Are science and the Bible in tension?
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
One certainly gets the impression from the media, some popular scientists, and some Christians that Science and the Bible are seriously at war with each other. But if you dig deeper, you will find many scientists and Christians who think the two are compatible and even affirm each other. What’s going on?
It took me years to realize this, but the source of the tension is not science itself, but the naturalistic assumptions and interpretations of the scientific data that science today demands (historically, science did not do this, as one can see from reading the works of Kepler, Newton, Maxwell, and others). Thus the tension is between two different religious views – naturalism and theism – not between the scientific data and Christianity, which in most cases can be harmonized. Even agnostic scientists note that the Big Bang model, which affirms a beginning to our universe, agrees well with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The tension comes in asserting that the universe started itself in some purely naturalistic manner, so no Creator was needed.
Being aware of how naturalistic assumptions shape and guide scientific conclusions today, especially in questions relating to origins, history, and theology dissolves the tension. “The heavens declare the glory of God” if we will remove the philosophical straitjacket of naturalism and let them do so.
John Bloom, Ph.D. is a professor of Physics and the Director of the Science and Religion Program at the Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
Professor Bloom's recommended reading on this question:
Lennox, John, God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
Professor Bloom's recommended reading for biographies of Scientists who are/were Christian:
Graves, Dan, Scientists of Faith: 48 Biographies of Historic Scientists and their Christian Faith
Barrett, Eric and Fisher, David, Scientists Who Believe: 21 Tell Their Own Stories