For most of human history the studies of science and religion have not been separate topics. The “Father of Genetics”, Gregor Mendel was a meteorologist, mathematician, biologist, and was also a Catholic priest. Mendel is one of many people that studied religion and science and saw the connection between them. Only in the last centuries has there been a distinction between the two. Today science is the study of physical reality while religion is the study both of physical reality and spiritual reality.
Science studies human and animal behavior in the disciplines of biology and psychology and those of physics and mathematics study how the minutest particles interact. These and all other scientific disciplines attempt to determine how reality works so that it is fully known and can be used by us. The methodology scientists’ use is to, observe a phenomenon, postulate a hypothesis, and observe the phenomena many more times. The repeatability of these observations can become a “Law” which is used to predict what will happen under certain conditions.
Religious studies with regard to physical reality have a similar goal of understanding as does Science but the objective is different. If we understand how physical reality works then that is considered a window into our understanding of God. This is only true if we have our Faith and with the help of the Spirit we can then start to understand God. When we stop talking about physical reality and start to talk about the study of the spiritual realm then we are in an area where faith, prayer, past knowledge and practice are also important. In all Christian religious study the written word in the old and new testaments is what is considered the authority for proper study and actions.
When we want to talk of Physical reality there should not be any difference between scientific findings and Religious beliefs about the nature of creation. This is because God is the creator of all physical reality and the scientist sees the same creations as does a person of faith. Physical reality however remains to be a point of contention between both the scientific and the religious communities. The cause of this schism may be attributed to different factors. In the scientific community they cannot account for miracles like a “burning bush”, healing, raising the dead, etc. (Ex 3:2-3, Lk 6:18-19, Jn 11:40-44). In “true” science you can’t make enough observations of these miracles to formulate a law. That being said a scientist can deny it based on other observations to the contrary or accept that they don’t know why miracles happen. In the Scientific community being known as a believer in God may make others think they have a bias in their observations and conclusions. This can limit them in their work and many do not openly profess their faith. There is no doubt that science has made life easier for all at a rapid pace. This has caused a feeling that Science in itself is all that is needed for mankind. It has become a god to some (Ex 20:3).
On the religious side, due to the changes brought about in lifestyle by Science, the Church has not been able to rapidly adjust to all these changes. Many churches have either become keepers of the sacred icons for the chosen or have given up and accepted that there will be more seats in the church that will be empty. These views however are directly opposed by Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was out in the world with ordinary people, teaching, preaching, healing and at times was in conflict with some of the religious leaders of His day. His ministry lasted and is still felt today.
The situation Christians are facing today needs to change. We have become a people with little regard for the spiritual aspects of our faith in our daily life. Science has brought us a better understanding of the world around us but our love of the things that science brought has kept us from the wonder we once would experience from our closeness to God. Faith while living out your daily life gives us a clearer perspective. Take a moment and see if you can see yourself in the following examples.
The night is a cold one so you put on a jacket and step outside. You happen to look up at the sky. The crispness of the night has made the sky pitch black and it is dotted with a thousand sparkling dots of light. You are immediately overcome with emotion as you consider your place in Gods’ creation (Ge 1:14, Heb 11-3). This is “Wonderstanding”.
It has been a long time since you have taken a vacation because work has been so rough. You got in late last night to the cottage that you rented on the beach due to the traffic. Waking up early you decide to walk down to the water. Sitting down on the sand it is just before sunrise. The sky is streaked with beautiful hues of red and purple. In the waves dolphins are playing. A flock of sea birds fly overhead. You look down and see a hermit crab walking on the sand. You are struck with the beauty of it all and realize that God placed you here among His creatures (Ge 2:19-20). This is “Wonderstanding”.
You are worn out. You have been watching your grandchild and could not find anything that would please her. She has refused to listen, has had fits of crying and just can’t be satisfied. Finally she has begun to play and you have decided to lie back on the couch for a few minutes. After you close your eyes, you feel your grandchild as she lays her head on your lap. At that moment you are struck by how your love for her is like Gods’ love for you (Ps 136, Ro 5:8, 1 Jn 3:1). This is “Wonderstanding”.
As the Psalmist urges us “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works I will meditate” (Ps 145:5). The Disciple group suggests that you read, learn about God and the world, and live your life faithfully so that you may see God’s shadow in moments of “Wonderstanding”.