Do we have to choose between Christ and Science?Posted by Daniel Camacho on November 15, 2012
In high school, I almost lost my faith because of a false dichotomy. I almost became one more casualty in the culture wars. The message that I received, both from Christians and non-Christians, was that Christianity was in fundamental conflict with science. As a result, it seemed as if my Christian peers and I had only two options. There was the path of enlightened, fact-based science over and against mythical religion. Or, there was the path of fidelity to God’s word over and against dangerous science.
TCF’s Manifesto does a good job of articulating this “heartbreaking scenario” in which science and religion no longer hold together for young Christians. Many of us end up feeling pressured to choose one side of this apparent dilemma, and the results are always problematic.
We can choose enlightened science over religion, but this approach often comes with a very reductionistic view of the world that does not fully account for human experience and other spheres of ‘knowing.’ Additionally, there is a spiritual vacuum left that science, in and of itself, cannot address.
We can choose fidelity to God’s word over science, but this approach forces us to reject the possibility of seeing science as a gift that can be used to understand God’s creation. As the Manifesto states:
Out of concern to be faithful to Christ, many avoid science and thus unwittingly end up avoiding the richness of God’s many-splendored creation in all its richness and intricate detail. In doing so, they repress their God-given gifts and curiosity about the natural world and turn away from vocations in the sciences. They also miss out on the opportunity to engage in science in a redemptive way, seeing science as one of the cultural labors by which we can foster shalom. By feeling they must avoid science as “dangerous,” such Christians miss out on the opportunity to participate in the missio Dei, using science to advance God’s concerns for justice and mercy.
When it comes to the spiritual formation of young Christians, the false dichotomy of science vs. religion is a ticking time-bomb that results in an impoverished faith or the loss of faith altogether. What is needed is the realization that there are more than two options on the table, the realization that science and religion “hold together in Christ.” Now, this will not eliminate the need to wrestle with serious issues and questions (e.g. interpretations of Genesis) but it will mean that young Christians will not have to reject Christianity or Science, wholesale, as a result of a false dichotomy. Addressing this need is one of the reasons why TCF exists.
Read the rest of TCF’s Manifesto.
Daniel Camacho is a Junior Fellow of The Colossian Forum and is responsible for research, blogging, editorial work and writing. He hails from Long Island, New York and grew up in a Spanish-speaking United Methodist church. Daniel is a senior at Calvin College majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Church, Society and Ministry from the Congregational and Ministry Studies department. Some of his research interests include hermeneutics, ecclesiology, theological anthropology and political theology. Besides reading, he can be found playing volleyball and holding out hope for his New York sports teams. This past summer, Daniel completed a ministry internship at Open Door Fellowship of East Harlem. He is currently discerning a call to serve in ministry and higher education, and plans to attend seminary after college.