What should we say to someone who worries that science disproves Christianity?
I’m a scientist and a Christian. I’ve occasionally been asked by Christians (with a little fear in their eyes), “Have you ever learned something in science that made you doubt your faith?”
Many people share this concern. Studies show that people leaving the church often list science as a reason they doubt. But I have never found science to push me away from God. I grew up in the Christian Reformed Church, and my Reformed teachers and pastors always taught me that God’s sovereignty means we shouldn’t fear science.
When science and Scripture seem to conflict, people might feel they have to choose one or the other. But we don’t do that when two Scripture passages seem to contradict each other. We assume there is underlying harmony. We go to experts to learn more about those passages, and ultimately we learn more about God.
God both inspired Scripture and created the world that we study scientifically. And the Belgic Confession tells us that God reveals himself both in the natural world and in Scripture. Although we might misinterpret one or both, we trust that God wouldn’t govern the natural world in one way and inspire Scripture to tell us something contradictory. If our study of both seems at first to contradict, it’s an opportunity to learn more about both and ultimately about God.
We shouldn’t fear this. We don’t earn our salvation by holding tight to a checklist of doctrines and interpretations of Scripture. We’re saved by grace. We then do our best to understand God’s Scripture and God’s world out of gratitude. If we start by trusting God’s grace, studying God’s world might give us new mysteries to ponder, but that study should not lead us away from God.
Science is often portrayed as atheistic. Some atheists do see each scientific advance as evidence that God doesn’t exist. But Christians who use Scripture as a lens for looking at the world see each scientific advance as increasing human understanding of God’s amazing creation. God can do miracles, but God is just as sovereign over everything that happens in scientifically explainable ways.
About the Author
Loren Haarsma is a lifelong member of the CRC. He lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is currently a professor of physics and astronomy at Calvin University. He is the author of When Did Sin Begin? Human Evolution and the Doctrine of Original Sin (Baker, 2021) and Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Faith Alive, 2008, 2013).