For many Christians today there is a divide between religion and science. We hold that God created and sustains everything, that miracles occur, and that the unseen supernatural world exists. "Science" stands for naturalistic views that the universe came from the big bang, life arose from non-life, and all that exists is only what we can detect with our human senses or specialized sensors. These two views appear to be in complete opposition to one another, and this simplified view is what drives some Christians to mistrust science and scientists.
But what if there was a better understanding of science from a Christian perspective, one that added to the already unending list of reasons to worship and praise the Creator God? As someone who has been a Christian nearly all my life, I had to work through this as I completed my Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology (2011), which is the study of how the human body responds physically, both acutely and chronically, to stresses which are both mental and physical. I’ve taken cadaver labs to get a better sense of how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to move and stabilize the body. I’ve taken physiology labs where we measured in real-time how the cells were changing the way they provided energy to working muscles. Then I came to Westminster and completed my Master of Divinity (2019), and with all of the systematic theology classes, apologetics, and exegetical classes I’ve taken, I find that my adoration of God only grows when I consider the science of the human body. Science’s real job is to investigate, consider, and explain the mechanisms that God created to move everything in the universe. From my experience in both worlds of science and theology I would like to provide you with three simple ways I consider the discoveries of science and worship God because of it.
Science’s real job is to investigate, consider, and explain the mechanisms that God created to move everything in the universe.
The first is to consider the scale of the world. On the one hand, you could study microbiology and observe the movements of parts inside of the tiniest cell, on the other hand you could study macro-biology and swim with the blue whales, the largest living animal. You could go smaller and explore particle physics, studying things that are inside the pieces of an atom, or go as big as we can fathom and study astrophysics, considering nebulas and galaxies that are incomprehensibly huge. In all of it, consider that God is the sustainer of both. He spins the largest galaxy and moves the smallest sub-particle. Praise God for the grandeur of His creation, and that He cares for the most minute details of it.
The second strings off the first, when we consider the complexity of what He has done. When I did my undergrad at the College of St. Scholastica, I was able to take labs where we would watch a computer that read the data from sensors attached to a classmate on a treadmill, and we could see how their cells would change the way they worked to fuel the muscle for the specific type of work it is doing: short, hard and fast – stored ATP, long and steady – fat, long and hard – carbohydrate. More realistically, it’s an optimized mix of all these fuel sources, in conjunction with how your heart, lungs, and other organs work to deliver blood and oxygen to working muscles. All of which your body will get better at organizing and directing if you train for it. God not only created the mechanism to fuel the muscle, He also designed it to get better at what it needs to do. Praise God for His masterful orchestration of the human body!
The third is to consider the very basis of scientific research, consistency. Papers are rejected, and careers are destroyed if results are not at least reasonably repeatable. I’ve heard it said that mathematicians are the most likely of all scientists to believe in any kind of deity, because they can’t help but see how well ordered and consistent not only the world, but the entire universe is. From the examples already given, imagine if an astronomer looked into the eyepiece of their telescope to see the star they’ve been studying has suddenly moved to the other side of the sky. Or, how could a doctor prescribe medication for sick child if every time they used it, the medicine treated a different condition? Science is only possible because things in this universe work consistently, they change consistently, and we can make predictions because of it. Without consistency the world would be incomprehensible. Praise the unchanging God for the consistency of and in His well-ordered creation!
There are many other ways that you could see God at work in His creation, as Psalm 19:1-2 tells us “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” I hope this provides you with a framework for attending science classes and learning about God’s creation and finding even more reasons to worship Him.
If you find science, and particularly science about how our bodies work interesting, and would like to hear it discussed from a Christian perspective, I recommend you attend the Westminster Conference on Science and Faith “The Miracle of Man” in September 29–30. 2023 either in-person or on livestream. You can register here.