THE BLOG

Science vs. Faith

02/07/2014 11:53 am ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

I grew up on a small farm in a small town and attended a small high school. Looking back now, I realize my entire world was pretty small. But we had a giant of a science teacher. His name is Terry Niblett and he was larger than life.

His classroom was adorned with fish tanks full of various critters like frogs, insects, turtles and always plenty of snakes. He was the king of field trips and the master of classroom experiments. We boiled water in paper cups, created a human chain of static electricity and lost more than one set of eyebrows to cool explosions that set off the fire alarms. He was a genuine science buff.

One day he divided the class into several groups for a mock discussion about how our solar system was formed. Some were to defend the Big Bang, some argued it was an exploding star, and others claimed it was a collision of huge objects that ripped portions away from the sun to form the planets.

As the debate progressed, suddenly a girl stood up in defiance. She was noticeably upset with tears streaming down her face. "Why are we discussing this?" she cried, her voice trembling. "God created the entire universe."

What happened next has stayed with me forever. Mr. Niblett, this logical man of science, spoke softly as he addressed her concerns. "We know He did, sweetie. We're just trying to understand how He did it."

It was an epiphany for me to learn that this incredible man of science was also a devout Christian. And more importantly, there was no conflict between those things. That resonated with me so much that 30 years later when I wrote my first novel, I patterned one of the main characters after him. In fact, Mr. Niblett wrote the foreword. Here's an excerpt.

Science, it seems, is merely the tool that can explain not only that God did it all, but HOW he did it! Get it... God invented science! He invented every law of nature that determines how everything that exists must obey! From magnetism, gravity, atomic power, sub-atomic forces, chemical interactions between atoms and molecules, to forces we haven't discovered yet. And you know the more we dig, study, do research, and eventually discover, the more miraculous God's universe becomes, not less!

Unfortunately, this common sense approach is hardly the norm. Lines have been drawn in the sand and people are encouraged to pick a side and defend it to their last breath. Like the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham proved, there is no common ground between faith and science. You must believe one or the other.

One of my best friends in Alabama was an expert on science and scoffed at the attempts of church folks to undermine the proof of evolution and the formation of the earth. But that was 25 years ago. Now he is a family man, a deacon of a Presbyterian church, and will readily tell you in no uncertain terms that the planet is 6000 years old and the Grand Canyon was carved out in a matter of days by the great flood.

Creationists are so adamant about defending their beliefs that nothing else matters, not even the Bible. Forget the point that they don't even want to accept all the miracles that science uncovers about the incredibly complex universe that God created, they place their own knowledge above the simple instructions that God provided.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

But a lot of Christians do lean on their own understanding and try to force them on others. They are threatened by science as if somehow scientific discoveries could someone destroy their faith. They think knowing all the answers is the key to salvation as if on Judgment Day they will be given a test on creation and need to get all the answers right to enter Heaven.

But the Bible is clear that salvation is not based on intelligence, knowledge, or understanding. The key to everlasting life is faith. One of the points that Revelation says you will be judged on is things you have done, like helping those less fortunate and your love for your fellow man. It is not based on how many details of God's infinite power you were able to figure out or how much you attack, scoff at, or mock those who offer alternative theories.

Holding yourself up to be the ultimate authority is not Christian. Drawing a line between yourself and others is not Christian. Mocking, scoffing at, and arguing with others are not Christian traits. So when scientists uncover evidence that points to the age of the earth or the proof of evolution, etc., don't be threatened. Simply smile and say, "See, I told you God was incredible."