The Spirit of Science
Written by: Mr. Elijah Rentschler
Originally Published in Flourishing: Volume 3, Issue 2
I have always loved to understand how and why things work. Early on I discovered that a simple screwdriver was often all that was required to reveal the internal workings of most household appliances. More than a few met an early demise when I decided they needed "fixing"! I found that the more I deconstructed and studied something, the better I understood and appreciated the thought and creativity of it's designer. My love for design, order and function led me to study engineering with the intention of pursuing a career in robotics, but God in his sovereignty had other plans for me after graduation.
I've since found an unexpected love for teaching in which my drive to discover has not diminished but now finds purpose in helping students delight in exploring the natural world around us. I love it every time a student brings in a weird bug and asks how we can determine what it is and what it eats, or when a molding piece of fruit from a forgotten lunch becomes the subject of exploration into the recycling role of fungi. I love it even more when students marvel at the incredible design and order that can do nothing except point us to the God who created everything.
Faith and intellectual curiosity were not seen as mutually exclusive but rather complementary aspects of a divinely inspired quest to understand. We now live in a world that wants to drive a wedge between the two and convince us that we must choose between reason and faith. But this is not true.
Science is the product of a God-given drive man has to inquire into the reason and source of all that exists in the universe. Over the centuries many who were educated and motivated by a tradition of faith in God and His word have laid the foundations of modern scientific inquiry. Faith and intellectual curiosity were not seen as mutually exclusive but rather complementary aspects of a divinely inspired quest to understand. We now live in a world that wants to drive a wedge between the two and convince us that we must choose between reason and faith. But this is not true.
The truth is that scientists on the cutting edge of research have many more questions than answers. In every major field we are merely one discovery away from overturning decades or even centuries of scientific understanding, as has happened continuously throughout the ages. (We should not be so smug in regard to our predecessors' erroneous or incomplete understanding considering that our own errors will certainly come to light in time). But science as a whole does not collapse into an apprehensive mess, fearing to be proven wrong at the next turn. Rather we press on with the conviction that we know better today than we did yesterday, and we will certainly know even better tomorrow. With this in mind, it is not only permissible but also wise to consider the current state of scientific knowledge as more of a tent peg than an immovable rock upon which to anchor one's life. The peg is useful and even reliable to a degree but it can and will be moved as science makes progress.
If science cannot offer an immovable anchor upon which to order one's life, then where can we turn?
If science cannot offer an immovable anchor upon which to order one's life, then where can we turn? The psalmist reminds us " Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." (Ps 119:89) Scripture is our unchanging, eternal rock upon which we find stability and permanence in an ever-changing world. While the wisdom of man is often advancing in the areas of science and philosophy, it is just as often retracing it's steps and re-working is premises. God's divinely inspired word to us has no such uncertainty.
It is true that scripture does not answer every question we may have about biology, cosmology and every other study of creation. But it does tell us that "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command" (Heb 11:3). This understanding is enough for us to order our lives in the face of God. This does not exclude us from pursuing a human understanding of how things work. We do not need to shy away from hearing and considering the latest theories and research. We simply understand that we tie ourselves to something far more permanent than science. With that foundation laid, science then becomes a useful tool and means by which we can uncover and revel in the incredible testimony all of creation gives to our creator.