Community Conversation on faith and science: Closer than most think

March 14, 2014 

As a participant in the Tri-City Herald’s Community Conversation on science and faith, I have been asked to provide my reaction to the experience: disappointment. Our discussion group of about 20 tilted toward the nontheist/science point of view; maybe 12 to 8, with a few of the 8 pretty much neutral. Although not all of the minority group held a Christian view, the unstated question to which most of the two evenings’ comments were directed might be thought of as: “Which is correct, science or the Bible?” My considerable disappointment in the group’s comments stems from the serious misinformation/misunderstanding that typified virtually all that was said. We are led to believe that science and the Christian faith are enemies by nature. However, sound scholarship clearly refutes such a position. The history of science shows that the warfare model of interaction is far too simplistic at best and is rejected by historians of science. Stated bluntly, to demand a “science or theism” choice requires ignoring the best scholarship on the subject. Christian comments in our group appeared to be based on old traditional interpretations of the Bible’s creation account wherein origination of the universe, Earth and life occurred in almost the same condition we observe it be today in six literal 24 days. Christian scholarship shows a greater diversity of interpretations than vocal young-Earth proponents would allow. See tinyurl.com /creation-history for example. The nontheist/science comments assumed the young Earth interpretation of the Bible to be all there is and, therefore, since science has proved the Bible and Christianity to be fallacious and irrelevant, society should abandon faith and be guided solely by science. But what if we all considered that maybe there is new information that would improve our traditional understandings if we would only use it to re-examine our thinking? A couple of examples: w An eternal universe, without beginning and without end, was once the accepted scientific position. When Edwin Hubble discovered in 1929 that all the stars and galaxies were moving away from each other, the question had to be answered: “moving away from where?” The answer was what science calls The Big Bang; everything that exists comes from an unimaginable release of pure energy, nothing else. The Bible states, “In the beginning God created …” Theologians say, “out of nothing.” Are science and the Bible saying the same thing? “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.” (The Nature of Space and Time, Stephen W. Hawking and Roger Penrose. w Science has estimated the age of the universe to be about 13.8 billion years old (reference the Planck data or cosmic microwave background data). But what about Genesis’ claim of six days of creation? Einstein told us that, as Hawking and Penrose said, time itself had a beginning. Space-time expanded as the universe expanded. Gerald L. Schroeder, Ph.D, nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that if one applied the accepted value of the coefficient of expansion for space-time (1 x 1012) to the age of the universe — guess what one gets? — six days (The Science of God). Proof? No. But at least an intriguing congruence. And there are at least three other reconciliation models. These examples barely scratch the surface of new, peer-reviewed, scientific findings that not only do not disprove the truth of the Bible but actually substantiate it — if only the science and faith communities will just re-examine long-held preconceptions. There can be only one “truth.” Apparent contradictions must give way to better understanding. w Tom Woods is a retired Air Force fighter pilot and aeronautical engineer.

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