This past week one of my favourite podcasts posted an episode devoted to exploring scientific ideas that must die. Topics included cries for a rethinking of the value of mouse models for human medicine and the rejection of the duality of left brain/right brain thinking.

An idea that struck a particular cord with me was discarding the concept of the universe in favour of a multiverse. A new framework like this might alter even as atheists feelings about science. The reason this hit home with me was because not only am I a person with a love and deep appreciation for science, I’m also a pastor.

Integrating Science and Faith

When I was 8 years old, I received a microscope, telescope, and chemistry set for Christmas. When I was 28 years old, I received a 12-volume set of commentaries on the bible.

As a child, my ambition was to be a scientist. However, by the time I turned 18, I had enrolled in a Bachelor of Theology program.

I have lived my entire life sometimes in tension but most often in deep appreciation for the contributions of both science and theology to the betterment of society and the improvement of the human condition.

Some in both the faith community and the scientific community view the relationship of science and religion as a duel where there can only be one survivor. But I see it instead as a duet where the contributions of each enhance the other.

While science helps to answer the whats and hows of the world we find ourselves in, religion attempts to answer the why’s. As human beings, we not only crave knowledge but purpose.

Science may be able to answer the question of how life begins, but it offers no guidance as to why each life matters. To quote Galileo Galilei, “Science tells us how the heavens go. Religion tells us how to go to heaven.”

Science / Mathematics and Child Custody

An issue I encounter all too often is the division of child custody after parents separate and divorce. It brings the topics of science, in this case mathematics, to the fore together with human relationships and spirituality.

While spiritually what we want are strong marriages, the sad reality is that divorce exists and children are implicated. Neither a spiritual nor humanistic approach are easily applied to the difficult task of making custody arrangements.

Mathematics comes to the rescue in a sense. The practicalities of what might be considered a good custody schedule are bound mathematically. Using math, we can do God's work and come up with an arrangement that fulfills a vital purpose: keeping a child connected and bonded closely with both parents.

We All Have a Duty to Respect Scientific Inquiry

I would argue, as a Christian, that it’s incumbent upon anyone who would take the teaching of Christ seriously to engage in rational questioning and scientific inquiry. After all, when Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment, his reply was that one ought to love God not only with their heart and soul but also their mind

You see, if one believes in a creator, then one of the ways that this creator would reveal itself is through its creation. This is exactly what the writer of Psalm 19 was saying when he penned the words: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

Practically, this duet between faith and science (or reason and religion) plays out in numerous ways in my life. For example, as a dad I not only pray for my children, I also vaccinate them. I do this in the same way I make sure they wear a seatbelt when riding a car or a helmet when riding their bikes.

Spirituality is Undiminished by Applied Science

Does doing these things show a lack of faith in God’s ability to care for my children? No, instead it shows loving God by using the mind he gave me to make rational decisions for the good, not only of my own children but also the world around them.

After all, if I refuse to vaccinate my child, I not only increase the risk to them, but also to all the children who, for varying reasons, are unable to be vaccinated. As a follower of Jesus, I take seriously the second part of the great commandment which is to love my neighbour as myself.

It means I take seriously threats to the environment that come from human abuse and misuse. I do this not only because science shows that the effects of things like climate change, deforestation, and water and air pollution are harmful to humans as a species, but also because my faith teaches that humans have a responsibility to care for and steward the world we’ve been placed in.

Are there going to be times where it gets messy? Sure, in any relationship, there are areas of disagreement that require more discussion and deliberation. But the solution is dialogue not derision.

So let’s put to bed the idea that science and religion are in a duel and there can only be one survivor. Instead let’s consider the possibility that they can co-exist in a duet, working in tandem for the enrichment of human life and welfare.

Author's Bio: 

Derik is the father of three, ages 8, 7, and 4, and is the pastor at Forward Church in Kitchener, ON. He holds a Bachelor of Theology from Heritage College and his Xbox live gamertag is Peelyhead, which means “baldy” in Belizean creole.