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I see science as a gift from God. God created us with the curiosity and intelligence to explore all that he has made.

During the pandemic, I started hearing leaders say “just trust the science” on topics such as masks and vaccines. The phrase continues to be used today on issues like climate change. Should Christians trust science? 

I’m torn on this. I’m a scientist myself. As an astronomer, I’ve studied galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the expansion of the universe. I’m thrilled about the new images from the James Webb Space Telescope and all they will reveal about the universe. In my experience scientists are straight shooters and reliable in their area of expertise.  

On the other hand, the phrase “trust the science” is problematic. It often is said with a tone of “science shows I'm right, so shut up and trust me.” The smug tone cuts off conversation. When explaining science, we need to be honest about the uncertainties and open to the real concerns people have. 

Moreover, “trust” is a big word. The Bible verses I memorized as a child have stuck with me and I can type them from memory: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6, BSB). Trust is a word we apply to God. I trust God to love me, to be wiser than me, to guide me, to protect me. If we trust science in that way, we have surely turned science into an idol. Science is limited; it cannot replace God.

Many scientists also have problems with “trust the science” for completely different reasons. What about “science” are we supposed to trust? The opinions of scientists? The latest public policy initiative? The findings of experiments? Even with experimental findings, scientists know there is always some level of uncertainty and that future research will likely add complications or contradictions. But we also know that findings can be very reliable when they have been confirmed by many scientists with abundant data.  

And that’s the key: recognizing what about science is reliable and what is not. Scientific findings are reliable when they are based on the work of scientists of different nationalities and different worldviews doing different types of experiments. It’s impressive when all these people actually agree on something! I’ve been to many conferences where scientists debate the latest research. If you don’t have rigorous methods and sufficient data, other scientists are quick to point out the weaknesses and argue for alternatives. When scientists do reach a consensus, it is a lot more reliable than one person on YouTube.  

There’s another reason that well-established findings should be taken seriously by Christians: science is humans’ best understanding of God’s creation. Scientists are able to reach a consensus because they’ve agreed to use the same reference point: the natural world itself. Whether they acknowledge it or not, scientists are studying the very handiwork of God, from galaxies to weather patterns to the cells in our bodies. What we do with the findings of science is a different question. Good public policy needs more than science. We need to consider economics, the effects on communities, and other factors. But simply rejecting scientific findings if we don’t like what they say means losing our best window into God’s creation. 

I see science as a gift from God. God created us with the curiosity and intelligence to explore all that he has made. God calls us to use that knowledge to heal the sick, care for the poor, and care for the planet. As Christians we should be the most discerning and wise people in our use of science. We should not be taken in by the latest anti-science conspiracy theory. Nor should we adopt narratives that turn science into an idol. Instead, we can use what science learns about the natural world to make wise and compassionate choices. So let’s not trust science instead of God. Let’s trust science as a gift from God.

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