Science and religion need not be at odds though individual practitioners may quarrel. The two pursuits actually have many aspects in common. Both share in the aim of comprehending our world, though they may focus on different issues. Both rely on revelation in their own way – one utilizes an experimental approach the other experiential. Both rely on written records of progress. And both, at the end of the day, remind us of our limits.
Each discipline teaches the universe does not revolve around us. In fact, science has revealed that statement to be literally true by finding that our earth whirls around the sun at an average speed of greater than 60,000 mph, while the solar system itself is in an orbit within a galaxy that is, in turn, rapidly receding from others. It has taken science millennia to assemble this breathtaking picture, while the theologian has poetically pointed for millennia to Psalm 8:3-4 :
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
Theology often grapples with less cut-and-dried issues. Someone once asked a renowned chemist and man of faith how he could accept that bad things happen to good people. According to a report he replied something like, ‘Look, I don’t make the rules; I just work here.’
We enjoy the privilege of exploring God’s handiwork and accumulating knowledge, even though St. Paul cautioned long ago that knowledge will pass away. We don’t make the rules. As I ponder the mysteries of life, I remember the biblical wisdom Stan Hem first pointed out to me 30 years ago in a Bible Study from Micah 6:8 :
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
My own walk has its share of detours. If, for example, I manage to come to terms with an unfamiliar concept or idea, there is always a temptation to become lost in self-satisfaction as unwarranted pride wells up. Often what helps steer me back to reality is hearing a message in a sermon or experiencing the witness of someone in our congregation. A recent instance was when Pastor Chris recounted the story of a frequently tiresome parishioner, who turned out to be part saint as he revealed his faithful attendance in a nursing home to his dying wife. Through such encounters, the eternal wisdom of Micah 6:8 becomes more obvious to me, humbling me once again.