Friday, April 15, 2011


(Sorry about not posting this yesterday. My mom is coming to stay with me for the weekend starting today and I went into a cleaning frenzy. All thoughts of posting sort of fell out of my mind. But I'm back with the long promised science and religion post!)

Science and religion are often regarded as oil and water: two things that cannot mix. I have friends who are not religious who think believing in God is daft, to say the least. I have friends who have very strong faith who think a lot of science is completely bogus, like scientists are making information up purposefully to undermine Truth. And then there is my little sister and me, who believe in both science and religion. My sister and I are both strong (Baptist *gasp*) Christians. My sister is a Master's (soon to be PhD) student in anthropology and has no problem (faith-wise) TAing a class called "The Origins of Man" or something like that. I'm an aerospace engineering Master's student who has been known to say that the Matrix could be real and if it is please don't tell me.

So I think the most publicized science vs. faith debate is Evolution versus Creationism. Scientists firmly believe that nature, observation, and science point towards evolution. Let me assure my Christian readers that most scientists do not just make stuff up. They believe stuff based on math, observation, and experimentation. They're not stating it to mess with you. If math, observation, and experimentation could prove a seven day Creation, they would not hold back the information from the public. (Why would they? They'd probably win a Nobel Prize). Now let me assure my atheist, scientific type readers that Christians are not a bunch of blathering, head in the sand idiots. Christians believe in God because of personal experience, observation, and experimentation (though we call it "fleecing" or if we're real brave "doubt"). Christians, like any group of people, do come in varying levels of intelligence, but there are actually scientists and engineers among Christians. You can be smart and have faith.

Now that we've all put our prejudice aside and can look each other in the eye without thinking "that person is an idiot or bogus or fake" let's talk about something else: Galileo.

Galileo lived in the late 1500s and early 1600s, so think Elizabethan Era--except in Italy. He was a physicist and astronomer among other things. He was fascinated by the sun, stars, and heavens in general, as many were back then (and still are).

Now by the time Galileo lived, Copernicus had already made the insane statement that the Earth revolved around the Sun. I know, crazy right? Clearly the Sun revolves around the Earth. I mean, just watch it move across the sky. It's obvious. At least, that was very much the thought process of people back then.

Galileo and Kepler were both two dudes who wanted to figure out if this Copernican theory was real. But we're not here to talk about Kepler, who was living in Germany. We're here to talk about Galileo, who was living in Italy--which was very much controlled by the Church.

Now, I feel its very important to note that Galileo was actually a pretty religious guy. He had considered going into the priesthood. And honestly, he probably would have stayed under the Church's radar even with publishing his ideas, if he hadn't been such a religious man. You see, Galileo believed in heliocentrism (fancy word for the Earth revolving around the Sun) and God. And he went to Rome, to try to explain to the Church that one could believe in both heliocentrism and the God of Christianity, to try to convince them that those who like him believe in both were not heretics. Because of his love of the Church and science, he was banned from further defending this to the Church (though he was not banned from working on his science).

You see, heliocentrism and the Bible could not both possible be true, in the mind of the Church 500 years ago. The two things cannot possibly be reconciled. There is no way heliocentrism can be true if you believe the Bible is true. The two things directly conflict. Obviously.

After all:
"The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved."
~Pslam 93:1

"Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns;
Indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity."
~Pslam 96:10

"Tremble before Him, all the earth;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved."
~1 Chronicles 16:30

"Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again."
~Ecclesiastes 1:5

"He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter forever and ever."
~Psalm 104:5

Clearly, the Bible indicates the world is not moving but sitting still in space. In fact, I'm not even sure the Earth should rotate according to these verses.

Now, I'm not here to point out supposed contradictions in the Bible. I do not believe that any of these verses contradict the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun. I think the writers (and through them God) were trying to make the point that God very carefully placed the Earth. That this Goldilocks zone we are in is special. And that God will not allow anything to move us from this zone. And that we can depend on the Sun. He put it there for us. And as long as He wants us to be here, the Sun will be there.

The point I am trying to make is that today, in the modern world, we all believe in heliocentrism (as far as I know). Christians are not protesting in the streets, not angrily overrunning school board meetings, to protest that heliocentrism is being taught. We believe in heliocrentrism. And we believe the Bible. Yet, the angry feelings and denials people had back then are very similar to the feelings Christians have about Evolution.

So maybe 500 years from now future Christians will laugh at us for disregarding Evolution as true.

In short, as Christians we shouldn't dismiss science out of hand because we think it contradicts. It doesn't always. Sometimes it just involves thinking out of the box. As for my feelings about evolution (and the Matrix), that's a post for another day. For now, I just want you to remember Galileo when your first thought is "Scientists are just making this crap up!" Galileo was a scientist and a believer and he really did believe both (as most of us now do when it comes to heliocentrism).

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