Are geologists and theologians enemies?

Stop! Before you shrug and hit the delete button, give me a minute. Growing numbers of Americans, especially those under the age of 30 are reaching the conclusion that they must choose between robust faith or science as guiding principles for their lives.  One cannot believe in the God of the Bible and hold onto the discoveries that explain our natural world at the same time, they say.  The study of origins of our world is a classic battleground.  Science presents ample evidence for an earth that is billions of years old.  Bible literalists insist the earth is just a few thousand years old.  Where does the truth lie? Some say that it is unimportant. Yet, it is.  Are geologists who tell us that the earth is 4.5 billion years old presenting the evidence clearly?  Does a reverent reading of Genesis 1 really demand that we believe that the world sprang into existence in 7 literal days about 6,000 years ago?  Truth often dies on the altar of bias, pre-supposition, and fear.
I am not afraid of science, nor am I afraid to love God and His revelation of Himself in the Scripture.  Both inform my life, each in different ways.  Truth is never an enemy of faith.  Theology and science have complementary roles in helping us to understand the world that God gave us. We are poorer if we refuse to see the limitations of either study. There are things in life which are of the Spirit that cannot be analyzed in the laboratory. Likewise, our lives are much improved by the sciences that bring us cures for diseases, for example. What thinking person would want to retreat into the superstitious fear of the medieval age, when ignorance wore the mask of faith?  And we must ask if we really want to reduce the world to formulas and take away the meaning of our existence that is found in the things of God?
I am not arguing that the Bible is just poetry;  a beautiful way to make a cruel world bearable.  If we diminish God by turning Him into a sentiment to be dragged out as a means of comforting ourselves or strengthening our social ties we do worse, in my opinion, than denying His existence outright.  But, if we turn living faith into dogma, closing our minds to the unfolding of knowledge, we rob God, the Holy Spirit, of His ability to speak to us through the world He has made.  I am made humble by the amazing world that both the astronomer and the micro-biologist show to me.  I join the song that says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”(Psalm 8:3-4, NIV) Faith alone cannot show me what these wonders proclaim!
The mystery of the Incarnation is equally humbling.  Why would the God from Whose hand came the far-flung galaxies and the intricacies of my DNA choose to make Himself a baby, born to a young woman by miraculous means, so that He could walk among us? Science cannot explain this. How can an evil person kneel in repentance and stand up a new creation in Christ, a hateful man turned to one who loves? Science cannot peer into the story of the Cross and explain the revelation of transforming love found there.  The Resurrection challenges us to think beyond the cycle of birth, life, and death that we experience in this natural world.  Jesus Christ opens a window into eternal life that is received by faith, not by sight.
May we never allow faith to become an excuse for ignorance, nor should we become so arrogant in our knowledge that we refuse the mysteries of faith. We cannot please God without faith. If we refuse Him, we will slip deeper into sin. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9, NIV)
How Great Thou Art
O Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made.
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow’r thru’out
The universe displayed.
Then sings my soul,
My Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
And when I think
That God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross,
My burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died
To take away my sin.
Then sings my soul,
My Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Savior God to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
When Christ shall come,
With shout of acclamation.
And take me home
What joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim;
My God how great Thou art!
Stuart Wesley Keene Hine
© 1949. 1953 Stuart Hine Trust. Administration: U.S.A. All rights by EMI CMG, except print rights administered by Hope Publishing. North, Central And South America by Manna Music. Rest of world – Kingsway Communications.
CCLI License # 810055

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