By Jake Hall
published in Family Matters eNewsletter July 14, 2016
The Surf Shack has been open for business at Highland Hills this week. Our 2016 VBS theme celebrates God’s good creation. Along with all the teachers and crafters and snack providers at VBS, we also have a resident scientist, a role performed by Davy Priester. Bible study and experiments have marked the kids’ experiences this year. Here at Highland Hills, we believe that there is a great consonance between faith and science. Exploring our world is a way to fully love God with our minds. More often than not, it seems we focus on loving God with all of our hearts to the neglect of loving God with our minds. How is it then that we love God with our minds?
In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12, a scribe asked Jesus which commandment is first of all? Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear Oh Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’” If we take Jesus’ command seriously, how do we hold to this holistic approach to the love of God?
Christian history bears a spotty record of charitable discourse with science. Faith and science are often placed as adversaries in a bitterly fought contest of worldviews. Scientific discovery has been seen by faith as heresy instead of being heralded as yet another avenue of loving God with the mind. Faith, on the other hand, has been caricatured by science as willful ignorance the facts for the sake of accepted dogma. Sadly, from Copernicus and Galileo to Darwin and the Scopes trial, we can name a number of occasions when conflict, more than consonance, marked the conversation. Must science and faith always be set at odds with one another? Are intellectual pursuits at odds with a life of faith? What are thinking Christians to do? There must be other options than to blindly accept biblical literalism or the kind of science that makes no room for the sacred.
Ian Barbour’s seminal work, Religion and Science, aptly describes four approaches: conflict, independence, dialogue and integration. Some people simply separate science and faith. As one geology professor said, “I keep my God in one pocket, and my rocks in another.” While this approach avoids pitting science and faith against each other, it may lead to the sense that faith only deals with the spiritual and science the material, as if these two disciplines deal with different worlds. Dialogue is another option, but at times it ends only in polite conversation and little progress.
Here at Highland Hills, we strive to create the space for this kind of conversation in our community. We hope to be the kind of congregation where you don’t have to check your brain at the door. We believe with the writer of Psalm 19 that “the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork,” then maybe we can concede that there is room for real integration between these two different ways of seeing the world.