I am a Christian. I believe in science.

In many places, including where I live, these two things are not considered incompatible in any way by the majority of people. In fact, without any statistical evidence I would guess that there is a higher percentage of Christians here than in most towns, and certainly (being a university town) there is a higher percentage of scientists. Some overlap is inevitable!

However, I often encounter people whose opinion is that science and Christianity are simply impossible to reconcile. The Christians point to aspects of the Bible which appear to contradict what the scientists say. The scientists point to their explanations for things about which the Bible says something different. Both of them say “you can’t prove that your theory is true”.

I have never actually had any difficulty reconciling my beliefs in two apparently incompatible things. For one thing, I know far less about science than I do about the Bible. If anything, it is in science that I have a blind, uninformed faith. I am quite happy to accept what I am told by people who have researched the field and made it their lives’ work to provide answers to big questions which I can’t even understand in the first place.

It doesn’t seem impossible or even unlikely that scientific discovery, throughout the course of human history, is the mechanism by which God allows us to grow in our understanding and knowledge of his creation. When I read the Bible and in particular Genesis, I do recognise that if the words are taken to be the literal and complete truth, then they don’t completely match up with what we are told about evolution and the history of the world.

However, I would be very surprised if they did. The Bible may have been divinely inspired but it was written down by human hands. God is so much more than we are; we are told repeatedly that if we were to see him in his true form it would destroy us. Throughout our lives as individuals, but also throughout our lives as a race, we are growing closer to him and more able to understand his messages to us. My analogy is that if I were to ask a four year old to write down my biography, I would present certain aspects of it in a simplified story format, because no four year old would be able to understand the nuances and complexities of some adult conflicts and dilemmas. In the same way, the writers of Genesis and the other historical books were given the truth of creation in a way which they could understand at that point in human development. Had God revealed to them the dinosaurs, fossils, the solar system, evolution and the existence of germs (to choose a few basic concepts which are now generally considered to be basic science, even if people do not always believe in them), they would have been overwhelmed. It required hundreds and thousands of years of careful discovery, step by step, before we reached the point where we were able to make sense of those facts.

I don’t believe we are done yet. There is so much more we don’t understand, and until God calls us home again we will consider to investigate and find out. Generations of scientists will show children how awesome our world is, and generations of priests will show them how to say thank you. Those of us who choose to accept God into our hearts are, in my experience, more inclined to watch a beetle crawling on a leaf or a flower unfurling its petals into the sunshine and say “this is amazing, I am so grateful to be alive and watching this”, because we know that it isn’t an accident that we’re there to see it, or that it is there to be seen.