The Conflict Between Christianity and Science

From Wednesday February 8, 2017 at Crescent School:

Christianity has been a proponent of knowledge, education, and science. The university was begun by Christians. The idea of the university was to take a diversity of subjects and present it to students as a unified whole. Theology was the chief science. By knowing God, you can know all things. Gaining knowledge of things helps you know God.

The belief that the world contained order which could be studied and learned, came from the biblical notion that God is a God of order and the creator. What drove early scientific discovery was a desire to know God. Rodney Stark, a historian of religion, said:

the birth of science was not the continuation of classical knowledge but the natural consequence of Christian doctrine: nature exists because it was created by God and, to love Him and honor Him, it is necessary to have a profound appreciation of the wonders of His actions.

Christianity began the idea of the university (most old universities had clergymen as first president) and also was the underpinning of the modern scientific method. That being the case, why is it so widely held that Christianity is in conflict with science?

It all begins with the Greek Philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) believed the universe is finite and spherical with a stationary Earth at its center. The view that the earth is the center of all things was widely held, even before Christianity came into existence.

Unfortunately, Christianity was hijacked by the Catholic Church.

Clement and Origen (185-254 A.D.), sought to reconcile Greek wisdom (Aristotle's thoughts) with scriptural wisdom. Origen imagined separate literal, moral, and spiritual senses of Bible passages. "This allegorical interpretation gave birth to a new brand of Christianity. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), although not as extreme as Clement or Origen, accepted this new approach. Through Augustine the mixing of philosophy, culture, and theology became inter-twined. And, since Catholic theology recognizes the traditions of the Church as equal in authority with written scripture, changing this trend became impossible.”

Clement, Origen, and Augustine are big names in the early Catholic Church. They realized the Bible was inconsistent with Aristotle's views. Therefore, instead of ditching Aristotle, they made the horrendous mistake of not taking the Bible literally. Over time, their allegorical understanding of Scripture became Church Tradition. Catholics view church tradition as authoritative as Scripture. When push comes to shove, they go with what the Catholic Church says.

So, this created huge conflict with new scientific discoveries that became more and more obvious.

Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543 A.D.) developed a cosmology with the sun at the center, the Earth rotating about a polar axis, and the Earth and planets circling the sun. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642 A.D.) built his first telescope in 1610, He soon made discoveries which shook the Aristotelian cosmos. He saw mountains, valleys and other features indicating change on the moon. He observed the motion of four of Jupiter's moons. No longer could scientists say that heavenly bodies revolve exclusively around the Earth. He also observed the phases of Venus, the only explanation of which is that Venus moves around the sun and not the Earth.

Copernicus and Galileo were in obvious conflict with Catholic Church Tradition. The Catholic Church responded by trying to suppress these guys and their teachings. One would hope the Reformers would back off this point, but in large part they did not.

Reformation churches didn’t help much, "all branches of the Protestant Church ... vied with each other in denouncing the Copernican doctrine as contrary to Scripture."

The Catholic Church doubled down on their stance during what is known as the Counter Reformation.

the Counter-Reformation late 1500’s. Catholicism grew more conservative and authoritarian; power became centralized, and ideological vigilance increased. One of the most sensitive issues was biblical interpretation. The Catholic church assumed a firm stance on this issue at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), forbidding the interpretation of scripture on any matter of faith or practice "contrary to the sense determined by the Holy Mother Church."

When most people talk about a conflict between Christianity and Science, what they are really talking about is the conflict between the Catholic Church and Science. There is undeniable historical proof that this conflict existed and was real.

A second element of the conflict arose with the rise of Darwinian Evolution. A literal interpretation of the Bible, particularly Genesis 1, is indeed in conflict with Darwinian Evolution.

the encounter between William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow at the Scopes trial in 1925 has achieved similar legendary status as a major turning point in the war. According to common opinion, the evolutionists, though defeated on legal grounds, scored a stunning public-relations victory, halted the anti-evolution crusade, and exposed the bumbling Bryan as an ignoramus.

The movie, Inherit the Wind, from 1960 did a wonderful job making Christians look like rubes and science appear to be triumphantly awesome in all ways. Based on this popular telling of the story, many have seen Christianity as in conflict with science.

If "science" means "Darwinian Evolution," then, yes, I guess there is a conflict. But in recent years, once you get past the popular level of science/evolution, many scientists are seeing that Darwinian Evolution is falling apart and is no longer a viable understanding of creation.

The Bible is in direct conflict with Darwinian Evolution. There is no way you can read the Bible literally and believe in Darwinian Evolution. Luckily for us, the Bible is right and Darwinian Evolution is wrong. Science is begrudgingly admitting that Darwinianism can't possibly be right, and this will become more obvious as the years go by.

There is absolutely no conflict between the Bible/Christianity and science. In fact, the more science has learned, the more the Bible has been shown to be accurate.

There is a verse in the Bible which more or less gives us the definition of the Scientific Method. 1 Thessalonians 5:21--"prove all things; hold fast to that which is good." Prove means to examine, scrutinize, question, and test everything. What passes the test should be held onto. This is the Scientific Method. The Bible has no problem with science.

Romans 1:20 says, " For the invisible things of him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

The more we know about Creation the more we know about the Creator. This underlying thought is what drove many early scientists to study Creation. Galileo said we have two books to read to learn about God: The Bible and the Book of Nature. God has no problem with you being a scientists or learning more about how Creation works.

There is no conflict between Christianity and Science.

Yes, there has been a conflict between Catholicism and Science, and yes, there is a conflict between Christianity and Darwinian Evolution, but there is no conflict at all between Biblical Christianity and Science.

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