Contextual Thoughts on The Language of Science and Faith

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Did you know that reading the context of the passage was important? The languages too? I mean the original languages, and not English, although I am sure that God Himself speaks English and has always spoken English, and Elizabethan at that! I am stunned. Just stunned. But, that is what Giberson and Collins suggest is needed when reading Holy Writ.

In their third chapter, How Do We Relate Science and Religion, they try to correct the myth that Science and Religion are at war with one another! Wait, you mean that they aren’t? They quote Augustine and Aquinas – who, in my opinion, is a central figure in exploring the role of science and theology – to show that Christian theologians have valued science. This is true, whether or not fundamentalists – believers or non-believers – want to be historical about the whole thing. One of the issues which we have today is the lack of historical context. How many of us actually study history, quantifying data, examining and exploring the field? Instead, we simply settle for one book on the subject. If we do the latter, which more often than not is the preferred choice, then we are going to fall into the same trap that science and religion are perpetual enemies where only one can survive.

The authors list a few of the more well known Christian scientists, noting the fact that modern science is rooted in Christianity. Further, they go on to show how keeping science and religion separate – reversing the historical course – actually damages both. You see that, don’t you? In today’s world, I mean? We are told to keep science and religion as separate as Church and State. Historically (p86), this wasn’t always the case. Scientists, real and even challenging scientists have been and continue to be apart of the Christian faith. A point which is made is that their Christian believe actually compelled and made it safe for these early scientific explorers to engage the world around them. And yet today, we are told to keep the two separate, so much so that we think it an oxymoron if a scientist is a person of faith. But, as they note on p91, there is a limitation on both. Science can inform religion, but cannot be understood as to make value statements in the way religion has done. Further, religion can and should guide science, especially in the realm of ethics, but the Holy Writ itself must not be considered a science text book.

They end the chapter with what a first year seminary student should know – that reading the text via translations is bad for you, well at least if you are going to try to get to original meaning of the text. Read the original language, the authors encourage, and seek out the original context. Examine what is being said, and what truth is being offered. Here, the authors seek to undue the violence caused to the Text by those who seek to examine Genesis 1 apart form Genesis 2, using different methods no less, as a scientific rule book. Neither the context nor the language used allows for this, any longer. Further, they caution that we must be ready to change our interpretations when they have been shown to be wrong. There can be only one truth and if we believe that all truth is God’s truth, then we have to be willing to accept whatever the truth may present to us.

 

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