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Can you be a Christian and a scientist?
In our current cultural climate this is a great question to ask, and a brave one too! Many would have us believe that the terms ‘scientist’ and ‘Christian’ exist at opposite ends of the same scale. So in asking the question you’re flying in the face of much modern wisdom. It’s also a pertinent question for me as I have both a masters in physics and a masters in theology.
The short answer is yes. It is possible to be a Scientist and a Christian. The reason that we often think the two are opposed is that many in the public domain at the moment who present themselves as spokespeople for atheism also paint themselves solely as people of science. Yet at best that’s an oversimplification, at worst a lie.
To merely claim that science is opposed to Christianity is as absurd as suggesting that because an object is blue it can’t smell like chocolate. We recognise how ridiculous a statement that is from the outset because we understand colour and smell to be different qualities yet our understanding of science and faith has been clouded by the often public pronouncements of enthusiastic atheists.
What we really need to understand is what it means to be a scientist and what it means to be a Christian. When we comprehend the essence of both of these things it’s pretty clear that nothing stands in the way of someone laying claim to both titles.
A scientist is someone who utilises the scientific method to draw repeatable conclusions about the world that surrounds us. The scientific method boils down to observing some phenomenon, applying reason and drawing a conclusion which can be tested and repeated in any and all situations.
A Christian is someone who believes that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were sufficient to make us right with God. The Christian faith boils down to a basic view of life that God exists, we are not good enough for God in and of ourselves, and that Jesus has offered to substitute His perfect self in our place.
Immediately it should be easy to see that the two terms aren’t really being used to describe opposing sides in a debate. Rather a person could just as well be a Christian scientist as a non-Christian accountant.
Science, by definition, is pretty narrow field; seeking to explain the events of nature in a reproducible way, and to use these reproductions to make useful predictions. Science boxes itself in. And that’s exactly how scientists would have it.
Yet problems arise when through media coverage and best selling books are written by ‘Scientists’ but in fields quite outside that very narrow definition. When a scientist makes a claim like, ‘There is no need for God’ or, ‘Life is just a series of unfortunate events.’ They are no longer wearing their lab coats, they’ve actually taken that off and replaced it with a dog collar.
History shows us that far from being in opposition a Christian faith can support a scientist's endeavor. Modern science was birthed among men who, trusting that there was a God above who had ordered a world below, set about trying to understand that order. Without a faith in God, Christian or otherwise, a Scientist must answer the question why do they think that a result observed and obtained in Tokyo should be repeatable in Montreal at all?
And it works both ways too. If science benefits from some sort of understanding as to why order exists over and above chaos, so Christianity benefits from science's efforts in exploring God’s vast and wonderful creation. In Romans 1:20 the Apostle Paul states that, “...since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead...” Essentially, as our knowledge of science increases so too should the Christian's awe and wonder at the power and eternity of God.
More than this however, I feel that good science benefits my faith because it shows me how much I’ve been loved. For example, science shows me that the earth we inhabit occupies only a tiny fraction of the known universe and that on this earth humanity lives on less than 25% of the land and sea. It also details for me that 6 billion people currently live here and that figure itself is only a fraction of the total number in human history. Yet, given how infinitely small and insignificant that makes me feel, when I read in Galatians 2:20 that, “...the Son of God [Jesus], who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
In summary, it is possible to be a scientist and a christian because the two labels are being used to describe different things. Yet it’s possible to say that being a Christian Scientist is the best of both worlds as a faith in God can provide reason and purpose to the scientific method and the world of science can demonstrate the immeasurable attributes of God and the depths of His love even for individuals.
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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