conflict between science and religion, right? A recent survey asked the British public that very question. Nearly 60% believed science and religion were incompatible. But when asked if there was conflict between religion and any specific science – like chemistry, medical science, cosmology, geology, physics, or AI – the answers were in effect, no, no, not really, or ‘a little’. There’s a serious disconnect here!
What’s going on? Basically, we’ve been hoodwinked. As the renowned British scientist-theologian Arthur Peacocke put it, ‘Science versusreligion is still regarded as a newsworthy sport, and in spite of several decades of sophisticated and informed analyses of the complex and subtle relationships between them, the idea of ‘conflict’ still endures in the popular mind.’
Basically, the media loves a good fight, conflict sells, and the extreme voices on either side get all the attention – skewing our perception. As one think-tank put it, ‘all the splashing is at the shallow end.’ It’s high time Christians learned to swim and gained the courage to dive into the deep.
The conflict model is a storm in a teacup. Yes, there is real conflict – but the touchstone issues of evolution, big bang, or religious ‘experience’ have had a hugely disproportionate influence in shaping public perception, to the detriment of ongoing, long-term, deeply engaging, robust, and insightful dialogue at all levels of science-faith interaction.
In fact, there is far more conflict within science and within Christianity – but that’s normal, the nature of development in every discipline. New proposals face resistance, get critiqued, adapted, gain consensus, and gradually change opinion.
Once we pull back from the teacups, there’s actually a sumptuous feast to enjoy! I propose that ultimately, there is NO conflict between science and faith. Why? Because there’s only one reality – God’s reality. God reveals Himself in this time-space, physical-spiritual universe in two ways – which Francis Bacon famously coined ‘God’s two books’:
- The book of his Word – the Bible;
- The book of his Works – Creation.
Two unique perspectives on a multi-faceted reality. Both are True and reveal the goodness of God! Forgive the platitude, but ‘All truth is God’s Truth’ (though our interpretation may be faulty!) Both are limited and need each other. God said ‘let there be light’. And the speed of light was 186,282 miles per second. Faith and science – together.