Science and religion

There are books and periodicals and articles and blogs and essays galore written to tell us that science and religion do not mix. More than that, that they are antithetical to one another. If you have faith, you must give up science. To be a scientist, you must turn your back on your religion.

And then there are the people, like Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler, who turn their backs on the headlines and, thankful for the gifts that God has given them, use them to see beyond the next horizon, to see the world more clearly, to show us marvellous things about the universe in which we live.

People like Copernicus and Kepler change everything. Kepler codified a growing body of reason about the way that the world works and laid the foundation for generations to come. Copernicus changed the world by telling us that the sun was its centre. He changed our world; he didn’t change God’s world. It turned out later, afer all, that our sun was only one centre, one sun among countless others.

With each discovery, our awe for our Creator should surely increase, not diminish.

“Science” means knowledge. Knowledge is tricky – the garden of Eden story, with the tree and the serpent, warned us that it can fool us into thinking that we are our own gods, that we have no need of God. But our capacity for knowledge is a tremendous gift. Treated with humility, with gratitude, respect and love, it accomplishes wonderful things: medicine, machinery, new ways of creating art – itself once thought to be the opposite of science.

Copernicus, Kepler and their like have shown us astonishing things about the universe in which we live. More astonishing still is the knowledge that among so many stars, in so many galaxies, in such an unfathomably large (and possibly expanding) created universe, God knows and recognizes each one of us, even counts each of the hairs on our heads, even loves us.

And that changes everything.


About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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