Science & Christianity

Science deals with the natural world; Christianity with the spiritual world. Some claim they deal with mutually exclusive realms; others that they will always be in conflict. Science is said to be about facts and reason; Christianity about faith and feelings.

Science and Christiantiy overlap. Christianity is not just about the spiritual world, but also about living in the natural world. Science explores our origins, and so does Christianity. Some of the founders of modern science were committed Christians; so are some well-known current scientists.

Science and Christianity have a lot in common. Both have contributed great good to the world, and both have been used for evil. Science underpins many developments in technology and medicine. Christian beliefs have motivated many to serve others. Science helps people use reason and their minds to tackle important questions; so does Christianity. Science provides evidence to answer some questions; Christianity provides evidence for certain questions also. People can have faith in science and faith in God. The evidence takes us so far, and then faith allows us to act based on what we know when we don’t know everything. Faith stands on evidence; it is not opposed to evidence. Faith and reason work together, not in opposition.

Science and Christianity also have points of conflict. Science can be used to cure or kill people. Religion can be used to help or hurt people. Scientists can be motivated by money, fame, serving humanity or serving God. Christians can similarly be selfish or other-centred.

Bioethics is a place where science and Christianity can conflict. Helping the sick and curing illness are clearly ethical. But are all means of curing illness ethical? Science itself does not provide answers to that one. Christianity lays out a way of life, a set of character traits, various principles, and spiritual guidance on such ethical issues. Sometimes those conflict with other ethical viewpoints. In bioethics, the dilemmas sometimes arise because of science, but the conflicts are between different ethics, not between science and Christianity. Because of that, reason and faith must be taken into account in bioethics and other areas where Christianity and science overlap. These are the sorts of issues I examine in the materials you can access from here.

I’m a member of the committee of Christians in Science Ireland.

Radio Interview on A Sense of Humanism: “The God question? Is there evidence for Christianity?” Near 90 FM, Dublin (10 June 2010) 26 Meg file {coming soon}

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